Monday, October 6, 2014

Midwest Meanderings

To get my husband to go on vacations with me, I try to plan for destinations that have things he would enjoy. So being a farmer, the last three summer flings have included trips to Iowa and Illinois, and I think we've seen just about every single John Deere plant in the Midwest.   

As we headed to Ankeny, Iowa,  for a tour of the JD Des Moines Works plant we had to stop in Le Claire for a look-see at the new building at Antique Archaeology (our third visit to the store made famous on American Pickers).  

We then headed up to Bloomington, Minnesota to cross off an item on my bucket list.  I've always wanted to see the Mall of America and see how big it is. 

Sure it is big, but I guess I wasn't in the mood to shop, because all I bought was a souvenir t-shirt.  Got a LOT of walking in though!

Onward to our next stop in the Wisconsin Dells.  Beautiful area!

Highly recommend taking a tour on the Original Wisconsin Ducks and the Jet Boat tour.  So much fun!  

As we headed towards home we made a little pit stop in Roscoe, IL to visit the Historic Auto Attractions museum.

This is a MUST SEE.  A lot of history here and amazing celebrity vehicles. I was highly impressed with it.  I've already started surfing for ideas for our next adventure.  He's even already given me hints on what section of the states to look next.  Quack, quack!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Nashville is Nifty

I love going to Nashville, Tennessee!  I've been there 3 times now and it never gets old.  We planned a girls vacation there this summer and 5 days is NOT long enough.  It's about a 7 1/2 - 8 hour trip straight through, but with 4 women you definitely have a lot of stops.  Also, I always like to look for odd or interesting pit stops along the way. 
Our first stop was in Fairmount, Indiana.  My sisters thought I was nuts when I pulled into a cemetery, but their minds were put to rest when the headstone I searched was found.  Both of my sisters are in their 60's so I knew it would interest them to actually see James Dean's grave site
We added a bouquet of purple flowers, signed the white rock nearby and climbed in and headed south. 
We stayed in downtown Nashville for 2 nights and hit all the honkytonks we could stumble into (we even danced on the bar at Tootsies!)
and spent  Sunday seeing the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Shelby Street Bridge and the downtown shops. 

Before heading out towards Music Valley Drive where we stayed for the next 3 nights, we checked out the large granite Tennessee map at Bicentennial Mall State Park,  Antique Archeology store, the Parthenon and grabbed a sandwich and fries at the Elliston Place Soda Shop. 
Besides doing the downtown honkytonks, other musts to do are to attend the Grand Ole Opry and enjoy a dinner and a show cruise aboard the General Jackson Steamboat.   Take a tour of the Opryland Resort and do some shopping at the huge Opry Mills Mall.   We stayed at the Guesthouse Inn and Suites and they provided a shuttle over to those places.  Speaking of our hotel, we booked a Two Queen Family room that had 2 queen beds and 2 sleeper sofas with lots of room for 4 females!
On the way home, being wine lovers, we checked out the Long Hollow Winery and Vineyards and the Sumner Crest Winery.  Both of them were decorated so nice. 
My last pit stop was to be on the way home at Munfordville, Kentucky.  Just a little area they call Stonehenge (or Clonehenge). 
But, we actually ended up seeing it on the way down because we just happened to get off the interstate in that area to look for someplace to eat.  
I'm already looking forward to the next trip, checking out websites and areas of interest.  So little many places to see.   Travel on!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ladies Night Out

When my daughter was younger, I was involved in a lot of organizations, mainly gearing towards children.  I used to belong to a group called the Ohio Child Conservation League in our community and through that I ended up gaining some fantastic friendships with members.  Although no longer involved with that club, me and 3 of my friends and former co-members get together once a month and do something fun and go out to eat.  We usually do this on a Thursday evening, and although it gets a little hard to find different activities to try, we are never lacking a new restaurant to check out.

We have had some good times going through a corn maze in the Fall,
visiting local wineries, attending theatrical plays, participating in Chocolate Walks and Spring Flings in neighboring towns, and lots of SHOPPING in locally owned small shops.  We are women after all! !

Also, being women, we love to eat.  On occasion I will try something new, but the big joke when we order is that "Chris will get the chicken tenders and Dena will get a Reuben".   I am an open book, they read me so well, but one of these days I will surprise them and expand my horizons.  :)
Great pizza @ Rosalies Roadhouse ~ Jonesville, MI

The moral of this story though, is you gotta have friends.  Set time aside for you and your girlfriends and do something fun and different.  Maybe even change the dipping sauce.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gatlinburg Gals

For our annual trip, my sisters and I picked Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  A brother-in-law had graciously loaned us the use of his timeshare for a week for a very minimal cost.  Four women stayed in a Studio Apartment at Gatlinburg Town Square for a whole week, and we were still talking to each other by the end of it! Lol.  One bath, one double bed, one sofa/sleeper and a small kitchenette.  It was actually very cozy. 

 The location of the resort was a little bit of a walk uphill from the main street of Gatlinburg, but thankfully there were trolley stops along the way.  Just like any vacation, by the end of the week, we finally had the trolley schedule all figured out.
Waiting for the next trolley

 Speaking of trolleys, there is also one line that will take you to Pigeon Forge for $1.00.  It was so nice leaving the driving to someone else.  We took it one day to Dollywood, and another day to check out some of the other sights and a winery trail.  (It is a given that we will find the wineries wherever we are vacationing). 
There is plenty to do in downtown Gatlinburg. 
Highly recommend the Space Needle, Ripley's Aquarium, and the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery.

View from the Space Needle

 Many great places to eat including Bubba Gump's and our favorite, Blaines Grill and Bar.

We were lucky enough to be there over July 4th, and Gatlinburg is known for having the first 4th of July parade in the nation. Midnight!  Definitely worth seeing.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Playa Del Carmen 2014

With the crazy weather this winter it was time for a much needed break to someplace warm.  Although I don't like making travel plans this time of year due, in fact, to the weather.  I'm afraid of travelling in it or afraid that we will lose money due to having to cancel. 
Since plans are set up by the seed company we purchase from we have to travel about 3 hours to Indianapolis for the flight (that is where they are based).   We had beautiful weather going down, but coming home.....another winter storm.  Took us an extra hour. 

We stayed at Paradisus Resort which consists of 2 sides:  La Perla (adults only) and La Esmerelda (family).    We were put on La Esmerelda side which wasn't too bad because there were less people so it was quieter and we didn't always have to fight to get a lounge chair.

Was lucky enough to claim a bed for one of the days, but the lounge chairs were just as comfortable.

I am embarrassed to say that I actually only walked on the beach one day.

It was a little bit of a walk, albeit a pretty one, to get there.  I was content to sit poolside and use the same sun to get some color.


And who doesn't love a swim-up bar? lol

The rooms were superb with a huge private balcony.  Ours didn't have a great view, the entrance and tennis court, but it was fantastic just to be able to sit outside and watch the world go by.

This is about the 4th all-inclusive resort that I have been to and the only thing I didn't like about it was that for dinner, reservations were required in almost all of the restaurants.  Seriously, I'm on vacation, I'm not going to be on a time clock.  Besides, they didn't even have a clock/alarm clock in the rooms!  Plus I wasn't impressed with the limited selection of food choices.  Needless to say we ate at the Sunset Grill most days (by the pool). 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Our Trip to Panama

We went on the annual trip last year through our seed company's sales incentive program to Panama City, Panama. They use a travel company called Summit Planners, and they are remarkable!  Everything usually goes like clockwork, and we don't have to worry about a thing. 

The company chartered 3-5  planes for the huge group signed up to go and we were routed to the Howard Air Force Base in Panama due to our numbers figuring it would be less confusion and less crowded at the main airport. The base was closed in 1999 when it was turned over to the Panamanians.  I was told that the only plane that usually flies into there now is the President on Air Force One. Boy did we feel special :).

We stayed at the beautiful and all-inclusive Westin Playa Bonita. 

Real nice place, but with our group it was almost too overcrowded.  If you weren't down at the pool by 7 a.m. to claim a lounge, you were usually out of luck for the day.  Hello!  I'm on vacation, I want to sleep in with no worries whether I'll be able to sit poolside later that day!  It was a little selfish too, that some claimed the loungers (towels, belongings laid on them), then left for an excursion for many hours. 

The first evening there while walking on the beach, we noticed a line of lights across the pacific that we assumed was part of the mainland or an island.  The next day we realized it was actually the line of ships waiting to go through the Panama Canal.  Just amazing!  I only regret that we did not go on the tour to see the Canal.

One evening my DH and I went with 3 other couples to downtown Panama City and to check out a casino.  Inside the casino, I was dumbstruck by how obvious the 'girls' were, dressed in their mini skirts looking for their next client.  Apparently it is legal there??   Kept my hand on my guy, yessir!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Winter's Tale

It's a new year, a new start (again) on trying to write a blog.  I seriously don't know how people have something new and exciting to write about every day.  It takes me a year (literally) to come up with something, lol. 

Update on my last blog on our cat, Dixie.  She came through whatever it was (still undetermined) and is back to her curious, ornery self.  We found a black kitty in September and added him to our brood and it was Dixie (the older cat) that played and sparred with him like she was a young kitten again.

Wow, winter!  Have we had enough of it, or what in Northwest Ohio?  So far we have had the all-time snowiest record of all season: 48.1 inches!!  We've had more negative double digit lows this January than any other according to our local weathermen. 

Usually cold and a little snow I can handle, but when 30-40 mile per hour wind gusts are included I just stay inside!  Luckily I have a part-time job that I can make my own hours.   My husband plows out driveways and he got stuck many times. The state and county plows have even got stuck while out working.  There are times that the rural roads have been impassable. 

Reading weather reports for the next week and even into February, they are predicting many, many more below normal temps.  So for now, everybody stay safe, stay warm!  I'll keep the fire burning in our wood burner, heaven knows it's the only thing getting a good workout these days!