Saturday, May 27, 2017

Spring Break: Alabama and Mississippi

April 2017:  

After church in Pensacola, Florida, we headed to Alabama.  

Our first order of business was a duck tour around town!

It was interesting seeing all of the sights...

and hearing about the history of the city...

There were some pretty cute  parts of town...

And we enjoyed learning about the USS Alabama Battleship....

and walking around the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park...

It was windy, but otherwise a beautiful spring day!  

After we were done there, we headed off to Mississippi....

We were completely unimpressed with Biloxi, Mississippi.    We tried to visit a lighthouse, but it was closed, dumpy looking, extremely small, and in the middle of the street.    Then we hiked a little....but the trails were poorly marked.    (hence no pictures)

We did get some good food there, so that was good.   

And that about sums up states #48 and 49 for Glen!   

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Visiting Sunny Florida!

After leaving Atlanta, we got on the road and headed to sunny Florida!    This was state #42 for Ellie and Adam,  and #44 for Emma!   Glen, Spence, and I had been there before, so it was not a new state for the three of us.  

As much as we would have loved to have driven into the heart of Florida and explored it more, we didn't have enough time on this trip.    Pensacola was where we stayed the night and Perdido Key State Park was the beach we decided to visit!   

It was a tad too chilly to swim for most of us, but Ellie and Emma stayed in the water for quite a while...

and it was absolutely beautiful weather for walking along the beach.  

The sand there was so soft that it squeaked underneath our feet.  

After the beach, we ate dinner at the seaside Harbour Grill.  

The food was delicious and even matched up to Emma's standards, which these days is saying something significant. 

We went to church there in Pensacola the next morning and afterward tried to go on a hike...

However, the trails were poorly marked and all seemed to dead-end quickly, so we ended up unsuccessful in that quest.    

It was lovely anyway though and before long we were off on the next part of our adventures! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Spring Break 2017: Georgia

We've taken a lot of road trips over the years  and in the process have been to most of the continental United States together.  Even Ellie and Adam had been to 40 states, Emma was at 42, Spence and Glen had been to 46.   Me?   I've been at 49 states for over twenty years.     

This year we decided it was time to start knocking off those last few states off our list.   Our summer vacation will get me to #50 (Alaska), a fact which made me very excited.  However, I got even more excited when I thought that at least Glen and Spence could also join me in hitting #50 together, which is how our Spring Break to the Deep South was born!   

We found super cheap tickets to Atlanta, so decided to start our trip there.   

We loved this hallway in the Atlanta airport.    

...and I was extra excited when we picked up our rental car and ended up with a car with Minnesota plates!  Yay for my homeland!  

Georgia is state #41 for Ellie and Adam and #43 for Emma!  

We loved learning a little about Atlanta's role in many different historical times.   WE especially loved learning about Atlanta in  the Civil War, because it was definitely a different perspective than most of the other Civil War sites we'd been to (mostly north of the Mason-Dixon line).    

The grounds of the Atlanta History Center had beautiful gardens and live animals.  

 Ellie rather liked the bighorn sheep (or whatever they were). 


The Swan House is also on the grounds of the Atlanta History Center.  The Swan House is the home of an influential Atlanta historical figure from the early 1900's named Edward Inman.    We have a Sister Inman serving as a missionary in our ward, so we all thought that that alone was cool, but it definitely is much cooler than even that.  

Ellie got soooooo excited when we learned that the Swan House is the home of President Snow in the Hunger Game movies.    She had just been reading the series (because she wasn't allowed to read them until she was 12) and this little factoid made the whole day extra cool.   

This room is where one of the scenes with President Snow was filmed.   

This little playhouse outside of the Swan House absolutely delighted my girls and though they're mostly past the age of playhouse playing, I think they liked imagining the fun they would have had in one when they were younger.  


The Atlanta Temple and visitors' center was closed for spring cleaning when we dropped by, but I loved that the grounds were still well-kept and there were still plenty of gorgeous flowers! 


The Atlanta Botanical Gardens ended up being one of the favorite places we visited...

This botanic sculpture of the earth goddess reminded us of Te Fiti from the movie, "Moana".  It was a beautiful site to behold and made me want to return sometime to see it in bloom.  

Some of the exhibits were closed down and it clearly wasn't in full bloom while we were there...

but we loved our time there nonetheless. 

It was also a bit chilly...

but we still managed to spend a few hours wandering around (and pondering about life).  


We stayed parked at the Botanical Gardens and walked to the Ponce City Markets for some dinner. 

After we enjoyed our overpriced, but tasty dinner, we walked back to the Botanical Gardens along The Beltline Trail.  

We had a great view of the Atlanta skyline as we walked along the trail through Piedmont Park.


When I searched for things to do near our hotel, one of the top things that popped up was visiting the Chick-fil-A home office for a tour.    Chick-fil-A happens to be one of our favorite fast food restaurants, so we figured it would be interesting.    

And it was.  

We loved learning about the values that the founder, Truett Cathy, based his company on.   When a Corporate Purpose is listed as "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.   To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A," you know it's a unique company.  

Besides being a man of faith committed to glorifying God, keeping his stores closed on Sunday, he was also a man with a sense of fun and humor.   We loved his little mini-dwarf doors that serve as the entrance to all his conference rooms.   

We also loved his inspirational quotes and use of cow decor. :)   

It really was an inspirational, as well as an interesting tour.   

And made me feel just fine about supporting Chick-fil-A. 


Our last full day in Atlanta, we decided to go explore the downtown for a while. 

We enjoyed walking around Olympic Centennial Park (home of the 1996 summer Olympics)...

We took a ride in Skyview (a 20-story Ferris wheel right in the heart of downtown Atlanta). 

We got a cool view of the city from up there! 

After walking around and seeing the Coca-Cola headquarters and Georgia Aquarium (we didn't go inside either), we took a streetcar around on the full loop to see what else we could see. 

There are 12 stops and we got out at two of them.  Our favorite discovery was Sweet Auburn Market where we found a couple of gastronomical delights to try.   


After our Chick-fil-A home tour, we decided to eat a meal at the original Chick-fil-A (which was then called the Dwarf House). 

You could order regular Chick-fil-A fare there, but they also served some of the original dishes, which was a lot of good old fashioned Southern food...

....including fried okra and corn muffins! 

They also had the same mini-dwarf door that they had at the entrance to all the home office conference rooms. 

We decided that we like the regular Chick-fil-A food better, but it was fun for the experience! 


Our last stop in Atlanta was Stone Mountain.  This was at the top of Glen's list of places to visit, so we saved it until he arrived.   We got there in the evening time and enjoyed our trek up the mountain. We laughed when we passed this pole full of chewed up gum.  It was a pretty gross concept, but looked kind of cool anyway.  

It was a pretty easy hike and we got to the top right about sunset! 

We took a bunch of pictures...

Our favorite was this one a random stranger offered to take for us.   

After enjoying the glowing view for a while, we headed down the mountain and watched the laser show.  

We were tired and a bit cold by then, but it was still pretty cool.  

And thus ended our time in Atlanta. Early the next morning, we loaded up our Minnesota van and headed on to Florida.   Stay tuned for more spring break adventures....


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