Sunday, August 27, 2017

Eclipse Chasers: Total Solar Eclipse Road Trip to South Carolina





 It's been a looooooooonnnnnngggggg while since my last post. A lot has happened since then, we purchased a new home, I started a new job (3 years ago to be exact), we've traveled to quite few places, I finally got the Hubs on a BOAT, the nieces have grown into beautiful young ladies, we've lost some of our loved ones, gained a few new ones, and have had a few bumps along the way.

Since then we've been to many different places, I will start with the most recent trip and hopefully get around to sharing the other cool places we've visited.


The last few weeks everyone has been talking about the Total Solar Eclipse that is scheduled to happen on Monday, August 21st, 2017.  The last total solar eclipse was in 1979. One of our friends mentioned he was going to take a trip to South Carolina so he can experience this once in a lifetime experience. After discussing his plans, we did some research and the Hubs and I decided we were in.


Being that we live in Florida and it's approximately a 9 hour drive to South Carolina, we decided to make a road trip out of it. As we began to plan all of the South Carolina hotels were sold out, so INSANE.... so we decided to stay the night in Savannah, GA and then drive to South Carolina in the morning. 


I have been on a handful of road trips and have always wanted to stop at the state line to have our picture taken. Thankfully the driver (also one of the Hubs good friends) and who too loves me "Awe" he was a good sport and stopped at the state lines to take our picture.




"Welcome to Georgia"

Along the trip we learned that our friend, "D" had lived in Savannah a few years ago, and he showed us around. Since we were 6 in total, we decided to stay at a BNB that way we could hangout rather than everyone go to our separate rooms.



Here's a picture of the cute little place we stayed.




Then we decided to go explore Downtown Savannah. We had a drink at Rocks on the Roof Modern Lounge overlooking the Savannah River and the Talmadge Bridge, such a beautiful sight. 
 
The Georgia Queen Ferry pictured below
                    


After our Margaritas and appetizers we decided to take a tour of the town. My husband and I always love taking the Double Decker Bus Tours and the Old Town Trolley Tours whenever we visit a new town. It's a great way to see places/things that you would miss if you just walked around. Plus we have had great tour guides who not only teach us the history of the town but are pretty fun too. We usually do the entire tour first and then hop off at the destination that we want to explore.

In Savannah they have 2 different Trolley Tours. They have the Old Town Trolley Tour and the Old Savannah Tours  We prefer the Old Town Trolley it's one we've experienced more and the tour guides have been amazing. The one thing I recommend is that you check their schedules as they vary city to city. In Savannah the last pick up time is at 5:00pm and last drop off is at 7:30pm where in other cities I've seen up to 10:00pm. Prices also vary from city to city. In Savannah I believe it was $29 for adults and $21 for children.

   

Here are some of the places we saw on the trolley tour...

Cotton Exchange

The Historic Philbrick-Eastman House that overlooks Chippewa Square



The Artillery Bar 


This building was pretty amazing, one of my favorites from the town. It's just so pretty. Although we didn't get a chance to check it out this trip, it is definitely on our next to grab a drink here.


Since the Hubs has reserved his spot for a new Tesla, 
a picture of the charging station was a must! 


River Street Market Place it's a cute little open air market on the river.
We didn't get to visit the market place as we spent most of our time listening to the live music and standing in line at Leopold's. Maybe next time. 









We had dinner at B& D Burgers (They say it's the best burgers in Savannah) I've actually had better. I've always been a picky eater, but since the beginning of the year, I decided that I would try out new cuisines and new places. 

So at this place I decided that I wanted to try the Fried Green Tomatoes and the Alligator Fritters. Well I wasn't a big fan of either, in my opinion tomatoes shouldn't be fried, and the alligator fritters are very textured, well I kinda pictured myself chewing on an alligator tail with the bumps and all. Too textury for me. I did build my own burger, regular angus burger with cheese and bacon, ketchup only.  

Fried Green Tomatoes


Alligator Fritters



However the alligator over the bar and hanging in the staircase was pretty cool.



Overall if I had to rate this place and the service I'd give it 3.5 stars. Our waitress was very slow, returned to our table 3 times to ask for our drinks, and yet never brought them to us. Dropped one of the meals and took 15 minutes to bring out another.
 
                             
Byrd's Famous Cookies since 1924 "May Your Cookie Jar Never Be Empty" I totally loved this place. I'm a lover of all cookies. They have a cute little station where you try their different flavors of cookies, they even had one flavor called "JalapeƱo Cheddar"- Caliente!! My favorite were the Salted Caramel and the Almond Shortbread cookies. Here's their website Byrd's Famous Cookies  in case you're tempted to try them. 


We found a Starbucks where we stopped for a coffee break, and I saw that in honor of the Eclipse they had "A Once in A Lifetime Eclipse Frappuccino" so I asked the Barista about this amazing frappuccino that I almost ordered...he said, oh, it's nothing special, just the vanilla bean frapppuccino with a shot of espresso." Really Dude, you just ruined my moment.
 Leopold's Ice Cream (Just celebrated it's 98th year in business) This place had a huge line in front of it that wrapped around to the end of the street and thought wow, we must really try this place. This place is very quaint and has pictures of the three brothers who originally opened this shop. You can read more on the history of Leopold's Ice Cream shop here.


Where we live in Hollywood, FL there's an ice cream shop called Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor it's actually located in Dania Beach, just minutes north of Hollywood. The lines too are long, but so worth the wait cause they're ice cream is amazing...Anywho, back to Leopold"s, the line moved pretty fast, I'd say we were in line approximately 25 minutes or so.  I ordered the butter pecan ice cream and the hubs had a vanilla ice cream cookie sandwich.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the cookie but it was pretty good.  After our ice cream treat we went back to our BNB to rest for our drive to South Carolina in the morning. Nighty Night Savannah. 



Today is Monday, August 21. 2017 and we're headed to South Carolina from our overnight stay in Savannah, GA to see the Solar Eclipse in it's totality. I remember as a kid camping out in my front yard one night to watch a Lunar Eclipse unfortunately sleep won and I missed out on it. So this time, I was beyond excited. You can just imagine.




    Here's our picture at the Georgia/South Carolina State Line. (Thank you D.)
 Lake Marion, Santee, SC

Well originally we had planned to drive to Columbia SC but after talking it over since we wanted to drive back to Florida after the Eclipse we decided to stop at one of the National Parks in the area. As we were arriving at Santee State Park the traffic to the entrance was backed up so we made a u-turn due to our concern of not being able to exit the park once it was all over.
So we ended up at Lake Marion in Santee, SC. 


                       
The lake was absolutely beautiful, so quiet, peaceful, not that many people and the clouds were slowly moving away, giving us the perfect spot to experience the eclipse.


 Although it was so hot, and when the sun hit your skin was a bit painful.
Thankfully there were many trees to sit under to stay away from the sun, while we waited.



This guy in his paraglider was going to have a spectacular view. I had never seen one of these.


And then it begins.... Here are the pictures I was able to get of the eclipse. 

I must tell you, I knew it was going to be pretty cool, but didn't know how cool it was really was going to be. It is definitely a moment that I will never forget. No matter how much traffic we were in or the 12.5 hours it took us to get back, or the fact that I got 2.5 hours of sleep to get up and make it to work. 

Definitely all worth it. Looking forward to the next one in 2024. 





Friday, September 5, 2014

Texas

The Hubs and I decided to getaway and spend a few days exploring the Lone Star state with the hopes of falling in love with it, and possibly planting a seed there.

                                                        Here's to falling in love with TX!
Texas you ask? Well, my family owns property in Orange, TX and Granbury, Tx, and my parents have always dreamed of retiring there. So after a few hundred talks with the Hubs, I was finally able to convince him to take a trip and check it out. Thinking, perhaps we would be the push that my parents  need to get to their dream retirement destination. During the researching and planning of this trip, the Hubs reminded me that this trip was strictly business, and that we were only going to look at homes, land, schools, and employment opportunities. That we were not there to go sightseeing, or to catch any special events, and to stay away from Groupon and Living Social. Of course, I crossed my fingers when I said, yes Babe.  Not only did I plan for our strictly "BUSINESS" trip but I also included a few fun activities that eventually I knew the Hubs would agree to doing. I mean, is it really going to take 10 days to figure out whether or not you want to move to Texas?
             
            ♫♫ The Stars at Night. Are Big and Bright. Deep in the Heart of Texas. ♫♫
 


If you know me by now, I "aaawwww" and "wooooow" to just about everything. When we landed in Austin that afternoon, we went down to pick up our luggage and before we got off the escalator, I told the Hubs, "Awwwww look how cute those guitars are!" Perhaps you're not into the whole airport decor, to me it's like getting a sneak peak of the state before you've even left the airport.
After we picked up our luggage and our rental car, we checked in at our hotel. Now some of you may know, I loooovvveeeee to travel, and exploring all the things our Creator has given us. However, when it comes to hotel searching, it's like preparing for your SAT's. So I usually prefer to stay at hotels where I think it's the safest. Google is my bestfriend, I swear by it, I google stuff like, where's the safest areas to stay, eat, explore, etc. What is the rate of kidnappings, and break ins, you know stuff like that. My husband tells me that I shouldn't worry about the looney's, instead the looney's should worry about me. Anywho, so I decided to stay at a hotel by the airport, figured how much safer can you get; without realizing that everything would be miles and miles and miles away. #IMALOSER 

The few days in Austin we stayed at the Hilton Austin Airport. The hotel was super nice, the beds were comfy, and most importantly it felt really safe. However, from this trip I learned that 1-2 days max are okay to stay at an airport hotel. This hotel was really far from the places we wanted to see and from attractions and not to mention you can hear all the planes taking off and landing.

The first thing we do every morning religiously, is turn on the tv and watch the news. So we did just that, attentively waiting for a report on the latest crime scene. To our surprise, the only crime committed that week was some guy who stole a bicycle. Too good to be true!

We went off and explored some of the areas and homes we had researched online prior to our trip. Some of the homes were very pretty while others were a bit scary. We came across a very nice family neighborhood, there were children playing on the street with other kids, a father and son playing catch at a near by park, other kids playing basketball, exactly the area we dream about when we think of raising our own kids. It felt just like home. Although the Hubs wasn't at all convinced. 

Next, we decided to check out the Downtown Austin area. We stopped at this McD's for a quick bite and I totally loved the LongHorn Statue.
                              

That same afternoon we decided to take a drive to Downtown Austin for dinner and take in some of the sites, and to our surprise *wink wink* "The 10th Anniversary of Austin's Bat Fest" was that same day. How could we give up on this opportunity and would you look at that, we both wore our batman shirts that same day. Coincidence??? 

Bat Fest, Austin TX 08-23-14


During this event approximately 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue bridge at dusk.
                                                                                                                                   
"Bat Cycle" 
Cooling off in the shade while waiting to see the bats
                                                                      And they're off....
Definitely something to experience. So happy we got to experience this!



The next day we decided to do some sightseeing, 

and what better way than on a Double Decker Bus. 


This lady was our tour guide



At one of the stops on the tour, we decided to get off at the Texas State History Museum

I really enjoyed looking at their displays, a lot of the items they had there, 

reminded me of some of the things my parents had while growing up.
                               

After the bus tour we decided to get our car and head back to the Downtown area, to check out Franklin' BBQ for lunch. When we picked up our car at the airport we asked the lady at the counter to tell us the best place to get some good BBQ, she recommended Franklin's. Well let me tell you about Franklin's now before I get lost in all the other places we seen. 

We tried eating at Franklin's BBQ for 3 days and the first 2 days they were completely sold out by 2pm and the 3rd day we decided we would get there before they opened, and the line to get in went around the block. We couldn't believe it! We asked the people in line and they said they'd been there since 8am. Maybe next time we're in Austin we'll just camp out. 


The next day, we took a drive to Orange, Texas; which is on the borderline of Texas and Louisiana. My parents own a piece of land there, maybe this is where we would fall in love with Texas. Well there's lots of tttttrrrrrreeeeeeeesssssss!


The area is still growing, a little to far away from civilization if you ask me, but it has lots of potential. There's 1 gas station, 1 hardware store, a real estate office, and a donut shop.
That's it! I will definitely consider going back, after a few years.

Reunion Tower, Dallas Texas

Today we explore Dallas!!!!!! So remember how this trip was strictly business???? Well after 2 days of driving around looking at homes, and lots of land, the hubs agreed to have a little fun! FINALLLYYYYYY!!!!

We visited Downtown Dallas, and some of their monuments, and went to the Reunion Tower. Beautiful views of all Dallas.






 I must confess, although I'm afraid of heights, I love going to observation decks  where I can take in the beauty of the cities/ Not sure where I get the courage to get up there,
I just know, that I never look down.










We had lunch at Cloud Nine at the Reunion Tower
(very similar to the Space Needle in Seattle) 


Definitely a cool experience.


From there we visited Pioneer Plaza



 The large sculpture commemorates nineteenth century cattle drives that took place along the Shawnee Trail, the earliest and easternmost route by which Texas longhorn cattle were taken to northern railheads. (Source: Wikipedia)

Then we went to Dragon Park

Of course google and the reviews did not match what this place really was. It was more like a little garden, with a few statues of dragons, at the time it was not well kept. It did have some benches to sit on and a small waterfall.


From there we checked out The Mustangs of Las Colinas




These were pretty cool too.
To read more of the history of the mustangs click below.
 (The Mustangs of Las Colinas)

Along the way, we made a quick stop in Waco, TX and visited the Dr. Pepper Museum.
 I have to admit, I had never ever tasted Dr. Pepper before this visit,
and now
 I AM HOOKED!



You get to see the different styles of cans, bottles, the different names of the products, the machinery used to make the drinks. The museum was pretty cool. 


 
As a kid I remember my grandpa coming over on Sundays and he'd spend hours watching football. This is where I found my love the Cowboys, not to mention the crush I had on Troy Aikmain.  I never imagined yet thought it was ever possible to watch a Cowboys game live! And this trip was going to make one of my childhood dreams come true.


Although it was a pre-season game, and a Cowboys loss,
it was definitely a day I will never forget.


The next morning, we did the Cowboys Stadium tour.... 



  

The stadium tour was really cool!
A must do if you're ever in the area, even if you're not a Cowboys fan!

After 10 days exploring Texas, there were some things we loved but there were a few more we didn't love so much. Sad to say, Texas will not be our next move but  for sure we will visit again.

Catch you later!