1,050 Miles (a recap of our Southern Tour)

Loulie and I finally returned from our trip late Friday night. It really was such a fun time together that I didn't even notice how exhausted I was until I fell asleep sitting up yesterday afternoon. What can I say?--traveling alone with a three year old, no matter how much fun, can wear you down. Here is a little recap of our 1000 mile trek.

MILE 265
We ended up stopping in Macon Friday night on our way to Newnan. It was kind of hilarious leaving Charleston on Friday before the 4th. We were the one lone car pulling onto 17 while the opposite lanes were at a standstill with cars pouring in for the holiday. But that is how we like it--get out of town on the busy weekend and out of Bert's hair for his most daunting work week of the year. Not far into our trip, we were hit with a monsoon like thunderstorm. After about the third stop for Loulie to take a break, my sister in law called and offered for us to take a little detour to stay with them. It worked out perfect--we were able to have dinner with them and see my nephew, William who even as a teenager is about the sweetest kid I know. He spent hours playing with Loulie and helped her build quite an impressive Lego replica of an ice house.
MILE 355
After one sleepless night, we packed up again to go to the 3rd annual family day at my college friend's farm in Newnan, GA. You want to talk about a beautiful spot--Heavenly Hollow basically speaks for itself. My friend and her husband are THE most gracious hosts you've ever met and invite all of our college friends and their families down once a year for a full day of swimming, fishing, hay rides, jump castles and grilling. It is like Disney for the kids and such a great opportunity for us to catch up. It has been over a year or more since seeing some of my college friends so getting to spend this time with them and their families was precious. It went by waaay to fast but I'm hoping this is a tradition we will keep up over the years. As we were pulling out, Loulie said, "Man, that was a good time there." I think this little Charleston girl liked her taste of the country. 
Loulie kept saying over and over "Mom, I really like our new friends." And each time I would say, "Loulie, these are my oldest friends." I don't know why but that just cracked my up. And it makes my heart practically explode to see our kids making memories together...
MILE 395
You don't just drive 300 miles, pass through Atlanta and not stop. So we planned on stopping by Atlantic Station to have a little lunch, walk through IKEA and hit up a few of my favorite stores. It was nice and calm on a Sunday morning and Loulie was a trooper. It's funny how we get used to certain things living in a flat coastal town. The one thing Loulie was fascinated by in Atlanta?--underground parking and escalators! After thinking about it, you really don't see either where we live. It also goes to show it doesn't take much to impress a three year old--it's all exciting!
MILE 609
We finally made it to Knoxville, where we spent the majority of our vacation. My mother's sister joined us for the first two days which was a nice surprise and made for some totally hilarious moments. It reminded me of when I was a kid and we used to do everything with my aunts and cousins. 
We decided to spend out first day there out on the river since it was such pretty weather. Not tn minutes before our float down the river did the sky fall out with freezing cold rain. Loulie reenacted Dakota Fanning's scream from War of the Worlds. I really think windows broke in some mountain houses. I don't really blame her--I kind of wanted to scream too if I hadn't been laughing so hard at out luck. We made it up to her with ice cream from this new little spot in Townsend. It is an old train car--you order at the conductor's window and then go to the back of the car where they open a door to hand you your food. Super cute and I would think a big hit with little boys. 
Most days we spent taking long walks, shopping cute stores around Knoxville and hanging out with my parents. We did try the best lunch spot, The Plaid Apron. All the food was locally grown with original entrees. I splurged on probably the best french vanilla macaroon I have ever tasted. 
For the fourth, we got to be a part of the Forest Brook 50th July 4th Celebration. Seriously, the cutest, most wholesome all-American July 4th you can imagine. My parents have been so lucky to have moved into this area and been surrounded by such nice people. Loulie and I have more fun each year. I actually got to attend the adult party this year while the most mature 11 year walked over to watch Loulie. I kept begging her to come back to Charleston with us. Louie participated in the parade on her own this year and despite a little crash at the end, was so proud of herself and her decorations. We left the picnic twice only for her to decide that she didn't want to miss out and headed back to the party. My mom and dad finally made her go home at dark. 

MILE 841
Unfortunately, we had to leave my parents Friday morning. What was already going to be a long and painful drive in vacation traffic became a little longer when I missed my exit ramp in Asheville and drove to Charlotte instead. Our stop here was brief--long enough for me to silently cuss my GPS, buy Loulie and ice cream and contemplate getting a hotel room. 

MILE 1050
In the long run, I decided that unpacking the car again would be more than I could handle so we crossed the entire state of SC to finally arrive home late Friday night. Saturday we celebrated being home by staying close to the water and cool breeze and taking a long walk downtown. It was the perfect family day. It feels good to be home.

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