The first place I look...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stone Mountain Georgia=exercise & tired kids

Today we ventured out in Atlanta, Georgia, at Stone Mountain.  This is basically a huge, bald granite rock....carved into the side is Generals Davis, Lee, and Jackson on horseback riding into battle.  The carving is so large that a 6 foot man can fit into the opening of the horse's mouth!  They have a cable car which takes you to the top of the mountain scooting right by the carving-for some great photo ops-enabling you to really get a good look at such amazing art.  The cable car only costs $5.50 for a one way ride, but there is a $10 parking fee to enter the park.  Once at the top you can explore all the dips and craters...kinda makes you think that if the moon was made of granite-this might be what it looked like.  You can see for miles and miles...breathtaking.  Instead of riding back down in the cable car, we decided to get some exercise and take the trail down the mountain.  First starting down the mountain is a little steep, but there are handrails along the trail to help you keep your footing.  The kids had no problem at fact it was me that couldn't keep up with them!  We encountered tons of hikers coming both up and down, young and old, enjoying the beautiful spring day and the exercise of climbing the mountain.  Coolest of all was all the initials and dates we found carved into the rock face-some as recent as within the past week and others dating back into the 1800's-proof this place has been a well loved and well worn hiking spot for hundreds of years.  The kids only complained once we got to the bottom and we had to walk around about a 1/4 of the mountain to get back to our parking spot...well, they were tired until they saw the play equipment inside the park.  It was rewarding for all of us to look back up the mountain to see how far we come and what a big accomplishment it was for them-to say they climbed down a mountain.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nashville...What was I thinking?

Nashville Tennessee had lots of promise but left us dissappointed.  Let me just say that had Reggie and I come here to vacation and see the sights, we would have had a great time just hanging out near Music Row...bars, restaurants, shops, museums, live entertainment on the corner would have made us happy, but for kids it did not work out.  The really neat looking places don't allow minors in.  Parking was $15 everywhere we looked, the area was dirty and littered with trash, and all the eating places looked very anti-kid friendly.  We decided to try Gaylord Opryland Resort...and it was a step up.  It had our jaw dropping as soon as we stepped foot in the door.  What an amazing sight to see a building-scratch that-a miniature city, all self contained under one roof.  But again...the kids were impressed for about ten minutes, then ready to go.  Our most fun was had at Cooter's Place-a shop and museum (free) dedicated to the old TV show "Dukes of Hazzard".  They had tons of vintage items that definitely brought back childhood memories for me-mostly that super awesome metal Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox I begged my mom for during my elementary school days.  They also had full size replicas of the General Lee, Cooter's tow truck, Daisy's jeep, and Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrain's police car.  It was a lot of fun for me trekking down memory lane.  And for you Willie fans, next door was a Willie Nelson museum and gift shop.  That's where I got my favorite picture of the trip so far....Can you guess which one?  After a quick dinner at SteakNShake we headed back to the Embassy Suites for some swimming and TV time.  Kinda sad that we would rather do that than anything else in Nashville....Maybe I'll come back and try again as an adult only trip, but I definitely wouldn't reccommend it for kids.

Hot Springs Arkansas...Alpine Inn and Garvan Gardens

Started out on our Southern States Tour yesterday...and started a little rough.  Didn't get the right rental car from Hertz-ugh and traffic backed up on I-35 which put us an hour behind before we even got out of Waco.  BUT, that was the end of the bad news!  Drove straight to Hot Springs, Arkansas and stayed with our favorite Scottish couple, Eric and Leslie, at Alpine Inn.  This was our 3rd time to stay here and we enjoy it more every single time!  We stayed in the safari suite since we had 4 kiddos with us....which proved an excellent choice!  Always clean, smelling great with super fresh linens and towels and at only around $100 for a Friday night suite with 3 double beds and a kitchen...I LOVE this place!!  Eric even stayed up til midnight to make sure we got in okay and left capri suns and snacks for the kids on the kitchen table.  After visiting with them this morning we headed out for breakfast and then to the University of Arkansas Garvan Gardens.  This place is an amazing hidden gem!  At $6 for adults and $4 for kids (a $1 off per person coupon can also be printed from their website) this place proved to be an all day adventure.  We climbed, we adventured, we posed for pictures, we smelled the beautiful flowers, we fed the Koi fish, we played hide and seek, we played in the mountain streams, we mined for quartz, we listened to the carillon, and we picnicked on a fallen log bridge.  The kids played like kids Ipods, no cell phones....just nature and exploring the streams, the rocks, and the plants.  It was a beautiful Arkansas day..dirty, happy, and all.