As you may have read from this post, my wife and I went on a road trip vacation in April. Here are some of my observations:
1.) Mad Libs aren’t just for kids. After 35+ hours in a car together, my wife and I came up with some, um…pretty “Adult” Mad-Lib stories. Definitely great for some laughs! 1b.) My grammar knowledge isn’t what it used to be (as you’ve probably noticed from reading this blog).
2.) The American Autobahn exists, and its from Columbia, SC to Charleston, SC. The speed limit was 70mph and at one point, I was going about 85 trying to keep up with traffic and I was getting passed by some people like I was going in reverse. I like speed, although my co-worker/boss would laugh at that statement, and I thought it was a bit ridiculous. My poor 4 cylinder Hyundai Sonata was screaming to keep up. Also, here’s my PSA for today…people need to slow down in work zones. I don’t care how fast you want to go on the Interstate, but when there are workers with wives, husbands, kids and pets at home working 10 feet from where your 2,000lb car is flying by…you can slow down. You won’t be any later than you already are.
3.) Unfortunately, Kentucky and Indiana confirmed some stereotypes for me. I’m not going to say which ones, you probably already know. Go Hoosiers!
4.) The best on-stage county music talent in Minnesota is probably the worst talent in Nashville. This probably isn’t surprising, but ‘WOW’ there were some good artists singing. The unfortunate part is I don’t remember a single name of any of them. Not because I was drinking, but because they kind of all run together from bar to bar.
5.) Mother Nature can be a bitch and not care whether or not you’ve been planning a vacation for months. My wife and I never really had dreams of sipping cocktails on the beach, we’re not that type. We were hoping for shorts and t-shirts, however. Nashville was 35 degrees all day, every day on our trip. In Charleston, it was windy and rainy for 85% of the time we were there. I will say the night we arrived in Charleston, it was beautiful. The nicest days were when we were driving….obviously.
6.) Technology helps being away from kiddos. Video calling your kids before they go to bed is such a great way to remember what they look like when you’re 2,000 miles away. I’m kidding; there are probably other reasons, too.
7.) You need to try the local food when you go on vacation. This might be another no-brainer, but there was just such good food in every city that we stopped at! Specifically the BBQ & “Hot Chicken” in Nashville and seafood in Charleston was so good! We waited in line in 34 degree weather in Nashville for an hour and a half to get into ‘Hattie B’s‘ to try some authentic Hot Chicken and it was worth every second! It’s so much more fun to enjoy the foods that the region or city is famous for and venture out from the same restaurants you can enjoy anywhere. Also, macaroni and cheese is better in the south…like, way better.
8.) Most importantly, my wife and I can be in the same car, the same hotel rooms, and the same restaurants for 6 straight days (should have been 8) and still enjoy each other’s company! Despite starting the trip off with her being sick at 3am before we had to leave (NO, SHE’S NOT PREGNANT–DON’T EVEN START WITH ME), to having to make a decision to cancel some plans and come home early; I can say that we genuinely had fun the entire time! (awww)
Charleston, South Carolina was the 3rd stop on our road trip and I want to start off by saying that Charleston is home to some of the nicest (if not, theee nicest) people I’ve ever encountered while on vacation. And I’ve been to over 4 different places.
We arrived to Charleston from Nashville to an absolutely beautiful day with an awesome hotel setting. We checked in to the Shem Creek Inn in Mt. Pleasant (just across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. For the first time in my entire life, I was going to try one of those “Tips to get a better room” things, so I left Kate in the car and started preparing my speech while walking into the hotel. The super nice receptionist at the hotel immediately asked how I was doing and if I was checking in. I told her I was and that we were visiting celebrating our 10 year anniversary. She said “Ohhhhhh, congratulations!….Let me see if I have any better rooms available”. As you can tell, I’m quite the conversationalist and my sales pitch of “Hi, I’m here for my 10 year anniversary” worked. She upgraded us to a corner suite king room on the creek side with a wrap around balcony. And then……AND THEN…she handed me two beers. Two.Free.Beers. just for checking in!
Instantly my favorite hotel of our trip. They must know, because they followed me on Insta’.
After lugging our luggage (that has to be where the term “lugging” comes from, right?) into our room. . . Actually, I say “lugging” like we were huffing and puffing going up 6 flights of stairs with 9 suitcases and 3 coolers, when in reality–everything was on a giant 4 wheeled cart and we took an elevator all the way to the second floor… #exercise… After we got to our room, we obviously enjoyed our beer with our view of everything.
We had scheduled a Ghost Tour of the USS Yorktown for that evening at 8pm, which I was probably more excited about than Kate (fun fact about the author: Mike really enjoys ghosts and paranormal stuff…but HATES scary movies-especially ones with ghosts). So we asked the super nice hotel receptionist for advice on eating; if we should go before or after-she recommended after. So we took a nice walk down the boardwalk before going over to the ship, which was about 5 minutes away.
When we got to the dock at Patriot’s Point where the USS Yorktown is, we asked a security guard a few different questions about the ship and he said that the tour guide that we have, is probably the best in the world at giving that tour. He has written several books regarding the Yorktown as well as Charleston in general. His name is Bruce Orr and he was phenomenal. We didn’t really have many (any) ‘ghost experiences’ on the ship, but the stories behind the ship and the tour was phenomenal. We both had a lot of fun and I bought his book and got a picture with him… :)
The tour was over at about 10pm, so we found a spot to eat literally right next to our hotel called Vickery’s . I wanted some authentic seafood; so I had the Lowcountry sauté and Kate ordered the Shrimp and Scallops with Basil Pesto. You don’t care-but I don’t care either, it was awesome and you should go there. Also, the waiter (again-super nice) was like “you guys came all the way out here and haven’t had fried green tomatoes?”. So, sat down next to us in our booth and ‘sold’ them to us. So, always looking to spend more money, we ordered those as well and HOLY F were they good! I generally dislike tomatoes, but these were so damn good! Big fan. The waiter was awesome, he even gave us some “under the radar” bars to try out during our trip. Also, they played 90’s music–which was awesome; including the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Theme Song!
The next day we went to Middleton Place Plantation to check out how the rich and famous of the 1850s lived. It was pretty cool. That’s all I’m going to say, it’s a plantation…not Wally World; and it was cold and drizzly. We then had a harbor cruise and reservations at HUSK later that day, so we walked around downtown Charleston for a while when we got back. Quick fun fact about HUSK, is it was recently named the most iconic restaurant of South Carolina: (See). Then we got coffee at a place called The Rise Coffee Bar; some of the best coffee I’ve ever had-seriously! After walking around Waterfront Park for awhile and having fun with our Slow Motion feature on our phones, we started towards the harbor. We hopped on the Harbor Cruise at 3:15 pm and chatted for awhile with our captain about which craft beer they were serving was the best. He was great!
Unfortunately, I can’t remember which one I picked–but he was right (pretty big information nugget there, huh..). The harbor cruise was really cool, we saw lots of different attractions in Charleston from a different perspective, including Fort Sumter (where the Civil War started), and a really cool view of the USS Yorktown, the Marina, and the bridge. We also had dolphins swimming along the cruise for a majority of it–that was pretty cool!The captain also said that Charleston has been voted the friendliest city in America for the past 20 years. I haven’t fact-checked, but I believe him.
Anyways, during the last part of the harbor cruise, I get the following text from my mom (babysitter team #1): “I may not take Grace to ECFE.. I think I’m getting sick“. This immediately sent us into ‘Parent Mode’ and we started thinking “Ok, Kate was sick before we left, now she’s sick…the kids are going to get sick”. We started the conversation about skipping the rest of the trip and heading home in the event that they got the flu. We ate at HUSK after the cruise and the food was amazingly delicious, the atmosphere was awesome, the waitress was great…but we didn’t really enjoy it because all we kept doing was texting back and forth with home trying to figure something out with the kids. This obviously wasn’t a conversation either of us wanted to have at that point in time-but our kids are important to us…you might have made a different decision.
We made the decision that night at the hotel to cancel the rest of our trip (which included a night in Gatlinburg, TN and whitewater rafting in the Great Smokey Mountains) and head for home. I chatted with the same receptionist at the hotel (after one night of our upgraded room) and she was amazingly supportive and told us that they would absolutely waive the cancellation fee because of our situation. Seriously, one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed at.
We left for home at 5am on Tuesday and made it to Chicago at 8:30 that night. Home at 2:30 Wednesday.
Bye Charleston…I’ll be back someday to finish off my extra 2 nights at the Shem Creek Inn.
Some more photos:
Thanks for reading!! Go visit Charleston–seriously.
I apologize for the lack of posts lately, I’m sure there has been a void in your life that just couldn’t be filled or overcome. I’m sorry.
The reason for the lack of updates was because my wife and I took a road trip! About 6 months ago, we made the decision to plan for a vacation to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! Kate and I never really went on a honeymoon and never really took a “big trip” before we had kids. We did most things on the cheap and put money into our first house. The first 6 years of our marriage, we spent an absurd amount of our own hard-earned money fixing up a house to flip it. So, while our friends and family were taking big elaborate trips, honeymoons, and vacations, we were pulling up old smelly carpet, replacing appliances, landscaping, installing cabinets, and refinishing hardwood floors.
Almost the same. . . Ok, anyways–back on topic… Kate suggested that we go to Nashville, TN for vacation. Kate and her brother went about 5 years ago and she thought that I would really enjoy it (don’t you dare throw that previous paragraph at me….I stayed home-and, since this blog is all about me, that doesn’t count). So, in the fall of 2017, we made the decision to officially put it on the calendar and book a trip to Nashville in April! After looking at a map, we figured out that Charleston is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Nashville–we could go there for a couple days too…and we could break up both long drives with stops in St. Louis, Gatlinburg, and Chicago. BOOM! It was settled.
We went through a travel agent, which—I’m not sure was necessary; I didn’t have to pay anything extra and she found some pretty cool hotels, but…eh; I probably could have done it as well. Since it didn’t cost me anything extra–I guess it was alright. The trip was set, we were going to leave early morning on Thursday, drive to St. Louis and spend the night and arrive in Nashville on Friday. Friday through Sunday morning would be in Nashville, Sunday through Wednesday morning would be in Charleston, Wednesday – Thursday would be Gatlinburg, and finally Thursday – Friday would be Chicago.
So, the Wednesday night before the trip we are going to bed around 11pm and my wife sits up in bed and says “I think I’m getting sick”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a nightmare–I was very much awake because I could hear my 3 year old awake and crying in her room. After I get back from getting her back to sleep; the 11 month old is up. Kate hasn’t left the bathroom since I went into the 3 year old’s room a couple hours ago. Always a good sign.
Once I finally got back to bed, I asked an extremely sensitive and caring rhetorical question that I didn’t want the answer to: “Did you puke?”
“yeah-a bunch”. . . Instantly, this went through my mind: (Chris Farley Voice) “good, Great, Grand, WONDERFUL!” (Don’t get that joke? Click here.)
Ok, so what the hell do we do now? We’re scheduled to blast off in like 4 hours! Kate’s sick, I’m super tired and the girls are most likely out of whack now for the day. Probably not how grandma and grandpa envisioned the babysitting sentence starting off on day one. Anyways, around 10am, Kate finally comes downstairs and I buttoned up my salesman pants and talked her into still going on the trip. I knew that if we didn’t leave–we never would. And the car was packed and I had been overdosing on caffeine.
Ok–I’m coming to the realization that this is probably going to be a long post. So if you need to pee; I’d do it now.
We left for St. Louis about 5 hours later than we initially planned on leaving—not the worst thing in the world; but still. Kate was an absolute trooper; she didn’t feel awesome, but made it all the way to St. Louis in one shot (minus one stop in Cedar Rapids, IA to visit my cousin).
We got to St. Louis at about 8:30pm and fell directly face-first into bed. Now, as anybody knows, once a person in a house gets sick–the others are sure to follow. This was definitely on our minds the entire trip to St. Louis, “what if the kids get sick? What do we do?” After chatting with my parents who again, were taking the first shift of babysitting (each set of grandparents got 4 days), they said the kids were doing awesome and that we should enjoy the trip, with Kate feeling better (not 100% yet), we agreed that should be the plan.
St. Louis was cool, but honestly; we were there for such a short amount of time that we really didn’t take in much (any) of the city. We went to the arch because it was literally across the street from our hotel (Hampton Inn at the Arch); but in the short time I was there, I was really impressed with the downtown area of STL!
Ok while I’m typing this, I’m having a change of thought. Cory Cove on 100.3 KFAN, would call this an “on-air production meeting”. This is already getting long, so instead of having a long 50,000 word post, I’m going ‘glaze over’ the entire trip and put links to the different cities we went to, and you can get my thoughts on those directly at the bottom of this post (with pictures!!). Hopefully the rest of this post intrigues you enough to click on these. #clickbait
After a couple days in Nashville, we headed over to Charleston and while enjoying a really interesting harbor tour of Charleston; I received the following text from my mother: “I may not take Grace to ECFE.. I think I’m getting sick”.
Immediately my wife and I went from “vacation mode” to “parent mode”. We spent the rest of the night contemplating whether or not we cut the vacation short and go home or trust that the kids will be fine and continue with our trip. This conversation went well into the evening and we finally made the decision that if the kids did get sick, we would want to be there; and probably more importantly, they would want us there. So we made the decision to leave Charleston Tuesday morning, skip the Gatlinburg stop and drive as far as we could.
Turns out “as far as we could” is 14 hours, 1,243 miles, and one time change. Charleston to Chicago. #RoadWarriers
We spent the night in Chicago in a 2 person whirlpool suite so we could relax after sitting in a car seat literally all day. We had a bottle of wine and some fantastic Lou Malnati’s Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza. This was actually pretty nice and relaxing.
After a 2,879.3 mile round trip (Two Thousand, Eight Hundred Seventy Nine POINT Three) we got back home about 2pm on Wednesday (2 days earlier than we planned). I will say that the reaction we got from Grace when we walked in the door made me forget about the fact we had cut our trip short…Although, I definitely was a bit resentful that I had to cut our first “real vacation” in quite some time short, but it was good to be home.
However, I am curious and would love your opinion. Please leave me a comment on what you would have done. My wife and I had an extremely hard time making the decision to come home. The thing that we kept thinking about was if the 3 year old got sick. IF she were to get sick, she’s going to want mom & dad (mom) next to her –no question; the 11 month old probably couldn’t care less. That alone was a driving factor in us coming home early. So please–let me know what you would have done; would you have done the same thing or would you have stayed?
Sorry for getting long-winded…The experts would say that I’m 736 words over the ideal length at this point.
Oh, and the girls never got sick…
Please read my blog posts on the other cities. They’re not as long and probably a lot more humorous; unless you just don’t find me funny, and that’s OK!–many people don’t (my wife, kids, parents, friends, in-laws, colleagues, the cashier at Target, etc)…
As I mentioned in my previous post, last weekend my in-laws paid for a hotel room for all of their kids/grandchildren to be together and have fun for one weekend. There were definitely some things that I observed, that I would like to share with you.
Here’s at least 10. . .
1.)A hotel is a pizza joint’s main source of income. In cities with both a hotel, (motel—Holidaay Iiiinnnnn) and a pizza joint, it absolutely has to be. I saw a different pizza delivery person every 20 minutes. I suppose that people get to the hotel and think “I just carried 27 bags, 6 kids, a table, cooler, food, walked the longest hallway of all time…pizza sounds like a great ‘pick-me-up'”. Besides, it’ll go great with the beer. (Hot Tip: if you live in a town with a hotel but no pizza place – move; if that isn’t an option-open a pizza joint and thank me later. A phone call from your yacht will be just fine.)
2.) Related…It’s nearly impossible to eat healthy at a hotel. Let’s be serious-no one brings bags of salad into a hotel room. Maybe a neglected fruit or veggie tray; but the stars of the show are generally licorice, cookies, pizza, and soda/alcohol. OR..you and the family go out to eat, which is usually unhealthy as well. This isn’t a “health and fitness” blog, just saying…
3.) No matter how bad of a parent that you think you are; a hotel is a great place to see parents much worse (portrayed) than yourself. Especially at the pool area. There are kids swimming while parents are scrolling through their phones. Disclaimer: I’m not immune to this–I definitely check my phone more often than I probably should; but I was also in the pool with my kiddos-playing with them. There are a lot of impatient and grumpy parents out there as well…
4.) And, no matter how great of a parent that you think you are; a hotel is also a great place to see parents much better (portrayed) than yourself. You know the ones, the parents who are always bright and smiley, with a million things to do with the kids. More importantly, they look like they are genuinely enjoying everylittleactivity that they are doing with their family. Weirdos.
5.)There are no good places to get rid of dirty diapers. I used the men’s room bathroom down the hall…. :D. As most mens’ rooms go, the diaper was the best smelling thing in there.
6.)Pool/Court side rooms are awesome, until they’re not. When everyone has a room court-side as we did; all of the cousins could run around, play basketball, volleyball, go swimming etc. It was awesome, they could do it all together while the parents could either go play with them, or watch from the “Base Camp” 20 feet away. They’re not awesome when your little kids go to bed at 8pm and the pool/court closes at 11pm. 3 hours of agonizing over which stray volleyball banging against the door is going to wake the kids up or, more importantly, spill my cocktail.
7.)You look forward to quiet time! From 11:01pm to 8:00am there was almost complete silence! It was marvelous! The downside is that quiet time basically means that the area is closed; not “you can sit here, you just have to keep your voices down”. It means “go to bed, it’s 11pm-you have kids who don’t care you’re on vacation they will wake you up early.”
8.)Quiet time is strictly enforced by Ruth. Ruth was the enforcer of the hotel; the Derek Boogaard of the hotel if you will. If you weren’t in your room at 11:01pm; she was going to put you in there, and wait awkwardly until you fell asleep. I’m fine with this at night, but when your kids wake up at 6am and the curfew doesn’t get lifted until 8am, you’re kind of stuck in that hotel room for a couple hours. “THIS PLACE IS LIKE A PRISON!!”
9.) Pools are dirty. Breaking news, right? I distinctly remember a point when I was holding my 10 month old and I saw some brown stuff at the bottom of the pool, looked at my wife in horror and said to her: “is that us?” Sometimes I don’t think; and this was one of those times–I slid my foot through the brown mystery substance. It was sand (whew!). Sand, at the bottom of an indoor pool- in central Minnesota- in the winter. How does that even happen? Also, the amount of snot that gets smeared into the pool water is disgusting. I saw my kids do it, I saw other kids do it. I saw parents do it. Kids, this is why you don’t drink pool water; you could die.
10.) For now, my kids like me. They loved swimming with mom and dad in the pool, jumping in from the side while I caught them, and absolutely had a blast when I could throw my 3 year old into the air about 10 feet and catch her. We had a blast! I know that eventually, they aren’t going to want to do that with me, so I really enjoyed the time we had while they wanted to have it!
Thanks for reading the entire post! If you made it down here, here’s a bonus number 11!
11.) When called upon, my kids can sleep through the night! My wife and I were borderline terrified of how both kids would sleep in the same room after the past couple weeks we’ve had at home. Both of our kids are LOUD criers and inevitably, if one wakes up the rest of the block wakes up. Somehow, both slept through the night; allowing mom and dad to get a full 6 hours!
This past weekend, I was swimming in a hotel pool with my 3-year-old daughter Grace. She can’t really swim, so I was basically holding her life jacket while she kicked and splashed. She loved it. I’m not big into swimming, but I love watching my kids have fun; so it was really enjoyable. The pool was warm, a bit crowded; but we had fun.
About 10 minutes into our Saturday morning swimming, a very quiet and shy little girl wearing green arm floaties came directly up to me and very quietly asked if she could play with us. She softly said her name was Destiny, and I would guess she was probably 4-6. I did a pretty thorough glance around to see if I could see some sort of parent figure looking at her or me; and didn’t see anyone that caught my eye. Regardless, she seemed pretty harmless, I asked Grace if she cared if Destiny played with us. Always one to make new friends, she said “Sure!”.
Well, Destiny was much more interested in me helping to hold her up by the strap on the back of her arm floaties so she could swim better (as I was doing with Grace), than playing with Grace. Since Grace is my daughter, I’m obviously going to be much more attentive to her and making sure she was having a blast. Unfortunately, I got to the point where I was almost ignoring Destiny. Not because she wanted to play, or anything like that; she was a sweet, albeit a little awkward, little girl. Because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to rescue my own kid from the bottom of the pool. Now, conversely, in the back of my mind during all of this was “what happens if I look over and this little girl goes under while I’m playing with my kid”. The whole ordeal is getting a bit stressful at this point. I glance around for some sort of parent/guardian for Destiny…nothing. :(
Parents, am I wrong to admit that in a situation where my kid and your kid are both going under water; that I’m saving my kid 10 times out of 10? Once mine is safe, I’ll go for yours, I promise. But am I a terrible person for admitting that? Look, I’ll save as many people as I can-given the opportunity, but my kids are going to be my first priority in a safety situation. Please tell me I’m not a jerk for thinking this way.
About an hour later Destiny was still there, but I think she was slowly getting the hint that if she didn’t want to play with Grace, I wasn’t really enjoying having to watch her as well. I felt really bad, but I’m not very good in those situations. Still no parent figure that I could see either, and I’ve had Lasik.
**For the first time in any of my blog posts, I’m going to have a point, and I’m getting to that point very soon-I promise.**
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this giant inflatable ball appears! This thing was so cool!! The kids in the pool, young and old, loved it. So I grabbed Grace and we ran around the pool with the other kids ‘booping’ it back in the air like we were at a rock concert. This went on for about 20-30 minutes and then it was time for us to head back to the room to eat lunch, and I was out of breath.
As I’m getting out of the pool, Destiny floats over and again, very quietly says something to me: “I haven’t gotten to touch it”. I didn’t really know what she was talking about (I’m not bright), so I think I looked at her a little weird before realizing that she meant she hadn’t gotten to play with the ball that all of the other kids were playing with. I didn’t know what to say to her, so I said “well, keep trying!”. As you can tell, Tony Robbins and I are basically the same person…
As Grace and I are walking away, the ball comes flying out of the pool right towards us-slow motion style. I got my hands on the ball and this 10-12 year old girl comes running up to throw it back in. So, I stopped her quick and said “NO RUNNING BY THE POOL!!!” Just kidding. I actually said: “Hey, this little girl right here (pointing to Destiny in the pool) hasn’t gotten to touch the ball yet”. “OK!” the girl said and pointed right at little Destiny and under hand threw it right towards her!
BUT! Since kids now days are becoming more awesome because they’re being forced to (See: Parkland, Florida). I know, I said no political talk, but let’s be honest; when you were in high school, were you doing/thinking the things that these kids are? No, the answer is no-you weren’t.
Anyways, The other kids all heard the conversation that I had with the girl outside of the pool, so they caught the ball and walked it over to Destiny so she could throw it in the air.
You guys, she lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It was so much fun to watch her instantly being able to play with the rest of the kids around her. It made me really feel good that Grace was able to see the whole thing as my wife and I always stress being nice to everyone to her. Now, I’m not telling this story to make myself sound like this great and wonderful person; I can do that on my own-just ask me. I wanted to tell the story to remind people, that sometimes a very small act of kindness can make a person’s entire day. Not only will I remember how much fun Grace and I had while we were swimming, I’ll also remember the look on little Destiny’s face when she finally got to be included with her newfound friends.
Also, I still didn’t see any parents to watch their child have the best time of the their swimming session. I’ll blog more on my thoughts on THAT particular issue and other observations from the hotel later this week.
Have a great rest of your week everyone.
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