There is “more to life” even in a Pandemic

COVID-19, we give you the permission to get the heck out of dodge. It’s time to be wild & free. I have been out wandering, but with all preventative measures in place. I have been using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The plan is to continue all measures that are needed to protect myself and others. I don’t think things will ever go back to pre-pandemic times. Now we spend more time at home and sometimes are even able to venture out close to home for exercise or visiting local sites. Pre-pandemic our lives were so hustle and bustle; this is time to slow down and smell the roses.

Zanne at Where Gals Wander inspired me to answer the question – “Is there more to life”?

There is still more!

Quit making excuses and find your “more to life”.

This Pandemic may have you thinking that maybe there isn’t more to life outside your home’s four walls. But that is a lie, don’t listen. There are tons of opportunities to get out and about while still maintaining social distancing and wearing PPE.

COVID-19 Road trips

We have managed to get in quite a few road trips in to Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and around our home state of Georgia. All of our road trips were within a 5 hour drive from our house; if someone would have gotten sick, we could easily get home the same day. We whitewater rafted, boated, played at the beach, ate a lot of wonderful food, found our new favorite ice cream spot, visited some museums, went glamping, hiked and chased waterfalls all while masked and/or 6-feet apart.  Mostly, we are spending time making memories, once again, the more to life.

Here are some of my favorite places that we have visited during 2020 (The year of COVID-19).

Dry Falls, North Carolina
Upper White Water Falls, North Carolina
Margaritaville, Florida
Driftwood Beach, Georgia
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Linville Falls Winery, North Carolina
Linn Cove Viaduct, North Carolina

Staying Safe

Everywhere we have went the majority of people followed all local ordinances.  You can be responsible and still be able to keep everyone safe. During this whole pandemic I can say, that I have never felt like anyone was doing anything unsafe that would negatively affect my health.

I am very fortunate that I am working from home and still have a job (that a lot of people no longer have). COVID-19 came into our communities like a wrecking ball, wrecking jobs, turning schools upside down and for goodness sake, we can’t even find any toilet tissue that is not sand paper textured.

The important thing that we have to see is that things are getting better and as soon as YOU feel safe, it’s time to get back out and spend your time on the trails, meeting new friends, and visiting beautiful sites. Now the timing will be tricky as all states are in different phases of how everything operates; some restaurants are only take out, while others you can eat in. Your perfect time, is when you feel comfortable. One day the supply chain will start functioning at full capacity and we will be able to get products we once could easily get, we will get back to our favorite restaurants, and exploring in favorite or new cities.

Travel Responsibly

Travel responsibly though, make sure you are close enough to home, so if you get sick, you can get home quickly. You do not want to be a hindrance on another hospital (that already might be at full capacity). Some smaller hospitals cannot handle a lot of patients and if a surge of folks travel to said location and get sick, much stress would be put on the hospital and its staff. Make sure to carry some food and water with you in the car, because some areas, restaurants have still not opened or are opened for limited hours. Be prepared to get take out, find a park, and have a picnic; make it part of the adventure…See there it is…more to life.

Opportunity Knocks

COVID-19 has made us come to the realization that we now have opportunities with our families, that we would normally not have pre-pandemic. Life seems to have slowed down. There is more time to exercise, hike and explore nature, participate in your hobbies, maybe play some backyard baseball, and time to prepare delicious recipes.

Things can be simple; even with simple things, there is still more to life. A lot of people complain about all things COVID-19 and I can be one of them too. When you think about the times 10 or 20 years down the road, there will be stories to tell about dinner table conversations, that time when mom made me hike on Mother’s Day, crazy graduation ceremonies, and inventive things we had to do to be safe while also having fun. We will look back and have memories of all the together time that we have been blessed with. Perspective.

Bottom Line: Even when things aren’t status quo, you can still find your “more to life”. Make the ordinary extraordinary by finding something fabulous in each day!

I have been hiking more, running some, recreating photos that I took on my travels in digital design, and traveling the world through food.  I have been cooking Mexican, Filipino, Indian (here’s my vindaloo & naan recipe), Italian, American, Canadian, French, Spanish, and Caribbean cuisine.  If I can’t travel internationally right now, I can surely pretend (remember we learned that in kindergarten) and enjoy the foods of my favorite places.

Planning for that dream vacation

And of course, being on the International travel sidelines…I have been planning two huge trips booked for 2021; Peru and a Mediterranean Cruise.  While sitting the bench, it’s a perfect time to get to plan that dream vacation; you can plan a local road trip too!

Start dreaming about what you want to do, where you want to go, how you want to make a difference, make a plan, put your mask on, grab the hand sanitizer, give people their personal space and most of all be nice. Everyone is dealing with COVID-19 and there could be things going on in others’ lives that you don’t see on the outside. Be the reason they smile today!

Life will go on!  Live it!

XOXO

-S

Lula Lake Land Trust

We headed to Chattanooga this weekend to visit Lula Lake Land Trust on Look Out Mountain. We stopped in Chattanooga for lunch before the hike. The iconic Chattanooga Choo Choo was next door to where we ate, so I had to take a quick photo.

Chattanooga Choo Choo

We headed up to Lula Lake Land Trust. It is up on Lookout Mountain near Rock City. We had never been to Lula Lake, so we didn’t know what to expect. I normally research everything before hand, but all I knew about Lula Lake was there was hiking and a waterfall. I didn’t know how long the trails were or what difficulty they were…

The main route from the parking area to the trails is a gravel road. It is mostly flat, but are a few inclines. It’s about a two mile hike to get to the large waterfall.

To get down to the water fall was pretty difficult and steep…but there were some wooden steps, if you could call them that. The falls were very beautiful. There were quite a few people there. We sat on the rocks with our feet in the water to cool off a little and relax.

Lula Falls

There is also a smaller waterfall before the large one…we decided to check it out on the way out. The hike down was not as tough as the one at the bigger waterfall. It was very pretty and the water is a crystal emerald color. Only two other people were at this one though.

At Lula Lake Land Trust, you have to make reservations and pay before you go. They are only open to the public on certain days…so be sure to pre plan.

After hiking almost 5 miles, we were pooped and wanted a shower, so we headed to the hotel to check in.

We stayed at The Edwin Hotel. It was a tastefully decorated room. There was quite a bit of art and photographs around the entire hotel. Every piece had the artist information with it. That was a very tasteful touch making sure the artist was recognized.

For dinner, we had reservations at Whitebird. Whitebird is located in the Edwin Hotel. Our dinner choices and drinks were phenomenal, but our starter was just good…dessert, we had carrot cake, but it was very dense and we didn’t really care for it. The staff were very attentive and service was top notch. I would recommend Whitebird if you’re in the Chattanooga area.

The Edwin Hotel is located right at the foot of the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge. This bridge is one of my favorite spots to photograph in Chattanooga.

Last night was not like normal nights in Chattanooga for me. I had my camera and tripod in the room, but after all the hiking and full bellies from dinner, we just took a quick walk and I got a cell phone capture of the bridge.

Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge

We decided to stay in for the rest of the night…guess I just needed a night of relaxation.

Sunday morning, valet brought our car up and parked it in a spot that gave me a perfect opportunity to photograph LePetit with the bridge in the background. Then we hit to road to head home.

It was a nice getaway! Just what I needed. Until next time…

XOXO

-S

Valentines Weekend

Well you know it, a long weekend with a “real” holiday and a “fake” holiday (Valentine’s Day as my husband calls it), it’s time to explore!!  We took a half day off work Friday, Valentine’s Day to head to Chattanooga. Why Chattanooga?  Well it’s about half way to our final destination (Nashville), so we wanted to get a head start Friday and there’s all kinds of cool things to see there too, so why not? We booked our room at The Read House Hotel.  The Read House Hotel is phenomenal.  If you’re ever in Chattanooga, you must stay here!

I made dinner reservations at the Public House, a local farm to table; reservations weren’t until 8:45p.m. so that gave us plenty of time to explore.

We drove up Lookout Mountain (as the Incline Railroad was closed for maintenance) and headed to Point Park to see the phenomenal views of the city.

Last but not least was the Walnut Street Bridge.  It is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge and provides a beautiful photography subject.  We walked a little way on the bridge, but it was pretty cold, so we decided to drive to Coolidge Park and see the bridge views from there.  

We headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up for dinner at Public House.

We arrived to dinner a little before our reservations so we took a seat at the bar to have a drink.  I had a Cranberry Cinnamon Margarita; it was very good.  So good, I had another with my dinner.  Portions were huge for starters and entrees; you will not leave hungry that’s for sure.  

Saturday morning, we woke up and had a bite to eat and hubby had his coffee (a must).  We headed out to Nashville.  First stop was Centennial Park and the full scale replica of the Parthenon.  Before researching our trip, I had no idea this was here.  I was so excited to see it.  Sadly it was under renovation and had ugly chain link fences around it.  That didn’t stop anyone from visiting though, there were 3 tour buses while we were there.  It was still a site to see; but I will need to see it again to get the full effect.

Next up, lunch. Hot Chicken in Nashville is a must.  There are quite a few places, but we decided on Hattie Bs.  We got to Hattie B’s and there was a line of about 125-150 people outside.  So we decided to change the plans and head on over the the Farmers Market.  

This market is a must visit; everything outside as far as fresh foods, but also restaurants and a wine tasting room to boot; inside was like a food court.  We stopped at the Natchez Hill Winery Tasting Room for a tasting with some live m music.  Then we split up to try to different food vendors; we met back up to eat.  I had chicken and waffles and hubby had an asian fusion dish.  Next to the Market is the Bicentennial Park (Hot Chocolate race was there Saturday morning, so it still had tents and things roped off from the race).  We did check it out.  Then we went back in to get some Jeni’s Ice cream.  I had the Salted Peanut butter with chocolate flecks in a waffle bowl.  It was delicious; definitely going to have to look for that flavor in Publix.

We then headed to check into the hotel…but our room wasn’t ready.  So we took the Hotel shuttle over to Opryland and Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort.  We wandered around the resort taking in the gardens and restaurants.  There is a Delta Riverboat and acres and acres of gardens inside.  We had wine and people watched; then headed to have dinner.  We had the shuttle pick us up and we headed back to the hotel.

Sunday morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel.  First thing was murals of Nashville!!  It was slightly raining, but that didn’t keep us in.  If you know me, you know I love art, any kind and have a soft place in my heart for urban street art.  First was the What Lifts you Wings; Artist is Kelsey Montague.  She paints interactive murals all around the world.  Next up was The Nashville Walls Project Mural; Artist is Jason Woodside.  Then we headed to get hubby his coffee.  

What time was it?  Lunch time and another Farm to Table was on the agenda.  We headed to Husk for lunch.  We had a little wait, so we headed for a walk down to see the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge and the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.  The texted us our table was almost ready, so we luckily had just made it back to the restaurant.  After we ate, we decided to head back to the hotel, rest for a while and then take the shuttle back into downtown.

We took the shuttle into Broadway and 7th.  There are some absolutely stunning buildings there.

Then we headed to the Walk of Fame and then on to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  And yes again, it was time to taste some more wine.  As you can tell, we love to explore and we love to eat/drink at new places.  So why not combine the two and explore new restaurants/wineries too. We walked to City Winery to have some wine flights and a Charcuterie Board.  We relaxed there for a while until it was time for our dinner reservations at 404 Kitchen in the Gulch.  The highlight was my 404 Margarita. We got our Uber and headed back to the hotel.

Monday we woke up, packed up and headed home.  Hubby had to be at volleyball practice Monday evening.  He did quite a bit of driving on our way home, so I took advantage and took a few photos out the window.  These photos are somewhere between Nashville and Chattanooga.

XOXO

-S