Driving the entire Blue Ridge Parkway, all at once, has been on my Bucket List for years!  Yes, I have driven parts of it here and there, but I thought it would be fun to do it all in one day so that I could see how the elevations and scenery changes along the way.  Usually I am the brains behind our adventures, but Ironman planned this one out himself so I was even more excited than usual (which is pretty hard)!

Friday morning, Ironman and I packed up, left town and headed towards Virginia.

We got a campsite in Otter Creek Campground because it was the closest available to the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  There were hardly any campers, so we felt like we had the place to ourselves.  Unfortunately, we didn't realize that there was no place close to eat so we had to drive quite a ways to find dinner.  I didn't mind though, since that meant more exploring!

Ironman decided that we should head towards Lynchburg, since it is a bigger city and would most likely have plenty of options for dinner.  We were also excited that it is an older city and would probably have a lot of historical buildings downtown!

As you may have guessed if you follow this blog, we sort of travel without a plan.  So, as Ironman drives, I google and try to figure out what we are doing.  Waterstone Fire Roasted Pizza came up as one of the top recommendations for dinner (and we love pizza), so we headed that way.  Let me say, we were not disappointed...and if you are near the area, you need to stop by and order The Big Island.  Oh my goodness, it was delicious.

It was getting dark, so Ironman wanted to get back to camp and settle in for the night.  If we are staying in a hotel, he doesn't care about the time or lighting, but when we camp, he always likes to be back at our tent before dark.  So, we stopped by a little gas station for firewood and made it back just as it was time to turn on the flashlights.  After a few hours reading by the fire and roasting marshmallows, we got into our little tent and called it a night.

As soon as we woke up, we packed up and headed out for a long day ahead of us...remember, we planned to drive the entire Blue Ridge Parkway in one day!  Before going too far, we stopped on the Parkway at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.  On the maps, it was recommended for food and we were hungry.  I'm glad that we stopped, but I'm not sure it I would recommend you do so.  The views were truly beautiful, but the place was packed, the food was ok and the prices were high.  We are always so much happier when we choose the road less traveled and find some local diners in the little towns that we pass by.

And this is where the fun begins.  There are so many overlooks to stop and take in the view, we didn't have time to stop at every single one.  But, since some are better than others, we would choose those!  The views were amazing all day long and I definitely got my fill of mountains and fall colors.

One place that was recommended along the trail was the Mabry Mill.  A husband and wife used to live here and work here.  It was incredible and a good reminder of how easy my life is today.  We don't even realize how many modern conveniences we take for granted!  This was the next place recommended for food on the Parkway maps, but it was packed and we weren't too hungry for lunch yet, so we continued on.

Once we crossed over into North Carolina, Ironman wanted to stop by and see Linville Falls.  The place was absolutely packed (again)...to the point that it felt a little scary to drive on the road where people had parked half on the Parkway and were walking carelessly in front of and close to passing cars.  Luckily, we found a place to park near the entrance and took the short hike to the falls.  

Because Virginia is farther North, we assumed that the fall colors would be better, but we were disappointed and worried a little that we wouldn't see any changing leaves.  However, as soon as we passed over into North Carolina, we were pleasantly surprised.  There was barely any green left and it had all been replaced by golden yellows, burnt oranges and fiery reds.  It was beautiful!

There were tons of tunnels along the trail, but none as long as the tunnels that we remembered having to take in between the Faroe Islands...now, those were long tunnels!

We stopped for a late picnic lunch and then Ironman began to worry that we wouldn't get to our campsite before dark.  So, we picked up the pace and didn't make many more stops.  The sunrise over the mountains this morning was beautiful, but the sunset was even better because the blue tones really came out and highlighted the mountains.

It's a good thing we made it to Mount Pisgah Campground before dark because we had a pretty difficult time finding our campsite.  There was a parking space with arrows that pointed for us to walk through this little section of forest.  Then, there was a clearing and a painted on number so that we knew that we were in the right spot.  I'm pretty sure, if we had arrived after dark, we would have ended up in someone else's tent site or slept in the car!  Last nights campground hadn't had any showers (we didn't know when we reserved it), so we were excited to get to this campground, only to discover that the water main busted and the campground was asking everyone to pack up and head out the next day.  

As soon as we got the tent set up, we needed to get out our flashlights...so we made it just in time again and Ironman was relieved.  We hopped back in the car and headed down the street to have dinner at the Pisgah Inn, which was the last food place recommended on the Parkway map.  It was so packed that they said we would have to wait 2 hours.  So, we got "carry out", but even had to wait about an hour on that!  It was crazy, but again, the views were absolutely beautiful.  However, I wouldn't recommend eating there, but finding a unique diner in a small nearby town.  You may even be the type of camper that cooks your food, so that works too...haha.  We just don't usually do that because I like to try out the local places as we travel!

Before we knew it, it was Sunday morning and time to pack up and head back home!  We stopped by Brevard, NC to walk around the little town and grab some breakfast at Quotations Coffee.  Unfortunately, since it was a Sunday morning, most of the adorable little shops were closed, so we were only able to window shop (this time).  

So, that was a quick weekend.  We drove to the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and camped in Virginia, spent the day driving down the entire parkway and then camped in the southern end of the Parkway.  I love that we saw everything, all at once, so that we have a better idea of what is on the trail and what we want to come back and see and do.  Next time, we will take longer (maybe a week) and enjoy more of the Parkway.  I recommend this drive to everyone.  It was relaxing, a good chance for Ironman and I to catch up, beautiful views everywhere, lots of little towns to explore off the Parkway, tons of campgrounds and so much more!  If you don't want to do the entire thing, I recommend just going to the Transylvania County area.  There are hundreds of beautiful waterfalls to see and, of the entire Parkway, that's the area where the leaves were the most colorful!

Have you been on the Blue Ridge Parkway?  If so, what is your favorite spot?  We would love some recommendations for the next time we head that way!



Ironman and I are not afraid to pack up and get out of town.  To some, it may seem like we are always on the go, but there is a method to this madness.  Instead of live to work, we want to work to live.  Instead of collecting things, we want to collect memories.  I know that "you only live once" is used way too often, but it is important to slow down and take care of ourselves and our loved ones while we are still able.  Here are 6 reasons why I think that every single person needs to take vacation:

1.  RELIEVE STRESS - Most of us work hard at work and then come home and work hard at home.  We are burdened with responsibility and totally exhausted, but have just learned how to handle it and keep going.  Although this may be necessary, it's not always good.   Over time, stress can cause serious health issues and early signs of aging.  So, it's important for us to take time to relax and rest.  This can be as simple as reading a good book on the front porch one evening or even taking a long, uninterupted nap on a Sunday afternoon.  However, many people simply cannot do something like this while at home...that's why we need to get out of our house and our normal routine so that we are forced to slow down.  

Redwoods National Park
2.  QUALITY TIME - Since many of us are so busy, we don't get enough time to nurture our important relationships.  Friends and family are often put on the back burner while we are just trying to get through our days.  Taking a vacation with loved ones is a great way to set aside quality time to spend together and catch up.  However, if you really just need some alone time, consider taking some quality time with you...take yourself on a nice, quiet getaway!

3.  DREAM AND SCHEME - When we are home and feeling bogged down with life, it is hard to look at the big picture, dream and set goals.  However, each time Ironman and I get away for even a day, I immediately notice that our conversation changes.  Instead of talking about immediate issues and concerns, we end up talking about the bigger picture things.  I love how we always return home with new ideas and, usually, a new item for our Bucket List!

St Louis Arch
4.  SEE THE WORLD - Speaking about Bucket Lists, when you get out of town, you are getting out of your own little bubble and your world view is expanded just a little wider.  The more I travel, the more my perception of the world grows and changes.  I see how different people are, but how alike they are.  I am reminded how small I am, but how big God is.  I get out of my comfort zone, but learn more about myself each time.  It is really good to be reminded that there is more out there than just me and my own little life.

St Lucia
5.  IMPROVED ATTITUDE - While planning an upcoming vacation, we spend lots of time looking up places on Pinterest, dreaming up ideas, laying out the details and so much more before we actually go on the trip.  This means months and months (sometimes) of exciting conversations that begin with "what if?!?!?!".  Isn't it fun to hear about an upcoming trip that a friend is planning?  Don't you get excited for them just hearing them talk about it?  Aren't you inspired to plan your own trip when you see their eyes light up while talking about theirs?  Just like your them, aren't you happier about your life when you are planning and talking about an upcoming event that you can't wait to see through?

Hartsville, SC
6.  INSPIRE OTHERS - The more you take time for yourself, the more you show others that it is important to you.  Imagine what it would be like to work with people who are all planning upcoming vacations and feeling excited about it.  Isn't that a much better environment than tired, stressed out co-workers?  Attitudes are contagious, so make yours a good one.  Plus, you'll be a better you when you are not burned out.

I can't remember where I saw this, but years ago I read an article on how much vacation people need.  I think that the article was written by a European man, but I can't recall anything else.  What I do recall, however, is how much vacation time he believed in (because I was totally onboard!!!).  Here is what he believed people needed for optimal health and wellness...

1 day per week...for example, do nothing but rest at home alone all day Sunday
1 weekend per month...for example, go out of town for two nights with your spouse
1 week per quarter...for example, rent a place on the beach or go on a cruise, etc. with friends
1 month per year...for example, go camping with your family every August
1 year every 7 years...for example, work 6 years and save enough money during that time to take off the 7th year and travel the world (this one I thought was the absolute best, but craziest)

Do you take enough time off to rest and relax?  When you do, can you tell how much better you feel, how much more focused you work, how much more positive your attitude is and how much smoother your relationships go?



Not everyone has the time or money to take a vacation, but I bet you could find room to squeeze in a little day trip!  The more I research South Carolina, the more I realize there is a lifetime's worth of stuff to do around here.  Of course, I want to do it all.  So, two of my friends and I decided to check out Charleston yesterday and I want to share 6 fun things that you can do in just 1 day...

POE'S TAVERN  This unique little place was named after Edgar Allen Poe.  The front porch gave it an at home feeling that I really loved.  We got great outdoor seats, had a friendly waiter, ate some amazing burgers and didn't feel rushed out like at many restaurants.  Everyone around us was just hanging out, having drinks and catching up with their friends, making the atmosphere really calm and relaxing.  The weather was perfect and it was on a sweet little street with many other little shops and restaurants.  Gotta say...the women's bathroom has the smallest stalls I ever remember using in my entire life.  But I still recommend this place to everyone!

FORT MOULTRIE  Just down the street was this old fort.  We were able to walk through all the old tunnels and see the ammunition storage rooms and more!  There was a great ocean view and all the old cannons were left in place so you can get a feel for how massive they were.  Admission is free!

THE BATTERY  After we finally found a parking space, we took a walk on the battery.  It was super windy, but it was so good to get outside and walk around with this view.  There were walkers and runners everywhere, couples taking a stroll, people walking their dogs, families who must be on vacation and men working on many of the older buildings and homes.  The park next to the battery had so many beautiful trees and open benches.  One time in college, I was lucky enough to stay in one of these enormous and amazing homes on the battery with my friend Erin!  

BELGIAN GELATO  We hopped back in the car and made our way downtown in search of gelato because we heard that the Affogato was to die for...basically, you choose your gelato, get a shop of espresso on top and then cover it in whipped cream.  Yes, it was as good as it sounds.

KING STREET  If you like eating and shopping, you'd love King Street.  It's like paradise, but not for your pocket book.  There are so many great stores and good places to eat.  If you plan to go there and just window shop, stay strong.  But, if you enjoy the outdoors and want to save a little money, I suggest picking up some food and heading down to the end of King Street to enjoy a picnic in the park.  There are always people there playing sports, instruments or even doing magic shows...you'll find something, trust me.

ANGEL OAK  Even though we knew that this was location on Johns Island, we had no idea how far away it really was...but, it was worth the drive.  This oak tree is over 400 years old and is something so beautiful, but also something sort of nightmarish.  All the limbs were all over the place.  To walk around, we were stepping over or walking under.  Some were so heavy, they had fallen to the ground and were slowly getting buried deeper and deeper under the earth.  This would be a gorgeous place to get professional photos taken, but I need to warn you, the mosquitos were absolutely terrible.  So, be sure to come prepared to defend your skin!

Our time in Charleston was over before we knew it and it was already time to head back home.  There is still so much to do and see...which means we will definitely have to come back!  

Have you been to Charleston?  Is there something that you recommend we do or see on our next trip there?



I love to see new places and do new things all the time and could travel non-stop.  However, since Ironman and I have to be home sometimes, I end up whining that "there's nothing to do in Florence".  So, instead of going out of town this past weekend (which is what we normally do), we decided to have a mini-staycation and play tourist in our own town.  I found that there is actually a lot to do around here...so much, in fact, that we barely scratched the surface.  So, in case you live around here and suffer from the same "there's nothing to do here" problem as me, I want to share some fun things we did the last few days!

LULA'S COFFEE CO.  Lula's has such a relaxing atmosphere, great music, baked goods and snacks and, of course, great coffee and other drinks if coffee isn't your thing.  I love that they are a non-profit and do a lot to support the community and important causes around the world.  Every Thursday night is Open Mic Night, so I went there with a few friends to start off my weekend staycation.  My favorite time to come is when Jeff is working...I always ask him to simply "surprise me" with a drink and I am always happy with what he whips up!  In light of fall and all things pumpkin...you need to go there and ask for an Ichabod Crane.  You can thank me next time you see me.

TOP HAT SPECIAL-TEAS  I have wanted to get Afternoon Tea at Top Hat since I was in college, but I never made it happen.  Wow, have I been missing out!  As soon as Ironman got off work on Friday afternoon, we headed over.  Prepare for photo overload right here...

You start out by choosing whether you want hot or cold tea and what flavor.  They bring out an entire pot for each person and cover it in the cutest little knit warmer.

There are 6 courses...yes 6!  The 1st was a little sandwich plate with chicken salad sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches.  It was delicious!

The 2nd course was a fresh out-of-the-oven scone with lemon curd and some type of whipped cream to use as the topping.  Normally I don't like scones because I think that they are too dry, but this one was the perfect combination of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside!

The 3rd course was a fruit, nut and cheese plate.  The fruit was so fresh and crispy...not like what I end up buying at the store each week!

The 4th course was pumpkin bread.  They left the lemon curd and whipped cream on the table for us to finish off on top of this bread.  Wow!

The 5th course was a quiche plate.  Again, these were fresh out-of-the-oven and full of flavor.

By the 6th course, Ironman and I were so stuffed, we didn't know if we would be able to finish!  But, the hot s'more brownies told us we'd be ok and go ahead and dig in. 

We finished every single last bite and sip of the entire 6 course afternoon tea and will most definitely be back again soon!

PALMETTO PEDDLERS  With full bellies, we headed over to Palmetto Peddlers to look around.  Our porch swing is so nice, but we would love to find some older black iron chairs and table to also go on the front porch so that we can eat out there as the weather is cooling off.  A lot of times, these type places will have something like it since the little booths are full of old items.  I especially love all the old, colorful pyrex and the pink and green dish sets. This is a great place to go if you want to just walk around and slowly browse, but not have to spend any money.

LONG GRAIN CAFE  By the time we had filled up on afternoon tea and walked around Palmetto Peddlers, it was time to go home.  We aren't night owls and love to go to bed early, even on the weekends!  So, Saturday morning, we woke up and headed over to Long Grain Cafe for breakfast.  You know Ironman must come here a lot when he has to let the waitress know that he does not want his usual AND when the waitress asks him "where's the other one?", she is referring to my dad.  In case you didn't know, Ironman and my dad work together and have breakfast and lunch together nearly everyday.  Lucky ducks :)

MCLEOD FARMS  After breakfast, we decided to head over to McLeod Farms.  I heard that they were doing a corn maze and wanted to go since I've never done one!  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only did they have the corn maize, but they have wagon rides with horses, you could pick your own pumpkin to take home, games and face-painting, fall foods, a grocery store with fresh meats and produce, a BBQ joint and even an antique museum that's free!  If you are in the area, you should definitely go while they have all the fall festivities still going on.

FARMERS MARKET  I always thought that the farmers market was only opened on Saturdays and since we are usually out of town, I've maybe been 2 times in my life.  But, as I was planning this weekend staycation, I noticed that it is open every day except for Sunday!  So, we stopped by to check it out.  I don't know if it's the time that we arrived or the day or the time of year, but it was pretty dead...not gonna lie.  We didn't even buy anything.  But, it is a nice place to come if you want some fresh produce!

WHOLLY SMOKIN'  Ironman and I aren't big meat eaters and I usually don't like BBQ, but I love this place.  They have lots of choices and the food is great. Plus, it's in downtown Florence which is convenient if you want to walk around and window shop after your meal!

FLORENCE COUNTY MUSEUM  Right across the street from Wholly Smokin' is the Museum.  I never visited when it was in the old building, but decided that I wanted to visit the new one that they just built and moved into downtown.  I was happy to find that it was free!  I love free stuff.  They have one side dedicated to art and one side dedicated to history.  There was a lot more on the history side and it was fun to go through and learn more about where I was born!  Also, every 3 months, they have some sort of focus and right now is Cale Yarborough.  So, if you are interested in NASCAR you should go check out this section of the museum!

FIREPIT.  So this was at home, but it was something new!  Ironman used his birthday money to buy a fire pit and we had some friends over.  I love how simple it was.  We just got a fire started, sipped on some hot drinks, talked for hours and had a great time.  Again, this was free (well, if you already own a fire pit) and it was a great thing to do to get outdoors and spend time with friends and family!

Because the weekend is short and there is actually a lot more to do in town than I thought, we ran out of time and didn't get to do everything that I thought would be fun to do while playing tourist in our own town.  Lesson learned, there is a lot to do in Florence, SC.  I won't ever whine about that again.  So, in the past, here are some things that I have already enjoyed in town...

FLORENCE COUNTY LIBRARY  When Ironman and I were first married and living on love, we didn't have money for cable and books and really any form of entertainment.  So, we would go to the library and check out DVD's and books and use the free wifi!  Our library has things going on all the time, it is clean, enormous and all you need is a library card.

RAIL TRAIL  I love to go walking on the rail trail.  It is great because it is just a straight shot, no turns and no cars to worry about.  It's the perfect place to go with friends and catch up while you exercise!  Plus, being outdoors is so good for us.

THIEVES MARKET  This place is similar to Palmetto Peddlers.  Lots of old treasures in every corner.  You could spend hours.  We have found several quality items for our house and it helped us save so much money!

LYNCHES RIVER COUNTY PARK  Last month Ironman and I went there and were pleasantly surprised.  We took a picnic, wandered around the park, walked across the canopy bridge and the river walk.  It was just about a 20 minute drive out of town and was free!

THE CLAY POT  Just like Lulas Coffee Co., The Clay Pot is another great coffee shop in town.  The nice thing about this place is that it is downtown (right next to Wholly Smokin') and you can go there each day for a homemade, healthy lunch special.  They also make their own beautiful clay pottery, use it in their shop, sell it and even offer classes to learn how to make your own!

See what I mean?  Lots to do in town and I haven't even scratched the surface.  Most times I find out about things going on through word of mouth, sometimes the events pop up in my FaceBook newsfeed, but recently I discovered that you can even look up events and plan events in your area through Eventbrite's event planning software!  I have purchased tickets for events through Eventbrite in the past, but didn't know that you could browse events around town...check it out and see if there is something that catches your eye!

Ironman and I are always looking for new things to do and want to do more to enjoy where we live.  If you live in Florence and have suggestions, please share them in the comments below!  Or if you live out of town, give us some good ideas and maybe we will put your town on our Bucket List!