Our 5000 Mile Road-Trip Christmas Vacation

Hey everyone!  So happy to be back and revving up for a great "2015!"  The last of Christmas 2014 has been packed away, furniture dusted, and floors vacuumed of all traces of glitter & faux snow.  Well, making all that glitter & snow disappear is kind of a stretch -- just when you think you've gotten it all, it appears for an encore!  Oh well, I guess I don't mind some sparkles on my shoes and a snowflake or two on kitty whiskers is kind of cute!

As some of you already know, The Man and I took a road-trip to VA to spend Christmas with our son, dil, and our two youngest grandchildren.  The reason we drove rather than fly was so we could see some of the sights along the way.  It was truly a wonderful trip ( even being stranded by an ice-storm in Abilene on our way home), and I would love to share some of the highlights with you today.  This is a warning.  I don't think it's anything hazardous, but you better get food and drink -- this is long!

We were a bit concerned about road travel at this time of the year, what with sudden snow storms & such; but little did we know it would happen even before we left Arizona!  This was in the Payson area, in northeastern AZ.

No snow in New Mexico, but very cold.  Thank goodness for those heated seats and the remote start!
Room keys can only do just so much for scraping ice off the windshield!

One thing that has been on our bucket list for quite a long time, was to go to Memphis and eat at The Man's cousin's restaurant.  Coletta's was opened in the 50's by his 1st cousin, LaVerne and her husband.  LaVerne is lovely, warm and sharp as a tack at 92.  Her son, dil, and a grandson now run the restaurants (there are 2).  We were so happy to have had the opportunity to meet these very nice people and get to enjoy some delicious food.

Yes, there is a room dedicated to Elvis!  Coletta's was his favorite eatery.  Priscilla still comes in for take-out whenever she is in town.

Isn't The Man just a cutie?

Oh yes, of course we did! 

What surprised me the most about Graceland, was the size.  I was expecting something very palatial, and it wasn't at all.  It was just a very nice home.  I'm sure it was seen as very big and fancy back in the day.

This was the back of the house and an addition that Elvis made while he lived there.  

I promise not to share each and every room, but there are a couple that you must see (for those who have never been).  This was the formal living room, and I thought this room was elegant and beautiful.  I think that sofa was like twelve feet long -- gorgeous white brocade!

This was Elvis's mom's room.  Apparently, Gladys loved purple and poodles.  The ensuite bath has purple and pink tile and poodle wallpaper.

The formal dining room was so elegant, and that chandelier was incredible!

I never knew how many Gold and Platinum albums and other awards had been given to Elvis.  This room was like a long, wide hallway, lined floor-to-ceiling on both sides with this massive collection.

Even as olden as I am, Elvis lipstick was long before I was of lipstick-wearing age!
Okay, fess up -- who among you had some of this?

The small family cemetery was very well done.  Elvis rests next to his father, and his twin brother (who died at birth) has a stone next to their mother.

I came away from Graceland with such respect and a sadness for the loss of this man.  He was so talented, humble and very, very generous.  I left there with a strong feeling that those people who were suppose to be looking out for him, just didn't do a very good job.  If you have ever thought about visiting Graceland, I would highly recommend it.

We had had so much fun on this trip and things were just about to get even better!  We were so thrilled that our son and dil invited us to spend Christmas with them.  It would have been really hard to be alone for such a special holiday.  These two cherubs were excited that we were there and especially excited for Santa.  I made the little gowns!


This was our very first time to be with any of our grandchildren on Christmas morning with Santa
very much alive and well!

Can we all say, "E.X.C.I.T.E.D.!"

We even did some sightseeing!  Mount Vernon was so interesting, and without the usual crowds, we strolled around for several hours.

Just look at this kitchen -- probably one of the original "islands!"

Oh yeah, I was just a little giddy to be standing so close to the White House!

The Vietnam Memorial was very emotional.  The Man and I both had friends who lost
their lives in that war.  We've all heard the number of lost lives, but seeing all the names on
this 500 ft. long wall, is very overwhelming.

It was a perfect day to see the Reflecting Pool with the Washington Monument on one side and 

The Lincoln Memorial on the other.

Hmmm......I think I know some of these people!

We even got to eat at one of our son's restaurants, and it was very nice to have him
show us the ropes
Our visit with the kiddos came too quickly to a close, and we were off to Charleston.  We decided it would be fun to do one of the horse-drawn tours, so I would like you to meet "JACK."  He and our guide, Kate, provided us with an awesome tour.

We saw so many just incredible houses.  Some have become B&B's, but many are still private residences.  I'm not sure I could tolerate the hoards of people gawking and taking pictures, but I'm so glad these home owners are way more tolerant than myself.

There was such beautiful landscaping, too.  I'm not sure, but I think this may be called 
"The Tree of Life."

We had a nice lunch at a local and very popular restaurant called Hyman's.  These boiled peanuts
were brought to our table as a little appetizer.  Have any of you ever had them, and if so, did you like them?  I thought they were about the grossest thing I've ever put in my mouth!  Good thing I had one of these to get that nastiness off my palate!


Next up, Savannah.  Quite a night-life in the downtown, with people wandering from one pub to another or just strolling the streets.  Probably some had taken the Cemetery tour and were trying to drink away those ghostly images.....lol!


We did a trolley tour and saw some beautiful homes.  This was the house used in the movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

As we continued our westward-bound trip, we couldn't resist this little country store.
Have any of you had peach cider?  We had not, and it is so good!  I really liked that sign, too.

As we continued into Georgia, a potty-stop landed us in Mercier Orchards Store & Deli. They had everything peach-related that you would ever want to see.  There was peach wine, jars of canned peaches, caramel peaches on a stick, peach bread, and on and on!


Now we were on our way to my "birth place" in Louisiana.  I was born in Monroe but lived in 
West Monroe, just across the Ouachita River.  My family all moved away in 1961, when I was 12, and I had never been back!  I was excited and a bit apprehensive.  My biggest desire was to see my grandparents home (hoping that it was still standing).  I give full loving credit to my grandparents for making me the person I am today.  They were my guidance, support, and lifeline when my parents came up short.  My grandfather was a building contractor, and my grandmother was a homemaker.  I spent so much time in their home (we lived right next door or just behind them almost my entire young life).  I knew their home was quite old when they moved, so I was so relieved when it
came into view.  Except for a few trees, it looked the same & well cared for.  I played for hours on that little front stoop & sang my heart out just inside the front door.  They always had hymnals from church, and I loved to sing those hymns.

This was my official home right next door.  It wasn't much of a house when we lived there, but it has definitely gone downhill since then.  I took these pictures standing on a vacant lot that once was home to a little country store.  We bought all of our groceries in that little store, and they had the best selection of penny candy!

This was the last house we lived in and is just a short walk behind my grandparents' home.  This one has been added onto since my dad built it in 1959.  He was a masonry contractor, so this house was all brick which I could still see along one side.  This addition across the front has aluminum siding, but they have a garage and we only had a carport.  

This was the church I attended with my grandparents.  My grandfather was the contractor for this building and was also an Elder.  

This building has been added onto so many times, I had trouble figuring out just where the original building was.  I'm pretty sure it was the center section with the three peaked roofs.  Apparently this Church of Christ is now the home congregation of the Robertson Family of Duck Dynasty fame.  Phil Robertson is an Elder.  I fear my dear, sweet, straight-laced grandfather would be turning over in 
his grave......oh my!

On to Texas we go.  Our reservations were in Midland, but late morning we got a call from the hotel saying they needed to redirect us due to weather.  So, off to Abilene, only two days from home now.....or so we thought.  We kept watching the car thermometer going down, down and into the 20's.  Yikes.....it wasn't even that cold in Washington, DC!  We made it into Abilene, picked up a few supplies at Walmart (including wine), & got to our hotel just as the roads were starting to ice up.  We got checked in, unloaded our stuff in the room, poured some wine, and went down to the lounge area to find out what anyone might know about the weather.  So funny, we started chatting with four other couples (from all over the US and Canada) who were all trying to get to Arizona and some nice weather for the winter!  They all had wine, too!  Oh yeah, this was New Year's Eve, so we kind of made our own little party, and the hotel even brought in hot food for us at no charge.  They did the same on New Year's Day, too.  Our little AZ-bound group kept checking with each other to see if anyone was going to try leaving, but we all staid put until Jan. 3rd.  Others who left the day before, were turned back about fifteen miles out.

This is what the parking lot looked like, and no that is not snow -- ICE!

The roads were fine when we left and made our way to Las Cruces, NM.  We saw lots of tangled semis and upside-down 5th wheels along the freeway, which made us so glad that we had waited.

We had never been to Las Cruces before, and with the help of a hotel attendant, found our way to a most charming and very old area called Mesilla.   La Posta was over 150 years old, with lots of adobe, creaky and uneven floors, and some of the best Mexican food we've ever had!

This was the lobby of our hotel.  I kind of miss saltillo tile but not enough to change what we have!

The Man and I both really liked this old bench and the arrangement of crosses & other religious art displayed above it.

It was a fantastic trip, even with minor setbacks, but it did feel so good to finally turn into our neighborhood.  Home at last!

Okay, you can wake up now!  I know this has been a really long post (even for me), but I was on a roll -- what can I say!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Years.  I look forward to some regular posting very soon, but in the mean time I will do as much visiting as possible!

Have a wonderful week!


  1. Wow Carol, that was some vacation!! You covered a lot of states in a very short amount of time. I am sure that the best part was watching your grandkids' faces when they saw what Santa had left them! Great memories and really cute nightgowns!

  2. What a great trip. Less crowds than in the summer. Your granddaughters are adorable. Glad you stayed put in that ice. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh wow, Carol! What a wonderful trip! Looks like you had a great time. It must have been so memorable to be with your grandchildren on Christmas morning! I think it's great that you got to see your childhood homes too.

  4. This sounds wonderful, Carol -- I loved reading all about it! We used to travel back east when I was growing up to visit relatives, and I have always wanted to do this with our gang -- crazy! Thanks for sharing the pictures. :)

  5. I've always thought it would be fun to drive across the country sometime, and this post only confirms that would be a good idea! Thanks for sharing your road trip!

  6. It looks like you and your man had a fabulous trip! I'm sure it was such a delight to spend time with your kids and grands!!! I have a friend who brought boiled peanuts to and ladies dinner and told everybody how wonderful they were, NOT!!! Horrid!!! I hope to someday go to the DC area. My nephew lives in VA and works out of the DC area and loves it! So happy you were able to enjoy such a great trip, drive and enjoy visiting places you had never been before! Blessings, Cindy

  7. I enjoyed every minute of your trip, but I won't try to make comments on everything I saw, read and thought as I read your post. Most importantly was your seeing you hometown and how things are now. Bittersweet. And reading about Elvis' home, I thought it was all glitz and glamour...nice to see he was humble as you say.

    Lastly, the fellowship you had with your standed travelles on NYE. How fun. Touching.

    I really loved this post. It reminds me of our (shorter) visit through the South in May.

    Jane x

  8. What an amazing trip! You did so many interesting things, I'm not sure where to begin. I would LOVE to visit Graceland someday, I can tell you that for sure. My husband was born the same day Elvis died and he likes to tell people (jokingly) that he is the reincarnation. Oh, dear. I hope you waved as you drove through NM. :) I'm sorry you had so many snow troubles along the way. We left Phoenix on New Year's Eve and drove north to meet 1-40 at Flag; you should have seen the snow up there! It was one of the most terrifying drives I've ever experienced and I used to live in lake-effect snow country in NY! I'm glad we all were safe, it sounds like you might have experienced the same storm on your way back after it blew through the SW, it was a really big one.

  9. So glad y'all had a great time and arrived home safely! I loved all the Elvis pics. When I see pics of him, it also makes me think of James Dean and how he was gone too soon as well. Looks like you got to visit a lot of neat places. I just watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil the other day, so I love seeing that house! Such cute pics of the grands too!

  10. I almost felt like I was with you. Those little ones are so darn cute. Glad you are home safe and sound and that you had a great trip Carol!

  11. Being in Savannah, you were only an hour from me! Which interstate did you take when you left Savannah? If you went I-16, you were within 15 miles from me. :)

  12. Carol, what a super great trip you guys had. I am so happy you both got to spend Christmas with your kids. The girls are adorable! Loved all the pictures!

  13. What a fun trip! How cool to get to see your house & your grandparents house. I thought I recognized the Church from Duck Dynasty!

  14. Wow, you've been to so many sights on your road trip! And that's what a road trip should be! No rush, but mostly sight-seeing! I've been to Graceland 2x and love the living room and the room with all the fabric, so cool that your cousin owned the resto he loved! I love Elvis too you see. I love your trip to DC as well, have to go to Mt. Vernon next time I'm on that part of the country. So happy for you all and I am sure your Christmas was memorable and a very jolly one!

  15. Hi Carol,

    I loved every minute of this amazing 5000 mile road trip! You and your hubby are so full of wonderful energy, as that's a lot driving! How lovely to see your pretty granddaughters dressed in their granny's handiwork, and they really do look so excited to see Santa! My goodness, how many restaurants does your son own? If I recall, he is a chef? Graceland seems beautiful. I've read that Elvis was quite low-profile in his home, and I can see from your photos that the mansion looks warm and cozy, despite its grand size. It was very interesting to read about your feelings and memories re: your childhood homes, and about your beloved grandparents. Every time I visit Toronto, I have a need to do the same, and it's always a bittersweet feeling, since times have changed, as we have, since then.

    Thanks for taking us along; you are a wonderful guide!



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