The great road trip of 2019, part 1

I already blogged our road-trip-within-a-road-trip, and now it’s time to post about the rest of it. I’d better start with Part 1: Getting to Virginia.

Kristina flew down Sunday night, and we spent Monday getting ready for the trip. Packing, laundry, making sure we had a plan for our roadside attractions. Oh, and eating delicious meals at Picnic Provisions & Whiskey and Molly’s Rise and Shine. Highly recommend both. Also visiting Terry and taking the boys to Dollar Tree to pick out road trip snacks (I gave them each a $5 budget.)

Monday morning, we hit the road with my new cargo bag on the roof. First stop, the giant catfish in Slidell! (Huge thanks to the website Roadside America for all of our stop ideas.)

A couple saw us pulling off to take a picture with the fish, and thought it was hilarious, so pulled over as well and offered to take a picture for us. Thanks anonymous Slidell couple!

Our goal was to stop in every state, so before long we were in Mississippi. There weren’t a ton of attractions since we weren’t in Mississippi too long, so we decided on a “haunted bridge.” It was hard to find and tricky to get to, but worth it!

Next was Alabama. We tried to wave to Mary Catherine and her kids as we passed on the interstate, but she didn’t see us. But we saw them! She told us to stop at a cute general store/gas station, so we did. (She makes the drive to and from Birmingham a lot.) And then we had hamburgers at Milo’s in Tuscaloosa (on MCat’s recommendation) and then met up with my cousin Laura and her family at the Vulcan Park and Museum.

After we hung out a bit, we drove on to a small Statue of Liberty replica (since we hoped to see the real one in NYC) (I mean, we did, but from the Top of the Rock so it was very hard to see) and then on to our hotel a bit further down the highway.

Wednesday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, and then went to our first stop, which wasn’t far away. Noccalula Falls was unexpectedly beautiful. We all gazed in awe at it, and then drove on. We had lots of stops to hit on the way to our hotel that evening.

Pretty soon, we were in Georgia. But only for a very short distance. We were stumped about how to hit our roadside attraction goal there, but we decided on a Starbucks across the street from Rock City. I know, it sounds weird, but we didn’t have a lot of options. The drive up was harrowing but beautiful, though, so it was worth it. And Linus got a tie-dyed Frappucino, which may have been the highlight of the trip for him.

After another terrifying drive down the mountain, we headed to Knoxville. We had lunch at a delightful restaurant called Tupelo Honey, and then walked down to the Holiday Inn to see the WORLD’S LARGEST RUBIK’S CUBE.

Do I have my doubts about calling a giant cube that doesn’t really work (it has motors that can make two sides spin, but it’s not actually functional or anything) the World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube? Sure. But it was fun anyway.

Next, we headed to the Tennessee-Virginia state line so we could stand on either side of it. I sure wish there had been a safe place to straddle it, but alas. We had to take our chances with traffic.

And finally we were headed to the most adorable hotel I’ve ever been to. I’d been looking forward to it ever since Kristina found it online. It was in a tiny little town called St. Paul, Virginia and it was fantastic. Great food, the room was big, we had so many amenities, and the outdoor spaces were awesome. Highly recommend the Western Front Hotel if you find yourself in rural southern Virginia. Oh, and it was ridiculously affordable.

We sadly hit the road (no one wanted to leave) and started the loooooong drive through Virginia to Kiki’s house. Of course we had some stops to make! First up was a giant pencil in a cute town called Wytheville. There was also a tiny church we visited there. And we ate at a hot dog place called Skeeter’s.

The next stop was a winery up a mountain because they had a sign that expressed our feelings about wine.

Gorgeous view, too. We weren’t really into the kinds of wines they had there (let’s just say most of them did not involve grapes) but we did buy several jams and whatnot from the shop.

What you can’t see in that photo is that there are VERY ominous clouds on other side of it. So when (thank god) Kristina drove down it, we got caught in a terrifying storm. Imagine a narrow, windy road on a mountain with sheer drops on one side while rain is coming down so hard that you can barely see in front of you. Now add lightning hitting nearby! Super fun! And then for an added bonus, make your door seals leak from the roof bag you have strapped on!

We did live, thank god, but I was worried for a little while there. We stopped to dry off and get gas and snacks, and then we were on the home stretch. Yay!!!

So close…and so sleepy.

We made it to Kiki’s house that evening where we were greeted by a sign Mike had made for us. So sweet.

Can you guess who Mike’s favorite is?

I’m probably not going to recap the drive home much, since it wasn’t nearly as much fun. We did stop at my coworker Deborah’s house for lunch, but other than that, I was just pushing to get home as soon as possible since Kiki wasn’t with us to split up the driving. The drive up was definitely more fun and eventful!

Next up…the two weeks between when we got to Virginia and left.

PS We of course created a hashtag for the trip, so if you want to see even more pics, check #kikiandkockenutsontheroad on Instagram.