Random thoughts

I really should write more often. There are so many random things in my head, but then I forget to actually get them out until there are too many. These are obviously in random order as well.

Random thought #1  I love flying over the midwest. Watching the fields out my window makes me happy. The sprinklers make the coolest crop designs. It's like a patchwork quilt on steroids.

Random thought #2 I am so thankful that I am able to go to the store and buy groceries for my family. Not everyone has that ability and I recognize it as a blessing from a loving Heavenly Father. I have been blessed with the ability to work, a job that I love (most of the time) and to live in a country where there is an abundance.

Random thought #3 I am so proud of Jonathan. Going back to school is scary, especially when your past experiences have not been very successful. He has completed all of his course work for this semester and has been doing SO well. He works hard and he deserves credit for it. We also recognize the support and love from our families and Heavenly Father in this success. One semester down, a few more to go, but starting is more than half the battle.

#4 I was picking up in the kids' room yesterday and found a handfull of chocolate wrappers. Apparently the little one has come into her chocolate tooth. It's not a sweet tooth in general, just chocolate. She has been sneaking it at home, too. Note to self, I can no longer leave chocolates around the house.

#5 Because our dryer is on its way out, for Christmas we are getting a new one. We went to pick it out at RC Willey and the salesman gave us a waiver on our delivery fee. How freaking awesome is that?!


I spent my half awake/half asleep time this morning dreaming about having to evacuate our home. Trying to decide how we could grab everything essential but still get out in the 5 minutes the emergency workers were telling us we had to get out. It was interesting (for me, at least) that in my dream, I had memorized the "evacuation list" that hangs on our fridge. The list is something we were given by our Emergency Preparedness Coordinator at church that we have filled out with what to grab, and where it is - and is based on how long we have to evacuate. Mostly in my dream I was focused on medication, which is vital, cash, which is helpful (lol, even the very little we actually have), and pictures, which are irreplaceable. The dream repeated with a few different scenarios, but those 3 things made the top of the list, every time.  Of course, when it got a little closer to wake up time, and work started invading my thoughts a bit more, I started to wonder if I should grab my work laptop ;)

For what it is worth, I am starting to think a fire proof safe for documents, might not be a bad idea.

What would YOU grab?

Voting Day

Today I am thankful to live in a Nation where we have a choice. Even if I don't always like the choices, it is better than not having one. I know that this is a choice, even chosen, land, and the only way for it to get screwed up is for us to do it.

Vote your conscience. And remember, if you don't vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome.

Planet Play

In some ways, it feels like we have been married forever. It's strange when I have to remind myself that I have only known the children for barely a year. Because Jonathan has been sick, we were not able to have them come visit this past weekend, but with Dad on the mend (we hope), we were able to pick them up for a night at Planet Play. Justin LOVES the game where he gets to paint on the computer and then print out his picture. They BOTH love the virtual roller coaster, and who can forget miniature golf ;) All in all it was a good night, even with the minor finger booboo on the race car ride.

I know this probably makes me an overworried geek, but I think I am going to have to secure the blog before I can feel good about putting the kids' pictures up.

Happy Versary

Today is our 6 monthiversary. I know that is not a real word, but we made it 6 whole months and I say that is worth celebrating :) We were supposed to be spending the day with the children, but since Jonathan has had bronchitis, the kids stayed clear of contagious dad.
I woke up early and ran to the store for blueberry muffins. Jonathan has been craving them for a while, so I figured it was a good way to start the day.  Sick husband meant the morning was pretty chillaxed.
Jonathan took me to Ruth's Diner for lunch. They have the best meatloaf you will ever eat. It's baked and then grilled.  YUM. Today we also splurged and tried the Chocolate Malt Pudding. OH MY GOODNESS. I was a little leery because of the malt, but it was super fantastic and not malty at all. Definitely worth a try - split it with your friend, because it is also super rich.
After lunch, Jonathan's sickness won the day so we came home and I finished my laundry day. I know - SUPER exciting. We got to celebrate for half the day - which makes sense for a half year celebration :)

Happy Versary, Jonathan!
We spent yesterday evening doing something that no one really ever wants to do, and yet, I am glad we were able to do it. A couple of days ago my cousin was diagnosed with a tumor in her brain, and yesterday they did the surgery to remove it. Because the surgery was done here in Salt Lake, we were able to go sit with her family while they waited. 

It was inspiring to me to see how calm and collected they appeared, even though you know very well how scared and helpless they felt. They continued to talk about how the changes that have happened in their family recently, or coincidences that happened at the hospital, or just little recent events, while seemingly unconnected, had allowed for this experience to happen the best possible way it could.

What a blessing it is to be able to be in such a scary situation, but to be able to see and feel the hand of the Lord holding your family up, not just in retrospect, but during the trial.

We stayed until the Dr came to tell them that everything in the surgery had gone smoothly. The tumor had pushed the vital things out of the way, instead of growing into them. Only one blood vessel had to be sacrificed, and it went to an area of the brain that shouldn't have an impact on her quality of life. While they will still have to keep a close eye on everything for a while (and probably forever), at this point, everything has happened in the best way possible.

Today I am thankful for capable doctors, caring nurses, amazing technology, and most of all for being brought up in a family that teaches me where these blessings come from and for knowing He will always be there, even at our most helpless times.

We love you Shelby and continue to pray for your speedy and full recovery.


There were a few things that happened in my life while I was away. Probably the most important and happiest of which is - I got married. I am no longer Nicole Hayes - I am now Nicole Reynolds. My husband, Jonathan, well, he makes me happy. He works extra hard at everything he takes on. Right now he is going back to school. I am excited for him to tackle this challenge and I am so proud of everything he is doing to be successful.

That's all :) Today I am just happy.

Swamp Coolers run on water

For the first time in 2 months, our home is finally below 70. This may not seem like a big thing, but my husband's body temperature runs just a little warmer than most and he is sweating anytime it is above 65, possibly lower. Why have you let your house be so warm then? You ask.
Well, the first part of August, our condos got new roofs. This meant that the old swamp coolers had to be replaced. They were old and they were leaking and they were ruining the roofs. OK. So we made arrangements with the man who does the upkeep on the coolers for the condo. He gave us a great deal because so many of us needed the coolers.
A great deal can be deceiving. Assuming that he knew when the roofs were going to be done, (which he did) we also assumed that he would be working on the coolers once that work was done (which he did not.) He promised the lady next door her cooler would be in by Labor Day. He told us that we were next on his list. He came by a week AFTER Labor Day to get our deposit, which I had only found out he wanted because I was talking to the neighbors. He never actually said anything about it, until he needed it. He bought the cooler and put it on the roof a couple of days later.... Last Monday I called and asked him when he was coming. He said he would be there that day. He actually showed up on Tuesday, but didn't finish. Friday he came back and called and told us he wasn't done, but we could use the cooler. Friday night, we found water in our back hallway... Yep, really. So, we shut the cooler off, made a few phone calls and got the water shut off. Promising to be back on Monday.... he showed up on Tuesday again, but forgot to tell us. Today he called and said the leak was fixed, try the cooler. You guessed it, more water. When we called, he said he was on his way back. 3 hours later, he is back on the roof, fixes 2 other issues, still more water. Finally he takes the cooler's drain tube out of the pipe that runs down inside the walls, into the sewer line, and we try again. Currently, there is no new water.
What does that mean? It means that the pipe in the wall is broken. What does that mean? Well, to be fair, I am not sure, but I am sure that it validates my theory. If there are water problems to be had - I will find them.
For what it is worth - my condo was flooded and remodeled twice in the year or so that I was neglecting my blog. My husband has promised we can start looking to run away from here as soon as he finishes school. Fingers crossed.

In Memoriam

Am I the only one who catches a tear in her eye during the “in memoriam” part of the awards shows? I have never met these people, many I have never even heard of, but then there are always a couple… a couple of memories that seem to define so many of mine. Dick Clark was at every new year’s eve party I have ever been to, even if that party was just me and a couple of friends in my college apartment. Whitney Houston, every girl who has ever fancied herself a singer has tried to hold that note. But for me, this year, I actually miss Andy Griffith. Is it possible to miss someone you’ve never met?  Thinking about Andy always makes me think about my Grandma Golda. There was rarely a Sunday night that we missed Matlock, and when it went into reruns, we watched it every summer weekday at noon. Yes, really.  I miss her. I miss spending time at her home, where it seemed everyone gathered. I miss making cookies, to encourage everyone to gather :) I miss pancakes that were always just a little black. I miss the Valentine box full of chocolate kisses. I miss the organ being played loud enough to hear from the street. I miss her smile. There are so many things I wish I could get her opinion on. So many triumphs I would have welcomed that hug.  So many happy moments I would love to share with her.  My personal beliefs allow me to know that she has been able to see and experience them all, and probably even more than she could have if she was here, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t wish I could see her, hold her, feel her arms around me just one more time.

Come to think about it, I guess crying at an award show, isn’t really ALL that strange.

India - Part 5

They said it would take about 40 minutes to get to the tour pick up spot, so to have the driver come an hour early. It only took 30. If there is anything I am good at, it’s being early – even in a foreign country. My hotel really is lovely, however, the hotel where I waited for the tour bus was POSH. Fountains, lobby with a ginormous mural on the ceiling, security guards that look like soldiers, reminds me of my Manila hotel, posh. It seemed to bode well for the rest of the day. Neeraj and his wife, Geetika , met me just before 6:30. We met the tour bus and the 15 folks in our group and we were off (30 minutes late). By the time we got our breakfast stop, we were an hour behind – but it was an hour of interesting things. I saw wild monkeys and elephants on the way. We even saw a snake charmer and monkeys who climbed on sticks and did tricks for the tourists whose busses had to stop and pay the tolls. I also really enjoyed the drive once we got out of the city and into the farm lands. It was interesting to see the women and children in the fields harvesting the wheat crop. It is crazy to me that this is still something that is done by hand. There were little tractors all over and later we even saw some combines, but most of the farming is still done very much by hand. I think the part that was most amazing was how uniform the cut wheat was and the bundles. I’ve never seen a machine cut or bail with such precision.
Our first stop was at Akbar’s tomb. The guide described him as a man who lived simply and thought highly. I believe he was the 3rd Mughal emperor, and one of only 2 kings to be known as “The Great.” During his reign he founded a new religion which was based on all of the major world religions of the time. He wanted a place where he could get all of the positive learnings from each, instead of limiting himself to one. If the rest of his life was consistent with this approach, I can totally understand why he earned the title.
Our next stop was the Agra fort. The fort has been used by each governing or invading force since its creation and only 30% is open to tourist today because the other 70% is still an active military base. Also inside the fort are (were) the living quarters for the royal family. I thought it was interesting that there were actually 2 palaces, one for the summer and one for the winter. The summer palace had windows and ventilation and the winter palace did not. Also, because the women had to live behind a veil, all of the rooms and terraces and courtyards were especially spacious, so even behind a veil, they did not have to feel like they were living in a cell. The King also had the queen’s palaces designed in the architecture of her homeland so that she would be more comfortable in her new home. Things I had never really thought about before but made a lot of sense…
Our final monument stop was worth the wait. Mark Twain once said, “There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have seen the Taj Mahal, and those who have not.” I have always wanted to, but never really dreamed I would. The experience was nothing I could have prepared for. I was giddy as we went in, but even from the gate, my first glance left me speechless and awestruck. Even now as I type this 3 days later, my throat is tight as I think about it. The spirit of this place, is overwhelming. I don’t know anything about architecture, or buildings or marble inlay – but I don’t really think that is what makes this such an awe inspiring place, even though I am told those are all some pretty impressive things. The building took 22 years to build and 20,000 pairs of hands worked on it every day. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died after giving birth to their 14th child. I found this quote from Shah Jahan that I think gives us some insight into just how he felt...

Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the Creator's glory

I honestly can’t explain it, so I am going to stop trying.
On the ride home I became convinced that time stands still when you are travelling by bus in India. You keep driving, passing things, looking like you’re getting somewhere, but it is all a mirage. The trip between Delhi and Agra is like… 230 km, so 140 miles and took over 6 hours to get home. India is not nearly as interesting in the dark ;) It was worth every minute of it.

India - Part 4

I found out this afternoon that because of a lack of communication, last night my driver reported to the office at 11p and waited until 7a for me. I had actually left at 9 for the previously mentioned dinner. I REALLY must tip him well at the end of this. I’m being told it’s not a big deal, but if I was left waiting for someone for 8 hours, I’d be livid. Of course, I probably also would have called one of the 3 numbers he had to clarify, but still, livid. He will probably be less than pleased that he is picking me up at the office at 11 tonight and will be reporting back to my hotel at 530 in the morning. Maybe they get used to stuff like that? I am spoiled by my very normal office hours. If my daily cab fare is about $6, what do you suppose the right amount of – I am so sorry – tip would be?
Ekta is the amazing admin who is helping me set up my “tourist” activities. She has arranged my trip to The Taj tomorrow and my shopping activities this weekend. The place I will be shopping is used to having foreigners, so I will not need a friend assigned and they will take my American plastic money. WOOT :)
I love the way everyone is watching out for me here. I am so excited about this trip tomorrow, but concerned about missing my cab or being late for the tour bus. I’m a worrier. I was just chatting with Neeraj (my assigned friend for the trip to Agra) and I didn’t even mention these concerns, but he asked if I had a local number so he can call and make sure that my cab picks me up on time. Since I don’t have a local number, he’s going to get my driver’s number so he can call him. He and his wife will be meeting me at the tour start in Delhi. I told him how much I appreciated him giving up his day off and he was so gracious about it – especially since they told him he could bring his wife he said it only mattered that they could spend their days off together (yes, they are newlyweds, I think half the people I’ve met are newlyweds) and that it is such a great sight to see, and he didn’t mind at all. Anyway, I just really appreciate all the interest and concern I have been given. I like to think I am an ok traveler, but when most of the people outside of work and the hotel don’t speak functional English, it kind of puts me at a loss.
Follow up – the driver picked me up 35 minutes late tonight. Of course it was the one night I didn’t have his number with me. Thanks again to the many kind souls playing phone tag so we could find him. His card will be in my wallet from now on, without fail.

India - Part 3

The difference between office cleaning crews – in my home office I can leave just about anything, food, money, etc, on my desk and fully expect it to still be there when I come the next day. Last night, I left a bag of mini candy bars that I brought to share with the teams here. When I got here today, 3/4 of the full bag I left had been consumed. Lol, it’s not a big deal at all, and I am completely amused by it.
Random thoughts
~ I am in an office on floor 5 (or, the 6th story for anyone who lives in a country where there isn’t a floor 0) and there is a very large rodent trap in the corner. I guess they do live on every floor, but it just seems like they shouldn’t be an issue this high up.
~Last night, my car to work smelled like grandma style rose scented lotion
~I got really funny looks from the wait staff this morning when I was dipping my toast into my hot chocolate. Also, the hot chocolate was really tasty, a little sweeter than at home.
~I’ve been in the country for 4 days and I still have no local currency and have taken only 4 pictures.
~I tried out the hotel bakery this morning. I will not need to visit there again. While the sweet was great, there is nothing that tastes good enough to ruin the hard work I’ve put into to trying to change.
~The nokia ring tone is annoying in any country, but I find it amusing that here it is played on a different “instrument” here.
I went to dinner with the WFM managers tonight. They are hilarious. It reminds me of a time when my team and I were actually in the same place, and makes me a bit envious. Dinner was great. We went to a place called Barbeque Nation. It’s the Indian version of Rodizio Grill– EXCEPT – the endless supply of grilled chicken, fish, lamb, shrimp, and cheese and potatoes and mushrooms and corn and and and is JUST THE APPETIZER. I had a bit of the main course buffet just to say I did… about a fork full of everything… in the name of exploration. I did however pass completely on the dessert buffet. The team did encourage me to try the sweet that was brought to the table. In English it’s called “round, round, round, stop” It’s basically a very thin batter, that is drizzled into hot oil in the pattern of round, round, round, stop – then while it’s hot, dropped into a sugar syrup. So basically it turns into a bite of pure sugar. One was amazing, but 2 probably would have put me into diabetic shock, and I am not even a diabetic. It’s a week of fasting here, which means many people have given up meat and alcohol for a week. It is kind of nice not to be the only one not drinking :) at least for this weekend :)

India - Part 2

Today I actually kind of feel like I am really here. I can actually get around the building with out getting lost (now if we can just get my access card working), I’ve gotten the hang of the hotel, and I kind of even have the driver figured out so that Shobhit won’t have to give me a ride home tonight. I love that these guys work most of their day before my other responsibilities are starting to wake up. It has given me a chance to really give most of my time to being here and understanding what it is I am here to try and help with. I spent most of the “morning” (1pm -5pm) out on the floor with the real time team. Some things are the same, no matter what – I think floor management is one of them. I am excited because I think there are a few things I think we can knock out for them pretty quick. I am gaining a lot of education from the WFM managers. I think I will hang out with the team tomorrow and see what we can see and I am way looking forward to tomorrow night – they are taking me out :) I think you can learn more about a person in one evening outside of work than months in the office.
Today I also got my first actual Indian food… I love Indian food, and Indian food IN India- well, it really is that much better. It’s like the difference between a Big Mac in England vs a Big Mac in the US… The poor UK burger doesn’t have a chance. Amit assigned Shobhit to make sure I get fed while I am here. Shobhit then assigned me to one of the TAs. For breakfast I had a Masala Dosa and lunch was Butter Chicken. Do NOT let the name fool you, it was not a piece of chicken with butter – more along the lines of a chicken curry or tiki masala. I have also been assigned a friend for my weekend trip to Agra. I was willing to do it alone, but I am actually very pleased that I won’t have to. My luck, I would totally get separated from the tour group and miss my bus back. I have most of the call center figured out – not most of the country ;)

India Part 1

It’s kind of strange the things you notice. For instance, I noticed that the water bottles at the hotel come with caps that cannot be made to look unopened once they are twisted (which I appreciated as water bottles were on the list of things to be aware of). I noticed only 3 cows on the drive from the airport to the hotel. Seeing cows on the road is a pretty normal thing for me, but it is less normal when they are on the freeway. Plus, these were classic Indian looking cows, which I think is cool. I thought it was interesting that the hotel arranged an “in room” check in for me. I am pretty sure they think it’s a luxury, but I would much rather just give them my information at the front desk. That being said, the hotel is lovely, and I think tomorrow I will check out the bakery. :)
I’m still trying to figure out my driver. Yesterday he came to pick me up before anyone actually called him, or at least before anyone confirmed the time. Today we confirmed a time, but he was there 45 minutes late. I do enjoy the ride to work. There are just SO many people to watch, and today as we came in there were many school children on the roads – yes, on – so that was fun to watch as well. I did have to laugh a little. There was a boy, probably 8 or 9, who was walking with a bright pink Hello Kitty backpack. It looked new, so I don’t think it was a hand me down, and you could tell by the look on his face that he hated that thing, and would trade it for a black or blue or green backpack in a heartbeat. I would have traded him but all I had was a purple laptop bag. I’m pretty sure that would not be seen as an improvement.
The people I have met are really great. I will probably tell you more about them… but for now, it is bed time.
I have NOTHING important to say today, but for the record, I am ready for Spring. I know the weather we are getting this week is a tease, but I am going to enjoy every minute of the teasing.

Grandma Claire

Today's post is even more self- serving than most. I have been trying to put some thoughts together for my Grandma's tribute so I figure here is a good place to put them.

To all of you who have left kind words, offered prayers in our behalf, or are sending loving thoughts to the universe in our direction, thank you.

Grandma Claire had a profound love of people. She had a way of learning only the good things about people. Looking back, she may have known the less than good things but she never told anyone.
Grandma loved nature. She spent as much time outside as possible. She enjoyed her garden and the things she could grow and share with others. Grandpa told me that when he took Claire fishing with him, he didn't need a fish finder. She just had the gift. I know she missed it because in the past few years she was frequently craving fish. I'm not sure the halibut and fries from the Purple Turtle was really what she was looking for, but she seemed to appreciate the effort.
Grandma was a beautiful artist. Many of her family have had the opportunity to beautify their homes with her oil paintings. Our beds are covered with her afghans and doilies. She was also an artist with words. She didn't make up stories, she didn't need to. Her life was full of enough material to fill a library. She loved to tell stories of her travels, of her family, of her youth.
Some of my favorite were her stories about the things she did growing up. Growing up in Georgetown, playing down by the river, climbing to the top of the high school, the people she "ran around with." These stories allowed me to see her as a girl much like myself and remembering the time I have spent with her gives me hope that I might turn out alright after all.
Grandma loved to travel. Honestly, I think she enjoyed meeting new people as much or more than the new experiences she would have and sites she would see. We loved it when she traveled as well. She brought home pictures and stories and of course, presents. As I have had the opportunity to start traveling a little, Grandma would always ask me where I had been, what did I learn and see, and where was I going next.
Grandma was always learning. She loved to tell us about how she was skipped ahead in school and how they would have kept moving her, but mama and papa wouldn't let her get ahead of her sister. School was just part of the learning experience. She read everything. Her back room is full of the books she hadn't given to someone else to read after she finished. She enjoyed watching documentaries. But of course her favorite way to learn was living. She questioned everything.
Grandma had a great sense of humor. In Pleasant Grove there is a hill much like our M hill. Theirs has a G on it. When I asked why, she told me it was just called Grove, until she moved there.
Most of all, Grandma loved her family. In her eyes, we could do no wrong. We are all perfect students, perfect children, amazing people, and all the joy one life could hold.

Grandma Bess

Today I had the opportunity to attend the funeral for a truly beautiful woman. I have not known her for a long time, relatively speaking (only about 10 years), but she was the kind of person you love the minute you meet her and love her more every time you see her. From the remarks at the funeral, I think I am not the only person who felt that way. Everyone of her grandchildren is sure they are her favorite. I may not have been her favorite, but she definitely was mine. I will miss her hugs and her ever present smile.

Until we meet again Grandma Bess, until we meet again.

New Door

So, I know I haven't actually finished the vacation log, but I have a really short attention span these days. I have every intention of telling you about my ZORB and Mammoth Cave experience, however right now I want to show you my pretty new door!

I officially don't need anything, so for my birthday (and Christmas because I have really expensive taste) my mommy bought me a new front door. It's so much nicer than the old door AND I can't see the light or feel the wind coming in around the edges. I LOVE IT! Thanks Mom!

Dav and Dollywood: part 3

Dav is posting our trip in video form on youtube. Part 1 is up now.

Wednesday! DOLLYWOOD DAY!!!!

It started with great anticipation and excitement. I was not disappointed. We had a 2 hour drive to the park, so we started with the breakfast Jonathon said we had to try. Straight from the gas station, the deli inside was called “Big As Biscuits.” And, they were… really big ;) We pulled into Pigeon Forge and we were bombarded on every side with “As seen on TV” stores and go cart tracks. It’s like Vegas gone family, but really that’s not what today was to be about. We got to the park shortly after it opened, parked, rode the tram and … HOORAY!!!

Dollywood was everything it promised to be. All kinds of backwoods fun ;) I really liked the village with all of the craftsmen. It was fun to watch the glass blowers for a little bit, the wood and leather workers, and THEN we found the rides. I like roller coasters – but I hate the Ups. Dav made fun of me. I won’t open my eyes until the coaster starts its downward fall. However I LOVE the fall. The Mystery Mine coaster was NOT my favorite. I was on the outside of the car and the angle made the turns feel really funky. PLUS there are extra Ups. Straight Ups. The only thing that makes them worth it, is the straight downs that follow ;) Another awesome thing about the day is that the lines were nonexistent. I am pretty sure it was senior citizen day at the park. There was not a Jazzy to be found at the rental spot. Jazzy riders don’t ride roller coasters.

As we were making our second loop around the rides, Dav gave in and decided he was indeed going to ride the zip line. As much as I love roller coasters, they do not always love me. Plus, let us remember I am afraid of heights. I was more than content to hang out in the shopping emporium and do a little people watching in the front square while he went on this part of the adventure. I am told that I missed out and now Dav wants to go to Hawaii where a similar system of zip lines is set up but instead of an hour and a half, it’s a 6 hour tour. Enjoy the zip line I say – I will go snorkeling ;)
After our fabulous day of Dollywood our adventure was not complete. Our next stop was the Dixie Land Stampede! The set up is like Medieval Times, if you’re familiar with that. We, of course, chose to cheer for the South. The show was way fun! Cannon would have been in heaven. The horses, wagons, trick riders were so fun to watch. Dinner could have been terrible and I would still be raving, but it wasn’t. Dinner was tasty! And what dinner isn’t better when you get to eat it all with your hands?? The South was ahead all night, until the last competition. Be not afraid. The South WILL rise again ;)

After dinner, we went across the street, checked into the hotel, left our stuff in our rooms and of course – went to Wal-Mart. As an FYI, Google maps does NOT know how to get to the Pigeon Forge Wal-Mart – even if it says it does.. Finding the store was far more fun than wandering around. We gave up and decided to drive to Gatlinburg, just to see what was there. We almost gave up before we got to the part of town we were looking for, fortunately we kept exploring. Really the town is just a bit more tourist trap, but a little less “fun park” and a little more “Park City” esque. I would really like to make the trip in the day time at some point. The canyon seemed like it should be beautiful, except it was the middle of the dark.
My friend Jim's wife has a super cool food blog and she's doing a give away. It's a fun read and if you're looking for recipes (which I usually am) it's super useful.

Check it out


Dav and Dollywood: part 2

Tuesday morning… well, hmmm… I had one call I had to be on for work. The rest of the morning was Enterprise drama. Dav had reserved our rental car a few days before. When he called to see if they would come pick us up, they said they would need to be a little later because she was busy. Well, the new time came and passed and when Dav called them back, she said that they had had to get our car from another location and they had left a few minutes ago. Next update, it turns out the car had left about 15 minutes AFTER she originally said they had. We continue to wait. A bit later I notice a car driving around looking lost. Dav went out to the road to see, and guide him to the apartment. We then have to go into the office and go through the actual paperwork. Needless to say, we are now running about 3 hours late. As we pull out of the lot, we notice the car ALSO has an empty gas tank! It was a great start to the day.

The plan was to drive down to Pigeon Forge, go Zorbing, drive back to Kingsport to stay with Heather. Well, the 3 hour delay with a 5 hour drive and Zorb closing at 5… the math was pretty simple. We weren’t going to make it. The good news is, plans can change. We decided to move Zorbing to Thursday, which meant today all we had to do was get to Heather’s. Slight change in the driving directions, expressing gratitude for google maps for iPhone, and we were good as gold. We stopped in Shelbyville for lunch, and then we were off. It was a gorgeous day for driving. Driving, perhaps, a little faster than the signs said we should be. In Pineville, we found out just how much faster ;) The best part was that the AWESOME rental car (did I mention that it was 2 classes smaller than the one that was reserved) had an expired insurance card! Yeah, it was pretty neat. The rest of the trip was done much closer to the posted speed limits.

We arrived in Kingsport and went to Heather and Jonathon’s apartment(s). They live next door to each other, so really it’s one place with 2 doors. After getting shown around and settling in a little, we went on a trek to Wal-Mart for pillows, and you know, stuff you pick up at Wal-Mart. After which we were on to what we were promised was “The Best Cheese Burger, Ever!” The location for this burger is a hole in the wall bar called, The Finish Line. It did NOT disappoint. I am still not sure how I ate the entire thing, but it was so good, I could not bear to leave it. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out with Heather and Jonathon. They are a great amount of fun. There was much music, stories, and laughing. And to end the evening, I got to sleep in the most ginormous chair!! It was like the one I had considered replacing my loveseat with… it’s making me rethink my decision not to buy it. It was really most awesome and I slept like a log. (I know you were wondering :P)

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