A Brief Tour of the SEC: Gainesville & Tuscaloosa

We’ve got to get better about making blog posts!

Trip Resolution: Make more blog posts.

We left my parent’s house in South Florida on Thursday, May 19. Instead of taking the shortest, most direct route to Gainesville we took the longer, non-turnpike route. Even though it added an extra 1-2 hours to the trip, it was way less stressful and way less expensive.

As we headed out of Tamarac and went west to catch I-75N, we drove along the edge of the Everglades where I mentioned that I have never been on an airboat or really ever been to the Everglades at all.

Isn’t that weird considering I grew up in Florida? Why didn’t any of my classes throughout elementary, middle, or high school take a trip out to the Everglades? No clue. So maybe next time I’m in Florida, I’ll check it out.

We also drove along the east side of Lake Okeechobee (where I have also never been) and then made our way north to Gainesville where my friend Tracey from high school and college offered us a lovely place to stay.

Driving through Gainesville to get to Tracey’s house, I noticed how different everything looked. More shopping centers. More apartments. More people. The last time I had been to Gainesville was in 2004 (yikes! Was it really 12 years ago?!) and then I briefly stopped there when I drove out to Texas in 2010 to get gas and a Publix sub, but otherwise, I haven’t been back.

At Tracey’s house, Xander and Jo got to meet Kody, who was a ball of energy and wanted to play, play, play! Then we went to First Magnitude, a brewery that didn’t exist when I was last there.

First Magnitude was awesome! I loved the logo and the beer and the great patio. We enjoyed a flight of beer and a pint and then (after taking a brief break to feed all of our doggies) we went to The Top, a restaurant that also didn’t exist when I was last there.

It was so fun to catch up with Tracey and see the old college town, but the next morning we had to wake up and get ready to take the almost 8-hour drive to Tuscaloosa for Seth and Liz’s wedding.

As soon as we got to Tuscaloosa, we took our dogs to the Will May Memorial Dog Park at Munny Sokol Park to give them some exercise and get them tired. Then, we left them in our La Quinta Inn room while we went out to say eat, drink, and say hello to family the night before the wedding.

The day of the wedding we took the dogs to the dog park AGAIN and then did a few errands, which included checking out Druid City Brewing Company where we had a beer and colored Care Bear Pictures.

After getting dressed all snazzy for the wedding (as snazzy as possible considering we have limited clothes on this trip!), we headed to the University of Alabama Arboretum, which was a lovely setting for a wedding, minus the poison ivy that was all over the ground.

Yikes! Nick is very allergic to poison ivy so we were both hyper aware of everything that may have come into contact with it. What’s funny about this is that Nick - who isn’t allergic to anything - has a horrible reaction to poison ivy whereas I am allergic to everything EXCEPT apparently poison ivy! Yay me?

From the ceremony (CONGRATS SETH & LIZ!!), we were the first people back on the van (yes!) to head on over to the reception. After getting our free drink at the reception and playing a round of Marriage Mad Libs, we were also some of the first people in line for food. Yum. And once we ate and did a champagne toast and secretly took a video of Nick’s mom dancing, we said goodbye to everyone and as soon as we layed down on the bed, both of us passed out shortly after Fred Armisen’s SNL monologue.

Sunday, May 22: Wake up, pack up our hotel room, take dogs to dog park, sneak into Embassy Suites for a free breakfast (omelet station for the win!), get our mail, say goodbye to everyone, pick up the dogs, and hit the road for Atlanta and spending a few days with Christina, my Lubbock roommate, and her husband Ryan!

Leaving Tuscaloosa was a milestone in our road trip. Why? Because now we’re really on our own. We’ve already visited our parents. Now it’s just us and the open road. And two wild and crazy dogs.

20 Things We Have Done Since Last Saturday

The trip has begun, but it doesn’t feel real yet.

We have been going nonstop since before the garage sale and have barely had time to catch our breath.

So I’m going to review 20 things we have done since last Saturday, only 10 days ago:

1. Garage sale! We are garage sale pros by now, having had 3 different sales in 3 different cities. It went okay. Fortunately, we sold most of our big stuff ahead of the sale!

2. Donating everything that wasn’t sold at the garage sale. At that point, since we were willing to part with it, we just needed to get rid of all that stuff.

3. Packing up the remaining loose ends in Austin.

4. Cleaning the Austin duplex so it looked better than when we moved in - we better get our full security deposit back OR ELSE.

5. Packing two cars to the gills. (I thought we got rid of everything?!?!?)

6. Driving to Kemp, Texas, and trying to beat a huge storm near Waco with hail and 60 mph winds.

7. Arriving at Kemp around 9:30 pm, hungry and exhausted because we didn’t stop.

8. Dealing with Jo - a scaredy cat when it comes to thunderstorms - during a Texas thunderstorm.

9. Not getting much sleep due to that well-timed storm!

10. Unpacking two cars and storing (too much) stuff in Kemp.

11. Repacking the new Subaru aka Brienne of Carth.

12. Dammmnnn Jo, back at it again with those Texas thunderstorms!

13. Waking up early and getting on the road at 7 am for the first day of our drive to Florida. We went through Nacogdoches, Natchitoches (where we got a meat pie at Lasyone's), Natchez - none of those cities are the same! - Hattiesburg, Mobile, and finally Pensacola. 5 states in one day!

14. Spending the night in a Pensacola Red Roof Inn - they’re pet-friendly!

15. Pensacola to Tamarac where my parents live - Florida really is a loooong state.

16. Letting our dogs and my parents’ dogs meet for the very first time. It did NOT go well! Their little dogs wanted to attack our dogs. I thought we were going to have to stay in a hotel, but luckily we’ve been working in shifts to keep them separated, and it worked.

17. Unpacking the entire car because we realized we brought WAY too much stuff and we had to get rid of a bunch of crap. We have left a mess in my parent’s house all week - sorry Dad and Sammie!

18. Taking our dogs to a dog park for the first time. We hadn’t done this before but they LOVE it and it will be a big part of our trip. Especially because it will tire them out!  Trip Mantra #1: Tired doggies are good doggies.

19. Driving to and from Miami to experience the brand new Coral Gables Tap 42. Big ups to Toivo, Nick’s Dad, for a job well done!

20. Catching up with friends and family and taking some much-needed relaxation time.

Even though we’ve done a LOT, it doesn’t feel like the trip has started yet. My parent’s house was a nice “safety net” place to get a bit more organized and catch up on some sleep. This place is familiar, comfortable, and home.

But once we leave here tomorrow, we’re on our own. I still don’t think the trip will feel real until we go camping - for the first time together and with dogs! - in Asheville for Memorial Day. Until then, we’re going to make our way through the hot, humid South.