Meet me in St. Louis

So I’ve had the travel bug lately which is why I went to Austin, TX. I decided to go to New Orleans Nov. 9 – 11, however, that didn’t work out because of a Saints game. There was NOWHERE to stay. So instead, we (Elek, my mom, and I) went to St. Louis, which turned out to be great! First of all, I managed to book a 4.5 star hotel using Priceline for $65 a night. We left Sat. morning Nov. 9th and since check-in was at 4 PM, we went straight to the St. Louis zoo.

Apparently the St. Louis zoo is one of a few free zoos in the US. Parking was $10, but worth it since it was packed due to the extraordinarily nice weather that weekend. The zoo was pretty cool. It had two trains running around the whole thing while we were there, though we didn’t ride one. We saw the camels, lions, giraffes, reptiles, zebras, and wild pigs among other things. After we were done with the zoo, we checked into the hotel and took a load off for a bit. After getting a few recommendations, we settled on eating at Pi, an awesome pizza place, that night. They had π in their windows, which I got a kick out of. Their deep dish was pretty good, but I don’t think it was what I thought deep dish would be like. I think I’m more of a fan of regular pizza.

The next morning we woke up and drove to the St. Louis Arch. It had a unique free museum under the arch which laid everything out in sort of a timeline fashion. They had an actual tipi as well as animatronic characters who were unfortunately out of service at the time. Elek and I braved the 5 seat pod to the top of the arch and the view was amazing and crystal clear! One of my favorite pictures is of the ground with the shadow of the arch. We could even feel the arch sway a bit at the top. Creepy..

After that we were off to the St. Louis City Museum. It was a little expensive, but a really creative place with lots of places to climb and slide. We also went to the roof where there was a school bus HANGING OFF THE EDGE! It was a lot of fun and one of my pictures is a panoramic of the city from the top of the museum. Around 1 PM we grabbed a bite to eat from a pub and then headed to check out the Soulard Neighborhood. It is a cool, smaller version of Cooper Young kind of with a weekly if not almost daily farmer’s market. Nothing was really going on at the time, but I believe it would be a really cool place to live.

Later that evening we headed to the restaurant Tortillaria and had their fish tacos. They were so very tasty that I would go back if I went back to St. Louis! The owner (I’m assuming) and his wife who is from Memphis seemed very interesting. We left the next morning to get back to Memphis in time to rest up for work and school Tuesday.

As a side note, my friend Zach was in St. Louis at a board game conference.

Enjoy the pics below!

Trip to Austin

My son, Elek, and I flew to Austin last week to see my Aunt, Uncle, cousins and a couple of friends. Below is what happened so I can remember details! Hopefully I’ll post pictures soon.

We arrived in Austin the afternoon of Wed. Oct. 9th. We drove to Barton Springs and rode the train that goes around that area. Elek played on the playground. Afterward we met Chris Jolley at the original Maudie’s tex mex. Chris came over to Elizabeth’s house for a bit afterward and we talked.

Thursday we went to the Austin Zoo and animal sanctuary in the
morning. We rode the train there as well. It was an interesting zoo
where most of the animals were recovering from something or rescues.
That night we saw the bats swarm under the bridge. For dinner we ate
Texas barbecue. It was very good, but obviously different than Memphis
barbecue. Chris and I went out and drove through “dirty 6th” street
(kind of like Beale street) where all the college aged kids go to get
drunk. We stopped on a very cool block called Rainey Street which was
full of bars made from converted houses. There was also a trailer park
of food trucks. Stephen and Ethyl got in late.

Friday morning Elek was going to help walk the dogs when Jamie bit him
on the face so we spent the morning at the doctor’s. Elizabeth bought
Elek a birthday present from a bookstore called Book People. We saw
the huge Whole Foods store in all its glory. That night we had a
family dinner with steak, potatoes, and salad. It was awesome! We hung
out in the hot tub a little after dinner.

Saturday Elek and I played 10 holes of disc golf at Mary Moore disc
golf. Afterward we went to South Congress street and ate pizza at Home
Slice. It was pretty cool because they let Elek have some dough to
play with while we waited at the bar. That area was very CROWDED. It
was similar to Cooper Young, but more crowded as there were lines
everywhere pretty much. We also got to see where Annabeth works. We
went with her to the Bullock Texas State History Museum and looked
around. We watched a 3D shark movie while we were there as well.

weekend in new orleans, la

CrowdedStreetDiana and I met Mike (my college roommate) and Camie (his wife) in New Orleans for Jared Barcenas and his wife, Ezgi’s, reception/celebration. Elek stayed with my mom (we owe her big) for the weekend and had apparently come down with the flu, though we thought it was a 24 hour virus or something of the sort after Diana took him to the doctor. We almost had to turn around halfway there. We left later than we thought we were going to, but we arrived in New Orleans at exactly the same time as Mike and Camie. No really. EXACTLY. We drove under their plane as it was landing. Sure enough Mike called me 2 minutes later and we went directly to the airport to pick them up.
Group
We had just enough time to drop by Target for a couple of things we needed and to get settled in the Biscuit Palace.

The first night we got ready and wandered around looking for a place to eat. We got some general directions for cajun food from a local shop keeper. Ralph and Kacoo’s was where we ended up eating. It looked just as good as any other place. It turned out to be sub par and I’m really upset we didn’t get a chance to try out Mr. B’s! After the disappointing meal, we walked to the party which was in a luxurious suite with a large balcony and an open bar. As you can see everyone there had a great time. We met some new people and celebrated Jared and Ezgi’s marriage.

AquariumAfter waking up and walking to Cafe du Monde (which we did make it back to), we decided we didn’t want to wait in a line that long. On the other side of Jackson Square there was another recommended restaurant called Stanley’s. Despite the almost equally as long wait, the food was amazing!

After that meal we HAD to walk off the food. With no real agenda, we walked up to the trolley station and hopped on. When the trolley came to the end of the line there was the aquarium, right in front of us. I’ve been before, but it had been a very long time. We decided to go in and luckily both Mike and I had our triple A cards with us for the discount. The aquarium is a must see if you’re ever in New Orleans.

CafeDuMondeAfterward, we got a transfer on another trolley and went back to Cafe du Monde where we ate some wonderful beignets and drank coffee (hot chocolate for me).

After a fun filled, touristy morning most of us took a nap with the exception of Diana who walked about 4 miles to get a sweater. What a great nap! We were all recharged and ready for the reception that night at a beautiful inside courtyard. The food was exactly what I love about New Orleans. Everything was perfect. The guests, the food, the dessert, the location. Later that night we went out on Bourbon Street again, but unfortunately that was the night that Diana woke up shivering. She had gotten the flu from Elek. I was sent out at 5AM in the French Quarter to find some place with Sprite and crackers. Luckily I didn’t come back empty handed. It took Diana about 6 days to recover from the flu thanks to Tamiflu. We drove back after breakfast at a 24 hour diner across the street from our hotel.

It was a wonderful weekend in New Orleans and I wish Jared and Ezgi the best! You can see more pictures from the festivities below.

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stanley’s restaurant in new orleans

stanleysWhile we were in New Orleans, we stumbled across Stanley’s Restaurant quite by accident. For breakfast in the French Quarter Saturday morning we were headed to Cafe du Monde when we saw the enormous line and decided against it. Diana asked a local shopkeeper where we should eat and she recommended Stanley’s. We went to the north side of Jackson Square and saw that there was a significantly shorter wait. We put our names on the list and Diana and Camie went shopping for a minute while Mike and I waited patiently at first and then not so patiently. It took a while to get a table, but the host was very nice and explained exactly what was going on and when we could expect a table.

stanleysbreakfaststanleysmenuAfter a while, our time to be seated finally came. We got a four top with a view of the street and the cooks. Diana and I were trying not to eat too much so we could eat lunch at Mr. B’s. so we decided to split the Breaux Bridge Benedict, which happened to be really rich. I’m very glad we split it. I am not very keen on breakfast, but the Breaux Bridge Benedict is one hell of an exception. It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.

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snow patrol concert in nashville, tn

IMG_2429This past weekend, Oct. 2-4, Diana and I went to Nashville to see Snow Patrol. We left about 3:30 PM Friday and made it with time to spare to their 8PM show. Elek stayed with my mom (Gran) over the weekend and we prepared him for it by telling him a day or two in advance. To the left is a picture of the Tennessee River which is where traffic slowed down to almost a halt. We could not have picked a more scenic place for the traffic slowdown. It was beautiful!

IMG_2441We arrived in Nashville at 6:30 PM. We went directly to Jimmy John’s across from Vanderbilt to pick up our dinner. Our next stop was the infamous Frugal MacDoogal where they had Sailor Jerry (the best rum ever) on sale for $19.99 a handle. We obviously got two. At this point both of us are ravenous! We finally get checked into the hotel around 7:20 PM and made drinks/ ate our Jimmy John’s sandwiches. The Italian sandwich that I got reminded me of college.

IMG_2452We were ready to go to the concert at 9:45 PM. We stayed at the Millennium Maxwell House that we booked through Hotwire for about $59/night. I found this article on Lifehacker that shows you how to pretty accurately guess which hotel you will get on Hotwire using Trip Advisor, which was really helpful. That night we took the free shuttle down to 5th and Broadway where the Ryan Auditorium is. The Ryman is an intimate venue that is about 1/3rd or 1/4th the size of the Orpheum in Memphis.

IMG_2461We arrived at the Ryman right after the Plain White T’s finished, which was perfect. We were seated at the front right of the stage with a great view as you can see from the pictures. Snow Patrol was amazing. It was the best concert I’ve ever been to. The lead singer, Gary Lightbody, was more enthusiastic, humble, and funny than any other musician I’ve ever seen. He’s the type of person you would want to hang out with because you know you would have a good time.

IMG_2465Snow Patrol played from 9:25 to 10:50 PM, which was the perfect length. They came out for one encore where they played some stuff off of their new album. It sounded pretty good and I need to obtain their new album. Their use of piano and large four mallets was wonderful! They were equipped with two drummers, a pianist, the lead singer, lead guitarist, bassist, and an acoustic guitarist. During the show, the guy next to me who was very friendly (and intoxicated) gave me a hard time about not singing loud enough. IMG_2476He then befriended me and bought me a beer that I didn’t necessarily want (fat tire). I drank it anyway and it was great. He also returned my jacket that I tried to leave behind.

After the concert was over, we walked out onto Broadway and toward Decades where we met Dave and Ashley. Ashley has since moved in to Buckwild, which we did not make it to this trip. We went into the first floor of Decades with a $5 cover. I suppose this floor opens a little later than the upper floor. IMG_2480Last time we went to Nashville we were the FIRST people in the second floor of Decades and we were the ONLY ones there for quite a while. We played quarters for about 2 hours with Dave and Ashley. Good times. We had a good time at Decades and left a couple hours later to go home. We passed the trailer park bar, but decided against it and headed back to the hotel. The picture on the left is what the view looked like the next morning. B-E-A-UTIFUL! IMG_2491So beautiful in fact that we decided to eat breakfast/lunch at Noshville’s and head to Percy Warner Park. We were able to finagle some fries out of the cooks at Noshville’s with the help of our awesome 43 year old waitress Alisha. She is from Memphis and related to the Grisanti’s.

We drove through Belle Meade to get to Percy Warner Park. That street has the largest and nicest houses I’ve seen in Tennessee! IMG_2496Once we got there, we climbed the large staircase to the top where a wooded trail began. We started walking along it and came to a point where we asked a fellow hiker where it went. He said it was your standard 2.5 mile trail so we turned around and went the other direction toward the top of the hill/mountain. Once we were satisfied with walking along the trail, we decided to drive on the road that went around the mountain. It took us 30 minutes to get all the way around the trail, but it was so pretty! IMG_2499After we were done with the park, Chris came over around 5 PM to have a drink with us in our hotel. Somehow the topic of save a horse, ride a cowboy came up and I randomly blurted out “save a whale, ride a cheerleader”. Beats me. Afterward, we talked about where to eat and decided on the Rosepepper Mexican restaurant in East Nashville. Diana called her friend Cortney who met us there after we ordered. The food was great and you could tell it was at least somewhat authentic because there were a couple of Mexican guys knocking back some tequila at the table next to us. The portions were ample and the food was quite good. IMG_2504They brought out three different types of dip with our chips, regular, hot, and salsa verde. The dips were all very tasty though my favorite was the spicy.

After the Mexican food, we rode to Five Points in East Nashville and had a drink at one of their bars. Chris bought Diana and me a Bushwaker that was way too filling after Mexican. At that point, unfortunately, Diana and I had to call it a night. We went back to the hotel in utter pain and went to bed. The next morning ended our stay in Nashville. We headed back to Memphis at about 9 AM. Talk about a great birthday weekend! And remember, “Save a whale, ride a cheerleader.”

Also, below are two short clips that give you a feel of the Snow Patrol show. Enjoy.

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videos of our gulf shores, al beach trip

Enjoy these videos from our Gulf Shores vacation.

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