I had plannnned to post this on Monday. But
life has other plans WordPress likes to delete entire entries & who knew I’d have so many things to catch up on after dropping all responsibilities for over a week without a care in the world? Oops.
Ohh my goodness. Where do I even begin? How about this road trip was the best one of my life!?
Okay, so it was my first. But it was incredible! In short: I couldn’t imagine going to cooler places, eating more AMAZING food with a better group of people.
The entire idea of a road trip came together after my best friend, Beth, filled out the entire map of the U.S. of places she’d been only to find there were a lot of blank spaces. Aside from the east coast and a few other places, I haven’t been to many either. We figured now was probably one of the best times in our lives to hit the road.
And thus, our Great Southern Road Trip was born. That’s what I’ll call it. 😉
We didn’t have much of a “plan” besides the places we wanted to hit and a few sights we wanted to see, including New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Other than that, we all just wanted to experience other states to get out of our little “moco bubble.” The route was: Morgantown, WV –> Louisville, KY –> Nashville, TN –> New Orleans, LA –> Atlanta, GA –> home.
Beth, Alicia & I left after work on Friday for Morgantown. We wanted a little pit-stop at the old stomping grounds to see old friends. It doesn’t hurt that WVU is always a blast. As usual, it did not disappoint. We lucked out and were able to stay with friends who lived walking distance from High Street. (AKA MY OLD COLLEGE HOUSE <3) For old times’ sake, we spent the night at Bent Willeys, making sure to have a few benders (a mixed drink that in my [unpopular] opinion is pretty gross) and a few slices of pizza from a shop underneath the bar.
Early the next morning we left and set out for Louisville, KY. Again, we were fortunate enough to be able to stay with our friend’s family for the night. They were the sweetest & most welcoming parents ever!! It took us about 6 hours to drive south through West Virginia and then west through all of Kentucky.
We planned to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum but the trip took a little longer than expected so we missed the last tour. We got a GREAT view of their lobby, though! It was a little bit of a bummer but the night was NOT a bust by any means. We grabbed dinner at Bluegrass Brewing Co & enjoyed a few of their specialty beers. Afterwards we went to Fourth Street Live for the evening and had so much fun! Our favorite places were Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano bar with amazing performers and PBR Louisville, another bar that does everything country! Both were ridiculously entertaining and I recommend checking them out if you’re ever in the area. (Preferably when it’s warmer! BRRR.)
Nashville was the shortest drive of our journey. Thanks to that, we were able to spend the entire day exploring the city. We checked out the Grand Ole Opry, but again missed out on the tour and there were no shows that night—BOO! Thankfully we were able to spend several hours at the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville and it was pretty incredible. They had so many great outfits on display, actual hand-written lyrics from artists and an interactive exhibit where guests can become “Certified Country” by completing several hands-on tasks like singing & creating an album cover.
Afterwards, we hit Broadway to see what all the talk was about. It was pretty mind-blowing to see how many bars had live music playing at once. It sort of felt like there HAD to be a future country star on the strip. And how cool would that be? We had to cut the night short due to a very long and very early drive to NoLa, but we window shopped (expensive) cowboy boots, caught the tail end of a performance & I bought a few trinkets from Earthbound Trading Co, the most perfect store ever that I would gladly live in!
Monday morning we woke up at 4am for our 8 hour drive to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. It was a long drive but SO worth it once we got in town. We had a room booked at the Blake Hotel on St. Charles Ave; It’s rght in the action of the parades and a 15 minute walk to the French Quarter. PRIME location.
Even better? They randomly upgraded us to a large suite on the top floor with a perfect view of the parades. WIN!!!
We spent Monday-Thursday in NoLa–some the most fun days ever! We were all a little apprehensive after hearing horror stories of how dangerous Bourbon Street could be, how we needed to keep our wits about us, etc. But.. we did not experience ANY of that. The atmosphere we entered was lively and upbeat. There was music playing everywhere. People were in a fantastic mood; they would cheer at you, toss beads at you and become your instant best friend. The goal was just to have a great time and let off a little steam. Everyone was happy. And in costume.
Albeit I’d be lying if I didn’t see a fair share of ridiculously drunk idiots (and boobs) but never once did I feel unsafe or out of control. We stuck to the main roads and kept in a group and it was ALL GOOD!
Speaking of good.. the food. Oh. My. GOODNESS. New Orleans has some of the tastiest foods I’ve ever had. And eclectic too. The mixture of Cajun, French, Creole, Italian, etc. was incredible. And it’s all within walking distance! New Orleans is truly a foodie’s paradise. Or mine at least!
One of my favorite moments was dining at Emeril’s in New Orleans with new-found friends, splitting a few bottles of wine and feasting on the best dishes we’ve ever had. I ordered the Andouille crusted Drum. It was without a doubt the most amazing meal I have ever had. The Creole Meuniére sauce is to DIE for and the drum fish was melt-in-your-mouth perfection. Have I sold you yet?
Other highlights: Beignets at Café Du Monde (a must), Pan-seared Catfish and Shrimp Étouffée from Katie’s Restaurant in Mid-town (featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives), Po’Boys & Gumbo from Bubba Gump Shrimp (had to!) and the original Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s. There was not a meal I was displeased with! We quite literally ate and listened our way through New Orleans and I feel like we barely even scratched the surface. We will be back..!
Sadly, after a few days our stay was up and we hit the road for Atlanta.
We our wallets lucked out for a third time and were able to stay with friends. Yay! The drive took around 8 hours through rural Mississippi & Alabama. It was a pretty drive with nothing much other than trees & fields for miles.
Naturally, after days of eating our faces off we were starved once we arrived. We hit up a popular BBQ restaurant called Fox Bros Bar-B-Q for a late dinner and, yet again, I was blown away by southern cooking! I have new plans to incorporate their flavorful foods into my diet 😉
Our final day of the trip was spent exploring Atlanta. We grabbed a late breakfast at The Flying Biscuit, went to the aquarium for a few hours to check out the fishies and wrapped up the night at Noche Tapas & Tequila bar because we hadn’t had any Mexican on our trip so we obviously had to change that!
Needless to say, after 9 days and around 2000 miles of travel we were beyond ready to get home and face-plant into our pillows. Due to impending inclimate weather, we decided to leave Atlanta at 4 am in hopes we would beat it. No such luck. Aside from a bit of freezing rain leaving Nashville, we were spoiled with blue skies while driving. It only makes sense then that our luck would finally run short & we were hit with some “holy-crap-we’re-going-to-die” weather.
As you can tell because I’m writing this, we survived. Somehow. After an 8-hour-turned-11 hour trip, my tiny little Corolla made it through ice, sleet, slush & snow all the way home where we PTFO.
THE END!! ❤
Just kidding, kind of. All in all: I’m beyond grateful we did this road trip for so many reasons! I can’t tell you how many times I say I want to do something but don’t follow through. This was a pretty big follow-through! I can be a bit of a worry-bug sometimes so it was great to step out of my comfort zone a little.
Secondly, it was incredible to experience ALL that the U.S. has to offer. Usually when you travel, you fly from one big city to the next. Driving hundreds of miles through the middle of nowhere makes you appreciate all the diversity America has to offer. You get to see small towns or “flyover” states that you wouldn’t normally see. It certainly made me appreciate how well off Maryland is compared to many others.
Thirdly, I loved spending time with my friends in a new environment. I was worried that long hours in the car would turn dreadful or that we might get annoyed being in the same vicinity 24/7—but that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, I’m convinced no one has more fun than us! 😉 We’re a goofy bunch.
Lastly, and probably the most crucial, is how important it is to take advantage of travel while you can. It’s so important to see new places, experience new things.. It’s how you grow. I’m lucky enough to be young and carefree at the moment.. I don’t have many pressing responsibilities that keep me geographically stuck. That being said, in a few years when I am in the middle of my career or maybe even building a family, I know I won’t be able to be so spontaneous and splurge on things as much as I did this past week. You’ve got to exercise your freedom to do what you want while you can!
LIVE A LITTLE.