Monday, September 28, 2015

Labor Day Road Trips

Destination: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Total Miles: 1,500 (roughly)
Total Cost: Somewhere around $150

What better activity to do for Labor Day weekend than to go visit out-of-state family?! Having a slightly longer weekend and the option of leaving a little early on Friday presented me with the perfect road trip opportunity: visit Will and Kara in Fort Wayne (while the weather is still decent enough for this Southern girl).

I will admit that the weekend came up faster than I had thought it would, so Thursday night and Friday morning found me scrambling to pack and prepare before work Friday morning.

The previous two weeks had been spent in ICD-10 preparation (more to come on that journey!), and I was anxious to get out of the office and away from the computer to hit the roads for a few hours.

Will (my "little" 6'5'' brother) and his wife, Kara, moved to Fort Wayne around Memorial Day. Her family is from there, and the timing worked out for them to move (much to the Guidinger Clan's dismay since it's the farthest move of any of the siblings to date). It is about 9 1/2 to 10 hours from Greenville...and conveniently takes one within 6 minutes of Grandma's house in Knoxville!

First stop of the trip after driving through the beloved and much traveled I-40 mountain stretch was at Grandma's exit for some Starbucks and a quick visit with Grandma and Pap. After a refreshing drink and visit, I was back on the road with an audiobook to entertain and about 5 days worth of music to pick and choose from for listening.

Saturday morning found me waking up at my usual 7 a.m. Kara had to work the morning, so Will took me out for a bicycle ride around a path they like to was great to catch up, and we even managed to get caught in a torrential downpour (no thanks to the weather channel app that did not show a chance of rain that morning!). To dry off and warm up post-ride, we headed to one of Will and Kara's favorite little coffee shops for more catching-up and cappucinos.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out with Will, Kara, and a couple of her brothers. We stuffed ourselves and had some good laughs at a Brazilian restaurant, went to the Dollar theatre to see Inside Out (yes, I was one of the best Pixar movies...and I've seen almost all of them), and managed to squeeze in a couple games of UNO in the evening while snacking on our favorite: Oreos and milk.

The weekend was definitely a weekend of firsts for me! Two of the biggest were on my bucket list of "Things To Do Before I Turn Thirty." Namely: Laser Tag and learning to drive stick-shift. Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed! We played two rounds of Laser Tag, and Will taught me on Sunday after lunch how to drive manual transmission...which was a lot of fun in spite of my initial difficulty pulling forward after stops.

Sunday was a busy and fun day: we visited a church near their apartment for the morning service, ate a delicious breakfast and lunch prepared by my amazing sister-in-law, drove around learning stick-shift, went to DeBrand's for some amazing iced hot chocolate and a chocolate Sundae, and a side road trip to Ohio for the afternoon/evening (which bears some explanation--see the post-script).

On Labor Day, we all slept in until 9 a.m. and lounged about, playing UNO until Kara won a hand. I decided since I don't get DeBrand's a whole lot, that we should go back for a brunch...which then turned into a stop at Panda Express for lunch. Definitely a huge fan of their Orange Chicken. :)

After lunch, it was time to hit the road home, and after the goodbyes, I headed South a little happier for having spent time with people I love.

Last stop of the trip before home was, of course, supper at Grandma's! She had specially made tacos (my favorite!), and it was so fun to visit for a few minutes before taking on that I-40 mountain stretch.

More trips to blog about...stay tuned!

PS: explain the Ohio trip, three words: Chocolate. Zucchini. Bread.

I am friends with a lot of people, and one of the things I love about being friends with others is having the opportunity to meet their friends and family. In my Sunday School class at church, there are two brothers who are from Ohio. Over the past few months, I've gotten to know both of them a little better. At the beginning of the summer when my zucchini plants were producing their bumper crop, one of the brothers shared their mom's recipe for chocolate zucchini bread with me. It's amazing. With that, came her phone number in case I had questions about the recipe or whatnot. We've stayed in touch throughout the summer, and on the Friday morning that I was leaving for Fort Wayne, I decided to look at a map to get the basics on where I was heading. A town in Ohio caught my eye, and I remembered one of the brothers saying they were from Spencerville. Sure enough, it was only an hour and a half from Fort Wayne. I decided to see if it would work out for me to meet and give my personal thanks to the mom for sharing the recipe. Not only did it work out, but I was able to go to church in the evening with the oldest brother and then go to a graduation party and play a couple hours of volleyball with some of the church people. The brothers' family was so gracious, and I thoroughly enjoyed my side-trip to Ohio and am thankful for new friends!

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