Dollywood Pumpkins, 2021

“I don’t see how a pumpkin patch could be more sincere than this one.” — It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The first weekend of October, we took a one-day trip with C.A. to see the Pumpkin Luminights at Dollywood.
The Mystery Mine illuminated for the events.
It’s not Dollywood if you don’t eat an entire loaf of Cinnamon Bread.
We shared our apple butter with this honey bee.
My original theme park crew: these two cheery faces!
See our quick vlog of the day here.^

We’re already looking forward to going back for the Christmas lights!

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” — Dolly Parton

the Southernmost point

In September 2021, we went back to Key West.

Our first trip to Key West was for my 30th birthday. We picked it because it was new, tropical, and remote enough to be free from any family obligations. We had no idea how much we would love it – and how much we’d want to go back again!

Photos taken at the Hemingway House in Key West

As a couple, we often lean towards ‘adventure’ vacations in which we pack in as much site-seeing, tourism, and learning as possible. But that was not the purpose of this trip — this trip was just for us. Just to relax, to sit by the pool at time, to drink banana daiquiris and Cuban coffee. To simply be together for several days on end with minimal agendas or goals or timelines.

Of course, we still opted for SOME adventure…
And plenty of key lime pie. This slice was from Salute! on the Beach
And this one was from Bagatelle. Did you know that Key Lime is the official “state pie” of Florida?
We were both surprised at just how magical the Key West Butterfly House turned out to be!

This vacation was a good one. A last hurrah of summer, one final tan… But mostly it was just lovely to be together. How lucky am I to be so in love.

Cheers to a final summer adventure as fall begins!

Visiting Dolly’s Kingdom, Summer 2021

Outside the Mystery Mine at Dollywood; pretty sure this is my favorite ride!
Scott’s emotions after trying cinnamon bread for the first time.

A “must do” at Dollywood is visiting the Grist Mill for cinnamon bread. If Disney World has Dole Whips and Universal has Butterbeer, the iconic must eat item at Dollywood is the hot, fresh, gooey cinnamon bread.

C.A. and M. also visited the old time photo booth. There was no wait and a plethora of costumes and backdrops to choose from. They made their own theme by mixing ‘southern belle’ dresses with a hot air balloon + a racoon and some weapons.

Scott loved the park so much he got himself a season pass at the end of the day! Their pricing is actually pretty fantastic for a season pass – and since this trip was in August, we didn’t get to see any holiday decorations this time around, so he’s already planning to return for the “Illuminights” (Halloween) and Christmas events.

Our pro tips:

  • We stayed at Riverstone Resort which is only 3mins from the Dollywood entrance. There are lots of hotels in pigeon forge.
  • The blacksmith shop inside Dollywood is a working blacksmith studio and IF YOU HAVE CLOSED TOED SHOES you can make a small knife out of a screw, railroad spike, or horseshoe and take it home with you. But you gotta have the right shoes! Scott missed out this time because he had soaked his tennis shoes on the River Rampage ride and changed into flipflops – but it’s on his to-do list for next time! Prices for this start at approx $30 and the easiest knife project only takes about 20mins of your day. We recommend getting over to the blacksmith shop first thing if this is something you’d like to do, since the appointment slots book up.
  • Don’t miss the cinnamon bread! You have to find the Grist Mill to get it. We like the apple butter with it.
  • The bald eagles / bird show is also a “can’t miss” moment in the park, check the map for the schedule of bird shows. See their livestream here: https://dweaglecams.org/
  • I think my favorite ride is the Mystery Mine – although there’s still a couple of coasters I haven’t tried so who knows! Coaster lovers with love this short ride with special effects, super fun loops, and two “straight up” pieces of track (my coaster nerd verbiage needs improvement, I know).

Fun fact: Dolly hasn’t ridden any of her own rides (except the train). “I don’t ride the rides. I never have,” she told The New York Times. “I have a tendency to get motion sickness. Also, I’m a little bit chicken. With all my hair I got so much to lose, like my wig or my shoes. I don’t like to get messed up. I’m gonna have some handsome man mess it up, I don’t want some ride doing it.”

Additional fun fact: Dollywood was on Forbes best employers list for 2021. They offer benefits like tuition reimbursement, scholarships for the children of employees, and a primary care health clinic.

You have an opportunity around the park to “round up” your purchases to benefit Dolly’s Imagination Library. If you have kids, check out this resource!

Check out our vlog here^.

If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”

– Dolly Parton

Israel on Ilford

When Scott and I went to Israel in 2019, we carried with us an Ilford disposable camera (specifically: this one, the Ilford XP2 single use ‘Harmon’). We finally got around to dropping off the film last weekend. All of these are 100% unedited, this is exactly how they came out of the developer.

We used Wolf Photo in Atlanta for our developing.

Fun fact: this film went through the airport xray machine at least once and still turned out fine.

Universal Fun!

In June 2021 we took a big ol’ fashioned family vacay to Universal Studios for Dana’s 40th birthday!
We are Kings of the (theme park) Bus! [<–This is a Tim Tracker reference, and if ya know, ya know.]
Rainy weather can’t dampen our spirits.
Did you know that Universal had their own Purple Wall just like Disney?
“Books by the dozens for you and your cousins!”
Family photo taken at Jurassic Park… um, I mean Universal. You know the one. Check out a one second video of our trip below.

Happy Birthday, Dana!

Chestatee River 2021

Kendall and I wore the same sunglasses
The whole Krewe + a dog named Penny
Video highlights, 2021

Notes on our North Georgia kayaking adventures:

  • For kayak rentals, we use: Appalachian Outfitters. This was their Lower Chestatee River trip. Dahlonega is close enough that we do it as a day-trip — drive up, paddle, eat lunch, and drive back. We usually strive to be on the water by 10am (arrive at A.O. by 9:30a).
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen, water shoes and a change of dry clothes.
  • After getting off the river, we enjoyed lunch at: Yahoola Creek Grill (get the fried green tomatoes! And a grouper sandwich!)
  • Kilwin’s in downtown Dahlonega solved our after-lunch dessert cravings (and fixed us up with iced coffee for the ride home).
  • And he was closed when we got there, but if you’re downtown early enough, stop by Brad Walker‘s pottery shop. It’s one of my favorites.

If you enjoyed these photos, you can check out previous years’ highlights here and here, or here.

First time to Dollywood: 2020!

Sometimes you just need a little bit of extra theme park magic…
My best theme park partner and I headed up to Dollywood for the weekend. We didn’t get a lot of photos because we mostly spent our time soaking it all in — the cinnamon bread, the rides, the train! We are Disney World Fans to our core, but Dollywood actually astounded us with it’s charm.

We already can’t wait to come back and bring the boys next time!

a BuHi V-Day

For Valentine’s Day 2020, Scott and I took the day off work and headed to Buford Highway.  In case you didn’t know, this ~6 mile stretch of highway in Doraville is considered to be THE place to go for international food and culinary diversity in Atlanta. You can find everything from Szechuan mapo tofu to Bangladeshi shawarma. Ever wanted to try Malaysian food? Buford Highway has got you covered.

We started our day at Paris Baguette for coffee and pastries.

Next stop (and a MUST DO whenever you’re on that side of town): the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market [5600 Buford Highway]. The first thing to know about the farmer’s market is that it’s not actually a farmer’s market. It’s a supermarket. An amazing 100,000 square foot supermarket with fruits you’ve never seen in person before…

You can find dragon fruit.

All the peppers in the world.

Raw cacao.

Amazing cheeses (for really amazing prices).

A jug of chili sauce the size of your head.

“Chinese spaghetti sauce” (an interesting cultural mash-up if ever there was one).

And even peanut gluten. Although why in the world you need peanut gluten (and wtf that actually is), I have no idea.

Oh and I forgot to mention chocolate. Belgian chocolate! (Isn’t she lovely?)

Next up it was time for the best drive-through taco I’ve ever been handed [5084 Buford Highway].

Then onto the Food Terminal [5000 Buford Highway], where the menu is designed to look like a magazine.

This hip slightly-industrial modern restaurant has tons of Malaysian options and a perky playlist.

Next stop: Sweet Hut Bakery & Cafe [5150 Buford Highway] where they have chocolate domes and all sorts of pastries. We picked up a few pastries for friends who just had their second baby, and some for us too.

Then we took a short jaunt over to Atlanta Vintage Books [3660 Clairmont Road]. We love bookstores, period – but this one is something special with it’s signed copy of Julia Child’s Joy of Cooking, extensive Jewish/Israeli section, and free-roaming TNR’d cat colony. We think it might also be subject to some sort of time warp, since we easily spent 2 hours pouring over bookshelves and it only felt like 15minutes. Fair warning: probably not the spot for you if you have cat allergies.

Final stop of the day: Matcha Cafe Maiko. I looooove matcha and this is the perfect stop for a matcha enthusiast. Scott went with a Matcha/Hojicha swirl softserve and I picked the ‘Matcha Kokuto Gelatin Float’ (an iced matcha latte with a rich brown sugar jelly on the bottom and matcha icecream on top).

I just spent a whole afternoon on Buford Highway and I’m already wondering how soon I can go back. There are simply so many things to try! If you need help planning your own trip down this international corridor, this article has some great ideas. So does this one.

Things I’d like to try next: