Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lumiere Hotel, St. Louis

After we checked out of Natchez Trace, we impulsively decided to go to St. Louis as our overnight stop on our way home. Turns out there is a gorgeous new casino downtown with two stunning hotels attached. We stayed at the Lumiere. It is one of those hotels where the rooms encircle the lobby from the inside, so each floor opens up so you can look down and see everything. This is the view from our hotel room floor.



We will definitely be staying there again!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Natchez Trace villa


The villas at Natchez Trace are fabulous: roomy, air-conditioned, with two outside patios, a gas grill, two floors of bedrooms, a full kitchen and living room, and a shared dock for keeping your boat. We were able to easily fit 6 people in it for a week.

For me, the frustrating part was the air-conditioning; it's hard to reset it (and my BIL needs it to be cold) so we had it at 70 the whole time. But it was so hot and steamy outside it was actually *too* cold for me inside! Ha. So I ended up spending most of my time at the villa out on the second floor patio.

Not that it was a hardship, since it was so pretty out there.




Can't wait to go back next year!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Kate!

My sister Kate's birthday is today. It's the last year she will be in her thirties. (Not to worry, Kate, next year's milestone will be great -- especially because then we can torture Mom about having TWO daughters in their forties! Heeheehee.)

My sister's pretty amazing, with a very full plate of activities: she's a mom to two awesome boys, a wife, a teacher, and has gone back to school for yet another degree. Oh, and has lost over sixty pounds and has taken up running in 5Ks. And lives near all the relatives so she attends all the family parties. And probably does a million other things she doesn't even think to talk about because they're just second nature to her. She's smart, committed, busy, loyal, stubborn, family-oriented, kind, and passionate.

But I like her best when she is silly. Nobody does silly like Kate.


She danced with Elvis at Graceland!



DSC_3387 copy

Done now.

HEEEEEEEE. See why she's so great? For the record, when we had our mud fight at the lake on vacation -- THIS YEAR -- I would like it known that she threw the first handful of mud. Mom, she started it!!!

And just so she doesn't feel bad for me plastering my blog with pictures of her being a dork, here's the photo I took this morning after I got back from my 5K run that I did in her honor:


:) :) Happy Birthday, little sister!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The original Kudzu Planet

Hubby says that he came up with the name Kudzu Planet somewhere else, but for me, this is where it all began.


Wave to Hubby! (We had to skip that hike down into the kudzu bowl; if we couldn't see him after a few steps down, we knew we might literally lose the seven-year-old in the thickets!)


This one was taken on our last trip in 2006. The elephant kudzu tree!
Kudzu Planet

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bud and Disie Jowers


Because Natchez Trace was farmland until the New Deal and the TVA, there are over 25 family cemeteries scattered across the park. Most are tucked away beside camping spots, but I cannot imagine who would camp next to one! There were headstones all over, some broken, some worn down from years of neglect and weather, some still intact, for babies and parents and families, just like cemeteries all over. The strangest sight were the series of square unmarked stumps in rows, like above. We couldn't figure out what they were, because there were no markings on them whatsoever, but they didn't look like replacement stones. For slaves, maybe?



One cemetery we stopped at had a couple of faded plastic flower displays up, which jarred with the actual headstone, which was simply the names, misspelled once and scratched into the cement with a stick. Someone still remembers the Jowers.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Browns Lake boat dock


There is just something about this photo that is quintessential Natchez Trace to me. Maybe it's the torn-up roof, or the air of 'help yourself' honor-system hospitality; if you want to fish here or borrow a jonboat, you can just fill in the envelope and put whatever money in you feel is appropriate, and help yourself to what you need. This particular lake is tucked away on the other side of the park, where the tourists (such as they are) don't often go.

You can sign up for a turkey hunt, too! They had (rusty) clipboards inside the booth and everything!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Sun Records and Beale Street

We did leave the woods one day for a trip to Memphis.

Sun Records

Beale Street

Mmmm. Yummy ribs.

Hee. Best doorstopper ever.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sunrise, Pin Oak Lake


I only caught two sunrises this year, but they were pretty.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Cub Lake


Cub Lake at Natchez Trace. We've only been there in the fall, when the beach is closed and the paddleboats are locked away for the season. It was terrific getting to swim and play there this year; the adults were pretty bored, but I had a great time splashing around with my nephews in the swimming area. My sister even joined in one day; we had our first mud/water fight in 30 years! The boys were pretty surprised. :)


In truth, the paddleboats were more fun to watch than to ride; the foot pedals were short which didn't allow for full leg extensions, which made it hard to move. But the dog in the lifejacket sure seemed to like it!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bird Watching

Some of the birds we saw at Natchez Trace...

Bald Eagle and owl hiding behind him

Second owl, who made strange clicking noises at us


The eagle and owls were in cages at the Park Ranger station. I have never seen either up that close before. It was pretty amazing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Richard!

Happy Birthday to my husband! Next year, we will celebrate your birthday here, with juicy steaks, cold beer, and a fat stogie for you.


For the record: I love you, honey, and I love that you love fishing, but this will never be me.


Saturday, August 01, 2009


We're headed out for a week's vacation with my sister's family, where there will be much fishing, boating, hiking, and general silliness with my awesome nephews. Before I go, I wanted to show off my husband's fold-up boat that he got this year. It will be making the trip with us, of course; that's why we got it! I watched him put it together last month, and I have to admit, it's pretty darned cool.

The whole set is here on Flickr, but I'm posting some highlights on the blog.

Looking pretty insubstantial...


More unfolding...

The stick becomes the key to the set-up.

Putting in the first seat

Putting in the second seat (less gracefully than the first, LOL)

Screwing in the stern board

Voila! We have a boat!

You can also attach wheels so you can roll it to the water, which I maintain are HUGELY DORKY and make it look like Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang.

There is, of course, a waterproof floating holder for the iPhone. OF COURSE THERE IS.

And we are on the water! With very bad rowing! (The trolling motor was added on the next trip. And Hubby claims to have improved his rowing technique now.)

(Sure does look weird without the bow piece. Hubby will be adding it this week, although it's still kind of ugly with it.)

Comes apart pretty fast too...

That's all of it, including the fishing backpack

Pretty cool, righ? It's called a Porta-Bote, and you can order them online. Tell 'em we sent you!