Weekend in Biloxi

Whew, what a busy weekend! Kaitlin and I were in Biloxi for a dance convention/competition, and I managed to fit in a 10-mile run along the beach there also. We have gone to dance conventions every weekend this month. The first two weekends were in Houston, the third was in Baton Rouge, and this past weekend was Biloxi. My daughter loves it and I enjoy watching her do what she loves so in the end it is all worth it.

The competition/convention was at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and we stayed in a 2 bedroom condo at Legacy Towers in Gulfport. This high-rise complex is along Beach Boulevard across the highway from the beach. It has a nice pool area and gym for guests to use. I like that fact that there is full kitchen so I can cook breakfast and a balcony with a beach view to sit out and relax. I much prefer this setup to a hotel room.

Legacy Towers condos in Biloxi

Legacy Towers condos in Biloxi

I will be running the Zydeco half-marathon in Lafayette on March 13 so after I dropped Kaitlin off at her convention classes Saturday morning, I ran along the beachside sidewalk.  The weather was perfect for running – sunny and in the 50s. The ocean was a nice change of scenery from my regular runs through neighborhoods and the 10 miles were not so tough. I had an average pace of 10:20 with my best miles being 3 at 10:07 and 4 at 10:16. My goal is to average right at 10 minute miles but it’s not happening – 10:20 is my norm.

Here is a breakdown:

Mile 1 – 10:37

Mile 2 – 10:17

Mile 3 – 10:07

Mile 4 – 10:16

Mile 5 – 10:18

Mile 6 – 10:19

Mile 7 – 10:25

Mile 8 – 10:20

Mile 9 – 10:23

Mile – 10:27

I bought a new pair of Brooks Ghost tennis shoes last week (the only kind I wear!) and it felt as if I was running on air. I had been having my older shoes since October and had run a half with them, done 3 months worth of bootcamp and several training runs for my upcoming half with them. They had zero cushioning left and were done. It’s amazing the difference a good pair of running shoes can make!

Beach view.

Beach view.

After my run, I needed to bring Kaitlin some lunch so I quickly did that.  I considered going to either the outlet mall right off I-10 or the Edgewater Mall but my feet ached so I stayed and watch her classes instead.

On Sunday, she performed her solo in the dance competition and received a platinum ranking! After that, we drove back home to get ready for the week ahead. We had a full yet fun weekend in Biloxi!

Kaitlin after her performance.

Kaitlin after her performance.

Kaitlin with her tap scholarship award.

Kaitlin with her tap scholarship award.

Linking up this week with Marvelous in My Monday @ www.healthydivalife.com, LouLou Girls Fabulous Party at www.loulougirls.com, Totally Terrific Tuesday at www.liverandomlysimple.com, Wine’d down Wednesday, Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop party and The Pin Junkie pin party.

 

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Family fun weekend in Natchez

 

2015-04-17 14.30.55 Last weekend my mom, sister and I along with one of my aunts and three cousins went to Natchez, Miss., for a book signing for Greg Iles latest novel, “The Bone Tree.” We stayed at the Elmsley House, a 4-bedroom cottage I found on www.homeaway.com. The house was built in 1852 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the winner of the 2008 Historic Natchez Foundation Award for Restoration and features a large front porch and courtyard in back perfect for visiting.

 

Mammy's Cupboard in Natchez

Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez

Before checking in Friday afternoon, we stopped at Mammy’s on Hwy. 61 for lunch and dessert. I heard they had great desserts and I couldn’t pass up stopping a place that looked like this. We went back for lunch here Saturday since three in our group arrived later in the day and missed lunch Friday.

 

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Fat Mama's hot tub

Fat Mama’s hot tub

After checking in, we went to Under the Hill Saloon across the street from the Mississippi River for a beer then to Fat Mama’s for tamales and margaritas. The building that houses the saloon is close to 200 years old and has been a brothel, warehouse, store and a bar. We saw many interesting people here which gave us much to laugh and talk about.

The Turning Angel

The Turning Angel

We also went to the Natchez City Cemetery to see the Turning Angel, a monument erected for five employees who died in an explosion at the Natchez Drug Company in 1908. It’s called this because as cars drive by at night it appears to turn as their car passes. We drove by during daylight so are still unsure if the story is true.

The "Lucky 13" house

The “Lucky 13” house

After our coffee and breakfast at the cottage Saturday morning, we headed out for some shopping along Main, Commerce and Franklin streets at the different antique shops, gift shops and boutiques. We also stopped in at Steampunk Coffee since it was rated #1 on TripAdvisor. We also discovered this interesting house nearby that the locals call the “Lucky 13 House.”

We were able to see many of the city’s beautiful, historic homes as we drove along the city streets. On a return visit I’d like to tour at least one of these.

 

St. Mary's Basilica in Natchez

St. Mary’s Basilica in Natchez

 

Dinner at Pearl Street Pasta

Dinner at Pearl Street Pasta

Later that afternoon, we stopped to take photos at St. Mary’s Basilica and attended mass there. We had dinner that night at Pearl Street Pasta and drinks afterward at Biscuits and Blues, which we had read about in Greg Iles’ book “Natchez Burning.” There is a menu item there called a Natchez Beignet which is a traditional New Orleans beignet with ice cream and a praline sauce poured on top. We did not have one but it looked absolutely delicious!

Sitting on the porch at Dunleith House

Sitting on the porch at Dunleith House

 

2015-04-19 14.24.23Sunday was the day of the book signing at Dunleith Plantation. We had a leisurely morning at the cottage drinking coffee before checking out and heading to the Castle Restaurant at the plantation for a brunch buffet. While waiting for the book signing, we sat on rocking chairs along the front porch of the historic house and enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery. We all got our books with autographs, headed home and started talking about a return trip when he releases his final book in the triology.

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A garden at the Dunleith House

A garden at the Dunleith House

Linking up with:The Pin Junkie

 

 

 

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Planning for summer 2015: Grand Canyon

WeekendBloggyReadingSince we finished our summer vacation last year, I’ve been thinking of where our family would go this year. Last year we spent a week in a gorgeous lakefront home in Lake Rabun, Ga., swimming, tubing, boating and hiking to waterfalls. It was wonderful and we were all in agreement that a trip to another lake house would be great. But I like to change things up a bit so I tossed around the idea of going to the beach in Destin, Fl. (which we’ve done many times), taking the kids to the Bahamas, visiting Disneyworld and Universal Studios in Orlando, or even Gatlinburg, Tn. When my husband suggested the Grand Canyon, I knew that was definitely our place this summer.

I love planning trips and got right to the task. My sweet 16-year-old daughter informed me that it’s much more fun when her cousins come with us on vacation so we extended an invite to my sister, her husband, her 21-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. We also invited my mom and step-dad, so as of now the 10 of us are headed to Arizona for a week in July.

I always begin my planning process by choosing some accomodations. Since all the lodges at the Grand Canyon were already booked, I looked at nearby hotels. There were some hotels and they were okay but we usually prefer to stay in a modern and spacious 4 or 5 bedroom home where we can sit around to visit and talk, and cook and eat together.

I’ve been successful in the past on www.vrbo.com so I began my search there for this size home with certain amenities like a hot tub, internet, cable television and great views. There was nothing really near the Grand Canyon and there were a handful in the town of Williams which is about an hour away. Flagstaff and Sedona, both about two hours from the Grand Canyon, were options as well. Once I researched each of these cities, I quickly realized the red rock views in Sedona were just what I was looking for. Luckily, everyone in the group felt the same way so I was able to narrow down my search to that area.

I found a few available homes on that site however we chose to go with a 5 bedroom rental named “Sedona Hideaway” through Red Rock Realty in Sedona. The home is located on 2.5 acres and has views of Chimney and Lizard Head Rocks as well as Boynton Canyon. It contains walking paths along the property and features a hot tub and several outdoor patio and seating areas. The kitchen includes modern appliances and the living room has comfy leather sofas and a large screen television with surround sound.

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Now that I’ve found us a place to stay I’m in the process of planning our activities.  The problem is that there is so much to do and see that I’m not sure we’ll be able to fit it in. My husband, kids and I are flying into Phoenix on a Friday and staying at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. It has a waterpark and looks like it will be fun for the kids. My sister and her family as well as my mom and stepdad have decided they are driving (21 hours!) and will meet us in Sedona on Saturday.

Sunday – I’m figuring that after two full days of driving they will be ready to relax so Sunday may just be hanging out at the house and whoever is interested can go out and about exploring. I want to tour a Hopi Indian Reservation with a guide so if no one else interested in this – may choose this day for that. If not, will do later in week.

Monday – Grand Canyon. Drive around the south rim, walk a few trails, stop to take photos, eat picnic lunch and possible dinner at El Tovar lodge if I’m able to get reservations. I’d also like to see the sunset as I’ve heard it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before so I’m in the process of finding the best spot for that – maybe Yavapai Point. I’d also like to do a half-day Colorado River float so am contemplating coming back another day to do that.

slide rock

Tuesday  – Sedona. Hiking at Devil’s Bridge, Doe Mountain, Fay Canyon or any other of the red rock country trails. Swimming at Slide Rock State Park where the rocks form a natural water slide! Maybe Pink Jeep tour in the afternoon or horseback riding.

lake powell

Wednesday – Lake Powell. We’ve rented a 44′ pontoon boat with water slide and bathroom aboard to spend the day out on the lake. We are considering renting a powerboat and tube for a few hours to pull the kids.

Thursday – Jerome. Visit what is know as America’s largest ghost town and have lunch there. Then go on an African bush safari at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in nearby Cape Verde.

Friday – Sedona hiking and sightseeing again or back to Grand Canyon for the half-day float trip. If everyone is interested, this could be day we do Hopi Indian Reservation with tour guide.

Saturday – Head home.

Seems like a busy trip! I’m really excited though and hope to get to do most of these things.

 

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