Still Trippin’: The Big Easy, Sweetie Pies, and A Christmas Story

Today I’m going to recap a few of my most recent travels. When it comes to traveling, I can’t allow years to pass me by waiting for friends to be ready to go where and when I want to. So since I’m free most of the summer, my get-aways are flexible, and solo.


Daree wears an original Mardi Gras costume at the World of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, LA.
Mardi Gras costume

I’ve had a trip to the Big Easy on my list for some years, but it’s usually in the context of the annual Essence Music Festival at the Superdome on July 4.  Every year I think about who would go to NOLA with me, and I can never find anyone to go. Then on July 4th, I see lots of posts and pics online of friends at the EMF. This year, I did the world’s largest 10K race–Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race–which is also held on July 4th. So I decided that even if I had to go alone, I would go to New Orleans in July.

My trip was about a 7-hour drive each way, on a beautiful weekend. I had been warned about how much hotter it was in the Gulf area, but brushed it off. After all, I live in Hotlanta! How much hotter could it be?

VERY. Louisiana had a special kind of heat. Slave plantation, Hades-level heat.

I stayed in Metaire, a town about 20 minutes from the French Quarter. I was a local person’s house instead of a hotel, which I booked using a site called AirBnB.  I will probably use them again.

20140725_185834I ate at Dooky Chase restaurant the first night I was there.  In addition to the standard touristy areas, I also checked out the World of Mardi Gras tour and met up with someone I interviewed for my book, who is also a NOLA native.  He was able to take me through the area once devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

It was a short but pleasant trip. But I think the next time I go to LA, I’ll plan it for the winter or spring instead. I’ve never been that hot before in my life!




Me, Janice & K

My most recent trips were to St. Louis and Cleveland during Columbus Day weekend, since my daughter is back in school (more on that later this week) and had a four-day school break.  It was cold and rainy most of the time, but nothing that a Northerner couldn’t handle!

Carton’s of Sweetie Pie’s tea at Schnuck’s

I pretty much had just one reason to visit St. Louis. Sweetie Pie’s. I’ve been watching the show on OWN since the end of the first season and have been trying to convince friends to go with me. The answer almost every time was, WHY? And this was before the civil rights issues in Ferguson, MO came about.

My daughter, sister and I arrived at the Upper Crust location on that Friday afternoon.  I met Charles‘ mother, the beautiful Ms. Janice and a few others I had seen on the air. I asked my server Paula to take a picture of us, and she yelled over to Janice, “You’ve got a fan!!” I also saw Tim, but didn’t get a chance to speak with him, even though he was parked next to me and left at the same time I did (it was raining and he looked like he was in a hurry to go). I did not get a chance to meet Miss Robbie this time, but I took home a bunch of her sweet tea with me. From the show, I remembered that they had a distribution deal at a local grocery chain called Schnuck’s, so stocked up and sent myself a care package via UPS.

IMG_0235We stayed in a hotel in St. Charles near Ameristar Casino and in walking distance of many stores and restaurants.  We also visited the Science Center that morning, including the Sherlock Holmes exhibit, as well as the Gateway Arch that night (even though it was still cold and drizzling).



K hides under the kitchen sink like Ralphie’s little brother did in the movie.


20141012_144608There was only one reason I wanted to go to Cleveland, and that was the discovery of the A Christmas Story Museum based on the movie of the same name.

We arrived the night before a game between the Browns and the Steelers, which CLE won. Everywhere we went people had on Browns paraphernalia, especially at the Horseshoe Casino. I was born in Pittsburgh, and my dad, who joined us in CLE, lives there. He purposely did not wear any Steelers clothing just in case. I saw a few daring souls sport their Steelers jerseys that night when we had dinner at The Melt.

In December there is a 5K/10K race with the movie theme.  This is their second year doing it. Museum admission is included with registration, but I was just there, so I plan to participate next year even though it will probably be zero degrees outside then.



I often share what I’ve learned from my experiences on this blog. Yesterday, I talked about what I learned from completing my first half-marathon race. For the rest of this week, I will catch you up on things I’ve discussed in the past in that same context. If you’ve been following me for a year or longer, I think you’ll be surprised at some of the life changes I’ve made just in the past few months.