MTTS2016-Day 4 & 5

I wasn’t thinking this through completely when I started naming days…. 

I’m gonna call this one The Day of Waves…. Catching Waves, Riding Waves, Making  Waves, Waves of Nausea and Waves of Euphoria. 


Catching waves is pretty damn obvious…. 

Okay, reader survey here: When one player is a FOOT taller than the other, shouldn’t the shorter player get to choose where they stand in the water?  

Brian kept luring me further and further out into the water (Shark Week is over, right?). It was fine as long as there were those big rolling waves that we could just ride along on…. But then the waves started breaking just as they got to us I kept getting the Sinus Cleansing Treatment! They just hit Brian mid-back.  Not fair. Though my sinuses are quite clear today…..

To explain the other waves….. 

Brian and I finally took major action on a new adventure we’ve been day dreaming about for a while……


See Posh there in the photo? She’s sitting outside our future front door!  

Yes, my friends, you heard me right…. We have suffered through our last Missouri winter. Me, Brian, Momma, Boo and a small heard of cats and cars are migrating to the warmer climes of Florida!  

Brian and I spent the last couple of days scoping out the area and checking out houses with our Florida Realtor friend, Mary. Yesterday we found a neighborhood and a builder that we just love…. 


Hello, Florida!  We’re home! 🌴💕🌴💕

MTTS2016 – Day 3 

If yesterday was the Day of Detours then today shall be called the Day of Minor Injuries & Inconveniences. 

After a crappy night of headaches and overzealous air conditioning the day actually started off pretty well. Brian went down and snagged me a banana and peanut butter before the breakfast bar closed. (See? I’m not so hard to please!) 


As we headed out to explore the area today we got an email from one of our contractors that they needed all this crap notarized and completed before they could get started… Of course, they knew we were going out of town… They even mentioned it in their damn email! Get your shit together people!!  Ugh… Thank goodness for the UPS store. We got everything printed, notarized and mailed back. 😉 And that’s how you get things done! 

Then we had an AWESOME lunch!  Oh, yum…. At the Floridian in St Augustine. It was well recommended through the Find Me Gluten Free app. The staff was super knowledgable, the menu was clearly marked and there were plenty of delicious options. 

Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits with Pork Belly and Goat Cheese

Shrimp & Gritts

Southern Belle Salad

Brian and I roamed around Old Saint Augustine for a while… I am pretty much in love with Saint Augustine. There are tons of cute little shops and restaurants and historic stuff. It reminded me a lot of New Orleans French Quarter, but cleaner… and safer feeling. 


Then Mom messaged me that a package from Disney had arrived. Oh yay!… Oh no! Those are our tickets for Disneyland in California….. We won’t be going home before we get to Disney. So… Brian spent an hour on hold listening to It’s a Small World over and over… and over…. Just for them to tell us to either have the tickets mailed back to them, or ship them to one of the hotels on our route. The Mouse was not pleased with us. Brian wasn’t so pleased with the Mouse either.  


Dinner was FABULOUS! We ate at Roy’s in Jacksonville. I’ve been to Roy’s in Hawaii a couple of times and it is just about the yummiest place on earth!  The food in Jacksonville was just as delicious, but the view wasn’t quite the same. (It’s hard to compete with Hawaii.) 


Brian and I both ordered the Butterfish. It was delicious!  There were plenty of Gluten Free options on the menu and everything was clearly marked. Our waitress was knowledgable and super sweet about us being GF (some people are bitchy… Sorry!  I don’t enjoy being sick!) 

We really should have split a dessert, but my taste buds remembered the Chocolate Lava Cake and fresh ice cream and I said I didn’t want to share…. My tummy says we need to learn to share!  (My clothes are beginning to agree 😣)

After dinner we went to the beach and walked in the surf…. I think Brian was just trying to get me to burn off some of the sugar so maybe I’d shut up and sleep tonight…. but he says he just wanted to walk for a bit. Whatever!  I’m not going to complain that my hubby takes me to fancy dinners and long walks on the beach. ❤️


Also, we’ve been getting calls from our internet provider since we left saying that there’s a problem on our line and they want us to do something or the other… and we keep saying that we cancelled your shitty service and were out of town so please quit calling us. Today they called, apologized for bugging us on our vacation… and then asked who we were…. Ummmmm?… They thought we were some company out of Oklahoma. I’m not sure how they got us mixed up, but I think we’ve been telling them to shut off these people Internet for the past week! 

On the list of injuries: 

I got sunburned, but just a little. 

I slammed my arm into the side mirror of a car… The mirror was fine. My arm is bruised. 

My shoes that I’ve been wearing for months and never had a problem, decided today that they should rub the skin off my toe on one foot and try to gnaw my heel off on the other foot. Don’t worry, I walked in the salt water and I’m sure both feet will be just fine. (Those shoes can spend the rest of the trip in the trunk) 

Hopefully tomorrow will behave itself. 

MTTS2016 – Day 2

It’s been one of those days. The Universe has just been messing with us all day.

We got a late start, which wasn’t a huge deal. We didn’t have a strict schedule for the day and sleeping in was nice. Of course we missed the continental breakfast… so I didn’t get my peanut butter and banana for breakfast.  Fine, fine… I had coffee. Lunch wasn’t that far away….

We’d been driving for about an hour and a half when the hotel called us…. The hotel we’d just left…. They had my glasses…. Would I like them back?  Yes! They were my brand new glasses!  The ones that actually fit and didn’t give me headaches. So we turned around to go get them. The hotel clerk made Brian show ID before they’d give home the glasses… Really?  Do a lot of people come in and randomly ask for glasses?  Glasses retrieved, we drove back the way we’d already been.

Lunch was late. I’d started eating random things I’d found in my purse… Coconut, cashews… gum…  Brian finally found a rest stop and we ate our packed lunch. I smuggled the cookies into the front seat in case of futures food related emergencies.

I’d been hoping to go to this really fancy restaurant in Jacksonville for dinner, but by this point we were so far behind schedule we wouldn’t be reaching Jacksonville until bedtime. I hunted around on the Find Me Gluten Free app and located a place that sounded promising. It was off the main highway, but the road ran reasonably parellel to the highway, so it wasn’t terribly out of the way. I was, again, starving as we finally pulled up to the restaurant. The restaurant in the middle of nowhere…… And it was CLOSED!  Seriously?! Nothing else in town either!

So we drove some more and found a Hardee’s…. but it looked really creepy…. sorta vacant/abandoned… We could see workers inside, but no one in the lot… We just had the feeling that the locals knew something we didn’t. Brian voted for Wendy’s. I was ready to resort to  cannibalism… but since that is generally frowned upon, I agreed to Wendy’s. It took three people to ring in my hamburger with NO BUN… People lost their freaking minds. I wanted to lean over the counter and just scream don’t put it on a damn bun!  Brian restrained me.

After dinner we discovered every detour and construction site between Georgia and Florida. Several u-turns and a few detours later we finally arrived at the hotel.

It’s been a looooong day.  Hopefully tomorrow will be more agreeable. 

MTTS2016 – Day 1

We’re on our way!  We’ve been plotting this trip since MTTS2014 ended and finally it’s here!  


Brian and I left late this morning… We’re going to pop on down to Florida for a couple of days and then meet up with the rest of the MINI Family in Atlanta, GA. Of course we’ll be blogging our adventures along the way. Check back for Gluten Free restaurant reviews, random Yoga poses and lots and lots of MINI photos!  

Gluten Free Dinner Review 

Jack Cawthon’s BBQ – Brian told me to find someplace for dinner near Nashville. He didn’t have anything special in mind, but I figured you can’t go wrong with BBQ in Nashville. Right?  My Find Me Gluten Free app had some pretty good reviews for Jack’s BBQ and it met all Brian’s criteria…. 1) Near hwy 24.  2) Served food. 

I ordered the St Louis Style Ribs … Have you ever noticed that STL Ribs never really taste good in the STL area? You’ve gotta go to another state to get good STL Ribs!  Anyway… They were delicious!! Brian got a plate of meat… Lots of meat!  I’m not even sure what all he got, but he shared a bite of the Tennessee Sausage with me… Mega yum! 

I didn’t ask about the meat being GF, the reviews said it was and usually BBQ is safe… And the guy behind the counter was wielding a big ass knife and I didn’t think he’d be super amused with me and my sissy system…. I DID ask the nice lady which sides would be safe and she told me to stay away from the mashed potatoes…. Really?! She said the green bean were safe… (And they were awesome!  Green beans with BACON!) and the Cinnamon Apples. I was a bit suspicious about the apples…. Mashed potatoes have flour, but not the apples?!  They looked really good. I ate one and I haven’t died yet… but we’ve got two more hours in the car today and I just didn’t want risk it anymore. Besides, I was stuffed!  We could have totally shared a plate and still been stuffed silly. 


We plan to stay in Chattanooga tonight and hopefully we can sneak through Atlanta tomorrow morning after rush hour…. I’m not holding my breath though… I’ve never driven through Atlanta without getting stuck in traffic. I don’t think it’s possible, but Brian is an optimist. 

Watch my Instagram for more photos! 

MTTS Packing List

10552630_10152323693423668_5713593808735944385_nBrian and I had such a great time on our first MINI Takes the States.  We’ve been dreaming and talking about MTTS 2016 almost from the moment we left MTTS 2014.

We’ve been hearing from a lot of people on the blogs who are wondering what they should pack.  So Brian and I have started putting together our list of ‘Must-Haves” and other suggestions.


 

Must Haves

  • Camera – This is so obvious, but don’t forget to check your camera bag for batteries, tripod and extra memory cards.  Last time we packed the tripod (for photos of us with the MINI in cool locations), but forgot the adaptor that attaches to the camera and snaps into the tripod. We hopped online and ordered one from Target and had it ready for pick-up in store in the next town.  – THIS ONE
  • Cooler – We used THIS ONE. It fit perfectly behind the seat of the MINI Roadster.  Brian refilled it with ice every morning and we never had any leaks.  Since we are both Gluten Free we packed deli meat, cheese, chips and nuts… never needed to stop for fast food.  Saved money and calories.
  • Kindle & Audible Books – Okay, no Kindle if you’re the driver!  But if you are the passenger there are long periods of boring roads where you might want to read.  Brian and I have also gotten into audio books and podcasts.
  • Neck Cooshie  -Again, this is just for the passengers…. drivers shouldn’t be napping.

Apps

Overcast – A podcast player.

Find Me Gluten Free – A wonderful app to help locate Gluten Free restaurants.

Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…. all the obvious ones.

Suggestions

Disclaimer: Just our opinion, based on our 2014 MTTS experiences.

Don’t get super wound up about staying at the Host Hotels.  We stayed at Holiday Inn Expresses (be sure to sign up for the rewards program!).  One of the nice things about the Holiday Inn Express is that they have free breakfasts.  MINI often offered breakfast at the events, but its not guaranteed… and it was usually breakfast burritos or sandwiches… which were not Gluten Free (not a complaint, MINI!  Just something to note).  The HI’s omelettes and sausage were Gluten Free… or if I couldn’t find someone to let me read the labels, the bananas, peanut butter and yogurt were a safe bet!IMG_9266

Don’t get super wound up about getting to every Rise & Shine.  They are SO early!  I enjoyed the one at the Capital in Austin, TX… it was cool to get a photo of the car right in front of the Capitol. Otherwise I didn’t find the Rise & Shine’s to be a huge deal.  Last time MINI posted the Route Notes on the app, but even without it, you know where the next city is…. you don’t have to follow the crowd.

IMG_9307The Mid-Day Surprise & Dazzle events were usually my favorite part of the day. I LOVED the Drive-Thru Safari!  Brian wasn’t as impressed by the Roswell UFO Museum, but I thought it was fun.

Make your own Trading Cards through Vistaprint or Shutterfly.  Brian and I printed up business cards with a photo of us and one of our MINI’s and our email, Instagram & Blog info.  If you make new friends you want to be able to catch up with them again!

So, that’s all I can think of at the moment….. how about you?  Share your suggestions!

 

 

 

MTTS: Day 10 – St. Louis, MO

IMG_8318Home again, home again…

MINI Takes the States was an awesome experience.  It wasn’t entirely what I had expected, but for the most part it was awesome.  Monday was our last day with MTTS.  MINI stopped for the night in St. Louis and after the evening event Brian and I waved good-bye to our new friends and returned home.  It was a bittersweet goodbye.  We’d had a great time… but we were worn out…. we were both happy to be going home.

We’re already discussing MTTS 2016…. if we’d do it again and how we’d do it differently.  Yes, I think we definitely do it again… MTTS was a great experience.  MINI people are just a happy, friendly group of people and MINI USA throws an amazing event…. that’s a recipe for AWESOME.

Things We’d Do Different

Start near St. Louis and follow MTTS east. – You notice we’re not even mentioning ‘going all the way’?  Coast to coast sounds awesome at first, but Brian and I were so tired after 6 legs of MTTS.  Getting in late every night and getting up early to leave with the pack in the morning… it wears on you.  It’s just too little sleep to be fun.

Skipping some Rise & Shines.  – It is really fun to line up with all the MINIs in the great locations that MINI arranges and take off with a pack of 500 MINIs and a police escort….. but it’s really early.  Most mornings we were getting up around 5:30 to get to the location on time and get lined up.  It isn’t as much fun to be in the back of the pack and you get better photos if you get there early.  I’m not sure how we’d choose which ones to skip…. I wouldn’t have thought the Texas Capitol Plaza would have been cool…. but the photo of Posh right in front of the Capitol is pretty cool.  I’d have skipped the Cotton Bowl…. but I didn’t know that until we’d been there.  This one will be harder to do.

Wander off on our own.  – This is another that will be hard to know which days to wander and which to stick with the crowd.  MINI does have some pretty great “surprise & dazzle” midday events…. and part of the thrill of doing MTTS is being with the crowd.  There is nothing like zooming into a little town with 300 MINIs…. the look on people’s faces is priceless…. but there were some times and places that I wished we’d had more time to visit and explore.  These weren’t places that we’d drive/fly back for an entire vacation…. but another few hours would have been really nice.

Things We Wish MINI Would Do Differently

Don’t get us wrong… MINI did an amazing job.  I was blown away by their coordination and planning.  MINI took amazing care of us while we were with them. There are just a few things that we think would be nice in the future.

Rallye Notes – Don’t bother.  Just tell me where we’re headed and let us decide how to get there.  Some of the roads that MINI chose to send us on were not the route that I would have chosen.  It took us a few legs to catch on to that.  I wish they would have just given us an address for the next events and let us make our own way.

Apps – Either make em work or don’t bother.  I know… I know… its a computer program…. they have bugs.  It just makes me insane when they don’t work.  The Trivia Game and the Photo Challenges/Boards were buggy.  Push notifications for the app would have been nice.   There were a couple of times when MINI sent us a notice, (traffic or accident) and we didn’t get it until late that evening because we hadn’t known that we needed to check the notices in the app.

MINI Tour Guides – Have someone at the Rise & Shine’s with suggested points of interest/restaurants/events for each leg of the trip.  (Maybe people from the local MINI Clubs?) They could help with driving directions if necessary (Google Map). I’m sure we drove right by interesting places because we didn’t know they were there.  You can’t always count on signs and billboards to let you know that something cool is right down the road.

Food – MINI, it’s great that you fed me as much as you did…….but you really didn’t have to.  There were a couple of times that I wish MINI wouldn’t have bothered providing dinner.  In Austin, for instance.  MINI said they would be providing food trucks… apparently food trucks are a huge thing in Austin… they were everywhere around town as we were driving to the evening event.  I was SO excited…… and then there were only 3 trucks…. only one with anything gluten free…. and it was cold pizza.  In St. Louis they did the food truck thing again and this time there were five trucks and MINI gave us each a ticket for one item from a truck… if you wanted more, you had to buy it.  That allowed for so much more variety and the food was HOT.  One of the things I enjoy about travel is getting a ‘taste’ of the culture.  I realize that it is massively expensive to feed 500 people.  I wouldn’t mind having more variety and options and having to pay for it.  The “ticket” system would be a perfect compromise for the people who are trying to keep to a really low budget…. Just eat what you can get for your one ticket… And those who don’t paying a bit more…. we could buy other items.

Clubs & Dealerships – MINI did an amazing job coordinating the whole thing and many of the MINI dealerships and MINI clubs were awesome.  Some of the dealerships and clubs need to think about stepping up their game for 2016…. It’s not like there is a MINI dealership on every corner… I wound’t mind driving back to MINI Sandia in New Mexico for our next MINI.  (We’ve also gotten AMAZING service from Dreyer & Reinbold MINI…. I’d be willing to drive to Indianapolis for our next MINI).  With a MINI, it’s not just buying a car…. it’s like adding a kid to the family.  Some dealerships get that… other don’t.  MTTS really gave the dealerships a chance to shine.  Some used it…. others….. 😦

Media – MINI’s photographers and media people were wonderful!  They were all so nice and fun…. they really made us feel like rockstars.  I wish MINI would have had two teams of photographers…. or a separate crew that was uploading all the photos… there was a huge lag between when the photos were taken and when they hit the site.  I know those poor photographers weren’t getting any sleep!  They were up late at events and then up later working on the photos and then later trying to get them on the sites….. Then they were up early to beat us all to the Rise & Shines.  (There was a definite lack of sleep all around.) They were all always so nice…. I don’t know how they managed.  (MINI!  Hire more next time and let some of them sleep!…… You guys should sleep some too, come to think of it….)

All in all, we had a great time on MTTS.  MINI did an amazing job.  Can’t wait until MTTS 2016!

MTTS: Day 9 – Memphis, TN

10580188_10152330338893668_5972410947265355868_nDay NINE? Really?

We started out this morning in Dallas…. I’m starting to get confused…. We’ve stayed in four different Texas cities and everything is starting to run together.  I’m not the only MTTS-er who can’t remember where they’ve been.  When you meet new people you ask where they started and how far they are going… The long distance people are starting to look a bit dazed.  Too many early Rise & Shines following too many late Evening Owner’s Events.  I don’t know how else MINI could do it… there is just so much road to cover in a day and only so many hours… We need a Nap Day thrown in here and there maybe.

Today was probably our longest drive…. 488 miles.  I slept A LOT… thank goodness.  My mom wishes that I had slept that good in the car when I was little… maybe I would have, but she just didn’t drive long enough…. 100-150 miles… bam… I’m asleep.

We didn’t get to see many interesting things along the way today.  There was a lot of construction on the highway and we ended up taking a couple of creepy back roads (and we’ve been in the no-man-lands of New Mexico, and I say these were creepy….)

We finally made it out of Texas and into Arkansas around lunch time.  I’d swear that the moment we crossed the state line the humidity quadrupled.  That is something that I’ve discovered on this trip… I’d always thought that state lines were an imaginary kind of line… something drawn on a map and marked with a sign…. nothing tangible….. Nope!  Crossing state lines begin/end all different kinds of landscapes, languages and heat indexes.  Who knew!?photo 1

Since we got into Memphis in the late afternoon on a Sunday… and all the sights were closed… Our big thrill of the day was dinner.  My Father-In-Law loves… absolutely loves…. plans trips around… Corky’s Ribs & BBQ.  Now, unlike my SIL, I totally get my FIL’s food style.  If it’s food… it’s probably good…. if it’s different… we should try it.  Yep… I get that.  We tend to like a lot of the same foods too (not drinks, tho.. we totally disagree on coffees and wine).  So as Brian and I are scrolling through Google’s recommended places I came across Corky’s Ribs & BBQ…. Well… ribs are a very Memphis thing….. what the hell?

10577004_10152331244628668_4666225502343366721_nWe got a parking space right up front… apparently we just beat the rush… and Posh got a cute picture out front.  We sent that to Brian’s dad to make him jealous.

I’d googled to see if the BBQ sauce was gluten-free and most of the things I’d read said it was.  I checked with the waitress and she said that yes, the regular sauce was GF.  I’ve never had a problem with any of the BBQ sauces that I’ve had before, but I’m trying to be extra careful to not get sick while we’re on our trip.  I ordered the Rack of Ribs (1/2 Wet & 1/2 Dry)….. I think I like the ‘Wet’ better, but the ‘Dry’ was good too.  I also got the Twice Baked Potatoes as my side… yum!  You’d have thought I’d have had them before, but I can’t remember every eating them….. I found the recipe and those potatoes will be showing up at a Family Dinner Night soon.  (So will Fried Pies, as soon as I figure out a good GF recipe for them…. I keep seeing signs all over the south for Fried Pies… and I want one SO bad!) Brian ordered the Loaded Potato and had plans to share my ribs…. he just let me order the giant meal so the waitress thought I was the cow!

After dinner we decided to skip the Owner’s Event and just get to the hotel earlier.  We’re having a great time, but we could use more sleep (napping in the car just doesn’t count.)  Tomorrow is our last day on MTTS… It’s be a wonderful adventure, but I’m ready to get home.  I miss my home and my family…. and I’m pretty sure my dog won’t speak to me and my cats have probably convinced my aunt to let them order pizza and pay-per-view every night…. it’s time to go home.

10516781_10152330311048668_4737285592104762121_n