Last Sunday Dad and I packed up Moms tank (a.k.a. her Buick) and began our 700 mile journey to Breaks Interstate Park. We planned to split the drive up there and spend the night in Chattanooga, Tennessee, allowing us time to stop by DeSoto Falls, Alabama.Isn't it gorgeous?! We actually swung by there many moons ago (I think I was in High School) and I had some major deja vu as we walked around the Falls. On our way to the Falls I spotted this statue of the band Alabama in Alabama. Do you ever see something so unexpected, so fantastical, that your only reaction is to get teary-eyed? We had to stop to take pics with the band. I went with the drummer, because they're always the hottest. Dad said he went with the one who had the same beard as he did. Once we got back into the car I was famished so we actually stopped at a Taco Bell. My first time eating fast food in years (bean burrito no onions tyvm) and it's one of the few places Dad can find something to eat at since he has Celiacs disease. While eating Dad made me listen to an Alabama song since I said I didn't know any of them.
Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth.
Despite our fast food fix we actually ate super healthy on the road! Dad and I both packed enough meals to eat for the week. Here's a peek at what my lunches looked like most days (this was at a rest stop.) One of the biggest draws of Breaks Park for me was that the cabins had full kitchens! We checked into our hotel around 7 p.m. on Sunday night and agreed to get up early to hit the gym the hotel gave us free passes to before getting on the road Monday. We went to The Rush in Chattanooga - holy crap that place was nice! Dad and I both hopped on the treadmills and I busted out 4 miles. I did my best to stay with my Marathon training plan the week I was gone!
After a few more hours of driving, including winding up mountain roads that I literally thought I was going to die on, we finally made it to Breaks! I am working on another article that will explore the relationship between being outside with mental and physical health that I will post here soon, but for today I want to just share the trip highlights with you all.
The name of the park comes from the 'break' in the mountain range and it's slogan is "the grand canyon of the South." When standing on most lookout points you can see both Kentucky and Virginia. We got there before our cabin was fully cleaned so we ate lunch and hiked around a bit. We were able to check in just before dinner and I was floored with how nice the cabins were! They even left us a little gift basked on the table with homemade jams, apple cinnamon syrup and apple pecan candies (Dad and I ate all of them within 24 hours.)They had a flatscreen TV with cable, but the connection was so spotty we didn't watch much of it. Besides - that's not what you go to the mountains to do! It was nice to have it available though for those days your so exhausted from being outside and all you want to do is lay down and veg out.
I'm fortunate to have a Dad that runs because I don't love going out alone in new places. On Tuesday we did two loops around the main part of the park that totaled about 5.6 miles. It was such a nice change from running in residential areas!
Thursday we did the same two loops and this time I ended it with some speed work and abs & arms at the cabin. I have naturally curly hair but because of the crazy Florida weather I normally straighten it. It was so nice to be able to leave it alone and have curls again!
Tuesday afternoon we hit up the waterpark at Breaks. As you can see it isn't huge, but for $8 each it was a great way to spend the afternoon! They also served food there which we didn't have but everyone around us did and it looked delicious. We checked out the menu on the way out and it was all reasonably priced - not usual for a waterpark.
When we got back to the cabin we fired up the BBQ. We went into the nearby town of Elkhorn earlier in the day to pick up a few groceries for the week and I was shocked that this tiny, backwoods grocery store carried vegetarian hamburger patties! I had mine on some of mom's homemade gluten free bread and we grilled some corn and had homemade baked beans on the side. I could eat this every day.
Wednesday we drove just outside the park to visit the grave of the unknown soldier. We also set up my laptop by the couch and watched a movie Dad picked up a nearby Walmart: The Great Outdoors! It was a double feature DVD so we watched the other film, Uncle Buck, Thursday night. Such perfect cabin films!
Thursday we spent the afternoon hiking and came across the coolest rock formations! We hiked for a few hours and actually got about 1/2 mile down one trail before we both agreed we should turn around before we reached our destination. The trail was super steep and we were basically hiking on rocks in an old creek bed. It had rained the day before so it was wet and the hilly run we did that morning had killed our legs. We still managed to hike around most of the park and got some great photos!
It's a bit surreal that it's already over. Vacations just go by so fast that Dad and I both talked about how ... anti-climatic they almost seem on the way home. We both had a blast and the trip lived up to all of our expectations but it's weird how you get back to your house, look around, and realize everything's just as you left it. Work starts again tomorrow, I've got blog stuff to catch up on, and Salem is still Salem.
Do you ever get post-vacation blues?