Aloft New Orleans Downtown

When Bobby and I went to New Orleans for the Crescent City Classic the weekend of Easter, we decided to stay in a hotel close to the start line the night before as opposed to driving in that morning of the race as we have done in the past.

We ended up staying at the newly opened Aloft New Orleans Downtown, which was just a few short block to the starting line at the Superdome. I have never stayed at an Aloft hotel before but have heard good things, so I was excited to try it out.

We were given a corner room on the 15th floor with great views of the city, and even the Superdome! I loved the apartment-style feel, the bathroom was open to the bedroom with a space up top above the “wall” which was pretty neat.

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It had a very modern, techy vibe, and the room was huge!

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My favorite though was the New Orleans touch in between the beds. Who doesn’t love street cars? DSC_0033

Here is a closer look.

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Our room had two comfy queen beds (king beds are available), a flat screen TV, a desk, and plenty of other seating. I was afraid with so many windows, we wouldn’t be able to sleep. However, Aloft had us covered (no pun intended) with double shades on the windows, it was plenty dark for us!

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The bathroom area had two closet spaces, an in room safe, a refrigerator, and coffee maker.

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Also something I loved, a free bottle of water!

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We loved the lotion and soaps here, too.

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There was a sliding door where the shower was located. DSC_0029

Which by the way, was huge and really nice!

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We were also left a sweet note and some snacks. (Side note: There is a little store downstairs called Re:Fuel that is open 24/7 where you can purchase snacks and food and charge it to your room.)

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Bobby’s favorite part were the city views. He sat in the windows just looking around for the longest time. The hotel ahs a great vantage point! Can you see the Superdome?

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Since we arrived when it was dark, I waited to take pictures of the lobby and outside the next day after the race.

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Below is a picture of the WXYZ bar. When we checked in the night before, it was during happy hour and boy was this place hoppin’! Definitely seemed like the place to be for those wanting to enjoy the social scene. They also have live music and food here as well.

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As you can see the hallways carry on the modern and stylish theme of the hotel.

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We really enjoyed our stay here and wish we could have stayed longer! The proximity to the French Quarter was great, the room was huge and nice, and the staff was friendly.

They also offer meeting spaces if you are in town for business, so this place is more than just guest rooms! Another think I learned is that this is a pet friendly hotel (up to 40 pounds). There is also a gym and pool which we didn’t have a chance to check out (the pool isn’t open until May). We also took advantage of the free Wi-fi while we were staying at the hotel.

We didn’t really find many cons to the hotel. Valet parking was $39 plus tax which does make me want to have a heart attack, however it is on par with the price of parking for other hotels in the city. I would also say there was definitely a younger crowd staying here. We didn’t hear ANY noise during the night, but I can see this as being more of a hotel for partiers. That is totally fine, but I just like to be honest and warn people in advance who may not be as into that late night scene.

A huge thank you to Aloft New Orleans Downtown for letting us stay at this beautiful hotel for the night, we hope to be back soon!

Disclosure: I was provided with a free night’s stay in exchange for my honest review. Of course, all opinions are my own.

ASICS LA Marathon Weekend: Arriving in LA

WOW what a whirlwind weekend! I was looking forward to it for so long, and now I feel like I blinked and it’s over! I can’t wait to share with you some of the amazing experience I had all courtesy of the amazing folks at Asics. They truly went above and beyond to make our stay special. I want to back track and start from the beginning, Friday morning!

I headed to the New Orleans airport early because it was foggy and pouring rain. I parked and made it in quicker than I thought so I had a long time to wait. A lot of folks have asked why I fly out of NOLA as opposed to Jackson…3 reasons: 1.) No direct flights from Jackson. 2.) No southwest in Jackson so flights are more money. 3.) When I fly from NOLA I get to spend time with my parents the night before I fly out. ANYWAY, I was ready to get going and we finally boarded the flight!

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I scored an exit row seat so I had more legroom which was nice. I was able to take a nap, but by time we landed in LA it was almost 2:00 and I was starving!

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I was met at baggage by my driver who was holding up a card with my name on it (so cool!) and he took my bag and we headed to the hotel.

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I was staying in Santa Monica, at the gorgeous Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows.

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I had to hurry and check in and get to the hospitality room so we could get to the expo. The sweet girl in charge of us was taking Nathan and I since we had earlier flights. My room was amazing and so was my view!

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Way in the distance in between the trees you can see the Santa Monica Pier. Also, the finish line of the race was just a bit down Ocean Avenue to the right of this picture, right in front of the hotel.

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I headed to the hospitality suite, and I was starving. I had only had a smoothie at the airport and was getting woozie. Thankfully, super sweet Noelle with ASICS had gone to Whole Foods and gotten us sandwiches. Food has never tasted so good! I scarfed down my sandwich and an adorable ASICS cookie almost too cute to eat (almost folks, I may have had a few over the course of the weekend), and we headed to the convention center.

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We made it to the expo! Time to shop and get my bib!

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We headed back to the hotel with just enough time to change before happy hour at the hotel and then the VIP party. When Nathan and I got back to our rooms (they were side by side) we both realized our AC was not working. Yikes! I was sweating getting ready for the party, and I called maintenance as I walked out the door, crossing my fingers it would be fixed by time I got back.

We got to hang out outside and have a drink or two with the Kastors, some of the ASICS crew, and the other #TeamASICSLAM folks before our bus came to get us for the party.

Forecast for that night was BRIGHT, but we were ready. Smile Stay tuned…..

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QOTD: Do you bring food to the airport with you?

2014, Year in Review

2014 was quite the eventful year, starting from the very beginning. At the beginning of January, Bobby and I set out on a crazy adventure to run the Dopey Challenge in WDW. For those who don’t know what it is, here is the short version: 5k Thursday, 10k Friday, half marathon Saturday, full marathon Sunday. For full versions, scroll down towards the bottom of my runDisney page for full recaps! I’ll spoil it for you…it was super tough, but we survived!

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I even felt ok (well, crazy) enough to fly to California a couple days later and run the Tinkerbell 5k and half marathon.

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The day after I got home from all of my travels, I (at the prompting of a friend), took a pregnancy test, thinking it was pretty impossible, and apparently I was very wrong, because I was definitely pregnant! Turns out I had run Dopey and Tinkerbell pregnant and didn’t know. Little baby had already run some runDisney races! I announced in March….

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BUT, prior to that, I traveled back to Disney with my family to run the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge in WDW, plus the 5k (5k Friday, 10k Saturday, half marathon Sunday). Sadly, I didn’t really get to enjoy this trip because I was having some serious morning sickness and suffering from the worst exhaustion I have ever experienced that I can’t even put into words. I ran the 5k with Bobby and my parents, the 10k with my mom, and stuck out the half marathon all by myself, with a very very upset stomach. I tried to make the best of it because 1.) I knew I wouldn’t be doing any runDisney races for awhile (a year it turns out!) and this was the first time doing a runDisney race by myself.

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After the secret was out, I was SO relieved, it was so hard to keep to ourselves!

In April Bobby and I ran the Crescent City Classic, a super fun 10k in New Orleans. Due to terrible round ligament pain, this would be my last race during my pregnancy.

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In May, we had a gender reveal party, and found out baby M was a baby girl! It was a really fun celebration with lots of friends and family.

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Bobby had sadly lost his job back in February (it’s terrifying to be pregnant and have this happen, trust me! So we took a HUGE leap of faith after many disappointing job interviews, and moved back up to where we used to live in Madison, Mississippi so we would hopefully have a better shot at Bobby finding a job since we were not locals. It was a HUGE blessing when we asked some friends if we could rent their weekend home while we waited for our home in Biloxi to sell (it had been on the market over two years) and while Bobby looked for a job. We ended up having a really relaxing and fun summer together on the lake. It was great to spend some quality time together before the baby arrived.

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In June, we headed to Destin, Florida for an attorney’s yearly conference to be recertified to practice law/take some classes. My parents tagged along so I wouldn’t be alone while Bobby was in classes.

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July was my birthday AND baby shower all in the same weekend. Jam packed fun, friends, and family.

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Also in July (it was a jam packed month!) Bobby got a job, AND we sold our house, AND bought another house, all within the span of about a week. I was stressed to the max, but also so thankful our prayers were answered and things were moving in the right direction.

In August we moved into our new home and tried to get everything unpacked before baby arrived. Apparently I did too much, because we had a pre term labor scare and I was told to sslloowww down. We still managed to get most of the house unpacked before the end of September.

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On September 24th, I was induced and we met our little baby girl, Emma Kate Montgomery at 4:22 in the afternoon, weighing 8 pounds 7 ounces.

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Everything since then has kind of been a blur, HA! Lots of sleeping, rocking, bouncing, and feeding has taken up my time since then. At the end of October Emma turned one month old. How can a month go by so fast but yet SO SLOW at the same time?

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November brought Thanksgiving, cooler weather, and a calmer baby.

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December came quickly, and it was Christmas decorating, smiles from Emma Kate, and making Christmas plans.

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We also said goodbye to my first baby girl Sassy this month. She had a happy 13 years, but I still miss her every day.

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Looking back, I can’t believe all of those happened in the short span of a year. At the same time, Running Dopey back in January seems so long ago. We had some of the best times of our lives in 2014, but also some of the most difficult times. It’s fun to look back over a year, let out a huge deep breathe, and say “we made it, whew!” But…now we start all over again. It’s refreshing, but at the same time scary. I’m still working on how I want to “handle” 2015, so more on that after Christmas as I’m still trying to process 2014. I do have some big things I want to accomplish, and not that I have a child it does change the way I look at and approach the year.

Thank you for spending 2014 with me, one of my goals is to get back to blogging more times per week. Smile I hope you take some time to reflect on 2014, the good and the bad. Looking at the not so fun things can be difficult, but if we use them as an opportunity for growth, then we can make those tough times worth something.

QOTD: What is your favorite thing you did in 2014?

August Flashback to 2013 with Under Armour

Thank you so much for all of your encouragement, tips and advice on yesterday’s blog post. I am happy to report we went on the hospital tour yesterday, so one more thing out of the way woo hoo!

It’s Friday, my brain is fried and I am sure yours is too, so no crazy in depth post today, I thought I would keep it light with a fun flashback post to last August. These posts have become even more comical to me now that I am pregnant. The thought of doing some of the things NOW I was doing this time last year make me laugh. Let’s take a look.

This time last year, I had ben invited to Baltimore to hang out at Under Armour Headquarters for a couple of days, and I had an ABSOLUTE BLAST. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and got to go shopping! I remember being so amazing at how cool it was outside, I’m sure everyone got tired of me saying it!

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We worked out, we shopped, we met with lots of different design teams from apparel to shoes, and ate very well!

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We even got to do some rooftop yoga and have massages all at the Four Seasons where we were staying.

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I had never been to Baltimore, and although it was a quick trip, it is one I will never forget! Under Armour is a great company that gives a good, strong message to women, and I was honored to be a part of the weekend and become an ambassador. Now if I can only get them to make maternity gear…

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You can check out all of my Under Armour visit recaps below:

Visit part 1

Visit part 2

Visit part 3

Visit part 4

*Photos courtesy of Matt Ryb

WINNER of the virtual race giveaway is Tim Lollar! Please email heatherslookingglass@gmail.com! If you did NOT win, please please consider joining in the virtual race anyway or donating to the cause to help save these sweet pugs!

QOTD: What is one thing you learned when you traveled to a new city for the first time (like how I learned it’s COOL OUTSIDE in Baltimore in August!)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Back in July when I was in Orlando for work, I spent one night at the Hard Rock Hotel on Universal’s property and visited both parks. I already posted about Universal Studios, and it’s time for me to post about Islands of Adventure, specifically Harry potter (you can read abut the read of Islands of Adventure here).

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in the back of the Islands of Adventure park. I got there super early before it got crowded and took a bunch of photos. my husband is a huge Harry Potter fan so I watched all the movies with him right before I left so I would understand everything. Even for a non-superfan, it was really neat to see all the detail that went into this section of the park. I really enjoyed myself!

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hogwarts castle

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The first thing I did was walk to Hogwart’s and get in line for the Forbidden Journey ride. It was a VERY cool ride, very well done and a lot of fun. I rode single rider and had no wait, so I hopped back in line and midway through the second time…I got very nauseated. I closed my eyes for the rest of the ride hoping I could make it until it was over. Luckily I was ok, but my stomach was upset for the rest of the day. So, if you get motion sickness on rides, keep that in mind for this one. Apparently my stomach could handle once but not twice. Such a shame because now I am scared to ride it.

So, I went back out onto the “street” to go in some shops and take some pictures.

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I decided it was high time to try a frozen butterbeer, and oh my goodness it did NOT disappoint. You MUST try this if you visit!

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I hung around, drank my butterbeer, and took photos just enjoying the scenery. I bought some grapes from a cart on the “street” and then noticed it was getting VERY crowded so I high tailed it out of there.

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The above ride is:

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I came back a little later and some of the crowd had died down. I walked through the restaurant the Three Broomsticks and took some photos.

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Then I noticed a gathering at the stage. The choir was performing!

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Followed by some fun and games.

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Everyone was so in character and did a great job.

If Harry Potter merchandise is what you are after, you will not be disappointed. So. much. to. choose. from. They have everything from clothing to stuffed animals to candy and movie replicas.

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I had a great time exploring and can’t wait to go back and bring my husband! These photos just scratch the surface, there is so much more to see and do.

QOTD: Are you a Harry Potter fan? Favorite book or movie? Have you been to this park?

I would love to book your Universal vacation or tickets for you! Email heather@travelwiththemagic.com for a free quote. I can book for you at NO extra cost added to your vacation.

An Under Armour Visit

I was given quite the surprise last night ….

I’m going to BALTIMORE! In TWO WEEKS! The amazing folks at Under Armour have invited me and three other lovely ladies that were a part of the #WhatsBeautiful campaign up to their headquarters for two days of fun. That’s pretty much all I know, just know I am SUPER stoked, honored, and humbled.

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I did a lot of this when I found out.

If you will remember, Under Armour’s What’s Beautiful is a competition to redefine the female athlete. It’s a great initiative to make women feel strong and self confident. My goal was to reach other women and help them to become better versions of themselves. In the process, I truly hope I touch some of you, even if just a few, then my hard work was totally WORTH IT!

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Never fear, you all know I won’t let you miss out on the fun. I will be live tweeting, instagraming, facebook posting, blogging, you name it. It’s going to be epic. Be sure you follow me on all my social media sites (see the icons on the right sidebar up towards the top)

Now to go pinch myself. Is this really happening? Thanks Under Armour and Fitfluential!

QOTD: Have you ever been to the headquarters of a brand like this before? Did you enjoy the What’s Beautiful competition?

RWS Features #48

 

It’s race day! Today is the first of two races I will complete this weekend. Today is a half marathon and tomorrow is a full marathon, to complete Goofy’s challenge here in Disney World. Please say a prayer for me, and check out Twitter and instagram, (both @runningwithsass) I will be posting! While I am out running my booty off, you can sit comfortably at home and read about sweet Emily from Travel With Emily!

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1.) How/Why did you start blogging?

I like to travel and found myself sending out lots of emails to friends and family describing my various trips.  I started my blog as a concise way to share my travels.  Along the way it has grown from recording my travels to sharing my journey to find my inner athlete, albeit a slow one. 🙂

2.) Sum up your blog in a couple sentences:

My adventures and misadventures as I travel, train, race and take photos along the way.

3.)What do you wish to accomplish/achieve by blogging?

Blogging is a way for me to be creative, and a place for me to document my life.  An added benefit has been the connections I’ve made along the way.

4.) What is your biggest healthy living accomplishment?

I would say my biggest healthy living accomplishment so far was completing my first half marathon.  I discovered the joy of crossing the finish line and realization that you can do anything you put your mind to.  Since then I have gone on to cross the finish line many times.

5.) What is your blog URL and twitter handle

Blog: http://travelwithemily.wordpress.com

Twitter: @em425

Thanks for sharing Emily! Everyone be sure to go visit her blog and say hello!

QOTD: What is your favorite part about traveling?

RWS Features #30

 

Happy weekend! We are at my parents this weekend because we have a wedding to go to tonight! My college friend Christy is getting hitched in NOLA and Bobby and I are going to go celebrate with the happy couple at their nuptials tonight. We also have a long run planned for tomorrow morning, as well as a 4th of July party at my cousin’s house! Stay tuned for lots of fun photos!

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I heart the 4th of July!

I want to introduce you to Mellissa! She blogs at www.afitandspicylife.com and you can also find her on Twitter at @fitnspicy. Mellissa started blogging as a way to document her trip to Italy, and then she got hooked. Oh, she also happens to be a dog lover!

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1.) How/Why did you start blogging?  I was heading on a big trip to Italy and really wanted to write about all the experiences on that trip.

2.) Sum up your blog in a couple sentences: A Midwestern girl and her love of fitness, food ,travel and wine.

3.)What do you wish to accomplish/achieve by blogging? I love being a part of the community and hope to continue to blog because I love it. Sharing my passions makes me so happy.

4.)What is your biggest healthy living accomplishment? Working out 3-4 times a week for 10+ years!

Thanks Mellissa! Please be sure to stop by her blog and say hello!

QOTD: If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go?

Visitors

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Hi everyone! I am currently on my way home from a little road trip, (by the time you read this) but am posting Tuesday night. Bobby and I had to go up to the place we moved from 6 months go to take care of some business. Can I just say its totally weird to get a hotel room in a city you lived in for years? For a good part of the day I was alone, so I used the opportunity to go running in my favorite neighborhood, eat Lunch a McAlisters, and drive by our old house (so weird!)
If you have never driven by an old home its hard to explain the strange feeling! Out of habit, I almost pulled into the driveway! Ha! Anyway, we were supposed to be home Tuesday night but due to some unforseen things, we spent another night. No problem. More eating at my favorite places, shopping at my old favorite stores, ice cream for dessert, etc.
We have only been Gone 6 months but it felt strange to be visitors the past Couple days.  Those of you that prayed for us yesterday thank you so much, please keep praying, some things still could/need to happen, its not over.
I apologize for the boring post, but like I said, I was expecting to be home Tuesday night. Tomorrow we will be back to normal at RWS!
I took some pics with my phone but the wifi sucks here and its not uploading anything! So, here is what I could get, pictures of our hotel room and view. Did I mention I miss living here?

QOTD: have you ever driven by an old home of yours? How did it make you feel?

The Scary Hotel Story

 

Hi! Still in OOOOOOAAAAAAK-lahoma today! Had two appointments today, three tomorrow then we start heading back down to Louisiana with two on Friday before going home. All the driving is starting to hit me and I got really sleep driving back to Tulsa this afternoon from Oklahoma City (which I love by the way!)

Anyway, as promised….the scary hotel story.

Monday, we were to spend the night in Monroe, Louisiana. Let me preface by saying if you live in or like Monroe LA, I am NOT bashing you. I am sure there are nice areas of the city….but not where we were! So I didn’t make hotel reservations, because well, I figured I didn’t need to. We pull up to the Hampton Inn….oh. my. gosh. Old, dirty, run down, and with outside corridors (which I hate esp. when just traveling with my mom, just not safe!) there were so SCARY looking people coming in and out of there, so we decided to Google hotels and found a decent area of town by a mall with a new hotel. We walk in and ask for a room…and they are BOOKED SOLID! Not only that, but she said every hotel in the area that she would deem safe for two ladies was booked! I freaked a little, I had an appointment in town at 9 am the next morning.

SO I call the running store and tell them my predicament….trying to hold it together. They tell me about a hotel (not a chain) an old one that was redone that was nice and that is right by the store. They said if they had family come in town that is where they would have them stay. Trusting their word, we called and booked and headed over.

You could tell it was really old and was probably nice once, it had a fountain in the lobby and a pretty chandelier….but that’s where the niceness stopped. It had outer buildings with outside corridors. They put us in a “remodeled” room. It had an air conditioner in the window HELP UP BY 2X4’S!!! I wish I was kidding. It had ONE LAMP in the whole room not counting the bathroom light. The paint was coming off everywhere, there as a hole in the shower where the faucet was, and had a crappy little lock on the door and a chain. We felt REAL safe…Not in a great neighborhood either.

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We laughed about it but were also PETRIFIED at the same time! This was not good.

We went out and got a pizza and brought it back to the room and ate in the near dark and watched tv. The walls were so thin we heard the TV blaring next door. I was afraid to touch anything and we checked the beds for bed bugs.

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a scary ominous cloud didn’t make things any better…

Anyway, we hardly slept, it was so loud and when people walked by the door it sounded like they were in the room. I slept with my million volt tazer next to me. No lie. Don’t mess with me yall, I will taze your butt! Anyway, I have never been so happy to leave a hotel. I kept waiting for someone to kick in the door or someone to grab us and pull us into a room when we walked by. Good thing I am a trained ninja.

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Anyway, NOW we are VERY happy to be in a nice hotel, never thought I would be so happy to walk into a Hampton Inn!

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Here is my skirt outfit for yesterday:

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mums pinkalicious RS, White Strappy Tank, black swift sox

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Layered with a black run love long sleeve top.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, I DO own regular clothes!

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Last night we went to dinner at Olive Garden and we walked around the mall. I was on the hunt for fro yo, and I found some!

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Welcome to PeachWave! I had never heard of this particular one before, but it was pretty good. Not as good as my beloved Menchies but really, what is?

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Hello Tiramasu and Blueberry Fro Yo!

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aaannddd just in case you were wondering….it’s still hot!

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Have a great day! I go home tomorrow, yay!

QOTD: Favorite Fro Yo topping? Go!