2015.12.23 Auburn and Boiled Peanuts

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Last night, KK and Scott arrived in Tuscaloosa a few minutes before midnight.  What an exhausting day of driving they endured.  But it was all worth it.  KK was excited to tell me about the 120 enthusiastic participants he worked with at SOCAG, and he wants to say HI to all of the SOCAG followers this week!

I’m not sure I bragged enough about our hotel last night.  It is the Home2Suites by Hilton.  It was one of the largest rooms I have ever stayed in, with two double beds and a sleeper sofa.  All the staff we talked with were very friendly and helpful.  And they followed it up this morning with a complimentary breakfast they call the “Inspired Table”.  We enjoyed the traditional Belgian waffles, along with frittatas, fruit, and oatmeal.  Today is Grandma Mary’s birthday so we serenaded her with Happy Birthday at the inspired table as well.  Happy Birthday Grandma Mary!  So glad you came with us!

The Inspired Table

The Inspired Table

We were on the road by 7:30 and our group traveled to the University of Alabama campus for a quick tour.  We made our rounds (in the daylight this time) of the coach’s statues and the football stadium.

The Greek system is alive and well in Tuscaloosa.  The fraternity and sorority houses line the streets very near Bryant-Denny Stadium.  In fact, in places these houses are within 50 feet of the stadium with only a small alley separating them from each other.  The Greeks are in an arms race as well.  Bigger and better houses were in various stages of construction.  The enrollment of the university has seen a spectacular surge since Nick Saban has been head coach.  Gotta have room for all these new Greeks as well!

My brother Scott, his wife, Erin, and her Grandma Mary.

My brother Scott, his wife, Erin, and her Grandma Mary.

Miles, Scott, and Mallory teaching Bear Bryant a new cheer.

Miles, Scott, and Mallory teaching Bear Bryant a new cheer.

New Phi Mu Chapter House in the shadows of the stadium. Stephanie was a Phi Mu at OSU.

New Phi Mu Chapter House in the shadows of the stadium. Stephanie was a Phi Mu at OSU.

We had a nice drive around campus. Very attractive.  Two thumbs up.

Before leaving town, we hit a convenience store for a bathroom break.  What a disgusting mess!  And this is a trend we have seen in Tuscaloosa.  The idea that you can have well-run and clean convenience stores has not hit the area yet.  QuikTrip would take this town over in a heartbeat.

Our next stop was Auburn, which was a drive of several hours from Tuscaloosa.  We figured since we were in the area, we’d better take a minute to check it out too.  Kinda hate to say it, but the campus was not as nice as Bama’s.  The architecture was not as consistent, and in general, did not have the same curb appeal as what we saw in Tuscaloosa.

Jumping for joy at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Jumping for joy at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

It rained all morning so we found a parking garage on campus and had a covered area for our picnic lunch.  What was great was that the athletics office was next door so we had great access to a bathroom as well.

Parking garage picnic.

Parking garage picnic.

Scott admiring Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Scott admiring Jordan-Hare Stadium on top of our parking garage.

I got to drive KK and PK for several hours after lunch.  Finally got a chance to visit with them, which is always one of the perks of vacation.  Mallory turns 16 next week so she is getting lots of hours behind the wheel on this trip.

The highlight of the drive from Auburn to Orlando was definitely the stop at the Merritt Pecan Company and General Store in Weston, Georgia.  We spent entirely too much time and money in this store, which means that we had a good time.  They sold boiled peanuts in the store and most of us tried them.  My review would be that it tasted like a soft peanut.  Stephanie thought they were salty but tasty.

Steve checking out the boiled peanuts.

Steve checking out the boiled peanuts.

Boiled Peanut Close Up.

Boiled Peanut Close Up.

A long day of driving will hopefully have at least one silver lining.  We got it in our car today.  Mallory got Stephanie to listen to all 94 of the songs that One Direction has released.  It was quite an accomplishment, and I’m sure as soon as Stephanie’s ears stop bleeding, she will appreciate it.

We pulled into the driveway at our vacation home for the next week at 9:30pm.  The bags got unloaded, bedrooms assigned, and everyone settled in for a late dinner.  We had a safe two days of travel and can ask for nothing more.  Ready to get the Florida vacation started bright & early tomorrow.

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