Lake Michigan road trip

We've just returned from a 2000 mile road trip that took us from Atlanta directly North to Lake Michigan and back. Along the way we camped in the bed of our pick-up truck. The first time we "camped" like this was August 2010 on a road trip from Wyoming to Atlanta. On that trip we found ourselves in rural Nebraska, sleeping under the stars, during the perseid meteor show. It was amazing. The next night, somewhere in Kansas, we found ourselves eaten alive by mosquitoes. Not amazing. At that time we vowed to build a mosquito proof cover for the next time we attempted open air truck bed camping. Four years, a couple dozen feet of pvc pipe and one mosquito net later - TruckTentTruck was born! 

During this roadtrip we learned a few new lessons. Namely, some "campgrounds" provide little to no privacy! The looks we got from a few of the fancy RVs were priceless. A couple even ventured over to us to ask "So... what are you, uh, doing?" (I really wish we'd made up a story about being meteorology students who were working on an experiment.) In Holland, MI the strange looks and lack of privacy were a decent price to pay for being right on the beach. In Ludington State Park they could have been avoided if we'd not been stuck with the very last, most public, campsight. After those locations we decided to stick to National Forests where campers are allowed to sleep anywhere; this is how we ended up off a dirt road in Indiana's Hoosier National Forest (close to the Helmock Cliffs). The photos below show our set up in a couple of places. Not pictured is the time we spent in Fife Lake (visiting family) and a day in Louisville. 

Holland State Park in Holland, Michigan 

Ludington State Park, Michigan 
(From here we hiked through giant sand dunes to the Big Sable Lighthouse - pictured at top)

South Haven, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan
Saugatauk, Michigan

Hoosier National Forest, Indiana

Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky



To celebrate the New Year, Oliver and I took a road trip to Texas. We spent New Years Eve in Austin and then made stops in a few different places during the drive back to Atlanta. Austin didn't quite live up to it's self proclaimed status as "weird" but there were a lot of cool things about the city that I thought Atlanta could learn from. In particular, public support for bicycling and beer. I was so impressed by the amount of bike parking. All over the city there were entire parking spots devoted to bike lock ups (in Atlanta we're lucky to find one tiny lock up on the sidewalk). The beers laws are also more progressive then those in Atlanta. In Austin the growler shops doubled as bars - something currently illegal in Georgia. 

Instead of writing about our favorite spots from the road trip I've made them into "pins" so be sure to check out Pinterest page! Happy New Year!

Imbibing through Asheville, NC

Being married to a beer geek has some perks - destination travel is one of them: to celebrate O's birthday we planned a  long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina (Beer City USA), with a focus on breweries. We booked a really nice room in an AirBnB walking distance from downtown, made Friday night dinner reservations at the The Admiral and played the rest by ear. By Sunday morning I was impressed, this trip to Asheville definitely exceeded all my expectations. 

The Asheville breakdown:
Where to drink:
• Wicked Weed Brewing -  to our surprise, Cliff Williams (the bassist from AC/DC), showed up during our visit to tap the keg of a special beer (Dirty Weeds, a play on "Dirty Deeds") he'd brewed with this brewery. Be sure to spend time downstairs in the tasting room; great sunlight during the sunset + picnic tables + delicious sour beers = perfect place to spend a late afternoon. I was also very excited by the historical reference on the doors to the restrooms. Photos below: do you get it!? 
• Wedge Brewing - I'm in love with this place. Seriously - I want to move in. Everything about it made me feel like I was back at RISD. What's not to love: good beer, a food truck, corn hole, twinkling strung lights, cool metal marionettes/giant puppets/sculptures and laid back creative professionals. Go after sundown to best appreciate the atmosphere.

Where to eat:
• The Admiral - everything was worth writing home about: food, service & ambiance. Plan ahead because I hear they often have a wait. It's a great place to celebrate a birthday or anniversary; just let them know ahead of time.
• White Duck Taco Shop - around the corner from Wedge Brewery. Swing by for a late night snack.
• Over Easy - delicious breakfast in an intimate setting. Don't miss their perfect biscuits!

Where to spend time during the day:
Woolworth Walk Art Gallery
• Lexington Park Antiques
• Malaprops Book Store
• Ok fine, the Biltmore Estate - but only if you haven't been there before. I've been so many times I have to strain to find it interesting. 

Also noteworthy:
• Green Man Brewing - when we stopped by at noon they hadn't yet opened for the day
• Barley's Tap Room - the birth place of Asheville's brewing scene
• Ben's Tune Up - cool atmosphere but weak beer list

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Memorial Day: the unofficial start of summer! For me, nothing says summer more then a fresh tomato sandwich.  So what better way to celebrate the season then with a fried green tomato sandwich from the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia! 

It wasn't until 1990, in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, that the space took on it's current role as a southern style restaurant Built in 1927 the building spent it's first 45 years as a General Store. When the doors closed in 1972 the store went through a series of a different reincarnations. I'm not quite sure when it became a real restaurant but I think it was at least ten years ago (as this is my third visit - and my last visit was in 2004). The menu is exactly what you'd expect from the movie/book: fried green tomatoes, pulled pork, southern sides and cobbler for dessert. Eating here isn't just lunch, it's a trip back in time. Love it!

Memorial Day on Saint Simons Island

We spent the holiday weekend with my Dad and his wife at their home on Saint Simons Island. Saturday we waterskied on the Frederica River (where I spotted 12 dolphins), Sunday we kayaked through the tidal marshes surrounding the island and Monday night we paid our respects to the nation's veterans at a memorial in the village. If you haven't been to Georgia's Golden Coast then I highly recommend a visit! Between the islands of Saint Simons, Jekyll and Cumberland there is so much to do and see! (More details in my post from last year.)

Bicycling New Orleans, Louisiana


Thursday O&I each packed a small suitcase, locked our bikes into the pick-up and headed to New Orleans for a long weekend. Good Friday 2013 marked not only the annual family reunion but also my 35th birthday: two reasons to get away! During the four years we've been together we've visited NOLA at least half a dozen times but until last weekend it'd never been just the two of us following our own agenda. 

Friday day was spent with family at the St. James Boat Club. As usual, the food (crawfish, oysters and shrimp) was exceptional; if you want to read more about it be sure to check out last year's post. That night we drove 45 minutes into New Orleans and checked into our AirBnbWe picked this particular AirBnb because of it's location and price: Garden District, walking distance to both the St. Charles streetcar as well as the shops along Magazine Street. We were satisfied to find even one AirBnb that fit our criteria and since beggars can't be choosers we agreed to be happy there regardless of it's condition. Walking in with medium expectations we were blown away by how much this AirBnb over-delivered (since we booked it has posted all new photos that more accurately document the home). More about this amazing home at the bottom of this post. 

Saturday morning O&I were eager to hop on our bikes and get started on the 15 mile route I'd mapped out back home. The morning was spent visiting boutiques, antique shops and vintage clothing stores on Magazine Street (it was my birthday so he indulged my shopping kick). Just before lunch we picked up a sandwich at the French bakery, La Boulangerie, and continued towards Audubon Park. Outside of the zoo we climbed into an ancient Oak tree and shared our sandwich. 

From the park it was back the way we came and onward to Avenue Pub (a world class beer bar on par with Atlanta's Porter). From Avenue Pub we went weaving in and out of rick-shaws and streetcars on St. Charles to riding down the tracks on Canal Street. Canal Street to the French Quarter.  Near the French Market we darted between tourists and stopped traffic occasionally glancing back to make sure the other hadn't been lost in the thick crowds. Left on Esplanade. A few laps around Royal and Bourbon (with a stop for to-go beers at Verti Marte) and then back to Avenue Pub. It was here that I came face to face with a man on a motorcycle with an adorable pup in his sidecar (photo above). Avenue Pub back to the AirBnb. 

Back at home base we cleaned up and prepared to head back out for a night on the town. This time we walked to the St. Charles streetcar. The sun was setting and the breeze was warm; I was in heaven. We disembarked at Canal Street (the same spot we'd biked through earlier in the day) and walked to Galatoire's. (Galatoire's - there's so much to say about this historic restaurant - so much that I think I'll finish this thought at a later date.) Galatoire's to Arnaud's French 75 to Frenchmen street in search of live music. On Frenchmen we enjoyed a small art fair, bought a triptych of painted oysters, eggs and a bottle of hot sauce and then headed into the Blue Nile for fun. Very late in the night we rode the streetcar "home" again. Everything was wonderful.

More about the Parks Bowman Mansion
The "Parks Bowman Mansion" is everything an outsider hopes to find in an antebellum New Orleans home. Imagine a mash-up of Interview with a Vampire, Tim Burton and Dia Dos Muertos. The two nights we stayed there we had the entire third floor to ourselves; this included a library, private balcony and very comfortable bed. To top it off our hosts were far and away the most generous, warmest and most interesting AirBnb hosts we have ever encountered. (Thanks again to Adrienne, Bill and their lovely menagerie). If you go, be sure to visit at least one of the two timeless and romantic restaurants just blocks from their home (Commander's Palace and Coquettes) and tell them we sent you!

Traditional German foods with our CouchSurfing host

Dinners with our CouchSurfing host, Michael, in the Rhineland region of Germany were some of the most memorable meals of our entire European Adventure. He prepared for our visit by picking up a wide variety of traditional German sausages and cured meats, European cheeses, crusty breads, pickled herring salads and pickles. There was even German beer on tap in his kitchen. I can honestly say I liked EVERYTHING - even the pickled fish. But my favorite was the liverwurst! Nothing says yum like spreadable pig liver. MMmmm...

For breakfast there was a giant leek quiche. Perfectly cooked. Delicious. 

Certainly not the most heart healthy meals but absolutely worth it. When it Rome, right? 


Healthy dinner at a Slovenian hostel

By the time Sabrina, Oliver and I had reached Slovenia we were desperate for vegetables. The week before had been spent traveling through Germany - a country teeming with sausages and sauerkrauts. Knowing that our hostel in the  Alps was equipped with a kitchen we made plans to cook ourselves a healthy dinner. The result was a delicious salad topped with toasted chick peas, apple slices and cucumber. A side of roasted fennel and red peppers rounded out the meal's savory side. I don't think any of us could remember a time when we'd been SO HAPPY to have a salad.

Read more about the Slovenian hostel in the Alps on our other blog, Boudreauxs Big Adventure

Octopus Giardiniera in Naples

In Naples, on our last day in Italy, we stumbled into an unexpectedly gourmet restaurant. The entire menu was hand written in Italian and we didn't understand most of it. Starving, I pointed to something affordable with an ingredient I recognized (giardiniera) and ordered it. Turns out the word on the menu BEFORE giardiniera is Italian for octopus! I'd unknowingly ordered fresh octopus on a bed of pickled cauliflower, carrots and broccoli! Fortunately I love sushi. But I still can't believe I'd blanked on what to expect for giardiniera: it's a standard component for all my Bloody Marys!

We're back!

It's been over a month since our last post. In that time my younger brother has gotten married and Oliver and I have backpacked across Europe. If you didn't follow along with our other blog while we were traveling you can still check it out at Our travels took us from Belgium to Luxembourg through Germany and Slovenia down the Italian boot and finally to London. We were trekking on a tight budget which dictated a lot of what we could afford to eat and where we could afford to stay. Now that we're home I'll be going back and covering those specific experiences in a bit more detail. Food posts will remain on this blog; lodging posts will be on the new blog. 

For today I want to share a few photos from my brother's adorable wedding! His wife (my new sister-in-law!!) did an incredible job styling the entire thing. Kudos to the newest member of our family! The wedding was perfect and we're all excited that you and Emory have tied the knot!

Long weekend in the low country

The last romantic getaway Oliver and I took was to NYC in April 2010 (when he surprised me with a proposal in the sculpture garden at MOMA). Since then we've been hard at work on, well, on everything... We didn't even take a honeymoon. Earlier this spring I couldn't take it any longer - WE HAD EARNED  A BREAK DAMNIT! In a moment of haste I booked us at an inn (that we probably couldn't afford) on the island I'd grown up visiting with my family. 
Pawley's Island is located midway along the coast of South Carolina. We decided to make a road trip of it, starting in Savannah (3.5 hours from Atlanta) and working our way north along the coast through Hilton Head Island and Charleston. Our ultimate destination was the Sea View Inn, a classic beachy bed and breakfast currently celebrating their 75th year. No TV, no air conditioning, no computers allowed in the common areas. In their place we found saloon style doors on every bedroom (to allow for a better breeze coming off the beach),  a common shower down the hall and a bottle opener mounted to the wall by our sink. The beach was never crowded and thanks to the impending Tropical Storm Beryl the ocean waves were large and fun. 

This trip was my definition of total relaxation. I returned to work today refreshed; I didn't know I could return to my high-stress environment with such a feeling of renewed perspective and enthusiasm. Then I remembered that this feeling is also an important part of heart health. We all need a break from the stress of everyday life. I may have gone a little over budget on this get-a-way but I have no doubt my heart is thanking me for it. 

Hoping everyone has a chance to get-a-way this summer. You've earned it. 
XO - Cullen

Weekend on Georgia's Golden Isles

We spent the weekend visiting my Dad and his wife at their home on one of coastal Georgia's barrier islands. It's always nice to get away from the city for a couple days and do a few things outside the regular routine. Saturday we took a three hour kayak trip* that started on the beach and wound through the tidal marshes. Later in the day we visited the isolated and eery Driftwood Beach. Once a majestic forest of live oaks draped in Spanish moss it now feels more post apocalyptic then antebellum.  

*Half way through the kayak trip I realized  my camera's white balance was still set to "indoors". I was pretty bummed and have done my best to correct the photos. Even so, it may be obvious at which point the setting was corrected. More photos of the trip can be found on my flickr page.

Last but not least we enjoyed a six pack of IPA from Intuition Works located in nearby Jacksonville, Florida. Thanks to my Dad's wife for surprising us with some local beers! And now we're off to YDFM to our week's worth of grocery shopping...

Good Friday in Louisiana

My apologies for the lack of posts over the last week. I aim to post at least every other day but I also do not have a smart phone, iPad or laptop so when we travel - I don't post. And yes! That means we've been traveling! We left Atlanta at 4pm on Thursday and jumped on the road for the annual Boudreaux Family Good Friday Reunion in Reserve, Louisiana. 

Boudreaux is a BIG, very common, last name in that part of the country so I should specify that this particular reunion is for Oliver's grandfather's 12 siblings and their countless descendants. ("Pops", Oliver's grandfather, and his wife, Aimee', have 7 children - multiply that by Pops' 12 siblings and you get an idea of how many people we're talking about). 

I consider myself "East Coast" and not particularly "Southern". (This surprises some people because I was born in, raised in and after college returned to - Atlanta. I know my parents consider me "Mid-Western" and my college friends see me as "Southern"... but once I leave Atlanta all surrounding culture is quite foreign.)  My husband's home state of Louisiana is VERY SOUTHERN (read: foreign). I am still fascinated by everything I've married into - including, but not limited to: THE FOOD! I'll let the reunion food photos speak for themselves with promises to return to normal posting ASAP. (After a quick Easter update tomorrow). Things to note: the crawfish in the galvanized steel tub are alive (as are the ones in the nearby purple mesh bag), both casseroles have shrimp and the freshly shucked oysters were huge and delicious. 

Sadly, the rest of our quick trip was taken up with repairs on our rental properties so we weren't able to see the other side of Oliver's family. Our apologies to the Rivets with a promise to see them all next time! So sorry we missed you!

Family time down on the dude ranch

Oliver and I had a wonderful, yet exhausting weekend. Friday I left work early so we could attend a friend's wedding. It was a late, but very fun night. Saturday we got up fairly early and headed an hour south of Atlanta to meet my Dad, his wife, my brother and his fiance at the Southern Cross dude ranch in Madison. It was our first visit to the ranch and no one knew what to expect. We were all relieved when we discovered that the place really is a great little getaway. I highly recommend a visit. 

All this time away from home means I haven't eaten a home cooked (read: Oliver cooked) meal since my chicken salad lunch on Friday. Even so, I made a conscious decision to choose healthy foods almost every time we ordered from a menu. My exception was sausage gravy on biscuits for breakfast at the ranch - and it was worth it. Now, Sunday night, all my smart ordering feels good because I know I don't need to do any EXTRA hard work at the gym this week to redeem my overeating.  Instead I can stick to my usual hard routine... Anyhow, photos from our time at the dude ranch are below.



Christmas in Louisiana

We spent our Christmas in Louisiana visiting both sides of Oliver's family. Before we left Atlanta I pledged to eat healthy and get the most exercise I could. My success was mixed. While I did eat a lot of local foods it was fairly hard to find anything I considered "good for you". (Every salad I encountered was iceberg based). Fortunately I was able to do a lot of walking (mostly around Baton Rouge and NOLA). 

Perhaps the biggest offender I enjoyed eating was a fried oyster Po Boy from a NOLA bodega found years ago by Oliver and recently endorsed by Anthony Bourdain. I asked about having the oysters grilled (in the shell) instead of fried - and while the grill cook seemed happy to accommodate - I decided a slimy sandwich might be gross.  One giant, mayo slathered, deep fried sandwich a year is okay. Everything in moderation! So, no regrets. 

And now, it's time for the gym!