Alabama · Atlanta · Family Relationships · Family Travel · personal · travel

TrippinTwins:Why We Travel 

Recently a dear family friend of ours lost her cancer battle. It was especially upsetting because she had been diagnosed less than a year ago.  I could write an entire article about the role she played in our life, but suffice it to say she was such a gentle and kind soul who made an impact on so many.

 Most of our conversations over the last several months had centered on her trip to Europe she had taken last summer and our recent trip to Rome in March. Both were big deals. For her, it was her trip back to where she was born. She loved every minute of reconnecting with her family in Germany. Her favorite city was Paris. She didn’t fall in love with Rome, but was super excited when we told her we were going to surprise our parents with a trip there. She wanted us to tape the surprise reveal when my mom, who had never flown overseas, would find out she would have to finally have to face her fear of flying over an ocean. When we returned, she asked a million questions. She shared her pictures and stories and we shared ours. These last conversations, along with the numerous kindnesses she graced us with over the years, are how we are going to remember her.

When we found out she passed and began reminiscing, the conversation turned to a discussion about what we thought it was in our background was that has led us to make travel such a major part of our life. 

When we were kids, we went to the beach nearly every summer. We loved these trips. I remember being so excited to be back playing in the sand, visiting the latest restaurants, catching sand crabs and staying out for late night beach walks. I also remember being so excited when we were finally old enough to get in a jacuzzi at the condo we usually stayed in. 

We were definitely born with a love of the water, but we yearned to discover more landscapes. We grew up in a small city, but had dreams of seeing the world’s largest.  Our first trip to a major city was to Atlanta to attend the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. We had a blast riding the MARTA and exploring different restaurants and neighborhoods. We were sad to leave and bugged our parents to take us back over and over again. 


We are certain that it was our maternal grandmother who unknowingly made us fall in love with the idea of traveling around Europe. We didn’t know anyone growing up that traveled as much as she did. We loved looking at her pictures and listening to her stories. She took a cruise to Alaska the summer before she passed away and it’s been on our list since.

It was our grandfather that introduced me to photography. He collected cameras and enjoyed taking us on road trips to take pictures. He bought me my first camera and is responsible for me taking an interest again as an adult. 

Unfortunately, my grandfather got sick during our sophomore year of high school. It forced my grandmother to find replacements for a trip to Greece and Turkey she had paid for. Tara and I were the lucky ones that got to take their place. It was a trip with mostly teachers at the high school we attended, who took on the responsibility of keeping an eye on us. It was a bit overwhelming for a lot of reasons. It was a trip of a lot of firsts-our first flight, our first overseas trip, our first cruise, first time away from home for longer than a few days. It was a lot do take in, but we were hooked.

We saw pictures of a trip our grandmother and uncles had taken one summer to Colorado. The  pictures decorated our house because it was the last trip my grandmother had taken with her son before he passed. We were ecstatic when we found out the summer before our Senior year in college we were actually going. We spent a week in Lyons with family and took some amazing day trips. To this day, Colorado holds a special place in our heart as it turned out to be the last trip we had taken with our grandmother. 

Today, we travel for those we’ve lost. For they are who continue to inspire us. We travel for those that can’t, for those that are afraid, those that need guidance to plan their next adventure and for those that can’t wait to hear our stories. We travel to escape the mundane of our work life, to discover what’s around the next corner. We travel to continue to build confidence and self-assurance. We travel to keep learning, growing and moving forward.

Although we often choose to travel together, we are two very different people with very different personalities. Travel has taught us sacrifice, compromise and patience, which has grown to make us even closer. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to have shared so many experiences with our best friend by our side. We look forward to the next great adventures, including our parents in some more trips, for  they are who initially provided us with opportunities to travel.

Do you ever reflect on how your past has shaped your reasoning for traveling to a destination or made travel a priority in your life? 

Alabama · Goals · October Blogging Challenge · travel · Trip Planning · Work · Work/Life

10 Things You May Not Know About Us-October Blogging Challenge -Day 10

1. Our passion is international events politics and religion. Growing up in the south, we were raised not to talk much about these subjects. Now, with the right group of people, these are subjects we can debate for hours. 

2. When we have a bad day, I run to the closest place that offers good cheese fries. It’s a coping mechanism from my college days.  Tara likes to go have a cold German Hefeweizen. Hey, they are both cheaper than a shopping spree. 

3. We both struggle constantly with our career choice. We like the challenge of the work itself, but can’t stand the political nature/arbitrariness of the decisions that are made on a constant basis.

4. We do not mind revisiting some places over and over again. Our goal isn’t to see the world, but to have as many experiences as possible in the places we enjoy. 

5. I will search far and wide in each city usually to buy  handcrafted earrings. I probably have 150 pairs of earrings now. Tara does not have any particular thing she buys on trips. 

6. Our favorite food anywhere is Mexican. The best we’ve had so far is in Los Angeles, Chicago and our hometown.

7. We both were born with an eye defect, which is a fairly common birth defect in premie’s. We had eye surgery when we were 3. We still have bad eyesight, which seems to bewilder people. While I wear glasses everyday, Tara usually wears contacts.

8. Looking younger than we are has as many disadvantages as advantages. We fight to be taken seriously in the workplace and get carded everywhere, which is just annoying. 

9. We have only had 2 main hairdressers throughout our life. Even going away to college and moving to VA didn’t change that. We’ve been going to our current one consistently since we were in 9th grade. 

 10. We are both Big city and small town people. We can be comfortable in any city of any size. We both debate between staying where we are and moving on to a bigger city. Still up for debate.

Alabama · Beach Towns · Canoeing · Gulf Shores · Kayaking · Orange Beach · Sailing · Tours · travel · Trip Ideas

 TrippinTwins: Visiting the beaches we always go back to, Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

There is not a better place to heal the soul and rejuvenate than a trip to your favorite beach. Nor is any visit the same, for the ocean is always changing.  For those reasons, it is why we keep returning to the Alabama Gulf Coast year after year. We have been going since we were children; it’s the beach we grew up on. It is still the perfect location for a getaway with incredible beaches, plethora of restaurant and entertainment options.

Two of the most popular beach cities that make up the Alabama Gulf Coast are Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. We have visited both cities multiple times, but have stayed in Orange Beach the last few trips. Orange Beach is a few miles down the road from Gulf Shores. There are slight difference in the towns, but both offer fantastic restaurants, entertainment choices, and a variety of lodging and shopping options. Tips to plan your visit are below.

What Airport Can I Fly Into?

There are two airports that are fairly close to both locations: Mobile Regional Airport, 65 miles to Gulf Shores or Pensacola International Airport, 30 miles to Orange Beach, AL.  It is helpful to have a car for the duration of your trip, but there is shuttle and taxi from both airports to the area.  Unfortunately, Uber is not available in the area currently.  If you are staying in Orange Beach and do not have a car or are partying hard and need a ride, check out $4 Island Shuttle.  They offer airport pickup at both airports and operate as a flat fee taxi service in Orange Beach, AL.

Where Should I Stay?

There are lots of options for accommodations in both cities.  The options include a mix of camping facilities, beach houses, high rise condos and hotels.  There are many camping options, ranging from primitive to luxury campgrounds to the cabins and cottages that are available in the Gulf State Park.  One of the best places to search for and make campground reservations is on  The camp grounds fill up fast during Holiday weekends or festivals, so be sure to make reservations in advance.  There are three great ways to search for beach houses and condos that are used for vacation rentals: Airbnb, VRBO and local real estate agents pages.  We have had the most successes using VRBO, but we recommend all of them to get the best deal.

When to Go:

It is a great place to visit during any part of the year.  The Gulf Coast offers great beach weather from April to October.  Hurricane season starts 1 June through the fall. They are not a common occurrence, but be sure to check the weather report before heading down.  In addition, consider vacation insurance if it is offered when you make your reservation.  There are many festivals held in and around the region during the year.  Two of the most popular festivals held in the area are The Hangout Music Festival and Shrimp Fest  The Hangout Music Festival is held in May and Shrimp Fest is held in October.

What is the Beach Like?

The sand is soft, white and powdery. It’s comfortable to walk on and perfect for kids to play on and build sand castles. The water is generally warm. We often remark that it feels like bath water. The waves vary from hardly existent to moderately rough. It can be crowded on major holidays, Spring Break for area schools and two weeks before area schools return. Otherwise, the beach is moderately crowded and it’s possible to beach areas with no other visitors.

Where to Eat:
When we go to the beach, we only eat out for dinner as a general rule.  We go to the grocery store when we get to town and buy breakfast and lunch food for the duration of our stay.  This saves money, and allows more beach time.  Some of our favorite restaurants  include Cosmo’s, Wolf Bay Lodge, Cafe Grazie, Louisiana Lagniappe, Cotton’s, Caymen Grill, Tacky Jacks, Doc’s Seafood. There are endless options though and locals give the best advice!

The best sauteed crab claws around are at Cafe Grazie in Orange Beach, AL.
Most restaurants offer outside seating in the area. If it’s located on the water, you’ll have an even better view!

Bored of the Beach?

Not sure anyone could get bored of the beach, but if you’re had enough of the water or looking for something to do after dinner, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained.  The Hangout  in Gulf Shores is a popular place to hang out because it often has live music and is appropriate for the entire family.  There are also putt- putt courses, a water park, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, a movie theater and shopping areas with a plethora of choices. If you are looking for a tour, there are dolphin cruises, kayaking excursions, parasailing, zip-lining, helicopter rides and sailing trips. There are shops that will rent you watersport vehicles (kayaks, waverunmers, boats).  There is something for everyone and they would love to have you visit.

Erica loving our “private” sunset cruise with Captain Ryan in Orange Beach, AL.
Tara chilling out on the Intercoastal Waterway figuring how much further she has to paddle!
Tara chilling out on the Inter-coastal Waterway figuring how much further she has to paddle!

‘Snapshot Sunday: Orange Beach, AL 

Orange Beach, Alabama is one of our favorite vacation destinations in the United States.  We have been going there since we could walk to enjoy the white sanded beaches.  Tourism has increased over the years, attracting people all over the Southeastern US while maintaining the city’s small town vibe.  If you prefer your vacation include some adventure, there is a plethora of options. Water adventures available include deep sea fishing, hang-gliding, sailing and kayaking.   We usually spend most of our days at the beach, relaxing. This time we added some activities to the mix and signed up for kayaking and sailing adventures. These are a few snapshots of our favorite things we captured from out trip last week. 


One of our favorite seafood restaurants in the area. We have been loyal customers since the first time we went to its former location as kids. 

Our favorite sunset pic of the trip, taken outside of  Wolf Bay Lodge

 Outside Tacky Jacks “Happy Harbour”

View of ocean from condo balcony in the early morning

First time kayaking -Intercoastal Water Way and Bay (Tara is pictured)

Fun in the sun and water (Erica pictured)

One of the best things we did this trip: sunset sail! (Tara pictured)

Alabama · Day Trips

Day Trippin’: Mooresville, AL

We are always on the lookout for new and interesting day trip ideas. Recently we read about a sleepy small town, less than an hour away from where we live,  that is listed on an “America’s Best 50 Small Towns” list.  We decided to explore Mooresville, AL to  discover what makes it so special.

Mooresville, AL is a quaint Anti-Bellem town that is located in Limestone County, AL on the Tennessee River.  It was incorporated on November 16, 1818, a year before Alabama gained statehood. It’s early residents were mostly merchants, cotton farmers and traders.  The town is 0.1 miles and covers just six streets and has about 55 residents. The entire town, of 19th Century period architecture, is on the U.S. Register of Historic Places.   It also served as the one time home for US Presidents James A. Garfield and Andrew Johnson.  It also served as the film set for the Disney movie, Tom and Huck.

The first place we saw upon arriving in Mooresville was Java, the local coffee shop. It’s a charming locally owned store which use to be the town’s General Store. It is a great place to grab a drink, a bite to eat and look around at the antique furniture and artworks that are on display for sale.  It’s also the perfect place to chat with some locals to get historical information about the town and sights to see.

Jave Cafe Outside Java Menu

Located across the street from Java, is a parking lot.  We learned at Java that bicycling is the most popular form of transportation and saw evidence of that in the parking lot with bicyclists there meeting others.  We also saw people parking there to walk the town. While in the area, make sure to see these fascinating historical places: Mooresville Brick Church, Mooresville Church of Christ, Mooresville Stagecoach Inn and Tavern and Post Office that the residents have worked hard to preserve.

Mooresville Brick Church is located on Lauderdale St. The church property was donated by Governor Thomas Bibb and his wife with designation for a church to be built. The church was build in Greek Revival style and completed in 1839. The steeple is unique, depicting a hand pointing towards Heaven. The church served as a worship location for Cumberland Presbyterian, Methodists and Baptists. It was deconsecration by the Methodists in 1994 and handed over to the town to be used for weddings and photo shoots.

Mooresville Brick Church.Moorseville Brick Church Steeple

Mooresville Church of Christ is located on Market Street on land that was bought in 1851 for $20.00.  It was first built in 1854 with additions added in the 1930’s to add space to the church.  It is a white clapboard church built in a more modest Greek Revival style.  It has a storied past and has managed to survive without ever having a full time preacher.  The first Christian of Moorseville, J. H. Hundley, was baptized in this church, it survived yellow fever outbreaks nearby and the Civil War.  This is also the church where James Garfield, the 20th president of the U.S., preached once during the Civil War.  Today, the church receives help from nearby churches to remain open.

Mooresville Stagecoach Inn and Tavern is located on High Street. These were once common along Alabama traveling routes. This one was built by Griffin Lampkin before 1825 and served as the town’s post office before a new one was built. The current post office, thought to be built around 1840, is the oldest active post office in Alabama. The Inn used to have  two levels.  The common room was on the first floor and the two room sleeping quarters on the second floor. The building was used for other purposed before being donated to the city and restored in the mid 1990’s.  Currently, it is used as a museum and City Hall.

Mooresville, AL Stage Coach Inn & Tavern
Mooresville Post Office
Mooresville, AL Post Office dating back to the 1840’s.

The homes in Mooresville are beautiful and well kept and the Oak trees in the area are thought to date back to the early 1800’s.  The town is located between Huntsville and Decatur, AL making this an easy afternoon trip

Adventure · Alabama · Day Trips · Waterfall

Day Trippin’: Little River Canyon Nature Preserve

What is one part of the country we have not spent a lot of time discovering?  Oddly enough, that would be our own backyard.  We set out recently to visit Little River Canyon National Preserve, located in northeast Alabama, as part of Lookout Mountain.  The canyon itself is twelve miles long and in some areas, almost six hundred feet deep. It has a storied past, used by Native Americans and by the Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War.  The river was categorized as a State Wild and Scenic River in 1969 because of its uniqueness of  being the only river that flows entirely on a mountain.  In 1992 it was designated as part of the National Park Service.  It was also named in a 2014 Huffington Post article listing it as one of’s g best swimming holes around the world.

Our first stop was to the Little River Canyon Center, which is open for tourism suggestions 7 days a week from 10:00am-4:00pm CST. There is also a gift shop which is closed on Mondays. We stopped by to get a map of the general area and receive pointers for the best lookout areas for the falls.

After our stop at the Canyon Center, we drove down the road to see the Little River Falls, which is a 45 foot waterfall.  The amount of water that you will see depends on the current rainfall amounts. There is typically higher water levels during the winter and spring months, which also make for an ideal kayaking time. The water is warmer in late spring and summer though, which makes it an ideal time to swim.  The Little River Canyon is easily accessible for viewing for all as it is only 1000 feet from the parking lot and a boardwalk makes for an easy walk. We decided to only view it from the boardwalk, but for the more adventurous there is a trail that leads to the entry of the water behind the falls.

Erica and Dad Little River Falls pic 1

After spending some time viewing Little River Falls,  we went to Martha’s Falls.  There are two ways to get there from Little River Falls:  walk a trail for 3/4 mile or drive and take a chance on finding an available parking space in a gravel lot at the site. The day we visited, it was a blistering 97 degrees, so we decided to drive. We were happy to find a close parking place, but not so happy to discover that we were blocked in later… (more on that later)

Martha’s Falls is a popular swimming area, so expect crowds on hot summer days. The trail from the parking lot is roughly a mile long.  Nearly half of the trail is rocky and steep, so it is necessary to have some fitness ability to make it to the end. The little kids seen along the trail seemed to handle the hike well, bouncing and jumping from rock to rock and keep up with the more frequent visitors/experienced hikers. For those with less experience, taking breaks and wearing shoes with traction is recommended. Alcohol is not allowed, but leashed pets are. Though,  when we were there,  the leash rule was not enforced. Be sure to bring lots of drinking water to stay hydrated.

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As most people who exit the river area and hike the trail back to the parking lot, we were tired and ready to leave. When we got to the parking lot, it was evident that a truck had parked in the last available spot, which blocked the entire back row of cars in.  The park rangers were called, who waited a bit before ticketing the car and finally calling a tow truck. We were assured that incidents like this one are not a usual occurrence, but it was definitely frustrating to many people there. Parking tip-Park on the front row, if at all possible! There are also other side lots on the side of the road other people were parking in.


If you’re looking for a day trip from north Alabama, this is easily doable.  If you are in the Fort Payne area visiting the Alabama Fan Club and Museum, stop by!