As far back as I can remember, I’ve had “wandering fever”. An avid reader as a child that carried into adulthood, I’ve traveled the world on printed pages and am now trying explore them in person. I probably spend as much time reading and researching a destination as we actually spend on a trip, if not more. I want to know the cheapest way to get there, unique things to explore, the best local restaurants, and the neatest, while still affordable, place to stay.
When I was a senior in high school, the school had a senior trip to Europe planned – Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. My parents told me if I wanted to go, I would have to earn the money myself. Within a week I was hired on at the local Wendy’s and worked countless evenings to earn the money for that 10-day trip. I look back and wonder how many months I worked to pay for that quick glimpse into that other world and centuries of history. Returning from the trip, it probably took me a week or two of work just to pay for the dozens of rolls of film that I took from the trip. I still have that album of photos and flip through it every now and I’m so glad that I took the time to type up little notes and add them to the album so I am reminded the names of places we visited.
I received my magazine journalism degree with a minor in English from MTSU, and met my future husband, Wally Dudiak, while waiting tables the year after I graduated. I worked with the Murfreesboro Home & Business Journal for a while, and then spent over four years at Horse World Saddlebred magazine traveling the country to cover horse shows.
I had always loved old stuff and visiting my grandparent’s house was like stepping back a century. During my travels around the Southeast, I noticed there were no antique or destination guides in Tennessee and surrounding states. I was ready for a change of pace, so I created “The Busy Bee Trader” as a monthly magazine for antique stores to advertise their businesses. I was dumbfounded when it actually took off and 18 years later is still going strong!
About 18 years ago, Wally became partners at Miller’s Grocery, A Country Café in Christiana, Tenn., as the head cook, and helped grow the restaurant into a booming dining destination. His mouth-watering Southern-style dishes, complemented by his partner’s divine award-winning homemade desserts put them on the map. The fact that is was in a century-old grocery store added nostalgia and atmosphere.
Wally and I were married almost 16 years ago and luckily, he also has an affinity for travel. No children came along for us, but we have made up for it with dogs and cats to keep us company/crazy. In 2006, we moved from Christiana to Greenbrier, Tenn., to the family farm, homesteaded around 1810 by my Clinard forebears and passed down through the family. This was my grandparents home and I always spent a week in the summer with them, and I have so many wonderful memories.
We tried to restore the old farmhouse, but finally decided it was beyond help and built fresh with a farmhouse/coastal type house. We are still working on fixing up and taking down the old buildings and have created a blueberry, asparagus and blackberry patch as part of our future sustainable living plan. We are also beekeepers, much to Wally’s dismay – but he has become more accepting as he has learned to be better clothed before stirring them up.
In 2011, due to the long commute, Wally sold his portion of the Miller’s to his partners, so now the neighbors and I are the recipient of his delicious cooking. Many months when my Busy Bee work is done, we line up our pet sitter and head out to explore the Southeast and beyond. We especially love the beach and fresh seafood, so our final destinations usually involve sand, sun and platters of raw, steamed and fried delicacies from the ocean. We’ve trekked Apalachicola, Florida to New Orleans several times and love the quiet beaches and friendly people there. We stop along the way to do Busy Bee work, introducing the magazine to new businesses and visiting our advertisers.
So far, our favorite tropical destination is Soliman Bay, Mexico, located about an hour and a half south of Cancun down Hwy 109 and just 15 minutes north of Tulum. We’ve been spending a week or two each year at Nah Uxibal vacation rental on Soliman Bay for probably eight years, and it is our tropical home away from home. Nah Uxibal, “The House of Good Energy”, is owned by a couple from California and we have become fast friends with them. I help with their marketing and promotions for Nah Uxibal as I love helping spread the word about our favorite destination.
In 2011 we had were fortunate to visit some amazing places and mark a few biggies off our bucket list.
We still have tons of places we want to visit, so stay tuned… and “Follow Me!”