Mexico April 2016 ~ Around Nah Uxibal & Soliman Bay

We spent part of a week at Nah Uxibal on Soliman Bay in April catching up with our friends and enjoying some sun, sand, water, good eats and company. www.nahuxibal.com

Dawn of a new day on Soliman Bay at Nah Uxibal…

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Our resident woodpeckers have been in the tree for years now.

The big house top at Nah Uxibal

IMG_4636Javier doing his morning beach raking…Wally wants his job!

Mimi! Our beloved beach dog…and snapshots on my morning walk.

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I love watching for birds and critters along the bay…

Hmmm, how to wile away the time… swim, snorkel, kayak, read, nap, eat, repeat…

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IMG_3500IMG_3501IMG_3502IMG_3505IMG_3508Casa Corazon’s Chilly and Willy stopped by to hang out for a bit…

Then we followed them home to Casa Corazon for a beach barbecue with Tom and his visiting friends.

That’s all for now!

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Mexico, April 2016 ~ Soliman Bay

We found very reasonable non-stop airfare on Delta from Nashville to Cancun – only 2 hours 40 minute flight – and decided to hop down to our favorite beach destination, Soliman Bay and Tulum for a week. Our flight arrived mid-morning so by the time we headed south down the highway toward Tulum we were starved. We stopped off for a snack at one of the gas station areas and discovered there was a new little restaurant next door, Eat Acate at Market Playa. It looked clean and inviting, so we ordered up some burritos and a fruit smoothie for lunch. And it was very good! They have a pretty big selection, and you tell them what you want and then grab a spot at the family-style picnic table. I loved their chalkboard art and menus, recycled tin decor and cool artsy details.

With our bellies full, we were ready to reach our destination, Nah Uxibal vacation rental on Soliman Bay. It didn’t take us a minute to drop our bags and head to our favorite spots on the beach. Within five minutes our favorite beach dog Mimi had joined us! http://www.nahuxibal.com/

We met our neighbors, enjoyed cocktails, and called it a day…

IMG_4617Ahhh.. home sweet hammock!

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Las Vegas 2016 ~ Hexx & MGM Grand Spa

For our final evening in Vegas, we picked Hexx for dinner – they have their own chocolate store, so how could we go wrong? And oh my gosh, I think I’ve still been dreaming of that Hexx burger! When in Vegas, do Hexx, followed by Hexx chocolate.    http://www.hexxlasvegas.com/

Next door is the chocolate store… Ahhhh…

We had a few extra hours before we headed to the airport on our last morning, so we booked a few treatments at the MGM Grand Spa. https://www.mgmgrand.com/en/amenities/grand-spa-health-club.htm. The staff was very nice and I had a great soak and massage, and the girls both had treatments, followed by a little pool time. Then it was time to pack up and get to the airport to head home to Nashville on Southwest.

Quick meal at the airport, then load up and go.

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Las Vegas 2016 ~ MGM Pool & Mon Ami Gabi

We went to the big MGM Pool for our second day of sun – the girls wanted more “action” to keep them entertained while they baked.

We had cocktails and got ready for the night out on the town…we LOVE having balconies at the MGM Signature Suites so we can enjoy watching the sun go down and lights come up. It’s a little off the strip but still get the effect.

And we’re off… the girls want to go check out the “shoppes” at Caesars Palace.

Now, moving on to dinner… We had been told to try the fabulous French restaurant under the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel on Las Vegas Blvd, Mon Ami Gabi, so that was our dinner destination. I have to confess, we had a fabulous French Bordeaux  bottle of wine in the bar waiting on our table and became lax in my photo taking after that. This was the BEST meal we have ever had in Vegas and will go back again and again.

The funny part of our evening was after we got seated on the patio facing the Bellagio and the fountains were spraying and everything should have been perfect… except for that lone guitar player that thought to get tips from his playing of hard rock on the street. It totally ruined the atmosphere! After a few minutes of his noise making, Monica jumped up and trotted down to him. After a minute, we saw him start packing up his guitar and gear and moving off. Monica pumped her arms and came striding back to our table triumphantly. “I gave him $20 to move up the road to Planet Hollywood!” Other diners started clapping and some even came over and gave her some money. Our waitress came out and said dessert was on the house! I think that was creme brule that we slaughtered in about five seconds after she brought it. Great wine, great food, great atmosphere (just hope he doesn’t return to try and cash in on other distressed diners)!    http://www.monamigabi.com/home/?loc=vegas.

And we’re done… back to the Signature to sleep off the wine and food!

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Las Vegas 2016, High Roller & Makino

We slept in and after we got going, headed down to the MGM Signature pool to relax and get some sun. To Signature guests, be VERY careful around the pool – the travertine tile is VERY slick and dangerous when wet!

It was Monica’s birthday, and we had decided on sushi for dinner. After googling buffets and restaurants, we decided to try Makino at 3965 S. Decatur Blvd., #5 in a shopping center. http://makinobuffet.com/

The cab ride was a bit scary, but we made it (whew!). Note to self. Always take a picture of the cabbie’s id for future so you can report them if you need to.

For sushi lovers, Makino’s buffet is a delicious dream! The restaurant is rather plain, but it’s all about the food! This will be our first stop next time we’re in Vegas!

After dinner we decided to take a ride on the LINQ “High Roller” Ferris Wheel to see the Vegas skyline at night. I found out later we could have gotten discounted tickets from Tix4Tonight, so be sure and check out their website for rides and most Vegas attractions. http://www.tix4tonight.com/

Afterward we strolled about the strip, then worked our way back to the MGM.

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That’s it for tonight!

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Las Vegas 2016, Gordie Brown & Freemont Street

We drove from Phoenix to Las Vegas with Wally’s cousins and arrived at dusk. They had tickets to see singing comedian Gordie Brown at the Golden Nugget, so we raced to get checked in at the MGM Signature Towers. We’ve stayed there many times before and always enjoy the comfort of their suites with balconies.

IMG_2971We caught a cab and made it just a few minutes late to the show, and it was very entertaining. He’s got a chameleon voice, and pulls off imitating lots of music greats.

After the show we wandered through the Golden Nugget in search of food.

Then walked around Freemont Street and people watched…

That was enough for me for one night!

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Travel AZ ~ Queen Creek Olive Mill & Silly Mountain Trail

One of my FAVORITE destinations in the Phoenix area is Queen Creek Olive Mill, and it was on my “must-do” list for this trip. It was Wally’s sister Monica’s first time ever to Phoenix, and I knew she would love it. Also, my husband, who loves to cook, had never been, so we planned a mid-morning breakfast date with Wally’s Phoenix family. Here’s their website so you can browse their page and plan your trip! https://www.queencreekolivemill.com/

We arrived between breakfast and lunch (breakfast 8-11) with 10 minutes to spare for breakfast orders, and hurriedly placed our orders… Sooo many mouth-watering choices! We browsed the store a bit, and then went outside to find a picnic table.

While waiting on our orders we caught up on family matters and the little ones climbed the well worn olive trees.

Ahhh… our buzzer is rocking and our food is ready! You go and pick up your order inside and “self service” your meal, so I got to practice my old waitress skills. I ordered the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and they were amazing! Fluffy pancakes with a creamy sweet tart sauce and then some pure maple syrup to top it off!

Mmmmmm… A Bloody Mary, omelet and fresh grapefruit. IMG_0014After breakfast, it was time to shop! We loaded up on several different olive oil blends and balsamic vinegars. At the check-out, we couldn’t resist the Queen Creek Olive Mill Cookbook so we would know how to use our purchases.

Having filled up on food and emptied our wallets, it was time to drive through the desert to show Monica the terrain. Cactus zoomed by, and eventually we ended up at the edge of the Superstition Mountains. We drove through Gold Canyon and the Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club. What a beautiful desert course! You can see more of this private course at their website: http://www.superstitionmountain.com/

Next was a stop at the Silly Mountain Park in the Tonto National Forest for a quick walk and education. They have a short trail with native plants identified with kid-friendly markers. Some were in flower, and were so colorful and pretty!

According to the park website, “Silly Mountain Park is a 2.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Apache Junction, AZ that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from January until January. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.” More information and a map at: http://alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/silly-mountain-park

It had already been a busy day, and it was topped off by a wonderful evening with the family. Next up, a road trip to Las Vegas with some of the cousins!

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Travel Arizona ~ Superstition Mtns, Tortilla Flat & Pomo Pizzeria

We flew from Nashville to Phoenix in March to visit my husband’s family and find some warmth and sunshine. When we were unloading, we spotted the Southwest “Tennessee One” plane that commemorates Southwest’s 30 years flying into Tennessee. https://www.southwest.com/

For an excursion on the day after we arrived, we decided to drive to the mountain areas around Phoenix. First stop was the tiny mining town of Superior, and we were going to drive on to Globe to check out their antique stores. However, the road was being worked on with a blasting delay, so we had to turn around and choose a different destination. There are botanical gardens along the way, but we decided to save that for another day.

So Tortilla Flat in the middle of the Tonto National Forest in the Superstition Mountains became our alternate destination. It was a beautiful drive, and we stopped off at scenic Canyon Lake along the way. This is a great spot for cooling off in the summer or for a picnic.

Tortilla Flat was a stagecoach stop started in 1904 on the Apache Trail, and today a popular dining and tourist destination called Superstition Saloon and Restaurant. We had to wait almost an hour for our table (it was spring break), so we wandered through the gift store and ice cream shop. You can also belly up to the bar in saddles or eat outside on the patio with live music. Dollar bills wallpaper the walls, along with tons of other interesting items. The ladies restroom is a riot! I walked in to a line-up of startled women grinning from behind their partial doors that are painted with saloon girl themes (I went back and took pictures later and a nice lady took my picture). They have a limited menu with burgers and Southwest specialties. We went for the burgers and they were huge!  http://www.tortillaflataz.com/

And that’s all that was at Tortilla Flat! We headed back towards Phoenix…

We had brought along our hiking shoes and found a trail that looked easy to take a desert walk. March is a great time to visit the desert to see things blooming, and we enjoyed our walk (be sure and take water or liquids to drink).

We got back to Wally’s cousin’s house and had time to rest and get cleaned up for dinner with family. Madeline chose Pomo Pizzeria in Gilbert and we loved it! Great pizza and Italian – highly recommend! http://pomopizzeria.com/

 Wow! ~ What a great day in Phoenix! Next up is a visit to the Queen Creek Olive Mill.

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Travel Tennessee ~ Antiquing in Shelbyville, March 2016

If you are looking for an enjoyable day trip and some quality antiques and collectibles, head to Shelbyville, Tenn. Located on their Courthouse Square is Antiques, Arts & Collectibles Mall with over 17,000 square feet of antiques, vintage, fashion, home decor, artist painted furniture, milk paint, chalk style paint and more. They also offer milk and silk painting workshops. Visit their website at http://www.antiquesartscollectibles.com/

The Courthouse and Yesterday’s Treasures on the Square.

Just down the street a block off the Square is The Depot at 209 E. Depot St., featuring 18,000 square feet and two floors with quality antique furniture and accessories, primitives, collectibles, hand crafted furniture, lighting, jewelry, vintage quilts, home decor, braided rugs and more.

Further out E. Depot Street  is the Ole Grapevine Antique Shoppe, which has been in Shelbyville for decades. Connie and Eddie Murray have packed their 6,000 square foot shoppe with quality antique furniture and antique accents, primitives, mantiques, books, cookbooks, garden accents and more. They conduct appraisals and estate sales as well and do lamp repair. 931-684-1068.

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Travel Tennessee ~ Bell Buckle 2016

A favorite small town to visit in Middle Tennessee is Historic Bell Buckle. Loaded with charm, this petite railroad town lies between Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, Tenn. Visitors will find something for everyone including antiques, collectibles, boutiques, home accents, Southern souvenirs and great food! Unfortunately for my photos, it was a dreary rainy day!

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Bell Buckle Cafe has been a mainstay on Railroad Square for decades, drawing folks from all over with their Southern meat and veggie plates, burgers, sandwiches, salads and desserts. They have live music every Friday and Saturday evenings and on Saturday afternoons from 1-3. http://www.bellbucklecafe.com/Bell_Buckle_Cafe/Welcome.html

For those that have a big group or event, they also offer the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall that is a multi-use facility complete with dance floor, stage and full in-house catering that can fit 300 people. http://www.bellbucklebanquethall.com/

Phillips General Store Antiques has been a Bell Buckle favorite destination for decades. The old general store retains its historic charm with many original fixtures and goods displayed, along with a huge selection of antique and vintage items for sale. You’ll always find a selection of vintage holiday collectibles from Halloween to Christmas. They also carry locally made gourmet food products, Moon Pies and RC Cola.