Natchez Trace Parkway pt. 2: Natchez State Park

We slept well in our first night in the trailer. The dogs acted as local heaters and kept us warm throughout the night. We were recommended to bring a mattress pad if we had one to compliment the one already in the trailer, but we didn’t have one, and have slept on dirt floors enough on camping trips that we figured we would be fine with the luxury of a trailer. So far, so good.

One of my favorite parts of camping is eating. I guess one of my favorite things is eating, but combine it with camping, the outdoors, hiking, smells of burning logs, cool and crisp air…it just makes food taste so good. With the built in cooler in the trailer, this made the food options expand from the usual camping food for the whole week. We started the morning with bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast tacos (a staple in TX) and hot coffee. (Did I mention this thing comes with a 4-cup coffee pot too?). Breakfast was glorious. We prepped for the drive and took off to our next stop: Natchez State Park, our last stop before starting the Parkway.


This state park was well run, clean, and the bathrooms were warm, so I was happy. There was a cool breeze in the air but it wasn’t too cold, and wood was burning in the air so the smell was reminiscent of an October afternoon in the Minnesota countryside.

We took a hike before dinner, catching glimpses of chipmunks skirting about and seeing the boggy marshes, a precursor to our tour for the next week.


One of our best “investments” was long chains and an anchor for the dogs. Before we only had their leashes, which meant they didn’t have much for room to roam. These chains let them explore their new surroundings each night, keeping us sane so we could prep the trailer and make dinner each night.

Next up…the actual Natchez Trace Parkway….



Natchez Trace Parkway (a series of photos)

We finally took a legitimate vacation that didn’t involve going home for a wedding. And it was good. And it involved staying places that didn’t have any cell phone service. Which was also good. But, of course, life doesn’t stop for me, so now I have a little catching up to do. I was going to write about my trip through the Natchez Trace Parkway in one big long blog post, but if any of you are like me, ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m busy, you’re busy…and that’s not really what I want to do. I don’t think one blog post will do. There were so many things to see in the week we were on the road that I’d have to cut out so much to make it into one post.

If you’re not familiar with the Natchez Trace Parkway, like I wasn’t about a month ago, check this site out to start. The road is 444 miles and stretches from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. Along the way, there are a multitude of stops, clearly marked, with history and nature. Each stop tells you a little about the area, what went on here 200 years ago and how it evolved. Even if you’re not a history fan (my worst subject in school), you’ll enjoy this. It’s bits and pieces of information you’d never learn in a book, with all the fresh air, scenery, and walking paths you’ll ever need.

We rented a teardrop trailer and camped each night in a different state park. I highly recommend this if you want to take this trip nice and slowly. We are normally primitive campers, meaning, we pack a bag, hike into the woods and camp with what we have on our backs, but knowing this would be a week on the road with two dogs, we wanted to try something different. The trailer is small so almost any vehicle can haul it, is basically a queen bed with storage on the inside and as a kitchenette in the back with a battery-powered cooler that is programmable, so we would cool it down to near freezing overnight, unplug and go all day. By the time we stopped for the night, everything was still nice and cold. The dogs kept us warm on the cool nights, and we woke up each morning to the sun in our little windows.

I hope you like the photos I’ll be sharing. I took around 500, and so many didn’t capture the beauty that surrounded. I recommend this trip to anyone looking to explore this country and reinvigorate a love of it. There’s so much beauty in our own backyards and it can be easy to forget it when we commute everyday and see the same things day in and day out.

Our first night was at Atlanta State Park, in (crazy enough), Atlanta, TX, which is on the northeast side of the state, near Texarkana. We camped right by the water and got in a small hike before heading in for the night to start our vacation. Overall it was a great park, with good amenities and beautiful scenery.

More pictures and state park talk to come!

The itch

I live in a great city. Austin has so much to offer. There’s a ton of different things to do, a show almost everyday, festivals around every corner….but.

But it has its downfalls. Because it’s been rated by numerous magazines as the top place to live, to move, to eat at, to see, it’s gotten crowded. And I’m not complaining about the people moving here, per se. I was one of them almost four years ago. I can’t say squish about that. But I can say that, because so many people move here (around 130 a day, net), it’s getting crowded. And because it’s getting so crowded, sometimes all those things “to-do”, aren’t so fun. Going to a well-known restaurant can leave you standing in a line for hours. Going to a park with the dogs isn’t so relaxing because I’m constantly tugging on my dogs when they’re trying to meet every other person or dog in the same park. Going 8 miles up the road to a restaurant or to meet friends can take you an hour, just to get through traffic. It can be taxing, and eventually make you not want to go anywhere after you’ve gotten home.

Being so far away from family is rough too. I’m not one that has to be near family constantly, or needs to see them on a weekly basis, but getting home even once a year can be hard. We have dogs so we can’t fly, and driving is a 21+ hour event, so we always have to take off extra days to drive. And to be honest, that drive is so exhausting that it can turn into a deterrent.

Lately we’ve been thinking about possibly relocating again. And this time to Omaha. Omaha you say? What? Come again?? Before you fill your head with the stereotypical midwestern pictures of flat land, white houses and old farmers, think again. Omaha has quietly become quite the city. The job industry is doing very well (considered to be called the Silicon Plains), the housing market is good (prices for houses are about half the cost of Austin and it’s not nearly as competitive, keeping prices steady), and you’re near a lot since you’re in the middle (12 hours to Austin, 9 to Colorado, 7 to Minneapolis). Yes the weather is cold in the winter, but it’s about 10 degrees warmer on average than Minnesota in the winter so it’s more doable for us. You definitely would get the four season feel. Since we don’t have kids, moving around isn’t nearly as difficult. The hardest part about moving is finding a whole new set of friends, finding a dentist, an automotive…that sort of stuff. It would be hard and take time, but definitely isn’t impossible.

This, by no means, is a sure thing. Not even close. There are so many things that would have to align. Jobs need to be applied for and gained, whether or not I could transfer my guard job/find a different one, or just get out completely…selling the house (although in Austin, I’m not worried – just want to make enough return to pay off debts).

Next week, we’re going to meet my mom in Omaha and spend the holiday with her. This will be a fun way to get together for the holiday, plus we’ll get to check out whether or not Omaha seems as viable as it does on paper.

In the meantime, if you still don’t believe me, check out the link below. Never judge a place by your preconceived ideas of what it’s like or its location on the map. You may find some great surprises.

Interesting facts about Omaha

Oh, and I had to add this article about a Bacon Man in Omaha…because bacon.





I think some people are better at being happy on a regular basis than others. Some people have to work harder at feeling good, especially if something doesn’t go as planned. I’m one of those people. I’m not smiley by default and I don’t always go the optimism route when something goes wrong, but this is something I’ve been trying to work on, and I got the opportunity to test it out when I recently found out I didn’t get the job that I thought I was a shoe-in for.

One of the things  I’ve been trying to do more of lately is to stop and think before I react to something that’s just happened. In this case, I surveyed the outcome of not getting this job. On the down side, it would have been a huge bump in pay (around a 25% hike). It was also a few miles closer to the house and I knew who my new boss would be. I heard from him and another co-worker of his, that the employees are friendly and easy going, which I learned first-hand from the board who interviewed me. The interview had gone great and conversation flowed well. These thoughts definitely made me sad and a bit depressed that I didn’t get the job.


But looking at the not-so-bad parts about not getting the job outweighed the bad. I still had all my vacation. I hate starting a new job and having zero vacation to use for months. I like my free time! We are planning on taking a week-long trip in November and possibly a trip to MN in December. This would have been hampered, if not stopped, if I had gotten the offer and couldn’t choose my start date. Even though the job was technically a few miles closer to my house, I would have to take smaller side streets to get to it, and it would have negated travel time. Yeah, a bump in pay is always nice (especially 25%), BUT we are doing fine as we are now, and money isn’t a top priority on my list when looking for jobs. I certainly wouldn’t take a pay cut, but it’s not the end-all factor when I look for a job.


So when I weigh out these factors, it stops me from running to my bed and crying into my pillow. There are so many more things to worry about than my next job. Maybe there’s a reason I am staying where I am. I can’t see the future and I can’t see how everything is tangled together so for now, I’m going to sit back, go to work, and work on all the other things I have going on in my life. I’ve been blessed with a lot of positives in my life and a lot of good opportunities that some have not had, so I want to focus on these, because these are what I have. Focusing on what you do not have can only lead to misery and heart break.

Life break please?

Life seems to hurry up in waves. For a while, things are just going. And that’s fine. Nothing spectacular going on, no changes, just the day in and day out. Those days can be rather pleasant because I have nothing to worry about. I just do my job and go home and relax, or even start planning a vacation or small trip. I like it. What I don’t like are these giant waves of busyness and change. I had an interview for a job yesterday. Yes, it went well, thank you for asking. Interviews exhaust me. Whenever I have an interview or test, I mentally exhaust myself into a nap.collapse into couch

Still haven’t decided if I’d take the job if offered. That in itself is enough stress on my plate. I also have to take a test on Sunday for the guard, for continuing studies. More stress to add. Then once this test is done I have to get back to studying hard for the CISSP exam as well. More stress. I don’t like it. I start to feel like I’m back in college, except without the part time job and you know…free time.


Some people thrive on being busy and having deadlines and overloading themselves on stuff to do. I think I used to be like that but realized it was doing nothing for me except causing break outs and small break downs. It wasn’t worth it. I can handle a busy workload at work – that’s fine. But compile it with a bunch of other things outside of work and this gal starts to stress and wear down. All I want to do is sleep.  bunny

Here’s hoping that this phase of busyness ends soon. I just need to knock out these tests and then sleep can come. We’re planning a road trip in November, which I am very excited for and am using as motivation to get this work done. We bought a new camera and I’m looking forward to using it on more than my dogs and my backyard.

Enjoy your Thursday everyone. The weekend is upon us!

Dorky awkwardness with all kinds of cool

I’m probably pretty dorky sometimes, and definitely usually awkward. Part of it I attribute to me being an only child. I didn’t have any one to look up to or glean the, do this, not that, rules from. I didn’t have cousins near me until I was a teenager, and since I was some transplant from some weird west coast state, they wanted nothing to do with me. So I had to pave my own way. I was always told to be true to yourself, even if others don’t like it. I did this, and true to the wisdom, lost some friends because I was too different from them. But things work out. I don’t have a million friends, but that’s okay because most of them would be fake, and what’s the point in that?

Either way, this video made me think about awkwardness and paving your own way, because you never know, someone may think your dorky awkwardness is actually pretty cool and deserves a record deal. Be true to yourselves folks!

Jobs, anxiety

Remember when you were young and you got your first job? It was pretty exciting. Then you kept going, and eventually moved up to a bigger and better job. And through the years, when you applied, interviewed and got a new job offer, you took it up faster than you could say ‘pay day’.

Maybe it’s just me, or maybe this happens to us all, but I feel that excitement go away, and be replaced with feelings of anxiety. Is it just me or does this happen to other people as well? Why does it get scary to change jobs when you get older? Is it because there is more responsibility included? Is it because there’s so much more involved when you get older? Job security, pay, benefits, vacation, flexibility, all seem to mean more when you’re out on your own. When you’re in high school or college, you’re just looking for a  job and pay. When you get older, you’re looking at flexibility, compatibility with co-workers, room to move, etc. Maybe it’s me letting my anxiety take over. I’m not sure. I try not to, because when it all boils down, it’s still just a job. Heck, of course I want to enjoy it, but a job isn’t what defines me.

If you can’t tell, I’m in the running for a new position. I should be excited because it offers a wonderful pay raise and is a couple miles closer to the house….but it’s not the first feeling that comes to my heart or my brain. Maybe because my brain seems to react much faster than my heart, my first feelings are of anxiety. I start to wonder if this new job has some of the qualities of a job that I don’t  like, like a restrictive schedule, bad co-workers, or it’s just a job I can’t hack. Right now, my job is kind of stale, to be honest, but it’s not bad. It’s comfortable (I’ve been here three years) very flexible, which I like (including work from home), offers decent time-off and pays on a good schedule. This new job possibility may or may not offer the same flexibility, pays on an abnormal schedule, but does offer decent benefits. I don’t know what the people are like, and working with crappy people can throw off even the greatest job. For the most part, I get along with the people I work with currently, but there are a couple of personalities that everyone has a hard time working with, which may not seem like much, but it’s an office of about 10, so two bad personalities can make it tough.

At the same time, while my brain is telling me all the possible reasons this transition may be bad, the other part of my brain is telling me that it could be good too (it’s the quieter voice but I still hear her whisper). If you never changed jobs, how would you have gotten to where you are now? True. The people you work with now can be problematic, so what’s to say these new people won’t be so much better? Also true.

anxiety circle

*sigh* This honestly could go on forever. Luckily I have an interview next week, so we’ll see what happens.

Until then…