Antique, Parade, Road trip, Texas, Travel

Nine Flags Festival + Lighted Christmas Parade: Nacogdoches, Texas

We always love going to this parade. We have been several years in a row now. This takes place the first weekend in December in the picturesque downtown square of Nacogdoches, Texas, home to a long Texas history and Stephen F. Austin State University.

Get parade seats early. This year’s parade began at 6:30 so we claimed our seats at about 5:00.┬áIf you have small children, the easiest thing to do is bundle them up in their stroller so you can peruse the shops (before you get seated) and then park their stroller next to you to watch the parade. There are a LOT of quirky antique shops, Texas-themed shops (Heart of Texas), Coffee shops, art galleries, and a museum (among other things) downtown so you can easily spend 3-4 hours just exploring downtown Nacogdoches. If you are making a trip of it, one day can also be spent at SFA’s arboretum, azalea trails, and museum.

The festival gets its name from the 9 different flags that have flown over Texas- French, Spanish, Mexican, Fredonia Rebellion, Magee-Gutierrez, Dr. James Long, Confederate, Lone Star, and USA. Any history buff would enjoy this festival greatly. The main event, however, is the parade. Rightly so, as the floats are truly spectacular and the community comes together in a big way to make it happen.

Santa Clause makes an appearance at the end, much to the excitement of all of the kids

The night ends with a SPECTACULAR firework display. I have seen a lot of fireworks, and these rank right up there with some of the best I have experienced, (including those ones on Santa Rosa Beach/Seaside, Florida).

To sum it all up, some helpful, insider secrets:

  • Claim parade seats early
  • Bring chairs
  • Bring blankets
  • Bring cash for vendors (hot cocoa is amazing)
  • Be sure to visit all the shops
  • After the parade, hurry over to watch fireworks!
  • Strollers for children
  • Make dinner reservations for afterwards (Clear Springs does not offer reservations but they usually seat you quickly.
  • Park in the lot directly behind the square

Website: visitnacogdoches.org

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Road trip, Texas, Travel

San Antonio- Coaching School

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My husband is a football coach and one of my favorite things about his job is coaching school. This year was my first time to go so I didn’t really know what to expect. I hadn’t been to San Antonio since I was in 7th grade on a Texas History field trip- I was amazed! I felt like I was in a different country with all of the spanish influence. We stayed at the Hyatt on the Riverwalk.

A few tips:

-avoid the ‘traffic’ times of year when the Riverwalk is full of families with strollers. We were there in late summer when people were taking their last summer vacations before school started.

-eat early: go to breakfast early or sleep in and have brunch in the downtime before restaurants serve lunch. The ‘chains’ will not be open on the Riverwalk but there are lots of cafes in the downtown area that will be open for brunch. Eat dinner around 5-6 and then enjoy the night on the town!

-Get a hotel on the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is close to the downtown area, the Alamo, the Alamodome, and the historic sites. You will pay more money, but you will be able to park your car and walk for the rest of your stay.

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Eat lots of dessert! The cuisine is spectacular, and the BBQ is superb.

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County Line BBQ was some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot (being from Texas.) Save some calories for this joint, as you’ll want all the bread and all the beef you can hold.

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We got to preview ‘When the Game Stands Tall’ and my favorite part of the experience was the seats in the theater- they were recliners!

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I felt like I was in Spain with some awesome BBQ and friendly fellow Texans.

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Travel

The Beach is Calling.. {Santa Rosa Beach and Seaside, Florida 2014}

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Seaside, Florida is about as picturesque as you can get. We were there over the July 4th weekend so we got to partake in the parade and the July 4th festivities. This was this past summer (see my New Orleans post for the explanation as to why I am just now posting) so I can’t do this place justice. My advice: see it before you die, and if you can get there on July 4th- even better.

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New Orleans, Road trip, Travel

Our Visit to the Big Easy {New Orleans 2014}

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I don’t even know exactly where to start with New Orleans. It is a fabulous city with a dark, twisted (and intriguing) past. This trip was taken this past summer and the school year has just now slowed down enough for me to blog about it. Between teaching, football season, cross country season, and graduate school, Dalton and I stay swamped during the fall. We are looking forward to a slower-paced spring and summer with our newest addition to our family: Dax Wyatt Murray, due April 11, 2015! I can’t wait to take our little man on our upcoming adventures.

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Back to New Orleans- prepare to be amazed at the architecture. The city is old and the French Quarter (where we spent our time) is like walking around Paris in the heat of a Southern Summer. We arrived in the afternoon and found a parking spot (be prepared to pay generously for parking if you want a safe lot) and had a late lunch at Antoine’s restaurant on Saint Louis Street, a treasure for those looking for genuine French-Creole food. After stuffing ourselves, we walked around some nearby streets before checking into our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in the FQ and it was fantastic- aside from the breakfast bar which was outrageously expensive.

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We only stayed one night as we were on our way to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. However, we definitely made the night count. We had dinner at NOLA where the famous (infamous?) Emeril Lagasse serves up “creative, modern Louisianan food” per Google. It was fantastic! We ventured from there to Bourbon Street, something we had heard about since college but never experienced for ourselves. I wouldn’t suggest taking children, but it was a lot of fun. It’s basically one big party on the street. While Dalton and I are not big ‘drinkers’ we still enjoyed ourselves. There are lots of old pubs (mixed in between the new ones) including one that has been there for hundreds of years that is reportedly haunted by the pirate that once owned it back in the 1600’s. (COOL.)

After a very fun night out, we settled in at the hotel, wishing we had another day to explore. If you ever get the chance to visit and you are limited on time, I suggest you stay in the French Quarter for a true ‘New Orleans’ experience. Arrive early, have brunch, shop and take in the sights, take in the nightlife, and plan to get some rest in the close future. It’s a fantastic city and we can’t wait to go back!

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