with the pandemic upsetting some of our plans, extra time was then suddenly available for some spontaneous activities. phillip and i decided to take advantage and road trip to the outer banks of north carolina. i’d say for about a year now we’ve considered vacationing there but only recently made it happen and are so glad we did.

rather than the standard day-by-day format for my travels, i’m going to do a little something different and share our trip with you by category. so, if you mostly care about what we eat, you can focus there. if you’re more interested in what we did, that’s all together for you, too. enjoy!

the lodging

even though phillip and i knew we wanted to go to the outer banks, we hadn’t yet really planned on where we would stay. well, the good news is that aaa came to the rescue. my mom was browsing through their member magazine on one of her visits and found a quick blurb about the sanderling resort in duck, nc. she didn’t have to do much convincing, as we quickly agreed to splurge on a couple of nights at the four-star resort.

even during the pandemic, the sanderling did not disappoint. it’s hard to complain when you are within a two-minute walk of the beach or when the bar is just a few steps away from the lobby or when you have the perfect view for a sunrise or when the concierge provides complimentary s’mores packs to roast in the fire pit or when the staff takes extra measures to ensure the common spaces are clean. i can only imagine how the service is elevated when restrictions are not in place.

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montana – day 4

hello, kelseyv.com blog followers!  phillip back here as a guest blogger with my dear wife, fellow companion, and my “amazingly uncommon” gal.  i am here to wrap things up from our big sky, montana trip and discuss the events and festivities we did during our last day on the slopes.  or, should i say off the slopes?  😊

kelsey and i decided, by nature of our bodies being sore and to save a penny or two on lift tickets, to take things a slope and a step back and enjoy our final day resting and relaxing (R&R’ing) around the resort.  we started off by sleeping in the cabin and ate the remaining breakfast that was prepared by some of our new friends that we met through kelsey’s work colleague, ben atkinson.  we ate scrambled eggs, toasted bagels with peanut butter, and one of our most important breakfast staples: bacon!  since the group still had loads of groceries in the cabin, they decided to exhaust the remaining breakfast items, including the massive box of bacon, so there was a lot to go around even after they left the cabin to go hit the slopes and snowmobiles for the day.  of course, being the meat aficionado i am, i was thoroughly impressed and excited to bring home the bacon by consuming roughly 8 slices!  i would probably guess that about half of those slices were consumed behind kelsey’s back, but hey, a man’s got to eat protein to keep energy and momentum for the relaxing day we were about to face together.

shortly after we ate our lovely breakfast, we sat down at the dining room table with our new friend, Ash.  Ash was studying on her laptop and catching up on personal emails while kelsey and i were reviewing our gopro footage we took during days 2 and 3.  everyone else either went to hit the slopes or took their day on a snowmobile excursion at yellowstone national park.

for kelsey and me, we decided to hit up one of big sky’s restaurants, the cabin bar & grill, and try out one of their popular entrée items, the elk/bison burger.  it was recommended from Jeanie, one of the employees from big sky’s ski and rental shop.  kelsey ordered her burger with blue cheese, and i ordered mine with swiss, and we both had fries, of course!  we must say that the burger was not as good as we expected it to be.  i think i enjoyed it more than kelsey; i thought it tasted like a pretty standard burger, but kelsey’s reaction was that the burger seemed to taste bland and dry.  we did, however, enjoy the beautiful scenery on the restaurant’s 2nd floor since it looked out at big sky’s iconic heated 8-seater chairlift, the ramcharger 8.

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after lunchtime, we went back to the cabin and relaxed for the remainder of the day.  everyone who went skiing came back around dinner time, so we all decided to go down to another big sky restaurant, M.R. Hummers.  those who went to yellowstone came back much later around 9pm or so.  kelsey and i went to Hummers to meet with Mohit, a friend and old coworker of kelsey’s.  he happened to be skiing at big sky for the week, and kelsey and mohit found out that same day that they were within walking distance from some of the most beautiful and biggest skiing that i’ve ever seen.  kelsey and i split a Hummers cheese waffle fries that were loaded with bacon, queso bravo, and scallions.  they were incredibly good, and i think that kelsey enjoyed them, too.

after catching up with mohit and team (yes, i say “and team” a lot since i work in HR), we walked back to the cabin with our crew and played werewolf again all throughout the night (puns intended here; werewolves could be howling during the night).  some folks had to leave the cabin around 3am since they had flights around six or so.  we went to bed and departed on a snowy “drive and fly” back to the warmer climate of atlanta a few hours later.

overall, the big sky trip was a “big” hit for us.  we enjoyed catching up with ben and some of his closest friends from work, school, and other walks of his life.  the crew was friendly, and the weather was perfect.  we’ll be back to big sky to ski down some more greens and possibly some blue slopes once we continue to become masters of the ski wedge.  😊

orlando – days 2 & 3

i know you’ve been on the edge of your seat to hear about the rest of our time in orlando, so here we go!

our saturday proved to be just as fun as our friday, and it all began at the winter garden farmers market.  we have these sorts of things in atlanta but never seem to make the time to go, which means we enjoyed ourselves even more.

things at the market were already pretty lively by the time we arrived, which made for excellent people watching.  there were couples of all ages, families with little ones, ladies with big sun hats and bigger bags full of fresh produce and fragrant baguettes.  it was a feast for the senses, indeed!

since we had forgone breakfast at the house, we were definitely in the mood for a little snack.  considering the heat of the already sweltering florida morning, lisa led us straight to enzo’s acai bar.  the line wasn’t long, the people were friendly, and the service was fast.  i don’t remember exactly what we had, but i do remember the cool sorbet, crunchy granola, and sweet fruit in every bite.  the perfect start to the morning!  as we munched, we moseyed from booth to booth, admiring the quality and beauty of the local craftsmen.  if we’d had any extra space in our suitcase, i’m certain i would have come home with a bundle of treasures, but i’m betting phillip is grateful that wasn’t the case.  🙂

one stand we stopped by caught lisa’s eye as she turned the corner:  the allisons’ apiaries honey stand.  lisa admitted to us that she was on a big honey kick these days and just could not resist.  the gentleman who assisted us was quite welcoming and helpful and generous with samples.  we tasted wild flower honey, blackberry honey, honey whose names i cannot recall, and they were all so scrumptious.  lisa’s honey infatuation was so darling that phillip and i insisted we treat her to some as a thank-you for hosting us that weekend.  at first she couldn’t accept but then quickly warmed up to the idea and picked out a couple jars and even a beeswax gator candle.  i’d say they were worth every penny.

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the wedding chronicles | decision #18


Hello!  Phillip Davis here.  By now I am sure that everyone knows who I am:  Kelsey’s fiance, “other half,” photographer for our NRW (New Restaurant Wednesday) excursions, vacation planner aficionado, and finally significant other.  It’s great to finally guest blog on her website, and for that reason I am honored to begin my blogging quest with wedding decision number 18, the honeymoon!

This decision came to me as a surprise because I did not know where to begin.  I have envisioned lots of different places and ideas that could all be very unique to our traveling experiences thus far.  For instance, we could travel abroad and visit new countries over in Europe and make it a week-long excursion by “Euro” hopping around.  We could keep things simple and do a domestic road trip around the Atlantic coastline with food and drink stops along the way.  Or, we could make it a nice getaway to a Caribbean island and relax on the beach.  It was very difficult and challenging to decide because my dialogue with Kelsey for the past year has been something like, “So, honey, where would you like to go for our honeymoon?”  She’d respond, “Oh, it doesn’t matter…as long as we are together.”  This made the decision more difficult in my mind because I would have hoped she could have envisioned the ideal spot for us to land for a week or two.

With the help from our AAA agent Renee, we decided to give her a visit during one of our vacation days away from work and grab some suggestions from her.  Now Renee came highly recommended by our siblings Kyle and Kari since they used her to plan their two-week European excursion a couple of months ago.  The family mentioned to us that “prices were good, “she was the best agent at AAA”, and “you won’t be disappointed.”  Seeing that family is almost always right about these kind of decisions and ideas, Kelsey and I gave her a try.

When we arrived at the AAA office, the entire staff was very friendly and welcomed us inside.  Renee, who was diligently typing away at her computer and finishing a phone call with a prior client, smiled at us and said, “You must be Kelsey and Phillip; please grab a seat.”  Immediately Kelsey and I sat at the two seats at her desk and introduced ourselves.  Renee’s first question to us was “So, where do you envision going for your honeymoon?”  Kelsey began by responding, “Anywhere that is adult-friendly and has no kiddos around.”  I nodded my head in agreement but wasn’t quite sure what to say after, so I let the ladies continue in conversation.  Shortly thereafter Renee grabbed a large AAA destination handbook that literally looked like the Bible for vacationers!  She flipped through the pages and came across some highly recommended resorts in the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, and the Cayman Islands.  Notice the pattern?  I may have mentioned to Renee that a Caribbean resort wouldn’t be such a bad idea, so she went on to peruse the typical spots that most adults had traveled to.  Now I was excited and wanted to see which resorts would be nice for a relaxing time.

Of the countless options we saw in the book, Renee did in fact recommend a few resorts in the Dominican Republic (specifically the Punta Cana area) that would suit us perfectly.  The options were adults only, all-inclusive, provided easy beach access, and included amenities and activities to do.  Shortly after hearing the details of these resorts, Kelsey and I decided to leave the office and think about it together.

I did some more research on my own accord while Kelsey was traveling for work and came to a final decision that would be ideal for our needs.  I decided on the perfect resort in the Dominican Republic that would an ideal spot for our first week as newlyweds.  Besides, I wanted to ensure that Kelsey gets a massage or two while there and that we can go on a snorkeling excursion, which by the way is included in the resort package!  To me it’s a win-win situation and I am sure that Kelsey will enjoy it, and that is all that matters to me.

viva las vegas!

this time last sunday, kiley, kari, and i were recovering from a fun couple of days out in fabulous las vegas!  besides being in desperate need of a girls’ weekend away, we also were in town to see the legendary britney spears in concert!  before we get to that, though, there are plenty of other things to share first.

after getting a good night’s sleep on thursday at kiley’s parents’ house (thanks, mr. and mrs. a!), we woke up and grabbed an energizing breakfast at craft kitchen before taking a smooth ride out east to our first tourist spot the hoover dam.  our trusty transportation for the weekend?  kiley’s dad’s souped up jeep wrangler.  how bada** do we look in this?!

a short 45-minute drive later we arrived in clark county, nv and joined the other masses of international and local visitors as we explored this american wonder.  unfortunately the dam tour was closed that day, but we had plenty of other seeing to do as we followed the roadway and sidewalks to get incredible views of lake mead, the colorado river, and the intake towers, flow gates, and spillways.

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if you ever find yourself in the area, i highly recommend making the trek to the dam.  there’s plenty of parking, plenty of fascinating information, and plenty of good photo ops to fill a few hours of your day.

something else that’s cool?  you can stand in two states at once – neat!

upon hiking back up to the car and chugging some water, we drove ourselves about an hour the other direction to check out an art installation off interstate 15 called the seven magic mountains.  designed by internationally renowned swiss artist ugo rondinone, this public installation is designed to represent the creative human presence in the desert with bursts of “form and color.”  pretty cool, right?

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one of the most fun things about visiting seven magic mountains was people-watching all the visitors who were trying to get the perfect filter-worthy photo for their social media posts.  not wanting to miss out on the entertainment, i snapped an inspiring shoot of kari against these brightly colored boulders.

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and kiley got in on the fun, too, with a model walk of her very own!

we were now in a pinch to get washed up and ready for the concert, so we hit the old dusty and headed back home.

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february 12th – nyc


okay, folks.  even though the winter holidays aren’t too far behind us in the rear view mirror, i decided it was time for a vacation for phillip and i both.  actually, i decided it last fall when i planned the surprise as his Christmas gift, so it’s been many months in the making.  i just love surprises!

anyway, about this time last week i was hailing an uber to take me to the marta station.  a quick ride later, i met phillip at the delta baggage drop to check-in for our evening flight to our fabulous destination:  new york city!  yes, we were headed north to the city that never sleeps for a lovely five-day trip.  after leaving our overpacked luggage with the attendant, we made our way to the tsa precheck line like the local celebrities we are (or hope to be some day).  i do a fair amount of air traveling for work, so all those flights and miles have added up to some luxurious perks like precheck.  i felt so spoiled waltzing through the metal detector with both shoes on and my light jacket thrown over my shoulder.  ah, to be pampered is such a privilege!

we munched on some subway sandwiches in terminal t, and it wasn’t too long before we were boarding our md90 with all the other passengers.  as i walked down the aisle, i double-checked my boarding pass.  “phillip?” i asked.  “are you sure these are the right seats?  these are comfort plus.”

“yes, this should be us.” he replied.

“oh, okay.  well, let me get situated and out of the way.”  i moved into our seats and crouched under the bulkhead while other people shimmied by us.  we got our carry-ons safely stowed below the seats in front of us, buckled up, and sat back for take off.

phillip and i sat discussing our lucky circumstances, convinced that we were able to upgrade to comfort plus for free because of my status.

“well, isn’t that just the best thing you’ve heard all day!” i exclaimed.  i immediately grabbed the drink menu to decide what free drink i would enjoy.  funny how i can so easily adjust to a life of ease…

once we were up in the air, phillip and i both enjoy a quality glass of wente red wine.  it was the perfect drink to help us unwind from the work week and gear up for a great vacation.



soon enough we had a great view of all the city lights before banking left and coming in for a smooth landing at the laguardia airport.  we had arrived!  as t swift likes to say, “welcome to new york!  it’s been waiting for you!”  ah, such a sweet welcome!

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birthday getaway, west coast style

a few weeks ago phillip and i traveled to the great state of california to celebrate my birthday with extended family.  phillip has visited places near and far, but this trip was his first to the golden state.  ah, what a thrill!  to share such special things with him made our vacation that much better.  he couldn’t get enough of the weather and coastlines, and as such, he was the official picture taker of the weekend.  i may have also secretly deemed him the official picture taker of all events, but let’s keep that between you and me.  😉

i knew we’d want to share some of the trip’s excitement with you, but i also didn’t want to spend my birthday vacation with my head down in my journal in an attempt to capture every emotion of each moment.  so with that, we give you the highlights of our adventure as told through pictures.  enjoy!

day 1:  joy that we are going on vacation, misery after a rough flight, and phillip’s first in-n-out experience at nearly one a.m. pacific time.

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austin – day 3

the final day of our austin trip arrived way too quickly for me.  we just have so much fun when we’re all together that time truly does feel like it’s flying by.  nonetheless, the packing began early in the morning so that we could head out for one last meal before the planes started whisking us all home.

since some of the crew was on a time crunch, we walked across the street for brunch at hillside farmacy.  this darling spot was already packed with locals, so we sipped on espresso and iced coffee as we waited for our tables.

this neighborhood restaurant serves up brunch, lunch, dinner, and happy hour to its hungry (and thirsty) austin patrons seven days a week.  it’s always a clear sign when folks are waiting outside the door that it’s gotta be good.

since we were a larger group, the host split us between two tables.  kari got things going on the right foot by quickly ordering us a beaker of mimosas.  yes, folks, there’s now an even cooler way to serve up everyone’s favorite adult brunch beverage.  it’s not a champagne glass, it isn’t a carafe, it isn’t a pitcher.  no, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a beaker of mimosas.

along with those pictures, this gem from the internet comes to mind.


oh, and then this one that kari sent me a while back.  i’ve not a clue to whom the credit should go, so to the original creator, thank you!  nothing makes me happier than cute, clueless golden retrievers acting like they hold human jobs.


our table ordered in decent time, but the amount of time it took to get our food was not reasonable at all.  erin, shawn, ali, and mike were finished with their meals, checks paid, before we got anything.  we had some words with the waitress, and eventually we were served.  i don’t know if she forgot to enter our orders, but regardless, the service pretty much ruined our one, and maybe only, experience at hillside farmacy.  our food was pretty decent, but i don’t think it made up for the fact that poor kyle and kari had to take their brunches to-go…in the uber…with their luggage…to the airport.  what an unfortunate way to end the weekend!

those of us who remained dropped our luggage off with the kind concierge at the hampton inn (christian and sara were staying there for one more night in austin, so we sweetly took advantage) and then we hoofed it over to south congress.  we lingered in and out of thrift shops and candy stores, not so much to souvenir shop but more so to stay out of the heat.  i know the texas summer wasn’t there just yet, but that doesn’t exactly mean it was cool that first weekend of may.

happy but tired from the whirlwind weekend, a few of us ended up at amy’s ice creams for a treat.  you can bet i was very ready for something cold after the sun bore down on us while we waited in line.  i usually take a while to make up my mind, but i was quick to order a cup of strawberry ice cream with chocolate chunks.  that sweet fruit hit the spot, and i was very glad with my choice as i slurped up the last few bites.  i can only imagine how business booms here in the hot summer months.


as they say, all good things must come to an end, so travel group by travel group peeled off to catch flights home.  it seemed too soon when it was time for clark, phillp, and i to go, so i reluctantly hugged my cousins, feeling a bit sad to be leaving them already.  hadn’t we just arrived?  it felt like the first annual cousin trip had come and gone in the blink of an eye.  good thing 2016 isn’t too far away, right?  sure!  i mean, in all seriousness, it will probably be here before we know it.

austin – day 2

the austin adventure continued bright and early saturday.  no rest for these young travelers, no siree!  with only a short 36 hours left on this trip, we needed to make the most of it, and we did just that.  erin, shawn, kyle, kari, and i made our way over to la barbecue for what would end up being maybe the best barbecue i’ve ever had in my life.  we had wanted to go to franklin barbecue, as it is probably austin’s best-known bbq joint, but waking up at 6 a.m…..on a saturday….on vacation didn’t sound like the most appealing idea.  plus, our uncle craig had already given us the inside scoop that he thought la barbecue was better than franklin’s (ooooh, quite a statement to make), so we took his advice.

only around since 2012, la barbecue has created quite a following for itself at the somewhat sketchy corner of east 1st street and brushy.  this dirt yard hosts picnic tables under tents and umbrellas to shade you as you eat.  the smoker is right there also, and you order, as you would expect, from a friendly cashier at a food truck.  there wasn’t much of a crowd just yet, but as more folks started showing up, we decided we’d go ahead and create the line.  we weren’t first, no, we left that to a group of younger twentysomethings that were drinking water out of previously full vodka bottles. rrriiiight.  we got there about 9:30 and held down the fort as the rest of the crew arrived around 11 to hold some table space for us.  when you’re traveling with 13, you’ve gotta be on top of it!

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the texas morning was warming up nicely, so as we waited, we gladly took part in the free keg of beer that was being served up to the thirsty la barbecue patrons.  just give ’em a tip and enjoy!

kyle, shawn, & kari.

kyle, shawn, & kari.

there was no sense in having everyone get in line individually and order, so shawn, kyle, kari, and erin took the lead to order for the whole bunch.  what did we end up with, you ask?  almost a pound of everything!  yes, let’s see what we had here.  a quart of the potato salad, a quart of spicy cole slaw, a quart of beans, three links of spicy sausage, one frito pie, a pound of pulled pork, a few pork ribs, a pound of fatty brisket, a pound of regular brisket, and a handful of white bread because, you know, no barbecue meal is complete without good ‘ole white bread.

the meatz.

the meatz.

when we were ordering, we were so kindly given a sample of the brisket.  the gentleman pulled out a brand new parchment, and as he unwrapped it, a charred slab of meat peeked out between the folds.  he cut off a few hunks for us to sample, and we all looked at each other with that thought “oh man, we’ve never had good brisket until this moment.”  kyle took his bite and closed his eyes.  he was quiet for a solid 15-20 seconds, and finally when we he finished, he opened his eyes with a smile and said something to the effect of, “i could die right now and not be unhappy.”  that, ladies and gentlemen, is what should happen when people eat food.

as we grabbed utensils and waters, the girls got place settings put out, and we passed the trays among everyone, one tray down one side and the other down the the opposite.  they don’t have plates here, so you’ll either be eating directly off the tray or off a piece of brown parchment paper.  hey, whatever works!

the next hour or so was full of “mm’s” and “ooh’s” as we all got a taste of this austin staple.  i can’t speak for the other end of the table (i mean, it’s a little tough to get reviews from 13 people all at once), but on our end, there were different takes on all we had eaten.  we’ll start with the sides.  the potato salad, from what i remember, was quite good, while the spicy coleslaw may have been a touch too spicy.  i am, though, a spice wimp as many of you know, so if you, i don’t know, grew up in texas eating spicy food all your life, you’d probably be embarrassed for me.  whatevs!  now, let’s talk about the beans, and, just beans in general.  i feel like beans get a bad rap around town because of their, ahem, after effect, but you know what?  i’ll just say it, though:  i like beans!  i like refried beans on my tacos, i like black beans in my chipotle rice bowls, i like great northern beans in my chicken dinner, and i like baked beans in the summertime alongside some good barbecue.  there, i’ve come out with it!  and these baked beans at la barbecue were yummy.  i liked them so much i wanted to ask for another helping but didn’t get the chance before the leftovers were chucked in the garbage.  well, another time then, baked beans, another time.  the summer season has just begun!

now let’s talk about the important stuff, the barbecue.  the spicy sausage, as you can guess, wasn’t really up my alley.  it actually looked quite red when you cut into it, and i gladly let phillip eat the other half of my hunk.  i really liked the pulled pork and could not get enough of the pork ribs.  what we all agreed on, though, was that the brisket truly was to die for.  kyle and i had excellent brisket up in salt lake city, but this stuff wasn’t just out of this world; it’s like it was in another galaxy completely.  to this day (a mere 14 days after having been there), i have dreams with slabs of brisket dancing around me, hunks of it jumping into my mouth as i savor each bite.  hm, did this just get weird?


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