our road trip | anniversary | personal

4 years! I can't believe it. How in the world that's possible I still don't understand, but I am so thankful to have this man by my side. He's my favorite.

Each year for our anniversary we've planned a trip. When it came time to planning this one, we really didn't know which of our "bucket list" vacation ideas we wanted to do. Then one day we were sitting on the couch watching Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, the episode that featured Iron Barley {which you'll see below} and the idea came to Garrison to take a road trip while eating at a bunch of places seen on TV! Sounds like fun? Heck yes it did. Husband also has a hobby of trading police patches wherever he travels, so we planned out all the PD's we could trade at along the way!

So we mapped it out. We budgeted. We planned our route. 8 days and 7 states.

And then 6 months later, we made it happen.

I had every intention of using my "big nice camera" to capture our trip, and I even packed it. Did it ever make it out of the camera bag? Not once. iPhones are just so much easier that way. Plus, I didn't want to be that crazy tourist. You know which one I'm talking about. So here's our trip all from the lens of the handy dandy phone.

We started our trip by heading up to Dallas and stopping at the arboretum to see the tulips bloom {my favorite flower} and to spend some time with my best friend and her husband.

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It rained. But that didn't stop us from seeing the thousands of beautiful tulips I swooned over.

Next stop: Little Rock, AR! The route we took led us through Texarkana, which was really cool, because Main Street is divided between both states.

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Just outside of Little Rock we stopped at Cotham Mercantile, which was seen on Man vs Food for their burgers. And their burgers were gooooood. The place looked like an abandoned shack when we drove up. I really didn't think anything inhabited it.

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And then we were on to Memphis!

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First morning we woke up and got to enjoy...

the awesomeness that is Dunkin' Donuts. And no, they weren't featured on tv. But, I grew up eating donuts from Dunkin, and then when I moved to Texas there were NO dunkin' to be found {at least in the area I live in}, so I eat them any chance I can get. And that chance happened in Memphis, TN. And it was awesome.

While waiting for brunch we walked the ever-famous Beale street, and then brunch was enjoyed at 3 Angels Diner, which was featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Their garlic cheese grits were insane.

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And then it was time for Graceland!! This was the BEST touristy tour I have ever been on. If you're in Memphis, go. Go go go go.

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 We ate dinner at Tom's BBQ, which was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives and also Best Thing I Ever Ate.

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Both shows featured their Rib Tips, which honestly I thought were just ok. But, the owner came by our table as we were finishing and told us we had to try the pulled pork. He brought us out a bunch of pulled pork and along with it bread and cole slaw. He proceeded to tell us how to make a "sammich" {bread, pulled pork, cole slaw and bbq sauce}. THAT was good. He also brought us some ribs, and they were WAY better than the tips. They completely fell apart in your mouth.

The next day we ate lunch at the Little Tea Shop, which was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. The owner, Sue, was such a sweet woman who knew every local customer by name. I got the chicken salad which was AMAZING.

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 Our original plan was to head to the zoo, but it was freezing and REALLY windy. So we nixed that idea. Instead, we headed down to Mississippi for all of about 5 minutes to trade a patch at a PD right on the border.

Then it was time for dinner! We ate dinner at Kooky Canuck's which was featured on Man vs Food for their 4 lb. burger.

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We did not get the 4 lb. burger. That's a normal size burger and I still could only eat half. I thought the burger was ok. Nothing special and not near as good as at Cotham's.

side note: please take a moment and look at how happy Garrison is with is 32 oz. margarita.

The next morning we headed off to St. Louis!

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Missouri was by far our favorite state to visit. Downtown St. Louis was so pretty, and the St. Louis PD was so welcoming. When we went to trade patches, they invited us in like they'd known us forever and gave us a tour of their facility which features a 16,000 square foot gym, a media room, and a 20,000 law enforcement book library {the largest law enforcement library aside from the FBI}. There is so much police history in St. Louis {i.e. they were the first city to use fingerprinting as a means of identification} and it was just so cool to learn about. We both ate it up.

Let me put in this little note, too. East St. Louis in Illinois.

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Don't go there if you don't have to. Stay on the Missouri side. Yikes. We went there to trade a patch and got outta there as fast as we could.

Dinner our first night in St. Louis was at Iron Barley, featured on Diners Drive Ins and Dives and Man vs. Food, and the restaurant that inspired the whole trip, and it did NOT disappoint. The owner/chef uses Barley in every recipe, and looking at the exterior and interior of this restaurant you would never guess the level of quality in the food. This is food you could get at a high-end restaurant. Their Schnitzel and Spaetzle was heavenly. Mouth watering, couldn't taste any better awesome. And dessert? How insane is this? Apple Barley Pudding with a Jack Daniels and Jalapeno Whipped Cream. Was it good? Do I even need to answer that?

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 The next day we did a lot more eating. We woke up and tried Donut Drive In, as featured on Man vs. Food Nation,

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and their donuts were really good. Did I like them better than Dunkin'? I don't know. Is it just because my heart belongs to Dunkin'? I don't know. I think Garrison liked Donut Drive In better, and his opinion is more unbiased than mine ;)

After a much needed afternoon nap, we ate dinner at Athonino's Taverna which was seen on Diners Drive Ins and Dives for their toasted ravioli. It. Was. GOOD. Dessert was at Ted Drewes frozen custard, which has been featured on America's Best, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and Man vs. Food. I absolutely understand why they've been featured so many times. Their custard "concrete" is amazing. It's like soft serve ice cream but 1,000 times creamier. Oh my dear goodness.

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The next morning it was on to Kansas City! We stopped at an antique mall along the way and had a lot of fun browsing and buying things for our family back home.

Kansas City is split between Missouri and Kansas, and the Missouri side is soooo much prettier. All the things we saw, where we ate, where we went to a movie, it was all on the Missouri side. Dinner was at Grinder's which was featured on Diners Drive Ins and Dives for their tater tot pizza. It was greasy. It was fatty. And it was yummy.

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The next day we were on to Oklahoma City!

Another piece of advice. Don't drive I-35 from Kansas City to Oklahoma City unless you absolutely have to. There is NOTHING to look at. It is flat, flat, flat empty land with a turnpike that allows you to go nowhere but straight. There are no shoulders, there are no exits. It is a straight and flat and boring 5 hour drive. And really awful when a certain girl in the car realized she had to go potty. Yikes!

But, we made it! Our last and final Food Network stop was at Mama E's Wings and Waffles which was featured on Diners Drive Ins and Dives.

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It was YUM. I'm almost positive they put honey in the chicken batter, and it went so perfectly with the homemade waffles. So, so, so good. And even though their claim to fame is their wings n waffles, I must say their macaroni and cheese was the best I've ever had.

None of the places we went to looked like they would serve the kind of food that they did, and it was a perfect lesson of never judging a book by its cover.

Aside from all the eating we did, which has taken up this entire post, we did a lot of site seeing, a lot of relaxing, a lot of checking in and out of hotels, a lot of movie nights {The Croods, Olympas Has Fallen, and GI Joe}, and a lot of laughing and enjoying each other's company. While I have absolutely NO desire to ride in a car for any length of time any time soon, we had a great time and I know another road trip is in our future together someday.

So there you have it. 7 states: Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and Oklahoma, in 8 days.

And a lot of patches to add to hub's collection:

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