“Traveling – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta
“I am not a glutton–I am an explorer of food.”–Erma Bombeck
Quite honestly, I am not sure how it finally all came to be decided, but in the end, it was a romantic, food-laden adventure. In fact, I would argue, sometimes, last minute plans end up making the best adventures because you haven’t had time to think about and attach to certain outcomes. You just pack a bag, hop in the car, and see what unfolds! That is what happened to John, my husband, and me this past Thanksgiving.
John and I are not traditional Thanksgiving meal fare people. I know, I know, for many people, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday; and, I get it. Focusing on the big three–food, family, and friends–is never a bad thing, I wholeheartedly agree. To be certain, I have baked my fair share of turkeys over the years–including baking the neck and giblet bags within the turkey! What can I say? Fortunately, that year, I had a brother-in-law, Tony, who took good care to help me out without making me feel like a complete and total idiot–even though I was!
Despite the fact that turkey, dressing, and all the other traditional trimmings aren’t really John’s and my thing, we do love our food, and we do love to travel–even if adventuring fairly close to home! Thus, years ago, we began the family tradition, when our daughter, Madelyn, was fairly young, to combine travel and food during Thanksgiving week. We tended to travel to mountainous destinations in nearby North Carolina, West Virginia, or Kentucky, and we usually kept the driving distance no longer than 6 hours. However, for the past couple of years, Maddie, now in college, has tended to venture separately with friends, included trips to Chicago and New York City. Therefore, this year, we were unsure if she would be joining us or not. Furthermore, I preferred not to be out of town the entire week of Thanksgiving.
Conversations regarding Thanksgiving travel waxed and waned among Maddie, John, and me.
“Are you interested in traveling with us?”
“Where would you want to go?”
“What days did you say you wanted to travel?”
“You know, we could go . . .”
“You know, we need to make a decision soon.”
Even the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, we still had not fully decided what to do! Talk about indecisiveness–mostly on my part. In the end, we settled on Lexington, KY–a short three night, two hour trip. John and I had discovered this town’s appeal this past spring, due to a family experience at the UK Medical Center. Therefore, why not head back to Kentucky’s warm hospitality?
Hospitality is exactly what we discovered on Airbnb. We found what appeared to be a cozy apartment hideaway, reasonably priced, and tucked into an old residential Lexington neighborhood, only minutes from downtown. However, due to a hacking experience the previous spring, our Airbnb account was not properly functioning. That is when hosts, Dawna and David Gaither, stepped in and offered direct Airbnb contact information, so that we could talk to an actual person, and get our account up and operating once more. This was only the beginning of Dawna and David’s hospitality.
Their “Uptown Retreat,” as it is called on Airbnb, is comfortable, cozy, and full of thoughtful touches for one or two travelers. This spacious two-room apartment offers a retro kitchenette, wood-burning fireplace (complete with wood to burn), sauna, full bath, and laundry. Plus, Dawna and David stock it up with beverages, snacks, toiletries, plenty of linens, coffee/tea, as well as comfortable bedding. Plus, they responded promptly and courteously to all text queries, and we were stunned by the fact they checked on us regularly to see if there was any more they could do to make our stay more pleasant! John and I would highly recommend both the hosts and this location–absolutely perfect!
Now for the food . . .
Pies and Pints is always a favorite dining establishment. I cannot say enough about their Simple Salad and their Black Bean Pie with gluten-free crust, which even John agrees is tasty! And, yes, I splurged on cheese for this visit! John loves the rotating tap of local breweries and the Make-Your-Own-Pie choice since he’s a straightforward pepperoni, sausage, extra cheese kinda guy. During this visit, we were fortunate enough to have Devon waiting upon us again, as he did this past spring, and his service and the food/beverages did not disappoint! Yum, yum, yum!
Next stop, Wild Eggs for brunch the following day with Ms. Janette Gomez as our waitress extraordinaire. When I explained that I really did not want to eat meat, wanted little to no dairy, and I needed to eat gluten-free, she did not sweat one bit! She helped me find several dishes from which I could choose, and she even suggested ways to make my ultimate choice filled with even more of what I love–vegetables! Add to that a carafe full of unlimited flavored coffee, an adorable atmosphere, that included mixed drinks if we had wanted them, an eclectic menu, and John’s big ol’ “Yellow Submarine” sandwich, we left Wild Eggs feeling full, happy, and definitely wanting to return again the next time we are in the neighborhood..
That evening, it was time to visit Carson’s–John’s favorite spot (so far) in Lexington. While we had dined there this past spring, we recalled that the menu had so many items that we wished to try, this visit seemed like the time to return and try a new dish. I went straight to their vegan and gluten-free entrees, while John debated which meat-centric dish he wanted to enjoy. During our conversation that evening, I asked John if he ever got tired of finding restaurants with gluten-free and vegetarian options for me. His reply left me thinking.
“I figure, if a place takes the time to think about creating a few good food choices for those desiring vegetarian and gluten-free options, then they probably take just as much care, if not more, creating great meat based dishes.”
Hmm . . .maybe he’s on to something! To be certain, that has certainly defined the majority of our dining experiences! One thing is for sure, we found our meals tasted unbelievably delicious at Carson’s with courteous, and overall, prompt service that left us wanting to return a third time! My Tofu Stir-fry was loaded with all the colorful veggies I love, and John’s Sweet and Spicy Rib Entree was loaded up with what could be called, bone-sucking good ribs! We did not leave hungry that night.
What did we do about Thanksgiving Day? John still had one-half of his Yellow Submarine sandwich from our brunch at Wild Eggs, and he also had half of his ribs from dinner, but I did not have any leftovers. Therefore, after a long walk around the neighborhood’s peaceful lake and homes, we visited Whole Foods Market’s food and salad bars. John loaded up on containers full of green salad and Mac n Cheese to round out both his meals for the day, while I loaded up on an eclectic mix of containers: mixed berries, salad, tofu, assorted grilled and roasted vegetables, quinoa chili, and, of course, dark chocolate! Once back at the apartment, we burned a fire all day long, took in the football games, relaxed, and enjoyed each other’s company in our pleasant and snuggly setting. Now that’s a trip for which to feel grateful!
From my home to yours, John and I wish you safe, happy, and delicious travel experiences, and we certainly recommend givings Lexington, KY a visit when looking for a close-to-home adventure. You won’t go hungry or be disappointed!