Winter Vacation – St. Thomas

I’m off for a week in St. Thomas.  My family has been making this trip for the past six years and it is truly one of the highlights of the year.  Beautiful beaches, warm, sunny weather, palm trees, pina coladas and total relaxation.  It’s the gift we give to each other, a week together away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday crunch, the pressure of finding the perfect gifts, wrapping up the year at work, etc.

So, needless to say, I won’t be posting to the blog.  I hope you have a lovely week.

Dream Destination: Bali

I keep a list of places I want to visit.  Interestingly, as much as I travel, the list never seems to get shorter.  This week, I watched Eat Pray Love. It has me thinking of one of my dream destinations – Bali.  I can’t remember when I first decided that I would like to visit Bali.  It was probably an article in a travel magazine many, many years ago.

Bali is one of the top five on my list of places I would most like to visit.  Here are just a few photos that I like to glance at every time I am ready to escape for some time in “Paradise.”

Beautiful beaches and scenery…

Concierge.com

via Brittanica.com

via Brittanica.com

Maybe I could stay at one of these amazing resorts…

Nandini Resort via Maplandia.com

The St. Regis

The Four Seasons via Concierge.com

Or spend a magical night on the beach like this…

via KiwiCollection.com

For now, it remains a dream, but I know that I will make it there one day!

I Love BBQ

I really, really love BBQ!  I don’t mean just grilling or just ribs or just sauce, I mean, Southern-style, spice-rubbed, pork bbq with all the fixins.  One of my favorite things to do in Hot Springs is sample the local bbq.   BBQ places in Hot Springs are like coffee shops in the city, they’re everywhere.  Each one offers something different and usually features recipes or techniques that have been passed down through generations.

My hands-down favorite, one-stop place is Whole Hog Café.  This is kind of an unusual choice for me because I tend to be a bit of a snob about “chain” establishments.  That said, everything here is so mouthwateringly yummy. What I love most is that they have six different sauces.  As someone who loves swimming things around is sauce, getting to try all the different sauces and mix them together is fabulous.  Second, they make the best potato salad ever.  It is so creamy and flavorful (I’m pretty sure the secret ingredient is cream cheese).  We will eat here three times during the week we are in Hot Springs – it’s that good!

McClard’s is probably the best-known place, mostly because Bill Clinton said it was his favorite.  And, it is really good and worth the trip.  I also highly recommend Stubby’s – the pot-of-beans is awesome!  Both of these establishments have been in business for over 50 years.

No picture could perfectly capture this deliciousness on a plate, but this one from their web site looks good to me

The Lake Effect

My family spends Thanksgiving week at our lake house in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  My ancestors on my mother’s side first moved to this area in the 1800s.  The old family home where my great Grandmother and Grandmother were raised still stands today, beautifully restored by the current owners, and it is tradition to go by and pay our respects.

Hot Springs National Park is the oldest federal reserve in the country and has been a popular destination because of its thermal spring waters.  In the early 1900s, Major League Baseball would bring the teams to Hot Springs for pre-season training and the likes of Babe Ruth could be seen walking around town.  Once gambling became established, The Arlington Hotel became a favorite retreat for gangsters like Al Capone.  In more recent years, Hot Springs became nationally known as it was the boyhood home of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

About seven years ago, my family bought a house on Lake Hamilton to give us a place where we could all come together in this town that we have come to enjoy so much.  There is something transforming about being at the lake.  It is a constantly changing canvas.  Every day brings another layer of peace and tranquility.

Days may be spent talking, reading, or visiting some of the local attractions, like the Alligator Farm and the historic bath houses.  Evenings are spent having dinner with friends or cooking gourmet feasts, always accompanied by many bottles of fantastic wine.

In my next post, I will share one of my favorite things to enjoy while in Hot Springs – barbeque.

All photos by me