This past weekend J and I took a long weekend in Michigan.  Our main purpose was for the Nascar race at Michigan International Speedway.  But, this race we decided to do something a little different.  Instead of spending upwards of $250/night (they are very expensive on race weekends) for a hotel room, we were able to rent a campsite for only $130 for us to use up to 6 days! 

This is not actually a picture of a van – if you look over the van, you can see the track. 🙂

The campsite we chose is actually owned by the Speedway, and was only for tents and popup tents.  (We didn’t want to be in our little tent surrounded by huge RVs.)  And it was only about a 5-minute walk from the track!

Also a plus – they had showers!  Basically it was a big semi-truck with a men’s side and women’s side.  There were separate shower stalls (8-9 each) and each stall had a changing space.  They were pretty tiny, but they had hot water and were kept clean.  And they kept me clean!  That’s a definite camping requirement for me. 🙂  And they also had sinks lined up outside of the shower, along with electricity (which I wish I knew about beforehand, but oh well!)

Bathrooms were port-o-johns, which, honestly, I was not too excited for.  But, they did do a good job keeping them clean.  They actually emptied and did a quick clean of all of them twice a day.  So I have to say it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

I told J that I would definitely do this again.  My only requirement is showers.  Absolute MUST HAVE!

We arrived on Friday around 3:30.  It was a very easy 5-hour drive, and we had no problems finding our campsite.  It only took us about 45-60 minutes to get everything set up.  We had our tent, canopy, large table for supplies and a small one for cooking, air mattress, chairs, two coolers (one food, one drinks), small charcoal grill, propane stove, fire pit, corn hole, plus all of the other miscellaneous cooking / camping supplies for the weekend.

Friday night we made some BBQ Chicken Calzones for dinner.  (You can see all of our meals here.)  We hung out at our campsite, met some of our neighbors (lots of people from Canada at this race), and had a few beers.

Saturday we woke up around 7:30-8:00, made some breakfast and headed over to the track.  They had a ton of stuff going on all weekend – concerts, drivers autograph sessions, and lots of places to purchase food and merchandise.  Here’s driver Ryan Newman signing autographs with his wife at his hauler.

We tried to get some tickets to Saturday’s Nationwide race, but we couldn’t find anyone to sell them to us cheap enough.  Oh well, we just listened to it on the radio.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out around the campsite… eating, drinking, playing corn hole.

Sunday was race day!  We were up again around 8:00 and hung out for a few hours.  Around 11:30 we walked over to the track and found our seats.  We were 35 rows up right on turn 1 – so we had a good view of the start/finish line and cars coming off of pit road.

The race was a great time.  Unfortunately both of our drivers’ (Dale Earnhardt Jr. (J) and Kasey Kahne (me) ) pit crews screwed up and caused them both to finish back of the pack, although they were both running top five before that happened. 

We hung out at the track for a while longer to let the crowds clear out a bit, then headed back to camp.  J started the fire for the hobo dinners, and we settled in for night #3.

We were lucky that the weather was gorgeous all weekend.  We did bring sleeping bags, but it was so warm we only needed a sheet!

Overall we had a fun weekend together, met some great people (Nascar fans are really good people), watched some fun racing, and spent some quality time toghether. 🙂


So, this weekend J and I, along with my sis and BIL (A and S) took a long weekend to head to Richmond, VA.  The main purpose of our trip was the Nascar race which was on Saturday night.  However, since this weekend also happened to be our anniversary (ours was the 13th, A & S on the 14th) we decided to stick around through Sunday to hang out in the city and celebrate.

I have to say, we ate really well while we were there!  I don’t know if we just got really lucky, or the food is just overall that good in the city.  We arrived Friday around 8-8:30 in the evening and checked in to our hotel – the Holiday Inn Express, Downtown.  It was a nice place, and the price was right.  Typically on race weekends hotels majorly inflate their prices.  But they actually stayed at about the same price as a typical weekend.

Friday night we looked up some restaurants close by, and walked to a place called Penny Lane Pub, about 3-4 blocks from our hotel.  The weather was beautiful all weekend, so we walked as much as possible.  The food here was really good English/Irish fare in a really great pub atmosphere.  They had an outdoor dining area, which is where we sat.  J and I both got wings and fries, A got some really good looking fish and chips, and S got a Steak & Guiness Pie, which looked amazing!  They had a good beer selection and the prices were really good as well.

Saturday was race day!  We slept in a bit, then decided to head out to Shockoe Slip, and 3-4 block area in town that is packed with bars and restaurants.  It’s a really cute cobblestone street.  Surprisingly, it never seemed extremely busy.  They did business, but when we were there, it was never crowded.

Anyway, we decided to head to a place called Sine Irish Pub for lunch.  J and I actually drank there when we stopped in Richmond on our way to the beach in July, and we were looking forward to trying out their food.

We weren’t disappointed!  J got an amazing Reuben sandwich.  The bread was homemade and the corned beef was delicious!  I had a great turkey and bacon club wrap, I believe S had a Cowboy burger and I can’t remember what A had.  But we also got a appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes.  This was my first FGT experience, and I would definitely eat them again!  So sweet and delicious!  And, of course, we started the day off some Bloody Mary’s. 🙂

After we filled our belly’s we headed to the Food Lion to stock up for the race… steak and potato/mac salads for pre-race, as well as some chips and snacks, and a hoagie for post-race.  And, of course, beer.  8 hours of drinking = lots of beer. 🙂

The race was a lot of fun!  Although there weren’t quite as many wrecks as I like to see. 🙂  But we did have great seats – half way up on the back stretch we could see the entire track!

After the race we headed back to the hotel to pass out. 🙂  We crawled out of bed (except J, who was up at 7:00) around 10:00 and headed back to Shockoe Slip.  This area was about a mile from our hotel, so we decided to drive there instead of walking, and we’re glad we did!

We found a restaurant that was serving brunch, so we checked it out.  Sam Miller’s is an oyster bar, but for some reason none of us got oysters. 🙂  However, the food was, again, delicious!  I had Sam Millers omelet (which was crab, gruyere cheese, bacon and scallions), A had Andouille Hash and J had a burger.  And I started off right with a mimosa. 🙂

After Brunch we headed to the Virginia Holocaust Museum, just a few blocks from Shockoe Slip. If you’ve never visited a Holocaust museum, it is an interesting, heart-wrenching, eye-opening experience.  They did a really good job with this museum, taking you through the events and showing them to you through the eyes of the survivors.

After the museum, we needed to lighten things up a bit and decided to a Canal Cruise, again just a few blocks away.  This was a 40-minute guided canal cruise in which we learned about some of Richmond’s history.

After the cruise we were all a bit hungry, so we went back to that cute few blocks to Cha-Cha’s Cantina, a Tex-Mex restaurant and another place J and I stopped when in Richmond in July. We just wanted some apps, since we knew we’d be eating a good dinner later.  So we had some chips and salsa (great salsa), wings and these really delicious Tex-Mex Chicken Rolls, which were fried and served with an avocado sauce.  When we were there we discovered it was Happy Hour, so yay for $3 Margaritas! 🙂

After another stop for a quick drink at Sine, we headed back to the hotel to clean up for dinner.

We chose a nicer restaurant for dinner that night, since it was the night we were celebrating our anniversary.  And OMG, it did NOT disappoint!  I found the Lemaire Restaurant just by Google searches and reading reviews. And I made us a reservation through their website.  The restaurant was actually located inside The Jefferson Hotel (which is beautiful).  It ended up being about 6 blocks away – slightly further than anticipated as we had confused the East/West address.  But not a bad walk overall.  Especially as the weather continued to be perfect.

This is not a restaurant type that J and I typically frequent.  This was a NICE place.  The waitstaff was extremely well-trained, and the experience overall was excellent.

We started off the night with some appetizers – Brandy-Peppercorn Dusted Beef Tartare (J’s and my first beef tartare experience… YUM!) and Cream of Vidalia Onion Bisque (AMAZING!).  We followed up the apps with our main course.  I had Garden Oregano Marinated Lamb T-Bone Chops served over ratatouille and roasted corn polenta.  These were melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

J and A both had Cast-Iron Seared Virginia Bison Ribeye served with roasted-garlic buttermilk mashed potatoes, green tomato chow-chow and mustard jus.  J and I had never had bison before, but we absolutely loved it!  It has a stronger taste than steak, but it’s not at all gamey, and it was so incredibly tender.

S decided on the ‘as Southern as it gets’ Berkshire Pork Chop serve with mac n’ cheese, collards and coca-cola bbq.  I didn’t try this, but he loved it!

While we were all pretty much stuffed, we just couldn’t pass up the chance for dessert. A and I split Lemongrass Creme Brulee with hazelnut biscotti.  LOVED!  J had the Chocolate Almond Truffle Torte, which was delicious and oh-so-rich.  And S decided on the Ambrosia Salad, which must have been good as he cleaned his plate!

With all of this food, we had some delicious drinks.  By the time we walked out of the restaurant, we were all completely stuffed.  The 8 block walk to the bar we decided to go to was a good thing. 🙂

After Lemaire, we continued the evening at the Capital Ale House. Here we had a few drinks from their amazing beer selection before heading back to the hotel for the night.  I have to say, however, that I was kind of wishing I had just a little more room in my stomach.  They had this ginormous soft pretzel, about the size of your head, that was served with German mustard.  I’m a sucker for a soft pretzel.  But my tummy would allow no more. 🙂

They also had live music that night, which surprised me since it was Sunday.  They had  pretty nice crowd!

Monday we packed up and headed home.  I’m pretty sure I gained 10 lbs this weekend, but it was so well worth it! Overall it was a great weekend.  Richmond is definitely a good place to visit for a weekend.  They have a ton of museums that we did not have time to check out and a lot of great local history and excellent food!

Good food, good beer, nice people, amazing seats and a great race.  What more could I ask for? 🙂

J and I trekked to Bristol, TN this past weekend to take in a Nascar race.  I know what you’re thinking – cars turning left for 400 miles?  Why is that fun? Well, Nascar is an experience all in itself.  It’s a completely different thing from attending a football or baseball game. 

Everyone is so friendly.  And there are tons of people.  I believe Bristol – one of the smallest tracks in the circuit – holds 165,000 people – all there to root for their driver, and to have a good time.

We typically try to get to the track about 3-4 hours before race time, to get in some good tailgating. 🙂

This Sunday’s race was at 1:00, so we got to the track around 9:00, set up our little tailgating area, grabbed a beer, and lit the grill.  Since it was early we decided to go with breakfast – eggs and sausage.  It was delicious! 

We headed into the race around noon, stopped at a couple of haulers (where they sell merchandise) and picked me up a trackpass (so I could hear the announcers and follow along easier).  Oh, and, of course, we headed in with our coolers full of beer.  Yep, that’s right – Nascar you can BYOB!  Cans only, coolers can’t exceed a certain size.  But how great is that?  Also, if you’d like, you can bring in your own food.  Sandwiches, chips, pretzels, popcorn.  Whatever you want!  Gotta love it!

And, even if you don’t bring your own beer, you can buy it inside for about $2.00 a can.  None of the $8-10 drafts you find at football games.

We had amazing seats to this one – a gift from my dad and his wife.  I’m going to be so spoiled for every other race we go to.  They were high up and you could see everything!  They were perfect!

So the race lasts usually around 4 hours.  Sometimes it could be a bit longer for a lot of cautions, or any rain delays.  If it’s all/mostly green flag racing, it may even go shorter (but the race isn’t that exciting without the great wrecks). 🙂

After the race we hung around the track for about an hour or so longer.  It takes a while to get the lots emptied out, and we see no point in sitting in our car (still in the parking area) when we could have another beer or two, and grill again.  So we grilled some marinated pork chops and had some macaroni salad we got at the local grocery store. 

We drove back on Monday.  It only took about 6 hours.  Not a bad drive at all.  The biggest downside to going to races… hotel rooms are hard to come by and extremely expensive.  The second you know you’re going to one is when you need to book a room.  If you know someone in the area, hit them up for a spare bed or floor to crash on.

I’m really looking forward to Richmond.  It’s our anniversary so we plan to spend an extra day in the city – maybe hitting up a museum or two and having a nice dinner out.  We’re also hoping to add a few more to our group.  Anyone interested? ;p

I’m back from my trip to New Hampshire / Boston! Actually, I was back last Wednesday, this is just the first chance I’ve had to get back to blogging. 🙂 This may be a long post. I’ll try not to go on too much.

View from hotel balcony.

The trip was so much fun! We arrived late Friday night and stayed at my aunt’s house through Monday morning. Sunday we attended the Nascar race in Loudon. So much fun! Monday we were on to Boston for 3 days!

Travel was an absolute nightmare. My sister and I arrived Friday, and our husbands arrived on Saturdays. Flights delayed, canceled. Horrible customer service. It’s a really long story – but basically from now on we’ll be avoiding Newark airport and Continental whenever we fly.

If you’ve never been to a Nascar race, I really recommend it. If you like to have fun, meet new people, tailgate – this place is for you. The people who attend Nascar races are so nice! People share food, beer. You never hear fighting over whose driver is better, unless it’s just light-hearted bantering. It’s an experience, for sure!

Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Monday we headed to Boston and stayed in the Radisson – just a block away from Boston Common. The hotel was really nice and we had a great view of the city.

Once we got checked in we headed to Emerson Cafe for breakfast. Great fresh bagels and really good coffee! It’s a good place for a good, quick, cheap breakfast.

We then headed over to Quincy Market (on their excellent subway system) and booked a trolley tour that stopped at about 14 different places. This is an excellent way to see the city and learn some history. You have the option of getting off the trolley at any of the 14 stops. They run about every 15 minutes, so you won’t be stranded! We saw Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s House, Old North Church, USS Constitution, USS Cassin Young (WWII Destroyer), Fenway Park, Granary Burial Ground… and more that I know I’m forgetting. You can easily spread this trolley tour into 2 days. We only got off on a few stops due to time constraints.

USS Constitution
Faneuil Hall
Paul Revere’s Statue – outside the Old North Church
Old North Church
Boston Common

That night we headed to the Union Oyster House for dinner. Wow, was this seafood good!! My sister and I got the American Bouillabaisse – lobster, steamers, mussels, shrimp, fish, littlenecks and scallops poached in a seasoned broth, served with garlic bread. Mmmm… YUM!!!

Mmmm… how delicious does that look?
Oh yeah… it was good!

After dinner we headed over to the Bell-in-Hand Tavern. The oldest bar to have a consistent liquor license. They make their own beer, which was excellent. Then we went to the Green Dragon – actually the oldest bar, but there was a period where it was something (maybe a meeting house?). Monday night was amateur comedy night – they had a few good people come in.

Tuesday we got up and we found this great 50s diner called the South Street Diner. It was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel. I love the diner food and atmosphere!

After breakfast we headed over to Sam Adams Brewery, for a tour and some free beer – doesn’t get much better! 🙂 It was a really interesting tour. And the two brewmasters, from the commercials, were actually on-site working!

Brewing area (with one of the brewmasters at work) and the tasting room.

We got to sample the Boston Lager, Cherry Wheat, Brick Red (made only for Boston, never bottled and sold only within city limits as a draught beer), and Summer Ale. Gotta love fresh brewed beer! We also got to take the 7 ou. tasting glass as a souvenir. 🙂

Next we went to Doyle’s Cafe – the first bar to ever sell Sam Adams beer. None of us were dissappointed with our food! They have a great menu, and lots of good beer on tap!

After lunch we all needed a nap to re-energize for the evening. So we headed back to the hotel.

That night we hit up Dick’s Last Resort for dinner. If you’ve ever been here, you know it’s not your typical restaurant. Prepare yourself to be the butt of a joke a few times over throughout the night. Oh, and they may put a hat on your head with what could be considered slightly offensive (but all in good humor) phrase written on it. 🙂 But… the food’s good! I had the crab cakes and my sister had the fried scallops. Delish!

That night we decided to do a Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour. I highly recommend this to everyone. It’s not overly scary – lots of humor is thrown into the mix throughout the night. The tour last about 1 hour, 45 minutes. We had a blast, and our tourguide was wonderful! He really got into it, which makes it so much better. We stopped and walked through the Granary Burial Ground, Boston Common and Copp’s Hill Burial Ground. We heard stories about the Boston Strangler, Jolly Jane Tobin, hangings in Boston Common, and much more. (Oh, and I just realized our tourguide is on the website – in the video link here – the link is to the left of the page – he’s the still photo.)

Our scary tourguide.

Wednesday we unfortunately had to come home. But if you’ve never been to Boston – GO! We could’ve easily spent another 3-5 days there to really see and do everything the city has to offer.