Daily Life, Pictures, Reviews, Travel

Adventures In Atlanta: Part 1 (World Of Coca-Cola)

Coca-Cola World (It's An Ordinary Blog)

Happy Thursday, Everyone!

After what seems like a whirlwind of a week, I’ve finally landed in Atlanta for my first ever blog conference and even though the party doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, my internet turned in real life friends Sarah from The House Of Boys & A Girl and Heidi from The Pajama Mama and I wanted to spend some time doing something fun today. So, naturally, we went to The World Of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta.

Located across from the Aquarium here in Atlanta, The World of Coca-Cola is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the hotel I’m staying at for the duration of the week. In other news, it’s an easy ride on the Marta to get there (the way back is an entirely different story which will have it’s very own dedicated post- stay tuned!) and it was well worth the adventure.

In an effort to keep this post short (and because, honestly, I’m feeling kind of tired and lazy), I’ll just share the pictures from our visit today. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend visiting. We saved up our reward points from all of the Diet Coke we drink (because I’m an addict) and it paid for our admission today but I’d happily pay the entrance fee any day. As an added bonus, at the end of your tour, you can drink all of the carbonated beverages from around the World that you want (as long as Coca-Cola manufactures them).

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The staff at World of Coca-Cola were absolutely INCREDIBLE and their hospitality really put the experience over the top. Special thanks to our new friend Noland who was working at the vault (where the secret recipe for Coke is located) for his time and attention today. He came up to chat with us while we were hanging out and we shared some laughs. I kind of wish every business had at least one Noland on staff- he was great.

I’ll leave you with this: When you go, make sure you watch the “Moments Of Happiness” video. It’s something I’m told will be public at some point in the future but, for now, you can ONLY watch it at World of Coca-Cola. I had all of the (good) feels. It was great.

With that, I bid you adieu. Until tomorrow, goodnight.

Food, Reviews, Travel

Historic Corydon, Indiana Series Part II: Point Blank Brewery

Point Blank Brewing Company

As you may remember from my last post in this series, we recently ventured from our home in the central Midwest to the historic town of Corydon in Indiana (fast fact: Corydon was Indiana’s first state capitol. You’re welcome for that tidbit of knowledge ;)). Like any good former scout, I did a little research on the area before we headed back East for our extended weekend and were excited to discover that Corydon has a small gastropub downtown. Since the husband is somewhat of a beer aficionado (read: beer snob), we knew that was a place we definitely wanted to check out. The restaurant is highly recommended both by the reviews they have online and the locals who talked about their extensive beer selection.

Point Blank Menu

In addition to their American style menu (brick oven pizza, sandwiches, etc), Point Blank has an impressive beer menu  for a town as small as Corydon. Their plan is to start serving their own brews later this Fall but, in the meantime, they have over 100 bottled beers and a diverse selection on tap. Within the large bottled list were some of the more rare and obscure offerings from Boulevard (Whoo, Kansas City). After sampling a beer from the tap, my husband decided to pair his Ruben with a German beer he knew that he would love, Franzikaner Hefe-weisse. After a mixup with the wait staff, he ended up with a Weihenstephaner Dunkel.  The Dunkel is still considered a ‘world class’ beer and paired nicely with his menu item so, all in all, it was a happy mix-up.

The beer selection is only a fraction of what Point Blank offers residents and out of town guests. They also offer a full, family friendly, menu at reasonable prices. Although I could nit-pick on certain things about the service (like my husband getting the wrong beer), the drinks were cold and the food was hot. The owner, who was on site during lunch service, obviously knows and appreciates good beer and it was a pleasure being able to spend a few minutes speaking with him about the restaurant and his vision for the future.

Nestled in the shops of the quiet, historic downtown area, Point Blank is an unexpected surprise. It’s a gastropub and brewing supply store you’d expect to find in a larger city but with the comforts of being down home.

Point Blank

Daily Life, Pictures, Travel

The Gateway To The West: Our Trip to St. Louis (With Pictures)

We had the opportunity to spend some time in St. Louis on Monday and enjoyed a trip to The Gateway Arch. I’d been there before but not since childhood and this was the first time either my husband or my daughter (that goes without saying) had ever seen it up close. My husband didn’t believe me when I told him that the Arch sways when it’s windy but he got to see first hand what I meant during our trip….Here are some pictures that I took.

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Please ask my permission before copying these photos. Feel free to email me at: itsanordinaryblog@gmail.com

Daily Life, Travel

Why I Still Write Out Directions

In a world full of smart phones and navigation devices, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who still uses maps and writes out directions…

I am one of those people.

Handwritten Directions

I love my Tom Tom and the navigation system on my phone but I’m one of those rare breeds that still writes it all out. Nothing really compares to writing out my own directions. It’s something I always do for every trip I take and it’s something I recommend to anyone who plans to travel long distance.

Why I Write Out Directions

You might be wondering why it is that I write everything out…Well, you never know what life is going to throw at you while you’re traveling and I’ve found that it’s always best to be as prepared as you can be before you head out. So I take each leg of the trip and get to work looking at the different suggested routes (thanks Google maps) and figure out which would be ideal in terms of distance and also in terms of traffic congestion. I’ve found that even though some routes say they’ll save you an hour of time, it doesn’t always work out that way…especially when you find yourself in a major city around rush hour.

Google Map

Once I figure out which route I plan to take, I then look at towns in between here and there that might be good to stop off at for breaks. I’ve found this to be especially helpful when traveling with small children. During this past trip, I looked for Chick-Fil-A restaurants on our route since I knew I could trust that their play areas are always clean for C to get some energy out in.

I also try to compare gas prices between states so I know when I should plan to fill up and when I might be better off waiting. There are plenty of websites that can help you find the lowest gas prices in certain areas (which I used last year when we took a trip back East for my brother’s wedding).

Google Maps Total Travel

I’ll never forget the time that the charger for my GPS device broke in my car (literally in the charging portal in my car). It was at that moment that I realized you can’t always rely on technology to get you from point A to point B. You have to know where you’re headed.  Plus, I’ve found, it gives me more peace of mind.

So my question is this:

Do you rely solely on technology to help you navigate during trips (or in life in general) or do you still plan and write out your route like me?

Culture, Daily Life, Pictures, Travel

A Trip to the Zoo: Nashville Edition (with pictures!)

We are so blessed to have friends and family spread out throughout the country which awards us the opportunity to travel from here to there and there to here. My brother, who lives in North Carolina, was married this past spring and so we drove through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina on our journey. Along the way we were able to meet up with some friends in Nashville and spend a little time at their zoo. Here are some pictures I took during our trip:

Of the zoos you’ve been to, which is your favorite?

Culture, Parenting, Pictures, Travel

A Trip to the Zoo: Omaha Edition (with pictures!)

In  last week’s installment of “A Trip to the Zoo” I shared some photos from our visit to the St. Louis Zoo. I have such a profound respect for animals and, for that reason, being able to take C to see and learn about them is important to me. I feel really fortunate that we’re within such close proximity of some of our nation’s best zoological parks. The zoo provides an opportunity to explore animals that we would never have a chance to see otherwise and I’m excited to be able to share that with C as she grows and learns throughout the years. All that said, we had the wonderful opportunity to drive up to the Omaha Zoo this past June to hang out with some of our friends from Manhattan, Kansas and to meet two new mommy friends who live in Nebraska. It was one of those wonderful days that I hope to repeat again someday (hint hint, M, K, & E!). Here are some photos from our trip:

Next time I’ll share some pictures from our visit to the Nashville Zoo (which, I promise, are better pictures). Until then…

What’s your favorite animal at the zoo?

Culture, Parenting, Pictures, Travel

A Trip to the Zoo: St. Louis Edition (with pictures!)

I should have done this post a long time ago but I was just thumbing through the pictures from the trip we took at the end of September to meet up with my friend Becca (you can read her blog here) and her husband. The St. Louis Zoo is one of my absolute favorites and I hadn’t been since childhood.

This first picture was taken when we were at the “Penguin & Puffin Coast”. I really love how they have their exhibit set up. The chilled, indoor atmosphere is the ideal setting for these incredible animals and I imagine it’s a great place to chill out while visiting the zoo during the hot summer months that can be brutal in this area. As you can tell, C was just thrilled to see the penguins.

The rest of these pictures were taken at the various exhibits around the zoo. We were really lucky in that the weather was really nice and most of the animals were out.

I won’t deny that I giggled when I saw this:

We’ve been really lucky to have friends across the country and the zoo always seems like a great place to get together when you have little ones. This is the first installment of my “Zoo” posts. Next week, I’ll post our pictures from the Omaha Zoo trip we took in June (yes, we’re going out of order here).

What’s your favorite thing about the zoo?

Pictures, Travel

The Last of The Vacation Photos: Jekyll Island, GA

As you know, I recently went on vacation. We flew from Kansas City to Orlando, FL and then drove up to Jekyll Island, GA (about an hour from Jacksonville). It was so beautiful and relaxing. I’ve already shared some pictures but here are the rest:

While walking on the beach, we ran across some guys who accidentally caught a stingray while fishing. They were very careful in their successful attempt to remove the hook from the fish before letting back into the ocean.

There aren’t many choices when it comes to dining on the island but everywhere we went during our stay was nice. The next three pictures were taken at Sea Jays. If you ever have a chance to go there, their crab chowder is incredible.

On our drive back down to Orlando, I was feeling pretty bummed about having to leave the ocean. I’m not sure when the next time we’ll get to the shore is (it had been more than ten years since my toes last touched the Atlantic) and so we decided to stop by Daytona Beach before settling into our hotel near Downtown Disney.

Our last stop led us to Downtown Disney for dinner and some shopping before heading back to the central Midwest. You can find my post from that evening here.

This last photo was from 30,000 feet in the sky. The clouds were just beautiful…

Daily Life, Parenting, Reviews, Travel, Uncategorized

Family Friendly Flying: Delta vs. United Airlines

It’s no secret that flying with an infant or toddler can be a difficult, painful, embarrassing experience for parents. Trying to confine an energetic toddler who is testing out her independence is not easy but it can be done. We’ve flown with C before when she was much younger and were fortunate enough to have her sleep both times (the first of which was at six weeks old and the second was a year ago when she was eight months old) the entire flight. Now that she’s older, our travels were much different. I think it’s important to mention that the first two times we flew with C were on Southwest Airlines. I believe that they’re very family friendly mainly because you select your own seats giving passengers who have an issue with sitting near small children the opportunity to sit elsewhere but for the purposes of this trip, I didn’t think it was fair to include them in my comparison.

In case you’re not aware, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is really accommodating to passengers traveling with infants and toddlers. We’ve never had an issue bringing medication, sippy cups/bottles, snacks, Pediasure, breast milk (when C was younger), a breast pump, and even a large bottle of water on our last flight this trip. Additionally, many airlines (Southwest, United, and Delta for sure) allow additional checked luggage free of charge for families including a car seat, pack n’ play, and stroller. Both Delta and United Airlines also allow a diaper bag in addition to the personal item and carry on bags you’re allowed to bring on the aircraft. In my experience, the airlines are more family friendly than they have been in the past.  With that said, not all airlines are created equal. Because we booked through a third-party, we had the opportunity to test out both Delta and United Airlines and get a “side by side” comparison between the two.

*You should know that when you book through a third-party, such as Priceline, you’ll want to double-check with each airline you fly to be sure that your unticketed passenger (‘lap child’ for children under the age of two) is listed on the passenger manifest. In our case, that wasn’t relayed to either airline prior to our travel. I had to call in (which wasn’t a problem) to list C prior to our travel date.

DELTA AIRLINES

On our way from MCI (Kansas City) to MCO (Orlando) we flew Delta Airlines, with a connecting flight in ATL (Atlanta) resulting in an hour layover (which was just enough time to find our gate, get in a quick lunch, and start the boarding process). I always appreciate when airlines allow pre-boarding for families traveling with small children. The extra time to get down to the plane, fold up the stroller, find our seat, and settle in is always necessary and it takes away the stress of having to worry about holding up the people waiting behind you.

I called Delta prior to our flight to check on a few things and was advised to request “Family Seating” at the Gate prior to boarding. Apparently, according the agent (who was so helpful), the last two rows (in a flight that isn’t full I assume) are reserved for families and can be requested upon arrival. We waited until we got on the aircraft to ask about it and the flight attendant didn’t seem to know what we were talking about so I can only assume this is something that needs to be taken advantage of before boarding.

Other things I enjoyed about Delta:

-They provide free in-flight entertainment on select aircrafts. On one of our flights, they were showing Fox television shows (like New Girl) on each of the small screens they have in the aisles. We didn’t take advantage of using any headphones but I thought it was a nice touch. Flying is never fun and having the option to see something, anything, is better than just sitting there watching the clouds beneath you.

-Delta launched a charity in 2005 called “Taking Flight For the Fight” to help fund breast cancer research. Since then, they’ve raised more than $5 million dollars to support the cause. There are several ways in which you can give to this program, one of which is to purchase Pink Lemonade on your flight for a $2 donation. I always enjoy when companies go above and beyond to help the community and I thought that was a really nice touch. Go Delta.

-They provide complimentary drinks and snacks on all flights, which is helpful when traveling with children.

UNITED AIRLINES

On our way home from MCO (Orlando) to MCI (Kansas City) we flew United Airlines with a connecting flight in IAD (Dulles, Washington D.C.). I have to say that I was unimpressed by their customer service on the phone. I called to place C on the passenger manifest the day before our flight and the representative I spoke with seemed as if he didn’t understand my question. We got everything sorted out but the difference between the call center that Delta has for domestic flights and that of United’s is pretty substantial.

Another thing that I noticed is that they don’t offer pre-boarding for families traveling with children. They do, however, offer special boarding for active duty service members, which I thought was a nice touch. Once we boarded the aircraft (from Orlando to D.C.) we noticed they offered in-flight entertainment on a screen attached to the headrest in front of you for a nominal fee (ear buds are included at no cost). For a $7.99 charge (it’s based on the amount of time indicated on your boarding pass) we watched Disney’s “Brave” on the flight. What a great opportunity to help combat a noisy plane.

What United doesn’t offer, which I was surprised about, is complimentary snacks during your flight. Instead, they offer snack packages and a la carte items ranging from $2.99 to $8.49. Since our layover wasn’t long enough to get from gate to gate and have time to get food in between (from IAD to MCI) we did purchase the “Tapas” snack box on our second flight for $8.49. It came with olives, parmesan cheese spread, bruschetta spread,  garden humus, pita chips, crackers, almonds, and chocolate covered blueberries. To split between the three of us, it was a great snack…and it was delicious. It’s worth the purchase if you’re hungry and have a long flight.

Another thing I noticed, but they didn’t talk about on the flight, is that United Airlines is committed to taking flight in a more environmentally friendly way. Sustainability is important to me, so I enjoyed that they are making an effort to change the way we fly. I got information on this directly from their website so, if you’re interested, you can find it there.

So who wins the battle for best airline this trip? I never thought I’d say this but I’ve got to give it to Delta. From our initial phone call into their customer service to their commitment to breast cancer research, they’re doing pretty great. The things that matter to me the most: family boarding, friendly customer service, and in-flight snacks for my child.

Culture, Daily Life, Travel

Downtown Disney: Orlando, Florida

We spent the last day of our vacation in Orlando, Florida and we decided to head down to the Downtown Disney area for a little fun. Since we were only there for the day, spending the money to go into one of the parks didn’t seem like the most financially sound decision. Thankfully, Minnie and Mickey were there (if only in statue). Here are some pictures: