A Tale of Two Wetsuits, Part One

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller

I swear I blinked and somehow June and July happened. I’ve been on two international trips, enjoyed time on the mountain, soaked up some rays on the beach, and spent time in our nation’s capital. I had some once in a lifetime experiences this summer and learned a lot about myself in the process.

With so many amazing adventures this summer, I have lots of stories to share. Today, I’m inspired to write about my family vaca to Banff, Alberta, Canada, in July. Anyone who knows me well knows that I prefer tights, boots, and coats to shorts, tanks, and swimsuits any day of the year, so a trip to Canada in July was right up my alley.  

After a dreadful experience with cancelled flights, an unexpected overnight in Dallas, and 48-hours without luggage, we settled in for a week of fun in the picturesque Canadian Rockies. The beauty of this locale was that the hardcore hikers could do their thing while others could still experience the breathtaking scenery without strapping on a pack and wandering into the wilderness. 

Day one began with a gondola ride near Lake Louise. Halfway up we spotted several grizzly bear right off the bat. Banff is known as bear country so we were psyched to start out the trip with a bona fide bear sighting. 

We spent the afternoon canoeing Moraine Lake. Y’all, the water is really that blue. It’s ridiculous. The color results from the sediment that is continually deposited into the glacially-fed lake and the light that is refracted off of it. Despite the fact that John will tell you he paddled myself and Miles around the lake “Driving Miss Daisy” style, Miles and I did our fair share of paddling through the 38 degree water. 

So, let’s get to that wetsuit. The whole fam loaded up and we rafted the Kananaskis River with Chinook Rafting. The water was in the low 30s and had still been icy the week before. We were each issued a wetsuit, neoprene booties, a water resistant pullover, and helmet. A quick training session later, we embarked on our frigid whitewater adventure. 

Miles had the most important job, serving as wave blocker throughout our journey. John and I sat in the front of the boat, so we could be close to the wave blocker, and were told to synchronize our paddles so that the rest of the raft would stay in sync. Somehow we managed to do just that, while keeping ourselves and the wave blocker safely inside. Our fabulous guide, James, made every effort to ensure that we were completely soaked, whether we stayed in the boat or not. Wetsuit or no wetsuit, that water was cold! 

We were in Banff for July 4th, so we celebrated with a traditional American evening of bowling and pizza. It was so much fun and being that my family isn’t competitive at all, no smack was talked and everyone was a humble competitor. Right. Look closely and you will notice that the six-year old won. 

Y’all know my favorite way to explore a new place is through running. I enjoyed a great run through Tunnell Mountain, exploring some of the trails near our resort. While I packed for mild weather (I may have packed a pair of boots in each member of my family’s checked luggage), they were having a heat wave while we were in Banff. It was hot, but it felt great to get a run in. I even spotted some wildlife!


The culmination of our trip was a ride down the Icefields Parkway and a visit to Athabasca glacier. We rode the massive, all-terrain ice explorer bus to Athabasca and were able to disembark and walk around on the huge, 10,000 year old glacier. As part of the experience, we also explored the glass-bottomed Glacier Skywalk with amazing views of the Sunwapta Valley. 

On our final night in Banff, we visited the Fairmont Banff Springs after dinner. While driving past the golf course that borders the hotel’s property, we spotted a group of elk hindering some golfers on the front nine. As far as the eye could see, the elk were grazing and enjoying the nice weather and manicured greens. 

From water slides and all-you-can-eat buffets, to poutine and bear sightings, many a memory was made in Canada. Ferris wasn’t kidding when he said that life moves pretty fast. That alone makes special memories made in far off places that much sweeter. 

2017 Miles to Go: 446

They Say It’s A Dry Heat

Last week took me to sunny Palm Springs, CA, for the annual PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference. No other event is more targeted to what I do every single day at work than this conference. I love getting to see old friends in the tourism industry and making new ones. Plus, Palm Springs is not the worst location to have to travel for work, right? 


The conference was held at the Riviera Palm Springs Resort, just ten minutes from the Palm Springs airport and easily accessible to all of the city’s hot spots. The beauty of this conference is that you get to hear from major travel editors and journalists in the industry, while also rubbing elbows with them at networking events. I mean, how often do you get to talk Tupelo with Samantha Brown, face-to-face? 


Tuesday morning, I participated in a fun run with everyone else crazy enough to get up and run through the desert. It was hot, even at 6:45 a.m., and the 5K I ran seemed way harder than usual, as a result. They say it’s a dry heat. But, hot is hot and at least in the humid South, I know when it’s time to hydrate. I loved getting to experience Palm Springs while running, and the view made it worth those hot miles.

Our closing reception was held at the Dinah Shore Estate in Palm Springs. The plush, mid-century modern estate is now owned by Leonardo DiCaprio and is situated in the same neighborhood as homes once owned by members of the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, and Liberace. Elvis’ honeymoon cottage is also in the neighborhood, so my new friend, Rachel from San Jose, and I hopped in an Uber and made it our mission to find the home. Of course I had to check it out! 


When the conference ended Wednesday afternoon, we moved the networking poolside to celebrate the end of a great event and soak up our last few hours of sun in beautiful Palm Springs.

My trip to CA included quality time with my first and forever best friend, Elizabeth. We met at Disneyland for a magical morning of roller coasters and catching up. We would have been happy to just sit in the car and talk all day, and with the crazy traffic getting in to the park, that almost happened.

This was my first trip to the original Disney park. I consider myself a Disney World pro at this point, but that prepared me in no way for this visit. Walking into the park was like stepping back in time. We maximized our visit by hitting the rides that were exclusive to Disneyland. The Matterhorn Bobsleds, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Pinnochio’s Daring Journey, were a few favorites. 

Elizabeth and I took a 72-hour trip to Disney World when we were in college. A Friday afternoon phone call from her at Ole Miss to me at the University of Alabama resulted in the two of us driving through the night to Orlando in time for rope drop at the newly-opened Animal Kingdom. Rather than buying food and a hotel room, we brought snacks from home and purchased Disney souvenirs. We ventured to the Magic Kingdom that afternoon, stayed through the fireworks, and drove home. The whole way down we talked about riding Space Mountain first. When we arrived, it was closed for refurbishment. So, it was only fitting that Elizabeth and I chose Hyperspace Mountain as our first ride together at Disneyland. It was well worth the almost 20-year wait! (Ummm, yes I did the math correctly and I, too, am shocked.) 

My trip to Palm Springs was pretty fabulous. It’s less than two hours from both Los Angeles and San Diego and Joshua Tree National Park is about an hour away. Make it your base and it’s the perfect place from which to explore all that beautiful, sunny Southern California has to offer. I learned a lot, met some new tourism friends, spent time with my forever friend, ate some great food, and got to experience a new place. This trip was just the first of many this summer that will keep me on the run and I look forward to sharing it all.

2017 Miles to Go: 483

Gates at Elvis’ Honeymoon Cottage

Editors’ Panel at the Conference

Unlike Disney World, Characters wandered around Disneyland

My Mickey Ears!

Fun Run in Palm Springs

The Hill that was not so fun on the fun run in Palm Springs

April Road Trip Top 10

Last week was so overflowing with fabulousness I have found it nearly impossible to put a post together to describe it all. Instead of writing a lengthy diatribe filled with every excruciating detail of the first full week in April, I’m going to share the highlights with my official April Road Trip Top 10.

 

The Autism Run 5K

 
1. I got a PR in The Autism Run 2016 5K. The run supports the Autism Center of North Mississippi that blesses families in this area everyday by meeting the unique, individual needs of the children in their care. I loved being able to support this amazing local center while enjoying the gorgeous spring morning with friends. And, my fabulous sister-in-law won her age division! 

 

Sta-Homies hit the road

 
2. I hit the road bright and early Monday morning with my friend, co-worker, and partner-in-crime, Kylie Boring, for a week that would include two states, three major events, and lots of miles (and laughs) in between.

Bill Hardman with STS and Angie Briggs with Miles

3. I graduated from Marketing College! During a luncheon at the Southeast Tourism Society’s Spring Symposium in Baton Rouge, LA, my class of 65 officially became Travel Marketing Professionals. This three-year certification program teaches you the ends and outs of the tourism industry and creates wonderful friendships from 12 different states across the Southeast. 

Sunset and sushi

4. I got to have dinner in Baton Rouge with one of my very best friends from college, six-stories up, at sunset, overlooking the Mississippi River. The sushi at Tsunami was scrumptious and the view was incredible, but catching up with Lindsay Turner was good for my soul! A girls’ trip is most definitely in the works!

Morning run along the Mighty Mississippi

5. I ran four fantastic miles along the Mississippi River. Our conference was held at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center in Downtown along the banks of the river. The trail adjacent to the busy waterway was perfect for running and I throughly enjoyed taking advantage of the cool weather Tuesday morning. The hotel was walking distance to many of Downtown Baton Rouge’s local restaurants and unique attractions. 

Shining Bright at the PRAM State Conference

   6. I got to spend time with all of my public relations peeps at the PRAM State Conference in Jackson, MS. The premier professional development and networking event for PR practitioners in Mississippi, we celebrated the organization’s 60th anniversary in our state’s capital city. Patrice Guilfoyle, our PRAM Vice President-Programs put on three days jampacked with quality content and tons of fun.

Top 50 Under 40

7. Our Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton was named the “Under 40 Top Business Person of the Year” by the Mississippi Business Journal, at a luncheon in Jackson, MS. Along with my friend, Matt Wyatt, the three of us were recognized, with the Mayor taking top prize for his exemplary efforts leading our community. 

 

PRism Award winners

 
8. As the Vice President-Awards for the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, I got to present PRism Awards for exceptional work in the field of public relations to my peers in the industry. The dinner event at the Hilton Jackson was splendid and it was such fun to hear about all of the work in which my friends and colleagues in the industry have been engaged.

 

Tupelo CVB PRism Award winners

 
9. Tupelo CVB took home four awards during the PRAM PRism Awards dinner. I am so proud of the work we do to inspire visitation to my hometown. To be recognized for our work is icing on the cake! 

 

My two favorite dudes

 
10. As with any road trip, my favorite part is coming home to these two crazy dudes. I enjoyed my week back on the road, seeing friends, learning a lot, running, and exploring new destinations, but coming home is what it’s all about.

2016 Miles to Go: 899

It’s Race Week!

It’s race week, ya’ll! By this time next week, I will have completed the RunDisney Glass Slipper Challenge. I am so excited I can barely stand it! I’m going to put in a few more short training runs before we leave to keep my legs loose, but as John put it this morning, three more sleeps to Disney!

February has already been a month filled with all things fabulous. I spent this past week in NYC at the Receptive Services Association of America annual summit, inspiring travel to Tupelo by sharing our story with tour operators from around the globe. Usually, before I can open my mouth, they want to talk about Elvis (I mean, really who doesn’t want to talk about Elvis?!?!), but when I get to share Tupelo’s list of impressive sites, bites, events, and shops, people are truly surprised at all that our special town has to offer.

NYCSNOW

Walking in the snow with my mother in NYC

My mother joined me in the city, and In between meetings, networking events, and exploring the city, I managed to get in a couple of training runs. Since technically this is my taper week for the Princess Half Marathon, three-milers on the treadmill worked just fine. I did a ton of walking this week, too, so that cross-training counts toward all the steps I’ll take in the parks later this week, right? And, walking through the city in the snow counts double, I am certain. According to a statistic I heard today, last week was the coldest week on record in New York City, of course.

Frozen’s Princess Anna

I feel confident about my races as a result of the training I have put in and am looking forward to all that is in store. On a side note, my race outfits are all ready. Apparently, half the fun of running RunDisney ev

The Little Mermaid’s Princes Ariel

ents is dressing the part, so of course I drew my inspiration for each of my races from a couple of ginger princesses. I’ll give you a sneak peak, for now, but I promise to share the full outfits, complete with accessories, on race day! I did a practice run in my new, fabulous skirts from Sparkle Skirts, and they are amazing. Other than the fact that they have built-in shorts that don’t move at all, they have lots of pockets to hold anything you may need on race day. I will keep running in these skirts, even when I’m not dressed as a Disney Princess, and I am really looking forward to checking their booth out at the race expo.

After all of my training, it is hard to believe that the races are almost here. Miles still doesn’t know that we are leaving for Disney World this week, or that he is running in a kids’ race when we get there, so I may be more excited about telling him than anything. Thanks for your support and encouragement throughout this process. I have run three half marathons prior, but never two races back-to-back, especially waking up two mornings in a row as early as I will have to wake up, but I look forward to sharing every single fantastic detail of my experience with the Glass Slipper Challenge, when it is all said and done.

2016 Miles to go: 945