We left Middlebury, Indiana on a Tuesday morning and headed South through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
We made pans to stop and spend the night with our grandparents in Knoxville on our way home.
Traffic in Ohio was horrible. From the time we got on I-75 in Lima until we crossed the Kentucky state line in Cincinnati, it was heavy.
There is just something about crossing the Mason-Dixon Line headed South...back to the land of sweet tea, humidity, Chick-fil-A, grits and cotton.
Of course I had to make a little detour through Lexington to see Commonwealth Stadium because I have a thing about SEC football stadiums.
It looked so strange sitting there all by itself in an empty parking lot.
The closer we got to Knoxville, the heavier my foot got.
Seriously, at one point I looked down and I was going over 90 mph...I know, I know.
But, I was going with the flow.
I couldn't help it...Rocky Top was ringing in my ears.
Knoxville has always felt like home to me.
Because it's where my dad is from, it's where all of his side of the family lives, it's where I spent many weekends throughout the year and weeks during the summer growing up...because it's sentimental.
We wheeled onto Branch Lane and I felt my chest tighten as I recounted millions of memories of the good times we had there and I saw the "For Sale" sign in person in my grandparent's front yard.
I knew it was going to be there, but it burned a little to see it with my own two eyes.
Their house sits on several acres. It's a small farm with a horse barn and pastures that were once filled with show horses.
When we were growing up we tromped all over this farm. We knew the land like the backs of our hands, burying "treasure" and drawing out elaborate maps.
We rode horses, had family volleyball and softball games.
There used to be a swimming pool that we practically wore slap out.
We made pallets in the floor and slept with all of our cousins and laughed until we couldn't laugh anymore.
We all gathered together to watch Tennessee football and everyone was decked out in orange from head to toe.
So, this place is a large piece of who I am today.
Some people can't understand why I still love Tennessee so much and I always cheer for them even though I went to UGA.
It's because Tennessee was my first love. All of my football memories before I met Brandon included my Tennessee family and I really don't care if people understand that part of me or not.
I am not the type of person to "lose myself" to another. I am who I am. Take me or leave me.
Brandon met me at a Georgia-Tennessee game and I was wearing orange.
Anyway, my grandparents are hoping to downsize because their farm takes a lot to keep up, and boy do they keep it up.
It's immaculate. Everything is just so.
My sweet Mamaw dug us up some of her irises for us to take home and plant in our own yards.
These originally belonged to my Great-Mamaw, I have always adored her iris gardens.
After all, the Iris is the Tennessee state flower.
My heart was overflowing with gratitude for these flowers-there isn't anything else I'd rather inherit that some flowers from my loved ones.
My Papaw with his beloved dog, Pooch.
Pooch is precious. She is so cute and it makes me sad that she's getting older.
On Wednesday morning Papaw and Mamaw took us to "The Crack" as my Papaw calls it, or Cracker Barrel for breakfast.
I just love my Papaw.
He is always telling Mamaw how much he loves her, how good she looks, and so on.
He always tells all of his grandgirls the same things.
He can really make you feel good about yourself!
He also loves it that we are girls with "healthy appetites."
He said, "I sure do love to see my girls eat!"
After breakfast they let us shop and each pick out a new piece of Tennessee apparel-it's a tradition.
After breakfast we went over to our Uncle Kris and Aunt Stacy's house, which is pretty much straight up a mountain.
Their views are to doe for! They are facing the Great Smoky Mountains, so when you look off the porches or out the windows, that's what you see.
This is us with our cousins Justin and Kurstin, who are two of the coolest kids ever, and our Mamaw.
My Mamaw is looking fabulous and is celebrating that she fought and survived breast cancer over 10 years ago.
This is us with our Aunt Stacy and Justin.
I absolutely adore Stacy. She is the sweetest person you could ever meet.
This woman has incredible strength-the day we were there she celebrated her 6th anniversary of her last day of chemo for lymphoma.
She fought it and survived it...with a toddler and and infant and is still married.
I'm talking hospitalizations, hair loss, the whole nine yards.
She really is an inspiration.
These are the Great Smoky Mountains from their front porch.
We rolled out of Knoxville at 6 on Wednesday evening and the only thing that kept us from being so sad is knowing we'll be back at the beginning of October for the big rivalry game.
We crossed the Georgia state line on some two lane back road, so the sign was a little pathetic.
At 9:00 we came roaring up my sister's driveway in Dahlonega.
I mage the drive in exactly 3 hours. My foot must have been getting heavier.
I spent the night at my sister's because as soon as we got the car unloaded it started pouring down rain and I didn't feel like driving another 2 hours home in it.
I'm glad I stayed because it rained 2 inches in 2 hours.
Tiffany;s sweet husband has supper cooked for us when we walked in the door.
Then at midnight he fixed me a bowl of tutti-fuities (knock-off Fruit Loops) for a snack.
He and I speak the same cereal language.
I just love him.
My sister lives next door to my Papa (my mom's dad), so the next morning I drove over to his house.
He has always kept his place as neat as a pin, and he taught us to do the same.
He doesn't have any junk piled up anywhere and everything is perfectly manicured.
He is passionate about landscaping, flowers and gardening, too.
He is also the one who helped us do all of the trimwork in our house.
He built this amazing rock wall with crosses designed in it.
He also built the fellowship hall at his church and he does all the landscaping there, too.
I am so blessed to have my grandparents.
They have each taught me so much, yet I know there is still so much I want to learn from them and time will not permit it.
I have always been and "old soul" and truly enjoyed spending time with my grandparents and older people in general.
I feel sorry for the young people of today's society who are so self-centered and think they know everything.
If there's anything my grandparents taught me, it is how to love and serve others and how to maintain a home and land and keep things manicured.
I left Dahlonega around noon so that I could beat Atlanta traffic and still have time to make a couple stops on my way back.
Atlanta traffic is no joke and it's one of the last places you want to try to travel through between 3 and 6:30pm. It's horrible no matter which way you try to go-there is no bypassing it!
I made it back to the car rental place on Thursday at 5:15pm and Brandon came and picked me up after he closed the practice for the day.
Back in Georgia it was as hot as blue blazes.
No more jeans, fleece jackets and long sleeves.
It's August in Georgia, baby!
What a trip. It felt like a trip around the sun.