For many, the first month of the year seemed to last 100 days. For us, it just flew by! That could be because we were on the road for 3.5 weeks out of the month, a month when usually we’re home-bound and planning out our coming year. In 2020, our year is pretty much planned already, for which I’m simultaneously grateful (because financial security) and stressed (because little room for spontaneity).
In January, while we were on the road almost every day for the whole month, many trips were in the drive market, so we spent a lot of time in the car and only inhabited hotels 11 of those nights, because many times we’d rather spend five hours in the car driving home just so we could sleep in our own beds. Can my fellow road warriors relate?
The biggest news of the month is that we launched a new conference on Monday! More about that next week, but you can take a poke around the Media Grits site now if you’re curious.
We went to Tupelo and fell in love with this cool Mississippi city. Who knew North Mississippi had such great food, music and historic downtowns? Apparently, all the fans of Tupelo who discovered this Southern gem far before we did!
We explored more of the Natchez Trace Parkway. We’ve now done two sections of the trace with three more to go this spring. Read all about our Natchez Trace Parkway travels here.
We also fell in love with the skiing in Idaho. Apparently, Sun Valley is one the best places to ski in the U.S. if you want to avoid the crowds, and I may never go to Colorado again for my ski fix now that I’ve experienced this luxury firsthand. Stay tuned for a full guide on skiing in Idaho next week.
The new Visit Music City guide came out. I wrote the piece “Mad About Murals” (p. 32-36) and got to feature several of my favorite murals in Nashville. It’s also about time to update my own guide, as dozens have been added to the streets of Nashville in the past year. You can read my piece online or order a free print guide here.
The Tennessee Vacation Guide 2020 is here! I always love working on this project each year, though funny enough I wrote these pieces back last March, so I almost forgot I did them. This year, I got to pay tribute to baller women across the state in honor of the centennial of women’s suffrage and write about so many of my favorite Tennessee gals (p. 38-42): Maneet Chauhan, Dolly, Reese, Jackalope’s Bailey Spaulding, Old Dominick Distillery’s Alex Castle and the other ladies of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, and—of course—Pat Summit. I also wrote about urban exploration throughout Tennessee (p. 54-60) if you’re looking for city ideas around the state that aren’t Nashville. You can browse the e-version or get your free print copy here.
I wrote another piece for Airbnb magazine. This time, it was for the makers issue and highlighted Halo Missions, a Nashville-based company that gives women out of recovery programs a purpose and an income stream through making jewelry from old guitar strings. You can read the online version of the story here.
My AAA Living column for January/February also hit newsstands. This month, I wrote about the National Bird Dog Museum, a day trip to Jackson, three places to try something new (chocolate-making! Scottish dancing!) and the adorable Turtle Gallery coming soon to the Tennessee Aquarium.
I was on TODAY in Nashville again. I popped into WSMV (Channel 4, NBC affiliate) and talked all about my favorite travel spots for 2020, which you can watch here.
I’m in my childhood best friend’s wedding! This technically takes place in February (tomorrow), but we’ve been gearing up all week with plenty of hang time, lots of bourbon and the first-ever bachelorette at the Cedar House last night, complete with Charlotte in attendance.
We got stuck in winter storms, which delayed our travel plans. On our way to Idaho, a snowstorm hit Denver and delayed us 36 hours there and a day on the way back. This wasn’t a big deal—we’re old hats at hairy travel predicaments—but we did have to cancel a meeting back home as a result and lost money on two nonrefundable hotel nights, which came to about $400. Not the end of the world, but in theory my Chase Reserve card benefits should have covered reimbursement, but I got denied and am currently fighting via appeal, which is a bit of a headache.
In February, I’m headed to California for a week to catch up with a couple different groups of friends—meanwhile SVV will be staying home and working on the Cedar House (I think I got the better end of the deal)—then we’re both flying out to Denver en route to Cheyenne, where I’m giving two separate talks at the Wyoming Governors Conference. I’ve you’ve been to Cheyenne give us tips on where to eat and drink, as we’ve never been and our visit coincides with my birthday!
Your conference looks fab! Can’t wait to learn more…
Thanks, Valerie! Full blog post coming this week.
I’m curious about what happens with your Chase appeal – did they say why it was denied? Knowing I had that coverage always gave me some peace of mind, but the one time I had to cancel a flight, I found out there were SO many conditions for whether they’ll cover it. And the airport I was flying to wasn’t even on the list they give you to choose from, it was so frusterating! I hope it goes better for you.
Their excuse was that even though the whole chain of events was triggered by a winter storm, the technical reason United gave for the first delay was that the crew needed the mandated rest time before they flew again, which is “common carrier” and not covered by the card. But my appeal was that I could have still taken that delayed flight to Denver with no issue; however, all flights out were canceled/delayed anyway because of said winter storm, so United gave me the convenience of rebooking a day later, rather than being stuck at Denver airport for 24 hours. I’ll let you know if they accept…
I will say I’m 50/50 for getting claims covered with Chase. Last time, we used it, it was to cancel 8 flights to Turkey due to the military coup—7 of which were booked on Citi or AmEx and were NOT covered (because they don’t cover “acts of declared or undeclared war”) and 1 of which was booked on Chase. Chase was the only one who refunded us the ticket price that time, so I’m hopeful! (And yes, I know it’s handled by a third-party claims agency and not actually Chase, but I’ve found their customer service tends to trend better than most.)
Good news! This just hit my inbox:
“Thank you for your letter of appeal. We are pleased to inform you that the denial of your Trip
Cancellation/Interruption Benefit claim has been overturned. We will continue to process your claim, subject to the terms and conditions as outlined in your Guide to Benefits. You will be notified if there are any additional documents required to substantiate your claim.”
Oh that’s so great!