Monday, August 17, 2009

Planning for R & R

In about a month I will be home for R & R and have spent some time planning our trip to Disney World. We will be taking advantage of the great deal that they currently have for service members: Service member gets a 5 day pass for free and can buy up to 5 additional 5 day passes for $99 each for friends and family. For an extra $25/ticket you can convert those into park hopper/water park passes. We are excited and will be surprising our four children, they currently have no idea, so no one say anything!

These last two months or so I have been working out more consistently and eating more healthy food to try to whip myself into shape. That means that good food is on my mind constantly, so I have already thought of several places I would like to eat out at when I get home. I have really been craving pizza, so we will be visiting Mellow Mushroom, which we used to eat at quite a bit while I was in flight school, since there is a Mellow Mushroom in Enterprise, AL.

I love pizza and have always heard so much about authentic NY pizza, but have never been able to try it since I have never really lived near or visited NY. We love to make pizza at home, but the dough never turns out the way I want it to. Don't get me wrong, I still love the homemade pizza, but I want it to taste better. A few months before deployment, I ran across a website of a man who has been trying to recreate an authentic NY pizza at his home in Atlanta, GA for the past 10 years. Jeff Varasano has a website, where he details how he came up with the recipe and cooking technique to make a NY pizza. In March he opened a restaurant in Atlanta, Varasano's Pizzeria, and seeing as how our journey will take us right through there, part of our vacation plan now includes a stop at his restaurant.

Once I thought about going to specifically visit an establishment specifically for the food, I started to think about what else I would like to eat while on leave. Something else that I like to make at home is donuts. Homemade donuts are the best, since you can eat them hot and fresh and whenever you want to. I make a mean spudnut, although it has been quite a while since I have taken the time to make them. I started looking on the internet for the best donut shops in the country and ran into a few different sites that have a top 10 donuts list. Unfortunately, some of the best donut shops are not along our route of travel. I found the blog, recently which follows the donut tasting adventures of blognut as he visits some of the most highly-touted donut shops around the country. I like his dedication to donuts; they're delicious. I would someday like to taste a Round Rock donut, as my brother and his family used to live in Round Rock, TX and have been praising those donuts for years. Fortunately, we will probably be visiting Siesta Key beach on the gulf coast of Florida while we are there, and nearby is Yummies Donuts, that has received some very good reviews on several websites; I am excited!

If anyone knows of any other noteworthy stops from Clarksville, TN to Orlando, FL area, please let me know. It could be food or just something worth stopping to see.



  1. Well in Huntsville, Alabama theres the US Space and Rocket Center which is a really great place to visit and spend a few hours. But that's only if you're going to be driving through Alabama. It is a great place for kids though, they have one of the space shuttles, rockets and other space flight vehicles on display.

  2. Thanks Erin! My wife, Deirdrie, and the kids will be going to Huntsville the weekend before they pick me up for R and R. I will definitely let them know, they would love to see that stuff, especially my son Ethan. Thanks again!

  3. Hey there -

    I work for Mellow Mushroom and I was just rooting around the internet - and found your Mellow Mushroom mention. Not sure if you ever got a chance to eat any pizza - although I hope you did . . . But regardless - - - We would love to send you a t-shirt. If you are interested - just send me an email with your size - and we'll ship it out to you.

    Thanks for all of your hard work - and stay safe out there.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I used to eat at Mellow Mushroom a lot while I was in flight school. Almost every Army pilot knows Mellow Mushroom, since it is one of the best places to eat near Fort Rucker, AL, where we get our initial training. Every now and then I go back to Fort Rucker for training and take every opportunity to grab some great pizza at Mellow Mushroom! A t-shirt would be great, but I dont have your e-mail. If you get a chance send me an e-mail at and I will e-mail the info back. Thanks!