Tuesday, January 14, 2014

19 Hours in the Car, a Pit Stop at Trader Joe's and a Vegan Brownie Sundae the Size of My Head

As the first part of this post's title suggests, the last couple days have been a whirlwind! All last week I was in Gaitlinburg, TN for my work team's annual retreat. It's always an awesome time of hiking, ultimate Frisbee, hot-tubbing, team discussions, good food and staying up too late. Here's a picture of the crazy people I am blessed to work and travel with:

 Every year we get an old western photo taken. It's always a crazy time.

This year was extra special in that the day our retreat ended (Saturday) we all drove up to Indiana to see two of our friends and co-workers get married! We made it to Indianapolis a couple hours before the wedding started, quickly got dressed, scarfed down some soup and headed downtown for the exciting celebration. It was a beautiful wedding that took place in the state house and the reception was wild and crazy with lots of dancing and food. 

We got to bed around 1 AM and then I, along with the three girls I drove up with, got up four hours later to make the 15 hour trek back down to Orlando. We were on a mission: make it to Trader Joe's in Gainsville, FL before it closed at 9. Yes. We love Trader Joe's that much and since there isn't one in Orlando we used it as motivation to start our drive early and make quick pit stops. 

I am an extreme morning person so I said I'd take the first shift driving while they slept. It worked out great and we were able to knock out a lot of hours before our first stop and then they were all fresh and ready to take the next driving shifts.  And...we made it!! We rolled into the Trader Joe's parking lot at 8:15 with plenty of time to peruse and pick up lots of goodies. We already had a ton of luggage in the car, but it was a high priority to make all of our groceries fit. 

I came away with chocolate soy milk, caramel popcorn, pumpernickel pretzels, pickles and three types of bread including sour dough, sprouted rye and whole wheat pita pockets. Glory.

Another thing that kept me super motivated to make it to Gainsville was ice cream. Vegan ice cream that is. My friend and co-worker went to the University of Florida in Gainsville and knew about a vegan dessert shop called Karma Cream. Of course I was all for stopping there after Trader Joe's and I'm so glad we did because it was amazing. 

I may have gone a little overboard and ordered a brownie sundae with sea salted caramel ice cream, cookie dough bites, hot fudge and whipped cream...all dairy free and delicious! I was in heaven. We've already decided that we're going to make a day trip to Gainsville again soon so we can stock up on groceries, eat more vegan ice cream and check out some of the other sites that Gainsville has to offer.

Yeah, I was pretty excited.

With our car stuffed with groceries and our bellies full of sugar we were able to finish up the final two hours of driving making for a grand total of 19 hours in the car! It was a long day, but so worth it to get home and allow ourselves a comp day before heading back to work.

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