Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas

This place is so cute! We are staying in Hot Springs Village, a 26,000 square mile master planned community about 15 miles north of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Basically it’s a retirement community but it’s awesome! There are 9 golf courses, 13 tennis courts (real clay courts) and 11 lakes. Our condo is a great little 2 bedroom / 2 bath and it was only $90 a night. We found it on VBRO and are super pleased with it.

For dinner we checked out a cute little Italian restaurant called Italian House & Grille. Nathan got the Sausage Carbonara and I got the Eggplant Parmesan. Both were so good, I’d definitely recommend this spot for anyone staying in the area.


We woke up early for our tee time at the Cortez Golf Course. For this round we were teamed up with a nice guy named Craig. He had a suped up custom golf cart that was complete with arm rests and massive tires. He said it could top speeds of 35 mph.

Lunch after was great, we both got the meatball sub. After taking the dogs on a good walk, we ventured over to the tennis courts. As usual, Nathan creamed me, but it was so fun for us to both play on clay courts for the first time.


This morning we made breakfast burritos at the house before venturing off to the town of Hot Springs. The first stop was Buckstaff Bathhouse. I’ve never been to a bath house but figured “when in Rome… or… when in Hot Springs…”

Y’all. I love massages so figured it’d be just another day at the spa. It was, but it wasn’t. I checked in and was taken up an old timey elevator and literally felt like I was walking onto the set of an episode of American Horror Story, but in a good way!

I entered into the locker room and an attendant showed me to the changing room. I took everything off and stored it into my locker. The attendant asked if I was ready and I said “yes ma’am”. She told me to turn around and lift my arms up and she proceeded to wrap a white bed sheet around my body and we are off to the baths!

We walked into another room (all the walls are beautiful marble). Each old timey bathtub was in it’s own little nook. Think of little stalls the size of a women’s handicap restroom. Mattie, the sweet lady who helped me, followed me in the stall and said “go ahead ma’am, hop in the tub.” (I knew I’d be naked, but I guess I wasn’t sure exactly how this worked.) I dropped the sheet and hopped in the tub. The water was hot, about 105 degrees, and Mattie then took a loofa and scrubbed my arms and back. She then filled the rest of the tub with hot water and started the old timey jacuzzi bubbles. She then gave me a little cup of super hot spring water and I sipped on that while soaking in the tub. Mattie left and I couldn’t help but get the silent giggles. After about 20 minutes, Mattie came in and dried me off.

Next up was the hot towel station. Mattie put several hot towels on a little padded table that I laid on top of. Once lying down, she put several more hot towels on my stomach and legs. Then I was given an ice cold towel for my face. Every so often I was given cold spring water to sip on. I was here for about 15 minutes.
Next up was the funniest station. Mattie directed me to step inside this metal box (shown below). Once I was in there, my sheet was taken again and I sat down. She then closed the top on me and literally just my head was poking out of the top. It’s hilarious, you are literally sitting in this metal box completely naked, with just your head poking out.

Then came the Sitz Bath. Once I was wrapped up in the sheet again, I was directed to sit in this mini bathtub. It kinda looked like a hybrid between a bathtub and a toilet. The water inside was super hot and you just sit in there, with your fanny in the water. Your legs and feet are just hanging out. I suppose this really helps your lower back. After about 10 minutes, we moved to the next station.

Mattie showed me to this really cool old shower (shown above). The shower heads completely surrounded me and I just stood there for about 5 minutes. Mattie dried me off and took me to the massage therapist.
The massage was pretty quick but felt wonderful. If I could get a massage everyday, I would. After the massage I had a lavender paraffin treatment on my hand and that brought my time at Buckstaff to an end. The entire experience lasted about 2 hours and only cost $80. This was the funniest/most interesting experience and I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting Hot Springs.

After that Nathan and I went to the Gangster Museum. We couldn’t believe how many gangsters (Al Capone, Bonnie & Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Owney Madden, John Dillinger to name just a few) vacationed in Hot Springs. The unwritten rule was if you were a gangster here on vacation, you couldn’t kill another gangster.

Lunch was delicious, we went to The Ohio Club, it’s known for it’s burgers and Al Capone used to frequent the restaurant.

After lunch we were walking along the promenade by the main drag, it’s so cool in that area. We were overlooking the main street and Nathan said “this looks like a nice spot” and I said “yeah, this is really pretty” and I looked over there he was on one knee! He was so sweet and of course I said “yes”! I’m really excited to get to do life with him. We then called both of our parents and everyone is just so happy for us! P.S. I love my ring. 🙌🏼

Afterwards we went hiking on this awesome trail in Hot Springs National Park. The hike was just over 2 miles long and we worked up a sweat. The views were really cool and it’s convenient that the National Park is right by town. (Please note the sweat on my shirt…like, really?!)

For dinner we checked out a little Hibachi place that was delicious. I was happy to see that they had Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce on the menu. Literally that’s the best.


We woke up and played 9 holes at Coronado, the short course. It was fun, but not much to it. It’s just par 3’s and par 4’s with no water and no bunkers. We both should have played better than we did.

It’s pretty hot here, so after we grabbed lunch, we just hung out until it was time to head back to Hot Springs for dinner. Nathan found a great little pizza place, Brick City Pizza, which ended up being a great hole-in-the-wall. Nathan got the Supreme and I got the Six Cheese with stuffed crust. Can you tell I love cheese?

After dinner we stopped at Fat Bottomed Girl Cupcakes, which was apparently featured on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. We got the strawberry cheesecake, vanilla bean and buttermilk cupcake. They were all delicious! Following that was the Maxwell Blade Magic Show. Honestly, he was fantastic! For $20 he performed about an hour and a half and was great. Very entertaining!


We woke up super early this morning to make our 7:45 am tee time at Magellan Golf Course. We really enjoyed this course, several beautiful holes and it was also in great shape!

For lunch we had a hot dog at the little restaurant at the course and I treated myself to a good ole’ root beer float.

After we napped and rested (it’s a hard life, I know) we played another friendly game of tennis. I lost 9 games to 5 but am definitely getting better.


We woke up at 4 am to do our guided fishing trip. We’ve both been looking forward to this and were ready to go! We met our guide at 5 am at a local McDonald’s and followed him to Lake Ouachita. This lake is massive and really pretty. Actually, parts of it reminded me of Chub Lake.

Y’all. We went all around the lake and nothing. I mean nothing. Not even one nibble. It was kinda’ insane.

After over 4 hours we decided to call it a day. I just couldn’t believe it, not one single bite, even with a radar. That’s just pitiful. Everything else on our trip has been amazing but this was definitely a huge bust. Oh well, at least I got some nice pics out of it. What really surprised me was at the end of the trip, our guide still wanted the full $400. I completely understand that we used his gas and his time, but to not even get ONE fish… give me a break. We just gave him $200, which honestly, I think was more than generous. If anything, just put a minnow on a hook and let us catch some bait fish, we’d have been happy with just that. (I’m curious what everyone else thinks – comment at the bottom of the blog and let me know how you’d handle that.)

On our way back we stopped for a picnic and hike in Hot Springs National Park.

Again, after napping, we headed back to Hot Springs for a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. Neither of us had any idea what to expect but it ended up being a blast! The dinner was a pretty good all-you-can-eat buffet (yes, we did eat all we could eat) and the show was really funny. It was called Murder at the Howard Johnson’s!


Our last day in Hot Springs Village – I can’t believe how fast this week went. This morning we played the Nina Course at Isabella. Originally we were going to play all 18 but it was so hot, 9 was all we could do.

One of the other cool amenities in “The Village” are its beaches. There are three beaches and we spent an hour or so at the Balboa Beach. We laid out, swam and jumped off the pier several times.

For dinner we had steaks at The Porterhouse and then went on a walking haunted tour in downtown. Not only was it fascinating to learn about the gangsters in Hot Springs, but we also learned about all the scary events that have led to all sorts of hauntings in the city.


What a trip! We didn’t have any idea what this week would bring us but it proved to be full of four things – Love, Laughter, Learning and Adventure. These are things that we’ll continue to experience together and that makes me really happy. We’d both highly recommend everything that we experienced above to anyone looking to go on a fun vacation. 😀

Peace out✌🏼 and we’d love to see some comments below if you’ve been to Hot Springs!

Tri Fort Worth

Tri Fort Worth

Five months ago I began training for Tri Fort Worth. Tri Fort Worth is Fort Worth’s very first Ironman and Half Ironman distance triathlons. After completing two Sprint Tri’s in 2016, I decided to take a stab at a Half. The Sprint Tri’s consist of a .5 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. On the other hand, the Half is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.

I signed up again with Trident Sports, which I can’t say enough nice things about, to help me with all of the training. For this event Tracy was my coach and she is just awesome! In another week or so I’ll do a blog post that goes a little more in depth with the training, because it’s really interesting, but for now I’ll just share with you my race day experience.

The day before the race everyone had to drop off their transition bags. Our run bags (which have everything we’ll need for the run – shoes, hat, sunscreen, etc) were held at the Fort Worth Convention Center and our bike and bike bags were at Marine Creek Lake.

There are obviously a ton of expensive bikes that were left there overnight, so there was a ton of security.

On race day I woke up around 5:00, of course I didn’t sleep much, and we got to Marine Creek around 6:30. It was storming with lots of lighting in the area, so everything was delayed about an hour or so. Dad and Nathan were the BEST support team during the ride. Also, I was so excited again to see Mayor Betsy Price. I love her. She also trains with Trident and was doing the bike portion of the race today on a relay team.

Tri Fort Worth
Here is (almost) the whole Trident Team.

It was really exciting to see all the people getting ready for the swim. I believe there were 100 doing the Full and 500 doing the Half.

Here is a cool little clip of the first guys in the water who were doing the Full.

Here is me (not so gracefully getting out of the water).

Once out of the water, it was time to get on the bike.

Because this race was an ‘official event’ they don’t allow any electronic devices – which means no music. For some reason, the only song stuck in my head during the 56 mile ride was Country Grammar by Nelly.

I tend to forget how hilly Fort Worth is, but it definitely is!

Once the ride was done, it was time to begin the last leg – a 13.1 mile run. Yikes.

Running was by far the hardest part for me.

I’m so thankful that about half way through the run Marisol and I hooked up. She’s also apart of Team Trident and she really helped me get through the run! With about two miles left Blair also hooked up with us, who is also apart of Trident. I was so happy to have finished together with these amazing women.

Nathan was so sweet and of course as soon as I crossed the finish line I burst into tears. Almost 6 months of training finally was over and I think the exhaustion just caught up to me.

Here is a picture of me with Blair and Marisol.

Lee is a beast – this was his first Half as well and he completed it in 6.5 hours. Awesome!

I was soooooo thankful for such an awesome support group who came out on race day – I feel so blessed.

A huge shout out to my family and friends for all of their support during this whole adventure and especially Nathan. He’s been so supportive and patient during all the training, so now that it’s over, we’ll keep playing golf and tennis! I also want to thank Tracy, I couldn’t ever have trained for this without her!

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Last weekend Nathan and I ventured to Scarborough to the Renaissance Festival. He was a first-timer, so I was really excited to see what he thought. Mom and Dad used to take J4 and I every couple of years growing up. I always remember thinking it was funny to see mom’s students working there. Usually we’d see them around the Dan Rather Building of Communications in jeans and oversized sweat-shirts… however at the Ren Fest, her female students would typically be wenches with their boobs up to their necks. Hilarious. 

For those unfortunate souls who have never been to the Renaissance Festival, you are missing out on some pretty amazing people watching… and food!

The Renaissance Festival is historically based in the 16th century, under the reign of King Henry VIII. The festival is 35 acres and located in Waxahachie, Texas.  (There are other locations throughout the US.) There are 21 stages with more than 200 performances. Three jousting shows take place each day. There are about 150 cast members that make up the characters at Scarborough Renaissance Festival.

The Scarborough Renaissance Festival also features 200 shops selling goods such as candles, soaps, jewelry, children’s toys and even musical instruments. Many of the craftsmen selling their goods also provide demonstrations on how the items are made. 

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
One of the shows we really enjoyed were the jugglers, they were so good!

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
Y’all know how much I love food and especially macaroni and cheese, so you can imagine my delight to have fried macaroni and cheese on a stick!

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
Nathan went the more traditional route and enjoyed a sausage on a stick with a side of french fries. I’m assuming all of these wonderful foods were around during the 16th century, right?

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

The jousting was entertaining, especially when the guys got off their horses to engage in a sword fight. It was funny, like watching bad professional wrestling. Also, please note the Grim Reaper following around this random guy.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
The petting zoo was small, but fun. I want a baby goat so bad. Or a little baby piglet.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
Llamas trip me out. Their underbites make me laugh so bad. I feel like this llama’s name is Francine.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
Camels. I love camels. We each took a ride on a camel, it was literally only a 30 second ride, but totally worth the $5.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
You probably can’t tell because it’s so small in this picture, but I am wearing a small gold camel on my necklace.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
I say this all the time, but I do need to do a better job of posting my adventures on here. Life is great and I feel very blessed.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
-Jawaharlal Nehru

Skiing in Ruidoso, NM

Skiing in Ruidoso, NM

For this year’s second annual ski trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico, we stayed at Andrea’s house (a friend to Nathan’s parents). She has a wonderful home in the mountains that has a beautiful view. Below is the view from her back porch after a light snow. How gorgeous!

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. For our drive from Fort Worth to Ruidoso it was sunny and in the high 60s/low 70s, yet during our first night, it snowed.  Everywhere you go in this area, there are deer, wild turkeys and elk. Here is a herd of elk we saw one morning by the local elementary school.

We arrived on Saturday evening and had a late dinner at Rio Grande Bar & Grille. I had a loaded baked potato.

On Sunday we took it easy and ate lunch at the Inn of the Mountain Gods and then had dinner at the Texas Club.

Monday was our first day of skiing at Ski Apache and it was gorgeous driving up the mountain.

Wow – why am I so pale? I guess I need more sun in my life. The views driving up were so pretty, we were literally driving in and out of the clouds.

The drive up to Ski Apache is 12 miles long.

Tuesday was our second day skiing and it was awesome! The visibility was literally next to none. I think I’ll definitely frame the picture below on the ski lift.

This is only the second time I’ve gone skiing as an adult so I’m definitely a beginner. However, I think I’m doing pretty good. I stuck mostly with the greens but did end up going on two blues.

Nathan has about as much skiing experience as I do and he’s also doing awesome! We both think if we can come up here once a year and ski for a few days, that we’ll end up being really good.

After a morning on the slopes, we went with Nathan’s parents to the bowling alley. It was really fun because I have always had great memories at good ole’ Huntsville Lanes growing up.

Since Tuesday was also Valentine’s Day, Nathan and I ate dinner at The Ranchers Steak & Seafood. Nathan had the prime rib and I had the Alaskan king crab dish – which is my favorite meal! He helped me pick out some really beautiful opal earrings and necklace and I helped him pick out some new sunglasses.

On Wednesday morning we ate at The Log Cabin and I had the pecan waffle with a side of bacon. I’m on a big bacon kick right now. 🙂

After breakfast (we’ve eaten so well on this trip) we decided to go and play a little disc golf. Nathan is really good… while Gary and I are… well, we are still working on our game. Suzanne joined us for what ended up being quite the hike. The fact that none of us lost a single disc is pretty remarkable.

Thursday was our last day on the slopes and I went down two blue slopes, which means I’m definitely improving.

We got lucky again with the clouds on our way home, look below at how gorgeous the view was driving down the mountain. We were literally in the clouds.

Our last day was spent with Nathan’s parents while they house hunted for a vacation home and.. fingers crossed… they may have found one. I don’t want to say too much and jinx it, but it could be really awesome and the location is great!

On our drive home, we stopped at Aunt Shirley‘s house for an awesome breakfast – green chili quiche, cinnamon rolls, fruit and asparagus with a dill dipping sauce. Everything tasted so good and it’s always so wonderful when we get to stop and visit with her. She lives in Roswell, NM, home of the aliens. 

We had a wonderful vacation and I’m so thankful that Nathan’s parents let me tag along – such wonderful memories were created. Now back to reality!

Christmas and New Years

This year for Christmas everyone made their way up to Kalamazoo, MI to spend some time with Grandma Mary… Mother Mary… or Mary Weezie as I like to call her. I was lucky enough to arrive a day before everyone else, so it only seem natural to take advantage of our alone time. What better past-time than showing her the latest Snapchat filters. 


I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Chloe is the best traveler. She has flown on an airplane many times and is so well behaved. She was pretty tired when we finally arrived, so found her ‘spot’ and hunkered down for the evening.


The first night that mom and dad were there, we had dinner with Chuck and Marianne. They’ve been friends with grandma and grandpa for years and years. Last year they moved into The Village and it was wonderful to see them and catch up.


We were so happy to have Clare, John IV’s girlfriend, come up and spend Christmas with us. It was her first time to see snow but unfortunately the day we were going to go sledding was the day the snow decided to melt.


It’s only a few times a year that the Cochran clan are all together, so we really try and enjoy the time we have together.


We love our games! I found this funny game called “Watch Ya’ Mouth” and it was hilarious. You put these funny plastic things in your mouth that are similar to what dentists have in their offices. You have to read different phrases and your partner has to decipher what you are saying. It’s soooo funny! I have some great pictures of mom and dad wearing the mouth piece, but of course, mom has threatened my life if I ever leak the pictures of her. 😉


One of the traditions I hope to continue with my family is something my mom started years ago. When J4 and I were too small to read, she created photo cards for all the presents, so we could help hand out the gifts based on who’s picture was on the package. Doing this year after year, you end up with a great collection of family photos and you end up reminiscing while you open presents. 

Clare found really cute socks for all of us to wear – I love that she embraces her inner crazy cat lady. Please note the cats on her socks!


I’m always so curious what other family’s traditions are – we wake up, open presents and have Christmas music playing and then typically eat Kringle sent from Aunt Shirley and a breakfast casserole.


The whole gang. ❤️


While in town we stopped by the old family farm – one of Michigan’s last centennial farm that was owned by the same family the entire time. 150 years is pretty dang impressive! They mostly grew cherries and grapes.


The day after Christmas we had all the Pugsley cousins over for dinner, I think everyone had a really good time. It’s always really nice to see everyone! Below is Scott, Michael and John.


John and the kids were all in charge of passing out presents.


Mom and our Cousin Sally – they are so cute!


And of course mom and dad with Will and Sue. Will showed us his unbelievable collection of antique cars and metal toys. To keep the anonymity I haven’t added any photographs of his collection, but I can promise you – TV producers would love to get ahold of him!

I was in Michigan for almost a week but the time just flew by. We all had a great time together and I feel so blessed to have such a fun family.

Thanksgiving in Kingwood

Thanksgiving in Kingwood

This year we decided to spend Thanksgiving in Kingwood, TX at John 4’s new home. He and Clare were the best hosts and everything was just so lovely.  Here are some of my favorite moments from our fun week!

For the first time ever in Cochran history, we participated in Kingwood’s Turkey Trot. I hope this is a tradition we can continue.

I have to brag on John, he ran the 5k in 29 minutes and had the turkey on his head the entire time!

I didn’t feel quite as guilty eating to much food since we had a good workout in the morning.


I found these really pretty fall flowers at the Kroger by John’s house, so got them for our centerpiece.

Clare did 95% of the cooking the whole week and she killed it. Gold stars for her! The sweet potatoes were really good, not too sweet, but just right.

Mom made her stuffing and this year we did it with Jimmy John’s bread. It was awesome as usual. Her stuffing is my favorite, I look forward to it every year.  Clare’s green bean casserole was really good, it had ground beef in it I believe and of course I love those crunchy fried onions.

Y’all know how much I love corn casserole and macaroni and cheese. These were ah-mazing. I love my yellow foods so much.


I’m not usually a ham person, but I went back for seconds on this ham. The glaze was unreal. The turkey was really good too, Clare got this particular recipe from Gordon Ramsey and it was a turkey wrapped in bacon with cajon seasoning injections.

We finally got to meet Clare’s folks and we had so much fun with them! Great food, great company and great conversations.  You can’t ask for anything more.

Mom provided the table with little Thanksgiving Poppers, so we each had fun paper hats and little toys.

In Clare’s dad’s popper he got a fancy eye patch. 🙂

John got a cheap little yo-yo in his popper. After I ate, I really struggled to keep my eyes open, so this is my attempt to stay awake.

Nathan and Freddie joined us on Friday night and on Saturday we all got to play a round of golf at Deerwood Country Club. (Thanks John!) What’s cool about Deerwood is that’s where the famous scene from Tin Cup was filmed.

Thanksgiving was a blast and I’m so glad everyone was able to get together!

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