When I got married for the first time, wife #1 and I did what everyone else did for the Thanksgiving holiday - gather with family. Her family always had a gathering in the early afternoon. Since my parents did Thanksgiving at the normal dinner time, we always got to enjoy two large feasts. And since we didn't have kids, we were always doing the visiting.
Things changed slightly with wife #2. My parents still did Thanksgiving in the late afternoon. But her family lived overseas. Not having an obligation in the morning gave us the opportunity to try a few different things. We started out with a simple sightseeing drive to explore the beautiful countryside of central Pennsylvania and enjoy the quiet time. The need for food arose as those drives became longer which lead to the discovery of the "Holiday Buffet" that many restaurants host. Eventually, our plan had evolved to where looking for the great buffet became the reason to take a long drive, something we would later implement for other aspects of our lives, not just for holidays.
The plan evolved again with the introduction of the actual holiday "road trip" after wife #2 and I moved from Pennsylvania to Missouri in 2003. We would often use the long Thanksgiving weekend to make the 800-mile drive home. If that wasn't possible, we reverted back to the long-drive-to-a-holiday-buffet plan and headed to a casino, usually Harrah's in St. Louis or the Ameristar in Kansas City, for a feast the magnitude of which neither of us had encountered before, (Pennsylvania didn't have casinos in those years).
Moving to Georgia in 2009 did two things. First, it shortened the drive home by roughly 100 miles. And second, it put the nearest casino, Harrah's in Cherokee, North Carolina, about 3 hours away. But the big changes occurred in 2011 after my Mom died and I got divorced. While I still made the trip to Harrah's regularly, the reason for a long road trip had disappeared. The plan settled back into the long-drive-to-a-holiday-buffet routine with Harrah's in Cherokee remaining the primary destination.
I met my friend Heather in 2012 when she was a PhD Candidate at UGA. She had also grown up with the traditional holiday activities. The idea of driving three hours to a casino for a Thanksgiving buffet was foreign to her at the time. But she immediately approved the idea after the first trip.
Then I discovered Jekyll Island, Georgia over Christmas 2014. While not long compared to a Pennsylvania visit, around 5 hours is still needed to make that trip. But more importantly, once I discovered Jekyll Island, I was hooked. And best of all, this evolution of the original plan now featured both a long road trip AND a wonderful buffet.
Heather moved from Georgia to Colorado in 2015. She kept telling me, "You need to visit," which I did in 2016 and 2017. Heather moved to Wyoming during the summer of 2018, and once again encouraged me to visit. What follows are some of the highlights of that trip.