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Chick Trips by road or rail

The latest buzz phrase in the travel and tourism industry is "Chick Trips," which can best be described as two to four girlfriends hitting the road to stay in a "home away from home" for a few days while touring the area of their choice.

After 20 years of visiting and writing about B & Bs, country inns, and other interesting lodging around the country--even authoring "Inns & Wineries of California," a series of travel books--I knew that with the right town, the right house, and the right location, it would be fun to have my own Chick Trip destination.

Readers of my column will remember Pauls Valley as one of my favorite small towns. You might be interested to know I recently purchased a well-kept 1940s two-bedroom Craftsman-style house on a pecan tree-studded corner lot in a Pauls Valley neighborhood. It's just right for up to four people who really like each other, and I furnished and equipped it with love. I call it Pecan Cottage Bed & Breakfast (www.pecancottage.com). Imagine that!

Pauls Valley--with its brick-paved streets, tree-lined neighborhoods, great eateries, and fab shopping plus Bedré's Chocolate Confectionary, Field's Pie Factory, and the Toy and Action Figure Museum--is three miles east of Interstate 35 at Exit 72--an hour south of Oklahoma City and two hours north of Dallas/Fort Worth. In addition, Amtrak's Heartland Flyer stops day and night at the charming depot in historic downtown.

I tested out the Chick Trip theory when a friend from Northern Arkansas came to visit. We stayed up late watching movies, eating popcorn and reminiscing, slept in late, hung out in our jammies 'til noon, and then went shopping.

Our first stop was thegallery (www.shopthegallery.com), where Ruth Anne proves that "not all art is framed." Not only does she travel the globe to provide the most unusual selection of gifts and comfortable couture clothing, but her collection of hand-painted needlepoint canvasses and hundreds of colorful threads also makes thegallery one of few places in the country with such variety.

Second stop was The Corner Market (www.cornermarketgifts.com), where we sat on stools at the old-fashioned soda bar, luxuriated in our choice of cappuccinos and Italian Crîme sodas, and took in colorful kitchenware, fab purses, candles, wall décor, and Debbie's amazing selection of jewelry. Finally, loaded down with bags, we were ready to put our feet up at the Pecan Cottage.

The Chick Trip theory, with Pecan Cottage Bed & Breakfast as the home base, works, especially when the larder is filled with munchies, fun microwavable meals, and non-alcoholic beverages for the guests' enjoyment.

I hope you plan a trip with your girlfriends soon and meet me in Pauls Valley, Okla. I promise you will love the luxury of doing what you want, when you want, without the work. There are plenty of options, from golf to wine tours to four-wheeling, depending on your adventure levels. For more information, visit www.pecancottage.com or call me at 580-622-5408.

Editor's note: Susen Foster is the owner of Greater Success Advertising. She is the author of numerous travel books. Susen can be reached at www.greatersuccess.com or call 580-622-5408.

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