Escape of the Week: America via iPhoneography

If there is one thing I did to an excess while driving cross-country, it was taking photos.

Between my new camera and my iPhone, I logged thousands of photos.

Because the iPhone was easy to tote around, there were so many instances when I simply pulled it our from my purse (or from the arm rest when I was driving) and snapped pics.

I like to think these photos help show the beauty of the lesser traveled/boring drives through the heart of America. For even more photos, be sure to click the links.

Enjoy the “iphoneography!”

The journey begins in Las Vegas. Dave and I head north on I-15 to Zion. Our drive through Nevada is flat, with desert surrounding us and mountains in the far distance.

The drive north on I-15 past Las Vegas, Nevada

A quick 2 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas is one of the most spectacular spots I have ever visited — Zion National Park. Our first night, we grab dinner at the Bit & Spur, a cute Southwest restaurant with views of the fiery orange rocks from the patio.

The Bit and Spur at Zion National Park

The next day, we go and explore Zion. Walking from our moderately crappy motel, we hit the entrance to Zion on foot.

Walking in to Zion National Park in Utah

The entrance to Zion National Park in Utah

Pink blossoms hang from trees inside Zion National Park

Our next stop: Colorado.

We drive for 10 – plus hours. My eyes having a hard time to stay open as we go from high desert to the Mars-like landscape of barren red rock jutting out at different levels with the Rockies (or what I kept saying were the Rockies) in the distance.

Heading towards the Mars-like landscape in Moab, Utah

Finally, we cross Utah into Colorado and we get our first glimpse of the magnificent Rocky Mountains.

Driving on I-70 through the Colorado Rockies

Suddenly, I am awake. Thrilled to be in such a spectacular landscape.

I-70 through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado

From Denver, we head back up to Keystone for a conference. While I wait for our conference to kick-off, I spend time wandering through the main street of the charming ski town of Breckenridge.

The resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado

In Keystone, we are treated to high altitude and a sunset to rival some of the best I’ve ever seen. I’m sure that had something to do with the peak with little bursts of lingering snow set against the pine trees and pinks and blues of the sky.

The sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains in Colorado

I said “see you soon” to Dave in Keystone and then began the rest of my road trip with Erica. In the middle of the night, we drove from there to Denver, and in the morning we were off through the flat roads of Nebraska (and Colorado).

A photo from I-80 in Nebraska

Sunset off of I-80 in Nebraska

Eventually, we stopped in Omaha and enjoyed the awesomeness of the city and a dive bar tour.

A visit to a dive bar in Omaha, Nebraska

A visit to a dive bar in Omaha, Nebraska

The next day, we head out to Chicago via I-80 and Iowa. I’m surprised and delighted by what we see out of the window. It’s beautiful.

Driving on I-80 through Iowa

Driving through Iowa on I-80

Iowa from I-80

Of course, as we get closer to Chicago, traffic stops. Which gives me time to hang out the window and take some pics.

The Chicago skyline from a distance

A photo of the Chicago Theater in Downtown Chicago

Another look at the Downtown Chicago skyline

After Chicago, we headed south through Indiana …

Windmills in Indiana

… to Louisville. Of course, we took obligatory shots at Churchill Downs and of the charm in Downtown Louisville.

Downtown Louisville's main street

Our second night, we hit up Holy Grail, a church-turned-bar near my friend’s place.

The Holy Grail in Louisville, Kentucky

No visit to Louisville is complete without trying some bourbon!

A bourbon sampler in Louisville, Kentucky

After two weeks of driving cross-country, we finally headed to Maryland, stopping to see my brother first in Frostburg.

An old hotel on Frostburg, Maryland's main street

And then, eight hours later, we were to my house. And the next brief chapter of my life began.

Americas Blog Colorado Destinations Illinois Iowa Kentucky

The charm and quirk of Louisville, Kentucky

“Louisville is so cute!” I coo to Erica as we drive through the giant, tree-lined streets. “It reminds me of Atlanta!”

While totally out of the way on our road trip, I included Louisville on the route for two reasons: one, because one of my good friends live there; and two, because it was a place I had considered living when I returned from my long-term travel. Of course, Las Vegas won out, but it was the only other place I wanted to go. Even without seeing it first.

Aside from visiting Churchill Downs, seeing the city through the eyes of a local is something both Erica and I want to do. Thankfully, my friend Karen and her fiancé volunteer to take us on a little exploration of the city.

We head to West Main Street to explore the quaint and charming city.

A street in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky

A piece of street are in Louisville, Kentucky

Another photo of Downtown Louisville, Kentucky

Located on Main Street is the Louisville Slugger Museum. With record attendance two-years in a row, today there is a crowd of people outside. Inside, they will learn about the history of the museum, as well as tour the factory and more.

The entrance to the Louisville Slugger Museum

A stack of bats on display inside the Louisville Slugger Museum

The machines to make bats inside the Louisville Slugger Museum

Just outside the museum is the World’s Largest Baseball Bat — a must for photos.

The World's Largest Bat, Louisville Slugger, in Louisville, Kentucky

And then, there is the quirk. Erected in May 2012 in front of the popular 21 C Museum Hotel, this Statue of David is a replica of the infamous Italian one. Standing at 30-feet tall, the enormous gold figure is not easy to miss.

The Statue of David in Louisville, Kentucky

Another perspective of the Louisville, Kentucky's Statue of David

A look from the back at Louisville, Kentucky's Statue of David

My favorite part of Louisville, though, it what lays outside of the main streets — the homes. Gorgeous, palatial homes dripping in Southern charm can be found here, complete with front porches to take in the summer nights.

A home in Louisville, Kentucy

Have you visited Louisville? What were your favorite spots?

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of the #winosontheroad series. Over Yonderlust and d travels ’round went road tripping and exploring America from Colorado to Maryland in June 2012. Be sure to check out all of the posts of life on the open road.

Americas Blog Kentucky

A visit to Louisville isn’t complete without Churchill Downs

Here’s a quick lesson:

If you mention Louisville ever, ever, make sure you don’t pronounce it “Louie-ville.”

Seriously.

It’s like when people from Nevada hear other people pronounce the state’s name as “Nevahhhdahhhh.”

As someone who lived in Nevada, hearing that is like nails scratching down a blackboard. Knee tingling awful.

Back to Kentucky. The name is pronounced “Lool-ville.” Only, it’s not that easy. You’ve got to do that “ool” in the back of your throat, all guttural.

Aside from having a name that bothers my throat, setting up shop in this quaint semi-Southern town was the perfect ending to our road trip across America.

The drive from Chicago to Kentucky (I don’t even like writing the name of the city because even thinking about it gives my throat sympathy vibrations), is entirely uneventful. Indiana is … Indiana. We shoot across the state fairly quickly, crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky just as the sun begin to sink, turning the city into a pretty picture of pinks and blues.

With a few hours until my friend we are staying with, Karen, gets out of work, Erica and I have some BBQ and enjoy the golden hour over the charming restaurant-lined main street.

Those, my friends, are some tasty fried pickles.

Erica and I have a few goals for the Louisville leg of our journey:

1. Don our best dresses and fascinators and head to the horse races.

2. Tour the disco ball factory (the town is home to the largest maker in the world).

3. Drink bourbon. Which for some reason, my whisky-loving mind cannot do.

We, as a duo, accomplished only one of those things. Half-way.

On our first full day in Louisville, we wake up and head to Churchill Downs.

It’s a hot day. The sun is out as we park our car in someone’s parking lot/yard and head into the grand building, and later, the grand stand.

The guy running the lot offers us tickets in the stands for a whopping $5. General admission is $3, so we decide being in the shade and in the stands is worth the $2.

Then, we cross the street and head into the complex.

 

It’s not nearly what I imagine. In my mind, I expect to see women dressed to the nines, extravagant hats perched on their well-coiffed heads, sipping Mint Juleps with ice that clinks gently as it settles to the bottom of the glass.

Yeah. That doesn’t exist. Except for maybe during the Derby.

Today, the people are normal. Shorts. T-shirts. The only hats people have on are baseball hats (and the fedora I threw on my head in an effort to look cooler than I am).

It’s not crowded, either. Even though the parking lot looks packed, walking into the track results in a crowd where the horses hang out before the race, and by the betting area.

The stands … they’re pretty much empty.

Erica and I have no clue how to place bets. I’ve only bet on horses once before when I was living in Las Vegas. My friend, an odds-maker, walked me through it. Today, he does the same, sending me text messages on how to bet and what to bet.

Then, after betting $2 on the winner of the race, we head up to our seats to watch.

Giddy, we clutch the little pieces of paper in our hands as the horses are brought out and strut around the starting line.

Then, they’re off. Galloping. Thunking their hooves onto the peachy dirt.

We lose.

Fortunately, we stick around for two more races …

… and win.

As we leave Churchill Downs, we’re still happy. Still excited. And, our day is young. There’s a murder mystery party to attend.

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of the #winosontheroad series. Over Yonderlust and d travels ’round went road tripping and exploring America from Colorado to Maryland in June 2012. Be sure to check out all of the posts of life on the open road.

Americas Blog Kentucky

Daily Wanderlust: World’s Largest Baseball Bat

If Louisville, Kentucky could have one major claim to fame in the world, it would be the Lousiville Slugger. At least in my mind.

After all, the wooden bats made here have become synonymous with baseball. The “Lousiville Slugger” scroll etched onto each bat is easily recognized. In downtown Louisville, it is easy to see the city’s deep appreciation for the bat manufacturer. For more than 120 years, the maker has been here, creating bats for some of the world’s best baseball players.

In the century-plus, Louisville Slugger has sole more than 100 million bats and is considered the most popular bat brand in the history of the sport.

Today, the company has extended its breadth, now making gloves, helmets, gear, bags and more.

During our road trip, we made a stop at the famed World’s Largest Bat, perched against the Louisville Slugger Museum. Made in 1995, the five-story bat weighs in at 34 tons and is made of hollow carbon steel, like the bat used by Babe Ruth.

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of the #winosontheroad series. Over Yonderlust and d travels ’round went road tripping and exploring America from Colorado to Maryland in June 2012. Be sure to check out all of the posts of life on the open road.

Travel

Daily Wanderlust: Louisville, Kentucky

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of the #winosontheroad series. Over Yonderlust and d travels ’round are road tripping and exploring America through June 27. Be sure to check out all of the posts of life on the open road.

The drive from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky is quick. Relatively speaking.

From where we were staying in Hinsdale to the southern charm-filled Kentucky town, it only took about five hours — even with traffic from Chicago past Indianapolis.

Crossing over from Indiana to Kentucky greets drivers with a magnificent view of not only the Ohio River, but also the Louisville skyline.

Destinations

Exploring America

So, what does one do after making the decision to leave America and become an expat?

Plan an epic, massive, awesome road trip.

That’s right.

My time as a Las Vegan is coming to a bittersweet end in a mere few days (the movers come Monday, June 11). Then, I’m off on a cross-country road trip adventure before I head to Thailand and Elephant Nature Park.

Who is coming along for the ride?

First, Dave, of What’s Dave Doing, will be joining me.

He arrives Sunday to Las Vegas and gets to deal with an emotional D for a few days. (Yes, I feel bad but he has promised alcohol to take the sting of leaving my cats and driving north on 15.)

Where are we going?

No trip through the gorgeous southwest is complete without a stop in Utah at one of the stunning national parks. For this journey, we are parking it for two nights in Zion.

I’ve lived in the area for a total of five-plus years, so Zion isn’t new to me. But, it is to Dave! While I’m not going to be doing any death defying Angel’s Landing adventures, I do plan on re-visiting this gorgeous enclave of nature … and chilling by our hotel’s pool for a bit.

Then, we’re off to Colorado and TBEX — with a stopover to chill out in Denver and possibly drink some Fat Tire.

After getting some travel blogger conference time in, Dave and I will part ways and the passenger seat will open up to one of my favorite travel bloggers in the universe, Erica from Over Yonderlust.

#WinosontheRoad

Like Dave, we’ve never actually met in person, but through e-mail and phone conversations, I know I already adore the girl.

After Colorado, we are heading to Omaha (someplace in middle America, you’re welcome), then Chicago to see one of my best travel girls, Katie, and to make sure Erica crosses off “eating a hot dog” in the Windy City from her bucket list.

From Chicago, we are going to bop on down to Louisville, Kentucky to spend a few days with a good friend of mine, don fascinators and check out the Churchill Downs and even embark on a little bourbon tour.

Then, we’re in the home stretch and headed to Maryland to drop off my car, go sailing with my dad and raise a glass in our nation’s capitol.

What does this mean for the site? Well, for the next few weeks, as I pack, move and road trip it, there will be some guest posts to entertain. Then, once I’m back in the 301, it will be back to a more normal routine again! And, likely, tales of our epic adventures!

Want to follow along on the journey? Be sure to check out #winosontheroad on Twitter, Instagram and our blogs.

Have you done a cross-country road trip through America? Any places we should stop along the way? Leave a comment below and share your story!

 

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