Greetings from Texas!

Whenever there is a holiday weekend I am on the first plane outta Dodge! The urge to put my feet in as many places as possible means anytime I have a long weekend (a.k.a. a free day off of work!) I must travel somewhere. It’s a blessing and a curse I willingly bear. #YOLO (is that still a thing? I don’t think it is. What are the youngins saying in 2014?)

My first trip of the year was to fly somewhere not bitterly cold since “below average temps” is the theme so far this year (except in SoCal where the weather is laughing at the rest of the country. What’s up, 70 degrees in January!) I traveled to Dallas/Fort Worth to visit my friend Hillary, and I brought some warmer temps with me to Texas and enjoyed a weekend in 60 degree weather!

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Heading West, Part 3: California

Just me and a crater in the hottest place on Earth!

California, baby! We made it on Tuesday night, Day 6 of our road trip, to Death Valley National Park in California. I’m not sure how many people choose to enter California via Death Valley but that’s how I like to roll: off the grid and a little different. And who knew that Death Valley was such a cool (eh eh, lol) place to visit! There was one place in Death Valley called The Racetrack that I’ve wanted to see since I saw a program on the History Channel years ago, but I never realized there was so much more to do in Death Valley. My enjoyment of Death Valley was also helped by the fact that we were NOT visiting in the summer and the high was only 99 degrees in late September. Really, that’s not bad all all since there was a decent breeze too. We also woke up early to get a head start on the day and we left Death Valley by early afternoon before the hottest part of the day.

[This is the final installment to my grand road trip, so if you haven’t read the first two posts, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2. Hope you enjoy my ramblings!]

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Heading West, Part 2: Utah & Arizona

Monday through Thursday of our road trip was all about the National Parks! (Thank the stars we visited these parks the week before the government shutdown.) I think I visited more national parks this year than in my entire life haha. And now I’m a super excited advocate for visiting these parks! National and State Parks are perfect activities for road trips, and vacations in general. Each day of our road trip, my dad and I had a destination in mind and, aside from the entry fees, these are very inexpensive adventures. I am now more eager than ever to visit as many National and State Parks as possible, because I learned just how many amazing natural sites our country has to offer.

Arches NP

[If you are hopping aboard this Part 2 post and have not read Part 1, click here!]

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Heading West, Part 1: Colorado

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7 nights, 8 days, 7 states, over 3,000 miles, degree range: 37 to 100, elevation range: sea level to over 7,000 feet.

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Summers at The Lake

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I’m a Missouri girl always…even if my birth certificate says “Kansas” and my driver’s license says “California”.

With Labor Day weekend upon us, this is the unofficial last weekend of summer. School has or is starting, vacations are concluding, and the last of the barbeque parties are rolling out this weekend. Therefore, I’m saying farewell to summer with a post about my home-state’s quintessential summer weekend getaway.

In Missouri when people say they are “going to the lake” it means only one thing: the Lake of the Ozarks, which is probably Missouri’s most popular summer destination for local Missourians and neighboring states. The Lake of the Ozarks is a beautiful and large lake set in the lush Ozark region of southern Missouri that has grown into quite the tourist destination for Missourians and neighboring states. (Side fact: Missouri is tied with Tennessee for most neighboring states; each has eight.)

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The Gravois arm of the Lake of the Ozarks…our neck of the woods. 🙂

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In Whiskey Bourbon Heaven

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My first time in Kentucky! Great place to start, right?!

This is Part Two of the epic family road trip! The subject of this post is actually where the idea for this cross-country vacation originated. And it all began seven years ago…

Papa Kyle has been a long time fan of Maker’s Mark and seven years ago he signed up to be a Maker’s Mark Ambassador. The coolest part of this program, besides the gifts you receive over time, is that you get your own batch of Maker’s Mark with your name on the barrel. It takes about 6-7 years for the bourbon to be ready, which is why my family had to wait so long to take this awesome trip to Maker’s Mark.

And thus it is time to begin the adventures of our last day of vacation.

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Bodie Lighthouse

I embarked on a “Griswold family vacation” this summer with my parents and brother across the beautiful states of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Lots and lots of hours in the car, plus several fun stops and views of beautiful countryside, made for a successful road trip. It’s been a long while since my family has spent this much time together, and perhaps it helps that my brother and I have moved past the arguing, bickering and fighting stages of our sibling relationship, but we all got along pretty swell! My Family = 1 / Disastrous Road Trip = 0. Winning!

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City of the Violet Crown

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I love travel. I yearn for it. I need it and I want it. It is a true passion and joy of mine. And so to ring in my birthday, I wanted to set my feet on new ground. I decided on the growing increasingly popular Austin, Texas; a new destination for me, and a fun place to visit!

My friend Hillary met me in Austin on Friday night and our first stop was dinner at Trudy’s. We went to the original location, which is tucked in a residential area, and a Tex Mex staple since 1977. Before our table was ready, we waited in their outdoor area and drank excellent margaritas. Always an indication of a good Mexican restaurant. Another sign of a good restaurant is to judge their chips and salsa. Trudy’s passed with an A++. So delicious! And I was very happy to find Flautas on their menu, which are my favorite Mexican dish, but not very common. I was having a fabulous birthday dinner! I highly recommend Trudy’s to anyone visiting Austin! http://www.trudys.com/trudys-central.php

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There and Back Again

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This month my mom and I took our new annual trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon and we ventured to some new places this year! One of them ended up being a failure, but hey “life is a journey, not a destination” right?? You have to make the most of what you have, and live in the moment. I had a wonderful vacation and am excited to share my adventures with you; expect beaches, lighthouses, snow and even a shipwreck!

We started off our trip on Friday by driving to Crater Lake from Portland. It’s about a 5 hour drive and we were all geared up and ready for it. Since we weren’t sure of the road conditions through the northern route (because we knew there was still snow at Crater Lake), we decided to go south all the way to Medford, OR and enter Crater Lake from that direction since we knew for sure that was an open route. By the way, at Medford we were probably about 30 minutes from the California border! That’s how far we drove! Practically the entire length of Oregon haha. Anyways, at Medford we finally saw signs for Crater Lake and began the 76 mile trek through Rogue River National Forest to Crater Lake National Park.

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Beautiful drive through Oregon on our way to Crater Lake

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The West Bottoms

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Last weekend my friend Hillary and I took a spontaneous trip to my hometown of Kansas City! And despite the cold, it was one of the most fun weekends I’ve had visiting KC. In part due to our exploration of Warehouse Weekends or First Weekends in the West Bottoms district. Every first weekend of the month the antique shops that occupy the old warehouses are open to the public and there are amazing accessories, furniture and art to discover! I’ve wanted to go ever since Warehouse Weekends started but it’s rare that I’m home on the first weekend of a month. But the stars finally aligned and I got to go!

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