on the road

I’ve been really blessed in my life to have had the opportunity to travel to some really awesome places.  At 25, I’ve gone to places that a lot of people only dream of, and I am sooooo thankful and aware of how special that is.  Recently I started thinking of all the places I’d seen, which opened up my mind to something even broader, all the places I hadn’t seen in my own country.  I’d traveled all over Europe but never across the US.  I’d been to the Caribbean on close to 10 different occasions but not once had I seen a prairie.  So this fall I let my wanderlust get the best of me and took advantage of some free time to do a “cross country” road trip (ok my schedule wasn’t that relaxed, so we had to make it a half cross country trip).
My original thought was to grab the dog and a bag and head out with no plan, stop wherever I wanted, camp out, whatever worked.  But my voice of reason (aka my mother) persuaded me it might be a little safer, not to mention better conversation, if she joined along instead.  So off we went on our week long adventure, doing whatever we wanted, seeing whatever we could, and taking lots of pretty pictures :)

We started out in Northern Va, headed through West Virginia (had to go to Beckley, WVa of course), Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, all the way to our final destination of Oklahoma, and then back through Arkansas, Tennessee, a side trip through Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee again, and then back up trusty 81 and home. Here’s my attempt at chronicling our trip through photos:

Good old VA.  My mom’s backyard really shows each season perfectly.


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On our way out of VA we saw a sign for “Humpback Bridge” and pulled off.  One of the many treasures we accidentally stumbled upon.

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We did a very scenic tour through West Virginia (who knew how awesome that state is?!).  This was at one of the scenic overlooks of the New River that we stopped at.  This is my trusty sidekick :)

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Next stop in WVa was the New River Gorge.  How awesome is this bridge?  It’s one of the most famous places in the US for bungee jumping and extreme sports.  If I ever get the urge to jump off a bridge (harness attached), this will be the place I go.

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We took some side roads through the coal  mining towns in West Virginia and came across the most serene, beautiful sight.  This was where 3 different rivers converged and somehow created this perfectly still, amazing body of water.  So cool.

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We ended up spending the night outside of Louisville, Kentucky the first night and got up first thing to check out Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby).  We couldn’t go in but the riders were working the horses around back and we were able to sneak around and check it out.

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We were ready for a break in Indiana and happened to come across a sign for a Monastery, so of course we pulled off.  How stunning is this place?!

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Our final destination was Oklahoma, mainly the Tahlequah area, but we decided to spend the night in Miami and head further in the next day.  While there we stumbled upon some info for this farm on Lake O’The Cherokees and went for a gorgeous ride.  We both love riding and figured what better thing to do in Oklahoma?  Hands down my favorite thing of our entire trip.  The view of the lake (Oklahoma has some massive bodies of water!), the trails, the sweet smell of horses, the pack of dogs playing around our feet, coupled with an awesome guide made for an amazing morning.  I didn’t want to leave!
(I didn’t take my camera on the ride, so I don’t have any pictures of us on the horses of my own)

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Our main stop in Oklahoma was the Cherokee Heritage Center.  Our family has some Cherokee blood-you wouldn’t know by looking at me though you can definitely tell looking at my mom, so we thought it would be cool to learn a little more about our heritage.  The Flint Worker there, Tim, is the Cherokee National Treasure in Flint Work and was making the most incredible arrows.  He was so passionate and talented that you just wanted to sit there and learn from him all day.


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Everyone in Oklahoma was so awesome (and really in every state), and it was so beautiful and cozy there that we didn’t want to leave.  On our way out we were greeted with this amazing sunrise.  Made it that much harder to go!


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This mill (Pughs Mill) in Little Rock is featured in the opening credits of Gone With the Wind.  Pretty cool random find


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We did dinner in Memphis at Rendezvous (ammmazzing) and took a walk down Beale Street for some music.


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Tupelo, Mississippi turned out to be quite the little gem!


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Call me naive, but I’d never seen cotton fields before.  We pulled over at a gorgeous field in Northern Alabama.  It looked like fresh snow.


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We made a detour into Lynchburg, Tennessee to check out the Jack Daniels Factory (duh!) and then shot up to Nashville for the evening.


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We’ve both traveled good old 81 about a million times and our last leg of the trip was just a straight shot up it, so we decided to stop at something that we’d always passed off as kitschy, the Natural Bridge Zoo.  Man we’d been missing out!  The Zoo was so cozy and intimate, but still had the beautiful wildlife that you’d find at the National Zoo.  Definitely a great stop if your bored on the road from Virginia Tech to Northern Virginia.


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I was recently asked for some pictures of sunsets for a function I was attending and realized that I had almost none from the past year.  So for this trip I made sure to get a picture every day.  Here’s a little montage:
Day 1: West Virginia/Kentucky border


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Day 2: Missouri


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Day 3: Oklahoma


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Day 4: Mississippi


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Day 5: Nashville (we had some rain clouds, so this is the sky at what should have been sunset.  Still gorgeous in my opinion)


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It was so cool to get out and actually see the country. Not to just fly over it on my way to an end point, but to enjoy the destination.  Until next time…


 


Peace, love, and bliss-A


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