Tuesday: We are still in Tennessee with our family. Today we spent the day in our beautiful Smoky Mountains. This is the place where I grew up, and where we were married, so this is a very important spot of the world for us. We enjoyed the day by the river: swimming, exploring, and just resting.
Our riverfront property in the Smoky Mountains
After a glorious day of soaking up the beauty and the sun, my family met us for family photos. We snagged a great deal with our wedding photographer and decided to have family photos made of our little family. It was blazing hot, but we had such a good time!
Wednesday: This was our last day in Knoxville. We went our separate ways to see friends last minute and do some more family time. That night, we enjoyed another quiet evening with Josh's parents at the oasis they call a cabin/house. We ended the night with seeing Josh's friend Jason, his wife, and their precious and entertaining little girl, Anna Kate. Then it was time to pack up and get ready to hit the road!
Thursday: We got underway to St. Louis. We were on our way to see my friend/former boss/mentor, Debi and her husband. Along the way, we went through 3 states. You'll notice a theme in these photos. First stop: Kentucky!
We stopped in Berea, Kentucky to see my alma mater - Berea College. It was SO fun to give Josh a tour of my old stomping grounds. It was nice to share that part of my life with him.
In front of Boone Tavern Hotel (we forgot to take photos elsewhere on campus).
Next up: Indiana
And last stop for the day - Missouri!
We stayed with my friend Debi and Paul. They live "out in the country." And for St. Louis, it sure is country! I had no idea this little gem of a house and neighborhood could exist in such a metro area! Their house was essentially a log cabin on beautiful property over looking a lake. It was so quiet and nice. The sunrise was spectacular!
We felt so blessed to spend time with them. They were generous and allowed us to leave to explore downtown St. Louis. So, of course, we had to go to the Arch.
View from the top. This is the point where I started to freak out. No one told me that thing sways in the wind! I thought for sure it was falling over. Yikes!
St. Louis Cardinals Stadium
They had colored the water in this fountain in support of the upcoming Race for the Cure.
If you are in St. Louis, you HAVE to have a Budweiser beer. So, we indulged!
So long, St. Louis! You've been good to us!
Friday: We hit the road again for the entire day. Our destination was a half-way point to Denver, CO so we ended up in Hays, Kansas.
The drive across Kansas is as boring and flat as you could imagine. But we entertained ourselves with looking at wind turbines and playing "Cow Poke." If you don't know that game, you should ask me about it before you take a road trip with a kid.
This stop in Kansas was not one we enjoyed. My phone was stolen at a local Applebee's. Luckily, we were able to replace it the next day, but the feeling of violation just put a sour taste in our mouth. By the next day, we were able to joke about things. As my funny husband joked, "Kansas is full of outlaws."
Saturday: We make it to Denver for a two-night stay. The drive across the rest of Kansas and eastern Denver were basically the same - flat, farmland, boring. I kept promising Josh that mountains DID exist. It took until we were basically in Denver city limits before we were able to see them.
Aw, wonderful Denver!
Josh wanted to see as many stadiums as possible. So, we actually stayed at Hotel VQ which shares a parking lot with Mile High Stadium. I kept my eye out for Peyton Manning, but he avoided me.
To explore the city, we went down to the 16th Street Mall. It is very tourist-y, but it's also a great place to stretch your legs after a long day in the car. The median of the street had all these great pianos and some people could really jam!
I just pretended. Although, my fingers are placed in the proper place for a C major chord (the only one I remember from piano lessons).
The only downside to our time in Denver was the 105 degrees. But we powered through and played tourist!
Josh wouldn't let me take many photos, so I snagged this after we had dessert and drinks at a great outdoor patio.
We visited the Denver Aquarium to avoid the heat on Sunday. Apparently, a lot of other tourists and even some locals had the same idea!
Sunday evening, we found an A-mazing local restaurant - The Mercury Cafe. It featured organic, vegan, and gluten-free items. Plus, 85% of its supplies were purchased from local farmers!
After dinner, we wandered into the poetry slam they were hosting in the banquet room. It rocked our world! People were so talented and open. My favorite line from the night was from a guy named Lenny: "Sometimes shit is coming at you so fast, that you have to shovel it over your shoulder and keep going." So true, Lenny. So true.
Monday: We are leaving Denver for Utah, but first, we had breakfast with our friend Sunny. We have known her since high school. She has been in Colorado for years, so it was nice getting her local suggestions on food. It was great seeing her and hearing about her new adventures in life!
We explored along the Colorado River, first.
Josh explored off the beaten path.
While all I wanted to do was put my feet in the water and cool off!!
Next up: Arches National Park!!
Tuesday: We leave Moab for Las Vegas, NV. We drive for hours through desert mountains, spectacular views, and 105 degree temps. We were intrigued by this landscape because it was unlike anything we had ever seen or imagined. However, we were very, very glad to reach the oasis that is Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is in our sights!
It was so nice to be showered and all dressed up for a few hours on the town. We ate a good Mexican dinner, gambled a few pennies (which we promptly lost), and just wandered up and down the strip. There was no way to see or do all we wanted to in our few short waking hours in Vegas, but it was good to experience it. Would it be our ideal vacation? No. But we are glad we went to see what all the fuss was about.
Next stop: CALIFORNIA!!!!