Adventure is Everywhere

Adventure is Everywhere

Think you live in a place where there is nothing to do? I hear that all the time regarding my state and I disagree. With the right mindset and a little creativity, you can find adventure wherever you live. You don’t need to travel out of the country or even out of your town. I’d be willing to bet you can find something fun and interesting to do wherever you are. Once you learn that adventure seeking skill you can use it wherever you go to create more excitement in your life. To prove my theory, I’m embarking on a really long (like probably a few years) experiment to find something enjoyable to do in every county in Indiana. Let’s face it, Indiana isn’t a vacation hotbed – most people head to a big city or the beach for their annual vacations, so I figured if I can prove that my middle of the country state has something interesting to do EVERYWHERE, my point will be made! There are 92 counties in Indiana, so it’s a pretty daunting task. You can expect to start seeing posts each month covering a county or two (or three). I’ll still continue to share other trips, travel info, ideas for things to do, etc., this will just be a fun little addition. Luckily for me, I’ve already covered a few so I have a bit of a headstart. I’ll come back to this post and add links as I complete each county. I’ve broken down the state into regions and to keep it simple, I just followed how Visit Indiana categorizes them. Ready...
A Presidential Adventure

A Presidential Adventure

Looking for something different to do when visiting Indianapolis? Or maybe you’re a local who has already checked out all the traditional Indy tourist spots. Or you just love history and good food? Whatever camp you fall into, I’ve got a treat for you! Join me in a presidential adventure. Located just minutes from downtown Indianapolis, is the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. The 23rd Presidents former home has been beautifully restored and is chock full of interesting artifacts, presidential mementos, and history. The tour starts at the welcome center located behind the mansion, and you’ll easily find free parking either right on Delaware Street or in a small lot behind the welcome center. I visited on a Monday morning and we had a full tour of 12 guests. Many were from the Indianapolis area, but others were history buffs passing through the city on their way to another adventure. In addition to getting admittance to the tour in the welcome center, there is a small gift shop and a rotating exhibit. The current exhibit is on political humor – and it was a fun one to explore. If you enjoy political cartoons and jokes, you’ll definitely want to spend some time in this exhibit. The tour I took lasted about an hour and was led by a wonderfully knowledgeable docent named Patricia. Not only did she know the history of many of the items in the house, but she also had some fun stories to share about the President and his family. For example, she shared a hilarious story of a time that one of the children’s pets (a...
An Adventurous Day in St. Louis

An Adventurous Day in St. Louis

A big thanks to Bi-State Development and Explore St. Louis for sponsoring this trip. All suggestions and opinions are 100% my own. Ready for another adventurous day in St. Louis? Hopefully, you’ve planned your trip to the Arch and a fun day of Blues and BBQ in St. Louis. Don’t let your adventures end there, spend another day in the city exploring St. Louis’s newest attraction along with one of the most unusual. Personally I love a beautiful old train station, but unfortunately in many cities, as train travel has dramatically decreased, the old stations start to deteriorate from lack of interest and use. Instead of letting this happen to Union Station in St. Louis, the city has decided to completely revitalize the entire area with a new 100,00+ square foot aquarium and several other fun activities. Once completed, visitors will easily be able to spend a day enjoying it all. The aquarium is set to open later this year (2019) and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the construction. With multiple touch tanks (stingrays!), and 43 other exhibits including otters and a super cool shark tank, this aquarium will be entertaining for visitors of all ages. After talking to the folks immersed in creating this new experience, I learned a few things that will set the St. Louis aquarium apart from aquariums of similar size.   First, the aquarium is housed inside a historic building – tell me that wasn’t a challenge? So it’s automatically going to have a very different vibe than a standard aquarium. Secondly, the focus is on customer experience –  there...
Gateway Arch National Park Experience

Gateway Arch National Park Experience

A big thanks to Bi-State Development and Explore St. Louis for sponsoring this trip. All suggestions and opinions are 100% my own. If you’ve ever driven by St. Louis, you’ve seen the Gateway Arch National Park. It’s America’s tallest man-made monument, so you really can’t miss it. It was built between 1963 and 1965 and is often referred to as the Gateway to the West. Although I’ve visited a few times in the past, my recent trip showed me how much this area has changed – for the better! You might not realize it, but the Gateway Arch is one of our National Parks. It’s considered an urban National Park – and thanks to that designation, there are extra resources and education that a state or local park might not receive. For example, if you have kids they can earn a Junior Ranger badge for visiting and filling out activities in the Junior Ranger Activity Book. These Junior Ranger programs are the perfect way to help your kids learn a little something while they are having fun. Heck, I think they are pretty fun myself! Start your day across the street from the Gateway Arch National Park at the Old Courthouse. Try to time your visit to coincide with one of the Ranger-led talks (check the website for times) These Park Rangers really know their history and make the site so much more interesting. In addition to viewing the beautiful building (just look at that ceiling in the picture below), you’ll get a good feel for the history of St. Louis, learn a little about Lewis & Clark AND...
Book Reviews Spring 2019

Book Reviews Spring 2019

Ready for some new book reviews? I’ve always got a book (or two or three) that I’m reading. I usually keep one on the car, one in the house and sometimes one upstairs in my office. Since I love reading so many different types of books, I rarely get them confused. Suffice it to say I read WAY more than I share in these book reviews. In the quarterly reviews, I just like to give you a highlight of some of my favorites. These last few months of reading included quite a bit of Young Adult fiction. There are currently 25 books on the list for the 2019 – 2020 Eliot Rosewater “Rosie” High School Book Award. Since we love a challenge in my family, my daughter and I are reading through them. They are all YA, but they are all very different genres. I’m about halfway through the list, so I suspect my summer reading reviews will also contain quite a few. NON-FICTION Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive was an eye-opening view into the life of a young single mom without any family support. It was interesting (and often heart-breaking) how drastically her life changed when she became pregnant with her daughter. I felt myself cheering her on as she worked so hard to improve her life, give her daughter a good childhood and struggle through the government systems. My rating 4 out of 5. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives was based upon the true story of an agender teen who was set...
Blues and BBQ in St. Louis

Blues and BBQ in St. Louis

A big thanks to Bi-State Development and Explore St. Louis for sponsoring this trip. All suggestions and opinions are 100% my own. When you think of Blues and BBQ, what city comes to mind? Is it Nashville or Memphis, TN for BBQ? New Orleans or Chicago for the Blues? Although those might be the places that you automatically think of, now that I’ve spent some time exploring St Louis’s rich heritage for both, I know it’ll be my first pick! Ready for a fun day in St Louis enjoying both Blues and BBQ? I’ve got you covered. Start your day at the National Blues Museum located in downtown St. Louis. This relatively new museum (opened in September 2016) chronicles the history of the Blues and highlights Blues musicians, events and influences. The Blues is all about feelings and emotions and therefore is music for everyone. In addition to some amazing exhibits and historical artifacts, the museum offers a fun, interactive experience where you’ll actually get to create your own Blues song. While you are touring the museum, you’ll stop at several stations and add typical Blues elements. When you are finished, you’ll end up with a Blues song made just for you. Pretty cool, right? Both in the 1920s and after World War II, there was a large migration of southerners moving north to urban areas such as St. Louis and Chicago – with them, came their music – the Blues. As Americans moved, the Blues were introduced to more people and record labels started taking notice. This is how the historical southern or country Blues morphed into electric...
Guest Post – Island Life in Michigan

Guest Post – Island Life in Michigan

It’s been a few years since we visited Mackinac Island, but we did have a wonderful visit! My family especially loved the Fort and the carriage ride around the island. My friend Tanya from Traveling Tanya was there last year, and hearing about her trip takes me back to our day on the island and makes me want to plan another visit soon! Check our her adventures and advice:  Spring has finally arrived! I’m Traveling Tanya, and I enjoy traveling just about any time of the year. But spring is an especially fun time to get out and explore. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind getaway this spring, consider Mackinac Island. Last fall I took my family to this magical island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While fall is a great time to visit the island, I long to return in springtime to see the flowers in bloom and watch this quaint town come back to life after a winter slumber. But for now, I’ll reminisce about our fall getaway to Mackinac Island! Preparing for Mackinac Island I’m a planner by nature, so before heading to Mackinac Island I did my research. Reading several travel brochures and googling places of interest on the island. Even if you aren’t your family’s designated “tour guide” or “travel agent” there are other fun ways to get up to speed and energized about an upcoming trip to an unfamiliar destination. A few months before our trip, I happened to see a secondhand copy of a novel about Mackinac Island.  The book included 4 short stories, all taking place on the island during different...
Beach Vacation Essentials

Beach Vacation Essentials

Are you lucky enough to be heading to the beach this Spring or Summer? We just finished a wonderful stay in Florida on the beach and plan on heading back to another Florida beach this summer. Although there are certain things I always pack wherever we travel, I’ve found that adding a few extra items specifically for beach vacations makes them much more enjoyable. Ready to pack your bags? Beach Basics. These are the no-brainers, yet somehow if I don’t have a list, I tend to forget them (there’s been more than one run to the store for bathing suits before …). Bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, flip flops, beach towels. Even if you forget everything else, you can have a fun beach day with these essentials.   Fun Extras. Sand toys, beach chairs, a ball to kick or throw (volleyball, soccer ball and/or football), a beach umbrella, beach games (our friends brought EastPoint Sports Folding Disc Slam Spike Ball Game – Features Durable, Weather Resistant Material – Includes 2 Disc Slam Targets and 1 Flying Disc and washers and both were a big hit), rafts or noodles. If we are driving I’ll throw some or all of these extras in the car. If we fly, I’ve found that a quick trip to the dollar store can take care of this category for very little money. On our last day, we will give them to another family at the same resort or ask the resort if they’d like them for guests. Tasty snacks. Even if you are flying, consider packing a soft-sided cooler in your bag – I usually just...
A playful octopus and a harrowing climb …

A playful octopus and a harrowing climb …

Thanks to the Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau for sharing with us these treasures and hosting part of our visit! We enjoyed both locations immensely. All opinions and pictures in this post are 100% mine. Only 203 steps to the top … that’s what kept going through my mind as we climbed the narrow, winding staircase to the top of the Ponce Inlet lighthouse. As someone who hits the treadmill almost every day, this should be a breeze, right? Wrong! By the time we had ascended and walked back down those 203 steps, my legs were shaking. And they continued to do so for about an hour. Was it worth it? The answer is a definite yes. The views from the top were amazing and I was proud of myself for the accomplishment. Even those of us in our party afraid of heights agreed it was worth facing their fear. A short drive from our oceanfront Daytona, FL resort, the Ponce Inlet Light Station & Museum combined with a trip to the nearby Marine Science Center is the perfect respite from the beach. The lighthouse itself is a national historic landmark and was completed in 1887. It was restored in 2004 and what’s especially unique about this museum is that all of the light stations original buildings are also found right where they were when it was a working lighthouse. When you visit the Ponce Inlet lighthouse, you don’t just walk to the top of the lighthouse, you also get to see what life would have been like for the lighthouse keepers and their families. The exhibits are...
Make the Journey as Fun as the Destination

Make the Journey as Fun as the Destination

At least a few times a year we embark on long road trips. As neither my husband or I particularly like to drive, we had to come up with a way to make them bearable. Getting in the car and driving all night was not something we could do – the few times we tried it, we wound up exhausted the next day and essentially missed the first day of our trip. Talk about stressful! Luckily, I’ve found a way to make the trip enjoyable. So much so that my kids would prefer to drive than fly! How did we do it? Attitude. This is the most important part – by simply reminding ourselves that the journey can be as fun as the destination, we hit the road with the right mindset. We’ve come to look at a road trip as a chance to relax (versus work), see something new, and have some great conversations. Try new restaurants. It’s a rare trip that we don’t break out Yelp when we start to get hungry and search up local restaurants. Once everyone starts getting hungry, I open the app, switch it to map view and start searching for places twenty minutes ahead or so of our current route. We’ve discovered awesome dive bars, amazing breweries, old-school drive-ins and everything in-between. The rule is it can’t be more than ten minutes off the road we are traveling, and it can’t be a chain. Other than that, anything goes. Yes, it adds time to our trip, but we’ve created a fun memory, enjoyed much better food and had some fun while getting...

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