Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Autumn

My friend Scott and I left Tuesday Morning on a road trip to the Smoky Mountains National Park. I had booked an Airbnb for two nights above Gatlinburg. It was more room than we needed, with three bedrooms and two baths. The highlight of our lodging was the view from the balcony on the third floor.

The following day we did a 2 1/2 mile hike at Laurel Falls.

Autumn is my favorite season, I love the colors!

We stopped to check out Mannish Branch Falls, but weren’t able to cross the creek to see it up close.

Our next stop was “the Sinks”.

Our second hike was 5.5 miles at Rainbow Falls. The elevation change was 1,500 ft.

The mountains were dusted with snow.

Since it hadn’t rained much for a while, the falls were smaller than usual but still beautiful.

We saw two bears from the car.

All together we walked over 10 miles yesterday, and my body knew it. After a hot shower, some pizza, and a couple of Tylenol, I was almost good as new.

Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky

On Sunday (10/2/22), my friend and I left our Airbnb in Louisville and went to the Speed Art Museum before heading home.

We both loved it. It has a variety of art…modern, Ancient, African, European, Kentucky, etc. Plus on Sundays it’s free.

Next we drove to Libby’s Southern Comfort Restaurant in Covington, Kentucky. We both had the yummy Shrimp Roll.

It was a quick 30 hour road trip filled with good food and interesting places.

Louisville, Kentucky Road Trip Part 2

Picking up where I left off from the first part of our Louisville road trip…we checked into our Airbnb at 4:00pm on 10/1/22. It’s located in Paristown Point near the Highlands neighborhood. It was clean and modern.

We had some wine and relaxed on the front porch, before getting ready to go out for dinner. On the eight minute walk to our restaurant, we passed a number of other restaurants. You’ll notice the friendly people as I took this photo…

We dined at Taco Luchador. It’s very inviting with inexpensive delicious tacos.

On the walk back to our Airbnb I noticed the unique lighting…

Tomorrow I’ll post about our Sunday in Louisville.

Louisville, Kentucky Road Trip Part 1

My friend and I left yesterday (10/1/22) from my place in Covington, Kentucky and drove an hour and 43 minutes to Louisville, Kentucky for an overnight stay. I had been to Louisville once before about nine years ago on a girl’s trip. I took my bicycle since we would be cycling for part of the day. We couldn’t check-in to our Airbnb until 4:00pm, so I had an 8 mile bike route pre-planned on Google maps. It included riding through the neighborhoods of Smoketown, Nulu, Downtown, and Old Louisville. I researched the LouVelo bike share so my friend could rent a bicycle. There was a station 7 minutes walk from our Airbnb, so I parked the car and we purchased a 300 minute plan ($25) for her. I’ve only seen this friend a few times in the past 8 years. I met her when I took a group of people to four countries in Europe back in 2014 and she joined the group. Although she’s 16 years younger than me, she doesn’t bicycle very often and never in a City, so she cycled quite slowly.

I discovered that Muhammad Ali was born in Louisville. Here’s a sculpture in his honor.

We passed Louisville Slugger Field

The downtown architecture is nice

We stopped for a tasty lunch at the Sidebar at Whiskey Row restaurant

As we passed a playground, I suggested we take a swing

After three hours of exploring and having lunch, I drove us to the Ohio riverfront where we walked across the Big Four Pedestrian bridge to the Indiana side of the river. The weather was perfect!

Come back tomorrow for the final part of our day/evening.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 9

On Friday, 9/10/22 my friend Sherry and I walked (I rode my bicycle) less than 10 minutes from our hotel in Mackinaw City to the Star Line ferry that takes you to Mackinac Island. The ferry ride takes about 20-30 minutes. There are two ferries to choose from, the other is Shepler’s. They’re about the same cost. I took my bicycle on the ferry for an extra charge of $14 and Sherry rented one on the island for 5 hours. We cycled 8 miles around the island. We both agreed it was the best cycling experience we’ve had because the island is car free, the paths are wide and flat. You do need to watch out for the horse dung and the multitude of horse drawn carriages close to the main areas of town.

We passed beautiful homes.

We both agreed the parents of these children shouldn’t have allowed them to climb these rocks.

We walked up lots of steps for this view.

Back in town…

About two-thirds of the way around the island, we stopped for lunch at the Grand Hotel. They had a buffet for $75 (nope), so we opted for sitting in the bar area and had their sliders which were good.

The inside is quite colorful and pretty.

Down by the docks…

Leaving the island…

Later that evening, the view of the moon was beautiful from our hotel room…

Suddenly there was a beautiful display of fireworks which was quite unexpected…

My 10 day Pure Michigan road trip was everything I had imaged!

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 8

On Thursday, 9/8/22, my friend Sherry and I drove three hours from Marquette to Mackinaw City for a two-night stay. We arrived around noon and since we couldn’t check-in to our hotel until later, explored the town a bit and had lunch. Of course we purchased some of the famous fudge.

Me being silly…

We drove 5 minutes to our hotel, the Best Western Plus Dockside Waterfront Inn and checked in. The view of Lake Huron from our balcony was lovely.

After settling in, we relaxed at the shore…I even went swimming for a few minutes.

We made our way to the pool/hot tub for more fun and had the place to ourselves.

After showering we walked less than 10 minutes to the Hook Lakeside Grill for a drink and dinner.

Pretty views…

Tomorrow I’ll post about our trip to Mackinac Island

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 7 – Part 2 – Pictured Rocks Cruise

Continuing from Part 1 of Day 7, we arrived at the Pictured Rocks Cruises and boarded the 2:00pm cruise that lasts 2 ½ hrs. There’s an open-air top deck and enclosed bottom deck. Originally, I was planning to hike at Pictured Rocks, but with more research discovered the best way to see the beautiful cliffs/rocks was by boat.

The rock formations were beautiful!

My friend Sherry

The Captain took us into a small cove

We drove back to the Airbnb and walked across the street to Blackrocks Brewery and split a flight of beer and then walked 5 minutes to a pizza place for dinner.

Another beautiful and fun day in the UP.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 7 – Part 1

Wednesday morning, 9/7/22 my friend Sherry and I drove 50 minutes from Marquette to Munising Falls. It’s only a ½ mile round-trip walk to the falls.

Back in the car, it’s only 10 minutes to Wagner Falls

Next, I drove 20 minutes to the Upper and Lower Overlooks near Miner’s Beach. The view was beautiful from the Upper Overlook.

The Lower Overlook view is nice also…

Lastly we drove 20 minutes to the Pictured Rocks Cruises, arriving at 1:20pm and waited in line for the 2:00pm departure to see Pictured Rocks from the water. I’ll post about that tomorrow.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 6

We started our first full day in Marquette driving to Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park, where we had a short hike to a waterfall.

Next, we drove to Sugarloaf Mountain and walked up 304 steps to the viewing platforms. Wow!!

Lake Superior is large enough to fit five states in it.

Our last stop was Presque Isle Park. We drove around the one way loop and stopped a couple of times to view the lovely scenery.

After stopping at our Airbnb to freshen up and have a drink, we walked to The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Restaurant.

We shared a smoked whitefish appetizer and had a delicious Whitefish entree (it looked so good I forgot to take a photo 🙂

Another wonderful day!

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 5 – Marquette

My first morning in Marquette, I cycled 8 miles on the multi-use path along Lake Superior.

I cycled in to town and saw some interesting sites.

My Airbnb was right across the street from Blackrocks Brewery.

I went from there to the airport in Marquette to pick up my girlfriend Sherry who was spending three nights with me at the Airbnb and then our next stop was Mackinaw City for a couple of nights. After she settled in, we walked less than 10 minutes to The Iron Bay Restaurant for dinner. We shared the Whitefish tacos and we each had a bowl of the Whitefish chowder…yum! The flight of beer was also delish!

We walked down to the shoreline and then back to our Airbnb, it was a full day!

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 4

I left my Airbnb in Traverse City and drove a scenic route along the Michigan Lake shoreline on my way to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula. I stopped in Harbor Springs for a restroom break and took a few photos. It was still early morning.

It was exciting crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

I wanted to capture a photo of the entire Bridge so after I paid my $4 toll fee I took the first exit and went to a state park to take this photo.

My itinerary included Tahquamenon Falls State Park. I stopped for lunch at Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, located next to the Upper Falls of the Park and then walked a half mile to the main viewing platform.

The falls were impressive. They reminded me of Cumberland falls, Kentucky. The rusty color was surprising. I read that Tannins cause the rust color.

There are numerous vantage points to take photos from.

I drove four miles to the Lower Falls which weren’t as impressive but still beautiful. You only have to walk 400 ft. to the first viewing platform.

On my way to Marquette I stopped at a scenic lookout to take a few photos and stretch my legs. Lake Superior is beautiful, the water is so clear and a beautiful shade of blue.

Once in Marquette, I stopped at a grocery store for supplies and finally arrived at my Airbnb nine hours after my departure from Traverse City.

I unloaded the car, made a sandwich for dinner and watched a Netflix.

Pure Michigan road trip – Day 3

The only outing I did on Day 3 of my Michigan road trip was hiking a few miles at Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve. The trails are along the Boardman River. It was only a 20 minute drive from my Airbnb.

It’s always fun to hike somewhere you haven’t been. Afterwards I packed for my departure the following day to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, aka the UP.

Pure Michigan Road Trip – Day 2

On my 2nd day in Traverse City I drove my bicycle 10 minutes from my lodging to Boardman Lake and cycled the four mile loop around the lake. If you missed Day 1, it’s here.

It’s a relaxing and pretty ride.

Then I cycled into Traverse City and the waterfront to explore a bit.

This is one of the waterfront beaches.

I’d read about a very short hike to see the “hippie” trees so I drove about 10 minutes to check it out. Here’s the beginning of the hike.

Within a few minutes I was there.

I love to see eclectic things. So colorful and unexpected.

Less than three minutes away is The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. It’s a complex of buildings filled with shopping and dining.

I had brunch at the Red Spire Brunch House, located there.

I drove back to my Airbnb and took a nap. To finish my day I went to see a movie …Where the Crawdads Sing. I’d read the book and the movie was very good.

Pure Michigan Road Trip and Sleeping Bear Dunes

The morning of August 31, 2022, I left home (Northern Kentucky) and drove 7 and 1/2 hours to an Airbnb in Traverse City. I had three days to explore Traverse City and the surrounding areas. I stayed with a couple who have a beautiful view of Michigan Lake from their deck. They were very helpful giving me tips to tweak my itinerary. One of my followers Phil (and I follow his beautiful blog https://philperkins.photography/ ) was very helpful with ideas of where to visit on my Michigan trip.

The following day I left early, drove to Suttons Bay, and took a few photos.

The weather was perfect.

Then I drove to Good Harbor Bay Beach.

My next stop was Glen Arbor, where I had breakfast before driving to Empire Bluff Trail.

The trail is two miles round-trip and there’s a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

My next stop was Mission Point Lighthouse.

On the way back to my lodging I stopped at Mari Vineyards for a glass of wine. There are lots of wineries to choose from. I drove a little over three hours total. There wasn’t much traffic and the scenery was beautiful.

I was surprised by how pretty Michigan is and how Caribbean blue the water is.

What not to pack for an extended trip in Europe

I moved my luggage to 21 accommodations…too much/too heavy

Here’s a list of what I packed for my 11 week, 5 country European trip:

Luggage:

Baggallinni Travel Purse/London Fog 27” checked bag/Vancropak 22” backpack carry-on

Packing List – I had to pack for weather ranging from the 30’s to the 80’s:

Pants: 1 jeans/1 gray leggings/2 black leggings/1 capri black leggings/ Eddie Bauer lightweight water-resistant pants/black stretchy flare leg pants that I used as PJ bottoms but also as dressy pants

Tops: 5 long sleeve SPF tops/1 short sleeve top/4 sleeveless tops

Misc. clothing: 2 long underwear tops and 1 bottom / bathing suit / PJ top /4 scarves /10 undies / 2 bras / 4 socks / gloves / lightweight winter hat / raincoat / packable short down jacket / fleece jacket

Shoes: La Sportiva Hiking Boots / 2 pairs of walking sandals / walking shoes (wore on airplane)/ flat Vivaia shoes (for a dressier look) / flip-flops

Misc.: Packable clothesline / detergent sheets / lightweight backpack (folds up to nothing) / 2 sun visors / 2 Covid tests and masks / Tupperware container containing cold medicines, Oximeter (in case I got Covid), thermometer / Gallon and quart size plastic bags / Bag for grocery shopping (folds into 3×3 square) / 2 hangers for laundry – 1 padded/1 for hanging pants (came in very handy) / hair straightener / 2 disposable emergency rain ponchos / umbrella / lanyard for phone so I could wear it around my neck (loved this)

Toiletries: I purchased a BoaCay toiletry bag for the trip and decided to bring everything I needed instead of having to purchase things in other countries

Tech: Mac laptop and charger / Nikon D1500 camera with 2 lenses with charger / external phone charger / Adaptor / earbuds for audible books / phone charger / Fitbit charger

Wore on Airplane: Gray leggings/sleeveless top/fleece jacket/walking shoes

What I wouldn’t have packed:

My camera and the laptop (I would’ve had a backup phone instead), the hair straightener, one pair of the sandals, the long underwear, one short sleeve top, 2 of the 4 scarves, gloves, winter hat, and the jeans.  I also would’ve taken small amounts of toiletry items since this made my bag much heavier and took up too much space.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.