We went to Chicago for a few days to see friends. It was nice. It was our first big city since D.C. over a month ago. It was jammed with traffic (so some of our plans evaporated to avoid it), but it was still good to see our friends (Joshua and Kirby) for a little while. We stayed in an enormous hotel which felt like an indoor city. It was built in 1971 and the architecture feels that way (sort of has that George Orwell / Aldous Huxley feel). We also went to Millennium Park in downtown. We had fun.
The year after we got married, we visited Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs on a road trip to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. We had no kids.
And we took some really dark pictures of ourselves. Now, 12 years later, we had the opportunity to come back to the same place with 4 kids (3 pictured here) and make new memories.
On our way from Santa Fe to Boulder, we decided to stop in at another national park that we’d heard legends about. We settled into a hotel in a pretty underwhelming little town, which shall go unnamed (in case any of you have family in Alamosa, Colorado), and immediately headed out to see the Great Sand Dunes.
This was so much more breathtaking in person than we thought it would be. We didn’t realize that we’d have to traverse a little rushing river to get to it, but it was worth it.
There have been times on this trip when I’ve felt like we’re all set to move on to the next destination. We’d enjoyed the experience of a city, but we don’t need to put down any roots. I knew, however, when we landed in Santa Fe that we could stay around for a while. It was the first place on the trip where I was sad to leave. We had a blast Santa Fe. We’ll be back.
Traveling, wrangling kids, planning things to see, meals, the next legs of our journey and working doesn’t leave a lot of time for reflecting on what we’ve seen (and subsequently blogging about it). So as I sit in a hotel room, in the dark, on the floor, in the glow of the bathroom light as the kids fall asleep, I’m taking a moment to wade through photos and reflect.
We’ve made lots of stops along the way, some filled with sights and stories, but some only to get a night or two of sleep. Some a combination of the two, and Floyd, Nashville and Memphis were a few of those places.
We learned about Floyd, VA from the Okee Dokee Brothers, one of the kids’ favorite bands, and their movie, Through the Woods. As it was only a stone’s throw from Shenandoah, we decided to make a pilgrimage to the Floyd Country Store (featured prominently in the movie) and spend the night at the Hotel Floyd. Not only did we catch an authentic local bluegrass jam (they have music most nights of the week), we were tempted to deck ourselves out in traditional Virginian garb.
We didn’t. But it was worth documenting.
From Floyd we made our way to Knoxville, TN, and then on to Nashville where we rented a house on Airbnb from an amazing host. The space was beautiful, and she helped us with everything from local suggestions on where to eat and explore to getting our laundry done.
We wished we’d had more time to explore the music scene, but the kids had just as much fun at the Nashville Zoo (really fantastic, as zoos go).
And we capped the visit with a very touristy dinner at the B.B. King Blues Club, at which Isaiah stole the show as he rocked out to the live band right in front of the stage.
Sorry Memphis, we hardly knew ye. Memphis ended up being less of a destination for us than we’d originally planned. Partly due to weather, and partly to some other necessary schedule shifting. We only stayed for a night, we didn’t go to Graceland, we didn’t take a Mississippi Riverboat cruise, and I’m sure there are countless other things we didn’t experience that Memphis has to offer. Maybe someday.
We’ve realized we can’t see everything. Our time has to be allocated wisely and balanced with lots of downtime when you’re traveling with 4 kids. But we’re absolutely loving simply being on the road, staying flexible, experiencing new places and learning new things about ourselves as a family and how we travel.
There are so many more things to say about the cities after these, and before where we are now. It’s percolating, but for now, onward!