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  The observation walk at Shawnee National Forest's Garden of the Gods is a quarter mile loop. I knew that because I'd Googled it that morning and thought, "oh, that's nothing." That's less than what I'd walk to get groceries. That's probably less than I'd walk around a Super Target. Before I'd left on my Great River Road road trip my friend Heather told me about Shawnee and said I had to go to Garden of the Gods. "Go to Garden of the Gods," she texted me daily. "You have to go to Garden of the Gods." And so, I added it...

I didn't sell my car before I left to travel the world. I kept it in my mom's garage with strict orders to run it every once in a while and to have my sister drive it whenever she came by. Of course, when I came home, 15 months later, it was completely dead. I suppose I could have sold it before I left, but my original plan involved coming home after nine months to road trip around the US. That was before I fell in love with Asia and stayed months longer than planned....

Two green and white signs at the fork in the road pointed in two directions: straight and left. Both were marked "Illinois Great River Road." I pressed my foot against the brake, slowing the car to a 15-mile-per-hour crawl and tried to determine which arrow to follow. I was driving the Great River Road and had no paper map of Illinois, I had neglected to pull up the route on my iPhone, and I had no written direction. I didn't think ahead. Typical me. As I approached the crossroad, two cars waited impatiently to turn left behind me so I...

On our last day in Hawaii, we took a drive, and veered off onto what the road signs appropriately called the "scenic route." We stopped for a quick hike and to explore the botanical gardens. We visited a waterfall, looked out over Waipio, and grabbed a plate lunch at a local hole in the wall. And then, by some miracle (or Andrew's navigational/guidebook-reading skills) we finally did the seemingly impossible: found a beach on the Big Island. And so, after a week in Hawaii, I finally got to put on my bathing suit, splash in the monstrous waves (one that pulled...

"We have to take Valry on adventures or else she's going to leave again." Heather   Since I came home from traveling around the world, Heather has decided that we need to take adventures,to keep me excited, so I won't leave again to travel. Of course, I already am planning to leave again to travel to Guatemala, but we might as well have a little fun while I'm in Chicago no matter what. Being Halloween, we decided to spend a day traveling to the Bear Den Zoo Pumpkin Farm in Waterford, Wisconsin to go pumpkin picking. (And to stop at a few must-see roadside...

After Baconfest, so long ago, we bummed around a bar sipping waters to drown down the grease. I left early for a walk across the loop that was much needed to burn off the fatty bacon that was festering in my stomach. There was an event that night for Obscura Day that I needed to get to: Erika Nelson, creator of The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things, was giving a lecture. Erika is a road tripper and artist who has devoted much of her life to visiting roadside attractions and creating a few...

Sunday we woke up early after the bluegrass festival and I made the executive decision to cut my trip a day short. I allotted two days to get back but looking over my map I kept thinking I'd probably only end up a few hours from home anyways. So I decided to cut out a few things and just drive. And drive I did. I drove a little through Asheville and didn't see a thing I was looking for. I did have a man wish me safe travels at a gas station because he saw that I was "far from home."...

Saturday was RedBone Willy's Bluegrass & Acoustic Music Festival in Lawndale, North Carolina! Sadie and I left her place early for the drive to the festival. And on our way we stopped for some breakfast to give me my first taste of Bojangles (not to be confused with Heather's cat). We met up with her sisters Carrie and Jamie (the other half of the Hungry Sisters) and a whole bunch of others for the day. We spent the day listening to some awesome bluegrass music and drinking and eating hanging out and moving with the shade and eating the best grilled...

Sadie had to work this morning but when she was done she raced back home to start our day's adventure! She got a nice slice of a day in the life of Silly America, and I got a nice slice of NC BBQ (quite literally!) Out first stop was Korner's Folly, a house that contains 22 rooms spread out over 7 levels on 3 floors...