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I've been living without a car for years now. Really, I don't need a car living in Chicago. During the day I can get anywhere by public transportation. By night, Uber and Lyft are an app swipe away. And, yeah, OK, I've even been known to take a bus home at 3am to save a few as well. Sure, there are times when having a car would make life more convenient. It takes me at least two hours and ten extra dollars to get to anyone in my family by taking two trains (and even then I either have to walk...

  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 on the Big Island, we took a drive, a Hawaii road trip, and veered off onto what the road signs appropriately called the "scenic route." After leaving Hilo, we stopped for a quick hike on Onomea Bay Trail. We visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. We visited Akaka Falls State Park and saw a giant waterfall. We looked out over Waipio Valley Overlook. For lunch we grabbed a plate lunch (an Asian-influenced food plate that typically consists of two scoops of white rice, macaroni salad, and an entrée) at a local hole in the wall. My plate...

"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...