Annapolis, Bourbon Trail, Nashville, St. Genevieve, Fort Collins, Longmont, Las Vegas, Ventura
We had two weeks to get to our destination of Santa Cruz County in the San Francisco Bay area, for which Gabrielle would then have to report to her first day of work at the new Davey Resource Group project. Two weeks to cross the ENTIRE COUNTRY, you say?!
Our first stop was to see Gabrielle’s college roommate Jil and her husband Derek at their new house in Annapolis, Maryland! They set us up right: First thing we did when we got there was hit the water for some stand-up paddle boarding out on the harbor while they kayaked alongside us. Their new home in Annapolis is situated perfectly, just down the block from the waterfront, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. We literally walked the kayaks and the SUPs down from their house – talk about prime location! It was the perfect and relaxing way to kick off a number of long driving days. Just what the doctor ordered : } We finished our night off with delicious fresh oysters at SOB aka Sailor Oyster Bar and some crab kisses.
A quick trip but so wonderful to see our two favorite doctors. Wish we could’ve stayed longer… but duty called to the West. So we closed this chapter on the East, said goodbye to the Atlantic (can you call the Chesapeake the Atlantic? Oh well, I’m going to) and pointed the Sundancer towards Kentucky.
Made a brief stop on the Bourbon Trail on our way to see friends in Nashville, but by the time we were planning it out a lot of the distilleries were already booked up. We did snag a reservation for a tasting seminar at Willett and a tour at Maker’s Mark! Since we had time to spare, we stopped in at Town Branch distilling, also home to the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel beer.
A little about bourbon that most people don’t know: There are 3 particular reasons why Kentucky is bourbon capital of the world. 1) The area allows the proper soil and climate for growing corn and other grains used to make bourbon. 2) The area has the proper water composition of minerals, like limestone, that are present in the water and good for the bourbon process. 3) The climate has temperature swings ideal for barrel aging whiskey as the liquid goes in and out of the wood. Additionally, bourbon has 3 rules to be called bourbon 1) made in the US 2) 51% corn mash 3) aged in virgin charred oak barrels.
Our final stop on the Bourbon trail was the most well-known name: Maker’s Mark! We got the full tour and tasting session plus we got to hand dip our own bottles! David picked the cask strength and Gabrielle picked the Maker’s 46. We wondered over the bar and got to try two versions of their wood finishing series FAE-01 & 02 that are their most expensive offerings.
We liked the grounds and property at Maker’s Mark better, but our favorite whiskey we tried was at Willett. David’s overall favorite was Willett’s Pot Still Reserve, Gabrielle’s the Willett Small Batch Rye.
Next stop after the Bourbon trail was Nashville! We stayed with Gab’s best Batavia bud Emma and her husband Stacy. Their back yard was big enough for us to pull the RV in and turn around! That was crazy. We got to finally have burgers and fries at GABBY’S, the joint that Emma had been telling Gabs about for years. SO. GOOD. A solid greasy spoon.
On the 2nd day, Emma and Gabrielle took a girls’ afternoon and took a creekside walk to chat, followed by a lovely little teashop stop for a hot brew. Meanwhile, the boys went to some Nashville Breweries (David wasn’t gonna stop in Nashville and NOT check out a craft brewery, let’s be honest). But then the girls joined the boys for the last stop, Jackalope Brewing. Good stuff! I guess we’ll keep them 😉
Ended our time in Nashville with an evening around the bonfire reunited with old friends from high school, Charissa and Carson!! It was wonderful to see them again. Talked about our days of youth and innocence long past, good ol’ Rockford Christian Camp days, life perspective that 30+ years has brought, old high school crushes, and on it goes. Love these people so much: Time and words with friends like these is usually filled with depth beyond a typical human conversation. AKA the best kinds. Always meaningful, often hilarious, undoubtedly treasured.
On our way West from Nashville we stopped in Missouri and RV camped side-by-side with David’s parents in their RV. We spent the evening visiting with David’s cousin Rachel to meet her newborn son, Caiden! (Phil was there, too). Laurie & Chris surprised us to crash the party and we had a great night with a pot of chili, beers, desserts & a tiny tyke laying on the floor like who all deez peoples?!
And as we passed through Missouri the next day, we picked up David’s favorite hometown pizza and toasted raviolis, Imo’s! You gotta try them if you’re in St. Louis or Missouri.
Next stop on the Westward trek was good ol’ Fort Collins, Colorado, our home for most of the 2010s decade. And purely by chance…we were passing through at Halloween again, the same weekend we were in Colorado last year in the RV! Funny. Had a good couple days seeing our Apolonio’s crew: Friday night backyard Halloween barshed hang w/ a campfire (even the dogs dressed up! Be sure to note no less than 3 taco costumes by coincidence: 2 dogs and 1 human).
Grabbed another local fav, FoCo DoCo – or Fort Collins Donut Company – on Halloween morning. They have the best mini donuts, always hot and fresh, in lots of creative flavors! Spend the day at a couple more of our Ft Collins favorite spots, meeting up with various friends when they were free. It was great to see the Colorado fam again. And then on November 1st, we woke up to walk to Old Town for breakfast….and were greeted with a BLIZZARD! Classic. Once Halloween is over, the state decides: SKI SEASON HAS COMMENCED. It’s glorious.
We were lucky enough this year to see our good friends in Longmont, Jason & Cheryle, for 3 nights in a row! They drove up to Fort Collins 2 nights, and we drove to their place and had Raclette (a French style meal where you cook meats and cheeses on a hot plate in the middle) and game night. So fun!
Next up: Las Vegas baby! We have been before and since we only had one night, we walked most of the strip including our last volcano show at The Mirage : ( Had a blast finding some new stuff like the best $2 footlong hot dogs & an amazing and elegant 3-story bar that was a giant chandelier! Cool bfast spot in the morning and then a failed attempt at a hotel seminar for $$$ because they didn’t have room for our RV in their parking lot even though the guy who’d signed us up the night before told us there would be… Vegas is always full of surprises and bullshit.
Then….California!!! We finally made it to the endlessly beautiful Pacific ocean!
Our last stop – before we got up to the Bay area – on this ultimate of road trips was Ventura, CA to hang with Gabrielle’s brother and sister-in-law, Jake & Allie! It was amusing to watch our black cats, Nyx & Beaker, be awkward and vie for the special spots in the apartment. Like the bed or next to the warm Xbox! We went on a great bike ride along the beaches with their apartment’s e-bikes, on a windy day where the swells were HUGE and the surfers were out in full form. Another day we went on a hike up in Ojai and hit up some local breweries. Ventura is pretty cool and their wooden pier is one of the longest in Cali!
Our last night in Ventura, we all did a late afternoon beach walk and watched the moon rise over the pier. Founds some crazy weird and wild beach art, too. It was beautiful, eerie, and meticulously crafted.
We made it to Silicon Valley after traveling a total of 3,500 miles! (Don’t ask us how much it cost in gas money). It was a fantastic 2 weeks, and the perfect prologue to the start of our chapter in the San Francisco Bay.