Each weekend, I’ll share six cool finds. These posts are not sponsored, but some links may be referral/curator links. Links on where to purchase are always included in the captions!
I just got back from a week in the Smoky Mountains with my family, and I have to admit that I’m a bit bummed to be home. I was happy to see our cats, but I’m definitely missing waking up to the mountains every morning and seeing my family every day (especially my baby niece!).
To keep the vacation vibes going, I’ve collected some travel-related items for this week’s Saturday Six. It might be Labor Day weekend, but we’ve still officially got 3 more weeks of summer–let’s try to fit in one more big hurrah!
Tell me: Do you have any travel plans coming up? What are your travel essentials?
A couple weeks back, we trekked to Tennessee to see Murder by Death play Cumberland Caverns. This was a reward for supporting the Kickstarter campaign for their new album (which comes out Friday!!). For those going to the show, they were also offering a camping weekend, which we happily took advantage of. I can’t think of anything better than camping to see my favorite band!
After our stay in a yurt in Kentucky, we woke up on Saturday and continued the drive down. We stopped in Lexington to get lunch. After we struck out at our first choice (they had no power), I was super happy to come across a place with vegan options! It was meant to be.
We ate at Minton’s at 760, and I enjoyed the “Lucy”: a sausage topped with vegan sriracha mac and cheese! It was AWESOME. I also had a kale salad on the side because life is all about balance, right?
After lunch, we continued on down to McMinnville, Tennessee. Once we arrived at the caverns, they directed us to the camping spot. Cumberland Caverns doesn’t traditionally do outdoor camping, so there were no formal sites. This was actually the first time they hosted a group for camping, which was cool. We were set up in a big field with porta potties and a group fire spot at night. To get to the field, we had to drive down an insane narrow and winding road. We have a 4WD vehicle, but we were wondering how people with smaller cars made it back there–my ‘lil Chevy Aveo would not have handled it well!
We were one of the last few to arrive on Saturday, so we set up camp toward the middle of the field (the treeline was full). It was all good though!
MBD was playing two shows, but we were only going on Sunday night. Most of the people at the camp were attending the Saturday show, so we hung out and made dinner. We cooked veggie burgers, which was a big deal for us, haha! We are typically “hot dogs in the fire” people, so this was really stepping our game up.
Once everyone got back from the show, there was a big group fire, so we hung out and chatted a bit. Somehow, all the people from Michigan found each other, ha ha. There was a creek right by the camp, so some people went swimming. It was fun! We accidentally drank all of our beers and went to bed.
On Sunday, we wanted to explore. It was supposed to rain, but we decided to take our chances. I’m so glad we did! The weather worked out once again, and aside from some brief sprinkles, it was a nice day. We headed over to Rock Island State Park for some hiking.
We started with a ~3 mile nature loop. It’s so nice being out in the quiet of the trees. After, we wanted to try and find some of the waterfalls at the park. We ended up at an area where a bunch of people were hiking down to a swimming hole. We had come prepared with our suits, so we changed and started to head down.
I have to laugh at myself. The hike was across slippery rocks, and there was no clear path. We had to double back a few times. I get nervous hiking on rocks like this, so I was moving so slowly and gripping my husband’s hand tightly at some points. I almost slipped several times. But dang, if everyone else could do it, I could, too.
After what seemed like forever, we made it down to the swimming hole!
The water felt so nice after hiking down. It was a deep water area, so once you went beyond the ridge, the water dropped off.
People were doing flips off rocks into the water, but I stuck to sitting on my rock.
After swimming/sitting for a bit, we hiked back. We were laughing because the hike back up probably took less than 15 minutes. It felt like it took us forever to get down! Rock Island was beautiful, though, and it was a fun way to spend the day. We never did get to the falls–we’ll have to go back! One nice thing about Tennessee State Parks is that they are free to the public! We only explored one section of the park–there were a lot more trails and a number of waterfalls.
Whew! OK–you guys are here to hear about a concert, right?
Once we made it back to camp, we got ready for the show!! We walked through the cave a bit to the stage set up.
The cave stays a constant 56 degrees F, which was super comfortable for a concert setting! It was large enough to hold a few hundred people (I’m not sure of the max capacity), but it felt intimate. We got there when doors opened to grab a seat. We also had to pick up our Kickstarter merch, including the signed poster. After about an hour, the show kicked off!
The sound in the cave was amazing! MBD played a bunch of songs from their new album, but a bunch of older songs, too. They played for close to 2 hours, which was awesome. Their dog, Robocop, even made an appearance!
It was such a fun night and a fantastic show. The whole weekend was awesome. It was fun to spend time with a dedicated group of people who love the band as much as you do. Everyone was friendly and respectful to the space–the venue was super impressed because the campers left behind zero trash.
I love MBD’s music–all the way from when I first saw them open for My Chemical Romance back in 2003–but they also do so much cool shit for the fans. You might remember that we saw them play the Stanley Hotel back at the start of the year. We also saw them play in a lagering cavern in Kentucky a few years back as part of another Kickstarter campaign. It’s been fun to see their music evolve and change over the years, but they never disappoint. Make sure to check out the new album, titled The Other Shore, on Friday–I love it.
WOW. Are you guys still here? If you hung through this entire post, thank you!
Tell me: Have you ever traveled to see a band play? Do you like hiking?
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I grabbed our camping gear and headed south to see my favorite band, Murder by Death, play in a cave in Tennessee. We wanted to break up the drive, so we planned to spend a night in Kentucky along the way. We considered hotels, but once I stumbled upon this yurt on Airbnb, we knew it’d be perfect for the “theme” of our weekend.
We both worked a half-day on Friday and then started the drive down to KY. I spent most of the drive compulsively checking the weather, hoping that the weekend’s rainy forecast had shifted to sun. Black clouds followed us all the way to Frankfort.
To get to our Airbnb, we had to take a dirt driveway about a mile off the main road. From there, it was a short walk to the yurt, which was located on a farm. We literally had enough time to throw the car into park, hastily grab whatever we needed for the night, and book it to the yurt before it started pouring.
There were severe storm and even tornado warnings during the night. Great weather for sleeping outside, right? 😉 I’m happy to report though that the yurt was 100% waterproof! We were bummed we couldn’t have a fire, but we stayed cozy and dry inside the yurt, playing Boggle and Golden Girl Mad Libs and occasionally braving the weather to run out to our cooler or use the restroom.
Even though it rained, the weather worked in our favor all weekend. We tried to keep a good attitude about it and just deal with whatever came our way. Camping is a gamble. There’s nothing worse than planning a beautiful weekend only to be rained on the whole time, but we can’t control the weather, so we decided to just make the best of it. Well, the next morning, the skies cleared, and despite drizzly forecasts the next few days, the weather cooperated whenever we needed it to do so.
After the rainy night, we woke up to the sight of horses grazing, blue skies, and beautiful greenery. We decided to make up for last night with a morning fire.
We also made breakfast. The host provided some light breakfast options, including oatmeal and grits packets, fruit, coffee, tea, and water, as well as a French press and portable stove.
The yurt was tucked into a back corner of the host’s property. It felt very private, which we liked. It was directly next to a creek; when it wasn’t raining the night before, we could hear the creek flowing, which was very relaxing. We usually have to sleep with a fan on at home, but listening to the water all night was a great substitute.
We didn’t have a lot of time, but it’s a popular spot for canoeing or kayaking.
Beside the yurt was a small outhouse. I know that might turn some people off of the experience, but honestly, the outhouse was nicer than most public restrooms, ha.
There was a handwashing station to the right of the toilet, and the hosts provided plenty of towels and soap.
We loved staying in the yurt, even with the rain. We relaxed by the fire for a couple of hours before we had to get back on the road to TN. I would stay here again (hopefully when it’s not raining!). Frankfort is just outside of Lexington, and it’d be fun to go back and kayak.
This was also our first time using Airbnb, so we were happy with the experience! The host greeted us when we arrived but gave us our privacy. It felt like having our own personal campground.
Is it just me, or does the 4th of July seem like it happened weeks ago? It hasn’t even been a full week! We went camping at the end of June to celebrate my birthday, and it feels like it never happened. Once we come back and get into a routine, it’s like we never left. I feel that way about summer in general–we wait so long for it to return, but once it’s here, it’s like it’s always been summer. Then it flies by, and we’re back to waiting ;).
One nice thing about blogging is having a record of things I’ve done. Let’s try to remember the past couple weeks, shall we?
I was actually in New Orleans on a work trip toward the end of the month. Once I came back, I had a couple days at home, then we were off again–so that’s why I didn’t really get back into my usual routine.
We took off on a Thursday night and camped for three nights at Sleeper State Park in Caseville (Michigan). We stayed there last year and really liked it, plus it was one of the few places with any availability when I was booking. The State Parks really filled up fast this year!
We got there kind of late on Thursday. I hate setting up in the dark, but it was nice waking up there on Friday. We spent some time checking out the shops in Caseville before hitting the beach.
Caseville is a small town, but they have a really nice beach. They also have a brewery! My husband isn’t a huge beer guy, but since it was my birthday, he couldn’t say no ;).
We had a fire later at night (my favorite part about camping!), although it was mostly so we could cook dinner. It was in the 90s all weekend! I’m not trying to go too far into “glamping” territory, but thank goodness we had a couple of small fans for our tent or we would have roasted.
On Saturday, we drove over to Port Austin and spent some time at their Farmer’s Market. We bought incredibly delicious homemade pickles and potato chips (honestly, probably the best salt and vinegar chips I’ve ever had!). The pickles did not last long. After the market, we grabbed a couple of drinks to cool off before heading back to the beach.
On Sunday, we headed home, with a brief detour at a flea market and stop at one of my favorite restaurants, D’Angelo’s. It’s a pizza place with a vegan menu, and their burgers are delicious.
The fun didn’t stop there, though! We took off a couple extra days to recoup, plus we had the 4th of July holiday, so we spent a few more days eating all the things and getting all the sun.
On Wednesday, my sister and brother-in-law had us all over for the 4th of July.
It was also a belated birthday celebration.
My mom got me the best gift! Everything was Golden Girls themed. I couldn’t stop laughing.
I actually tried to buy those Pops recently, but my husband told me not to. He said we had too many, which is honestly a valid reason, hah! Still, I kept stalking them on Amazon and almost threw them into my cart multiple times. Little did I know, he was in on it and was trying to keep me from buying them!
To continue the festivities, my sister also got me the most amazing vegan cake! It was a funfetti-style cake topped with vanilla and birthday cake flavored macarons. It was SO GOOD. My terrible picture doesn’t do it justice!
Whew! We packed a lot into a few days. It was a great trip and birthday, and I’m looking forward to camping more this summer. Hope you had a great 4th of July, too!
Tell me: How did you celebrate the 4th? Do you like camping?
When we had first arrived in Denver on Thursday, we made it a priority to get (second) breakfast before heading up to Estes Park. I’d heard good things about Snooze, a local brunch chain. We typically try to avoid chains, but it seemed to be frequently recommended, so we decided to check it out. I’m so glad we did! The food was awesome. I’m vegan and my husband isn’t, so it can be hard to find breakfast options that we both enjoy when traveling. In Colorado, we ate awesome breakfasts during our entire trip. Since breakfast is probably my favorite meal, I was more than satisfied.
The day of the concert, we spent the day exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was maybe in the high 30s and relatively sunny. Considering it was January, there wasn’t much snow. Some of the shadier areas felt cool, but overall, we were pretty comfortable hiking around.
Several roads were closed for the season (I guess I didn’t realize that January was offseason), but there was still enough open to spend the day at the park. We’d drive a bit, get out, take pictures, walk around, and repeat. At one point we encountered a busier area with folks sledding, which looked like a blast.
The pictures don’t do it justice. Everything was so gorgeous. We kept stopping just to take it all in. We both took a crazy amount of pictures on our phones, as well as almost three rolls of film.
There were several rockier areas where you could climb up, but I’m a baby when it comes to that stuff. My husband is pretty fearless, so I’d just sit and panic and take his picture.
The morning after the concert, I was moving a little slowly. Let’s just say we may have had a few too many Redrum Ales at the show. Once I finally got dressed, we went to breakfast at the Notchtop Bakery and Cafe and took some time to explore Estes Park before heading back to Denver. Estes Park was a really cute town and I’d love to go back (when it’s a little warmer and I’m less hungover). It seems like it’d be beautiful in the fall!
Saturday was mostly a travel day, as we drove back to Denver, returned our car at the airport, and then made our way to the hotel. We did ride a train for the first time, from the airport to downtown.
Around 5 pm or so, we finally made it to our room at the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon the Curtis, but when I discovered they had themed rooms, we decided to go all out with this trip. What would be a better complement to a stay at the Stanley than a night in a Ghostbusters-themed room on the 13th floor of the hotel?
I’ll tell you: nothing.
We LOVED this room. All of the details were so fun, from the gigantic Vigo poster in the bathroom to the framed photo of Sigourney Weaver on the desk. This was a big splurge for us compared to the hotels we usually book, so we decided to just pick up some takeout and stay in all night. Totally worth it. We grabbed some subs from our favorite west coast chain, Cheba Hut, and headed back to the room.
Another reason we didn’t mind staying in was that we had a late flight on Sunday, so we knew we’d have time to explore. Once we checked out on Sunday morning, we walked over to City O’ City, a vegetarian restaurant. There was a bit of a wait, but we didn’t mind–we stood outside, taking advantage of the sunshine.
My meal was phenomenal. I got the fried “chicken” (cauliflower) and waffles, with a bloody mary on the side. When we left, I noticed the dessert case and had to grab something to go … any time I get the option for a vegan Hostess-style cupcake, I have to take it.
We wandered around the 16th Street Mall for a while and picked up some souvenirs. Eventually, we stopped at a bar for a drink–I had a raspberry sour porter that was really good–and then got ready to head to the airport.
We had a late flight and didn’t get home until closer to 1 am, with both of us having to work in the morning. Totally worth it, though.
All in all, we loved Colorado and can’t wait to go back!
Tell me: Have you been to Colorado? Where did you stay? What did you eat?