Hey Guys!! Welcome to the land of boots, Tennessee Hot Chicken, and country music!
We were a little worried about the park we stayed in during our stay in the Nashville area. When you look at it on the Googles you can see that it has railroad tracks on one side and highways on two sides (it’s shaped like a triangle). In my mind I had us laying awake all night listening to the sound of trains or traffic. We ended up by one of the highways which was a blessing. The train tracks were busy. We didn’t really notice the train noise where we were, but the spots right beside the tracks…I’m guessing they didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. It was a busy park and we were all crammed in. I managed to snap the picture above while we were in between neighbors.
We made it to our 41st State Capitol Building in our 42nd state! Bonus points to anyone who can tell me why the numbers don’t match up!
The Tennesse SCB was small, didn’t have a dome, and was dark. It was hard to get good pictures of anything. The bottom floor was painted in dark browns and the lighting was dim. You can see it in the picture above. I know I’m shooting toward a bright door…but seriously guys, this is what it was like walking through it.
I love this spiral staircase in the library!
Tennessee is only the second SCB out of 41 that had a wonderful balcony we could actually go out on! I love it when we find something different in a SCB!
Nashville has several great murals! We only sought out two of them and there was a line at both to get photos.
This mural was so fun! What a great idea to have an interactive mural! Littlest volunteered to be my assistant for both murals. He’s a pretty good photo buddy.
We stopped by the Grand Ole Opry one afternoon to check it out. We didn’t get to do a tour or stay for a show, but we did get to look at the building and hit the gift shop!
I went to the Grand Ole Opry about thirty years ago with my parents. I can’t believe how much the area has changed! It was during that first visit that I had my first Goo Goo Cluster. We had to get a few Goo Goo Clusters while we were in the gift shop…purely for nostalgia… *wink, wink*
Nashville is known as the “Athens of the South” so they decided to build a replica of the Parthenon for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition.
Inside the Nashville Parthenon stands a 41’10” tall Athena. To give you a little size perspective, Nike stands in Athena’s right hand and is 6’4″. We got there right when the building was opening and were lucky enough to get some shots in before the mass of people made it up to the statue.
I love the tile work on the outside.
The building underwent a major renovation in 1920 and reopened to the public in 1931.
We, of course, found some foodies! Nashville is a big foodie town. Our first foodie find was at a place called The Pharmacy Burger Parlor. We waited an hour to get into this place…but check out that burger! This Stroganoff Burger is solidly in my top five burgers. The mushroom stroganoff bechamel sauce was ah-mazing!!
We would never have found Pepperfire Hot Chicken if our waiter at The Pharmacy hadn’t suggested it. I didn’t even know that Tennessee Hot Chicken was a thing…but let me tell you…we know now and we are fans! So, what you’re looking at in the picture above is a deep fried grilled cheese sandwich with two Pepperfire chicken strips on top of it. Guys…we loved this place so much we ate here twice in one week.
The Dude and Littlest both loved the chicken and waffles meal known as the AppleFire. Now, don’t worry, if you’re not into spice, Pepperfire offers a Southern style aka no heat option. There are seven different levels of heat. I got the mild and it was plenty spicy. We were told to go down a level from what you can usually handle. I think that was sound advise. I can handle some heat and my mild was just right.
I found some pretties! The ones above were in the RV park we stayed in.
There was an entire row of these beauties ranging in color from purple
to this light pink.
We really enjoyed our time in Nashville, TN. The city reminded us of Austin, TX. They both have that laid-back, foodie, hip vibe. We don’t usually care for the state capitol city, but I have no doubt we’ll revisit Nashville!
Hey Guys!! Are you ready for Part Two? While we spent a good portion of our time exploring distilleries, that’s not all we did while we were in Kentucky!
We stayed at a small RV park just outside Bardstown, KY. It was just close enough to everything to be convenient and just far enough away from everything that we didn’t feel like we were in town.
Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky. The place where he was born is now a National Park. About where the cabin he was born in sat, is now a memorial.
Inside the memorial you can see a cabin that is of the same time period taken from the area, but it’s not the actual cabin Lincoln was born in. We learned about Lincoln’s early years before he moved to Illinois. It was a nice little park and we went on a beautiful day!
We also made it to Mammoth Cave National Park where the boys got some Junior Rangering done!
Sooo…caves are really dark. I took loads of pictures in the hopes that at least a few would come out. I tried, Guys! We signed up for a cave tour before we went. We wanted to do more than one, but apparently, cave tours are super popular and we waited too long. Bummer.
Our tour group was huge…close to 100 people. We weren’t really expecting that. Somehow we ended up at the back of the group and every time we got to the next Ranger stop, the Ranger had already finished up talking. We caught the tail end of her spiel a couple of times, but not enough to really tell you about. This was the first time we’ve had that happen…and honestly…we didn’t like it. If the NPS really needs to have smaller cave tour groups.
At one point during the tour the Ranger turned off all the lights and talked to us by lantern light.
One of the best parts of the tour was the Fat Man’s Misery!
Littlest had no problems with this super narrow section of the cave.
Right after the Fat Man’s Misery is the Tall Man’s Misery where even I (at my 5’1″ height) had to bend over. It’s hard to see, but the guy in the picture was the guy right behind me during the tour. He had to have been close to 6’4″ and had a really difficult time with both the Misery sections. This cave tour is not for someone who struggles with claustrophobia.
We’d only been in one other cave and then a lava tube so we didn’t really know what to expect with Mammoth Cave. We would like to go back sometime and do some of the other tours that we missed out on. Maybe if we go during the off season the tour groups will be smaller.
Bardstown is a pretty small town, but we did find a couple of foodies. In the picture above is a Southern Burger with pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes. Now, you might remember I had something similar to this in Charleston, SC and it was pretty darn amazing! I had high hopes for this Southern Burger…it was decent. It would have been a lot better if the pimento cheese wasn’t so sweet.
This is called a Kentucky Hot Brown! And it’s pretty darn good!! It’s hard to tell from the picture above, but it’s an open-faced sandwich with ham, turkey, and bacon. If you get the chance to try one, do!!
Are you ready for some pretties?!
I took quite a few pictures of pretties, but I’ll just share a few with you!
Hey Guys!! We spent two weeks in the Bourbon Capitol of the World! You might know it better as Bardstown, KY. We did so much during our two weeks in this area, I’m going to break it up into two different posts.
95% of all bourbon sold today is made in Kentucky.
There is an official Kentucky Bourbon Trail that includes ten distilleries spread out over Kentucky. If you pick up a KBT passport you can get a stamp at each distillery as you visit it. When you’ve got all ten stamps you can turn in the passport at the old court house in Bardstown to receive your free shirt! We hadn’t planned on doing the whole trail, but who can pass up a free shirt?
Kentucky country road.
Some of the distilleries were in town, but several were out in the country. The road in the picture above is very typical of the roads we traveled while in Kentucky! Very windy and very narrow…pretty much one lane.
To legally be considered bourbon, a whiskey must be made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
We ended up going to twelve different distilleries. We didn’t do tours at all of them. We skipped tours at three due to timing.
Whiskey used to be so valuable that it could be traded for goods and services, just like money.
We were able to see different parts of the brewing process at different distilleries. At the one in the picture above we were able to taste the mash while it was brewing. It was kind of like a tasteless soggy oatmeal…not very good.
To be considered bourbon, the whiskey has to be distilled to no more than 160 proof.
My favorite part of the distillery tour is getting to visit the rick house. The rick house is where the bourbon barrels are stored to age.
The percentage of alcohol that evaporates during the aging process is called “the angel’s share”.
Each distillery has their own way of aging a barrel. In fact, each distillery usually has several different ways depending on the type of bourbon they’re working on.
A standard bourbon barrel holds 53 gallons of whiskey.
During Prohibition, the Government Revenuers who were tasked with finding illegal moonshine stills could look in the forest for trees that were starting to turn black. Check out the tree in the picture above. The bark is completely black with a sugar mold that’s the bi-product of the distilling process.
During Prohibition, the moonshine distillers would have to constantly move their operation because of the black sugar mold that grew on everything near the still.
The sugar mold gets on everything! Check out the lamp above.
A bourbon barrel can only be used once to age bourbon, but distilleries ship used bourbon barrels to Scotland and Ireland for the use in the maturation of Scotch and Irish whiskey.
Most of the rick houses are painted black to help hide the sugar mold.
During Prohibition, the only way to get whiskey was to get a prescription from your doctor. Whiskey is goof for what ails you.
Before Prohibition there were around 2,000 distilleries in Kentucky. During Prohibition six distilleries obtained a license to make medicinal whiskey. During the years of Prohibition, Kentucky saw some of it’s sickest days on record. There were right around 6 million prescriptions written for medicinal whiskey in thirteen years for a population of less than 1 million. During World War II the government used bourbon distilleries to make fuel alcohol and penicillin.
All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.
Maker’s Mark Distillery is one of our favorite tours.
A bourbon barrel has to made of oak. Most of the trees come from the forests of Missouri.
My favorite part of the Maker’s Mark tour was this hallway!
Today there are around twenty distilleries in Kentucky.
The whole ceiling in that hallway is filled with Chihuly glass! It’s gorgeous!!
Each bottle of Maker’s Mark is hand-dipped in red wax.
The other very cool thing about the Maker’s Mark Distillery is getting to dip your own bottle!
Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon, but it’s not the only state to make it.
The Jim Beam Distillery is another one that stands out for us. The campus is set up like an old farm stead.
Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries fill over 1 million barrels with bourbon a year.
The tasting at Jim Beam was different from all of the other tours. Have you ever seen a bourbon dispenser?
Bourbon barrels must be charred in order to be compliant with the laws of making bourbon.
We ended our Bourbon Trail Adventures with a trip to the Kentucky Cooperage where most of the barrels are made. The picture above is actually from the Bulleit Distillery. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures at the cooperage. But Guys…it was really cool! If you ever get a chance to go visit one…do! We got to see the barrels made from logs to barrels…we got to see them getting charred and then tested to make sure they weren’t going to leak! The cooperage was one of the highlights of our entire time in Kentucky!
Un-aged bourbon goes by many names here are a few: white dog, moonshine, hooch, and white lightening.
We accumulated quite the collection of…souvenirs.
Rebecca Ruth is said to be the original maker of the bourbon ball.
The chocolate is my favorite.
Each year almost 120,000 mint juleps are sold during the two-day event known as the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.
I’ve always been curious about mint juleps. At one of the distilleries we came across a mint julep mix. I had high hopes…I’ll let my face tell you what I thought about it.
September is National Bourbon Heritage Month…it’s also my birthday…if any one is looking for gift ideas…
I did find this little gem. Bourbon Cream by Buffalo Trace is…well, it’s a little magical. I like a little of this in some root beer…it’s soooo good!
Kentucky cows are very happy cows. The grain mash that’s leftover after the distilling process is called distiller’s grain (slop) and is given to farms to feed their cows.
Hey Guys!! We’re interrupting our regularly scheduled blog post to bring to you a special post about our #eclipse2017 experience! If I added this post to the end of the post que y’all wouldn’t see it until October sometime. I thought y’all might like it sooner rather than later.
I’m not going to get all scientific on you and explain what an eclipse is and what happens and all that jazz. No science class today. This is just a recounting of our eclipse day experience for anyone who’s curious! We traveled to the Omaha, NE area to visit with some friends so we were very near the path of totality.
Our day started at an extremely early 5am. For those of you who know us or have followed along for awhile…y’all know just how early this is for us. So…early!! And it was raining. Rain is not how I had envisioned our eclipse day starting off, but I remained steadfastly hopeful that the clouds would clear at the right time.
National Parks are kind of our thing. We can’t get enough of them. So, we thought it was fitting that we watch the eclipse at a National Park that happened to be in the path of totality! We ended up at the Homestead National Monument of America in Nebraska with about ten-thousand of our closest friends. We arrived super early and actually got a parking spot about 3/4 of a mile from the park on a dirt road in between fields of corn.
The city of Beatrice, NE and the National Park did a fantastic job of organizing the chaos. We arrived at the NP right after 8am and the parking was already turning into a nightmare.
We weren’t the first ones there, but we were early enough to have a decent choice of spots. We wanted to be close enough to the stage to have some entertainment, close enough to the food trucks in case we got hungry, and Porta Potty Lane wasn’t too far either.
We claimed our real estate for the day, the boys got started on their Junior Rangering, and we checked out our eclipse glasses to make sure they worked. The NPS created a special booklet, patch, and badge for the eclipse! What?!? Our little Junior Rangers were stoked until we found out the Park had run out of the booklets the day before. But! They gave them the regular Junior Ranger booklet for the Park and told them they’d still get all of the eclipse goodies on top of the usual badges. Score!
The boys finished in record time. We were a little nervous the NP would run out. The boys are officially Eclipse Explorer Junior Rangers now!
Our little area of the NP was starting to fill in. It was still pretty early here. Close to 10am. We decided to grab some food so we would miss some of the later lines and so we wouldn’t be fumbling with food when the show started at 11:37am.
See the three orange shirts in the photo above? They were with a school. They staked out a huge section of real estate near us for one of the schools. They spent a good hour shooing people out of their space. It was kind of funny to watch. They got all kinds of reactions. Everything from total acceptance to out right irritation.
Around 10:30am the Color Guard came out and the National Anthem was sung.
Aaannnnd…then the clouds rolled in.
I’m guessing it was one of the news stations getting video for the evening news in the helicopter. I didn’t have my good camera out yet because of the clouds. I was afraid we’d have a downpour and even though my camera is weather resistant, I didn’t want it all set up if we had to make a mad dash to some shelter.
Speaking of my camera…Guys, I totally procrastinated with eclipse prep. I realized too late that I don’t have a good lens for taking up-close shots of the sun…and…I couldn’t find a solar lens to save my life. After much searching and dead ends, we found the stuff to MacGyver together something that would allow me to take photos of the eclipse without ruining my sensor or my eyes.
We could see the rain coming. We hoped it would just skirt around us.
It was close to the start of the show when the rain caught up with us. We’d come prepared.
We rigged up some solar filters for the boys’ phones. We knew they’d want to take pictures and videos of the eclipse, but we weren’t sure if it would ruin the sensor in the camera. We got a batch of the bad solar eclipse glasses (the ones that were recalled) and figured they’d probably be good enough for a phone so I cut the eye pieces out and used electrical tape to fasten them to the cases. When the boys wanted to take shots of totality they just slipped the cases off.
I’d downloaded the Solar Eclipse Timer app a few days before. It worked great! It would talk to me and let me know before each stage of the eclipse happened so we could try and watch for it when the sun wasn’t covered by clouds. You can see in the photo above that first contact was at 11:37 for us.
We missed first contact by a few minutes, but the clouds parted enough for us to see what was happening. There was still some very thin cloud covering in this picture.
The handy dandy app let me know it was almost time for totality. It really was a great help in keeping track of time and stages of the eclipse!
Bill Nye came out right before totality to share in the moment with everyone.
Confession: I took the “solar filter” off of my lens before it was officially safe. With the cloud cover that we had…I kind of figured it’d be ok. I still didn’t look directly into the sun while snapping the pic. I was struggling to keep my lens in focus. Remember, I didn’t have the right lens or the right filter for the eclipse.
I was starting to panic that we’d miss it because the cloud cover was getting worse.
I still had my “solar filter” off messing with my camera when the clouds parted and we caught sight of totality.
I’d just gotten my camera back into focus and aimed at the right spot. I didn’t get any good shots of the crowd during totality. I was too busy trying to get a decent shot of totality. I did get some video though…so I’ll add that at the end of this post!
Totality was over and most people started to leave. We didn’t mind the mass exodus. We stuck around trying to get a few more shots of the rest of the eclipse, but the clouds were being difficult.
Eclipse 2017 was pretty much done here. You can make out a very thin smidge of the moon in the lower left edge of sun in the photo above.
We packed up our stuff and headed over to the Education Center on the other side of the NP to catch a special lecture from a NASA scientist. And to find a bathroom that didn’t have 200 people waiting in line for it. I’d guess 3/4 of the people at the park had left or were trying to leave by this point, but there were still a few thousand milling around.
The lecture was very cool. It was about our planet…not just about the eclipse. The huge globe was interactive and was in constant motion. Our little science nerds loved it!
After the Education Center we were done! We started the trek to the car only to run into these guys. It was close to 4pm by this time and the eclipse had been over for about two hours. All of the people you see in the photo above were standing in lines to catch the shuttle bus back to where they’d parked. That 3/4 mile hike back to our car suddenly didn’t look so bad.
We stopped at Hickory Road BBQ & Catering Co for a celebratory meal of smoked meat. We enjoyed everything we got! So good! If you’re ever in Lincoln, NE it’s definitely worth a stop!
We ended up with some pretty cool loot to go along with all of our memories of the eclipse.
The National Park Service even had a special cancellation stamp made for the event! We collect cancellation stamps at every National Park we visit. Sorry the photo is a bit blurry…
We ended our day with some friends. Ben & Jerry. All in all…I’d say our #eclipse2017 day was a success! We’re already planning for the next eclipse! Who wants to meet us and have a big eclipse party?!
Here’s a quick video of the day!
You will now be returned to your regularly scheduled blog post.
p.s. It took me six different states to finally find the Keep Caramel and Cookie On flavor of Ben & Jerry’s.
We spent a week in the Frankfort area at a cute little RV park called Elkhorn Campground. We didn’t get a pull-through, but that’s the only complaint I have about this campground. The owners are super nice!
My favorite thing about this area is all of the horse farms! Love!! We didn’t get to visit any this time due to lack of time…but we’ve already decided (for various reasons) that Kentucky will be a regularly visited state once we’re done with the #50statetour!
We came to the Frankfort area to visit the State Capitol Building…and some distilleries that happen to be in the area.
The Kentucky SCB is one of the smaller ones we’ve been in. I love this staircase. Long clean lines made of marble…it just works for me.
You can stand at one end of the building and see all the way to the other end. It’s that small. But look how gorgeous it is!
And Guys… the dome
colors! What?!? Be amazed!! That’s a first for us. It’s a beautiful dome all on its own, but when you add the color change…it’s the cherry on top.
We did go into the House and Senate Chambers. They weren’t anything to write home about. Simple. Does the job.
We went to find Daniel Boone’s grave and stumbled upon this magnificent view of the SCB.
We made it to Daniel Boone’s grave. It’s got a great view. We’ve heard a lot about Boone and his life this past year as we were heading down the East Coast. We heard about him in Texas… he had a pretty big role in our history.
We had planned on hitting a couple of distilleries while we were in the area…because you know, it is Bourbon County. 😉 We found out right before we went to our first tour that there’s an entire Kentucky Bourbon Trail!! And, if you complete the whole tour you get a free shirt! Score! Count us in!!
One of my favorite parts of a distillery tour is getting to go into the rick house. I love the sight of all of those barrels neatly stacked up! You can see them through the windows in the picture above.
Here’s a closer look for you. We didn’t get to go into the rick houses on all of the tours.
All of the distilleries conduct experiments. If you look closely, you can find a barrel or two of the experimental bourbon.
I wanted to show you how big the rick houses are.
We learned something new at each distillery.
To be bourbon it has to be made of at least 51% corn. Each distillery has its own unique twist on what that other 49% is.
All of the tours come with a tasting. All of the distilleries have their own take on this. Woodford Reserve is our favorite distillery so far! We loved everything about it. Setting, tour, buildings we saw, and tasting!
Bourbon balls…supposedly, Rebecca Ruth is the inventor of the bourbon ball. She still has a store around so we went to check it out. The Rebecca Ruth store makes the candy for several surrounding distilleries. She’s certainly proud of her chocolates. We got a box of mixed bourbon candies to try. They’re ok until you have some of the other candies around that she doesn’t make…
When we tried the bourbon balls from Woodford Reserve, well…we realized how mediocre the other candies had been. The bourbon balls from Woodford Reserve weren’t just good…they were…eyes-roll-in-the-back-of-your-head good! Like…that-was-so-good-we-need-to-go-buy-the-biggest-box-they-have good! We liked them. Just a little.
The boys weren’t left out of the tastings. They got different things at each. Apple juice, root beer, chocolates. They didn’t’ mind.
We got a few souvenirs.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Frankfort area and look forward to visiting again!!
Hey Guys!! We spent one week in Grass Lake, MI. Don’t know where that is? It’s about 45 minutes south of Lansing.
The RV park we stayed at was decent. It was a basic park.
The best part about the RV park was the fishing pond.
You didn’t need a fishing pole to catch a fish…a net would’ve been enough. The fish swarmed to us every time we walked out on the dock. The boys took some bread down and had a good time feeding the fish! We didn’t do much during this week. We took the week to enjoy the good weather and catch up on some school/work.
We did make it to the Michigan State Capitol Building.
Look at that dome!
Here’s a better look at it!
Both the House and Senate Chambers were pretty much the same.
The only differences being the color scheme
and the size of the room. The House Chamber is pretty much always bigger.
I loved the ceiling in both Chambers. They had these stained glass state seals…something we’d not seen before.
Michigan didn’t have much money when they were building their SCB.
Throughout the SCB you can see this texturing in place of more expensive marbles and woods.
I’ll be honest, the lack of a lot of marble and carved wood didn’t diminish the fine artistry of this building. I love the more earthy tones mixed with the blues that dominated the color palette of this SCB.
There are tons of small details that, if you look for, you’ll enjoy about the Michigan SCB!
We found a great BBQ place in Lansing called Meats BBQ! This place is a carnivores dream!
Don’t worry, though…there are some vegetarian options…sodas.
The Dude got the Meat Mountain. It was a huge conglomeration of garlic mashed potatoes, smoked beef brisket, bacon gravy, and spicy creamed corn. I stole a few bites…it was really good!!
That’s really it for this stop, guys! I’ll share with you some
of the pretties I found around the RV park during
our daily walks! We had some beautiful weather!
We really enjoyed our time in Michigan. When you see Michigan on the news it always seems to be bad stuff. Drugs, poverty, gangs, violence. We didn’t see any of that. I would absolutely encourage you to visit Michigan! There is something for everyone…outdoor explorations, shopping, foodies! We will definitely be back!!!
Guys!! Where do I even start? We had the busiest, best week in the Traverse City area!! This might turn into a really long post…I’ll try to keep it to a reasonable length…no promises though.
The first thing we did when we got to town was head to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore where
the boys did some Junior Rangering. We had a new experience at this visitor center. For the first time in…I honestly can’t tell you how many National Parks/Memorials/Monuments/Battlefields/Forts/Historic Sites we almost left without getting the badge/patch. The boys were finishing up the booklet and one of the Rangers told us it was closing time and we needed to leave. When we asked about the Junior Ranger books he was very unapologetic and completely uncaring. It was time to go…we needed to get out. So, on our way out we quickly mentioned it to another Ranger there and she very nicely and quickly gave the boys their badges/patches. It didn’t take long. We didn’t insist on the swearing in ceremony that usually accompanies the badges. But, it left a bad taste in our mouths. If this had been the first time doing a Junior Ranger Program…we might have just quit. I would hate to see someone stop doing the Junior Ranger Program because of a Ranger’s bad attitude. The boys have learned so much through this program! All of the other Ranger’s we’ve ever met in all of our travels were the complete opposite of this one Ranger. I hope he has better days ahead. Now, that being said…check out the cool patch/badge!
I’m not sure what you picture when you think of Michigan..this is not what I pictured. This gorgeous blue lake was a shock to us.
The day we went it was super windy. I think we all came away from our hike a little smoother from being buffed out by the sand. We had sand everywhere, but none of us minded. The views were too pretty and it was a wonderfully sunny day!
We were surprised by how much green there was covering some of the sand dunes. During our hike we learned about the whys and the whats of it all. I’m trying to keep this post semi-short…so I’ll not go into the details.
It was tricky getting pictures with the sand blowing so hard. If you look closely at the edge of the sand in the picture above you can see the sand blowing away. I had to wait to snap a quick picture in between the gusts of wind.
We could have stood there and taken in this view for hours even with the wind, blowing sand, and the cold temps. We kept saying, “Look at the color of the water!”
If you can believe it, there were people in the lake surfing! Guys, it had to be close to freezing in the water. I’m getting hypothermia just thinking about it.
It looks like some forgotten island somewhere. It’s hard to believe that’s Lake Michigan! I do believe Lake Michigan is our favorite of the Great Lakes! The lake was beautiful in every single view we got of it!
If you like lighthouses
and beaches then Michigan is definitely a state you need to visit!
Green coffee beans waiting to go in the roaster.
We found a coffee house called Higher Grounds Coffee who roasts their coffee in store. We went in for a tour not really knowing what to expect. We’ve toured distilleries, breweries, tea plantations, chocolate houses, cheese factories, chip factories…but we’ve never had the opportunity to tour a coffee roaster. Our tour guide, Jennifer, was super nice and extremely knowledgeable about the entire process. You can see a bag of green coffee beans in the photo above. This is how Higher Grounds gets them from several different growers.
The coffee roaster Higher Grounds uses.
Jennifer explained how the founder (Chris Treter) of the company went to Mexico as part of his post-graduate internship. He worked closely with and became good friends to a community of coffee farmers while in Mexico and really got a good look at the poverty these growers live and work in. When it was time for Chris to leave he wanted to find a way to keep helping the coffee farmers. When asked, the farmers told Chris that he could sell their coffee to help.
Roasted coffee beans.
Chris went back to his home in the US and started selling coffee, but he didn’t stop there. He wanted to help his friends back in Mexico get out of poverty. He wanted to make their lives better so he found ways to give back. Higher Grounds has helped bring water to communities that had to walk miles each day to reach a fresh source of water. That might not sound like a big deal, but can you imagine what you could accomplish if you suddenly had an extra 5 hours a day? Can you imagine having to walk a few miles to get a glass of water, brush your teeth, or bathe?
After Jennifer walked us through the entire process from getting the beans to roasting them, she brewed us two different kinds of beans. So, here’s the thing…I don’t drink coffee. Not even a little. The two members of our family who do drink coffee enjoyed the coffee tasting immensely. Jennifer taught us how to properly brew coffee to insure we get the same taste every time then she taught us how to slurp. Yup, you read that right! Slurp. You need to slurp your coffee so you can taste all the coffee has to offer.
We had a great time learning about and trying coffee! Higher Grounds Coffee is a great company. You can find it in some stores, but don’t worry…if it’s not offered in a store near you, you can also order it online! This company is actually making a difference in the world. Our world would be a better place if more companies cared enough to change the lives of those who can’t change it themselves. Go to their website and order some coffee!!
We love to hit spots like this!
Those are cherry trees. I was shocked by the sheer number of cherry trees in this area…until I found out that the National Cherry Festival is held in Traverse City.
It should come as no surprise that the World Record Cherry Pie was made here. Littlest was in cherry heaven.
You could pretty much find cherry anything here. Cherry jelly, cherry salsa, cherry popcorn, cherry candy, cherry ice cream, cherry cake, dried cherries, spicy cherries…I kind of feel like the shrimp guy on Forrest Gump.
We walked away with a few yummies!
Speaking of yummies…let’s talk foodies! We found a place called Slabtown Burger. It has this burger that’s stuffed with
cream cheese and jalapenos and…bacon. It’s my new favorite out of all 40 states! Y’all…this burger is ah-mazing!!
Littlest has a thing for flavored popcorn. We love to support local shops so we ended up with a couple bags!
We snuck in a date night! This fried pickle was an appetizer. It was surprisingly good! It’s a pickle spear wrapped in Swiss cheese, ham, and a wonton wrapper then deep fried. It was sooo good! I think we’re going to make these ourselves!
Its a six layer cappuccino cake with mocha frosting. You can’t tell, but it’s huge!! Jerl and I got half of it down before giving up. Don’t worry…we took the rest home where the boys happily devoured it. We were really surprised by all the foodies we found here!
I think all we have left are the pretties!
There were tons of pretties around!
This one was a tree in the RV park we stayed in.
We enjoyed the park we stayed in. It was mostly empty and was big enough to get some descent walking in!