It’s only recently that I sat down and wrote out a list of all the US states I’ve had the great pleasure of traveling to. I realized that while I have no ambitions of visiting every country in the world, I would quite like to make a memory in each of the fifty states that make up the one I hail from. My requirements for my list were strict — I had to remember actually being there, ergo, states I visited as an infant or young child with my parents need to be revisited, and driving or flying through doesn’t count. Thus far, I’ve spent at least a night in all of them.
Which is why I was so excited when Kristin, Kent, Caanan and I hit the road and crossed the border from Tennessee into Kentucky. Hello, state number twenty!
We were on our way to speak at the PRSA 2015 Travel and Tourism Conference in Lexington, Kentucky. While Kristin’s a conference speaking veteran, this was my first time taking to the mic — and I was nervous as could be.
It didn’t help that pretty much the minute we left Bonnaroo I started showing symptoms of what would soon develop into a full-blow sinus infection. By the morning of my panel, I had almost lost my voice completely. But gosh darnit, I was going to present my information on how brands can work with bloggers if I had to deliver it through interpretive dance.
(Thankfully for everyone involved, it did not come to that.)
Nasal discomfort aside, it was a great experience. I really enjoyed spending time with my co-panelists Jade, Kirsten and Zach, as well as the many PR and marketing whizzes I met throughout the event. Not to mention the dream team I arrived with from Tennessee!
I’m still very new to public speaking and have struggled with anxiety every time I’ve stood up to speak — be it at a friend’s wedding, at a Women Diver’s Hall of Fame event, and now at a PR conference — but it’s something that I want to continue to challenge myself to do. I feel I am making strides — while I spoke too quickly and was quite nervous, I did manage to inject some humor and feel ever-so-slightly more in control while at the podium.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip in the South if we didn’t stop often to eat. Our first night, we went wild at the fabulous OBC Kitchen, though the moody lighting meant I didn’t bother taking out my camera. Our final morning, we were out and about again at charming local Lexington Diner, which did simple breakfast food proud. And of course I couldn’t leave town without checking out the adorable (and delicious!) Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen.
Two nights flew by, and soon it was time for Kristin and I to head back towards Nashville so I could catch my flight out to LA (as Kristin says, in her adorable Southern accent, I don’t let the grass grow long under my feet.) But first, one final dose of Kentucky — a taste of the famous Bourbon Trail at Woodford Reserve.
Now, I must admit — I don’t drink bourbon nor whiskey. But lunching at and wandering around a gorgeous Southern estate with a camera in hand? I’m in.
Finally, we were on our way — or so we thought, until I spied a particularly friendly looking bunch of horses. Craving just a few final photos, I begged Kristin to pull over the car so I could hop out and say hi to the horsies. Curious about those blindfolds? I was too. Turns out, they are fly covers and easily seen through, kind of like fly-repelling sunglasses for the equestrian set.
I love the following set of photos, in which I was photographing the horses, and Kristin was photographing me photographing the horses. I love seeing both images side by side!
Yes, I was really bonding with my four-legged friends.
Until they turned on me. I can’t say the following set of photos is very flattering, but it is rather hilarious — and I’ll put aside my vanity to give y’all a laugh any day.
Apparently, blonde is these horse’s favorite flavor of hair.
After I eventually disentangled, and Kristin picked herself up off the ground from laughing, we said our last goodbyes to Kentucky — for reals this time! My stay here may have been a brief one, but I accomplished my goal: memories in state number twenty solidly made.
Do you count states? If so, how many have you visited? Which one is next?
Lucky number twenty! Loving your posts about the US – especially those in the south! I’ve been lucky enough to hit 15 states. Have you been to Texas? It’s my favourite.
I haven’t, but it’s really high on my list! I can’t wait to get there someday. I had a lot of fun exploring the US this summer.
Ohmygosh I totally forgot about how sick you were AND how the horse ate your hair! Thanks for the laughs all over again 😉
Ha! Yes, that sinus infection plagued me for ages. I had just gotten over my last illness in time for Tennessee, too, and I was so embarrassed to be sick again already. Not a good summer for my health… or my wallet, thanks to my crappy insurance!
Twelve, and I just came to realization that I have seen more countries than states. I’m incredibly jealous of the bourbon tour!
I have too. Sometimes we forget about the wonders in our own backyards. I’m enjoying slowly ticking off some US states.
Ugh, sinus infections constantly plague me so I definitely feel your pain! I’m glad you were still able to get through the conference though and have a good trip.
I just counted and I’ve been to 21 states. Kind of surprising actually! 22 if you count DC 😉
Ooo! I didn’t even think about DC. That would make this 21 for me. It should count, shouldn’t it? It’s been a long time since I was there though and the memories are fuzzy, so I suppose I should go back anyway.
Ahhh!! That’s 2 posts this week that truly had me lol’ing (the other being Bonnaroo #1 — the “take up tons of room” dance shots). Please, please Alex can you show up at a conference with an interpretive dance, make sure someone videos & then post for the amusement of your dedicated readers. Please???
PS — I am just shy of your 20 with 19! Most wanted on my list is hands down Hawaii.
Oh! And my most wanted right now I think is Texas, Alaska, or Washington. Maybe Maine? So many!
Well, you asked nicely so I think it’s only fair that I follow through. Stay tuned.
You are hilarious. Thanks for sharing the “unflattering” photos.
I have been reading your blog specifically because you are honest and don’t take yourself to seriously 🙂
Great photos as always.
Thanks Marta 🙂 I think when you find a laugh you’ve gotta share it…
39 states so far – although Nebraska may be a bit of a stretch. Technically I got out of the car/airport (my criteria for counting a state/country), but just barely. But I don’t see myself going back any time soon, so it’s staying on the list.
Moving cross-country *twice* was a great way to rack up some new states and see new parts of states I’d been to before! I hope to do some more New England exploration soon – there’s lots of tiny states I’m missing up there.
I’m lucky to have checked off most of New England simply by growing up in Upstate New York! I think the south and the mid-west will be the tricky areas for me.
22 states so far, and that Bourbon Trail is making me think that Kentucky may be number 23… Thanks for sharing Alex!
I only wish I was a bourbon drinker. If there was an equivalent rum trail somewhere… I’d be all over that!
The photos of you and the horses are super cute! 35 states here – my family moved around a lot AND loved to road trip, so we covered a lot of ground. There are a few spots that I remember clearly, but still need to revisit as an adult though: Vegas and New Orleans for sure (there’s no way those are the same for a kid vs. an adult).
You’ve done well! That is indeed much ground covered. I do agree those two you called out are well worth an adult revisit, though 🙂
HAHAHA those horse photos are priceless!!
I’m at 26 US states – including Kentucky! I’ve been on part of the Bourbon Trail, too (the boyfriend loves spirits!), and I’m a huge fan of horses. So basically Kentucky gets a thumbs-up from both of us!
What a nice friend Kristin is for preserving that memory for me, right? 😉 I love it!
I’m in a public place at the moment, and I literally just laughed out loud when I came to the photo of the horse eating your head. Awesome. lol
Ha — glad I could send some smiles out this morning!
Love the photos & those horses are beautiful! I’ve never seen those fly covers on them before, but that’s so interesting to learn.
I count both the states and the countries, but I haven’t made up my mind if I’m going to try visiting every country. I feel like at our pace, we will definitely behind if we want to get to them in our lifetime. haha and it will probably be stressful more than anything.
I do want to visit every state though. I’ve only driven through Kentucky, but I need to make a proper stop. 🙂
Agree. Countries seems like a stretch (at least for me with my slower travel style) but I think visiting each state is an attainable goal in this lifetime!
lol the things we do for a good shot 😉
I have been to 28 states, much thanks to my parents taking me out west for a road trip ! I went to the KY derby a couple times in Uni, but was of course barely sober enough at any point to really experience KY!
Ha… that’s me and Montreal. Need to return someday with a little more sobriety.
love it. you are hilarious. 🙂
Thanks Julia 🙂
Haha I hope your glasses survived the ordeal with the horses!
I’ve loved Kentucky ever since I started watching Justified. Your pictures show an even more beautiful place than I could’ve ever imagined. I NEED to go there! 🙂
I’ve never seen it — adding it to my To Watch list now!
I’ve only been to 11 states so far, but I’ll be going up to 12 in two weeks when I visit Las Vegas in Nevada! Eventually I plan to get all 50 states and want to do some sort of race in each state as my something memorable about that state!
That sounds so fun, LeeAnne! I love the idea of having a little project/goal like that. Amazing!
Congratulations on your 20th state!
And you have nothing to worry about, I saw your presentation at Tbex and would have thought you are a total pro at public speaking!
Aw, thanks Sarah. That one was a huge improvement in terms of my nerves — it’s nice to see and feel progress like that.
So far I’ve travelled to 18 states, but for being a Canadian I think that’s a pretty good start! I love travelling to the US, there is so much to see and discover. It’s on my list though to travel to all of Canada’s provinces and territories – Canada has so much natural beauty, it’s just too bad it’s so expensive to travel within our own country 🙁
That is a darn good start for anyone — Canadian or US citizen! Yes, it can be expensive to travel in North America. So far, I’ve been slowly ticking off states while mostly visiting friends and family, which has definitely helped defray the costs. Once I run out of those I think it will start getting pricier.
It’s probably a silly question, but why are the (blond prefering) horses blindfolded? Or does it only looks that way?
Congrats on your 20th state, hooray!
Answered in the post — they are to keep flies away!
Kentucky is awesome but Tennessee has more of my heart! Either way ya gotta love the simple way of life there. Oh, and the Bourbon. That too.
Sadly I haven’t found a love for the darker spirits (outside dark rum, ha) but I did love the photo ops!
Funnily enough when I saw this post pop up I thought to myself ‘All I know about Kentucky is horses’, only to find your post was full of horses 😛 I guess the stereotype fits here.
I love the idea of visiting every state. I haven’t even been able to do that in Australia and we don’t have nearly as many as the US.
Well, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself — I’ve heard it’s pretty big over there 🙂
I’m Australian, so we only have six states and two territories, but spread out over the same amount of area (roughly) as the U.S. It doesn’t make ticking off states quite as fun ( or representative!), but I am trying to visit them all.
I think because we have so few states in Australia, it gives us a false sense of security – we could get to 65 and decide we want to see them all in a year if we really wanted to! I think most young Australians tend to travel overseas very widely, but not as much within Australia.
I think that’s true of a lot of places — I know I’ve been to more foreign countries than I have been US states!
Thank you so much for sharing those horse pictures! I laughed so so so hard.. You’re a trooper. Glad you loved Kentucky!
Ha, thanks Lauren. All in good fun 🙂
I just snorted coffee through my nose at those horse pictures…so funny!
Ha… you’re welcome 😉
Oh my gosh Alex, those photos are hilarious. Although I probably would have freaked out if that horse had tried to eat my hair! And congrats on state number 20! I feel like I’ve explored a pathetically small amount of the US. I’ve traveled so much around the world but for some reason the US is never on my radar when it comes to travel. This is something I plan to change in the future!
I felt that way for a long time… it’s only recently I’ve started really consciously exploring it with the same wide-eyes I bring to my international travels. Turns out, our native country is pretty darn cool!
I haven’t kept a running state count, but I really like your criteria of making a memory in that state. My road trip this summer could technically cross a bunch off, but I only stayed at a motel in Utah. I’m not ready to cross that one off quite yet!
By the way: CONGRATS on speaking at the conference! Public speaking can be tricky and scary and I’m sure you did awesome.
Thanks Amanda! I’m definitely still learning how to be confident speaking in front of a group, but I know the best way to get there is to keep practicing.
I haven’t been to Kentucky yet, but I’m hoping to cross it off my list soon! Looks like you had a great time!
I did! It’s too bad it was a such a short trip, but it was a sweet one.
The pictures are great ! I really like your long skirt ! I’ve only visited Alaska so far but.. How amazing it is ! Really worth a roadtrip there 🙂 ! I should make a goal of mine to visit all cantons of Switzerland where I’m from, should be easier than all US states for now !
Ha, yeah, I think it would be a tad more manageable… but a fun goal nonetheless 😉
I’ve made it through ten states so far. Kentucky is still one I haven’t crossed off yet. Loved your photos! 🙂
Thanks K! Any idea which state is next for ya?
I can proudly say that i have been to 24 states and still counting. It is my bucket list to hit all 50.
Nice work, NieNie! Good luck to us on our mutual goal 🙂
Haha, love the “unflattering” pics with the horses!
Also, very well done on the public speaking. I too suffer terribly with nerves when public speaking (was shaking so much doing a reading at my friend’s wedding I imagine I must have just looked like a vibrating blur!), but like yourself I have tried to push myself out my comfort zone by starting a new job where I will have to public speak a lot more – terrifying, but hopefully I am up for the challenge as you seem to be 🙂
Oh man, making a toast at my friend’s rehearsal dinner last year really hit home how badly I needed to work on public speaking. I felt like a high-pitched leaf! Not my best look 😛
I loved Kentucky! I think that that part of the country is so pretty, and I was honestly super surprised that I loved it so much. I am from Colorado so I am a little bit of a scenery snob, and I was so surprised at how beautiful the South is!
Way before I started traveling around the world I had the goal of visiting every US state. I have basically the same requirements as you for a state to “count”, and so far I have made it to 40 (thankfully I LOVE road trips!). I really think the United States is one of the most beautiful countries in the world! There is so much diversity here and there are some truly breathtaking landscapes. If only getting around was easier… Next up for me is the Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas region.
Love the idea of being a scenery snob 🙂 Sounds like you are crushing it on your fifty states goal — and that’s an awesome trip you have coming up next. Happy travels!
I’ve made it to 39 states so far!! Before I started traveling internationally I visited a lot of the U.S., and drove cross-country 4 times now so that checked off several I never thought I’d see. I’m more into checking off new countries at this point BUT I still love to see new states here. My goal is all 50 before I’m 50 haha.
That’s a good goal! I might have to join you in it, though I have a lot further to go 🙂
I have been following your blog for the last 6 months and I am never disappointed.
Thank you Sagar, that’s so sweet! Much appreciated 🙂