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.
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?