*Thanks to Hanes for sponsoring this post* Colorado has 4 distinctly awesome national parks.  I saw 3/4 of them in 1987 when my folks drove my brother and me from Nashville in a two-toned ’83 Suburban, and I’ve wanted to go back with my own family and explore the diverse national parks of Colorado ever since.  We finally went this summer. Of all the parks we were slated to see, I was most excited about returning to Mesa Verde National Park.  It’s my mom’s favorite of all the national…

We landed Tuesday evening at Kahului airport, took the shuttle to Avis, and drove our Ford Explorer to Mama’s Fish House for dinner before sleeping at its inn.  Our kids’ Christmas present was finally beginning. I had the “traditional Hawaiian” meal for dinner, and the smoked wild boar was the best pork I’ve ever eaten (and I eat a LOT of smoked pig).  We learned of the restaurant and inn from the 1000 Places to See Before You Die book I consult before going anywhere new. Because we…

We left Atlanta on December 27th and headed north, stopping for soul food at Southern Star in Chattanooga, our borrowed Kia Sedona packed for 1,000 miles of exploration across the Bluegrass State.  A couple hours later, we were peeing at the Kentucky Welcome Center off I-65, and 45 minutes after that, pulling up to Mammoth Cave National Park. Here’s what’s ridiculous about Mammoth Cave–it’s 80 miles from where I grew up in Hendersonville, TN. I loved exploring caves as a kid; we had a few within biking distance,…

After our 3 days in Disney parks and L.A., we took our Kia Sedona for a 1000-mile road trip to explore some of the natural beauty of southern California, starting with Channel Islands National Park.  Have you ever been to Channel Islands National Park?  No?  You should fix that. We got up early Friday morning and boarded the ferry for Scorpion Cove on Santa Cruz Island for a guided 3-mile (or so) hike across America’s equivalent of the Galapagos Islands (i.e., they were never connected to the mainland…