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?