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The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Deep in bluegrass country where horse-studded pastures alternate with woodsy hillsides and the only rest stop for miles around is at Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home, there lies a string of historic bourbon distilleries open for tours. Last weekend, when I was in the region, I stopped in at two of them: Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve.

Despite the alcohol in the name, you don’t go to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to get tipsy. First, there is a lot of driving involved on winding country lanes so a big bourbon buzz is a big no-no. Second, I know it’s a shocker (at least it was to me), but not all the distilleries give tastings. Third, a clear head is needed to navigate the rustic (and largely unmarked) backroads. But that’s part of the fun. Just when my friends and I thought we’d reached the middle of a beautiful nowhere, a sign popped up to show the way to the spirits.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member MilwVon.

The End Of Summer

It’s kind of hard for me to come up with reasons why the end of summer is a good thing. I mean even though it’s been a looong time since summer meant no homework, extra ice cream and extra long days with friends — I still cherish my summers. Maybe it’s because it means longer weekends, more visits with friends and family, and the summer vacation. But for me summer also means crowded business travel times, swelling and sweltering planes and lots and lots of delays. This summer travel has been no picnic.

So I guess this year as summer begins to wind down and I look toward Labor Day and the start of the Fall travel season in earnest I’m a little excited. For one thing, I’m starting to see prices come down — at least on domestic travel. (And that could mean really good news for all of us leisure travelers when it comes to holiday ticket buying.) But it also means as so many families return to schools the jetways will be less crowded, the airports will be calmer, the skies will hopefully have fewer storms and traveling will be, in a word, easier.

Ahhh, the end of summer. Sometimes it is a good thing.

Learning to Love Hawaii

For 28 years of my life, I never thought twice about Hawaii. When you grow up in Florida in a town like Panama City whose official motto is “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches,” you don’t find yourself pining for a trip to the Aloha State. But a year ago, I moved to the Bay Area and I began to wonder if I had been missing out on one of life’s most essential experiences, like reading a book or, I don’t know, breathing air. You see, you’re not truly a San Franciscan until you 1) have a bay window 2) learn to rhapsodize about In-N-Out and 3) fall head over heels for Hawaii and talk about it exclusively in hyperbole.

The Loneliness Of the Long-Distance Passenger

Having lived in eight different countries before reaching double digits, and with family now spread out across the globe, I’ve taken my fair share of international flights. They’re long and they’re boring, but they don’t have to be unbearable. Here’s a few things I’ve found that help:

* While business and first class usually give you an amenity kit for the flight, good old coach doesn’t do it anymore—and if you’re like me, you’ll likely be flying coach. No matter! Just pack your own amenity kit; I usually just find an old toiletry bag and fill it with an eye mask, a pair of earplugs, some Evian spray, a lip balm, antibacterial hand cleaner, a few Advils, some Wet Ones for freshening your face after a sub-par sleep, and a moisturizer. That way, you’ve got everything you could possibly need for your comfort all in one place, and don’t have to go rooting around in your bag for that Chapstick every few hours.

Wild Wild West

I was smitten, and all it took was a single glance down Deadwood, South Dakota’s Main Street. Paved with brick and lined with turn-of-the-century street lamps, the street curves its way through gently refurbished saloons, hotels and general stores that date back to the Gold Rush days of the late 1800s.

Surrounded by the Black Hills, the entire town of Deadwood is a National Historic Landmark and is probably as close to a Wild West town as you’ll get these days.

Photo Courtesy of Deadwood Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau.