Ashley's Blog

6.26.2017

the long way home | photo diary

Memorial weekend was spent in my hometown for my mom's birthday. I had lovely two days back home. Instead of driving my usual 6hr route to Chicago. I took the reaaaaaalllly long way home.

It's a month later and I'm still feeling fulfilled from this week long solo trip. I enjoyed myself more than I had anticipated. When I arrived back in Chicago on Friday, I had so much appreciation for getting to live in a city. I loved each city in its own way but my heart loves Chicago the mostest.

First stop: St Louis - 3hrs to Davenport, next morning 4hrs to St. Louis
St. Louis was my first stop. I stayed in an Airbnb outside of downtown, next to the Botanical Garden + Tower Grove Park. Before the rain hit, I was able to walk through the Missouri Botanical Garden. After the rain, I went for a slow run. It felt a little eerie, so I stayed close to home.
After a sleepless night due to the door alarm going off at 1 am, coffee was necessary before heading out. Luckily my BnB host provided a Keurig + strong k-cups.
I spent Tuesday morning in downtown St. Louis. I loved the downtown area + wished I had planned for longer than a morning to explore. It was a Tuesday morning, the streets were super quiet. I was shocked by how smoothly I got around compared to Chicago's downtown chaos. 
Next stop: Nashville - 4.5hrs on road
I drove into Nashville later Tuesday. I was shocked by how different the city was compared to the midwest cities I've visited. Every road was hilly + curvy. 
Wednesday morning I was up early and needing fuel. I went to Crema, bought a muffin + cappuccino, and caught up on Sunday's sermon I missed. After, I browsed many of Nashville's small shops. Only walking away with a cactus for my apartment. 
Then I explored Nashville's downtown which I think would have been more enjoyable with a friend along. I felt like I was the only one walking alone on the sidewalks. In the evening I had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry to watch Julianne and Derek Hough performance. 
Thursday morning I took my time at the donut shop, sipping on super sweet coffee + enjoying the fresh air before, once again, hitting the road. AMAZING donuts!
Next stop: Louisville - 2.5hrs + time zone change -1hr
I hadn't planned much for Louisville besides going the Churchill Downs. 
It was massive. If you want to be blown away I highly recommend. I hope someday to be there when the stands are filled and horses are racing. 
I booked my Louisville Airbnb last minute, and it was a STEAL. The loft was dreamy with a record player, a window seat, + stocked with local goods + chocolate. I loved the simplicity and that there was no tv. I sat on the window seat for hours, watching the sun go down, reading + journaling. 
The next morning check-out was 10 am. I had the best night's rest + didn't leave the loft until I absolutely had to. I can't wait to come back for a second stay.
Next stop: Ark Encounter - 1.5hrs
I was also blown away by the Ark Encounter. The storytelling inside is beautiful. I want to take all my friends and family and go back as much as possible. 
Next stop: Chicago - 5hr + time zone change +1hr
I was so happy to be home Friday night. I spent Saturday catching up with friends + on sleep. It was lovely.

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