There was an upside to our move to (and back from) Chicago last summer: road trips! Having done one cross-country move previously that was all business (as in, drive from Cincinnati to Seattle in just four days), we decided to take our time in our trip back to the Midwest and see a few sites along the way. I knew there were a few places we wanted to stop, like Yellowstone and Deadwood (we’re fans of the short-lived TV series), but otherwise, we used apps to tell us what was nearby as we drove, and stopped when it sounded fun. We like odd destinations, so we relied on two iPhone apps the most: Best Road Trip Ever! and Roadside America. Which one would I recommend? Well, both.
I have been a huge fan of Roadside America since the wee days of the internet, and for the most part, their app does not disappoint. You’ll pay to see more, however — the Roadside America app breaks the U.S. into seven regions. You can choose one region for $2.99. If you want to see all of them, you’ll pay an additional $5.99 (or $1.99 ala carte). The upside of the Roadside America app is that you can find a lot of interesting backstory on many of the destinations — for instance, I would never have thought to go a few miles off track to visit FAST Corp in Sparta, Wisconsin, but thanks to a story on Roadside America, that became one of the highlights of our trip (more on that in a later post).
Where Best Road Trip Ever! takes the lead for us was not only cost — 99 cents gets you the whole shebang — but also its connectivity and easy navigation. We did a lot of driving through mountainous Montana and middle-of-nowhere South Dakota, and we found that even when our mobile coverage was spotty, Best Road Trip Ever! connected more regularly. It also seemed to have more immediate “Here’s what’s close to you right now” options than the Roadside America app. I also like that it lets you mark the places you’ve visited or save future stops in a “Wanna Go!” section. Let’s put it this way: I’m not convinced we would have found Evel Kneivel’s grave, a hilltop park filled with giant dinosaurs built in the 1930s, or an enormous statue of the Green Giant without Best Road Trip Ever! helping us out. And for that, we are grateful.
Next up: reports on some of those weird and wonderful places we visited.
Best Road Trip Ever! art via Propaganda3.
I don’t consider myself a lucky person. I leave casino’s empty handed, my underdog horse never wins and my lottery tickets haven’t paid off yet. All that changed earlier in the year when I bought a raffle ticket at a school fundraiser. “Win a beach vacation!” the sign said. I stopped even though I was rushing for a train, gave the cute kid selling them $20 and my name and hurried on my way, having accomplished a little good deed for the day. You can’t imagine my surprise when I got a call a few weeks later telling me I had won. And the prize was not just any beach vacation, but a few night’s stay in the absolutely stunning Viceroy in Anguilla. This place is James Bond quality beautiful, thanks in part to having been styled by the always tasteful Kelly Wearstler. Muted hues and natural textures preside. One of my favorite treats was discovering the plethora of beautiful chairs sprinkled about the property. Around every column stood another elegant throne. I took some photos of my favorites, including the one above that is a cream colored version of Wearstler’s famed souffle chair. I would be remiss to not share my husband’s take on all these seats though: “They’re pretty to look at, but uncomfortable as hell.” But I always say, never look a free visit to a designer paradise in the mouth. Enjoy!
The other weekend, we made a road trip down to lovely Richmond, VA to visit with friends — which happily included sneaking out for a grown-up meal at Pasture, from the same team that is responsible for the Richmond staple, Comfort. Featuring the same sort of elevated home cooking by chef and owner Jason Alley, Pasture serves up locally grown plates, like a sophisticated version of a state fair. Though the Frito pie and southern fried rice I was enjoying were insanely tastey, my attention was distracted by these cleverly placed, colorful wooden chairs. Putting a spin on the “dip dyed” trend, Jason’s wife Mercedes Schaum and their business partner, Michele Jones, painted just the tops of some wooden dining chairs. They resourcefully collected them from a surplus at their kids’ school, and used the same blue and green tones as used elsewhere in the restaurant. Jason explains that they decided to put the color on the top of the chair, rather than the legs, to draw their customers’ eyes across the dining room, not down to the floor. And, since it’s impossible to find a bucket big enough to “dip” a whole chair into, they taped off the backs and painted on the color. So simple it’s genius! Put this one in your inspiration board and save for later. And be sure to swing by Pasture the next time you go through Richmond!
Photos by Scott Elmquist
As far as I’m concerned, there’s no vacation better than a road trip. Laying on a beach in Tahiti? Too boring. Carving a path through the rain forest in South America? Too sweaty. Drinking hot chocolate in a cozy Aspen lodge while Ryan Gosling tells you how fantastic you look in your sweater? Okay you got me, that one is better than a road trip.
Ryan Gosling notwithstanding, road trips are awesome. When planning a road trip, I always make sure I have a bag full of snacks, plenty of water for my pup, an iPod loaded with new podcasts, my trusty National Parks Passport, and a couple side trips courtesy of OnTheWay. OnTheWay App is “A better way to get there.” Load in your departure point and destination, and it will supply you with potential stop overs along the way. The site will suggest restaurants, movie theaters, and points of interest along your route so you can eat where locals do (and avoid the road trip trap of dollar menus). While not (yet) totally comprehensive, OnTheWay is a great starting point to begin planning your meandering adventure.
I hate frozen yogurt. I try to like it, I swear. The Pinkberry, Red Mango/, etc. invasion has been going on for a few years now, but every time I try a new concoction, it’s always the same. It’s not an ice cream replacement. It’s not even ice cream-adjacent.
My seplace for healthy, delicious ice cream-like treats took a turn for the better this weekend when walked through the doors of The Soft Serve Fruit Co. in New York City’s Union Square neighborhood. The delicious concoctions are dairy free, gluten free, fat free, vegan, and kosher parve. All those ultra-healthy terms normally scare me, but I went ahead and gave it a shot anyway (against the better judgment of my sweet tooth). It was amazing! Delicious and refreshing, the soft serves are made up of only three ingredients: fruit, water, and a dash of organic cane sugar. Choose one (or all) of the rotating menu of fruit soft serve flavors and then pick from a variety of toppings to round out your sundae. I had dark chocolate and blueberry soft serve with pomegranate seeds on top and I didn’t miss my usual strawberry cheesquake blizzard one bit.