‘Merica Vacation: Part Three, The Long Road Home

We took an epic, 10-state, 2,900-mile, 8-day vacation this summer and I’m dishing on all the details. Read more in part one and part two!

van selfie


Our trip in Indy was full of love, hugs and lots of memories for us, and the kids. Then, we hit I-65 and it was not so lovey. But, because we hit the road suuuuper early, we made it to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory shortly after opening. John Paul was in baseball heaven. They actually make the bats here and we took a factory tour, which was fascinating for all of us. Call me a rookie, but I was like, “How hard is it to make a bat?” Evidently a lot more involved than I thought.


kentucky_2709 kentucky_2711



We made it through the museum with no crying. Because, baseball. #giannasnotimpressed


A sweet, sweet reader and her family invited us to lunch at their house just outside Louisville. Y’all. Such beautiful hospitality. Leanne, thank you for cooking up an amazing pulled pork meal and letting our crew crash your lovely home. We enjoyed every minute, especially that pie! She’s due with a sweet baby this fall and she could not be cuter. And, AND they gave us sweet tea to go. Can’t beat that.


One of the best things about stopping at their house? It put us on a different route to get to the Maker’s Mark distillery. The drive was just gorgeous. Quintessential Kentucky.



Hey Maker’s Mark!

That’s right, we took our six kids to a bourbon distillery. No apologies. We snagged the last tour of the day and boy did we enjoy the taste test at the end. Even the tour guide threw back with us. “It’s not much folks, we gotta keep you street legal,” she quipped. Did I mention her name was Aggie? I can’t make this stuff up. If ever you’re in Kentucky, get thyself to Maker’s Mark. Not only is the distillery quaint, but it is really good bourbon. Which leads me to this. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. To be qualified as bourbon it has to do three things: 1) be made in Kentucky, 2) be aged in oak barrels and 3) be made from 51% corn.

Now you know.kentucky_2746




After the tour and tasting, we found ourselves in the gift shop and somehow I ended up dipping my own bottle. The kids said that was the best part of the day.

Oh, they don’t even know.kentucky_2790


We powered on to Nashville, called in our order at the Loveless Cafe, picked it up to go and headed to the hotel. It was about then the wheels feel off. Cranky kids. Long day. Not enough bourbon. We got them bedded down and officially hit our eighth state.


We awoke bright and early to tour the Grand Ole Opry. Scott and I do love us some country music, but whether or not you’re a fan of the C&W, one has to bask in the history of the Opry. We sprung for backstage tour tickets and I’m so glad we did. We were the first tour of the day and our guide was just phenomenal. So knowledgeable and so, southern. What a gentleman. Oh, and if you’re wondering why Mr. Strait isn’t a member? Well, to be part of the Opry, one must commit to a certain number of shows in Nashville every year and it appears George prefers his Texas home. Can’t blame him there. He’ll always be the King of Country at our house.







tennessee_grand ole opry

After a few photos, it was off to lunch in Memphis at Corky’s BBQ. Their pulled pork was outstanding, just like their ribs and sweet tea. At this point we started to feel like Jim Gaffigan. “So, where we gonna eat next?”

We ended our evening in Jackson, Mississippi, grabbed some zzzz’s and prepared for the long, long journey home the next day.


As fate would have it, we happened upon the site of the Battle of Vicksburg on July 4, the same day the battle was fought and won. They had so much activity, including live cannon shots. We hopped out of the van for those, but the rest of the time we used our cell phones to listen to the audio tour, popping out for a great memorial at the end. It was a pretty great way to celebrate the 4th.mississippi_2859





For lunch we happened to be in Shreveport and because we had eaten a ton of burgers, we opted for some chicken from Popeyes. When we walked in, Clare looked up at the sign and said, “Is this place Catholic? It says Pope Yes.”

Dying. I am still dying.popeyes

And finally, around 7pm, we landed in Austin. But not before swinging by Chuy’s to pick up our Tex-Mex fix.texas_2923

Looking back, it was an ambitious endeavor. All those miles in just 8 days. In one van. With 8 people. There were fights and yelling, rolled eyes and rib jabs. But we also had a blast playing the license plate game (42 states and 1 country found), car bingo, talking about life, laughing a little and peeing a lot. Thanks ‘Merica 2015. You were good to us!


  1. Claire in the UK on August 13, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Love it ! Thank you so much for taking us with you on your tour. V jealous of you going to Nashville…. in my dreams I’ll get there. In the meantime I’m v happy to be travelling to France and Italy next week. THank you again.

    • Kathryn on August 13, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Oh France and Italy – they have my heart. Someday I’ll get back there. How beautiful for you. For now, we can live vicariously through one another!

  2. Madeline on August 13, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Pope Yes is probably the best thing I’ve ever heard.

    • Kathryn on August 13, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      It’s just brilliant, isn’t it?

    • Jules on August 14, 2015 at 7:02 am

      That was the best comment ever! And if you knew my family you’d know that is a high accolade!
      A family member who should remain nameless once asked me what are Moe-gee-toes when she saw the word Mojito. Perhaps she and Clare should meet up 😉

  3. Verdina on August 13, 2015 at 10:38 am

    How many times can I say you guys are amazing!!??? And Brave! You see things others never see even if they travel the same route. Your kids are so blessed to have you as parents!!!

    May God continue to bless your family!


    • Kathryn on August 13, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      HA! We had a rocky moments in the van, but looking back? Worth it!

  4. Lauren on August 13, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    We have logged nearly a dozen cross country driving trips with our 5 kids, but we always forego the fun stops and power through. It’s a tough call for us: stopping to sight see is interesting, valuable, and fun, (and maybe breaks up some of the tension in the car!), but the delays it cause mean shortening our time in our destination.
    We’ve spent the last 2 summer vacations driving from Houston to Michigan (just about the same route that you took home!) In order to keep the drive to 2 days each way, we’ve got to driiiiiiiive…like 14 hours the first day and 8 the second…. So there’s not much room for stops. Always a dilemma!!

    • Kathryn on August 13, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      Definitely a dilemma. We opted to take the long way home and there this time around. The last day we almost gave up. It was a brutal driving day, but we made it. Getting out of the car helped us stay sane and staying with friends made it affordable. You gotta do what you gotta do!

  5. Andrea on August 16, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    I have family in Colorado and we took our kids on a tour of the Coors brewery in Golden. Definitely interesting. And the end in the tasting room was fun too 😉

    • Kathryn on August 19, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Oh we will have to do that one when we head to Colorado. Thanks for the tip.

  6. […] We took an epic, 10-state, 2,900-mile, 8-day vacation this summer and I’m dishing on all the details. Read more in part one and part three! […]

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