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Home / Adventure Travels / Travel America | Along the Colorado River Discover Utah Off the Grid

Travel America | Along the Colorado River Discover Utah Off the Grid

Updated: June 26, 2017
By: Emily Long

Moab Utah Outdoors Arches Landscape Rocks

The western United States is famous for its rocky mountains, alien deserts, big skies, and endless opportunities for adventure. Before I moved to Utah from the hot, humid, and flat East Coast a few years ago, I’d never seen anything like the Wasatch range towering over Salt Lake City or the rolling red rocks and arches around Moab. There’s just so much…space. I immediately set out to explore every national park I could drive to, from Glacier National Park in northwest Montana all the way to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Utah alone claims five unique national parks, along with miles and miles of open federal and state land.

National parks offer a friendly gateway to adventure for families and outdoor newbies, but after several summers of busy campgrounds and highly-trafficked trails, I was ready for something new. After all, national parks attendance is hitting record highs, it’s becoming harder to get off the grid, and nature in general feels more crowded.

Moab, a bustling desert town in southern Utah that serves as the jumping-off point for Colorado River float trips, ATV excursions, and all manner of mountain biking, hiking, and camping adventures, is a great base for exploring the desert. It is just a few miles outside of Arches National Park and within an hour’s drive of Canyonlands National Park, so it can feel like a circus during peak season. Luckily, as with much of the western U.S., it’s possible to find complete isolation within spitting distance of busy cities—if you’re willing to.

Our plans took us west from Moab out Kane Creek Road, which quickly meets and follows the banks of the Colorado River. The pavement ends just under five miles, and that’s where the fun begins. There are plenty of camping spots, mountain biking and hiking trails, and rock climbing routes. The road turns to red dirt leading up to Hurrah Pass (~mile 10) and then into jeep track with big boulders and steep dropoffs and all manner of off-road fun. For those with a high-clearance vehicle, the road also leads to one of the three most extreme disc golf courses IN THE WORLD, as well as remote riverside camping and caving. We spent two days playing in the desert—doing yoga on the rocks, exploring dark caves, hiking sun-soaked trails, and watching sunsets over the Colorado—before heading back to the real world.

Mountain Biking Adventure Moab Utah Red Rocks Bike

 

As incredibly fun as this trip was, it wouldn’t have happened without some careful planning. Here’s a newcomer’s guide to preparing for off-road adventures:

Do Your Research

Experienced travelers of all shapes and sizes know that there’s a time and place for spontaneity—and a trip out to a remote location is not it. Know where you are going, what obstacles you might encounter, and what there is to do along the way. Preparedness is the key to a safe and fun off-road experience.

Prepare for the Remote

Your smartphone more than likely won’t be much help out in the wild. Download offline maps, write down any key information about your destination, or simply use an old-school paper map.

Take Maintenance and Emergency Prep Seriously

There’s no excuse for heading out on any road trip with overdue service issues. Get your oil changed, check your tire pressure, stock your emergency kit, and fill up with gas. Take high clearance and 4WD recommendations seriously, and never head out on a road for which your car isn’t suited!

Gear Up

There’s nothing more exciting than gear—and having the right gear matters when you’re out in the desert (or in the mountains, on the water, anywhere in nature). In addition to having the right tools for your vehicle, prepare yourself for all weather conditions and scenarios. Take warm layers, camping gear (if appropriate), plenty of food and water, and any equipment for hiking, biking, or other activities. Remember that you’ll likely be several hours from resupply resources.

 Slow Down

Much of the fun of off-roading is in the bumpy ride, the unplanned stops, and the views along the way. Focus on the journey rather than the destination, and enjoy!

Share you comments below to let me know what adventures you found off the grid and how these tips helped you discover something new!

Home / North America / Disney Adventure| Secrets For The Best Disney Family Vacation

Disney Adventure| Secrets For The Best Disney Family Vacation

Updated: June 15, 2017
By: Krystal Rogers-Nelson
Disney
If you’ve ever been on a Disney vacation, chances are you have a lot of fun memories of the
experience, as well as a few not-so-fun ones. The sheer size of the parks combined with age
disparity between children, teens, and adults can make for a stressful time when you don’t plan
effectively. That’s why I’m going to give you some of my most useful tips for navigating a family
vacation to Disney without cracking under the pressure. Buckle up—you’re in for a ride!

Determine What Your Children Are Ready For

Disney World can be a really magical place for all ages, but let’s be real—it can also be a total nightmare when you’ve got a screaming two-year-old who’s had enough after just an hour in the park. When planning your Disney vacation, think carefully about what your kids will and won’t be able to handle at their respective ages, and plan accordingly. My rule of thumb is to wait until children are at least three before plunging them into a Disney trip.

Consider a Vacation Rental

My mom took our family on a Disney World vacation the year my son turned one (he was too young—stick to my “at least three” rule if possible!) along with my adult siblings and their families. We rented a vacation house with a pool that was close to the park, and it was the best decision ever.

The house had a kitchen, a washer and dryer, a pool, a hot tub with a patio, and a family room with a TV—just in case we didn’t get enough Disney for the day and wanted to watch a couple of movies! Each couple had their own room and bathroom, and there was enough common space to spread out and decompress after a long day.

Don’t Overbook Your Days

It’s tempting to try and cram as much into a Disney vacation as possible, because there’s just so much to see and do, but it can have a detrimental effect on everyone’s experience if you’re not careful. My trip with my mom was ten days long, so rest days were definitely necessary. Ten solid days of park time would have been exhausting. I advise giving yourself a couple of free days to explore outside of the parks, relax by the pool, and generally unwind before hitting the parks again.

Decide in advance what things you want to see and do the most, as winging it can lead to unnecessary stress. If you’re traveling in a large group, break into smaller groups and plan meet-up times and places—this strategy allows everyone to do what they want without overbooking everyone else.Kids meeting their hero at Disney World

Pack for Any Scenario

The best way to deal with the variables of exploring Disney World with young children is to prepare for as many as possible. Don’t attempt a day in the parks without good walking shoes for all and a packed-for-anything stroller, as even the most hyperactive children will wear themselves out after a long day at Disney World. An umbrella stroller is a great option to travel with and will keep the sun out of your little ones’ eyes, lessening the likelihood of them becoming more exhausted by the heat. Pack your stroller with snacks, water, sunscreen, Dramamine or ginger chews (for motion sickness), and anything else you anticipate needing for the day.

Head to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

In case you haven’t heard, more Star Wars attractions are coming to Hollywood Studios in 2019, as part of the largest single-themed expansion to ever happen in a Disney park. Right now, you can check out replica movie props, experience the 3D motion-simulated journey through the Star Wars galaxies, and watch a live show that brings classic Star Wars moments to life before your eyes.

The new Star Wars attractions will include activities for Star Wars fans of all ages, from family pictures with Chewbacca and BB-8 to Jedi training for children ages four through twelve. (I’m not jealous, it’s fine.) If you’re a Star Wars fan like me, budget in tickets to Hollywood Studios, starting at $99 for one day.

Don’t Let Kids Binge on Sugar

Treats are part of the Disney experience, but an over-sugared child is not what you want when trying to enjoy a full day of park time—trust me! Be mindful of how much sugar your children consume, and ensure they eat enough “real food” and drink plenty of water. This should help you avoid any potential vomiting (it happens) and keep them as calm as possible under the circumstances.

Have a Plan if You Get Separated

You should give everyone in your party a plan to follow in the event of separation—don’t just count on cellphones, as batteries and signal strength aren’t always reliable. If your children are prone to wandering off, consider getting a GPS tracker so you don’t have to panic if you can’t locate them in the hustle and bustle of so many people.

Beat the Crowds

All of us have different tolerance levels when it comes to crowds, but most of us would rather not wait in line for hours to go on a ride, so get smart about avoiding crowds with these tips.

  • Parades are a great time to hit your favorite rides, as lines tend to be significantly shorter.

  • TouringPlans.com is a great resource when planning your Disney vacation, as it provides crowd information that helps you know when the parks will be least busy.Walt Disney Castle

  • Eating your meals at less-conventional times means less standing around listening to “Mom, I’m STARVING!” on repeat.

  • Certain rides, such as Space Mountain and the Hollywood Tower of Terror, have longer lines most of the time, so consider visiting these first when you arrive at the parks.

  • The earlier you can get to the parks, the more in-demand rides you can enjoy before the crowds come. Try to get to bed at a reasonable hour before a park day so you can be up bright and early.

  • If you stay at a Disney hotel, you should take advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, which let you enter the park an hour before everyone else and leave up to two hours later.

  • Consider investing in Disney’s FastPass+ program, which lets you schedule your visit to certain attractions and beat the lines for your favorite rides. You can make reservations with FastPass+ using the My Disney Experience planning page or the mobile app up to thirty days in advance, or sixty days if you stay at a Disney hotel. They’re flexible, so don’t worry if you change your mind once you begin your trip.

Make Waiting More Bearable

While there are things you can do to reduce waiting times, you’ll inevitably have to stand in line at some points. Snacks, games, and electronics can all make time go faster, as can Disney’s interactive queues for certain rides, such as the Haunted Mansion and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Disney also has some free apps like Nemo’s Reef that you can download for your children. I like to prepare some Disney trivia questions for my family in advance, as we love competing with each other as we wait in line!

Enjoy Some Adult Time at Epcot

Don’t let children steal all your Disney vacation time—have a grandparent or older teen watch over them while you enjoy some adult time at Epcot. You can devour some fancy food, get a real drink (or three), and unwind without wired-on-Disney kids screaming at you for a few hours. If you haven’t been before, check out some of my favorite attractions:

  • Boulangerie Pâtisserie in France
  • La Cava del Tequila and Mariachi Cobre in Mexico
  • Brass Baazar in Morocco
  • Soarin’ Around the World in “The Land”
  • Dragon Legend Acrobats in China

Sure, Epcot isn’t just for adults—it has lots of amazing child-friendly attractions for everyone to enjoy—but it’s my favorite place for grownup time on a Disney vacation. I highly recommend you check it out when you need a break.

Epcot Centre Disney

Keep Grandparents Happy

Grandparents are, in my experience, the real heroes on a Disney vacation, and they deserve to be treated as such. The responsibility of tending to kids’ needs often falls on them and can definitely be exhausting, so make sure you find shady spots around the park so your parents can rest. Consider renting a wheelchair even if Grandma or Grandpa don’t usually need one, as the level of walking required in the parks can be very high and takes its toll even on the youngest and fittest among us.

Keep Teenagers Happy

There are plenty of things teenagers will love at Disney. If your teenager is too cool for school (AKA Disney), try to involve them in planning your trip, and don’t try to fight their sleep schedule too much. If teens feel like they had a say in the plans, they will usually be less opposed to things during the vacation.

Also, Disney parks are a relatively safe and closed environment, so if you have more than one teenager, give them some time to explore by themselves. Nighttime activities like fireworks are a teen favorite, as are the behind-the-scenes tours, most of which are only for those sixteen or older.

Don’t Fall Prey to Overpriced Souvenirs

If you want the classic mouse-ears-in-front-of-the-castle picture, or want to snap a picture with Chewbacca dressed up as your favorite star wars character, buy your mouse ears or Jedi robes from a party store in advance, rather than shelling out for in-park prices. You should also buy things like lanyards, and character autograph books from a party store too, as this will save you a lot of money.

It’s impossible to cram everything into one Disney vacation, so try to stay focused on what you want to do the most, and keep everyone’s stress levels as low as possible with effective planning.

Share this article with your friends and family if you found it helpful, and leave your best tips for surviving a family Disney vacation with other readers in the comments!

 

Home / North America / USA / Travel America| 5 Best Car Camping Spots in Southern Utah

Travel America| 5 Best Car Camping Spots in Southern Utah

Updated: May 1, 2017
By: Krystal Rogers-Nelson
Utah, US - Southern Utah Camping in the wilderness (iStock)

Utah, US – Southern Utah Camping in the wilderness (iStock)

While Yellowstone National Park may get a lot of attention, southern Utah’s national parks are waiting to steal your heart. Utah hosts striking red rock formations and diverse wildlife like gray foxes and desert horned lizards. Rivers slice through deep canyons. Cool lakes, perfect for dipping in after an afternoon hike, abound. You can even spot petroglyphs and other testaments of humanity’s attempts to tame the wild.

Even though Utah doesn’t fall in the ten largest states, it still has the third-most national parks—which means you don’t have to travel far to visit them all. The Mighty Five national parks—Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion—listed here follow a travel itinerary starting in Salt Lake City and finishing near Las Vegas. Each section below includes must-see sites, best campgrounds to stay at, and a safety tip to keep you well rested, protected, and ready for adventure.

1. Arches National Park

Utah Arches

Utah, US – Delicate Arches in Utah’s Arches National Park are created from centuries and millennia of weather wear (Eric Nelson)

Arches National Park owes its name to an obvious feature: arches, naturally formed in the rocks. You will see many arches from bulky ones to ones so ethereal that they seem like something out of a fantasy novel. Delicate Arch is the most well known, and you should make time to see it. Try taking an early morning hike to beat the crowds (and the heat).

When planning your trip, be aware that the main camping area, Devils Garden Campground, will be closed for construction until November 2017. There are plenty of other BLM campsites nearby, such as Goose Island and Granstaff. But reservations go fast, so you may want to venture further out toGoldbar, Kane Creek Rd.  You can also try your luck at getting an individual site, but they are first-come/first-serve, so you need to get there in the morning and act fast.

Safety Tip: Visiting a national park puts you in close proximity to desert flora and rock formations.  Make sure to pack a 1st aid kit for hiking that can handle scrapes, sprains, and cacti spines.

2. Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands possesses four distinct areas separated by rivers. Some sections showcase majestic cliffs, mesas, pinnacles, and domes. Others are home to the Green and Colorado Rivers, which you can raft. Must-see sites include Island in the Sky and Mesa Arch.

You won’t find any proper campgrounds inside the park, but multiple options exist outside it. Squaw Flat Campground and Willow Flat rest near the Needles District and Island in the Sky, respectively. The Bureau of Land Management maintains much of the land in and around Canyonlands, so you can always rough it and pitch a tent.

Safety Tip: Many of the hikes in Island in the Sky are family friendly, but come prepared. Some of the hikes involve steep ascents and require good hiking shoes. Canyonlands is also more remote and far from services, so it’s a good idea to pack an emergency kit in your car and note that cell service may be spotty.

Green River Utah

Utah, US – Gaining perspective overlooking Green River Utah’s Canyonlands National Park,(iStock)

3. Capitol Reef National Park

Once inside Capitol Reef, you’ll see why Native Americans termed it “Land of the Sleeping Rainbow.” The park’s prismatic colors and historical sites, which include a harvestable fruit orchard, will capture your attention and possibly your affection.

Campgrounds for Capitol Reef are on a first-come-first-serve basis. The best sites include Fruita Campground, Cathedral Valley, and Cedar Mesa. Fruita offers more amenities while the other two are more primitive.

Safety Tip: Like the other southern Utah parks, you’ll do a lot of walking in Capitol Reef. Take plenty of water with you, even if it means your pack is a little heavier. You won’t regret it. Make sure to balance your water intake with salty snacks like trail-mix or add a powdered electrolyte drink to your water bottle.

Capitol Reef

Utah, US – Capitol Reef “land of the sleeping rainbow” (Bob Rogers)

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon boasts the largest number of hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock) in the world, and the landscape feels magical, resembling castles in a fairytale. The park also displays ancient bristlecone pines, with some approaching 1,800 years in age. Also considered an oasis for stargazing, you can attend special Astronomy Ranger programs where you could see over 7500 stars on a moonless night!

Most travelers stay at a campground because of the chance to see the stars, as well as to see the sunrise and sunset transform the surrounding sandstone. The best-known sites include North and Sunset. Both accept reservations between May and September. You can also find yurt rentals nearby.

Safety Tip: Bryce Canyon starts at an elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, so swath your skin in sunscreen to avoid sunburns and drink lots of water.

Bryce Canyon

Utah, US – Bryce Canyon National Park (Bob Rogers)

5. Zion National Park

Zion tends to be the most visited national park in southern Utah, perhaps because of the Virgin River and the park’s towers and monoliths. For must-see sites, put Angel’s Landing (age 8+), Emerald Pools, and Weeping Rock on your list. Observation Point is also one of my favorites. Child backpacks are essential for hiking with babies and small children, though there are some paved paths that can accommodate strollers or wheelchairs.

Zion Observatory

Utah, US – Posing at Zion National Park Observatory in Zion National Park Utah (Krystal Rogers-Nelson)

Most people prefer to stay at the Watchman or South campsites. Travelers who enjoy a more rustic site may wish to stay at Lava Point, which is over an hour drive from the main entrance of the park. Watchman requires a reservation, but the other two are open. To stay off the beaten path but in luxury, reserve a spot at the glamping site Moonlight Oasis.

Safety Tip: Some of the hikes, like Angel’s Landing, have specific paths marked to keep you safe. Stay on the trails to make sure no one gets hurt.  If traveling with young children, consider a child GPS tracker since it can get crowded on the shuttle, at the trail-head and hiking on the popular trails.  I personally have found the My Buddy Tag to be useful with my rambunctious three year old, though cell coverage may vary depending on where you are in the park.

Overall, you can’t lose no matter which national parks you visit in southern Utah.

Have you been to any of southern Utah’s Mighty Five before?

Comment and share which places to camp are your favorites.

Home / North America / USA / Kansas City| Venture into the Heartland of America

Kansas City| Venture into the Heartland of America

Updated: April 27, 2015
By: Graeme Billinghurst
Downtown Kansas City

View of Downtown Kansas City from the War Memorial with Union Station in the forefront (Graeme Billinghurst/Borderless Travels)

When planning a voyage to America with some friends, rarely will the words, “I think we should add Kansas City to this trip!” be spoken. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider that anti-midwestern bias.

Most travellers to America stick to the major city centres on either coast, leaving behind some of the hidden gems on their backpacking journeys. Kansas City is a perfect example of a diamond in the rough that you just might want to consider when going on your great American tour.

What to do

The highlight for history buffs is the National World War I War Museum and Liberty War Memorial. This engaging museum covers the entirety of the war in an interactive and informative manner. Although heavy on information it offers cool displays and is lighter on the in your face Americana.

Established as a memorial in 1921 it’s a thoroughly entertaining educational experience and the top of the memorial provides visitors with the best view of Kansas city. Across the street is Union Station, a converted train station turned tourist mecca with restaurants, seasonal shows, and a science museum. Both of these venues are within walking distance of downtown and are on the soon to be completed LRT railway route.

After a long day of travelling, it’ll be time to settle in to some authentic midwestern food and no trip to Kansas City would be complete without some BBQ. Head over to Jack Stack’s near Union Station for a taste of that sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. If you’d prefer to venture out to the land of Dorothy, you can cross into Kansas and hit up Joe’s Bar-B-Que for a bit of a cheaper option, but be prepared to line up.

Finally, when you’ve reached your tourist quota for the day and it’s time to go for a few beverages, the Westport and Power & Light Districts are your best bet. Both areas offer very cool duelling piano bars and the P&L District, as locals call it, sometimes offers outdoor concerts in the summer months. Make sure to try the locally brewed Boulevard Brewery Company’s line of beers wherever you end up partying for the night.

Where to Stay

After a full day of sightseeing and partying, it’s always nice to have a comfortable bed to crash in. Hostelling isn’t a big venture in America other than in a select few cities so it might be tough to find a decent place to stay in KC that would meet a backpacker’s budget. For those willing to spend a little bit extra, established places like the Hotel Phillips will provide some of the old charm that made Kansas City a destination town in the 1930’s.

This art deco building right in the heart of downtown is a great place to anchor yourself when trying to see all the sites. It’s within walking distance to the P&L District and with a free shuttle service that will drive you to other buzzing neighbourhoods like Westport or Country Club Plaza, it makes the ideal home base for your visit.  In the offseason, affordable rates can be found, especially if you’re travelling in a small group.

Whether you’re backpacking, going on a road trip or just stopping in for the weekend, take a chance on Kansas City and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

Home / North America / USA / Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace unearthed

Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace unearthed

Updated: April 14, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Abraham Lincoln House

Abraham Lincoln 19th century home – Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, Kentucky

As one of my favourite states in America, Kentucky is not only beautiful, home to bourbon, the longest cave system in the world, and the first place I experienced southern hospitality, it’s the birthplace of the great American hero for his views on slavery and 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

While driving from Mammoth Caves to visit some of the most famous bourbon distilleries in the world I stumbled upon Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. I first noticed the signs while driving along rural central Kentucky Highway 31E on my way to Maker’s Mark Distillery.

With plans to visit several distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail the Shameless Traveler and I weren’t planning to stop. In the end we said why not and turned off the highway into the quaint town of Hodgenville, Kentucky.

It was down a winding national park road that we found the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, one of the most unique historical landmarks in the U.S.A.

Sinking Spring

Sinking Sprin, where Abraham Lincoln probably took his first drink of water – Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site, Kentucky

Our plans to check the place out and get back on the road were stalled when we discovered the spring where Abraham Lincoln probably took his first drink of water! Whaaat? Yes, this actually exists and can be directly quoted from the informative panel along side it.

Figuring we had seen the greatest American historical site of all time we were about to leave when we noticed the gigantic marble memorial building just up a small hill from the spring.

What we found inside was the most boring job in America followed by a completely unexpected relic. Inside the memorial building (which is an incredible piece of 19th century architecture itself) is an original house from the early 1800’s.

Unfortunately, it’s not the actual house Lincoln was born in, but an original house from that time period. In fact, as the National Park Ranger (who stands alone watching over the house) told us that the the memorial building is located within 10 ft of Abraham Lincoln’s original house.

Building

Abraham Lincoln Memorial building. Guess what’s inside? Kentucky

Encased in the memorial building is an incredible piece of American history. Walking around the 19th century house brought to life the hardships of life as an early American settler.

As you look upon the primitive clay and timber plank structure with it’s incredible to think how technology, life, and society has changed.

The best part about visiting Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace was learning about the humble beginnings the great American president who’s open views on slavery sparked the changes that eventually led to a free country for all Americans.

It’s not often that one stumbles upon an incredible piece of  American history, like Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, that offers such a rich opportunity to learn.  Next time you’re traveling along the Kentucky Bourbon trail take a detour and unearth the history of Abraham Lincoln.

Happy Travels,

Yak

 

Home / North America / USA / Best restaurants in Cincinnati

Best restaurants in Cincinnati

Updated: April 7, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Skyline

Crushing a classic 3-way with a coney on the side!! Cincinnati, Ohio

Spring break sitting at home just wasn’t going to work for me this year so I called my fellow travel blogger, Cincinnati resident, and good friend, The Shameless Traveler to see what was going in Cincinnati, Ohio. Turns out one of the best things about Cincinnati is the food!

With the best tour guide in Cincinnati I hit up a few mouth watering restaurants, and metropolitan passions, that visitors to this city shouldn’t miss out on, and locals who’ve never been should hit up on their next Tinder date!

3 Best Restaurants in Cincinnati!

Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili is not just a restaurant; it’s a local passion! 2-way, 3-way, 4-way, 5-way is how you get your chili on spaghetti at Cincinnati’s most popular chili franchise, so get your mind out of the gutter. Whenever I met new people in Cincinnati the first thing they asked was whether or not I’d been to Skyline.

Well now I have, and yes it is unreal! Although it’s most sought after when the bars have closed and you’re craving the cheesy delicious mayhem that is everything on the Skyline menu, I found myself crushing a couple coney’s several times during my visit.

Local tip:  If you go there make sure you buy York Peppermint Patties for the group (it’s tradition) and the best way to cleanse that pallet after a three way with a coney on the side.

Skyline website: http://www.skylinechili.com/

Skyline

Munchin’ with new digs at Skyline Chilli in Cincinnati, Ohio Photo Credit: The Shameless Traveler

The Eagle OTR (over the Rhine)

Simply put, The Eagle boasts the best fried chicken in Cincinnati because it is. Coupled with an huge craft beer selection and a creative menu with the perfect number of choices The Eagle offers great food at a great price.

I ordered the ¼ chicken, which was massive and ridiculously tasty. I don’t know what’s in the spicy honey sauce but it’s pure magic. Truth, I devoured my meal like Robert Baratheon at a wedding feast.

The healthy choices are great too. I loved the Kale Salad which balanced out the fried chicken perfectly, and for two quarter-chickens and two salads it only ended up costing about $20.

The Eagle on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheEagleOTR

The Eagle

“Chicken for the soul” thanks to The Eagle Facebook page timeline photos…mmmmmmm

Graeter’s Ice Cream

Being in America I figured why worry about healthy eating and so, after my fried chicken feast, I headed over the Cincinnati’s most famous ice cream chain for some tasters (conveniently located across the street from The Eagle).

There’s a reason why Oprah apparently orders pints of this mouthwatering ice cream to her door, its ridiculously good!

With all the classic flavours and artisan blends that change every month you’ll probably end up tasting most of them. To be honest, its worth the money for a scoop of this. I loved the new monthly flavour mint brownie but their classic chocolate was what I went with.

Greater’s website: http://www.graeters.com/

Greater's

I didn’t even see this was a flavour! Cherry chocolate ice cream…whaaat

I’m sure there’s a ton more amazing places to eat but if you want to experience Cincinnati’s food culture you won’t want to miss Skyline, if you want to go to fried chicken heaven The Eagle will not disappoint, and when you’re full and need something for desert Grater’s is a must!

What do you think of these picks for Cincinnati’s best eats?

Happy Travels,

Yak

 

Home / North America / USA / Explore Mammoth Cave Kentucky the world’s longest cave

Explore Mammoth Cave Kentucky the world’s longest cave

Updated: March 31, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Spelunking Kentucky

Crouching on a historic tour of Mammoth Caves in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

My adventures in Kentucky started at Mammoth Cave National Park, home to 400 miles of currently explored cave, making it the longest cave system in the world. For the millions of visitors that get to explore the caves each year, few are lucky enough to get to do all that Mammoth Caves has to offer.

For me, spending an entire day cave exploring, hiking along the green river, and spending the night at Mammoth Cave hotel was a thorough way to experience Mammoth Cave National Park, but it was the people I met along the way that made my time there special.

Mammoth Caves offers all kinds of spelunking excursions from photography to hard core cave crawling expeditions, but it’s the popular historic and entrance tours that give visitors safe educational experiences that showcase the history and beauty of Mammoth Caves most significant areas.

niagara tour kentucky

Incredible geology on the New Niagara tour at Mammoth Caves, Kentucky

With only a day planned at Mammoth Caves I decided to go on both the historic and entrance cave tours because I wanted to maximize my experience of the caves. Each tour was very different and I got to experience the grandness and beauty of geologic features like the monstrous rotunda room the stalactites and stalagmites of frozen Niagara.

On each tour I had the opportunity to meet rangers Steve and Jerry who toured our groups through the dark winding depths of Mammoth Caves. During each tour the guides weaved through incredible stories of the caves first explorers and some of the original uses of the caves, outside of tourism, which made the original owners extremely wealthy.

The most interesting thing I learned was the Canadian connection to Mammoth Caves, which was a result of the war of 1812 between Britain and America. It was during this time that industrial amounts of calcium nitrate was mined in Mammoth Caves in order to supply gun powder to the Americans in their fight against the British.

The most unique thing about my tour was the opportunity to meet Ranger Jerry Brandsford whose family can be traced back to some of the original explorers and tour guides at Mammoth Caves. As we made our way through the cave he shared stories of his great-great-grandfather and showed us the names of his family scrawled using candles on the cave walls.  In fact, his story was so unique that New York Times Travel recently did an expose on Mr. Brandsford and his family history.

tour

Ranger Jerry telling stories on the new entrance tour Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Thanks to recommendations from Jerry and Steve, I also discovered the best hikes and barbecue in the area. After exploring the depths of Mammoth Caves for over four hours I headed to Porky Pig Diner to taste best barbecue in Kentucky with my buddy the shameless traveler, but not before working up an apetite  with a hike along the hillsides around Mammoth Caves.

Thanks to Ranger Steve, our hiking took us on a one hour hike along the Green River Bluffs Trail to River Styx then up to Sunset Point before heading back via Heritage trail to the visitors center.

This hike was great because it helped contextualize the massive cave system beneath the hills. It also gave me the chance to see the Green River, which is an integral part of the cave system, and explore the surrounding hillside where you can see one of Mammoth Caves drainage points.

After several hours of exploring the caves and hiking the bluffs it was time to head down the road to Pig, Kentucky for the barbecue pork experience of a lifetime; the best barbecue in Kentucky which is only 10 mintues from Mammoth Caves.  Seriously, the pork butt sandwich with homemade barbecue sauce is so good I almost started drinking it!

By the end of the meal I was incredibly satisfied. It seemed like nothing could top this day in Mammoth National Park where I’d gotten to explore the main attractions at Mammoth Cave, hiked along the incredible Green River, and eaten the best barbecue pork in Kentucky.

bbq pork

Best barbecue pork in Kentucky at the Porky Pig Diner in Pig, Kentucky

Thanks to the couple I had been talking with at the diner Kentucky surprised me with something again; this time it was some good old southern hospitality.  As we finished up eating our new friends came to say goodbye and told us that that the best barbecue pork in Kentucky was on them!

Even better was that after such an exciting day, all I had left to do was head back to Mammoth Cave Hotel and put my feet up only 50m away from the cave entrance (which was reasonably priced if you’re not a tv addict because there weren’t many channels, but you’re there to experience nature anyways).

All in all spending a day at Mammoth Caves National park, exploring the depths of the longest caves in the world, hiking along the Green River, getting to know the witty and knowledgeable park rangers, eating Kentucky’s best barbecue pork in Pig, Kentucky and having our meal covered, then sleeping at the super convenient Mammoth Cave Hotel was one epic trip and something I’d recommend for all visitor to the cave!

Happy Travels,

Yak

Mammoth Cave Links

Mammoth Caves National Park Website

Mammoth Cave Hotel

NY Times article featuring Ranger Jerry

 

Home / Videos / Video| Bourbon dippin’ & tastin’ tips Maker’s Mark Kentucky

Video| Bourbon dippin’ & tastin’ tips Maker’s Mark Kentucky

Updated: March 26, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci

Experiencing Maker’s Mark Distillery Kentucky

After an incredible tour of my favourite Kentucky bourbon there was no better way to finish things off then dipping my own bottle of Maker’s.  Since every bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon is hand dipped to give it the signature red wax top, I figured it wouldn’t be right to head back to Canada without one.

On our tour I met Mindy, our stellar tour guide, who took me through the dipping process before I tried it out for myself.  Not only did dipping give me appreciation for the skill and precision it takes employees to do this, it made my experience at Maker’s Mark unique and gave me a great story behind the bottle I brought home with me.

Once you’re bottles been dipped and it’s home you’re probably going to want to taste it so here’s a little advice to give you a full experience.

How to taste bourbon

Smell

Instead of breathing in through your nose use your mouth.  This will take away the strong alchohol scent and allow you to smell the nuances in the bourbon

Taking your first sip

1. Make sure the bourbon touches your whole tongue so you can truly appreciate the full flavour of the spirit
2. Wait three second
3. Swallow
4. Wait two seconds
5. Breathe in slowly
6. Repeat

Home / North America / USA / Bourbon virgin no more thanks Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar

Bourbon virgin no more thanks Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar

Updated: March 19, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
OKBB

Nothing but smiles at the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, Kentucky…liquid gold u’ll do that to ya

Let me first start off by saying that before my visit to Cincinnati, I knew nothing about the glorious liquid gold drink that is better known as bourbon.  As a matter of fact, I was a bourbon virgin.

Arriving in Cincinnati after a several hour drive to visit with fellow travel blogger, and self-proclaimed bourbon aficionado the Shamelss Traveler, there was only one place to go.

And so, shortly after introductions and a tour of his place it was time to venture into the heart of Cincinnati. First stop, Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, Kentucky.

If you’re wondering how the heck I ended up in Kentucky when I was heading to downtown Cincinnati let me shoot a little geography your way. Downtown Cincinnati is right on the northern border of Kentucky, and located just across the river from Covington, where you’ll find the greatest bourbon bar in the world!

Rebel Yell

Great bourbon even better price at the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covinton, Kentucky

Bourbon, which I got to know as liquid gold, is Kentucky’s greatest export (sitting just in front of Abraham Lincoln and George Clooney). If you’re new to bourbon, like me, or a bourbon connoisseur visiting the Cincinnati area your first stop needs to be the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar; especially after a long drive.

More than a bar, OKBB is an experience. With hundreds of bourbon whiskies to choose from, OKBB’s staff are experts when it comes to bourbon and offers something for everyone.

Sitting at the bar, I met whisky expert Tayor Renfroe who introduced himself with the classic bartender greeting of, “what can I get you guys”.

With little to no knowledge about bourbon I had no idea what to order, so I told him I came all the way from Canada just to be here; so began my introduction to the wonderful world of bourbon.

As soon as he heard I was from Canada, and uninitiated when it comes to bourbon tasting, he decided to bring me on a bourbon journey back through time, a journey that would change my pallet and preferred spirit forever.

Taylor took me on what he called a history of bourbon tasting tour where he specially selected several bourbons to outline the spirits rich history in America. With only a few samples from their massive whisky collection he taught me how to taste bourbon as he intertwined its rich history from pure corn whisky to the best American bourbon of 2013.

OKBB selection

History of bourbon tasting tour at the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, Kentucky

Not only that, but he explained what made each type of bourbon unique while helping me find what I liked best by providing a wide range of whiskies to taste.  Lucky for me, our tour ended with a Four Roses 2013 limited edition single barrel bourbon that was outstanding (a sold out everywhere bourbon that I was ecstatic to get a chance to try).

Even better was the price thanks to my buddy Shameless who treated this canuck to a night out (in all honesty the price was very reasonable and I can’t wait to go back again).

By the end of the tour I was hooked and ready to venture deeper into bourbon country. Thanks to Taylor and the OKBB, I was armed with the basics of bourbon know how, and got to test my newly honed taste buds on the Kentucky bourbon trail.  So next time you’re there, say “hi” from Borderless Travels, and have a drink for me ;)

Happy tasting,

Yak

Visit the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar on Facebook
Call at (859) 581-1777 or have a drink @ 629 Main St. Covington ky 41011

 

Home / North America / USA / Highlights of San Francisco in a day

Highlights of San Francisco in a day

Updated: March 17, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
San Francisco Skyline

San Francisco skyline taken from Vista Point across from the Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco, California

As the Bay Bridge unfolded before me, its metallic suspenders twisting and turning in the sky like the folding’s of a fresh white bed sheet, I had trouble keeping my eyes on the road. With the shimmering blue San Francisco bay to the right, a bright sunny sky above, the city revealed itself before me as if I was unwrapping a candy that I’d been waiting for all day.

I was mesmerized by San Francisco’s beauty, as the white facades of the buildings dotting the hillsides came into view like shiny specs of sand on an endless beach. Seeing the city one begins to understand why authors like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S.Thompson lived it, loved it, wrote about it, and made the city part of their lives. It’s because there’s something special about San Francisco that grabs hold of you, spoils you, and brings the realization that this will not be the last time you visit.

San Fran Cable Car

San Francisco cable car

“I’m going to San Francisco,” I said to my parents only a few weeks before my flight touched down in neighbouring Oakland. I was visiting for a job interview, and decided to make a short trip of it. San Francisco was the first stop, but I only had a short time there since my mom, who was joining me on the trip, wanted to drive the Pacific Coast Highway down to San Diego before flying home. This meant that I had to see what I could of San Francisco in a day.

First stop, North America’s oldest China Town. This twenty block community of authentic Chinese shops, restaurants, supermarkets and places of worship is located right in the heart of downtown San Francisco and a great place for photography. I went down for some authentic Chinese food and would recommend the same,  Just make sure you research restaurants before you go, as there is a lot of choice and not everywhere is great.

Visiting San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without a ride the world’s only manually operated cable car from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. Hop on and enjoy the ride because the cable car will take you through the winding hilly streets of San Francisco, which offers some spectacular views of the city. I had my camera at the ready and enjoyed the ride by chatting with the incredibly knowledgeable operators.

When you arrive at Fisherman’s Wharf take some time to explore Aquatic Cove (small beach area and pier) just down the way from where the cable car drops you off. If you walk down the pier you can capture a great picture of Alcatraz.  Next to Aquatic Cove I also hiked up Black Point to Fort Mason Meadow, which is a spectacular park.

Alcatraz

View of Alcatraz from Aquatic cove near Fisherman Warf in San Francisco, California

If you love to walk, like my mom and I, Fisherman’s Warf is the perfect place to speed through since it’s worth seeing but super touristy. After Fisherman’s Warf you can continue on to Pier 39 where you’ll get to see the Elephant Seals as they lounge and bark on the floating docks in the pier. Next to where the seals hang is a concourse filled with restaurants and shops, but I’d recommend heading to the sailboat filled docks on the East side of Pier 39, where you’ll get a great view of the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco Bay and Berkeley.

After Fisherman’s Warf continuing to walk down the Embarcadero is great and I’d highly recommend stopping at Pier 23 Cafe for a pint, live music, and some grub. The local atmosphere is really laid-back and the food is fantastic (I had the happy hour Oysters). It was by far my favourite restaurant on the Embarcadero and wasn’t very expensive.

Of course, a trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. For the best photos of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge visit the Marin Headlands just up the way from Conzelman Rd. If you’re a photographer, you won’t want to miss this place at night! You should also go to Vista Point, which is easy to access from the bridge and has a great view of both San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the end, I only scratched the surface of San Francisco, but my time there was well spent. There was certainly plenty more to see and do, but I felt like what I did experience gave me a good perspective of why San Francisco is one of America’s most iconic cities and a place that deserves to be on every travelers list.

What’s your highlight of San Francisco?

Happy travels,

Yak

For more information on everything San Francisco check out San Francisco travel’s official website