My travels in 2018 took me to a handful of familiar destinations, but mostly to places I had never really explored.
The year began in Wisconsin. Logic be damned – I drove north in the coldest month of the year and spent time speaking to audiences in Madison and Verona, Wisconsin. I interviewed the founder of the National Mustard Museum in Middleton where you can find thousands of different types of mustard containers from around the world. I also learned that cheese curds squeak in your mouth when they’re fresh. (It’s true!)
I took some time in 2018 to explore places that I had zoomed past dozens of times. One place was Fulton. The small mid-Missouri town which sits half way between Kansas City and St. Louis was made famous when Winston Churchill visited in 1946. The town is only a few minutes off of Interstate 70 and boasts some wonderful restaurants, successful businesses and kind, welcoming people. The National Churchill Museum includes some inspiring rare artifacts. Outside the museum, you’ll find 8 sections of the Berlin Wall – a gift from Germany and the granddaughter of Churchill, Edwina Sandys.
Peoria, Illinois was another small town I had never taken the time to explore. Fun sights included the Caterpillar Visitors Center where you gain a new appreciation for those massive construction vehicles. Their local pizza joint – Sugar is among the best wood fired stove pizzas I’ve ever eaten.
I spent a couple of weeks on a trek through the great state of Texas. Unfortunately, it poured rain both days I was in Austin limiting my sightseeing. I did have a chance to check out the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum which was incredible. Texas is home to three different Presidential museums and I strategically planned my road trip to visit all three. If you want to make that fun trip – I posted about it on here back in March.
One other Texas stop was San Antonio. I finally saw first-hand why so many people rave about this southern Texas town. From the River Walk to the Alamo, and of course and endless amount of food, San Antonio is a first class American city all around.
Oklahoma has two great cities that should be on your list of road trips in the near future. I spent time in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City – two places I’d been before. What an impressive showing from both places with upgrades in hotels, restaurants and even public transportation. OKC’s new downtown streetcar, similar to the one in Kansas City, is hoping to make getting around a bit easier.
With the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers Neighborhood – I decided to visit Fred Rogers’ home town of Latrobe. It was such an inspiring visit, seeing sets from his show as well as having the rare opportunity to visit the Fred Rogers Archives. As a child, I watched the show but like many kids, I found the trolley to be my favorite part. Seeing that in person was pretty amazing.
Other 2018 highlights included:
-Climbing on board the original monster truck, “Big Foot”.
-Attending the grand opening of the new Gateway Arch museum in Saint Louis.
-Traveled up Reunion Tower in Dallas.
-Learned about making cowboy hats in Bryan, Texas.
-Shooting a “squash rocket” in Petoskey, Michigan
-Photographing the Ha Ha Tonka ruins in Missouri’s Ha Ha Tonka State Park
-Standing on the roof of Al Johnson’s famous rooftop – with goats! Just one of the great moments in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin.
-Having a personal tour of the Illinois Governor’s mansion.
-Spending the night in a train caboose, grain silo and a tree house (see video below) all in the same week.
-Spent a week in Milwaukee where I toured the Miller Brewery, Harley Davidson museum, and ate more cheese than should be allowed by law. I also had to drive home during a blizzard in…. April. April!!!
-Toured the original bottling plant of Dr. Pepper in Waco, Texas. (I also walked around the corner to visit the Magnolia Market made famous by Chip and JoAnna Gaines. (Not impressed. Though I applaud anyone that can get people to buy a bunch of overpriced stuffed just because your name is on it.)
-I spent a couple of weeks in Michigan. I learned all about cherries in Traverse City, and down in Holland I learned that all of their downtown streets are heated! Brilliant! My favorite story of the year was on chasing waterfalls in the U.P.
-I went to the very first Pizza Hut store in Wichita, Kansas and the very first Walmart store in Bentonville, Arkansas.
-Explored the incredible Wonders of Wildlife museum in Springfield, Missouri. The museum was named “Best new attraction” by USA Today last year.
-And I also toured the world’s last corn cob pipe factory in Washington, Missouri.
It was quite a year. Thanks for following along. Here’s to safe, fun road trips for you and me in 2019.