Travel Photography

Across the USA

Across the United States, Christina and her friend Danielle made the trek from Northwest to Southeast, stopping at beautiful locations along the way. It's amazing to see the photos of our beautiful nation. 

If you've ever said the USA is boring and lacks beauty, you should plan to drive across the country and then prepare to eat your words. America is home to deserts, plains, mountains, coastlines, cliffs, and everything in between. There's so much to see, it would be a shame not to get out there and enjoy it! 

We've prepared a little photo journal for you so we can all follow along as they drive through San Francisco, San Luis Obisto (Hwy 1), LA, Salton Sea, Joshua Tree National Park, Phoenix, Sedona, Sante Fe, Taos Pueblo, Texas countryside, El Paso, Marfa, Austin, Houston, Louisiana, and Panama City, FL. Enjoy!

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Modern Day Nomads

Have you ever thought to yourself as you're sitting in your cubicle, looking at a spreadsheet, drinking bad office coffee, "If only I could just travel the country making money doing what I love"? That is precisely what Mackenzie and Blaine of The Local Branch do every day!

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Mackenzie and Blaine live and work out of a 1979 Airstream trailer they bought when it was in serious need of some love and they transformed it into a rustic chic cabin on wheels. Please do yourself a favor and take the tour of the transformation on their blog! Christina and I both love transforming spaces that have been neglected or just aren't being utilized to their full potential--we particularly love that in small spaces where every area must work double or triple duty. The Local Branch live/work/play Airstream is all that and more!

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Not only does this couple travel the United States selling their goods at festivals and events, they also make and sell all American made items for their shop IN their Airstream trailer. Anything you buy from The Local Branch will have an American made story and will include the city it came from on the tag. Since everything is made by hand here in the USA, you can be sure your purchases from these two nomads are supporting our national economy and small business. 

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Follow The Local Branch on social media to see where they will show up next. Mackenzie and Blaine have me feeling inspired to take risks, make old things new, and support American small businesses and I hope you feel inspired, too!


A Weekend in Lexington, KY

When you think about Kentucky, what comes to mind? Bourbon? The Kentucky Derby? Lousiville Slugger bats? Before visiting last Labor Day weekend with my Mama and my sister, I didn't really think about Kentucky much at all. We found a travel Groupon getaway hotel deal that we jumped on for a very reasonable rate and decided that we would visit Lexington, KY.

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

I am so glad we did and am so excited to share our trip with you!

Lexington is only about five hours from Atlanta, so it's an easy long weekend trip with a drive that is pleasant from start to finish. You'll pass beautiful rolling hills, plant covered canyons, mountains, cities, and much more on your drive through the countryside. 

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

Did you know that Lexington is the horse capital of the world? Not only is the Kentucky Derby held in a nearby city, but there are many breeders and thoroughbred farms for raising the next generation of race horses all throughout the area. 

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

Many retired race horses become studs (how's that for a retirement plan?!) and charge a fee to any mare interested in having his quick-footed foals. Stud fees are fascinating! Whether or not you're currently interested in horse racing or breeding (which I have to admit I was not before our visit) I highly recommend touring a local farm. 

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

We did a little research and found a nearby farm that hosts tour groups for free and made our way over after having breakfast at a local farmer's market. Claiborne Farm is a must for your Lexington vacation! Be sure to call and make a reservation before stopping by, but you can put your credit card away.

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

They have knowledgable tour guides who are not just there for tours, they actually oversee mating and care of the horses so they have a wealth of knowledge and are not shy about answering even the most snicker-worthy questions.  

Stud horses have a worth assigned to them based on their offspring's performance in races. For instance, the horse above is worth SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS! Below is what petting $60 million looks like. Thrilling!

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

These studs generally have many investors who co-own them and charge a range of fees for mating. This fella charges $150,000 per mating session! In other words, his kids race really, really well. While at Claiborne Farm you get to pet a few horses, watch them eat peppermints (extremely cute!), learn all about the horse business, and even see the graves of some of the most famous race horses of all time. 

This entire tour was free. For me, Claiborne Farm was the highlight of the trip. It was educational, beautiful, and it included animal petting which is pretty much always the best part of a day. Tour guides appreciate tips, of course, and they definitely deserve them!

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

Horses aren't your thing? Good news, there's booze! One of the other famous Kentucky exports is bourbon. If you're looking for something else free to do, look for a distillery tour at one of the many local bourbon makers. Some charge a small fee, but Buffalo Trace Distillery offers a free tour that is incredibly interesting and includes a little taste of the good stuff at the end! You'll learn about the distilling process, the delicate balance of light and moisture allowed, and all about the bottling and years of aging required, plus why Pappy Van Winkle costs as much as your fanciest purse.

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

After the tour, each 21+ guest is given a taste of 3 different bourbons and a bourbon ball--YUM! After visiting the gift shop and stocking up on whiskey stones, bourbon balls, and Bourbon Cream, we walked around the property which is beautifully landscaped. Don't miss out on walking around the lodge or visiting the giant buffalo sculpture made from one large piece of wood. 

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

If you're an early riser, one of the best kept secrets in Lexington is the practice race and breakfast at Keeneland. Keeneland is a thoroughbred racetrack in Lexington that is open to the public each morning for practice. This is a wonderful way to experience the power of these beautiful creatures up close and personal. Each morning, jockeys take their horses out for practice racing and to loosen their muscles with a nice jog. You can enjoy a cup of coffee while standing mere feet from massive horses speeding past. They start at a slow clip and eventually they'll be thundering past at such speed and with such booming sound that it will blow you away. 

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

After you've had your fill or watching the practice, take a short walk to the cafe behind the race stalls where a very affordable full breakfast is served up daily. For about $6, you can get coffee, eggs, sausage, grits, and a biscuit.

We almost felt like we were getting away with something getting to enjoy so many wonderful pieces of Kentucky for such little money. Lexington has so much to offer. From horses, to bourbon, to a growing and vibrant food scene to the Mary Todd Lincoln House, you will not regret a long weekend trip to the Horse Capitol of the World!

Costa Rica: Where to Stay & What to Eat

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

When planning a trip to Costa Rica, HomeAway.com is an asset. They were voted one of the most trustworthy companies by Forbes, so you can book with confidence. HomeAway is a network of vacation rental homes all around the globe with photos and reviews to help you make your choice. 

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

We stayed in Tamarindo, a quarter mile walk from our door to Playa Tamarindo. It was a little touristy for us, but we had a nice house with our own pool and most everything in town was written in English, so it does make grocery shopping and ordering from a menu a little easier. 

Photo via Christina Wedge

Photo via Christina Wedge

Most rental properties require a seven night stay, but if you have more time to spend or want a little more variety in your vacation, choose cabinas which are very affordable little cabins clustered together with the essentials like bed, bathrooms, and sometimes kitchens. Choosing to visit a volcano is a must! Whether you choose one of the smaller ones, or the most recently active volcano, Arenal, you're sure to have a great time staying at the resort nearby.

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

Remember the adventure pass for Buena Vista I was talking about on Wednesday? Well, it includes a delicious 4 course meal with pineapple juice to drink! We had pumpkin soup to start, followed by the traditional fried plantains with hummus to dip them in, steak with a delicious Costa Rican sauce, salads, and mashed cassava and finished it off with a coconut flan. It was the fanciest meal we had while we were there! 

Image via Susie Roupe

There are a number of beachfront bars along the Costa Rican coast. You can sip on your favorite island cocktail, topped with a Costa Rican lemon (green outside, orange inside) while watching the sun set into the water. Be sure to stop at all of the roadside stands you can and enjoy empanadas, burritos, fried plantains. The ceviche we enjoyed oceanside was the best I have ever had in my life!

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Playa Brasilito is a great place to eat! There are many small restaurants and convenient stores with hot foods packed into a small area. The prices are cheaper here than in the more tourist towns, and the food is high quality. The restaurants with little or no English on the menus were the best, we found.

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

Remember the spear fishing trip I wrote about in the last post? This is the meal! We had 3 fish in hand after our trip and walked over to a restaurant our guide recommended (we later learned his family owns it) and had them cook our fish. It was $20 total for beers, rice and beans, salad, and 3 beautiful fresher than fresh fish. For five dollars per person and a fantastic seafood meal, that cannot be beat!

Image  via

Image via

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Last but not least, eat as much pineapple as you can, and drink as much coffee as possible. If doable, bring back bags of coffee and hoard it. Even if you're not a pineapple lover, a fresh, juicy pineapple tastes like dessert and is at the very least worth a try. Look for those with yellow bottoms, they're the ripe ones! 

I cannot stress enough how much you need to drink the coffee in Costa Rica. It has a hint of chocolate, it's warm and rich and smooth. It is the exact opposite of break room coffee, it is perfect. No cream needed! 

We hope you've enjoyed our little tour through Costa Rica and that you will plan your own trip there, soon. PS. Please bring us back a bag of coffee beans :)


Costa Rica: What to See & What to Do

Starting this post is difficult because I could write a 50 page essay on all of the things you should see and do in Costa Rica. Rather than doing that, I'll give you the rundown of what we did each day that made this the best trip ever.

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

1. Visit Playa Conchal

It is an absolute dream. Playa conchal gets its name from the sand, "conchal" comes from the Spanish word for a type of shell. That's right, the sand is made up of tiny bits of crushed up shells. It exfoliates your feet and may hurt a little but it's totally worth it. There is a luxury resort right on the beach and massages for excellent prices at the top of the beach. To get to Conchal without paying for parking, go to Brasilito and drive on the beach towards Conchal to the free lot. 
Come for the view, stay for the snorkel trip, which brings us to 2.

Photo via Victor Prince

Photo via Victor Prince

Photo via Victor Prince of a starfish found on the snorkel trip

Photo via Victor Prince of a starfish found on the snorkel trip

2. Go Snorkeling/Spear Fishing 

I must admit this part of the trip had me seasick for a while, but it was still incredible. Why? Well, we struck a deal with a salesman on the beach for the four of us to go out on a tiny boat and snorkel while our guide spearfished. The boat was tiny but it took us out to a part of the coast we would never have seen otherwise. Huge caves with waves crashing into them, water a deeper blue than I have ever seen before. The cliffs above the caves towered above us and it was awesome! Tyler and the guide dove into the water and speared fish which we then ate (more on that in the next post) while Victor and Sarah went snorkeling and I sat in the boat feeling sick. Take dramamine if you decide to be adventurous on a tiny boat. 

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

3. Watch the Sunset Every Night

This is the sunset from Brasilito, a small beach right beside Conchal. You can have your dinner directly on the beach and watch the sunset and people ride by on horses. Have I mentioned that it is paradise?

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

4. Visit Playa Negra & Bring a Snorkel Mask

Playa Negra is a black sand beach with tons of volcanic rocks all along the shoreline. The day we went, there was hardly another soul on the beach besides us and professional surfers. It's worth going if only to watch these amazing athletes ride a wave to a break in the rocks and not get injured! We brought snorkel masks with us, not knowing what we would find. As you can see above, the rocks hold little tide pools between them in low tide, and that is where the magic is. In these small pools is a world of small creatures, crabs, eels, fish with legs!, brightly colored fish, octopi and we even saw a fossil!
 

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

5. Take at Least a Day Trip to a Volcano

We went to Monte Verde, a more inactive volcano for a day trip. Tyler and Sarah were able to get us a great deal by negotiating ahead of time in the town where we were staying, so we had a full day of adventure for an excellent price! There are many volcanoes in Costa Rica, but the two most famous are Arenal and Monte Verde. Arenal would have meant another 4 hour drive, and I'm not disappointed that we chose Monte Verde because it was incredible! We went to an adventure resort called Buena Vista on a day pass. 
On that adventure pass we were able to go zip lining through the jungle, down a more than 1/4mile long natural waterslide, horseback riding, and we were even able to enjoy the spa which included volcanic mud baths, sauna, natural hot and cold springs, and lots of animal sightings*. 

Images via Victor Prince

Images via Victor Prince

After you've enjoyed the adventure and the spa treatment, do not miss out on the bar overlooking the valley. This is THE spot to see a sunset. We could see for miles and miles, including the ocean which was a two hour drive away. This valley is the set for the Jurassic Park chase scene and is absolutely gorgeous!

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

*We saw iguanas, toucans, "the crested one", and howler monkeys. A howler monkey peed on me and then pooped on me while we were in the hot spring. Gross, but also once in a lifetime experience!

This is just a small taste of the things to see and do in gorgeous Costa Rica. You should definitely start planning your trip now!