If you have been following @Agraire_Clothing on Instagram, then you know that The Traveling Kimono Project began on August 2nd, 2017 with a journey across the United States. On this 18 day adventure, The Traveling Kimono managed to hit 14 different states via plane, train, automobile, trailer, and we even managed to squeeze a boat in there too. Scroll down to learn more about where we stayed, our first long distance train adventure, travel recommendations, and more!
Leg 1: Santa Maria, CA - Las Vegas, NV
Date: 8/2 - 8/4
Transportation: Plane and Boat
I met my travel companions at Lake Las Vegas, a resort style living community located about 30 minutes outside the strip boasting its own village with shops, stores, and restaurants, water sports, live music during the summer, hiking and biking trails, and much more. We spent two glorious days relaxing by the luxury home's private infinity pool, sipping margaritas, cruzing around the lake via boat, and taking in the gorgeous views of the desert mountain silhouettes.
Leg 2: Las Vegas, NV - Richfield, UT
The Great American Road Trip began early Friday morning and within 1.5 hrs we had managed to make 2 u-turns and three stops. (I should say that two of my travel companions were children ages six and three). But would it truly be an adventure without a few bumps in the road? We took advantage of the trailer we had in tow and stayed at various KOA's across the country. A KOA is a very family friendly "brand" of campground, usually with a pool, activities, showers, etc. Soon after we settled in Richfield, it began to rain. We set up camp, made spaghetti, and listened to the rain drops hit the trailers awning.
Leg 3: Richfield, UT - Montrose, CO
Utah is stunning. And the terrain is so versatile. One minute you will be among towering red cliffs which will soon turn into white crumbling mounds, which in turn will become flourishing green mountain sides. My favorite site to see was the layered red rocks (pictured above) which created a naturally beautiful and inspiring texture and color palette.
Traveling with kids on the first Saturday of the month? Plan a stop at Home Depot for their Kid's Craft. It is free and a great opportunity for everyone to stretch their legs and get a little creative. (Click here to find one near you)
Leg 4: Montrose, CO - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado is another amazing state. We took US Route 50 which is a site to see in itself. Surrounded by steep tree covered mountains, we passed through many adorable towns that I can only imagine are even more magical after a snowfall. When we arrived at our third KOA, it began to rain, so we spent the majority of our time in the trailer.
Many towns all over the world have rock painting groups on Facebook or other social media platforms. The idea is to brighten the lives of complete strangers with the simple gesture of leaving a colorfully painted rock at any given place. We actually left a rock at each of our stops and painted more in Colorado Springs while it was raining. (Click here to find a group near you!)
Leg 5: Colorado Springs, CO - Wakeeney, KS
We drove through the back interstates and through several small country towns boasting treasure finding antique shops, and movie set worthy corner stores. Our stereotypical mountain drive through Colorado quickly blended into what The Wizard Of Oz had taught me Kansas would be like. Flat and agricultural with the occasional energy efficient windmill towering above the corn fields.
Leg 6: Wakeeny KS - Kansas City, MO
I so badly wanted Kansas to surprise me, but Hollywood got it right this time. It is beautiful in it's own unique way but when you are driving on a straight and flat road the trip can seem longer that it actually is. Things started to get a bit more interesting, the closer we got to Missouri. While in Kansas City, MO, I got the opportunity to try the famous Kansas City BBQ and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
We broke up the day with a stop at the Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, KS. The zoo has all of your favorite animals, plus a museum that is included in admission price. They also accept other zoo memberships, so be sure to see if yours is eligible.
(Pro Tip: Go ahead and skip the Robot Zoo).
Leg 7: Kansas City, MO - St. Louis, MO
After a week of driving and all-to-quick camping stops, we were up for a little trip into the city. I am so glad that we were able to visit downtown St. Louis. The Gateway Arch really is something to see and we hit it just in time where the sun set was illuminating it in a majestic sort of way. After watching the sunset, we headed down one of the surprisingly quite city streets to find a bite to eat, admiring the intricate architecture as we went. We came across a gourmet pizza joint called Pi Pizzeria which gave me the "modern meets rustic atmosphere and good food" I was craving.
After you hit up the must-see Gateway Arch, head over to the Cardinals Sports Park Arena and catch a baseball game. Even if you can't get a ticket (like us) there is outside observation areas, bars, and restaurants, many of which have balconies
overlooking the stadium.
Leg 8: St Louis, MO - Indianapolis, IN
With our next stop being just outside of Indianapolis, we made a slight detour so that we could see the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While you truthfully could't see much, driving around it gave you the feeling of just how big it really is. I am sure an actual race is really something to see. When we arrived at our KOA, I finally felt as though it were a real campground. While it was still off the freeway and had all of the activities and luxuries of the others, picture perfect bridges crossed the creek that ran through the campground and there were trees galore. There were even friendly horses that you could feed and pet in the corrals, and being such an animal lover, I visited them several times.
Leg 8: Indianapolis, IN - Buckeye Lake, OH
I made one special request during this road trip and that was a stop at Young's Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, OH. I was born in Dayton, OH and while I would not consider myself raised there, it does holds a special place in my heart. I remember frequent visits to the dairy where I would eat their homemade ice cream, pet and feed the goats, and do a round or two of mini golf. I wanted to share (and maybe relive) those memories with my young travel companions and am so glad that we were able to make it happen. We pulled up and it was exactly how I left it. It is on my list of highly recommended attractions while driving through Ohio.
Leg 9: Buckeye Lake, OH - Hagerstown, MD
As you might have already figured out, our day to day trips consisted of quite short distances. Leg #9 was our longest trip, topping off at a whopping five hours. The drive was an adventure in itself. And being a girl from SoCal, the rain we experienced was quite a shocker. As we drove up and down the surprisingly mountainous roads of Maryland, the sky seemed as though it were pouring down buckets of rain. Luckily, and thankfully, we made it through to the Hagerstown KOA, our final, and my personal favorite, camping stop on our great american road trip. Out campsite was literally creek-side and it included the most family friendly atmosphere of them all. With free mini golf, a craft room that is open all day, fishing, canoes, farm animals, live music, movie nights, and regularly themed weekends (this weekend was tropical theme) there was truly something that everyone could enjoy
Leg 10: Haggerstown, MD - Carlisle, PA
It was just a hop skip and a jump to our final destination of Carlisle, PA. I suppose I should mention that this road trip had another purpose other than exploration. I tagged along with my brother and sister in-laws as they moved across the country. We arrived at their beautiful home surrounded by budding cornfields and majestic horses early Sunday afternoon, a truly peaceful end to our adventurous road trip. I am a sucker for historic east coast towns with their European inspired architecture and brick accents so I was excited to venture into the downtown area of Carlisle.. Being that it was nearly 2pm, many of the shops and restaurants had shut down for the day but we ended up eating at the Gingerbread Man. It's pub-like atmosphere and delicious food, a welcomed sight to our growling tummies. What I loved most about the downtown area was their way of recognizing it own history. Many of the buildings that we walked passed displayed commemorative plaques, one of which told of two men being held captive, one for being a spy in the late 1700's.
Leg 12: Harrisburg, PA - Pittsburgh, PA
Before I said my good-byes and boarded the first leg of my solo train trip, we strolled through downtown Harrisburg. Founded in the late 1700's, the city is quieter than most, but still showcases sky-scraping buildings with historic significance and cool bistros and pubs. Our first stop was the Harrisburg Capitol building with its beautiful stone walls and intricate copper domes that have weathered to the emerald green that I love. We stopped in the state library across the street where I was hoping to have that Beauty and The Beast moment. The building's ceiling moldings, light fixtures, and the four story library with balcony overlooks did have that cinematic impact .
After a few hours touring around the city, I said my farewells and began my solo journey back home. Being that this was my first long distance train trip (Click here for tips on first time train travel), I appreciated the "sleepiness" of the Harrisburg train station. I opted to sit coach for this leg as it was only a 6 hour trip. The train twist and turned as it traveled parallel of the Susquehanna and Juanita Rivers, making it an amazing first experience. I felt as though I did not want to look away from the window in fear that I would miss something incredible.
While I would recommend sitting on the right side of the train car while aboard the westbound Pennsylvanian for the majority of the ride, the left side gets a stellar view of the famous horseshoe curve.
Leg 13: Pittsburgh, PA - Chicago, IL
I had a 3hr lay over in Pittsburgh, PA and unfortunately, that layover occurred between the hours of 9pm and 12am, so I did not feel comfortable enough to walk around the city alone. Once midnight rolled around, I boarded the Capitol Limited and headed towards Chicago. This time I opted for a sleeper cabin, a small 6 ft x 4 ft room with bunk beds. During the day, the top bunk would fold up and the bottom would convert into two chairs. The cabin was also equip with a small clothing rack, a single 120 volt outlet (strong enough to power my phone charger, curling iron, straighter, and steamer), air control, two bottles of water, and a fold out table. I woke the next morning, got ready, and explored the rest of the train prior to our arrival. There is a dining car, snack stand, and the oh so coveted observation car. The observation car is a floor to ceiling windowed train car and is the optimal place to view the sights as you pass by.
For information and tips on first time train travel click here.
Detour: Chicago, IL
I fully intended to have 5 hours of time to explore the beautiful city of Chicago, but unfortunately, because of train delays, I was left with only four. I had to make some cuts and really hustle, so I grabbed my suitcase and duffel bag and jumped off the train. I was desperately craving a properly made latte and had done my research prior, so I headed down Jackson Blvd straight towards Pickwick Coffee Roasting Co. It was tasty, cute, and just what I needed, even on an 80 degree morning. Next on the list was Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate (better known as The Bean). It really is as shiny and grand as you can imagine. Prior to my extra hour being cut, I had planned on taking the elevator up to the John Hancock Observatory and grabbing a slice of Pizza at Giordano's or Lou's but those both required time that I just didn't have. I took a quick photo-op at the famous Michigan Ave bridge and headed to Chicago's French Market for lunch. Bustling with business men and women on their lunch break, I choose a crepe vendor and grabbed a glass of rosé to help relax after I carried my suitcase all around town. After lunch, I headed down to Chicago's Union Station where I was welcomed with a wine and cheese reception in the Amtrak lounge, the perfect way to end one leg and start another.
Leg 14: Chicago, IL - Little Rock, AR
Date: 8/16 - 8/17
I boarded my final train to Little Rock Arkansas in the early afternoon, where I yet again opted for a sleeper car. This time I was going to make sure I got the full experience. I spent most of the afternoon in the observation car, reading, taking pictures, and just watching the world go by. Dinner approached so I went to the dining car (all meals, by the way, are included for any sleeper car passenger) where they sit you community style. I found myself sitting with an couple from Texas and a musician from Brooklyn. We shared our our reasons for our adventure and a bit about ourselves over a nicely prepared dinner. Meeting these strangers and turning them into temporary friends was an added bonus to my already exciting journey.
Leg 15: Little Rock, AR
Date: 8/17 - 8/20
I arrived in Little Rock at 3:00am where my bestie kindly picked me up. I spent two of the days in the small town of Searcy, AR where I visited two adorable coffee shops, Kibo Midnight Oil Coffeehouse and Mr. Postman Espresso. Kibo is in a converted home just outside the local university campus while Mr. Postman acts as a coffee house, post office, and gift shop. "Beats and Eats" was happening in the town square where we enjoyed food trucks, vendors, and live music. When day 16 rolled around, we booked a room and headed into Little Rock for a girl's night. Hot spots of the night were the wine bar Zin, Cache for appetizers, Willy D's for dueling piano's, and One Eleven for brunch. Little Rock provided the perfect setting to end this trip with a bang!
Leg 16: Little Rock, AR - Los Angeles, CA
I boarded my plane on Sunday afternoon tired, but full of the amazing memories that I had made. I made a quick pit stop in Phoenix, AZ where I visited with my Dad during my layover and headed on to Los Angeles where I stayed the night with a dear friend. We had sushi at Wockano in Santa Monica and watched horribly addictive reality TV shows.
Leg 17: Los Angeles, CA - Santa Maria, CA
This was it, my final leg. No matter how amazing my trip had been, I was glad to be headed back to my hubby, fur baby, and new home. I boarded the Pacific Surfliner early Monday morning. The 5 hour train ride gave me ample time to finish my book, reflect on the trip, take in the coastal sights and the eclipse before heading back to work. I sat on the west side of the train for optimal viewing opportunity where I got the chance to see dolphins breaching on the horizon, surfers waiting to catch a wave, and cliffs that seemed to be jutting out of the ocean. Once I reached my train stop, a sense or calm and joy rushed through my body. I was home.