Category Archives: travel

An Updated Ten Travel Tips for a Day Road Trip

It’s almost time to get out on the open road on a day road trip. Have you planned ahead? Spontaneity and just getting into the car and going can lead to some great trips no doubt. However there are some things that you should take into consideration before and during your roadie.

Day road trip tips - The Adventures of elATLboy.com

It’s been five years since I wrote my original post on this. The basics have stayed the same. A lot has changed though in terms of technology and in me getting more perspective from additional time on the road. Below is an update on my post and the day road trip tips I have found helpful.

1. Check the weather. The days leading up to a road trip and/or right before you get in the car, head to The Weather Channel website or app and check the forecast. You could also do a simple search like “Charleston weather” in Google, quickly becoming informed. Hmmm let’s see… winter storm? Maybe I should venture there tomorrow instead.

Day road trip tips - check the weather

Follow the weather on your phone throughout your adventure as well. You’ll increase the chances of not running into a sheet of ice (been there), high winds or getting caught up in a deluge of rain. You might change course on the spot. Who knows that could lead to an unexpected adventure and you’ll be safer.

Additional Tips: While you are at it check for major construction along with Googling “<NAME OF DESTINATON> traffic”.

2. Get a good night sleep. A day road trip could last a full 24 hours or more. I look at it like this. The longer you make the day, the further you can travel away from home and double back, meaning the more you can see. I love taking advantage of the extended daylight hours in the summer. If the sleep thing doesn’t work out then you are going to need…

3. …fuel, I mean coffee! Bring some from home. If desperate grab some at a travel center or truck stop ha-ha. As the day goes on make sure to refuel at indie, mom and pop coffee shops along the way. At least that’s my philosophy. I love experiencing something new, sometimes getting tips on things to do from bulletin boards or the locals sipping java inside. Drip Drop Drink in Muskegon is my-go when exploring the beach towns along Lake Michigan in Pure Michigan.

4. Charge, charge, charge. It’s not just you that needs to be fully charged. Make sure your Galaxy 7 or iPhone X and camera are ready to go. You will want to have enough juice to take pictures, post to Snapchat, Instagram live stories, ask for advice on Twitter, etc. Have those chargers and spare batteries, along with a portable power pack or two handy. A lot of people have USB ports in their vehicles these days. Bonus for getting extra juice while you are driving!

5. Fully stock your vehicle. Learning from experience, I make sure to have a blanket, bottled water, extra clothes, wind-shield washer fluid, flashlight, jumper cables, spare tire, emergency snack food, etc. Also check your oil and other fluids, along with your tires.

Day road trip tips - have a spare tire, windshield washer fluid, jumper cables

6. Have navigation help. Some people use Gladys (GPS), but many more gravitate to Google maps on their phone these days. The key is to have them available. Back to the word spontaneity. Make sure to put all navigational aids away at times for adventure sake. When I personally seek help I still like having my trusty, old-fashioned atlas alongside. The Waze app can help here as well.

7. Bring cash including change. You never know when you’ll need it for tolls and parking meters. When you call for help to fix a flat tire or for general road-side assistance, a lot of the time cash is the only payment option.

8. Hit the road on an empty stomach. You can snack and have your coffee, but be hungry and ready to eat so you can try some local cuisine. It’s not a day for McDonald’s or hitting up the vending machine at a rest area. How about a stop at Skyline Chili when road tripping through Cincinnati along I-75?! As far as chains go I will allow stopping at a random Waffle House ha-ha. Some of my best day road trip memories started or ended there.

Day road trip tips - stop at a Waffle House

9. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Hopefully there will be lots of getting out of the vehicle to explore. Some jogging, hiking and climbing could be in order. I once traveled fifteen miles on foot while in the heart of Chicago. With the cost of parking in a big city it’s better to centrally park and use public transportation or walk to everything.

10. Even with planning as described in the tips above make sure to have semi-plans. In other words be out there on the open road with an open mind. There it is yet again, my word of the day, spontaneity. Of course there will be places you marked to experience. You must also be willing to get sidetracked with random finds. The unexpected can be the most gratifying.

day road trip tips - lake mead, las vegas, nevada

Checkout my original day road trip tips post.

Any other day road trip recommendations? I can’t wait to see all of you out on the open road.

The 2017 Coffee Moment(s) for Me

Happy Holidays everyone! We have almost reached the end of another calendar year. 2017, as with every year before it, brought a lot of coffee consumption and time in coffee shops. Siphons, Ethiopian V60 pour overs, flavored lattes, coffee cocktails and a lot more coffee was consumed from all around Ann Arbor and Michigan, Northwest Ohio, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

The year in coffee is highlighted in the short Flipagram video below. I love the song I used last year, “Coffee Shop” by Gorilla Zoe, so it is making another appearance. The cover photo honor this year says it all. “Coffee” is spelled out front-and-center on the building upon approach. I get goosebumps every time I see that magical word like I did here at Milan Coffee Works in Milan, Michigan.

As I mentioned a lot of time was spent in Ann Arbor drinking coffee. This year to go along with The Adventures of elATLboy Instagram, many of the photos come from Coffee Ann Arbor. I started this venture on January 1st. The goal is to highlight everything that college town Ann Arbor and the surrounding area has to offer to terms of coffee.

Too many more coffees in 2018! I look forward to seeing you all in Ann Arbor and out on the caffeinated open road. Cheers! Aaron

Check out the great coffee moments from last year in The 2016 Coffee Moment(s) for Me.

Hello Downtown Atlanta Skyline from the Jackson Street Bridge

It was a recent Fall morning in Atlanta. My brother and I were heading to Condesa Coffee in the Old Fourth neighborhood. I had been to this coffee shop and part of the city numerous times before. This visit would be different though.

Condesa Coffee sits along Freedom Parkway, knowing that driving westward on gets you straight on shots of the Downtown Atlanta skyline. I’d always pass under the Jackson Street Bridge, a popular skyline viewing spot. Guess what? Until this very day, I had never driven or walked across that bridge.

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

It was worth the wait, seeing a perfect shot of the Downtown part of the Atlanta skyline. I love how Freedom Parkway seems to sit perfectly in the foreground. It was just as beautiful as I had seen on so many Instagram posts. Many of you will recognize this scene as it’s a major part of the movie, “Walking Dead”.

Being the morning, but past rush hour, traffic was limited on Freedom Parkway making it easier to get my camera in focus. It definitely should be on your Atlanta bucket list.

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Looking off to the right, I was able to get a shot of the Downtown skyline with Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper, Bank of America Plaza, just off to the north.

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Downtown Atlanta skyline, Jackson Street Bridge, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood

Tip: When going to Condesa Coffee I usually have no problem parking on John Wesley Dobbs Ave NE just east of Boulevard NE. Make the quick one block track over to the bridge via the Freedom Park Trail, which is something to experience in its own right.

The perfectly blue morning sky made for a great first experience on the Jackson Street Bridge. I look forward to checking out the same view at night and on days with various cloud types in the future.

What other scenic spots would you recommend for checking out the Downtown or other parts of the Atlanta skyline?

Juneau, Alaska: A Million Skyline and Cityscape Looks

I’ve done big cities so far in the A Million Skyline Looks series. Time to mix things up a bit. It is time to show off the skyline of Alaska’s state capital in Juneau. I did so mostly from aboard the Celebrity Solstice during an Alaskan cruise.

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Coming into the popular cruise port, the city’s skyline was front and center. The green, steep and majestic 3,500 foot tall mountains stood right against Juneau highlighted by Mount Roberts. It was hard for me to imagine a better natural city backdrop.

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Tip: One thing we wish we would have done was to take the Mount Roberts Tramway. You can view the Juneau skyline and cityscape from way, way, way up-top.

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau sits along the Gastineau Channel, with some housing opposite. Scenic views also awaited looking straight down the channel.

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

We docked for the afternoon and evening, giving us the chance to walk some of Juneau. I captured some of the colorful, tourist friendly cityscape. We walked to some local Heritage Coffee Roasting Company brew.

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

Juneau, Alaska skyline and cityscape

It was a fun day capturing a million skyline and cityscape looks in Juneau, Alaska.

What city skylines have seen up close and captured from a cruise?

The Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas

When in Vegas exchange the neon lights of Las Vegas Blvd, with those of Downtown and old town at the Fremont Street Experience. Being only at the Fremont Street Experience during the day before, my friend had never been, we had no idea what to expect once the sun went down, the lights turned on and the streets filled up.

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Arriving there recently at dusk we quickly became exposed to what I would describe as part carnival, part tourist trap, part family fun and part adult playground. We were amongst families, couples, barely dressed ladies dancing on the bars, street performers throughout and basically a bunch of people walking around with their camera out or an alcoholic drink in hand. A true, fun Las Vegas party was in full effect!

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada

I have never seen so many neon lights concentrated in one place. Within the heart of the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown are all the old-town and famous hotels and casinos. At the intersection with S. Casino Center Blvd on the four corners sit the Golden Nugget, Binion’s Gambling Hall, the Fremont Casino and Four Queens.

Four Queens Resort and Casino Las Vegas

Fremont Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Las Vegas

As we walked we saw dozens of places to eat, one outdoor open bar after another and tourist souvenir shops. Music and videos were playing over our heads on the larger than life ceiling panels that cover much of the enclosed five block entertainment center. Tip: Get your souvenirs here versus along the Strip.

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Speaking of music, the party really begins every hour on the hour with the Viva Vision Light Show, currently between 6 pm and 1 am. The casinos neon lights will go away, the lights of people’s cell phones will come on and all the eye balls will be focused up-top at the world’s largest video screen. Each hour will feature the music of a different performer. We caught Green Day and Heart.

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show, Green Day

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show, Green Day

Check out a glimpse of Heart’s Magic Man being played.

While watching the shows and walking about we randomly heard people screaming from up above. Look closely a few seconds into the video above. People are zip-lining! You can Zipline half-way across or Zoomline from one end of the experience to the other. The adventurers take off from the world’s largest slot machine. Everything does seem to be bigger in Vegas.

In fact, the first question people asked me when they realized I visited Fremont Street was whether I zip-lined? Unfortunately no. Something to think about for next time.

Fremont Street Experience - Viva Vision Light Show , The D Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

In between all the experiencing of Fremont Street we grabbed some Irish pub food and Jameson whiskey at Hennessey’s Tavern. A relaxing, quieter place if there is such a thing in this part of town.

The first taste of the Fremont Street Experience at night is in the books. It is definitely worth the short Uber or cab ride from The Strip when in Las Vegas. Tip: Make sure to check out the old-school casinos and hotels themselves as well!

Downtown Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience

Checkout the Fremont Street Experience on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.