Written by Alison Masson
13 Highlights of our #Roadtrip2021
Last summer Grant and I explored the west coast, we went to Washington and then down to Mississippi and back to Los Angeles again. This summer we wanted to explore the east coast, so we decided to fly to St. Louis, MO (where my family is) and start our journey there. We went all the way to the northeast corner of the United States, visiting Portland, Me, with detours on the way to Menahga, MN, Fargo, ND, and Lincoln, NE. The furthest south we went was Savannah, GA. In the end, we visited 27 states and slept in 34 different places. It was quite an adventure!
Please enjoy our Top 13 highlights…
Family Time (St. Louis, MO) 6/15/21 – 6/22/21 & 8/19/21 – 9/4/21
I am so fortunate that I was able to spend so much time home with my family this year. Not only was I with my Dad for Father’s Day, I was also with my Mom for her Birthday. We also coordinated our first family reunion and reunited with cousins we had not seen in 20 years!
Enuff Z’Nuff/Faster Pussycat (Kansas City) 6/25/21
This was the first club show we had seen since March of 2020. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t seem to keep anyone away. The Scene was packed and Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z’Nuff put on an amazing show. You can read my review in Sin City Presents Magazine here.
Mini-mansion and Canoeing Platte River (Lincoln, NE) 6/26/21 – 6/29/21
Some good and some bad things happened at the mini-mansion that may or may not have included dead birds, cops, and broken toes… Aside from our canoe getting stuck on a stick and almost tipping over, we had a BLAST floating down the Platte River. It was beautiful, peaceful, and a perfect day on the river. We heard music when we ended the five-mile float trip and got to watch a live band for a bit. What a great way to end the day! We celebrated our 13th Anniversary 6/28/21 at Brother Sebastian’s Steak House & Winery, and were excited to have a salad bar for the first time in a long time.
Midsummer Music Fest (Menahga, MN) 7/1/21 – 7/4/21
This was the first time Grant and I had been to anything like this in a long time! We camped four nights and saw 10+ bands including Jackyl, Jack Russell’s Great White, Quiet Riot, and Enuff Z’Nuff. We made tons of new friends and had an absolute blast! It was really funny to see how surprised everyone was when we told them we were from Los Angeles, CA! Please check out my full review in the September issue of Rock n’ Roll Industries Magazine.
Les Paul Museum (Waukesha, WI) 7/8/21
This was a great find and we learned so much! Les Paul was so creative from such a young age and was always making and rearranging items around the house, such as making a microphone out of a broomstick. We also visited Les Paul’s gravesite.
Niagara Falls (Buffalo, NY) 7/14/21
Everyone says that the Canadian side is ‘better.’ We had hoped to see it from that side, but at the time the Canadian border was only open for essential travel. But… It’s really hard for me to believe it could get ‘better!’ We took the Maid of the Mist Boat Ride, went to the bottom of the falls in a 70-story elevator to Cave of the Winds, and went to Niagara Falls State Park.
There was a torrential downpour as soon as we got on the boat. The largest one is on the Canadian side, called Horseshoe Falls. The falls on the American side are called American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. The boat took us as close as possible to all three falls. For me, being that close to the falls was literally breathtaking. It was so powerful I couldn’t look directly into it and had to look away. Of course, as soon as we got off the boat, it stopped raining.
Being underneath the falls during Cave of the Winds was so powerful it also took my breath away. We got completely soaked on the boat, dried out, and got soaked again underneath the falls. It was a blast!
Soul Kitchen (Red Bank, NJ) and Stone Pony (Asbury Park, NJ) 7/21/21 – 7/22/21
I had been wanting to visit a Soul Kitchen since Jon Bon Jovi first opened the Red Bank location in 2011. There are currently two New Jersey locations, one in Red Bank and one in Tom’s River. The Soul Kitchen beat any expectations I had. The vibe was uplifting and colorful. The food was amazing. The staff was friendly and shared stories of times when JBJ was there. The Pay It Forward concept is that if you can afford to pay for your meal, it costs $20 for a three-course meal and beverage (tax and tip included). Then if you can, they ask that you pay an additional $20 to pay for someone’s meal who can’t afford it.
I had been to the Stone Pony (Where Southside Johnny, Bruce Springsteen, and Bon Jovi got their start) while on a sales trip in 2004 and was glad to go back with Grant. Due to Covid, it was not open aside from selling merch, but we walked around and took some photos and videos. It would be great to get to see a band play there at some point. They even had an outdoor tent setup for summer concerts.
Rocky Stairs (Philadelphia, PA) 7/28/21
This was a fun stop, and of course we had to run up the stairs. Grant beat me, but we both made it up all 72 stairs in less than a minute!
Watch the video here.
We “Shot the Hooch!” (Atlanta, GA) 8/10/21
That’s what the locals call it… For the rest of us, it means we tubed down the Chattahoochee River. It was another perfect day with no rain. (It rained in 21 out of the 27 states we visited!) We spent the day floating down the river in innertubes while taking in the sun, swimming, and making new friends.
Whitewater Rafting (Cleveland, TN) 8/12/21
When I was a kid my parents took my sister and I whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. I have always wanted to go back there and do it again. Grant and I finally had the chance to do it and it was INSANE. Our five-mile adventure was action packed with ten Class III and Class IV rapids. Aside from almost drowning once, and almost getting thrown out of the raft three times, it was a great trip! Actually, it still was a great trip. I definitely recommend it for any of my adventure seeking friends!
Rock City Gardens (Lookout Mountain, GA) 8/12/21
We had no idea to expect when we booked our tickets. We were just told by people in our travels that we should check it out. There were rock formations throughout to look at and walk through, lookout points including a spot where you could see seven states at once, a scary swinging bridge and rock bridge. There were also caverns to walk through that had dozens of fairytales and nursery rhymes depicted and a waterfall. Rock City Gardens was truly an amazing and unique experience which turned out to be a highlight of the entire summer!
Jack Daniel’s Distillery (Lynchburg, TN) 8/13/21
We toured the Distillery and learned quite a bit about the history of Jack Daniel’s, the whisky and the person. A few interesting facts… “Jack” was only 5’2” and his name was not Jack, it was Jasper. The cave that they first got the water from to make Jack Daniel’s is still there, and they still use it to this day. And one morning “Jack” went to work early and could not get into the safe. He got so frustrated he kicked it with his left foot. This led to an infection and since it was pre-penicillin, he ended up having his leg amputated. This ultimately led to his death…. The lesson learned here, “don’t go to work early!” Haha. We also enjoyed tasting six samples.
Johnny Cash Museum (Nashville, TN) 8/14/21
This was another great learning Experience, and it was really cool that I actually played the piano that Johnny Cash learned to play on. His grandparents ordered it out of a catalog and made payments on it until it was paid off and they could give it to Johnny. Another highlight for me was the handwritten note he wrote after leaving his wife’s (June Carter) funeral.