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Back in the summer of 2011, my sister Melissa and I embarked upon a 6500+ mile-long road trip across the United States. We started in northeast Ohio, and drove all the way to Las Vegas and back.

This was our first big US road trip, and we did it in the days when we still printed off MapQuest directions and burned CDs to listen to in the car. Social media didn’t exist like it does today, so I decided to share a daily, diary-style blog post with a video every day of our nearly-3-week trip!

I’ve consolidated all of those posts here, mostly to preserve my own memories of that trip.

All of the text was written in July/August 2011.

If you want to read more useful road trip content I’ve written, check out these posts:

  • 15 Biggest Mistakes People Make on a US Road Trip
  • US Road Trip Packing List: All the Essentials to Drive Across the USA
  • US Road Trip Itineraries

Road Trip Day 1 – Racetracks and Santa Claus

Road Trip 2011 started off with a bang! Day One took us across multiple state borders (5 states in all — Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri), down many highways, and on only a few wrong turns.

We began the day in Findlay, Ohio, and headed south down to Louisville, Kentucky, where we visited Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. I’ve been a fan of horses since I was very young, and I was mildly obsessed with horse racing for a few years in middle school. So, for me, a visit to Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby has been run for 137 years, was really exciting.

We took a behind-the-scenes tour of the racetrack, and then had time to explore the Kentucky Derby Museum, which, considering its compact size, is actually pretty great. It’s colorful, informative, and interactive — all good traits for a museum to have. Even if you don’t like horses or racing very much, I think this museum would still be fun.

Here are a few photos from Churchill Downs:

From Louisville, it was on to St. Louis, Missouri, via quite a few states. But, along the way, we couldn’t ignore the signs for Santa Claus, Indiana. Yes, you’ve got it — a Christmas-themed town in the Midwest!

We obviously had to stop and drive around this odd little town, posing with a few Santa statues and giggling like mad at the absurdity of all the Santa-themed shops and the twinkle lights strung up in August. My favorite part though? The police cruisers announcing the “Santa Claus Police.”

After a long day of driving, we finally arrived in St. Louis to see the city all lit up at night. Hopefully fun adventures await us here tomorrow!

Each day, I’ll be cutting together a quick video to show you what we’ve been up to. Here’s Day 1:

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