For my American readers, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that there is no way in hell that you don’t know what Napa Valley is. But for my readers from abroad, I’ll explain just in case. Napa Valley is America’s postcard wine country. There are pockets of vineyards all over the country of course (Oregon is a notable wine producer as well), but Napa Valley is the epicenter of wine culture and cultivation in America. Napa Valley refers to a large fertile valley full of vineyards in Napa County, California, which just on the north side of the San Francisco Bay. Driving north through Napa Valley, there are a few towns that you will pass through, the first of which is also called Napa. The next major towns before the northern end of the valley are Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga.
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First off, what I’m defining as “Richmond” here is actually made up of 4 smaller districts: Inner, Central, and Outer Richmond… and a little area to the north called Lake Street. This neighborhood (or group of neighborhoods) is essentially a big grid system, which, despite occupying an extremely urban area of San Francisco, is surrounded on almost all sides by nature.
Dude, I smell like shit."
"Thats okay... It's Milwaukee!"
I think that interaction was what I remembered most about Milwaukee prior coming back here in 2018. I don’t remember a lot of specifics from that trip, save for the realization that Milwaukee is actually a pretty cool place. So when I returned in the summer of 2018 for a wedding, I made a point to break off a bite-sized piece of the city and take a long walk with my camera.
It’s time for our last article on Asheville. We’ve covered some serious ground in this city, and have already had a few surprises, but to me, there were none more pleasant than the ones I’m about to share with you in this article. This is Asheville’s “Street Art” installment; a segment that I am becoming quite fond of. Not every city has a visual arts scene that will support these kinds of public works… but those that do, typically don’t look much like Asheville. I tend to associate street art with giant urban areas like New York, San Francisco, or Toronto.
But Asheville threw down the gauntlet!
Asheville, North Carolina has little trouble attracting visitors from across the country and abroad on its own. Literally smack-dab in the middle of America’s Great Smoky Mountains, this crunchy enclave is a Mecca for outdoorsmen (and women), beer-lovers, weekend warriors, and hippies from around the country. Indeed, this little Appalachian gem has become a destination in its own rite… but it’s still veiled in a level obscurity. So people are usually surprised to learn that Asheville ALSO happens to be the location of the largest private home in America.
Did you know that? This whole experience was sort of a shock to me!
Today, let me introduce you to the famous Biltmore Estate.
In the last article, we talked through a lot of the context surrounding the city of Asheville, North Carolina, as well as a few notable areas in and around the city. Today we’re going to get a bit more specific and highlight a few of my favorite Asheville establishments and landmarks.
Tucked away in almost the exact center of the Smoky Mountains, this city an artsy, crunchy, progressive safe-haven, full of art galleries, beer breweries, wilderness exploration outfitters, and organic grocery stores. It’s pretty much the dream! Many people who come here do so as a stop-over before excursions into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but the city itself is becoming a destination in its own rite. Cue our visit.
In the last article, we went through a pretty typical Chattanooga sight-seeing itinerary, but I wanted to take some time to highlight another dimension of the city that actually feels much more defining of the time that I spent here. I’m talking about all the great bars, restaurants, and coffee shops that we visited while we were here. I can’t claim that they are necessarily the best or worst of Chattanooga—I didn’t stick around long enough to be making those sorts of assertions—but I CAN tell that each and every place I’m about to show you is really freaking cool.
With a population of just 179,139 (as of 2017), Chattanooga is the 4th largest city in the state of Tennessee, behind Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. It's just over a 2 hour drive southeast from Nashville, and is a relatively short commute to other major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta and Huntsville. The biggest sectors of Chattanooga’s economy are automotive manufacturing, shipping, and logistics, which are all quite industrial. However, this came as sort of a surprise to me given how quickly the “hipster” demographic is taking control of Chattanooga. This place is a serious contender to become Appalachia’s Brooklyn in 10 years, but it’s true identity is never really going to change.
Boston has a lot of cool history. Even if you don't feel like you know very much about Boston, you still probably already knew that. This was the city where the Revolutionary War started! The Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, the Salem Witch Trials—the early history of the Boston area is rich with some of the most riveting stories that American history has to offer. And moving into the modern era, Boston still managed to be the site of some of America's most interesting historical sagas, from the Boston Strangler, to the Great Molasses Flood. However, to me, one story stands out above the rest, and it didn't happen all that long ago.
The story I'm talking about is the heist of the Isabella Stuart Gardener Museum, which happened in 1990.