Erin's Road Trippin' Blog
Get all the behind-the-scenes scoop as Erin tells us what really happens when the Fox 17 team goes Road Trippin'!
Behind the Scenes: French Lick Resort
Hello all! After a nice break, I was so excited to kick-off our 2013 Road Trippin' Season.
I had never been to Indiana before, except a day trip to Holiday World last summer,
so I wasn't sure what to expect. I researched French Lick, and I was intrigued by
the history of the area. Prior to my research, I had never heard of Pluto Water
(Kelly Sutton told me about the unique smell the water has)
I did notice the smell right when I arrived, but my nose quickly adjusted
and it wasn't strong at all.
*Something to keep in mind.. French Lick is only about 3 hours from Nashville, but it is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you will lose an hour when you arrive
We made sure to leave extra early so we wouldn't be running behind.
After driving through quiet neighborhoods, I was utterly fascinated by the sight of French Lick Resort. Its a truly mesmerizing place that seems to just pop up out of nowhere.
We spent two very full days shooting our segments, and we got to experience both hotels at the resort West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs.
West Baden Springs is one of the most gorgeous hotels Ive ever seen, and its even on the National Historic Registry. When I walked in, I was taken aback by the dome in the lobby..
Its so massive that I literally felt like I walked into a storybook. My photographer Kyle and I agreed that the video just doesn't do this massive structure justice. After we got done with our first day of shooting, I sat on my balcony and took in the light show that they have at night. It was so beautiful.
One of the coolest things we got to see there was the Angel Room. It's secret, not available to the public and located high above the dome in the steel drum at the very
top of West Baden. We walked up a steep staircase on the roof to get there, and then down a tiny ladder to get inside where there are mysterious paintings of floor to ceiling
length Angels. They have the most intriguing expressions on their faces, and what makes the Angels a real mystery is no one is quite sure how they got there.
Marketing Manager Steve Rondinaro explained to me that one of the theories is that Circus painters created them. We also saw graffiti on the Angels, some dating back
to the early 1900s! In an effort to preserve the alluring paintings, no one has ever tried to remove the graffiti so the paint doesn't get smudged. However, they have digitally enhanced the Angels, and its nice to see the brightened versions as well.
Check out the Secret section on our Road Trippin' video box for an up close look at what we got to experience.
Not only is West Baden one of the most serene places Ive ever been, the Spa there is extremely tranquil. They also offer a Sprudel Bath, which is a 25 minute
soak in the Pluto Springs water. I found out people believe the minerals in the water are very healing. Although I opted for a pedicure (always a nice treat)- next time I go back, I definitely want to try that bath! I'm so curious about it.
A trail ride at the Stables turned out to be my favorite activity, and we couldn't have picked a more gorgeous spring day! My horse, Chief, was patient with my rusty riding skills, and I soon felt right at home again. If you plan to vacation at French Lick with your family, the Stables are a place you want to go. They also have pony rides for the little ones and goats you can feed. I cant even begin to explain how adorable the goats are- seriously they were hungry little monsters and were so gentle with the kids who were feeding them really cool to watch!
Speaking of a family vacation, the French Lick Springs Hotel had so much going on for the kids from bike rides to a bowling alley- enough activities to occupy them for days including a big pool and hot tub.
They also feature a casino you can access right from the hotel. Its open 24/7 so you can sneak away at your convenience for a little adult gaming. As a non-smoker, I found the non-smoking area a huge plus.
Oh, I learned a little lesson about golfing too! I got a lesson from Devon Trueblood when I went to check out the Pete Dye course, and I was wearing flip flops. My twitter friends quickly informed me after I posted a picture that flip flops are a golfing no no noted for next time!! I will invest in the proper shoe wear. It was my first time on the green- aside from mini golf during family vacation on the Cape, so I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. Once I improve my swing, this is a place I want to tackle!
Alright. Saving the best for last. My favorite part of every Road Trip.. THE FOOD! Oh, my goodness- it was fantastic!!!! I over indulged, but hey, that's what vacation is for, right?!
I tried Sinclairs for dinner our first night, and all I can say is wow! We sat at table one, the private dining room that has a view of the kitchen. It was a beautiful and intimate setting, and the food was out of this world. I had Crab Louis as an appetizer, mushroom risotto that I scarfed down way too quickly, and a blackened fish for my entree. I didn't save room for dessert- but that did not stop me from eating it anyway. Table side bananas foster it was so awesome to get an up close view of the process, and I kid you not, it was one of the most delicious desserts
I have ever tasted. The chocolate dome I tried, which is one of their signatures is extremely delish as well. Two words: Food Coma. Thank goodness that meal was at the end of our day or I don't think I would have made it to do anything else but relax. Another fantastic dining experience we had was after my golf lesson at Hagens Club House Restaurant. Chef David Lee showed me how he prepares their famous ribs. The rub is secret and he would not divulge the ingredients, and I don't blame him. They were fabulous! I nearly ate an entire rack myself. I couldn't stop laughing because we kept doing takes of me eating ribs for our food segment, and I got BBQ sauce everywhere. It was such a fun moment on our trip. Also, another neat thing I learned at Hagens, there is an arrow carved on the bar and rumor has it Al Capone put it there to claim his side of the bar. French Lick has such a rich history and they do a great job of preserving it and keeping all the memories alive.One last restaurant to rave about. 1875: The Steak House. I consider myself a bit of a raw oyster connoisseur, and they served a very delicious and fresh selection. Also, the Lobster Mac and Cheese was ridiculously rich and tasty. I filled up on so many appetizers that I chose a petite filet for my entree smothered
in blue cheese crumbles. Goodness! No room for dessert that night I needed a serious nap after all that! Oh, and let me just say the service was amazing at all the restaurants we tried. They have a really great staff- an important amenity at a resort. French Lick Resort was the perfect spot to kick off our 2013 season. I felt like a Princess there and had a great time.
There was so much to see and do that we worked super long days I hope you enjoy all the video segments we put together for you!
If you have any Road Trippin suggestions or advice- Id love to hear from you!
My twitter is @ErinSteerClear
Behind the Scenes: Knoxville
Knoxville was an action-packed Road Trip! When we first arrived, we went straight to the Sunsphere- where there are some breathtaking views of the entire city! There, you get a wonderful vibe for everything going on in the area- I'd definitely recommend checking it out.
Another must stop- The Knoxville Zoo! I had an absolute blast playing with Barley the Turkey in the Kids Cove, chatting with Einstein- a ridiculously intelligent African Parrot with an insane vocabulary, and I really enjoyed walking around and checking out the many (over 900!) animals they have there!
I worked up a huge appetite walking around (the entire crew did)- so we asked a Zoo employee where we could grab a quick lunch on our way to our next stop- and they referred us to Chandlers Deli... a nearby spot. Oh. My. Goodness!! It was a simple, little, place with some amazing food!
I had fried catfish, mashed potatoes with gravy... and something very special happened during that lunch as well. Our producer David Ditmore order fried Okra... something I had never tried before. When I asked him what it was- the woman working the counter asked me where I was from that I never had okra before- ha! When I told her Philadelphia- she didn't ask any more questions. Needless to say, I was blown away- it was phenomenal. In fact, I've been so hooked, I already got okra many more times in Nashville since I tried it... I had no idea what I was missing! Little bites of fried heaven. LOVE!
After our delicious lunch experience, we had so much more exploring to do...Knoxville is cool town- somewhere I'd love to visit again!
Where is your favorite spot in Knoxville? Let's chat!
Behind the Scenes: Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg was so much fun! First of all, I fell in LOVE at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies... with an adorable little Penguin girl named Mo Mo. She had attitude and star power. The aquarium offers a special meet and greet with a Penguin where you get to hangout and paint together. I was interviewing a Marine Biologist about the Penguins, and Mo Mo was standing between us. It was close to her lunch time, and as soon as the camera focused on me to close our segment- Mo Mo casually walked towards me to nibble on my arm.. haha!! It didn't hurt- just a friendly little nibble to let me know the interview was over, and she wanted the spotlight back..and her lunch :)
The penguins weren't the only amazing feature either! There is a huge tunnel where you literally feel like you are under water, and an exhibit were Mermaids swim in Stingray Bay! I'll tell ya- I would not mind switching roles and being a Mermaid for the day! The kids were going crazy during the show, and it looked so peaceful in the water.
Behind the Scenes: Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge was the first Road Trip I took with our Fox 17 Road Trippin' crew, and it was also my first time ever in Pigeon Forge! I wasn't quite sure what to expect... especially since I spent most of my life in Philly!
I must say as soon as we pulled in I noticed how comparable it was to the Jersey Shore (Minus the sand and ocean hehe)- but seriously- it reminded me a lot of the Wildwood, NJ boardwalk... really fun vibes with lots of t-shirt shops and restaurants and bright, fancy lights!
Our first stop was at the Log Cabin Pancake House- and Oh My Goodness!!! I consider myself a bit of a breakfast connoisseur, my favorite meal is most definitely brunch...and I was super impressed with the food. I had biscuits with country ham that seriously rocked my world... and good thing too- because we are super busy on our road trips.
After, we headed over to Dollywood where I felt like a kid again on the Wild Eagle roller coaster. I rarely keep my eyes open on rides like that because heights aren't exactly my best friend... but I did- and I loved it!! The views of the entire park were awesome. Dollywood by far exceeded my expectations-I mean they even have a spot in their water park area where ya can get a mani/pedi)- what more could I ask for :)
Okay.. back to raving about food!! Although brunch is my fave... Let's discuss dinner at the Pottery House Cafe & Grill. My frame of food reference consists mainly of Philadelphia cuisine (cheese steaks, chicken cutlet with sharp provolone, hoagies, soft pretzels, Italian) the list continues... so getting my first taste of some of the Southern favorites made me oh, so happy.
Two highlights- although everything there was delicious... were the Fried Green Tomato BLT (first time experiencing fried green tomatoes!!!!!!!)- I savored every bite... and the Shrimp and Grits. At first, I thought, "Ehhh grits can't have much flovor." Boy, was I wrong! Ridiculous... it was a party of spicy deliciousness that I was not ready for- ha!
It is safe to say that I officially fell in love with some good old Southern home cooking on my first Road Trip. Good thing RiverStone Resort where we stayed was so comfy because I needed a good night sleep after all the fun!
Road Trippin' Survival Guide
Traveling around Middle Tennessee has been SO much fun! So far we've checked out Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Knoxville, and Memphis (Memphis airs this Thursday on TN Mornings!)
We have many more destinations to come too.
The trips have been great, but the car rides are a bit long... so here are some essential items that help make the Road Trip much more enjoyable....
-A Cooler with Drinks
In case you get thirsty so you won't have to pull over and make a stop- or for when you are in your hotel room and you are craving that midnight sip to quench your thirst
This way you can munch along the way, and you are less likely to indulge in fast food at rest stops... save room for the amazing restaurants at your destination! I prefer almonds, granola bars, and baked potato chips for snacking- what are your favorite car ride snacks?
Just in case you run into an emergency, car problems, extra costs, or must have souvenirs
(I like to stash a 20 dollar bill in my suitcase - you never know when you may need it!)
-Cell Phone and Cell Phone Charger
This way, if you run into any car problems, help is just a call away.. also, if you're out exploring and you get separated from your group you can always stay in touch.
This is not technically a "must have," however, Road Trippin' pictures are so fun for memories!
Do you have extra items to add to the Road Trippin' Survival Guide?
E-mail me @ firstname.lastname@example.org- I'd love to hear your ideas!
We are Road Trippin'!
Hello! Since I recently relocated to Nashville from Philadelphia, I am absolutely thrilled to be the host of Road Trippin'....this way I get to explore the best destinations in the area (places I've never been to before)!
I'll check out great places to stay, eat, and play... then I'll share them with you, so planning your next family vacation will be super easy! All the info will be on the Road Trippin' section of our website, and you can watch Road Trippin' Thursdays on Tennessee Mornings!
Here on my blog I'll be posting about behind the scenes stories, tips, and ideas I get from traveling to all these amazing places.
Have vacation ideas or stories to share with me?
E-mail me- email@example.com or keep up with me on Twitter @ErinEComo