5 Things I Never Go Camping Without

September 22, 2016


Camping Essentials | Em's on the Road

Let me preface this post by saying I’m not a rugged camper. I didn’t do a lot of camping growing up aside from summer camp in North Carolina so when I met my now husband ten years ago, I wondered if I’d be able to enjoy being in the outdoors as much as he did. I was absolutely pampered on many early camping trips to ensure my good time, but these days I really do enjoy getting outside and unplugging from all of the screens in my life for a few days. Ryan and I spend a lot of time outside in the summer but once the temps drop out of the 80s we hit the trail even more. With September coming to a close (can you believe it?), the weather is perfect for camping and hiking. Over the years I’ve realized I don’t need a lot of stuff to enjoy a weekend in the woods, but I do bring a few things to make the experience more comfortable.

5 Camping Essentials


After dinner, I love swinging in the trees staring up at the stars. If you get one of these double hammocks, grab your honey and climb into the hammock with some blankets. So cozy you might not make it to your tent.


Who wouldn’t want a self-inflating air mattress for their tent? These are a little pricey but they make sleeping on the ground much more enjoyable. Ryan recently got this one for me and it is awesome.

Camping Essentials Ems on the road

Of course Junebug and Lula tag along too.


We often play cards or read before heading to bed so having a small lamp we can hang from the top of our tent is really handy. I got this one last year in Portland at CORD. It’s affordable, really light weight, and nearly impossible to turn it on accidentally.


You can’t hang out by the fire without tunes. Our portable speakers just died but I have my eye on this one from REI.

5 Things I Never Go Camping Without | Em's on the road


This is a no brainer. I love Bell’s Best Brown and Upland Brewing Co’s Oktoberfest for this time of year. I always have a porter or stout in the cooler as well.


Blogs & Barrels: Wine Tasting in the Indiana Uplands

September 15, 2016

indiana uplands trail | em's on the road

I’ve lived in Bloomington for three years now (hard to believe!), and last weekend was my first visit to one of our local wineries. I’m mostly a beer and cocktail drinker but when you receive an invite to attend a private winery tour, you say yes. Last weekend the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail invited a group of bloggers to visit the Butler Winery to learn more about winemaking and the wine trail. As a curious connoisseur of all booze, I happily accepted.

Indiana Wine Heritage

Wine making in Indiana dates back to the 1840s with the Huber family planting vineyards in Starlight, Indiana that would later turn into the Huber Winery. Prohibition slowed things down but the tradition of Indiana wine making made a comeback in the 1960s. In 2003, nine wineries in the region came together to create the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail as a way to guide people through the region and introduce visitors and locals to the unique wine being made in the region. The trail consists of nine wineries in south-central Indiana: Butler Winery, Oliver Winery, Brown County Winery, French Lick Winery, Huber Winery, Turtle Run Winery and Winzerwald Winery. Most of the wineries would be an easy day trip from Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Columbus, Indiana and a nice weekend getaway for Chicago or Louisville, Kentucky. The Indiana Uplands region was designated as an American Viticultural Area (good for growing grapes) in 2013 with just 200 acres under cultivation there is room to explore and grow.

indiana uplands trail | em's on the road

indiana uplands trail | em's on the road

Grapes in the Indiana Uplands

We started off with a walk through Butler Winery’s vineyards with Jim and Susie Butler, Paul Mui from the Oliver Winery, and Anthony Leaderbrand of Owen Valley Winery in nearby Owen County. They shared so much information about different grape varieties that thrive in Indiana and the unique styles that are only produced in Indiana. Row after row, we wandered through Chardonel, Chambourcin, Vignoles, and Traminette tasting the grapes followed by the corresponding wines. I was only about fifteen minutes outside of town, but the buzz of the first IU home game felt so far away. You don’t have to go far to really appreciate the beautiful rolling hills characteristic of this region and see why this landscape is great for growing grapes. That “Indiana humidity” started to kick in and we ventured inside for some wine making 101 and lunch.

I still can’t help but giggle when people talk about the humidity here; sure it is noticeable but it is nothing like the South.

indiana uplands trail | em's on the road

Indiana Uplands Trail | Em's on the Road

Saturday Well Spent

The wineries graciously laid out quite a spread of charcuterie and cheese for us to enjoy while we mingled and learned about the wine making process. I loaded up with pate, different cheeses, almonds, apricots, and chocolate and filled my glass with lovely Chambourcin rosé from Butler Winery. Our conversation about the Indiana wine industry continued through lunch and so did the tastes. I know I prefer dry wines and have typically shied away from local wineries thinking that they only made sweet wines. Sweet wines are big business for this region but I sampled several dry and semi-dry styles as well that I liked. I took home a bottle of the 2015 Butler Chardonel; a light white aged in French oak with a pleasant fruitiness. I think it’ll be a good porch wine to send off the September heat. I don’t have a great deal of experience with wine so the main takeaway from our discussion was to keep tasting and exploring different varietals to understand fully what kind of wines I like and why. Same goes for all beverages: drink what you like no matter what is trending at the moment.

indiana uplands trail | em's on the road

Throughout the day I thought a lot about the phrase “drink local.” Many booze industries use this phrase to describe their product but how often can they say they are producing something with only locally sourced ingredients (hops, grain, etc)? Drinking a glass on Butler Winery’s porch made from grapes grown on vines just a few feet away gave me a whole new perspective about drinking local.

indiana uplands | em's on the road

So if you’ve been to Napa or just love wine and want to discover a new wine region, head to Indiana. You’ll drink some delicious wine, enjoy the sweeping vineyard views, and meet some incredibly passionate wine makers. If you’re a local, follow the wineries on social media to be in the loop about new releases and special events. Looking forward to visiting the rest of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail with friends and a picnic in tow.

Click here to learn more about the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail.

If you’re in town this weekend, head to Oliver Winery’s Creekbend Vineyard for their annual Harvest Wine Fest. There will be live music, food trucks, a grape stomping competition, and plenty of wine.

Thank you to the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, Butler Winery, Oliver Winery, and Owen Valley Winery for your hospitality and treating me to a lovely afternoon. 

Local’s Guide to Burlington, Vermonth with Kaitlin O’Shea

August 23, 2016

I started reading Kaitlin O’Shea’s blog Preservation in Pink several years ago in graduate school and was hooked immediately. There were no preservation blogs I was aware of at the time and I loved how she gave a young voice to this small and fairly obscure profession. We’ve followed each other’s blogs for a while and finally met in person at the National Preservation Conference in Indianapolis in 2013. It’s wild meeting someone you’ve followed online; it’s almost like you’re meeting a celebrity. She was as sweet as can be and we’ve kept in touch online ever since. In this month’s Local’s Guide To series post, Kaitlin shares her guide to  Burlington, Vermont. Aside from a few trips to New York, I’m largely unfamiliar with New England and this month I am thrilled to have Kaitlin share her must sees and dos in her city of Burlington.


Local’s Guide to Burlington, Vermont with Kaitlin O’Shea



How long have you lived in Burlington?

I moved to Burlington, VT in August 2009, because I was starting the historic preservation graduate program at the University of Vermont.  Prior to Vermont, I lived in North Carolina, Nebraska, Virginia and New York. It will be 7 years this summer of living in Vermont, and I’ve lived in Burlington (5 years total), Waterbury (1 year), and Montpelier (1 year). Burlington is by far my favorite place that I have lived anywhere. Professionally, I am a Preservation Planner with VHB (an engineering + environmental firm) in South Burlington, Vermont.


Yes, There are Islands in Georgia. Here are the Five You Need to Visit Now.

August 9, 2016

I grew up on an island in Georgia. Yes, there are islands in Georgia, quite a few actually. Our little piece of paradise flew under the radar throughout most of my childhood but is much more familiar these days now thanks to press for a certain five diamond resort. Whether you’ve heard of the Golden Isles or not, let’s go island hopping.

Five Islands to Visit in Georgia

Islands in Georgia | Em's on the Road READ MORE

How to Beercation in Tampa

July 26, 2016


ulele spring brewery | Em's on the Road

If you follow me on social media you know I’m all about a beercation. I’ve recently returned from my first trip to Tampa, Florida. Not to visit Busch Gardens, I was there to drink beer, and lots of it. Every summer a group of beer writers/bloggers and industry folk gather for the Beer Bloggers Conference and this year we ventured to Tampa Bay. I never thought about Florida as a craft beer destination prior to this trip. I was so wrong. READ MORE

Local’s Guide to Charleston with Annie Reeves

July 10, 2016

It’s been a busy summer so far but I’m excited to be taking y’all to the Lowcountry this week exploring Charleston, South Carolina with my friend, social media pro, and Charleston transplant, Annie Reeves. Annie and I first met working together on social media for The Southern C Summit and we quickly clicked over a mutual love for Snapchat, strong coffee, and Charleston. The Holy City is one of my favorite destinations in the US and I’m thrilled to have Annie share her favorites around town and the spots you need to check out on your next (or first) trip to Charleston.


A photo posted by Annie Reeves (@anniereeves) on


Front Row for Southern Grown Festival? Yes Please

June 22, 2016

I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by! A couple of weeks ago I took some time off to soak up some sun at home to Georgia, spend some time with my family and enjoy Sea Island’s annual Southern Grown Festival.

Southern Grown Festival | Em's on the Road

Weekend Recap: Sea Island’s Southern Grown Festival


Stay Skin Smart This Summer

May 24, 2016

Coolibar | Emsontheroad

I desperately want to get up to the Great Lakes area while we’re living in the Midwest but we’ve been spoiled having such a big lake right outside of Bloomington down the road. I had a sweet taste of summer over the weekend with my first boat float of the season on Lake Monroe. It was a little windy but once we found the perfect cove to hang out in the afternoon was perfection. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the summer sun is just getting started. Here are a few tips to keep your skin safe this summer. READ MORE

Must Try Margaritas | Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 2016

It’s a chilly Cinco de Mayo here in Bloomington, Indiana… I’d much rather be on the beach somewhere soaking up some sun and sipping on a salty margarita. Since I’m bundled up in a sweater and jeans drinking hot coffee, I thought I’d share some of my favorite cantinas with excellent margaritas around the country.

Must try Margaritas | Cinco de Mayo | Em's on the Road

Photo: Ben Galland for Bubba Garcias

I prefer my margarita on the rocks with salt. You?


Local’s Guide to Indianapolis with Raina Regan

May 2, 2016

Social media is amazing for connecting with other bloggers and influencers and sharing ideas. Even better when you get a chance to meet these people in real life. Through my blog and social media work I’ve met many interesting and creative individuals from all over the country with unique perspectives on the cities in which they live. Cue my new blog series, Local’s Guide To… Each month I’ll chat with a new local expert about where they call home and the places you must check out when you visit. First up is the..

Local’s Guide to Indianapolis with Raina Regan

I first met Raina at the National Preservation Conference in Indy back in 2013. I was brand new to the Midwest and she instantly introduced herself at a social media meetup during the conference and we’ve kept in touch ever since.

How long have you lived in Indy? What do you do here?

I moved to Indy almost six years ago after graduating from Ball State. Although I moved here without a job, I lucked out and landed my first job less than a month later. Currently, I work for Indiana Landmarks as a Community Preservation Specialist advocating for preservation in Central Indiana. I’m also involved with our local instagram community, @igersindy, and a young preservationists group, Preserve Greater Indy.


A photo posted by Raina Regan (@raiosunshine) on

What makes Indy unique?


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