Our Story

Take Life on the Road® is not only our name … it’s our credo. You may know us for our bookstore in New Albany, Indiana since 2004. But did you know that the city went without a full-service general new books store from 1947 to that year?

Randy on ther road at Ted Drewry
You don’t always know what you’ll find when you travel. Here, Randy’s getting a taste of Ted Drewe’s frozen custard on historic Route 66.

Randy Smith is the founder of Destinations Booksellers and now, Take Life on the Road® (DTI – Destinations Tours Indiana), but it’s the same business he’s been in for the last 14 years – bringing knowledge, expertise, and happy accidents to New Albany and the surrounding region.

Now, instead of bringing experiences to you, he’s taking you to the experiences, taking advantage of all the amazing sites he’s seen as he drove the 48 states on business during his lifetime. The bookstore remains, but he’s adding these tour experiences to share with you once again the places and people he’s encountered over the decades.

Randy at Mackinac
Your tour director was blown away by his first trip to Mackinac Island. Want to go with? There’s lots of great stuff between here and there, like the Indiana Dunes and the Michigan city of Holland.

We’ll be curating tours that are off-the-beaten-path and making sure you are both safe and comfortable along the way – not to mention well-fed. Don’t expect a bus trip to an outlet mall or a casino. That’s for tour companies who have to pay for their buses and will put together a “tour” just to pay off the payments.

Randy’s a bit of a travel nerd, so history will be a big part of our trips. We’ll go where he’s been before and we’ll go where he’s always wanted to go.

Travel is expensive and driving is a chore. We’re always looking for the best experience for the best price and we won’t compromise one for the other. We’ll charter deluxe motor coaches for travel in the East, but we’re not ruling out trips to the West and overseas. If you add up the cost of driving, you’ll see a motor coach tour is a no-brainer, and you’ll probably make a lot of new friends while caching away a whole slew of places you’ll want to visit again someday.

Randy at Cahokia
Cahokia Mounds, less than 10 miles from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, was a great experience.

We’ll insist on lodging at hotels that have earned either a AAA 3-Diamond rating or a rating of at least 4 (of 5) on TripAdvisor. And even though some tours will be all about the food, we’ll be sharing and exploring great restaurants on every trip without breaking your budget.

“Bus tours” have a reputation as being for seniors, only, but we’re convinced there are great tours that will appeal to all ages and all tastes. Our first tours are also kid-friendly, with pricing to reflect that aspect, too.

Randy on the air
Here’s Randy taping a radio show. Check in to see when we launch our travel podcast.

As we grow, we’ll be curating trips all over and for all durations. When was the last time you went to Williamsburg, Virginia? The Biltmore Mansion? Florida’s Emerald Coast? Missouri’s Wine Country? Door County, Wisconsin?

For the most part, we won’t be doing single-stop tours. It makes no sense. We’re constantly looking for tour stops that you would never do unless someone else was doing the driving and making all the arrangements.

We’re sure you have great ideas, too. Come see us, contact us by phone, text, email, or social media and let us know where you’d like to go.

And don’t be surprised if we have a few literary tours to book festivals and independent bookstores where you can meet your favorite authors and come away with some excellent swag.

Randy authographig his first book
Here Randy is signing his first book for store patrons back in 2009.His contribution was about (you guessed it) his experience about yet another new place he discovered.

Explore our website and check your schedule to see if any of our current tours are ones you’d like to join. Bookmark the site and let us know if you’d like to join our mailing list. We’re building tours every day now and we’d love to have you join us.

If you’ve read this far, look at your own calendar and see if Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7 this year are available. It’s a great weekend tour for the whole family. Then, we have a 4-day, 3-night tour we’re incredibly proud of that wends through the Cumberland Mountains, leaving on Tuesday, October 16 and returning to New Albany on Friday evening, October 19. Click on “Current Tours” in the menu above for details and to book your tour today.

Randy at St Louis Botanical
St. Louis, Missouri is just a little too far for a day trip. But it’s absolutely loaded with great experiences. Here’s your tour director in a completely unposed shot at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. Nice, huh? That was in OCTOBER!

CODA: Our owner and principal tour director, Randy Smith, is of the opinion that New Albany and its environs are primo places for tourism. But to make it a true destination, it’s going to take a level of cooperation, support, and, frankly, subsidy, that is completely lacking from our elected officials. It’s sad. It’s short-sighted. But in the meantime, you can leave town to take advantage of cities who’ve embraced their tourism potential.

Come On. Let’s Go. Gosh. Maybe that should be our slogan ;).


Indiana’s Role in World War II

Camp Atterbury was opened in 1942 as a training center and served as such through 1946. Late in World War II, about 15,000 prisoners of war from the European theater of combat were interned here. After serving as the separation center for more than a half-million troops after the war, the camp was put into standby status.

Active status was restored upon the breakout of conflict in Korea and the base served the U.S. Army until late into the war in Vietnam, when the Indiana National Guard took over its operations.

It is named in memory of William Wallace Atterbury, a native of New Albany, Ind., who was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service in World War I. During its construction it was nicknamed “Camp Mudbury,” due to inconvenient rainy weather.

The museum is located in the camp’s Welcome Center and includes artifacts, papers, photographs, uniforms and more. The outdoor museum includes an array of military equipment dating back to World War II. If you wish, you may also visit the Veterans’ Memorial Wall, walk, and reflecting pool.

TOUR #1802
Camp Atterbury Museum, Edinburgh, Indiana

Tippecanoe Battlefield and Museum

This is, perhaps, the most well-remembered location in Indiana History. As a National Historic Landmark, it marks the site of the Nov. 7, 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe, which brought peace to the Indiana frontier in the years before statehood.

The battlefield site is a compact 96 acres and includes an 85-foot marble obelisk, erected to note the centennial of the pivotal battle. Adjacent is a museum and interpretive center that includes exhibits about the physical and political history of the area, displays of replica uniforms and weapons, a small theater, interactive maps, and one of the best bookstores you’ll ever visit.

We’ll learn about the early heroes of the frontier Indiana Territory and its first governor, William Henry Harrison, who rose to fame and later became President of the United States. We’ll also learn about his foes, the brothers who led the Confederation of native American tribes and bands who resisted the encroachment of settlers – Tecumseh and The Prophet.

Weather permitting, we often will picnic here from box lunches, at no additional cost to tour participants.

TOUR #1802
Tippecanoe Battlefield and Museum, Battle Ground, Indiana

Wabash and Erie Canal Park

The canal that came to be called the Wabash and Erie Canal was created by a federal land grant and approved by Indiana’s legislature in 1827, with long-lasting consequences. It connected the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, at least so long as it operated. It spanned 497 miles of waterway from Toledo, Ohio to Evansville, Indiana on the Ohio River, passing through Fort Wayne and Lafayette, Indiana.

Working facsimile of the kind of boat that traversed the Wabash and Erie Canal in the 19th Century.

Today, the only “operating” section of the canal is in Delphi, Indiana, about 30 miles east of Lafayette. Our visit will include tours of historic buildings and a 40-minute ride on a working canal boat (seasonal). If you don’t choose to board the boat, you may walk along the towpath at your leisure.

This site where Pioneer Village lays was owned by Reed Case, a contractor for canal. At one time, the site was home to two brick kilns, which were responsible for firing brick for many of the buildings in downtown Delphi. Seven other buildings make up the village. You may view them on your own, but a guided tour is part of your tour package.

TOUR #1802
Wabash and Erie Canal, Delphi, Indiana

Testing Out the “Best BBQ”

Take Life on the Road is proud to include great food stops on all our tours. But not all meals are included in your tour package pricing in order to accommodate wide variations in tastes, appetites, and budgets.


Although you’ll be on your own and at your own expense for dinner on Saturday, October 6, 2018, we are recommending and providing transportation to D&R, which is located near to our hotel for the evening. We’ll go to dinner first, but anyone who wishes to will be transported to the hotel and can make their own choices for what, when, and where to eat.

There are dozens of restaurants near the hotel, ranging from fast food just outside the door to a Mongolian grill about a mile away. You are free to walk or call for your own transportation to any restaurant – or to order in – but please stay safe. Your guide will remain with the main group.

D&R is a specialty market with a butcher shop, seafood section, deli, grocery, and extensive wine and beer sections. As an outgrowth of the market, they also offer what many call Lafayette’s finest barbecue. We’ve arranged for table service where you can order from the menu. Barbecued brisket, smoked or broasted chicken, pulled pork, spare ribs, and pork chops are entrees and there’s an alluring selection of sides ranging from Cucumber Salad to Loaded Baked Potato Salad, country vegetables, and beers and soft drinks.

What started as a simple idea by brothers Dave & Ron Shumaker has grown to meet the needs of the community since 1952. With the first store opening in Logansport, Indiana, Dave started driving to Lafayette with fresh produce. As it caught on, meat was added and D&R Market opened as a permanent fixture in 1984.

Patrick Johnson worked for Dave & Ron for 23 years. By the middle of 2006, Patrick went from employee to owner. Patrick’s passion for great quality and service comes from all those years of experience. Growing up in Oxford, Indiana, Patrick attended Purdue University. He recalls a professor telling him in college that the average person has 7 different careers throughout their life, but that just didn’t sit well with him. He was already working in a grocery store and knew this was the right fit for him. While he has had several jobs at a grocery store, it is his one and only career.

You should have time for a bit of shopping in the market, if you like, before we check-in to our hotel for the night. Sunday morning is, by design, a late start, so you can sleep in and still have breakfast in the hotel. We won’t leave until 9:50 a.m. on Sunday morning.

TOUR #1802
The D&R Market, BBQ, and Catering, Lafayette, Indiana