One of the blessings and joys of sharing this journey with you is that I get to hear your stories, too. I am grateful for the spirit of adventure, the willingness to embrace change and the cheer leading from the sidelines. It makes the adventure of life even richer. (I would love to hear about some of your favorite travel moments. Write about an adventure in the comment section)
As I drove from East to West over the last four days, I was flooded with memories. I was born to drive cross this country, a calling. (I hope to see more of the world in the future by plane and train!)
When I was a child, my family moved from California to Minnesota to Virginia to Texas to Minnesota and to Pennsylvania. If you count all of the different places we lived in each state, I moved 12 times by the time I was 15 years old. (My Dad worked for Pillsbury. A promotion meant a move and my parents loved fixing up and selling houses during the real estate boom of the 60’s and 70’s) In between all of the moves we traveled to many states to visit family, friends, and for business. We traveled with a cat and a dog in a station wagon.
Two favorite childhood memories:
A trip to Denver, Colorado and somewhere in Wyoming. I was nine, my sister, Joanne was 7 and my brother, Rob, was an infant. We went to a trade convention in Denver. I remember being fascinated with the cooking instructions on the side of the cake mixes, listing high altitude baking differences. I loved the lights, the demonstrations, and the samples. There was so much passion and enthusiasm in the convention. I remember trying different “astronaut” food. In Wyoming, we saw a rodeo and were dressed in cowgirl attire. This was awesome because my sister and I loved watching re-runs of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Now, we were really cowgirls!
The other childhood memory is visiting my grandparents home in Eastham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. My grandparents moved there as newlyweds and built their home, one room at a time. Tables folded up into the wall, like a boat because the first room was the kitchen and the bedroom! It was the one home that was consistent in my childhood and the memories grew over my lifetime. Collecting shells in Cape Cod Bay during low tide, lily pads in the pond and learning to row a boat, eating buttered toast with quince jelly, my grandfather’s stories and my grandmother’s rock tumbler which was used to make pieces of quahog shells shiny for jewelry making.
Moving on to adulthood, travel in the U.S continued. When I was homeschooling my children, a friend, Karen DaGrava, started a club called Celebrate the States. We were studying the states in the order that they entered the Union. Living in Maryland, it was easy to drive to another state for the day and bring back goodies to the club once a month. Delaware. Pennsylvania, New Jersey. When we came to Georgia, a group of us decided load up 2 cars and go on the road, visiting historical sites, the Coca-Cola museum, CNN, a puppetry museum and Stone Mountain.
Here are two of my favorite memories of travel with my kids during that time.
An afternoon spent at a laundromat in Mississippi. I was on a 7 state, 15 day trip with two of my daughters, Liz and Hannah and their friends, Erica and Katie. We spent the morning touring Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Tennessee. Our afternoon mission was LAUNDRY!! We drove until we found a place just over the border into Mississippi. Rainbow Laundromat. The woman who was running the laundromat had her two children with her that day. The children were curious about our travel. We took out maps and pictures and shared the journey with them. As I focused on the laundry, the children taught us some hand games and we played for hours. We all shared our lives that day and I felt richer for the experience. You can find people to connect with wherever you go.
The other memory is an afternoon at the Portland Open market in Portland, Maine. It was a cold, rainy day in March. A quick trip to the Portland Head Light, a lighthouse, and then we looked for a place to get warm. We rearranged a few tables and filled them with math books, postcards, coloring books, markers, pencils and pens. Karen DaGrava and I spent the afternoon with her children, and my daughter, Hannah, surrounded by delightful smells, hot chocolate and coffee, warm food and a friendly environment. We had time to talk about the trip and share laughter and stories.
Now on to travel in the last few years. In the last 2 1/2 years, I have driven over 85,000 miles. The odometer on my Toyota Highlander is proof of that. As we crossed the country, I was flooded with memories of the last few years. Going to the Columbus Zoo on one kid trip, seeing the Jonas Brothers last summer at the Nationwide Arena, cheap tickets from a scalper, and filming girls playing Bop-it.
St. Louis. How many times have I seen the arch? My heart still does a flip flop of joy when I see it. The Gateway to the West. I reflected on the summer I saw 20 fireworks displays from the top of a hill encircling the city. The magical day last summer when we won free Jonas tickets, won meet and greets for Honor Society and Jordin Sparks and met so many great people.
Oklahoma City. Another Jonas memory, our radio interview in 2008 and the two days I spent at the Oklahoma City peace memorial writing.
And the list goes on and on. I can list the museums, the food, the places we have stayed, the people we have met and the details of all the trips. Underneath all of that is the passion I have for the land and nature. Over the last four days, I have seen hawks lining the road. They have been on fences, in trees and flying overhead as we drove through the MidWest and the West. The hawk messenger encouraging me to dream and listen and live. The land and nature fill my soul.
I am awake to life and open to the adventure one mile at a time.