It’s hard to believe that Sandy and I started this crazy journey one year ago today.
The places we’ve seen, the people that we’ve met, the people that we’ve reconnected with, and the memories have been nothing short of amazing.
We’ve covered a lot ground so far, over 22,000 miles and 26 states to be exact. We haven’t stayed in one spot for too long. Outside of the times that we’ve moochdocked in the yards of some of our family members, our longest stay in any one place so far has been eight days in Key West. That will change in the future, but as of now, that’s just the way that we’ve started.
We’ve experienced so many amazing things. Too many to list. Much more difficult to name a favorite spot, which is good. If I had to be pressed though, I would say that the original Woodstock Festival site has to be at the top of the list, but it’s very tight at the top of that list. Sandy can’t come up with a favorite, even when pressed. For Youk, he says as long as Sandy and I are with him, everything is his favorite.
We’ve stayed in campgrounds, people’s yards and driveways, wineries, goat farms and just about every other type of farm imaginable, orchards, a lavender farm, random parking lots, rest areas and lots and lots of Cracker Barrel parking lots.
We’ve seen beautiful sun rises and sunsets. Went through some bad storms, but more importantly, have seen God steer the really crazy weather away from us. We’ve gotten up early and we’ve stayed up late. We’ve been able to sleep in when we want to and retire early if we’ve needed to.
We’ve been able to drive out of our way to see something or someone because in reality, nothing is out of our way. We’ve seen a fair amount of interstate highways, but ever better, we’ve been able to take in some of the most beautiful scenic by-ways. We’ve driven the length of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. We’ve been to Mile Marker Zero on U.S. 1. We drove Route 30 through the hills of Pennsylvania from Chambersburg to Pittsburgh. We’ve driven Route 15 from Gettysburg into Virginia, to name a few.
We’ve been able to make plans far in advance, and we’ve sometimes had to change those plans. We’ve found that a change of plans isn’t always a bad thing. We’ve found that most times when our plans have changed, God had something better in mind for us. We made an 1,100-mile trek back to Pennsylvania on the spur of the moment.
We’ve found that we like to surprise people on occasion.
We’ve been able to live in the moment more over this past year than we have ever done before in our lives. We’ve found that sometimes just pulling into a park to catch the tail end of a sunset can turn into a highlight of our journey.
We’ve been blessed with good health.
We’ve taken a lot of pictures and shared them on social media. Our friends seem to enjoy our journey as well. We’ve used social media as a positive.
We seldom watch the news.
We’ve forgotten what day of the week it was, many times over.
We’ve taken more selfies than either of us would have ever imagined taking in our lives.
We walked and hiked a lot of miles. We’ve strolled barefoot in many grass fields. We’ve been able to dip our toes and many times our whole bodies in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, Lake Michigan, and tons of other creeks, lakes, rivers and streams. We’ve been in a ton of different pools, both salt water pools and regular pools.
We’ve cooked over open fires, little charcoal grills and the RV stovetop. We’ve experimented with meals to figure out what we can and can’t do. We have eaten out with some dear friends and family, and we have shared meals in their houses as well.
We’ve sampled pure Vermont maple syrup, Vermont and Wisconsin cheeses, goat ice cream, and organic honey.
We’ve been to baseball and softball tournaments and games. We’ve been to a NWSL professional soccer game, a few USWNT soccer games, and a minor league baseball game. More importantly, we’ve been to grandchildren’s baseball, softball, and field hockey games, as well as track meets.
We’ve been in hotter weather than we would have liked, and we’ve been in colder weather than we would have liked. We’ve mostly been in some absolutely beautiful weather.
We’ve attended fundraising events, a strawberry festival, seen some great staged live music, and some incredible street musicians. We’ve stayed in a campground at an amusement park, and been to a state park that had a water park.
We crossed the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired. We have also crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where Bloody Sunday took place on March 7, 1965. We then drove from that bridge in Selma to Montgomery, Alabama on the same route that Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and other courageous men and women marched from March 21-25, 1965. We saw the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee where Dr. Martin Luther King was gunned down on April 4, 1968. We stood on the very spots that four young people lost their lives at on May 4, 1970 at Kent State University. We walked near the very field where forty brave innocent souls exited their bodies on September 11, 2001 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
We’ve volunteered at the Dream Center of Southeast Texas, a faith-based recovery center in Beaumont, Texas, and at SC3 in Sulphur, Louisiana with Hurricane Laura relief efforts. We’ll be starting year two by volunteering for a week with our friends Phil and Shar Roos of the Year to Volunteer project at the Raptor Education Group in Antigo, Wisconsin.
I’ve released 30 new podcasts, and published my second book since we have started this journey. I am about to send my third book, which will be the first in the “Journey of My Mother’s Son” series into the editing stage, and I am working on helping Youk write his children’s book, which will also be the first of a series.
We’ve attended several birthday parties, and celebrated others over the phone or on FaceTime. We celebrated some holidays with family that we never had the opportunity to celebrate with before. We’ve been able to celebrate many other special occasions as well.
Sadly, we’ve attended a couple of funerals, and lost too many others whose services we were unable to get to. All of these losses have forced us to not take tomorrow for granted.
We saw two cows give birth at the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center. Sandy cried at the beautiful miracle of life. I almost lost my breakfast.
We’ve learned to troubleshoot little things that go wrong on the RV through YouTube and other resources. We’ve made our share of mistakes.
We know that God is watching over us throughout this journey.
We’ve been able to become close friends with people that we have yet to meet in person. There is also now distance between some who we were once close with.
We’ve met some wonderful people on this journey who have made a lasting impact on our lives. Many of them, we do not have their phone numbers or any way to contact them. More than likely, we will never see them again. They were the people that God had us cross paths with for just a season. We will never forget them even if we never see them again. We hope that perhaps we left the same positive impression on their lives as well. We’re fortunate that we will be able to stay in contact with some of them. Those are the ones that God has put in our lives for a longer period of time.
We’ve stopped at roadside produce stands, and we’ve picked our own strawberries.
We’ve seen manatees, snakes, dolphins, alligators, and so many species of birds and other wildlife that we’ve become even more appreciative of God’s creation.
I have shown Sandy all of my childhood houses in Florida and we went back to see the Harmony House, which was the halfway house that my mother owned and operated in Titusville, Florida for women in recovery who were re-entering society.
We stayed at Sebastian Inlet State Park where we had spread my mother’s ashes back in 2005 into the Atlantic Ocean off the inlet.
We named the RV “Polly’s Footsteps” and got her lettered. We chose that name because we’re in part following in my mom’s footsteps, and her little 1967 Plymouth Valiant, which she traveled in was named Polly.
We’ve been to the original Woodstock site in New York and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. We’ve been to Mel Fisher’s Maritime Museum, the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Ernest Hemmingway’s house, and the southernmost tip of the Continental United States in Key West.
We miss our old church and are grateful for the few times that we have been able to go back and visit. We’ve attended church on the road with friends and we’ve attended church on the road with strangers. We’ve searched for a deeper and more spiritual relationship with God.
We have done a lot of things in the past year. We have lived, and loved, and laughed, and cried, and argued, and made up, but most of all, we have trusted God and enjoyed the journey.