Monday, October 3, 2016

My Power of One National tour complete!

On September 5th Jay, Kacy and I left for our final leg of the 48 State National tour. We had only 4 states left to complete so it looked like it would be a piece of cake. We departed Mound City, Kansas on Labor Day and headed north. As we drove through Kansas City on into Iowa (which we had already visited) we decided to visit a couple of landmark sites. Jesse James farm, Amana colonies and Field of Dreams (film site) were our stops. Iowa had some of the most beautiful barns in the country. We were off to a good start.

From Iowa we drove on into Rochester, Minnesota (state #45) to spend the night. The next day we headed to Red Wing, MN to visit a friend. Heidi Bacon is an artist I've known for over a decade. We visited her place of work which was most fascinating. 

Over the bridge we go on into Wisconsin with our ultimate destination being the upper peninsula of Michigan. We stayed in IronWoods and drove the entire upper peninsula the next day from Marquette through Escanaba and on into Iron Mountain. We saw Lake Superior and Lake Michigan all in one day's drive. The North Woods of Michigan is highly recreational. And the leaves were starting to turn. 

Day four on our final leg took us to Duluth, Minnesota. It is a special place for us as our daughter was married in the Rose Garden overlooking Lake Superior and I ran my first marathon in Duluth. We also love a place in Two Harbors called Betty's Pies. 

Leaving Duluth, we drove through northern Minnesota with our ultimate destination being Fargo, North Dakota (State #46). We of course had to stop at the Visitors Center to see the 'chipper' from the movie Fargo. We saw Paul Bunyan along the way too! 

Across the state we go through Jamestown, Bismarck and into the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Even saw the World's Largest Buffalo and some amazing iron sculptures on Enchanted Highway. 

From North Dakota we entered our 2nd to last state of Montana (state #47). A most beautiful state as we drove through Billings, Great Falls, Polson, Butte, and Missoula. Not the least of which was West Yellowstone. 

Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons were all extraordinary. We'd been to them all before when our children were growing up but they never cease to amaze. 

Driving through Yellowstone takes you into Wyoming. We furthered our way through Gillette and Cody, Wyoming into our last of the 48 states, South Dakota. We had several places we wanted to see and managed to get to all of them. Sturgis, Deadwood, and Mount Rushmore right off the bat. 

Wall Drug was a a stop on my 'must see' list. Then on to the state Capitol in Pierre. 


Heading south through Nebraska we had a detour to Loveland, Colorado to do some chores at our daughter's house. We visited Denver and the State Capitol as well as Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park. 

From the beautiful state of Colorado we drove east into Kansas. I'd wanted to visit Dodge City. We traveled through Garden City and Abilene as well. Upon entering Kansas the visitors center offered a Wizard of Oz experience. No place like home. 

Our final stop before arriving at the farm was Topeka, the state capitol of Kansas. Jay went to high school in Topeka so we stopped by his historic Topeka High for a quick photo too. 

Upon arriving back to our farm for a couple of nights, we rested, mowed, unpacked and slept some more. Just before we arrived however we had to stop for our favorite custard at Twisters as a celebration of our completing 48 states. 

Jay then did a 4 day trip up north while I took on a speaking engagement in Jefferson City, Missouri. The Corn Palace in South Dakota was his stop before the Ryder Cup golf tournament in Minneapolis. 

For now our 48 State National '12 Acts of Kindness' tour is complete. It feels like a whirlwind dream at this point. We traveled safely in good weather and had the experience of a lifetime. When we look over our photos for years to come the experience will be one filled with many stories, great companionship, laughs and wonderment. Our dog, Kacy turned 12 years old during the trip. She was a real trouper and though this wasn't her idea, she seemed to like being with us rather than not. 

We donated $250 at the Humane Society of the Black Hills in honor of her birthday and also because we had a generous donor. It was our act of kindness in the moment. 

48 States, 12 Acts of Kindness, National Parks, Historic sites, 30,000 miles, stops at friends and family, thousands of pictures, tourist traps, Great Lakes, great meals, and just a jolly good time. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes high adventure. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My Power of One National tour Part III

We are now 6 weeks into our 2nd leg of the 48 state '12 Acts of Kindness' tour. We've officially entered our 36th state.

I last left off as we were resting and restoring in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida in early May. That was a real needed break, we rented a lovely home on the Bay and had a real BED to sleep in.

From there we drove towards the Atlantic side of Florida stopping at Yogi Bear Jellystone RV park in Madison, Florida for a couple of nights. The park was almost empty after a holiday weekend so we had the grounds to ourself. That was lovely for Miss Kacy to chase squirrels and take walks.

We arrived in Jacksonville, Florida and chose to stay in a State Park for one night. It was called Hanna Park Campground. Our RV spot was one block from the Atlantic ocean! A beautiful, large and affordable place to stay. And the walk on the beach didn't hurt either. 

We were really looking forward to our next stop, Ponte Vedra, Florida. Our good friends Sari & Greg Monaco had invited us to stay with them for four nights in their bunkbeds. We accepted. The Players PGA golf tournament was also going on and our friends from Kansas & Arizona were going to be in town. Jay walked the tournament all four days while I walked two and spent time with Sari in St. Augustine and otherwise. We had dinner altogether one night (12 of us) and had custard at Witts as well. It was a good stop and we are grateful for friends. 

After a lovely time in Ponte Vedra we headed to Cape Kennedy and Disney World. We also managed to stop by Daytona International Speedway and Cape Canaveral . Lots of photo ops before we left the state heading up the coast. 

Heading north we drove to Charleston and Amelia Island. Both new places for Jay to see and experience.  Charleston certainly goes down in my book as one of most scenic and historic cities in our nation. We had a five star lunch at a restaurant called Lili's. We eat a lot of fish and try to stay healthy on the road. (except for the ice cream part) 

We rolled through Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, S.C. before pulling into our ultimate destination Charlotte, North Carolina. The next Act of Kindness event was in Weddington just south of Charlotte. 
DrumStrong was created ten years ago by Scott Swimmer. We helped them celebrate their 10th anniversary on May 21st. A 12 hour drum circle paired up with family friendly activities was quite an experience. Drumming to beat cancer took place in 70 cities around the world on the same day. It was a powerful experience to not only witness but to participate in. Our MPO1 KIND shirt will raise money for DrumStrong this year. 

We headed into Virginia from there visiting Richmond, Williamsburg, and Fredericksburg. So much history there with Williamsburg being especially captivating 

Next up? Washington D.C. Good friends of ours live outside of D.C. in Fairfax, Virginia so we spent a couple of nights with them. Our daughter, Katy drove from Boston to spend a night with us and visit a museum in DC. It was so lovely spending a couple of nights in a 'home' with friends. We spent some time in Arlington National Park just prior to Memorial Day weekend. Such a feeling of patriotism in our Nation's capitol. We were unable to get close to either the White House or the Capitol building. #Security Big thank you to Susan P and J.R. for hosting us and our daughter. 

We departed D.C. and the Virginia area with a several state drive ahead of us. Beginning at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia we toured the area and Jay especially liked the John Brown museum. It was 90 degrees so long walks were out. Beautiful area and from there we headed into Maryland for a stop at the Little Red Barn to try out their ice cream. Next up was a stop at Gettysburg for more history with Kacy making friends wherever she goes. 

Cape May, New Jersey was our next stop. We'd been there years ago when our kids were growing up. We toured the lighthouse and had great fish tacos at a roadside stand. 

Leaving New Jersey on the Garden State Parkway we headed through NYC via the George Washington Bridge through Connecticut and into Hartford the capitol, one of the prettiest we've seen so far. The PEZ visitors center was cool too! 

We saw the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the Boston Harbor on Memorial Day and then made our way up into Kennebunkport, Maine via New Hampshire. We'd already conquered Delaware and Connecticut. 

We stayed in Keene, New Hampshire, Brattleboro, Vermont, Clinton, Connecticut before arriving on Long Island for our Act of Kindness. We had the best ice cream of our lives in Vermont. 

The night before our Act of Kindness we had dinner with Jay's cousin Ann and her husband Franny. We made a point to see as many relatives as possible as we traversed the country. 


Our Act of Kindness took place in Wheatley Heights, New York at Sunrise Day Camp. We put together a team of 30 walkers for the 5K fund raiser and raised over $3,500 for their camp. The camp is for kids with cancer and their siblings. Amy Link headed up this stop for us. In addition we conducted 5 interviews for the documentary film "heartbeat" thanks to our camera guy, Eric Marquardt who is a local filmmaker. 

Our next big adventure took us through the heart of New York City. We were so proud of our efforts to drive the entire island of Manhattan without incident in the RV. We even found parking spots a couple of times to take pictures of Central park, the World Trade center and Radio City Music Hall.  

From New York City we headed back to Connecticut to have a lunch date with Thelma Serenbetz.
She is a major donor for Cottey College's Institute of Women's Leadership, Global Awareness and Social Responsibility. I serve on their Board of Advisors so we had a lovely chat and it was time well spent. She ordered 5 purple EMPOWER shirts that benefits Cottey. 

Off we went to visit Albany, Cooperstown and Lake George, New York before landing in Plattsburgh, NY to see our kids. 

Jay & I were looking forward to seeing our kids and spending some time in one place for a full week. Plattsburgh, New York is in upstate New York just south of Montreal. We worked at and enjoyed their organic grocery store, Conroy's Organics. Tracy had a play being preformed at the Fringe Fest in Montreal so we got to go up and watch that as well. Kacy enjoyed getting out of the RV for a week's worth of running around with their dog Rizzo. 

After a lovely week with our kids we headed across upstate New York through the beautiful farms towards the Niagara Falls. We viewed them from both the American and Canadian side and stayed in an RV park in Canada. 

We headed south out of Canada traveling through Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky. Visiting the Louisville Slugger to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry we made the rounds. 

We were heading to a high school friend's house for a couple of days in Indiana and along the way we stopped at Butt Drugs in Corydon, Indiana and also the Indianapolis Speedway. 

Once we arrived in Fort Wayne, Indiana at my high school friend Tracy's home we had a couple of nights in an actual bed. She was so gracious to take us around town and show us the sites which included a silo minion, historic theater and DeBrand chocolate company. She was a gracious host. 

We traveled towards and through Chicago and by Wrigley stadium and then stayed in a nice state park on Lake Michigan. We had breakfast with Jay's cousin Barbara and her partner before heading to Milwaukee. 

Milwaukee was to be our last 'act of kindness' on our 2nd leg of this tour. The dairy farms in Wisconsin were beautiful and the ice cream/custard wasn't too bad either. 

Our Act of Kindness took place at Next Door - Milwaukee. We had generous volunteers drive in from Topeka and Kansas City to deliver a total of 600 books for the Books for Kids program. We got to read to the children in the program and tour their facility. The CBS affiliate even came to cover the story. After that we did an NPR interview. 

One of my biggest surprises has been the generosity that has been bestowed upon us during this trip. We've had many invitations from friends to spend the night when we are in their town. Terry and Lynn McCreary invited us to stay at their home in Elk Grove when we came to Milwaukee. We are grateful. 

Milwaukee is the home of my childhood memories. We drove by my grade school, childhood home, saw the Fonz and Leon's drive in where Happy Days was filmed. 

Upon the completion of our time in Milwaukee we headed north towards the upper peninsula of Michigan, our 43rd state in six months. Along the way we stopped in Green Bay's Lambeau Field. 

Heading back towards the Midwest we dropped back through Wisconsin stopping at Green Lake where I spent my childhood vacations. From there we headed into northern Illinois towards my hometown, DeKalb. The cornfields looked amazing.

A quick trip to Glen Ellyn, Illinois to see my high school, Glenbard West and Lake Ellyn where we skated our winters away was next up. I met a few of my friends as well. 

Before leaving the area we stopped to see my Uncle Louie and cousin Dave. And then on into Iowa - state #44 to see cousin Mike and his wife Barb, who fixed us dinner at the 'lodge'. 

Our final day of driving on Leg #2 of the National tour took us from Iowa back to our farm in Kansas, 620 miles  We first stopped into Hannibal, Missouri for a little Tom Sawyer history. Then on to see the Arch in Saint Louis. Then a stop at the State Capitol in Jefferson City and on up through Kansas City. 

One last stop before we headed home and that was Richmond, Missouri to see Jay's cousin, uncles and aunt. 

From here we drove to our farm for a rest after 12 weeks on the road.... Our children came for a visit and our farm chores are getting done. 

We will take off for Leg #3 after Labor Day. In the meantime My Power of One will complete an act of kindness in San Diego on June 25th. 

So far we've toured 44 states, completed 7 acts of kindness, viewed multiple national parks and capitol buildings and the list goes on.