Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Power of One National Tour

My Power of ONE
"12 Acts of Kindness"
National Tour

In preparation for the My Power of One '12 Acts of Kindness" National Tour, Jay and I spent the first two weeks of January getting the Winnebago Touring Coach RV ready for the road which we bought at La Mesa RV before we left California.  We had pre-trip maintenance completed at Olathe Ford RV and then had the brand wrap done at Chux Trux in North Kansas City. Stephanie Tillman at Hope Raisers created our design work. The images on the side of the RV are courtesy of photographer Aram Khachaturyan who did a photo shoot at Halo Cinematic with some beautiful people.  After preparing the RV we began to pack up what we thought we’d need to be on the road for one year.  Our goal for this trip was to raise the visibility of the My Power of One brand, complete 12 acts of kindness, and have an adventure. In addition we planned to make a feature documentary film titled "Heartbeat" about our journey. Here is what we are traveling in:

 Jay, Kacy and I officially left Mound City, Kansas (where our farm is) on January 13, 2016 about 8:45am and drove to Nevada, Missouri. One of our partners, Cottey College invited us to come have a picture taken with the Cottey students and staff as we left for our journey. The picture was then sent along with a press release to several regional papers. Emily Younker of the Joplin Globe wrote this lovely article. The My Power of One purple EMPOWER t-shirt raises money for the women's leadership programs at Cottey. As you can see in the picture, several of us are wearing our shirts. 

From Missouri, we drove towards Oklahoma City, Oklahoma stopping at the Will Rogers Museum along the way.  It was a lovely, well done museum and well worth our stop.

Our first ‘act of kindness’ was set for 8:15a January 14th at Positive Tomorrows elementary school in OKC. We met with 54 students who attended the school and their staff. The students have no permanent home and most live in shelters.  We are traveling with our 11 ½ year old Golden Retriever, Kacy and she got to meet the students as well as receive many hugs and pets. The kids toured our RV and committed to joining us in completing their own acts of kindness. We had many pictures taken with the kids. I also conducted an on-camera interview with the Executive Director Susan Agel, whom I went to high school with many moons ago. Here are pictures of our time together. The My Power of One Promise shirt raises money for programs at Positive Tomorrows. 

As we left Oklahoma City we headed to Amarillo, Texas (State #4) to spend the night. From there we headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico (State #5) and then on to Santa Fe where we spent the night and had dinner with friends, Tom and Diane Arenberg.  My friend, Diane and I painted a picture together in her art studio. She is an accomplished artist, while I am not. We had not seen each other since 1971. Our finished piece, which we completed in 2 hours will be auctioned off for charity. 

From Santa Fe we drove to Ghost Ranch, which is another partnership of ours. Diane, who is a founding board member, introduced us to the possibility of helping them raise money. We stayed two nights, met the executive director, Linda Seebantz and had an interview with one of the employees, Daniel Manzaneres who had grown up in the Ghost Ranch area. Daniel shared with us about the devastating flood that came through the ranch last July. They are working at seeking funding for reconstruction of many of the damaged areas. We will help by raising money with the sale of our MPO1 orange INSPIRE shirt. 

After leaving Ghost Ranch, we drove to Arizona (State #6). Of course we had to see the Grand Canyon even though we’ve been to it before. It’s just so amazing. We stayed at a RV spot in Williams, Arizona and ate at a little 50’s cafĂ© on Route 66.

From Arizona we drove to Hoover Dam and then on into Las Vegas, Nevada (State #7). We drove the Vegas strip and stayed at a RV park in North Las Vegas. 

We are taking footage and lots of digital images to document our journey. I keep a small calendar book and record where we stay each night so we don’t forget. I'm keeping a journal and I also post to social media so that family and friends can keep updated on our whereabouts. Here is our MPO1 Facebook page: 

From Las Vegas we next headed into California, our 8th state in 2 weeks. We stayed in Temecula for a night and then drove on into San Diego where we stayed for 1 week. Having a longer stay in one spot definitely helped.

In Del Mar, we found a great affordable RV park across from the racetrack. We rented a car because I had multiple engagements to attend while in town. I visited Howard Gardner, a charter school with Kacy. Lori Jones’ 1st grade class invited us for a visit. The kids were completing a My Power of One assignment noting one act of kindness per day they would complete. Kacy, once again got a ton of love during our visit.

The following day we completed an ‘act of kindness’ in San Diego. The beach clean up was attended by more than 30 volunteers. We removed bags of trash from the Torrey Pines State beach. Very heart warming to see so much engagement in San Diego especially among the film community. After living in Del Mar for four years I had established a close-knit group of friends.

During that week in San Diego, Jay attended the Torrey Pines PGA tournament and I did a live morning show on CW 6 San Diego about the MPO1 journey.  Susan Farese of SJF Communications wrote a stunning blog post you can read here
We were showered with love and support. I will be back in early April for the San Diego Film Awards where My Power of One presents an award to someone in the community that is making a difference. 

The following week we drove to Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona.  Jay flew to Breckenridge to ski while Kacy and I stayed with friends. When Jay returned we walked the Phoenix PGA tournament on Sunday, following player Gary Woodland. Big thank you to Jim and Janice Sommerville and Nancy and Dave Hayes for letting us have an actual bed for the week. Also to Danny and Linda Woodland for always letting us tag along during the PGA tournaments. I was also lucky enough to have dinner with my beautiful aunts and loving cousins and families. 

While in Phoenix, I had lunch with Jerry Bowman, executive director of Partners in Action, who connected me to two amazing individuals. Mickey Nunez, whom I interviewed about his work in Glendale with 'at risk' youth. Shanna Parker (who is a sex traffic survivor) and I had dinner together.  She has written a book titled "And He Called Me Angel". Here is her TedX talk. My Power of One has formed a partnership with Shanna's organization Angels Go To Work. Our MPO1 Faith shirt will raise money to educate, raise awareness and help to eradicate Human Trafficking. 

We headed to Yuma and then on to San Diego for another week. The 2nd week in San Diego was much less busy. Jay got to take several bike rides and I attended a screening for our Team XX film, Down Stage in Balboa Park which was nominated for the Spirit of San Diego award. My Power of One has a partnership with the San Diego Film Consortium and our blue CREATE shirt raises money for their programs. I got to do a 90 minute podcast with Ty Mabrey and Luiz Martinez at Indie Apocalypse. You can listen to it here.  After more visits with friends we said good-bye to San Diego and headed north to Los Angeles. 

We drove through downtown LA, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and settled in Long Beach at a RV park on Shoreline Park. A great location that was walk-able to the shops and restaurants. We got a lot of well-needed exercise and Jay got in another bike ride.

During the week in Long Beach we also had dinner with Kansas City friends who all met up in Sherman Oaks for BBQ. After dinner we headed to Bakersfield, California to spend the night.

Santa Cruz, CA was our next destination. We chose to spend the night at the Chaminade Resort and Spa rather than one of the beach motels. It was great to sleep in a king sized bed and take a bath.

After leaving Santa Cruz we drove to the Santa Cruz Mountains and visited LizAnne and Ken Jensen, owners of West Coast Weathervanes. We toured their home and art studio. They’ve been making custom weather vanes since 1988. LizAnne made a lovely lunch for us. Her act of kindness was well received.

We then drove to Half Moon Bay to spend the night after leaving Santa Cruz. The RV park was right on the ocean and we were able to walk to a restaurant for fish and chips and clam chowder.

The next day we took off again and headed to San Francisco, over the Golden Gate bridge through Berkeley and on up to Napa, California. We chose a small quiet RV park adjacent to Skyline Wilderness Park in Napa, a great location, quiet and good walking trails.

Of course we toured the Napa/Sonoma valleys and bought a case of our favorite wine at La Crema in Healdsburg. 

Leaving Napa, we headed north on Highway 5 towards Mount Shasta. Gorgeous drive and picture opportunities galore. We then crossed over into Oregon and drove as far as Phoenix, which is just south of Medford. Our RV Park was just off the highway. The next morning we left Phoenix and drove to the coast. Florence, Oregon is a spot we’ve visited many times. Our RV park was adjacent to Old Town and we hooked up with some friends we know there for a visit. 

Heading North on the 101 we stopped in Yachats along the coast and met up with a new friend Joanne Kittel. Some of the most stunning scenery yet as we walked the Amanda Trail with her. She and her late husband Norman have accomplished a great deal in their community over the past few decades. A true example of My Power of One. 

 From Yachats we drove on into Newport and stayed the night at an excellent RV park near the Rogue Brewery. We've stopped there several times over the years and as you can see we made friends with our waiter, Bill Bergin. Jay even bought a large bottle of beer at their garage sale. 

Leaving the coast on a day of rain took us inland through the Willamette Valley and the Pinot Noir vineyards. We stopped in McMinnville, Oregon at Naked Winery for a taster. Sean Stanley was a very hospitable host and we walked out with another case of wine bottles to gift our friends as we cross the country. 

We drove on into Beaverton because I wanted to visit the Nike headquarters. They would be my dream My Power of One partnership so I'm putting that out to the universe now! 

Finally we drove on through Portland and stayed the night in Vancouver, Washington (State #10) where we toured the Columbia River Gorge  and all the waterfalls. We also decided to drive back into Portland to see the famous VooDoo doughnuts.  #socool

From here we headed towards Seattle, Washington and stopped in at Gig Harbor outside of Tacoma for two nights at a very nice RV park. We've been yelping our RV park reviews as we've traveled. I use Yelp to help guide our restaurant and RV park choices. We've been trying to hit a hotel every 6-7 nights to get a fully rested night. Driving every day is pretty grueling. It's like upscale camping at best. 

For our Olympic Peninsula day trip from Gig Harbor we drove to Port Townsend via Port Ludlow. We'd been to Port Townsend a couple of times before but it was worth the revisit. Both nights we had fish and chips at the  Gig Harbor Tides Tavern. Two thumbs up from Jay and I at this 42 year old restaurant for their home made clam chowder and sweet potato fries. 

Seattle is known for it's lush greenery and rainy climate.  We drove most days here with rain. Tuesday morning we headed into Seattle proper and had luck between the raindrops with photo ops at Pikes Market, the original Starbucks store and Kerry Park with the Space Needle as the backdrop. I had dinner with Miss Ashley Poppe at Japonessa restaurant, one block from Pike's Market. AMAZING meal and conversation. Ashley is our co-hostess for the Acts of Kindness - Seattle that takes place this week. She is bringing together her network of volunteers to help pull this off. 

After dinner with Ashley we drove to Whidbey Island where were are stationary for a few days. Thanks to Jay's skiing buddy and fellow Lutheran, Larry Nelson, we are at his long time home one block from the water. Jay even mowed his lawn today as a thank you. You can not BELIEVE how nice it is to sleep in a big bed after 2 months on a pull out sofa sleeper!! ACT OF KINDNESS!!!

We spent the day touring Whidbey island. Coupeville, where we are staying is a quaint picturesque small town of 1800.  Larry Nelson clued us in on places to eat and see. So far we've had a cinnamon roll and homemade ice cream. It's wonderfully relaxing and much needed after 2 months on the road. 

Tonight we had mussel chowder and salmon fish and chips at Toby's Tavern on the water in Coupeville and then took a hike to the beach. 

Sunday morning we pack up from our five day stay on Whidbey Island and headed into Seattle. We  had an 'act of kindness' to complete at Mary's Place in North Seattle. Six volunteers on a rainy Sunday met up for a glamour day with homeless women. We served at least 20 women and their daughters in a day of companionship and friendship. The gals got haircuts, nails and toes polished and a fresh application of make-up. None of the volunteers were professionals in that field. Our make-up was provided by Mary Kay via Kristi Anderson. The volunteers brought many of their own supplies and we left everything behind for the women to use as we departed. We did some glamour shots after it was all over and all left with smiles on their faces. It's so easy and fun to do nice things. 

Upon leaving Mary's Place we headed south and stayed in Olympia, the capital of Washington. From there we drove back into Oregon and along the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood National Forest. The waterfalls just never cease to amaze. We decided to take highway 80 back and were hopeful that the weather and there roads would cooperate. 

Drove on into Idaho, state #11 and took pictures at the state capital in Boise. From there we drove into Utah, state #12 and stayed in North Salt Lake City. Visit to the Great Salt Lake, the Capital and the Mormon Tabernacle were a must. 

From Utah we made our way into State #13 Wyoming and stayed a night in Laramie. From there we drove to Cheyenne and visited the Botanical gardens. We dropped down into Loveland, Colorado (state #14) for a quick visit to our daughter's house. 

From Loveland we made it a three state day and drove back up to Highway 80 and into Nebraska, our 15th state since January. We stayed in North Platte where this beautiful chapel sat. The next day we drove to Lincoln to see the Capital building. 

Our final leg of travel and 500 miles took us from Nebraska down into Kansas. We saw some beautiful agricultural landscape including this historic barn and the hay bale minions. We stopped to visit Jay's cousins in Greenleaf, Kansas before we headed to a late night drive back to our farm. 

We've been traveling with a little rubber ducky named Emmy. Our partner, Cottey College gave us this to take along our way. She is named after our EMPOWER shirt that they have chosen to represent their leadership programs. Emmy has been a wonderful companion. She has seen a lot of sights with many more to go. 

For now we are at rest at our farm. I'll fly to San Diego for the film awards in early April and then we will take off again to cover the Southern states and Southeast. It's so hard to put into words what this trip has meant. Three more words have been created for MPO1. Resilient, Joy and Grateful all of which we experienced in some form over the past few months. Stay tuned for the next chapter....