Travel Safety

Do Not Stop Daydreaming!!

This is not my design, but I am respectfully using it in my blog...oh how it fits perfectly!!

This is not my design, but I am respectfully using it in my blog…oh how it fits perfectly!!

Today…I am three days from launch. In three days, I will start my Epic Journey. As I sit here, I know I have not done enough to prepare, I know I am going to be forgetting something, I am seriously starting to wonder if I can do this and I am crying at every post on Facebook. What a mess I am!! I guess, though, that is a normal way for someone like me (shy and timid) to act before doing something so absolutely crazy.

I was thinking…I used to daydream of driving on the open road, never had a destination in mind, just driving with the radio blaring and the wind in my hair. Then life hit and the responsibilities started. My daydreams then became filled with things I forgot to do at work, or when I would fit a load of laundry into my schedule. As the years passed, more and more I forgot how to daydream.

One day, not too long ago, I realized that something was missing in my life. I realized that the lazy Saturday afternoons of reading a book by an open window with a slight breeze blowing had gone. I cannot remember the last time I even read a book for pleasure. After a crazy day at work, if no one was home, I used to turn up the radio loud and pretend I was on stage singing (badly, of course); that has not happened in ages. When I was down, I used to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies and pretend that I was a kid again and that my mom made them for me like she did so many times before her passing. Sound weird? Maybe, but these were all things I did to comfort myself when I was sad and overwhelmed. Funny thing, the more sad and overwhelmed I got, the less I did these things.

Now I am at a point where I wonder if I can even let go of the responsibilities long enough to daydream again. I want this trip to turn me around and shake me up. I do not want to be the person I am now. I used to be, at least, somewhat optimistic, I used to laugh a lot more, I used to sit and think about things and now I only feel like a shell of a person with very infrequent bursts of happy. This has nothing to do with my outer life. I have an absolutely wonderful husband, great friends and family, a roof over my head, food on the table, etc. I know I am VERY blessed. This is more about the inner person, like a garden I forgot to water.

Just saying that out loud seems selfish and self-centered. That is not what I am trying to get to either. But I do not feel as if I am the person God wants me to be. I have let my past and my failures and all the negativity take away my sense of self and sense of purpose. It does sound like some babble from the 80s about “finding yourself.” It is hard to explain and yet I feel compelled to share my story in hopes that it helps just one person.

So it has become decision time…either continue on the road I was on that I can only see ending at a bitter, lonely life or make a drastic change. Keep getting angrier or finally find inner peace. Always be sick and tired or find health and vitality. Be negative all the time or feel blessed no matter what. Feel restless every single day or learn to be content in the now. These are the issues I am struggling with along with a few others. As the old saying goes…I sick and tired of being sick and tired. I need a change, I need to daydream again and I need to become a better person.

Over the years, I have gotten rid of many of my possessions. My things started to own me and I did not like that at all. Things were given away, thrown away or some were sold. I started with the things that meant the most to me because I knew it would hurt the most and it would also build the most character. Now I am down to just plain junk which no one wants. That is what I have to do inside myself; I have to get rid of the clutter and baggage that has accumulated over the years. I need a clean slate, a fresh start and a way to start over inside my own head. I am going to start by daydreaming again, go back to simpler times and enjoying the simpler things in life.

I have yet to see how the road changes me, but I think it will be an interesting ride.

Thank you for listening!!

Meeting with President of The Historic US Route 20 Association

It was only fitting to meet with Bryan Farr, President of The Historic US Route 20 Association, in the historic building which now houses the Willoughby Brewing Company (4057 Erie Street). Since I will be taking historic Route 20 from Cleveland all the way to Newport, Oregon, and then from Boston back to Cleveland, it only made sense to make a connection with Bryan.

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Bryan and me outside of the Willoughby Brewing Company.

He is working tirelessly to achieve the Association mission:

“The mission of the Historic US Route 20 Association is to identify & preserve the cultural importance of, and to promote the economic development of inner cities, small towns and rural communities along all 3,365 miles and former alignments of US Route 20.” Source: http://www.historicus20.com

Bryan was only in our neck of the woods for a short time, so being able to sit down and talk with him for almost three hours was unbelievable. He explained to Mike and me how he got started with this dream, and where he sees it going. He also offered me much-needed advice on how to car travel in a frugal and safe way. His tips were great and I will be sharing them in future posts.

Route 20 has always had significance to me due to where I lived as a child. Many of you know I grew up in a very rural location where things to do just did not exist. But if you could find a ride to Route 20 in Mentor, Willoughby or Painesville, then you could find something to do, enjoy great places to eat, do some shopping, see a movie and so much more than my little town offered. Route 20 was like going to the “Big City” for me. When I learned that I could drive all the way across the country on it, there was no hesitation to make that a big part of my trip.

Our time with Bryan was extremely enlightening, but I think the most pivotal part for me was when I asked if travel changes you as a person. This incredible smile lit up his face and he said it was true and he guaranteed that I would be a different person when I got back. He explained how seeing nature and not just from the window of a speeding car, but actually seeing a mountain or a redwood or an ocean effects something inside you as a person. The beauty leaves its mark on your soul. All I can say is…I cannot wait to experience that and all the other unexpected things that will happen along the way.

Today’s Post Shout Out:  A quick thank you to Kyle, our server at Willoughby Brewing Company. He treated us wonderfully and allowed us to stay for so long as we talked. Oh, I almost forgot my hamburger quest. Really great burgers at Willoughby Brewing Company!

The building is more than 100 years old and used to house the repair depot for the Cleveland Ashtabula Interurban Rail Line.

The building is more than 100 years old and used to house the repair depot for the Cleveland Ashtabula Interurban Rail Line.

Next door to the brewing company is the old power plant which used to generate electricity for the streetcar system.
Next door to the brewing company is the old power plant which used to generate electricity for the streetcar system.

I’m Sorry

I’m sorry I have not posted more this week.  There are LOTS of exciting things happening involving my trip.  But I had a long week at work and my creative juices were non-existent.  So if you don’t mind, I will try to post a few things this weekend to keep everyone one up to speed.  Thank you for your patience!!

P.S.  It is now less than two months until my “Launch” date!!

Excitement Coming Soon and a Word About Fear

Thank you to everyone who has looked at my blog.  I truly appreciate it and love you for it!!  Please remember that starting on July 25, the actual travel posts will begin.  Right now, I am still in the planning and executing stages of the trip.  Not as exciting as the trip itself, but I hope to keep you interested enough to keep following so that when the trip starts we can see the country together.

I have been visiting great blogs about women who travel solo.  These women are amazing.  I study where they have gone and what they have done and I am in awe.  I know women who have traveled solo for work and I am in awe.  I know women who have traveled the world in the military and I am in awe.  Meeting and reading about these women is inspiring me to be better and I hope that my small trip (compared to some!) will be interesting to you.  I do have a feeling it will change me and I hope it inspires you to fulfill a dream, whatever it may be.

I have always wanted to travel, but I spent most of my life afraid.  I would think of all things that could happen and I would be paralyzed with fear.  That fear barely let me leave the house for a couple of years. Embracing the fear made me feel better, I thought it actually kept me safe when in reality it just kept me prisoner.  I overcame some of it, but fear still has its grips on me..even today.  But thanks to my brave friends and new friends I am meeting locally and via the Internet, I am casting my fears away, casting them onto the Lord where they belong.

This trip has no political agenda, no hidden meanings or undercurrents, it is strictly about a shy and fearful woman waking from her self-induced small world view and doing something totally out of character with the hopes of being better.  I want to be better on all levels: a better person, a better wife, a better sister, a better friend and a better citizen of the world.  I cannot do that with the blinders I have on.

Thank you again for taking this journey with me.  I think it is going to be a wild ride!Coming Soon

Defining Finding Center

This blog speaks a lot to “finding center.” I am sure that phrase means many different things to many different people. Some people may equate this with “finding yourself.” I am not sure if the definition for me fits any particular square peg, but I thought I would define finding center for me.

For me finding center means: finding time to be with God and spending time in His word, having enough attention span to actually enjoy reading a book or cross stitching a pattern, listening to the breeze through the trees without the prerequisite television on in the background, learning a new skill, looking at the day for what it is, finding time to exercise just because it is good for me, and enjoying the journey, to name a few things.

My life has become a series of events/tasks to check off in a planner. Over the years I have found that I constantly make lists and then work for that red checkmark I place next to the task that is complete, then it is on to the next task. That is all fine and good and it makes sense when you are working at a goal. But when it becomes the only way you can live, joy and wonder have left the building.

You read the sayings that tell you to enjoy the journey, and that life is not about the destination but the steps it takes to get there. I have lost that ability, or maybe never had it to begin with. My life focuses on getting from Point A to Point B then Point C. I have no idea how to enjoy the journey. I need those red checkmarks in my life to know that I am actually doing something. One day, a few years ago, I realized that I no longer wanted to live just for red checkmarks.

That is what this trip is about for me. I have tried other ways to “enjoy the journey” but they have not worked. I enjoyed the journey starting with a to-do list that required red checkmarks to show how much I was enjoying the journey.   As you can imagine, that technique got me nowhere.

I am not saying that it is bad to have to-do lists. They have suited me very well in the past, but now that I am older I do not want to be quite so regimented. With that realization comes the fact that I know no other way to live by what my planner says. My heart told me that I needed to do something fairly radical to get my life to center and that is what this trip is about.

This trip is definitely about the journey and all the amazing things I am going to see along the way. I spend my time in the car now just watching things, people and experiences zoom by on my way to my destination. I see everything from the perspective of the rear view mirror. Even if I am interested, it is too late as the experiences is already gone.

I think technology is fine, I am not ready to turn Amish but for me it has made me impatient and full of anxiety. How many times have we all stood in front of the microwave mad because it is taking so long? How much anxiety is created because you never seem to get “it” all done in day, a week, a month or even a year? Road rage and depression are by-products of our modern life. I just want to get off the roller coaster and see what I have been missing.

So when I speak of finding center, I just mean that I need to find a way to relax and not feel guilty. I need to have an attention span that is longer than a music video. I need to be able to feel things again and enjoy the experiences. I can be experiencing something now but all the time I am thinking about the next experience, never enjoying the present time.

One day I will be out of tomorrow’s and I am terribly afraid that I will look back on my life and see that I never cherished the today’s of my life, I only looked for the tomorrows. I think that would be a very sad realization and I hope and pray that this trip teaches me that today is fine enough. If I am blessed with a tomorrow, then I can enjoy it when it gets here.Yellow Day Lily

The Drudgery of Details

All the jobs I have held required me to always be on top of the details, those minute tasks that if left undone could send the whole thing flying off the rails. I was constantly making sure that nothing fell through the cracks. All the time desperately wanting to be the “idea” guy, the one who came up with the concepts and did not have to bother with the details. They seemed more creative and a lot more fun to be around.

Today as I sit at my computer contemplating the upcoming two months before I leave on my trip, I cannot help but think of all the details. Originally, the concept of this trip was just to pack one bag, get in the car and go. I actually got to be the “idea” guy for about four seconds, then the reality of the details started to set in.

The tasks today seem overwhelming. There is so much to do, so many details to cover. I spent the morning scratching off Lottery tickets in hopes of winning enough to support the needs of this adventure. Sadly, no winnings were gained today. The reality has set in that I may not really be able to afford to do this trip. The list of things I need is ever growing, everything from vehicle maintenance to food, lodging and lots of little things in between.

The “idea” guy surely has it made as he does not have to figure out the logistics of his idea nor does he have to struggle with funding or promotion of it. I guess my task for today is to buckle down and use all that work experience I have to work out the details. At my real jobs, when facing impending deadlines, I was many times amazed that the work got done sometimes to my own amazement. I have to assume that this particular endeavor is going to be the same. Come July 25, all the ducks will be aligned and I can become the “idea” guy once again as I decide what to write about, what to see, who to meet and where to go.

For now I will be the detail guy and plan the trip as best as I can to prepare for mishaps, unexpected emergencies and day-to-day realities. I will pray for wisdom and will be thankful for all I have as I do not need this trip like I need food and water to live. The details will work themselves out, maybe not today, but they will. Immediate gratification is not really been anything that I have experienced on a regular basis. Patience and smart decisions win the race, not Lotto tickets and wishful thinking. I am off to make some decisions and look out for dangling details.

What the American Dream Means to Me

I was duped. No, that actually implies that I was unaware of the duping. I knew, knew all along. I fell for the lie, hook line and sinker. I wanted it so badly I threw any trepidations I had out the window. It was not until I was older and mostly burned out that I realized my youthful years were spend chasing the elusive American Dream. The dream which fell short in my case. Work hard and you will have a better life than the generations before you. I believed the bigger house, better car, clothes overflowing, and stuff would make my life better.

I came forth out of the womb always wanting something, more more more was all I could think of. My childhood allowance was never enough, I was always begging for advance so I could get more candy; more candy than I needed or was good for me. Promises of some elusive deed in order to get paid now so I could spend it now.

As I grew older, I continued down the same path. What could I get that would make me happy? That sparkly thing will surely make me happy and when it did not I had to keep looking. Please do not get me wrong, my life was not bad but I just knew the more I had the happier I would be. Since I did not make enough money to continue in that lifestyle, I found credit. We all know what happens then. The tide turns and you end up working just to keep the creditors at bay.

One job turned to two jobs, tired turned to exhaustion, hopefulness turned to hopelessness and so on it goes. I wish I would have learned early in life that things cannot make you happy but I was a slow student, I mean really slow. In the back of my mind, I convinced myself that I deserved these things when, in fact, I was not deserving at all. I convinced myself the next thing would be the one that brought the entire dream together, but it did not. I was exhausted, depressed and deeply in debt.

In the back of my mind, I figured if it got really bad I could sell everything. It turns out that no one wants my used stuff, and if they do they only wanted it if it was cheap. All that money I spent on pretty things and no one else really cared about them. I was a complete fool.

Now the mantra seems to be less is more and I see it now. Your possessions should not own you as mine did. I worked and worked just to pay off the debt and the happiness they were supposed to bring was nonexistent. What if the things you had were functional and/or something that really, truly meant something? How better would life be if you could sit on your porch and drink a cup of tea knowing you did not have to work 80 hours this week to just barely get by. Once that concept really hit me, I realized how wrong I had been. How greedy and thoughtless I had been. Now was my chance to turn the tables.

I have downsized over the years and with each item that is no longer in my possession, I feel lighter. Unfortunately there is still a lot of stuff to go, stuff no one really wants and that stuff has made me feel as if I was drowning. It all needs to go. My experiment for this trip is to take it all down to what I need to live and what brings me a little bit of comfort. One box is all I get to take with me. That box will house my personal belongs that I just cannot live without. If I find along the way, that an item no longer fits that need, I will give it away or throw it away. By the time I return home, I should be well on my way to living with less and hope to never be that person I was before. The person who thought of only herself. I want this trip to change me permanently, I want to be healthier in so many ways; spiritually, physically, and mentally.

It may seem selfish to being taking this trip and I am struggling with that. But if I do not make a major change in my life, I am not sure where I will go. I do not want this trip to be a trip of leisure as much as I want it to be a challenge, the likes I have never endured. I want this trip to be hard and uncomfortable and when I get out of the car somewhere I want to actually see it. My attention span is and has been about as long as a music video (remember those?). I miss the fact that I cannot sit still long enough to read a chapter in a book. I have numbed my brain so much with electronic entertainment that I have lost the ability to converse on a personal level with another human being, I think of what is only next not what is right now and my brain rarely stops thinking about things that are meaningless. These I believe, in my case, are side effects of the American Dream.

It is time to change the ideal of American Dream to be as individual as each one of us is. My dream might not be yours, and vice versa. I believe the American Dream is still a valid concept, it just needs to be changed and reviewed a little more often. Maybe it is not about McMansions and fast cars, maybe it is about helping someone out and living a more moderate life. I hope this trip opens my closed eyes and my closed heart. As I said before, the person in the mirror is a stranger to me and I do not like that at all.

The People Who Influenced This Trip

The year was 1977, I was 15 years old, living in a very small town and being very dispassionate about my life.  On a summer day, I walked into a movie theater and my life was never the same.  The things I saw that afternoon changed me and created in me a permanent state of wanderlust.  The movie that changed everything was “Smokey and the Bandit.”  I sat riveted in my seat experiencing the freedom of being on the road in a really cool car.  I longed for that kind of freedom and my desire to travel was born.

When I was younger I was able to take a few really awesome road trips with my mother and sister.  I watched them both travel the world and live in different places.  I, on the other hand, stayed mostly close to home desperately wanting to be one of them.  I admired my sister for taking the chances in life I was too afraid to take.

I read an article many years ago (sorry I do not remember what publication it was in) about Angelina Jolie – pre-babies and pre-marriage. She spoke of how she was a lone traveler much of her life and said that all she needed was a backpack and she could live anywhere for weeks.  Talk about freedom, talk about excitement, talk about cool.

Many years later I became obsessed with a little television show called “Supernatural.”  The story is of two brothers who drive around the country on back roads “saving people, hunting things.”  They live in cheap motels or their car (another really cool car -1967 Chevy Impala).  They live with very little and do not acquire much along the way.  Before you say anything, I know it is a television show but I love the lone lifestyle personified in the show.

Watching Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” made me want to go out and rent a “Great Red Shark” cherry red convertible, which was actually Hunters personal 1971 Chevy Impala loaned to Terry Gilliam and Johnny Depp for the movie (yet, another cool Impala) and tear up Las Vegas in truly old school style.   Okay, not really…I would end up feeling terrible about that type of behavior.  The book painted such a strong picture of what a road trip feels like.  I wanted that kind of life (minus the drugs, guns, etc.).

Many of my favorite Classic Rock songs speak about life on the road.  I lived my life only dreaming of such a life.  I am so excited to have a chance to live it if only for a brief time.  Thank you to all the Road Warriors I have known, including my husband, who have inspired me and kept the dream alive.

Staying Healthy on the Road

One of my biggest concerns is how to stay healthy on the road.  I am not starting off as the healthiest person around, so I need to take some precautions.

  • Essential Oils:  I am an Independent Distributor for Young Living Essential Oils, and as a result of learning everything I can over the last two years about the benefits of using Young Living Essential Oils, I have seen my overall health improve greatly.   My devotion to learning about safe and proper use of essential oils has only enhanced my primary objective of maintaining a simple health regimen using oils to help promote a more balanced lifestyle.   The many lifestyle changes I am making have helped me to decrease dependency on other health control methods which I had been utilizing prior to delving into the exciting world of essential oils.   I will be taking my entire arsenal of oils along on this trip to keep me healthy.  Oils which may help to protect me from the rigors of long distance travel.   These oils should enable me to manage many travel related health issues I may encounter such as stomach discomfort, ease restlessness, will help me remain calm in tense driving situations, maintain lower stress levels, and help me take care of many other wellness issues that may crop up.  I love my Essential Oils and I know that using them along with a more well balanced diet that I have a much better chance at having some wonderful experiences and ultimately a more successful trip.
  • Water:  I plan to always have water available in the car with me.  Another component of my increased health is I have traded sodas for water.  I never would have thought that would have happened in my life time, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Staying hydrated is extremely important for organ function, mental clarity and detoxing.
  • Sleep:  Sleep is going to be a very important part of this trip.  I will try to plan the same get up and sleep times during the day.  I have never slept in my car for such long periods of time.  I need to assume that there will be some adjustments necessary.  I will be doing a few “dry runs” which to me are mini trips in order to help me sort of get used to the idea.  This is going to be very interesting.
  • Exercise:  With so many hours of sitting and driving, I am going to need to stop and move around a few times during the day.  I plan on practicing Tai Chi in the mornings and taking a walk at night.  But there needs to be more during the day.  I Hope to find interesting things to stop and see on my sojourn so that I may break occasionally and just stop for a while and move around to stretch and keep my joints and muscles limber.
  • Eating Properly:  My original plan was to eat MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for lunch and spend $5 or less a day on dinner.  I really do not want to spend a lot of money on food.  I have started having some issues related to gluten and if that continues that will change my meal planning completely.  I have some more research to do concerning this and will post an update when I know more.
  • Personal Hygiene:  This will be a little tricky the nights I stay in my car.  I am only planning on staying in a motel one night a week.  I have to shower more than that, so I need to come up with an alternative.  I can wash my hair and brush my teeth with bottled water, so that does not concern me as much.  Obviously this needs more work also, but at least I am thinking about it.
  • Sanity:  I am going to try to be as low tech as possible on this trip, but I hope I can Skype several times a week back to home base where my support team can relay items onto this blog.   I am going to miss him very much since we have been married almost 25 years, so being away from him will be difficult, but I do think if we can see each other for a few minutes a day, it will be very helpful.  Part of this trip is to teach me to downsize in preparation to try and live in a Tiny Home someday soon, but I will still be taking a thing or two which hold significant meaning to me.  A couple small comforts from home should go a long way in keeping me sane.

It looks like I have some work to do yet, but having a general outline is essential to making this trip a success.  The last thing I want to do is not feel good many miles from home and all alone.  I need to make this a priority.  Luckily, I have lots of people praying for my safety and that gives me great comfort!!

Thank you for your time!!

Geneva On The Lake, Ohio

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A few weekends ago, Mike and I visited Geneva On The Lake in Northeast Ohio.  It was one of the first really beautiful days after a long and extremely cold winter, warm and breezy it was.  The lake was calm and absolutely beautiful. Although I live fairly close to Lake Erie, I do not take the time to visit it too often.  That day I was so impressed with the Great Lake.  Mike and I sat on a bench by the lake listening to the birds singing their songs as the cool lake breezes blew.  We sat speechless for some time and I felt the peaceful effect this was having on me.  I daydreamed of my upcoming time near the Pacific Ocean.

I believe the Pacific Ocean is going to heal and center me.  I have seen the ocean many, many years ago when my Mom, Sister and I drove to the West Coast to deliver my Sister to a new Air Force base she was stationed at.  I feel in love with the Pacific Ocean immediately.  It was truly love at first sight.  I have longed over the years to see her again.  She is a major part of my wellness (physical and spiritual) plan.

But until I get there in a few months, I do have the lovely Lake Erie close to home.  I may drive up there again before I leave just feel the wonder and beauty.   Thank you Lord for the majesty of nature, and I pray that as I take this trip that I take the time to see Your work wherever I go.