Wednesday, February 3, 2010

how to view the whole thing

What does one do when they get two months off work in the winter? How about hit the road. I ventured out on what turned out to be a life-changing experience through adventures such as becoming a cowgirl in Oklahoma, feeding dolphins in Florida, exploring Utah with my dad, meeting a man that was one of the first to invade Imo Jima, putt putt wars in Florida, watching the sun set and rise over the Atlantic Ocean and many many more...

For those of you just reading this blog for the first time, I recommend starting from the beginning because I went through a huge amount of growth and changes throughout this journey. Also, I often refer back to things and events earlier on so you will understand more.

Here is how to read my trip from beginning to end:

Over on the right side of this page you will see the archives.

- click on the arrow to the left of 2009
- click the arrow next to November
- scroll down and start with "time to go."
- Then click on day 1 and go through each day.

Once you finish November, click on the arrow next to December and scroll to the bottom and do the same as you did for November.

I have been told there are a few spelling errors throughout my writing, but I haven't had time to find and correct them so please look past that and enjoy my journey. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget!!!

When I started writing this blog, it was only to keep my mom from staying awake all night in a worried mess. I wanted my family and friends to see that I was OK and make it possible for them to watch my progress without making 20 phone calls each night.

Slowly, it has spread much further than just family and friends. I hope you all enjoy and hopefully take a trip of your own!!!

mom's version

I just found out that my mom was writing a blog of her own the entire time I was gone. I thought I would share that with you so you can see her perspective on my trip.

Go to:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dad's coments

Hi all,

I asked my dad to write a little bit for this blog about our trip together.

Here is what he has to say:

As Dana's dad, I would like to make a few comments on my time with Dana on her trip. Up front, I really must say just how much I have enjoyed her blog. I had no idea that she was so good at writing. It is so natural and free flowing. She tells it like it is in a most amusing, entertaining way. This is a great leap forward over her high school English!

Traveling with Dana from Salt Lake City was a most pleasant and enjoyable experience. Besides being together and sharing things, we got to share such incredible natural wonders as Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. And there were so many other impressive natural structures.

I really enjoyed this sharing because Dana has such a wonderful curiosity. Every detail of a natural scene was worthy of a photo. She saw things that I would have never noticed. This is so pleasant and stimulating. Brings back the child-like curiosity and wonderment.

At night, Dana was so focused on writing the description of the events of the day. At times at 2am. I thought she was being a little too compulsive, but seeing her so interested and inspired was a wonderful experience. Just what a dad could be proud of.

She had never cooked a turkey before, but she exhibited the knowledge of how to get it done and how to find the information to get the job done. And the Christmas dinner was so perfect. The turkey fell apart and was so juicy. AND her making of the Oyster Stew was so special.

I thank Dana so much for all the wonderful experiences of our time together. Yes, she is going to do ok.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Redneck dedication page

As many of you know, I get a real kick out of redneck jokes, probably because they resemble my family so much!

As I traveled, I came across a few redneck sights that I would like to share...

When it comes to walking your dogs in the north Georgia mountains, it's important you fit in...

That there is one heck of a stylish coat missy...

Them Diamond earrings just sparkle off that there duct tape.

Now, it's all fine and good to walk them there dogs, but what ya gonna go home to?

Ain't no worries cuz this home's comin' to you. Thanks to the local school department for their kind donation, them folks got what ya might call a two story retreat!!!

Well, where you'z gonna park that there retreat?

How bout in this fancy place!! Them folk really know how to roll out the welcome mat!!

They don't need no tree lined driveways round here, cuz they recycle!!
BUT it's real important to add a fancy touch...

and leave that there rim in with the dent from hitting uncle Sam's curb.

But where ya gonna eat?
Not to worry, we'z gonna have the family reunion at the local Shell station!!

Now, when you'z done with that there travelin', it's time to go to home sweet home. Grandma put a special flower planter in the middle of the yard for ya...

Them neighbors really know how to fill them trucks with testosterone...
And then there's her car! Notice the Mercedes to the left.

AND last but not least...

It only takes a true redneck to travel with their shotgun sticking out of the suitcase!!!

Night y'all!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lost Puppy

This is a story of an event that happened while visiting my aunt in north Georgia.

I decided to go to the grocery store and get some milk and other food items. My aunt lives out in the country, and the store is about 20 minutes away so this was going to be an afternoon trip for me.

Since the grocery store is the best place to get a good, healthy lunch, I ordered up a yummy meal for myself and started to head for the tables. BUT it was thanksgiving time and the store looked like a local zoo, so I decided to head for a park instead. THAT WAS THE CRITICAL STEP in the rest of the day's events.

As I was leaving the store, I went out an exit that led me to a stop light so it would be easier to go left onto the 4-lane (as they call it down in north Georgia). While relaxing at the light listening to some great Celtic music, I noticed a little sign over in the corner of the intersection that said, "Animal Control" and had an arrow pointing behind me. I simply noticed it and moved on.

After making my left, I scooted into the right lane, since I am known for my old lady driving skills, and was headed up the highway in search for a park. Not a minute later, I saw a sign that said "Dam" with an arrow to the right.

Oooo... I know there is a view up there because I remember attempting to watch fireworks from that spot on 4th of July years ago. Driving at 55 mph made it impossible for me to slow down fast enough to make the turn, so I had to use my U-turn skills and go back. Once onto the side road, I could see the dam ahead. About a mile down, the road started to twist and curve around hair-pin turns. As I entered the last twist, there was this little black dog sitting in the middle of the road. She looked totally lost and was sure to get killed any minute. She was no bigger than 15 pounds and was just skin and bone.

How could I possible pass her up and keep driving? That's easy, I couldn't!! So I set my lunch on the floor, opened my car door and she jumped right in. After I closed the door, I don't think it was more than a minute later, she curled up in my lap and was sound asleep. Oh, my gosh, melt my heart!! She had a squished little nose and was just snoring away!!!

I spent about two and a half hours trying to find her owner, but had no luck. I had remembered that little sign back by the grocery store that said, "Animal Control," and decided that I really should take her there because I thought she had a home and I would leave town soon. Well, once I got there, they had closed 10 minutes before my arrival.

OK- Plan B...

Hmmm... There was no Plan B...

So back to my aunt's with me she goes. The only problem is my aunt has three big dogs that would make chopped liver of this little thing. So I made a nice, little bed for her in my car out of my fleece sweater, got her some food and water, and decided she could stay there until I come up with a plan. When I gave her a handful of food, I have never seen a dog eat food so fast. In one slurp, the food was gone and she drank all the water I gave her. I didn't want her to get sick so I was careful not to give her too much all at once.

Later that evening as my aunt arrived home from work, I sat in the chair and said, "Did you notice anything in my car as you drove in?"

"Um, no. Should I?"

"WELL, I collected a new travel mate today. She is so ugly, she's cute and I couldn't just leave her in the road, so I HAD to bring her home!!"

"Oh, dear!!" She laughed and said, "Maybe you should name her highway."

"Perfect!! But what if she has a home and has been lost for a while and I leave town with her?"

My aunt got the grand idea to check the newspaper. Just to give you a little insight into the area where my aunt lives, dogs are dropped like garbage on a regular basis so the chances of her having a home were small.

In the paper, there was an ad for someone that lost their female pug. "Oh, could it be?"

Unfortunately, the lady said her's was fawn color, but if I didn't find the owner in a couple days, call her back and she would host the dog until the owner could be found. I said, "OK," and hung up. It wasn't five minutes later when the phone rang. It was the lady calling back. She said she called her husband and he told her not to wait and to just get the dog that night. OH MY GOODNESS!! GREAT!! This wonderful woman would take the dog and if the owner couldn't be found, she would keep her as her own pet. YEA!! I love a happy ending!!

I never did eat my lunch. They became leftovers for the next day.

One last little detail- It is a very small world. When we went to Thanksgiving dinner, the hosts ended up knowing the lady that took the dog!

Before I end this, I must add a little redneck story:

The time about 10 years ago when we attempted to see the 4th of July fireworks up on the dam made for a unique holiday experience:

When we got up on top of the dam that year with the entire city's population of 1000 people to see the fireworks, there must have been a miscommunication between the advertiser and the officials meant to set off the fireworks. We all sat there until about 11:00 pm and the only fireworks were the newlyweds standing in front of us. So we decided to bail ship and head for home.

The gas tank was reaching empty so a fill-up was in order.

This led us to where the local rednecks put on a show that the county couldn't compare to.

Now, I'd like to ask you folks out there where the most logical place is to set off fireworks?

The park...

A wide open area...

Your driveway...

The middle of the street...

Or even on a beach?

OH, NO!!

I'm sorry. All those answers are incorrect...

The proper place to set off your 4th of July fireworks is at the gas station next to the pumps!!

AND, let me remind you, it would be best if you do this with a cigarette lit next to the sign that says, "No smoking!"

You can imagine our comfort in filling our tank with pop, crackle, and snap of colorful explosives next to us. "Excuse me, folks, could you hold the fire just a minute while we get a little gas?"

Needless to say, I think that was the most memorable tank of gas we all have ever filled.

And that leads me to what I will be posting next. -Hopefully tomorrow.

It will be redneck dedication page.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Here is the route I took and below are the costs involved.
I was asked many times what the differences were in gas prices around the country. I wrote down the price per gallon each time I filled up so here are the average prices in each state.

State average price per gallon

West Glacier, MT $3.03

Rest of Montana $2.75

North Dakota $2.71

Minnesota $2.60

Wisconsin $2.65

Illinois $2.87

Indiana $2.51

Ohio $2.50

Pennsylvania $2.65

Virginia $2.57

North Carolina $2.55

Georgia $2.55

Florida $2.75

Mississippi $2.54

Louisiana $2.62

Texas $2.55

Oklahoma $2.49

New Mexico $2.79

Colorado $2.40

Wyoming $2.45

Utah $2.58

Arizona $2.65

Nevada $2.99

California $3.07

Oregon $2.74


Everyone I talked to said they couldn't take a trip like this because it would be too expensive. If you are avoiding adventures because of cost, that is un-necessary! It is what you make of it. The travels don't have to cost you a lot. I saw far more of our country by seeing real life than if I had paid to see all the tourist attractions.

For example, when I went to Williamsburg, VA, instead of paying the $45 fee to see inside the buildings, I saw everything else. If I had paid that money, I never would have discovered the village being built to replicate life in 1775 and was being constructed by period tools.

I ate in grocery stores and hospitals. I know most of you might say that's nuts, but grocery stores almost always have a microwave and the deli usually has some great food on the cold side that they can heat for you. Most of those meals only cost me about $4 and are far healthier than restaurants.

If you want a full meal without the restaurant costs, hospitals have a fantastic option for not very much money. Just go to any hospital and find the cafeteria.
I also kept a cooler in the car where I kept yogurt, milk and anything else I needed to keep cool. If a hotel/motel didn't have breakfast, I would use my food in the cooler.

As far as hotels go, you don't have to stay at expensive places. There are small family owned hotels and motels all over our nation in small towns that need to be supported and are very affordable. These motels are very clean and you will meet some wonderful folks at the same time.

Most people stop in cities because that is within their comfort zone, but these little places are just like home and you get treated as if you are staying in the owner's house. In looking for a place to stay, I would usually stop before a large town or after a large town in order to find the mom and pops.

I did the entire trip on about $4000.

I think everyone should take a trip like this. For all you women that believe you can't do it, I know you can! We have an incredible country filled with amazing people!!! I hope you all get a chance to see it and meet them.

Either tomorrow or Monday I will post some special pictures I saved for last.

Friday, January 8, 2010

How to tinkle like a lady!

This story goes back to when I was passing through Maryland outside of Washington, DC.

I was traveling south on the interstate and I had to use the bathroom in the worst way. I was in an area where there were no easy exits to take. It was all cement walls and other cars as far as I could see.

My balloon was filling rapidly and the liquid was almost coming out my eyes. I hoped and prayed to come to an exit but with none in sight, I couldn't see any other options other than the side of the freeway. Oh, no!! Don't people get arrested for doing things like this? I could just see myself explaining to the judge how nature called.

Hmmm... The search began...

With my belly starting to fill to the point of holding the seat belt away, my list of requirements became less and less picky.

While driving in the right lane so I could swing off quickly, I was watching the tree line for ANY spot that would get me out of view of the bumper to bumper, late morning traffic.

Oooo... There it was like a beacon in the sky. A patch of trees up over a small hill where I could hide.

I think the only time a car pulls off the freeway so fast is if they had a blowout. I flung my car to the side and jumped out, as if it were on fire, and ran up a rather steep hill to the top.

UHHHHHH... From the freeway, it looked like the perfect spot filled with trees on the top of a hill, but clearly my liquid filled body had totally impaired judgment!!

As I reached the top of the small hill, there were trees alright, but the part I couldn't see was the fact that the hill dropped straight off the back side just at the top and those trees were growing from the 30-foot ditch below.

Oh, jeez!! I looked at my car and the lines of traffic and thought, "What now?"

I couldn't possibly make it to an exit, so I had to find a way to make this location work...

It was a rainy day and each step was slippery. I had visions of having to explain to the police how I ended up at the bottom of this large ditch. I was grabbing everything I could to keep from sliding to the bottom.

There is a horrible vine here and throughout the southeast called Kudzu that has taken over and grows something like 6 inches a day. WELL, I can testify that it has a very strong root system!!

This horrible vine that everyone hates was my new best friend! You see, if I stayed on the top of the hill, the world could see me, so the only way to keep from exposing myself was to drop my body down just over the edge. BUT if I did this by simply stepping, I would slide to the bottom in seconds.

To keep myself at the top, I was like a jungle woman and had the Kudzu wrapped around my left hand, wrist, and feet while I had to drop my pants with my right hand that was free. The only place for my feet, so they wouldn't slide, was up by my hands. I would have won twister for sure!! While attached to this vine, I hung my bare self out over the cliff and watered the plants below.

You realize, my troubles were only half over!!

You see, getting into this position was much easier than getting out!!

I was now hanging there with my back end exposed and my feet and one hand tangled in this vine. How do I get up? If I stood too tall, everyone on the freeway would see my half-naked self! So in true lady form, I cussed a few times, pulled on the vines with my only free hand and managed to get up enough to get my pants up. Then, I had to untangle my totally numb left hand and feet and get to the top without losing my footing.

There I stood at the top of this hill with red wrists and shoes covered in mud, but I didn't have to go to the bathroom for a while!!!

Now, men, aren't you glad you were created with an internal funnel!?!

By the way, I didn't get a ticket or arrested!