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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

i spy

Reader and friend Gabi sent me this from a Florida airport she was in while traveling. She sent it with a note saying "Look what I saw and thought of you!" I am loving that people out there have mojo on the mind.

Thanks Gabi! Strong Mojo forever:

From reader Gabi

Skagway to Sequim

I often feel like a broken record talking about meeting fabulous strangers and all the feasting and great conversation I have had on the road, but well- that's what's best about traveling for me so I guess my redundant stories shall continue. I am staying with Judy tonight. Judy is the woman I met in Skagway Alaska.( I wrote and posted photos of she and her brother Allen from Montana a few weeks back.) When we'd said our goodbye's back Alaska she insisted I call her when I got to Washington state and here I sit in her guest cottage now typing this. She just made me a most delicious meal for dinner topped off with fresh peaches over vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. She toured me around her neighborhood tonight before our dinner where we saw beautiful views of the water, mountains and about 30 deer. Total nature and gorgeous green here in a tiny town outside Seattle.

I had taken some time to relax out of the city, driving and my usual go, go, go today. I ended up "going into town" on a sweet and slow wander to the store this afternoon where I snapped these photos I thought were fun in celebration of a farm b-day:

Outside Seattle

Outside Seattle

Oh the excellent photos, food, and places. So few 100 years of life to eat it all up.

I'm going to need a job in food, wine and travel very soon. I can see my life heading in that direction like a freight train time and time again. I'll also be needing to add more than running to my work out sessions as all this feasting is making me bust at the seams. That and when I go in for my check-up with my dentist soon, Dr. T is going to have a bone to pick with me. I feel a cavity coming on. (Tear...I brush, floss and rinse, but this is no battle for Voodoo doughnuts and road food. Ack!) I'll try to brush those few little issues under my head rug so I can take in my last bit of time to be thankful on this incredible journey of new landscapes, friends and foods. Perhaps I will decided on some far-out health or no salt/sugar challenge to post here next to hold myself accountable. I mean, that's how this whole Alaska thing got started anyway. I wrote that day back a few moths ago that I was going to go, then thought oh shit, then well- I have to now and I did it! (Nothing like a little world wide web pressure to keep you getting up early and staying up late to make sure you reach a goal.)

Here's again to the many feasts and people from the road that add to all the stories and smiles in my adventure. Thanks Judy!

Monday, August 30, 2010

signs on a ferry

Apparently the Upper Deck is actually down and the Forward Lounge is right or left.

Alaska ferry sign

Alaska ferry sign

I took these on one of my many ferry rides in Alaska. Good thing I wasn't drinking and trying to find my way around at the time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

the magic is in the hole

Last night was another successful night car camping. So it was cold, I woke up at least once an hour shivering and didn't get the best sleep ever-but it was fine. It always makes me happy to save $ and that's exactly what I thought about a bunch while tossing and turning (as much as you can in the front seat of a car) last night. I'd so much rather be uncomfortable for a night or few in between my house stays and save $ on accommodations so I can spend that $ I save on things that mean the most to me; Food and time with people.

I came into Portland yesterday on a sunny and average chilly 65 degree summer day for this area. (Brrr...where I've been living for years, August is typically 95-100 and lots of humidity.) As usual, no plans, not knowing anyone, but always having a few notes about food and someone who knows someone who might live there. I really don't even look at the paper maps I have (I don't have any detailed ones anyway), you all know I don't have a GPS. I swear every time I enter a city unplanned like I did yesterday, I just follow where the roads lead, where are tall buildings are, or where something looks interesting, and I always end up exactly where I need to be. I rolled into Portland, pulled my car over to park for a minute and look at notes in my book and turned out I was exactly where I'd wanted to go. The rest of the day worked out perfectly. I stood in line for 45 minutes with the usual lines of patient, excited, treat-lovin' crowds at Voodoo Doughnuts:

Line at Voodoo

I met a funny and sweet mom and daughter from Florida, we all took lots of photos and laughed about all the flavors. A guy walked out right before we got in the door with bacon on top of his doughnuts. Yes, bacon:

Voodoo menu

I got a Captain Crunch and an Old Dirty Bastard. (Chocolate frosted with OREO and peanut butter drizzle.):

Captain Crunch and Old Dirty Dastard doughnuts

With thoughts of having just a few bites or half of each, I then proceeded to hose them both. Sooo yummy. I felt high as a kite and happy for an hour or so, then definitely was moaning later. That was a bit much, even for me. (As I sit here and write this now, I am a glutton for punishment and thinking about going back for more after breakfast today...)

I drove, wandered, toured a bit more after that and through the amazing speed and power of social networking, I found myself having a beer, salad and sharing a huge plate of tater tots with a stranger Katie a couple hours later. (Try to follow this one and be as amazed as we were how it all worked out; I post something on Facebook that I was going to be in Portland. A friend of mine Temple who lives in Virginia, whom I haven't seen in about 2 years and barely spoken with as life has kept busy for both of us, sends me a message back about Portland, then a message to Katie- who she knew from work in Boston like 10 years ago. Katie just happened to be in Portland for one night, for work training, and only a few blocks from when I was parked on the side of the road in my car no less where I have just sent the message from my laptop to Temple. My phone rings; "Hey Diane! It's Temples friend Katie. I'm in Portland tonight and we should totally grab a beer!" Me; "Great! I was just about to go check out Rogue, want to meet there? See you in ten? And then there we sat chatting away at the bar having a grand old time for the next 3 hours like we'd been friends for life.) So, so fun. I love those random connections. (Thanks Temple!) Here's my choice pint of a camomile infused brew. That was one delish beer:

Rogue beer

I'll trade a bed for some fun company, a couple of yummy doughnuts, and a delish beer any day. I couldn't have had a better day if I'd planned it all out. I met interesting and fun strangers, toured the city, ended up spending barely any money but had good food, and I fell asleep happy. What a great day in downtown Portland.

I think I'm off for another doughnut...

Voodoo box

Saturday, August 28, 2010

the blr mobile hits 140k like magic...

...and keeps running like a dream!

BLR Mobile hits 140k!


I'm bopping around the the Northwest now, scoping out a few spots with thoughts of where I might want to park if I'm going to look to get an apartment or place of whatever kind in the next few months. It's looking like I'll be heading down the coast a bit and into Cali. I know a few folks to stay there, and have a cousin to visit I haven't seen in a few years. I'll be able to scope out the bay area too. As of now it looks like I'm going to be able to make it to 2 weddings (both good pals in VA) in September and October (yay!) and have a small bit of work for a week or so in NC. New York City is still calling my name everyday. Oh the possibilities. Lots of work and planning to do.

Besides the huge Alaska/Anniversary part of this journey, I knew it was something I wanted to do to give myself time and space to get some perspective getting out of my everyday comfort zones of where I'd been living for the last 13 years. I've certainly gotten what I was looking for and then some. I'm happy for all I've learned and excited about what I'm working on for the next phase of BLR. Having you all on this journey with me is a blast and I'm hoping you will continue to share your stories with me and be interested in reading mine.

In the next couple days I will be putting in some more organizing and logistical time so I just wanted to write again and say hello and please hold tight and be patient with me. See you back here soon with more!

Friday, August 27, 2010

photo storage?


I'm bummed my posts have been photo free the past few days and I haven't been able to share the stories I want. I have reached my limit for free photo storage for Flickr and trying to find another resource that will let me store photos and take the html I need to embed here. Picassaweb and Snapfish are giving me trouble. Anyone have ideas so I can get more photos and fun stories cranking here?! I cannot afford to pay and even if I had $ to pay for photo storage I've got to believe there are more Flickr like resources out there for free. Hmmm...

I'm chomping at the bit to share stuff here. Boo for road blocks!

Thoughts anyone?


More thank you's because there are so many helpful, generous and wonderful people out there!

*Kelly- I have carb-loaded and run around the hills of Seattle a ton the past few days.
*Mike and Eng-Shien- I'll be posting photos from our "crabbing" here- thanks for the boat ride and hike.
*Andrew- Hope your leave and time home are relaxing. Thank you for your generosity and selflessness. Keep writing.
*Bobby- Got your notification yesterday. Gas tank is full! I still owe you funny photos from cheese curd country.
*Sean and Ian- So fun to hang with you and your peeps. Thanks for letting me show up out of nowhere and crash.
*Jess and Armen- Thanks for the feasts and hospitality. That bed is soooo comfy.
*Julie- What a yummy dinner and fun chat last night. Here's to a soul sister!
*Ben- Love the random VA connection, downtown tour and blue hair.

Days continue to be interesting, fun and full of all the friends of friends and complete strangers who I'm connecting with. I'm learning something new every day and understanding myself and the world more. I'm consistently excited, motivated and feeling healthier and more balanced than I ever have. Because of all of you and so many giving people I'm becoming the best person I can be. It means everything to me that I'm getting to live my dream. This also means I will be the best I can to pay it forward to others and that's what this is all about, so thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

the pay it forward recipient

...is the one and only Ms. Erin Peacock! (That'd be little my sis.)

I had posted before that no one wrote in stories about a trip/travel/dream/new hobby they wanted to try/do for the "Pay it forward" challenge. After that still no one wrote me. Not ONE person wrote in before I left Alaska, so it's official the cashola goes to her! (I will post a photo of her with the check once it gets to her in the mail and she can take one.)

I know you all out there have hopes, dreams, goals, wants, desires. I also understand it's difficult for some people to share those things with strangers. I have also learned that it scares the sh*t out of most people to actually take a moment for themselves to think about just and only what they want. Sort of like whoa nelly! Well, I couldn't possibly actually think about who I am or what I want for me! That would "rock the boat" too much and then I might have to start rocking! (I can tell you once you start rocking you never go back. In a good way. I am now smiling with that Mwah-ahhh-ahhh...tune running through my head.) My sister is a prime example of this. She had never been out of the country, my brother took her to Ecuador in January, she went in blind, but open- then she saw, did, ate, experienced things she never had before and didn't even know were out there and was a changed person within days. That trip rocked her boat (she surrendered to the rocking) and gave her a vision for the next thing she wants to do with her life. She came back to the U.S and immediately started applying for the Peace Corps. I'm proud to gift 10% of the Alaska or bust BLR donations and sponsorships to her. She's spent tonsa bucks completing these applications, so this loot will help her. (She could be going to Africa in February! How cool is that?!)

So? Cheers to you kid! You have a check coming in the mail. If you get in and go to Africa, you know I'll do my best to visit!

I have mentioned before, I have a bank account that is named after my deceased friends who are the inspiration for this blog and a lot of what I do. This will always remain open. From here until eternity as long. As Blue Lollipop Road lives, 10% of any $/sponsorship/donations that are contributed will continue to go into that account. That money will be gifted as a pay it forward just like this initial one. I am working now with Sarah (the bestest intern ever) on new info./ideas for the donate page, next pay it forward challenge, etc. Lots of updates to come.

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH to all who have donated. Congratulations to Erin for being the first gifted recipient. You, undoubtedly embody the heart, smile and soul that Maria and Brandy did. They'd be happy to know the 10% is going to someone like you!

Who's next guys?

Start daydreaming and get your pens and paper ready.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

practice this

...and things will start to come together/make sense/get really good/lead you on the path you're supposed to be on:

1.) Concentrate on what you're good at, not what you suck at.
2.) OWN who you are. Like as in- OWN it. Don't forget- you can run, but you can't hide. Mirrors are all over the place.
3.) Don't listen to anyone who tells you you're stupid, crazy, immature, foolish, "running away" for following what feels right to you. Just thank them for their opinion and tell them you'll be off living your life thankyouverymuch.
4.) When someone asks you completely assinine questions like; "Well, I mean, what would you do if your car broke down? What happens if you blow a tire? Aren't you worried about frogs falling out of the sky?" Just say something equally assinine back like; "Well, I figured I'd strip my clothes off, spin around in the street and scream until they put me in the nuthouse." (Looking dead serious. It will totally shut them up. Promise.)
5.) Use the 10% planning and 90% doing equation. No one likes a shit-talker, they are annoying. (I have been that annoying shit-talker! BLECH!) Stop talking a cool game and friggin' do it already. We live in America people. Yes, that means freedom.
6.) Find people/companies/whatever who are doing what you want to do/think is cool and ask them to hang out with you. Ask them some questions and listen to them. The AHA! moments are amazing and really happen.

So...what am I going to "do" now that Alaska is "done?" (Everyone has asked me this.) Oh I cannot wait to share. (Thanks to Sean at One Week Job I have a perfect fitting mission! WAHOO!!!:)

When you take a step towards life the universe supports you. I swear on my life to you this is true. I have just lived this. I am living this. If you are like I was, 13 years worth of freaking out (what's wrong with me, why can't I figure out what I want to do, who I want to be, etc.) I am promising you, shut out all the fear in your life and listen to what your heart says, use the skills you've acquired, organize yourself, put in 110% effort, and run to what you want. You will get there. If for some unheard of reason it doesn't work- I will personally sling pancakes at IHop to support you.

Life is so simple. We all complicate it. This trip has finally proved that to me. So as far as what I'm going to "do" after Alaska?

Exactly what I'm doing. And support other people to do exactly what they want to do as well. Now that's a good life if you ask me.

"i see a little silhouette of a man..."

Today I must get the BLR mobile fixed up with a tire rotation, oil change and all good stuff. Before I run off though, I have to share a photo of the hilarious fisherman from Ketchikan, Alaska. Perusing my photo stream this morning, this one is cracked me up! Yes that is me on a piano (sober) in the background. They made me stand up there. There was enough Tom Petty and Meatloaf karaoke to provide quite the entertainment:

Salmon Fisherman

I'm looking forward to getting these logistical and responsible errands and things done so I can find a nice coffee shop here in the coffee mecca, Seattle to camp for a bunch of hours. Until then I figure this photo was a good teaser for more to come on the fisherman and others...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

on the move

Sorry for the disappearing act! I've crossed the border back into Canada. Lots more driving and a stop in Vancouver.

I'll be checking out some west coast spots for possible living, figuring out how I'm going to pay my bills next month, and working on some possible sponsorships (Honda, I am really coming after you now!) So excited about all the possibilities and next adventure! I've uploaded photos of my hike at Mendenhall Glacier, me "crabbing", a couple ferry stops I made, and some video of the most hilarious fisherman I've ever met. Lots more of my Alaska trip to share this week.

I've got a bunch of logistical stuff to take care of, but Blue Lollipop Road is not going anywhere (there's no way I'm giving up now!)- so please hang tight with me and get ready for the next ride, it's coming!

Monday, August 23, 2010

it's official

1.) Canada has the most strapping gentleman per capita on the planet. (I mean what do they do here, suck every man up in a tube, give him J Crew catalog training, make them hit the gym for 3 months them drop them back to land?)

2.) The countryside/terrain/scenery/land/mountainside/whatever you want to call it, is THE most consistently gorgeous nature I have ever seen.

I've now officially been to 13 countries and 50 states. I've also driven now about 4,000 miles (not kilometers) in Canuck Country too. I think this might give me the authority to appoint myself as a credible resource to state these 2 points. I'll elaborate on stories later, just a quick stop off the highway. I've kept thinking of these things over and over and wondering why there aren't masses of single women and nature lovers from the U.S knocking down the border to get up here. (Anyone ???) I think we have somehow not even considered our close-by neighbors to have all this deliciousness. One name ladies; Ryan Reynolds.

I mean my lord!

***This advertisement has been brought to you by the Canadian Tourism Foundation.
(I wish, then that would mean I was getting paid for this. Then again, the views are payment enough.)

guess who i get to meet today?!

The One Week Job peeps!

I am super excited to meet these guys. It's been fun connecting with people who've created projects and programs like these. It makes me happy to know there are more and more young people out there running amok (in a good way) to follow their hearts and focus on what they're great at to make their life path. I can't wait to learn about what's next for this crew and how their recent fundraising has been going for their big documentary.

I'll report back soon about our chat!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

meet jeff

Jeff and Diane in madison, WI 7/2010

Jeff is the best friend a girl could ask for. He has been a friend since I was 19 years old and always that person that everyone can completely rely on. It'd be impossible for me to list all the ways Jeff has loved and supported me as a friend over the years. He is the definition of a kind and generous soul and not just to me, to anyone he meets. When I was planning for this trip to Alaska, packing up my apartment and trying to figure out where I'd store some belongings, where mail would go, etc. (All the logistical stuff that's stressful and worrisome) Jeff was jumping in immediately. He offered me a place to stay after I was apartment-less, help with my move, and to house my few, but very important boxes of my belongings. He then told me he'd be happy to manage all my mail and any other tasks that needed taking car of while I was on the road.

I have thanked Jeff a whole bunch but I never feel like that's enough. When you are thousands and thousands of miles away and don't have to worry a single bit about where the heck all your most important stuff is or where you mail is going because they are 1,000% safe and taken care of by someone you'd trust with your life, it's a great feeling.

So? As I sat quietly today just having left Alaska. feeling thankful for all the love and support that's been given to me and excited about what's next and, ding! In pops an email from Jeff happily stating; "I've deposited the check you needed me to and taken care of X,Y,Z. Hope you are having a great time!"- all I can do is shake my head and wonder how I ever became lucky enough for the many friends I have and especially those constant, reliable and selfless ones like Jeff.

Thank you Jeff. You are absolutely one of the reasons I feel confident and comfortable pursuing my dreams, and one of those friends I hope I have forever:)


This weekend marks my final ferry ride through the last frontier. Oh Alaska you and this journey for me couldn't have been more perfect in every way, shape or form if I wrote you in a book.

Next, through Canada and the west coast I go, eyes open and attempting to scope a spot I could possibly hang my hat next and what to do when I hang it. I still have plenty of tales of my time with fishermen, on glacier hikes, bear spotting, boat rides, hanging with the locals and more from my 50th state so stay tuned.

Here's to the next 16 years filled with time together, love, laughter, hope and adventure...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

a shower in a laundromat this time


I'm so fancy. $1.75 for 7 minutes!

After playing outside and a hike on a chilly day, hot water and soap were all I needed. I'm definitely not rocking the cute right now. I figure I'll get properly girlied up again when I get to what Alaskans call "The City"; Seattle.

Dear heels~

I have to say I'm really starting to miss you...

Friday, August 20, 2010

check out alex and luke!

Fellow crazy young and fun, crazy road-trippin' fools!

Maybe I could start a conference for all the young people that are out there on the road exploring North America. Hmmm...I do need a job now, could be a good idea.

Keep rocking out Alex and Luke! Good for you guys!

meet annie, rory, chris and nao

Before I left for this trip I joked with a bunch of girlfriends that I was going to make out with a lumberjack when I got to Alaska. Then I decided his name was going to be Ben. (No significance, Ben just randomly popped in my head one day.) I mean, I'm a single girl, and of course, guys are a fun thing to talk about with your other single gal pals occasionally. Hunting for guys isn't usually my thing, but how many of you single ladies out there haven't imagined meeting some strapping rough and tumble, tall dark and handsome guy on a trip you've taken during your single days? By no means am I on a man hunt and I have not made random make-outs my hobby, however- it's been fun to get the emails and texts from my girlfriends; "So have you met Ben yet?" or "Nice photos Di!- but where are the lumberjacks?" Laughing...

Not only have I not met a single lumberjack, but of all the male species I've met, there hasn't been one single person named Ben. Not even in any of the places I've stopped across the entire country (and let me tell you I do make it a hobby of stopping lots of places and talking to lots of strangers. Wasn't someone supposed to teach me not to do that?) Come to think of it, I have never known or heard of anyone who is a lumberjack. Do lumberjacks even exist out there? Anyway, I did imagine a situation happening where I ran into a bunch of hard-workin' Alaskans of some kind and they'd show me "how the locals roll" if you will. I sure didn't think it'd happen during my quiet, late dinner in a spot that looked deads-ville last night, but oh did it ever.

There I was eating away, enjoying my veggie burger and in walks in 10 of the most wasted salmon fishermen I couldn't possibly encountered.

***This is where I tell you how much of a total bummer it is that I can't share many of my stories in "real" time. There are psycho-stalkers and crazy people out there you know! I don't listen to many people who lecture me, or follow many rules ever, but traveling safely as a single woman I try to do my best to pay attention to those words of safety wisdom from people who love me. I'd love to to post the place, the photos, the video- all of it where I was last night for you right now as I am still laughing and the story is fresh in my mind, but I will wait until I am in the next town. I will tell you that I did have two delicious Alaska Brewing Company beers with my veggie burger, but remained sober. I usually prefer this as it's so much more fun to watch the drunk get drunker and be able to participate in the fun, but still be coherent to document it all. That and if you know me, you know I don't need alcohol to dance on a table or bar, jump around, act like an idiot, or participate in pretty much anything that's fun that doesn't involve guns or jumping off buildings. I'm not afraid. All I have to say is cheers to hardworking fisherman who barely get a day off and when they do they do it up! Until I circle back to the fishermen...A story of some other fun people I've met, my Alaska Brewing Company tour in Juneau, and the reason why I knew to order a delicious brew last night.

If I'm having a drink I'd usually choose wine, but I do like the occasional beer and especially in the summer coupled with a nice sunny day on a patio. When I was in Juneau, the weather was out of the ordinary warm and sunny. It was the perfect time to visit the brewery. When I've toured breweries in the past, I've found there's usually maybe one or two of the beers I really like, and make the yuck face on the rest. All, and I am telling you all the beer that this brewery makes is absolutely delicious. perhaps it's the water from the ice fields, maybe they have some magic spell, or maybe it's the local love that makes it taste so good. (The company was started by a husband and wife team who went around Juneau and got 88 people to pitch in 5k each in 1986. Talk about love and support of the locals!) Staff gal Annie originally from NY gave us a talk and seated "tour", stopping halfway through to let us all go refill out sample glasses. (Note here; Alaskans are not shy about pouring you a big ol' sample.)

Annie at Alaska Brewing Co.

The summer ale was my favorite. I talked to a few other visitors and staff as I tasted. All were friendly and fun. I poked around for a bunch of photos, bought a couple gifts and wandered around for a while. Here's the tasting bar:

Tasting room at AK Brewing Co.

I was planning to head downtown after my tasting to get some dinner. As I wrapped up my visit, I overheard a group of guys asking Annie where to eat. She told them the same place I was heading to. These guys were cabbing it, so I piped up and said "Hey I'm going there- I can give you guys a ride!" Annie and the 3 guys looked at me like I was nuts. (Hey, I go on instinct, what can I say? I had a good feeling about these gents.) When they gave me the, you are 1 girl, offering a ride to 3 strange guys?! Look; I said, if you try anything funny, I will f*ck you up. I have knives, mace and other weapons you know. We all laughed. If a comment like that doesn't break the ice for a fun time with new friends, I'm not sure what will. So I packed 3 guys into my little Civic with my luggage and gear everywhere. We had some fun taking photos at the suggestion of Nao. He hopped in my drivers seat for one:

Nao driving

Here's one that Rory and Chris took from the back seat of Nao and I in the front as taxi Di drove to town:

In car with guys in Juneaa

We parked and got out for dinner, they looked at my bumper and of course; "What the heck is Blue Lollipo Road?" I shared the story with them and told them they'd likely end up a blog entry. Great place for a photo by the back of the car. Rory and Chris were former military, Nao, the youngest, a semi-pro soccer player who occasionally travel and is paid to play. (How awesome. We talked soccer stuff for a bit. Apparently he got a contract to play full time, but the pay is so little he couldn't/didn't want to do it. I think I remember him saying the contract was with DC United...? Nao?-Is that right?) This was their last night in Juneau from Colorado. They had been working on a project. Occupation; Air Quality Consultants:

Rory, Chris and Nao in Juneau

We all ended up eating dinner together and had a grand time at The Hangar. Of course we had to have a toast to yummy local beer:

at The Hangar with Rory, Chris and Nao

I think I've said it before and I will say it again; This is why I love traveling. How else would I have met 3 Air Quality Control Consultants from Colorado or 10 salmon fishermen from Alaska? When you visit a place that's not your home and other people are too its like a level playing field. I love that because often in life things feel like a giant judging-fest. Who are you dating or married to, what kind of neighborhood do you live in, what kind of car do you drive, how old are you, yadda yadda. During travel, people rarely ask what you do for a living, if your dad is some big-wig at whatever company, and certainly no one cares if you're a fashion statement because you're all wearing comfortable shoes and clothes so you can walk a million miles. It's as if people take you for face value and all the bullsh*t is stripped away. It's refreshing. Travelers are all "lost" asking opinions on how to get where, where to get decent food, what to see. You have to rely on strangers, trust random peoples opinions and be flexible to take whatever kind of transportation, eat whatever kind of food, and exist among whatever kind of locals you encounter. To me this equals one thing; It is virtually impossible to be a pain in the ass or judgemental. And you always meet interesting people when you're all "lost" together! I'm so glad I got to spend some time with strange local wasted fisherman last night, that I had dinner and gave some other strangers a ride last week, and that I went on a boat ride and hike yesterday with yet more strangers I haven't even mentioned anything about yet. I've learned from each and every character I've met. What I constantly learn, I could never learn from a book, a magazine or TV show. It's always live and uncut and I love every second of it.

Thank you to Annie, Rory, Chris and Nao, and to all my "stranger" new friends from this trip and others. I have taken a little piece from each of you and it's all been a blast!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

open up and say... ahh!

Had to throw in some Poison here that popped in my mind for a title!

I'm sitting by a window at a little wooden table with fresh flowers on it in a bustling cafe' in a small Alaska town. I'm cozied up wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and scarf and rain is drizzling outside. The smell of espresso being ground (yum) and cinnamon fill the air (yum.) From my seat I can see what seems to be a thousand fishing boats.

As I was just bopping around different pages on my laptop trying to get some writing done, emails caught up etc., I found myself stopping to take a big breath, and just sitting back in the chair for a minute to say ahh....

I suppose that even in my solo hikes, miles of driving and plenty of relaxed, writing coffee shop time prior to this, I've still been wound up a whole lot more than I realized. I had this goal to make it here, these thoughts of what It'd be like. It was hugely important to me to be able to properly honor two people that mean so much to me on this certain day, and now that day has passed. I guess this is bit of a calm after the storm kind of feeling. Like some kind of satisfying relief or something. That smile and euphoric feeling that we get on Thanksgiving day on the couch after the feast when our face has a smile and we're dozing off into a nap...

This trip could have not been more perfect. I'm glad I didn't and haven't actually planned a single thing besides taking some special time on 8/18. If I had specifically planned this all out, I know I wouldn't be sitting here anywhere near as happy as I am. The harsh reality now is that my time in Alaska has only a short bit left, I have no place to live after my travels and no job because I chose to give that all up to be here. Bank accounts are scraping bottom, and the majority of things I own are in my car. My reality is though, that the previously stated doesn't stress me out. Since I decided to take the first step on this journey and let control go more than I ever have before, things have just worked out."When you take a step toward life, the universe will support you" is what someone wrote to me in an email a few months ago. This has proven to be so very true. I'm not completely sure what's next for me as far as what city I will live in or how exactly I will make a living. I have some irons in the fire, and I keep the door open for other opportunities that may come. It's tremendously exciting for me to think about the next phase of life. There have been plenty of times I haven't woken up excited for months. (Yuck. Pure torture.) I know as long as I keep waking up somewhat excited about my day and try my best, I'll always be exactly where I need to be. This trip has offered me a comfort and confidence to thoroughly believe that.

Here's to that moment after you reach that seemingly much too far off goal, that you sit back, open up and say ahh! Then; What's next world? Bring it- I'm ready for more!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

a promise

Right after recording this, I got in my car to watch it and it started to drizzle a little. (I had just barely commented on how gorgeous the weather was and 2 minutes later it's raining?!) At the end of the video, I looked to my left at beams of sunlight through the clouds and no exaggeration the most brilliant and full rainbow I have ever seen. As in I jumped back out of the car at warp speed to get a photo. This one doesn't do it near justice, it was so much better in person. Maybe I should've kept the moment all to myself, but I really felt like sharing it. Here's my best attempt:

Oh the rainbow: 8/18/10

All this sounds perfectly hokey right? Drive all the way to Alaska from the east coast, make a video on the anniversary of the death of my friends that my blog is dedicated to, and as soon as I'm done recording, out of the sky appears a big fat gorgeous rainbow like a sign from the heavens?

So it might sound odd that I'm laughing right now, but I am. I know exactly what that rainbow was. See, Maria and Brandy had huge hearts, but both had these rough and tumble outer shells. There was never much of any sniffling or being all gushy and girly for them. Of the three of us, that was my job. I know that they saw me making this video today all teary-eyed and nostalgic, so they sent that rainbow to jokingly punch me in the arm like they did years ago when I'd be gushy and girly. That sign today was their way of saying to me; "Sheesh Peacock!, you're such a freakin' softie! We are just fine! Stop cryin' over us ya fool and go have some fun for pete's sakes!"

That's exactly what that rainbow was.

As you wish ladies.

So, I left their lollipops for them, and drove down the road with a big fat smile on my face happily eating mine:

Blue lollipops on 8/18/10

Thanks you two. How could I have expected anything less? :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

meet stan

Stan on ferry from Skagway, AK

Stan works on one of the many ferries that take people all over Alaska. We chatted on my first ferry ride when I came through his line for coffee. He grabbed my arm as I was walking away and said "You are my angel for the day, you come back and get yourself all the coffee you want sweetie" ...and ended that line with a wink.

Oh Stan.

What an adorable man. He told me that he was a native Alaskan. He had moved to the Seattle area for a couple years a while back and had a commercial fishing business, but this was his home.

The employees on these ferries I've talked to have worked on them for years. As in, 15, 20 kind of years. They mostly work a week on, then a week off. Away from family. They say they're used to it. All staff I've encountered during my rides have been extremely friendly and welcoming. It makes the breathtaking scenery even better if that's possible! People in Alaska and Canada have been so nice that nice isn't even a good enough word for it.

Maybe it's all this fresh air...

merci, merci, merci

A million thank you's are not enough to express how happy I am for all the love and support that's coming in to me and Blue Lollipop Road since being on this trip. I will continue to try and thank anyway and hope that it's means enough to you all out there and that you'll continue to follow me on my journey and share yours with me too.

Thank you again to my drink sponsors Blanchard's Coffee and Fruit 66. You guys have been fueling me everywhere I've been. Just one of the spots I have snapped a photo of my constant supply:

Yukon morning with sponsors 8/8/10

*To my hard working, fun, creative intern Sarah who has continually helped with posting my photos on the gallery page above, managing my map and being the brain of 1,000 good ideas; You ROCK. (Check out her ceramics and other artwork. Fabulous.)

*Thanks to Joe; I got showers in Juneau and they even made me s'mores for my birthday. Yeah!
*DP, Lindsay and Nelsey- thanks. You have kept me trucking on the ferry and in my car. This means the Blue Lollipop Road continues. That's the best gift ever to me. Thank you for being such wonderful friends.

*Cool Cleveland! Thanks for posting my post on your site for your awesome city. Isn't is grand there are so many entertaining spots around America we can all explore?

XOXOXO and a thousand smiles!

hard working fishin' boats

...in for the night against the fiery summer sky


Monday, August 16, 2010

trade-offs and choices

I woke up on the floor of a ferry this morning at 5:15am feeling like a bag of smashed a**holes.

Hot eh?

I know, and I feel so classy for using that term too, but it's the first thing I thought this morning after opening my eyes. The boys back home used to say that after a crazy night out drinking. I'm not hungover, I'm just sick. I started sniffling and coughing and sneezing a couple days ago. As usual, I tried not to take anything and will the sickness away, but it didn't work.

Ferries are a must to get you around AK. They're pricey, but pretty much like a small cruise ship. They show movies, have comfy observation decks, free nature talks, full cafe's with all kinds of eats, cocktail lounges, free showers and even a heated outside top deck. The biggest difference from a regular cruise liner is that you don't get a room. I'm certainly not going to pay extra for a bed to sleep on when there's a free warm floor, even if it is hard, uncomfortable, and probably not the cleanest thing in the world. It's a pretty easy choice when you think about it; Pay an extra bill, more gas $, or a few bucks for something chocolate when I can fully taste again and sleeping on the floor in a public boat, or renting a room? I'm in non-heel wearing, shower whenever and Frugal Franny mode right now so it's all good. I've even sworn off regular shaving until I get back to "the lower 48." (Wow, I'm sounding hotter by the minute!) I did have to laugh this morning though when I woke up feeling like I was 92, not 32. Good thing is, you know when you can wake up on the floor of a public ship with no pillow or sleeping bag, after maybe being able to actually sleep for 3 hours, hacking your brains out and reaching for the nearest tissue because if you so much as move, your nose will run all over the place- but still smile, shake it off and look forward to starting your day at 6am, you are in the right place for the time being. Saying that leads me nicely into this news link I got from a reader this morning.

Last night I met several less is more and do what you love fellow travelers. In line for the ferry I met a gentleman named Ron originally from Germany, now lives in Montana. Engineer by trade and daughters my age. He came to AK to spend time with one of his daughters and has traveled around the world. Later in the night I met a couple originally from Chile, in their 60's, now RV full time, have been for 3.5 years and lived for years in L.A. (kids my age again and family there.) Lastly a worker on the ship in his 50's from Maine, x-corporate guy with yet again, kids my age and now loving life early retired and bartending. What was the theme of every conversation I had with them? Do it. Do the things that make you happy. The "If I could go back in time" came up so many times I lost count. We didn't have conversations of regret, as they were all positive people, just more of a don't let it take you your whole life to start doing what you love, your health and soul will suffer. We talked for hours. (Not that I needed any more encouragement to keep traveling.)

I relish the time I get to spend with anyone who has lived longer on this earth than me. Especially with people who've lived significantly longer. In any conversation I've ever had, including last nights, I can't remember one of them being; Boy I wish I stayed at that job I hated, I wish I never tried X kind of food, or man it's a bummer I never ended up marrying that jerk. Nope. They are always just the opposite. Kerry, the Chilean gent (Came to the U.S and worked his a** off for years and years as a painter) was talking about how you can lose everything/"They" can take everything; Your house, car, boat, furniture- all of it, but no one can take your experiences and what's in your heart and head. So right on Kerry.

I like expensive jeans, nice hotels and I usually can't stand going more than 5 weeks without a haircut. I'm a total type A perfectionist and you'd never find me caught dead driving my car in the filthy condition that it currently is in on a regular day. For right now though, I choose dirty clothes, car, bad hair and floor sleeping as a trade off to get to do what I'm doing and it's really not hard at all. It's so worth it to me. Even though my head is a bit groggy today and I'm feeling far from 100%, I'm happy. From where I was crying hysterically to my sister on the phone just a few short months ago trying to figure out how to get out of a life I had created that I didn't want. I'll take 1,000 sleepless, snotty floor nights that aren't as torturous as they sound. My hair probably doesn't actually look nearly as awful as I'm imagining it does either.

Lets listen to our elders my peers! Why are so many of us waiting so long to start the ball rolling on doing what we love?

Cheers to my new friends from last night. Thanks for the great conversation and perspective. I hope to run into you again somewhere down the road.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Today is my birthday and I'm sitting in my car with all my windows rolled down overlooking some wetlands and snow capped mountains. The sun is shining bright and the temperature is in the low 80's. I couldn't have ordered a better day out of a catalog to ring in #32. I remember months ago thinking to myself; It'd be so cool to be in Alaska on my birthday this year, then immediately thinking-yeah fat chance of that happening- and here I sit now. I went for a run up to a glacier this morning and now I'm stuffed from a delicious breakfast. I'm going to spend the rest of the day relaxing and doing a whole lot of nothing, just being outside and breathing in the air and peace of where I am at today.

I did want to share a photo of the big catch from yesterday. The guys I was with caught a 50 pound halibut!

50 lb halibut!

This was the scenery during that catch, along with bunches of whale and sea lion sightings. A pretty fantastic way to spend 7 hours on a Saturday, with some of the nicest and most fun locals I could hope to hang with:

Saturday 8/14/10 fishing

I have taken over 1,000 photos so far and officially been gone over a month now. I'll have stories until the cows come home so keep checking back. I'm looking forward to sharing more! For now I'm off to treat myself to the gift of being unplugged for the afternoon...

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I'm heading out on a monumentally sunny 80 degree day (apparently consecutively sunny days are rare here) with some locals to go whale watching and halibut fishing.

I sure wasn't doing this last weekend!

I'll be excited to share news of the big catch later!

Friday, August 13, 2010

just pinch me, pinch me, pinch me

After parking the BLR mobile on the side of the road for the sight in my previous post to eat my lunch, I went for a big ol' hike yesterday. As usual, not only did I not read up on where I was going, but I didn't know whether it was an actual hike, or one of those walks that tourists just like to call a "hike" to say they went hiking. I wasn't sure the conditions or length. I just parked my car in town and walked to the trailhead with a backpack containing a sweatshirt, bottle of water, notebook, I.D, bank card, cell phone, camera, and up I went.

I've hiked a lot of places and I'm an active girl, so I thought It'd be a breeze. It wasn't exactly hard, just a lot more steep and muddy than I had anticipated. As I sweat and sweat because the punishment once again of not planning is dealing with things like being overdressed and packing too much, I laugh and ask myself why I continue to be such a stubborn pain in the a**. Like, why I don't read up on these things? What is my deal with that? I have come up with nothing to date other than because doing all that research and finding out everything about something before you do it simply takes all the fun and adventure out of it and that's a snooze. I enjoy sometimes making things difficult for myself too, that way I always feel alive.

The hike was gorgeous and a good replacement for my run for the day. (Have I mentioned yet that when I have run around the neighborhood I am staying on these misty mornings I feel like I am running through an enchanted forest? It's as if the BFG, Hansel and Gretel and the Cheshire Cat are going to pop out and say "Hey Di! How are ya? Isn't it gorgeous here in our home?!")

A shot of the green on the way up:

Mt Robert's Trail

At one point I literally had to hug a tree to prevent myself from falling in 2 feet of mud. Here's a photo of me laughing thinking about all of you out there who've joked before that I'm a "VT Tree-huggin' Hippe." (I am even sporting my Vermont hat!):

Tree hugging

View from about 3/4 of the way up:


Sign and my sneaker almost to the top. (It's a good thing I follow directions so well.):

Mt. Robert's Trail Juneau

At the top:


Besides the view, another treat at the top:

Top of Mt. Roberts

The choice yesterday was pay $30 for a round-trip ticket, or hike up and pay $5 for the ride down, or spend $5 and use your receipt from your purchase for the ride down. No brainer. I'm not going to hand someone a 5 dollar bill if I can have a cold delicious beer and hand them a receipt just the same! I didn't know what to expect at the top of this mountain, but it ended up being better that I thought it'd be like so many other things on this trip. I got this view, a cold pint of Alaska Brewing Co. Summer Ale and some french fries gifted; "Have some!" from two cruise ship tourist gents probably in their 70's sitting next to me at the bar having a cold brew too. I just sat back, took a few minutes, sipped my beer and thought ahhh....life is so, so good.

How incredible is this trip and how gorgeous is Alaska?


Thinking of words.

Still thinking...

...and thinking...

Hmmm...my mind just floats.

I have thought a lot about this. I've tried coming up with the right words or terms to fit this experience but I can't.

I can say this is hands down the best thing I have ever done in my life for myself. In seeing amazing sights and having experiences like I have, it'd normally be such a total bummer for me not be able to share them with someone that I love present with me. This time though, I am so happy to be alone and with just myself. For anyone else out there who has reached to grab their own personal star and actually been able to put a hand on it too, you know what I mean. If there's one thing I know for sure now, it's that I won't ever again doubt my abilities moving forward for anything I want to do or be in my life. That kind of confidence is the best gift any of us could ever find for ourselves.

As for how gorgeous Alaska is?

If you took every National Park you have ever been to, add every photo you've seen that looks fake but is real in National Geographic magazine, add every green space that's totally natural you've ever been in, every bit of pure blue water you've ever swam in, some snow-capped mountains, throw in a glacier or two, and unscathed land for hundreds and hundreds of miles, multiply it by 100- that's Alaska. Add a sunny day (it's overcast and misty here a lot) and blow that previous formula off the charts. My pictures do it no justice either, I barely know how to use my camera the right way.

Yep. For real.

As you all know Alaska is my 50th and final state to make it to. To say I saved the best for last wouldn't be fair to the other states. After all, each place has it's own perfection. However, the fact of the matter is, the behemoth beauty of Alaska leaves any close competition far, far in the distance.

more thanks, followers, friends and sights

Happy happenings from my day:

1.) Pulling over at one a place that looks like this on the side of the road to eat my sandwich for lunch. I'm wondering how many times I can say is this real? Am I really here looking at this?- before I sound like the most annoying person ever or a crazy broken record:

Lunchtime in Juneau

2.) Noticing I've officially made the tip over 100 followers! Wahoo! All followers welcome...bring it!

3.) Found out a couple guys from high school Jon and Aaron are up here hiking and traveling around too. We're going to traipse around together. Yes! You've gotta love random connections after years and modern technology.

4.) Generous people. THANK YOU to:
*Ratfink; Out of nowhere you come. Fabulous
*Elizabeth and Todd, Lindsey, Drew, Julie; Gas and belly are full. Ahhh...

Here's to Thursdays like this one!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

a little birdie told me...

...the story of Blue Lollipo Road is out in Skirt! Magazine- YAY!

Before I left Virginia I spent an afternoon with Constance and Agata (Editor and Photographer) telling them about my Alaska or bust trip and BLR. We had a great lunch and fun photo shoot in the sweltering heat. I don't have a web link to share about the story yet, but if you're in the Richmond, VA area- pick up a paper copy of Skirt! in one of those bright lime green boxes and check it out. I will share the link when I have it soon. I can't wait to see it myself!

Thank you so much to Skirt!, Constance and Agata. I am honored to be one of the ladies featured in such a fabulous publication!

meet marcie

In a long overdue post about one crazy, crazy, fun girl:


My friends and I met Marcie at a beach volleyball bar near the campus of UW when I was in Madison a couple weeks ago. The guys I was with wanted to go play a few games and I was along for the ride and some fun. We grabbed a drink and while the guys were waiting for a court, Marcie came traipsing right up to us and asked "Do you guys have a lighter?" Nope sorry, we answered. She then went on to tell us her signature joke, which got us all laughing and pretty much sealed the deal that we were going to have a blast talking to her which we did:

"If we were both squirrels, would you bust your nut in my hole?"

Oh Marcie, Marcie, Marcie...

Now, my friends and I were stone sober, but laughed our butts off. She was a few sheets out and an absolute riot. Drunk or sober, Marcie is the kind of girl you want at your party and one of the reasons I like to meet road people. We took a photo of our crew and Marcie jumped in the background:

Bobby, Jeff, Marcie, Di, Bill in Madison

Did I mention she later told us she didn't even need a lighter, that she had one, just wanted an excuse to walk up and talk to us for the hell of it? Hilarious- I love it.

The boys went on to play volleyball for a couple hours while I talked to Marcie and her friends like we knew each other forever. Her crew was a blast. They were all about my road trip and even started giving me names and numbers/info. of folks in Alaska that I could try to meet up with. I told Marcie I'd post her as one of my road people, I mean- how could I not after her stellar joke? Of course I started posting about other food and travel stuff and hadn't put her up yet, so sure enough she wrote a comment here and asked where she was. Yeah! persistence, I like it! I never thought in a million years she'd remember the name of my blog or log on to look so what a great surprise to hear from her. (Marcie, I cannot find you on Facebook still? I guess you have to friend" me!)

Thanks for being patient while I got you up as one of the road characters Marcie, you are one fun chica. Don't ever change being that life of the party. The world need more wide open and fun people like you. Cheers to squirrels and nuts!

lions and tigers and sheep- watch out!

I was showing a few guys I met last night who were also from "the lower 48" (as everyone calls them up here) a few of my photos from the crazy Alaskan Highway. We laughed about this one:

Blue Lollipop Road Alaska or bust 2010

...and joked about how thorough the highway folks must be to put the play by play picture of what might happen if you actually do hit a sheep. I love road signs like this.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

full belly, heart and day

Last night was night two of feasting with the wonderfully welcoming Tongan family. As I mentioned in yesterday's post this was a going away celebration for non-family member Emily who's moving from Alaska to the east coast for work.

This was one of those meals that it is an absolute tragedy that I don't have a taste at all for anything from the sea. I mean tragic. All you seafood/fish loving foodies out there would've given an arm for the fresh crab that was there. As usual, I tried a bite but shamefully, a no-go. Just to give you an idea of how fresh and how much crab was there to feast on, here is the bin- yes giant Rubbermaid bin, of the clawers the men had caught yesterday morning themselves:

Fresh Alaskan crab feast

They could only fit half the enormous amount in the first boil. My action shot is a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to get one of him stuffing them in the pot:

Boiling the crab

Picture this scene; I am once again sitting on the couch at a home of perfect strangers. Our meeting was only as significant as me walking in the door to their home the night before. They have no idea who I am, who I came with, or what I'm doing there and they don't even ask or care anyway because I am welcome. They certainly don't let me help even though I ask, so I hang out and play with my new little cutie pie friends Kapua and Lavi. For the second night in a row this huge family is slicing and dicing, boiling crab, playing outside, running in and out the doors. It's the best kind of chaos. Kapua asks me for some gum as if we have already established that I am the visitor who always brings the gum for the kids. The same scene happened the first night too. Ater we ask Mom if it's Ok, I give her some. Just as she did the night before, she starts chomping away and tells me 2 minutes later that the minty gum is "too spicy." I have to laugh. These cuties belong in a catalog:

Kapua, Di and Lavi

A short bit later I am dished and served this plate piled high.(I still have not been allowed to move a finger. It is their honor and custom to serve me):

Tongan feast

Have I mentioned I am not so sure I am a vegetarian anymore? I have tried so hard but 1.) After NYC and The Spotted Pig and other de-lish eats 2.) The burger I had at Gibson's Steakhouse in Chicago (I am still drooling over that one.) and 3.) Being a guest at the homes of wonderful people like last night, I can't very well say; "No thanks, I don't eat meat." Or I could, I just don't really want to, so I ate away. I learned the spinach is an authentic and favorite Tongan side; It is always made with coconut milk. One of "The Uncles" told me the coconut milk always made things sweeter and more delicious so they cook with it a lot. It was delicious and I gobbled the whole plate. Here's a shot of some remnants of fruit, taro and crab. (If I could explain how much fresh boiled crab there was for the taking to you crab lovers out there, you would fall out of your chair.):

Remnants of dinner

After eating and eating and eating some more, it was show time to honor Emily. Several family members got up to sing, dance, make speeches to show that they love and will miss her. (This is where my head is happily spinning and I'm taking in every ounce of this culture and generosity thinking; WHAT?! Am I here right now watching this? This is so, so fantastic.) The young boys got up to give a performance. Emily is at the end of this video wearing authentic Tongan gear made and gifted by grandma. (My videography skills leave a lot to be desired so pardon the sideways action. I at least made an attempt to get a shot of the guest of honor):

There was another performance by one of the drop-dead gorgeous teen girls who was there (hula.) She seemed so embarrassed about anyone taking photos, etc. I didn't feel comfortable taking any. The performance was beautiful. These women all have the longest most amazing hair and are absolutely gorgeous. They have no idea they are either which blows my mind. I felt like total white bread sitting next to them! After all the performances dessert was served:

Tongan dessert

This is "Tongan fruit cocktail." It's made of mango, cottage cheese and coconut jello (I didn't even know that existed.) It wasn't my favorite taste by any means, but you eat it when you're served it! Always good to try new things.

As I thanked and was leaving with my house host at around 11:30pm more; "Are you sure you're full?! Did you get enough?! questions came. Oh indeed I was stuffed and had enough and fell asleep with an over full belly and smile again.

Phew! All of this is so fun, enlightening, humbling, eye-opening, different, new, fantastic and overwhelming at the same time. I have collectively spent 12 hours in the same coffee shop the past 2 days in an attempt to bring all the stories here. I'm not even touching the surface of what I'm seeing, doing or thinking and I sill need to actually get out and tour AK. I could write, upload videos/photos and research the things I am seeing 25 hours a day in prep to share with you all if there were that many hours available. I'm still exhausted but I can't seem to sleep, my head still hurts with this ongoing painful yet good sensory overload headache and I still have yet to catch my breath during all this. I have never worked so hard or cared so much about something in my life as I do BLR, this trip and being able to share my experiences here. It's so worth every piece and part. I could sit here and type forever, but I'm going to force myself to unplug and get out into the beauty this afternoon...

where i had my coffee last sunday morning

Sunday morning coffee in Yukon Territory

I'm trying to think of something witty or fun to say here but I'm sure you can just imagine how I was feeling standing there in complete silence looking at this sight with no humans for miles. Attempting to come up with words would just be silly so I'll leave it at; Ahhh...

guys like these inspire gals like me

I think one of the coolest and smartest organizations/movements out there is Roadtrip Nation. I've written about them multiple times and I follow them regularly. Just saw this quote today from a guy Doug Baum the participants have interviewed. It cracked me up and I wanted to share:

"I'm raising camels in Texas- do you think I care what people think?"

Now that's owning what you do! Gotta love it.

Here's another recent one I saw and thought deserved equal props. Interview with Roger Thomas:

"I came to the conclusion very early that, whatever it is that I do, it should be something I would do for free."

Rock it out Doug and Roger, rock it out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

alaska makes 50

After almost 32 years of life, 8 years of waiting (I hit 49 states 8 years ago), lots of daydreaming, 4,685 miles of driving, a bunch of nights of car sleeping in places like Ft. St. John, BC Canada and Teslin, Yukon Territory (map those places-whoa) and some serious heart, I have made it over the border of my 50th state.

OH HELL YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because I am ready to jump out of my skin with excitement, I'll have to circle back around to more midwest and Canada later. (Lots to share on those spots too!) Onto to AK arrival for now...

I left Madison, WI at lunch time on Wednesday 8/4 and was at the "Welcome to Alaska" sign by Sunday morning 8/8. 2,906 miles I clocked alone in about 3 days and through some of the most desolate, unscathed land you could imagine. If you asked me to do that again right now today I'd look at you and ask you if you were freakin' nuts. I have to laugh. That's exactly what some locals and other tourists I have met so far have said to me when I've told them how I got here. Did I mention I didn't plan this drive at all? I don't have a GPS, had no idea what it entailed and I didn't even really look at a paper map until I stopped at a AAA office in Madison. The lady at the counter whipped out some maps, drew a line in green highlighter on the road they "recommended if you are driving to Alaska." I said thanks and just followed the green highlighted line without questioning it. Thanks lady at AAA. You contributed to me seeing some of the most indescribable sights I will ever see in my lifetime with your green line.

This is the first time I am getting enough internet signal to blog in 4 days and after all those miles. To say that since my last full post my mind and heart have gone to a different place than they've ever been before and I have seen things I that've blown me away is an understatement. Watch out world I am now video happy! Here's my first one ever after a good "Holy bleep!" I almost just ran into a bunch of buffalo. Not my hottest look ever, but I am convinced that Ben the lumberjack will love me anyway:

The day after the buffalo, I get to the border. It was FREEZING. Not that I thought it was going to be the tropics here, but in case you were wondering Alaska is NOT warm in the summer. Here I am at the border!:

I continue through U.S customs and similar to the officer entering Canada, this one looked at me alone in my Honda Civic like I was off my rocker. I opened my door to get my passport out of my trunk and didn't think about the fact that you are not supposed to do that so he practically pounced on me. OOPS!

At border patrol station on Canada/Alaska border

I then have a dance party in my car singing out loud; "I'm in Alaaaska, I'm in Alaaaska!" I'm so exhausted I feel high at that point. I pull over in the tiny gold rush town of Skagway and take a moment. (Keep in mind I have done ZERO research about this town before coming.) I drove around for a few minutes and follow signs to the ferry. This is where I go from high as a kite with excitement to (pardon the expression) bitch-slapped in 5 minutes. Not only did I walk in thinking I could buy a ferry ticket and there would be departure times all day which was wrong, but I had missed the one ferry for the day and I also found out the $150 ticket I thought I needed was actually $600. I wanted to cry and puke in the same instant but was too tired to do either. As I put my head on the counter in shock I think the 2 guys working thought I was about to have a nervous breakdown. I just started laughing. That delirious, are you effin kidding me, I haven't slept in days, I'm going to have to sleep in my car again, that $600 will wipe out my bank account, what the hell have I done and what the hell am I going to do and oh this is just perfect laugh like I absolutely belonged in an insane asylum.

I manage to stumble back to my car. That's when I decided to do make yet another video to confess at how much of a doofus I am for not planning anything before just showing up to a place across the country like a puppy dog ready to play:

I thought after that point it'd be a good idea to go for a run. (I mean really? Oh the things we do when we are delirious.) So I did. The guys at the ferry sales counter had told me there was a shower at the marina for the public. After my drizzly cold run I was all about a skeevy marina shower. At .25 for a minute and a half, that was the best $2 and 12 minutes in a shower I have ever spent. Here was the fancy spot. Let me tell you it felt like the Ritz Carlton after driving almost 3k miles and being filthy for 4 days:

Shower at Skagway Marina

Shower at Skagway marina

An early afternoon shower and nap in my car after a run was just what the doctor ordered. Blanket covered and clean, I was out. Set the alarm for when the ferry sales office opened and went in to gulp- buy the ticket. Making my best attempt to not freak and chanting my new favorite "trust the process" (this one will go down in history Astro.) I drive the whopping few blocks of Skagway looking for a burger and beer joint. This was the only thing I had really envisioned/planned on for the first day getting here; Pony up to a bar, grab a local beer, chow on some good grub and blog away hoping a random local would be up for a chat and to be my first road character. My first and envisioned beer and grub time turned out so much better than I hoped:

Judy and Allen meeting

Meet Judy and Allen. Before I could even fully get out of my car to check out the Bonanza Bar and Grill and a few other spots, I hear behind me; "Blue Lollipop Road?! Well that sounds fun!" And the rest is history...

I chatted with brother and sister Allen and Judy for about 30 minutes there on the street. They were super friendly and funny. Vacationers making their way wandering town like me. I told them about BLR and that I was going to check out a couple places to eat and try to get some work done and we went on our separate ways. I walked into Bonanza and it didn't strike my mood so I walked a couple blocks and into the Red Onion Saloon:

Red Onion Saloon 8.8/10

Wouldn't you know it, it was packed and there were Judy and Allen, they already had a chair pulled up for me and waving for me to join. Locals, Alaskan brewed beer and even free snacks. That night was a silent auction for a local daycare. The cruise ships had left port so the three of us got a good taste of what a summer Sunday night in Skagway town of 500 was like. Fantastic. We toasted to that:

Alaska summer ale- YUM!

The summer ale and food was delicious and company was even better. Judy is a nurse who lives in the Seattle area and Allen in construction in Billings, Montana where they both grew up. We spent hours and hours talking and laughing. They were sweet and generous and bought 2 rounds of beer before they'd let me pay for one and later Judy bought us all dinner. Turned out they were on the same ferry as I was so we planned to meet up in the morning. We spent the entire 8 hours on the ferry together chatting and laughing more. Judy has a daughter my age and is about to be a Grandma for the first time. Allen got in a motorcycle wreck about 20 years ago and broke is neck and back and never even had a surgery and is walking around totally healthy to this day. (He and I talked a lot about life and appreciating time and how fortunate we are to come out of rough stuff smiling on the other side. I think our meeting was meant to be:) It was like we knew each other for a lifetime. They were the most honest to goodness people I could have met and spent time with.

Judy wanted to get a photo of me in front of the map so she could take my story back to her office and I wanted them to jump in with me too so I could post it here:

Allen, Judy and I on ferry from Skagway

Of course I wanted a photo of all three of us outside too. (Yes! That is a GLACIER behind us!!!)

Allen Judy and I on ferry from Skagway

We gave our hugs and said our good bye's after getting into port, but not before Judy made sure to remind me to call her when I get to Washington so we can meet up. She even offered a place to stay. I think we will all be friends and stay in touch for many years to come. Thank you for a wonderful time Judy and Allen! I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip here!

There's still more to the start of my Alaska stay; I head straight to the house I'm staying at my the port. Cousins of a friend of mine. Total strangers and just come on in and stay as long/as many days as you'd like. (It's amazing how willing strangers are to host a weary traveler.) 10 minutes into my arrival they are asking me if I'm hungry and what can they get for me. Just when I start thinking about a way to not be a rude house guest but ask if I can have a shower and go to bed at some atrociously early hour like 7pm to catch up on a weeks sleep, they say; "Oh you have to join for a Tongan experience tonight. A feast at Vinny's sisters house!" (One of the gents I'm staying with is Tongan, the first person to graduate college in his family and they have been celebrating his awesome accomplishment for the past few days.) Thinking I'll sleep when I'm dead because how in the world could I say no to that? An hour later I'm at the home of a huge family grandma and grandpa too, meeting his siblings, and a crew of the 34 total grandkids and being welcomed with open arms. (What?! is this happening? So cool I'm thinking.) I meet and chat for a long time with the only other non-family member Emily who seems she is part of the family after years of friendship. She is about my age and of all places about to move from here to Washington DC for a job. I joke with her that we could've coordinated our schedules had we know each other and traveled back and forth together. The littlest of grandkids cozy up to Emily and I while we chat on the couch and we snap some photos. (I hope to post them but haven't asked parent permission yet, so stay tuned.) A couple hours and all the "Aunties" working feverishly in the kitchen later, the feast and I am talking feast is done. I am told; Go go! Guests are always first! I eat and eat as grandma keeps telling me to get more. this is the culture, we eat! she says.

As I sat there will a full belly on the couch after dinner is done, watching some of the family members play cards while a crew of the males practice their Polynesian dance outside for their dinner and cultural event they are going to be putting on for the cruise ship guests, I just think to myself somebody pinch me. Now this is what life is all about, there is no mistake in where I am or what I am doing, and this is exactly why traveling is so incredible. What a perfect welcome to Alaska and way to celebrate my accomplished goal. Imagine this. I'm invited over again tonight for another feast This time celebrating Emily's new job and departure from the west. I must wrap up here now so I can stretch my belly in prep for plates of food.

I am still weary, behind on work and blogging, no idea where life goes after Alaska, but I will never replace this summer, these memories or regret the occasional discomfort during this process. I have never been so un-worried in my life. My heart is on top of the world. I've come to Alaska to honor my friends and I've found myself. If that's not some strong mojo I don't know what is.