The last blog update was back in March- the chaos from being on the road was finally beginning to settle down. No time to relax though, a baby was on its way! May eventually came, and so did Kira.
Thinking back of our days on the road, we realized we had a great time in every city we visited; but a 2-3 hour event was far from enough. People wanted MORE! More discussions, more in depth explanations, to see experiments in action, listen and interact with the speakers themselves, and to just have some real conversations. The interest in these collective events gave us the inspiration and idea for a conference- a weekend long injection of new information, along with an opportunity to just hang out with speakers and others.
We just wrapped up our first one last month, Observing The Frontier Pittsburgh. What an event!
It was amazing to have so many awesome people together. Nothing could prepare us for the ineffable joy seeing so many familiar faces we had encountered on the road not only present in the city with us, but connecting with each other. We've got an amazing community, and people from all corners of the country (and outside- Canada, Costa Rica) made the trip out- on the same weekend as a Steeler home game was on too. Thank you to our wonderful speakers, guests, and attendees.
The reception to Observing The Frontier was great- some feedback we recieved:
Presenters and presentations in Pittsburgh were awesome. That energy is rippling towards all 0bservers in the alert community, and more. - T. Nehrbauer
Fantastic Conference. Learned sooo much. Thank you for putting this together. All the speakers were fantastic. This was a great event for learning and meeting with like-minded people. - T. Tidwell
Meeting the FOTW guys was a blast! The speakers were awesome! I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and approachable the speakers were. Talking with other 0bservers was the most fun of all. I had planned to attend only the Pittsburgh conference, but I had such a great time I am going to Phoenix. - D. Hindle
Getting a chance to interact with the presenters was a highlight…great sense of community. Feelings of inspiration. - J. Duggan
The presenters gave meaningful presentations on observations and data on the magnetic-electric universe. It was eye-opening and more people should know about this data, regardless of opinion. - K. Gamleah
OBSERVING THE FRONTIER PHOENIX - January 30-31
The second round of OTF will be taking place at The Black Canyon Conference Center in Phoenix, Arizona- tickets are currently available. We are so excited to be back out west again! We also plan on having The Mobile Observatory present as well if all goes accordingly!
Won't you join us?
February, where did you go?
So much has transpired in the last month- we've wrapped up our last stops out in California, put The Mobile Observatory into storage, traveled back across the country and are still settling in. We STILL can't believe we are having a baby in a few months - what a crazy chaotic journey!
For Valentine's Day, we had an observer share something awesome with us - his girlfriend gifted him a jar with little notes of things she loved about him. Here's one of those notes that we had to share:
Isn't love a wonderful thing?
You know what isn't wonderful? Pregnancy induced brain fog. It IS a real thing, so let's recap the past month before April gets here!
Los Angeles, CA - Ben has one sentence to convey his feelings about this city: "You couldn't pay me to live here!" I have to agree with him. While the area is a beautiful place to visit and explore, we couldn't see ourselves out here- overpopulated, too many cars resulting in constant never-ending traffic, highest gas prices in the nation - we exchanged high fives looking back to the day we decided to keep the RV out of the city and zip around in a car instead. Little victories like these help keep our blood pressure down.
We spent several days in the city enjoying time with family as well as preparing for the Conscious Life Expo. We had a chance to connect with one of our sponsors, Lana, who took us to lunch on the rooftop of a hotel overlooking the city - what an amazing treat! Thank you Lana! The Expo was quite the experience to be had- we weren't sure what to expect as it was our first time attending. From special workshops, panels, to vendors showcasing products ranging from oils, jewelry, books, services, a permaculture section, etc…plenty to see and do. It was amazing to see the sheer number of people who came out to attend - there were lines wrapping around hallways for highly anticipated panels and speakers, and at times it was hard to get from one end of the hallway to the other! We had fun, and met some very cool folks while we were there.
STORING THE MOBILE OBSERVATORY
I thought it was hard downsizing from a small home to a 36ft RV. One of my friends had taken one look around and shook her head. "Oh no, I couldn't do it," she had said. "Where would all my shoes go?!"
Now, it was time to downsize from the 36ft RV to a 15ft SUV. We had to be efficient about how we packed; it was the ultimate game of Tetris cramming everything in. Then it was off to the daunting task of getting The Mobile Observatory ready for storage- sanitizing water lines, cleaning out all the cabinets and fridge, getting fuel stabilizer in, propane off, the list goes on and on. It is A LOT of work to maintain an RV- so many things can go wrong and turn into complete disasters, so the process took much longer than we thought. Final task- put the cover on. According to the instructions, a professional would have it on in 15 minutes. It took Ben about 25 - quite the accomplishment! Thank you to our sponsor Keith for graciously keeping an eye on her as she is stored for the next few months!
THE JOURNEY BACK
We went over several potential routes (~2300 miles) back to Ohio, originally intending to stay south (holding on to the warm weather as long as we could) but eventually realized that the shortest route home would be ideal despite dealing with drastic drops in temperatures everyday.
"If we push ourselves we can make it back in 4 days," I had said. "MUHAHAHA," Mother Nature had replied, and she doubled my estimation.
Our route spanning 8 days: Los Angeles, CA - Flagstaff, AZ - Santa Rosa, NM - Oklahoma City, OKC - Memphis, TN (2 nights due to snow) - Goodlettsville, TN - Louisville, TN - HOME!
Flagstaff proved to be memorable, but not in a way we wanted. We had accumulated a number of camping points on the road and had enough for a free night in a cabin- we declared another little victory. Upon arrival we were told the nearest restroom facilities were closed and we would have to use their main facilities on the opposite side of the campground (not walking distance). At this point in the pregnancy, having a restroom in the immediate vicinity is a MUST, and I found myself hopping in the car to drive back and forth multiple times before the night was over. Temperatures dipped through the night; it was cold and this dance into the car to the other end of the campground continued. Not glorious!
Delays were everywhere - we woke up early in Memphis a few days later intending to hit the road early, only to realize our car was completely covered in a sheet of ice. We didn't have an ice scraper on hand and relied on help from a hotel guest just to be able to get out of the parking lot to get our own! We can't remember averaging over 40MPH in TN or KY- some interstates were not paved, resulting in dangerous road conditions, single lanes, calling for extra caution particularly with trucks. One day, we sat on the Interstate for 6 hours near Nashville due to a truck losing control on black ice and hitting a bridge, spilling oil and diesel requiring more extensive cleanup- thankfully, no fatalities and we made it safely through. Roads were clear afterwards to Ohio!
We're still in the process of settling in- we've been welcomed back with lots of rain and snow, and to top it off our sump pump has stopped working on us as everything melts - currently in crisis management mode to prevent our basement from flooding.
Ben's stops for April ARE in the works- please continue to check the website for more details as he visits some major cities and stay tuned for more exciting happenings in the near future!
One perk of returning home: Taking advantage of every one of these we can. Another victory!
Until next time,
Our last post had us in San Diego – we had a great stop at the Academy of Performing Arts. We appreciate them graciously hosting us at the last minute (schedule conflict with previous location), and had a lovely time having discussions with the folks and sponsors that came out! We missed some from the group picture due to early departure for the Packers vs. Seahawks game, which we completely forgot about – we’ll have better timing next time. Keeping up with sports has been impossible with everything going on, and it doesn’t help that we don’t have cable. I will share that I was very excited that we found ourselves in Buckeye, AZ the weekend that the Ohio State Buckeyes (my alma mater) won the National Championship!
Considering that San Diego was our last stop with The Mobile Observatory (LAX Hilton cannot accommodate RVs), we talked about how happy we were that we made it through this crazy journey without anything catastrophic occurring. A couple of chips in the windshield, needed a new voltage regulator for the generator, and had to replace a portion of our exhaust pipes, but beyond that, she’s been in solid shape!
The excitement was premature. Throw in a wrong turn on the way back, and a guardrail that couldn’t be seen = our first mishap. The broken piece ended up being dragged half a mile as the RV made it back to the campground. It was a bit embarrassing, especially since our site was central to the campground, right next to the bathroom and laundry facilities. You live and learn, right? We seriously considered duct tape to jerry rig the pieces together. Luckily, we were able to find Al’s Mobile Repair Service- Al was able to come out to us, remove our bumper and returned it looking better than ever! Everything ended up working out as Ben used those days continuing to look at sights with Micheal Steinbacher and putting together a new video.
It is with mixed emotions that we wind down this journey. A little over a year ago, we were in a completely different place. We both had great and stable jobs, enjoyed the status of being DINKS (dual income no kids), lived in a house we loved within a fast growing community with a nice yard for the dogs, and on track of paying down student loans ahead of schedule and saving for emergency expenses and retirement.
Fast forward – our house is rented out, we’ve left our jobs and spent the last 7+ months traveling, living, eating out of a retrofitted 36ft RV, traveling to a new city every 2-3 days, successfully visiting 4 provinces and 40 states, along with being pregnant. If the pregnancy hadn't happened we surely would have continued being on the road - but we are so happy to welcome a new life into our family in a few months. It has been the best gift of the journey. I think back to the first weekend that we took the RV out for a test run – it was a nightmare. It was an extremely hot and humid day, and we arrived at a large RV park to hook everything up and make sure things were in working order. We plugged our electric plug, not being able to wait to put on the A/C… lo and behold- no power! We tested the outlet, checked fuses, switched sites, even had a staff member and a fellow camper come out to try to troubleshoot. Being completely drenched with sweat, with the poor dogs panting and tempers raging, we finally gave up and went home, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into and if we were going to make it. We've come a long way!
Now - after spending the last few days cleaning, organizing, and performing maintenance to get The Mobile Observatory ready for storage (not very fun), we have a feeling our hearts are going to ache a bit; we’ll miss being on the road and living out of this tiny home we’ve become accustomed to. We’ve developed a system for setting up the RV and have grown to absolutely love the lifestyle and freedom it provides. There are definitely learning curves but the rewards are worth it. After our Los Angeles stop at the Conscious Life Expo, we will be traveling back home to Ohio in a car, and planning to cram every nook and cranny to maximize space efficiency.
To those inquiring about the remaining stops for The Mobile Observatory Project- running the RV is definitely a two-person job, and it will be stored out west until we are able to be up and running again. In the meantime, we are working on a tentative schedule for Ben to fly back out west at the end of April to present at some select stops in Northern California, Utah and Colorado. Stay tuned; we will post that schedule in the next several weeks!
I sit here writing this blog next to a pint of delicious ice cream. I’ve decided that this baby really, reaallly likes ice cream. Its only right I indulge to keep both of us happy. It has been a LONG couple of days, one that included another close encounter with a rock on the highway. Upon further inspection, we found three more chips in the windshield. Several calls later, we were on our way to Safelite in Phoenix… of course, once we got there, it was raining and work was unable to be done. We rescheduled and hit the road, with the skies clearing up and sunny not ten minutes into the drive on the highway. Add in a few hours of driving and two relocations that evening, a 12:30 AM wake up time (still sticking to EST) … we were a bit tired, to say the least. We've arrived at the San Diego RV Resort and couldn't be happier to have a few days of not driving around and basking in beautiful weather! Here’s a quick recap of our last few stops:
Amarillo, TX- It was a dreary week ahead as we knew that the one thing we wanted to avoid (and had done so successfully) on the journey was unavoidable in the days ahead. Snow! We had a one night stay at Fort Worth RV Park – it was a cold one!! We originally had our visitors come hang out inside the RV with us, and moved into the clubhouse when it got a little too cozy. Also squeezed in some time for an interview with Cori of NewsChannel10!
Albuquerque, NM – We spent a few days here, enjoying a quiet New Years (with more snow!) and reminisced how we were just here last March for the Electric Universe Conference. It felt good to be back, and boy have things certainly changed for us! Thank you to Whole Foods Market Indian School Plaza for hosting us -we had a great time meeting and chatting with people from the ABQ area.
Truth or Consequences, NM – We’ve been looking forward to T or C for a long time – our hosts/sponsors Lee and Sylvia run Riverbend Hot Springs, right next to the Rio Grande River. The atmosphere is extremely quaint and peaceful. With mineral hot springs on the banks of the river and Turtleback Mountain in the background, its a perfect getaway for those looking for some R&R. The hot springs themselves are just amazing! Thank you especially to Danae Harding and Bria Roth for driving down from CO - wish that you were able to join us Vernon!
Tucson, AZ – We had a lovely brunch at The Egg Connection (Thanks Will!) – it’s a delightful place to eat, and the people that came were incredibly friendly, inviting, and open to sharing ideas back and forth. We only wish we had more time to spend in this city to get to know more of the folks that live there- too much awesome, not enough time- but we definitely plan on coming back for an extended stay. Maybe even stop on the way back to Ohio!
Phoenix, AZ – One of our best stops! We can never anticipate how many people will show to an event (some email beforehand to let us know, others we get the pleasure of meeting at the event), so when filling out the reservation forms for the lecture room at Burton Barr Central Library, I had scribbled in 15 or 20 in terms of expected attendance. Oops :) Like Tucson, Phoenix is a city we will definitely revisit- we eventually want to move out west, and Arizona is a frontrunner!
We’ve got TWO more stops, San Diego at the Academy of Performing Arts and Los Angeles at the Conscious Life Expo before this journey comes to a pause for the addition of a new family member – we’ve been told adding a baby into the mix changes a few things ;) The Mobile Observatory Project is not over, just paused, and we’ll pick up to finish our last few stops hopefully near the end of 2015 or sometime in 2016.
We are relaxing at San Diego RV Resort –the dogs have enjoyed their walks around the area and meeting new friends. This resort has been very good to us and we want to extend them a BIG thank-you. We also had SafeLite come to us to fix all four of those chips- Thanks April for a fantastic job! The staff let us borrow a ladder so she’d be able to reach a chip that was out of reach. We’ve been to a so many RV parks on this tour, and they have by far been the most efficient and welcoming. Palm trees everywhere DO help :) Thanks for following us on our journey!
We were in Orlando, Florida for Thanksgiving in the last blog post- this one comes from Amarillo, Texas! It has been an incredible year, one that went by too quickly. From the launch of the Kickstarter campaign back in March (with 178% of our goal funded!), anxiously waiting the completion of the RV retrofit in June, frantically packing up our home and hitting on the road… six months in, we’ve visited 40 states and 4 provinces, found ourselves expecting one on the way, and personally connected with so many sponsors, hosts, and open minds that have supported us on this journey- and not only us, but with each other. We’re so grateful to so many that have opened their hearts and homes to us, and continue to keep in touch – these friendships are priceless.
As a reminder, The Mobile Observatory Project will pause its journey after the Conscious Life Expo (Early Bird prices available now!) in Los Angeles (February 6-9 at LAX Hilton). Ben will be doing five events: a free lecture (day pass required), a General Workshop and a Post Conference Intensive Workshop, and two Discussion Panels. Afterwards, we’ll be making our way home in preparation for a new life ahead of us. Ben will continue to go to selected events, without the Mobile Observatory, and we hope to hit the road again to finish out the remaining states when time is viable, with a much more relaxed schedule. No worries, this is just the beginning! If you live out in those areas (see The Journey page) remaining, reach out to us if you’d like to connect- let’s end this with a bang!
Clearwater, FL – We spent several days in Clearwater, making time to catch up with family (they were incredibly missed). Grandma wanted to be on the internet…here you are Grandma- we love you! She is so sharp, witty, and never fails to make us laugh. We only wish we could see them more often.
Our event was held at the Clearwater RV Resort, and we had a great turnout of fantastic, friendly people - everyone was so easy going and good natured. If we ever get the chance to get together again, it is guaranteed to be a good time!
Two bald eagles were perched nearby, so a closer view with binoculars was necessary- you don't see those in Ohio! Plenty of hawks too, so the puppies were kept inside.
Tallahassee, FL – A lesson in keeping Kat as the Master Scheduler. When we pick out venues, there is a lot to be considered – proximity to an interstate and major city and ease of navigation is important. Ben scheduled this stop as I was out of town for a few days. Our location was out in the boonies, with long stretches of sand and bumpy roads (not fun when you’re 4 months pregnant and super sensitive to motion sickness). We were warned of alligators upon our arrival, and electricity was lost in the campground for a majority of the time we were there…on top of that, the wifi signal was abysmal. Thanks to those that were able to make it! We ended up having to leave to a different campground for the evening to ensure the news went out on time.
Albany, GA - Time to catch up with Billy and family- lots of filming was done in his lab for the documentary, along with enjoying his menagerie of animals: chickens, goats, dogs, cats all roaming freely, along with a beautiful horse! We had Pea Salad for the first time –we were told it’s a Southern thing, and it was delicious! Pregnancy cravings commencing… good thing its so easy to make!
Birmingham, AL- We were at Whole Foods Market Mountain Brook for our stop – what a busy area! There was a non-stop flurry of cars coming in and out, many stopping to curiously ask what we did. Thank you to the many kind folks that stopped by to chat with us. It is so cool to meet people who recall watching since the beginning, when there were less than a few thousand subscribers. As of today, we’re 208,000+ strong! Wow! I think back to when Ben started the channel… “It’s just going to be a hobby…”
Jackson, MS – When we hit the road, we had no idea how curious and tuned-in many students were. This was our largest school presentation yet- at Jackson Academy, Mississippi’s largest private school. The audience: 180+ students in 4th- 6th grade – inquisitive and lively, with many bright little minds in the group. They were so happy that Pluto was a planet again, and started a chant… at the end they crowded Ben with high fives. It was a fun day. Thank you to Lori and Wade of Jackson!
Shreveport, LA – A stop we’ll remember for a while! Our amazing host and sponsor Alice had us on her farm for a few days- Ben got to feed a bunch of goats, and I learned how to make gumbo (both chicken/sausage and seafood)! It was so peaceful to be in a farm setting - we were right next to the roosters and chickens, and sure got a wake up call from them in the morning- in fact a FOTW session probably captured a rooster in the background! We got our hands on a beautiful piece of uncured ham from Mahaffey Farms (pasture raised, organic) - the real tragedy was that our freezer compartment was too small to fit any more!
Our event was held at Sci-Port, Louisiana’s Science Center, and despite it being a cold and rainy day, we had the opportunity to meet sponsors (Hi Jim and Susan!) and chat with the locals. Thank you to Greg Andrews, Planetarium Manager, for participating with us and sharing your knowledge!
Dallas/Fort Worth area, TX – Two great stops here- our first was at the Whole Foods Market in Colleyville. Great folks and good conversations- TX has been very good to us. Its one thing to hear how a parent is so dedicated to engaging their child to be interested in science- its another to hear the excitement when one engages their young niece/nephew and wants to be involved in nurturing their love for the sun and space weather. A consensus is that the children of today are tomorrow’s future, and people want to get involved however and whenever they can – the Sun Series has been very popular… more to come next year!
Our second stop was at Orbital Systems – we had the opportunity to tour their facilities and boy, what a treat! Their specialty- building earth ground stations for satellite data reception. So much of the data that is used in the morning news is from a system of theirs in use somewhere in the world (China, Russia, Japan, Norway, here in the US, etc). To see them up close and learn more was invaluable – more to come in the documentary, but a few photos from our trip are below.
Ben just finished an interview with Cori Duke of NewsChannel 10; we'll be posting the segment when it airs - time for the evening news, dinner and getting ready for our evening event at Fort Amarillo RV Resort! We'll be spending the next few days making our way to Albuquerque, wrapping up end of year items and planning for a wonderful 2015!
Is this year almost over?! What an epic journey it has been! The last two weeks have been incredibly busy- we’ve covered Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and are currently in Florida enjoying the sunny weather and beautiful palms. We had our first experience of dealing with below freezing temperatures… that was fun! Lets recap the last few events:
Walker, LA – It was pouring rain, and SO COLD! But we had brave souls that came out anyways. :) Thanks to Andrew and Liz, they brought us satsumas for the road and the best sweet potato pie ever!
Atlanta, GA – One of our favorite stops. We had the pleasure to be with the students of Trinity School for presentations and sunspot watching. Many thanks to Joe, Maryellen, and cousins Josh and Lindsey for facilitating this educational event. A special thank you to Jim and Marilyn Black, founders of the Apollo Fund – it was a pleasure to meet and chat with all of you!
Our public stop was at Whole Foods – we had a great turnout! Thanks to Tim of Hudson Designs for a beautiful custom Suspicious0bservers tile. Darren and Christine, longtime supporters, refused to let bad luck stop them from coming when their car broke down- they called a cab and made it to Whole Foods! We met SO many wonderful folks in the Atlanta area. A BIG thank you to sponsors Pat and Mary for hosting us, and the RV that evening. We will definitely be back in Atlanta!
Morganton, NC – A last minute scramble due to bad weather forced us to relocate our location- no problem though, as our friend Bill came to the rescue! 17 degrees? No problem. A full propane tank and a space heater in the outside bins kept us and our pipes from freezing.
Charlotte, NC – Thank you to Richard, owner of Champion Gymnastics, for hosting us at his training facility. I tried to convince Ben to get on the beam and try some gymnastics moves, but failed miserably.
Raleigh, NC – We had a stop at the Whole Foods in Cary. It was a beautiful day to interact with more sponsors and supporters, and we got to stock up our fridge while we were there!
Charleston, SC – We had a potluck event at the Pine Ridge Fire Department – thanks to Janene for taking charge of the event (she makes the BEST chili!). We met some amazing people there, and got lots of good baby advice for when the time comes. We also had a record broken: there are many folks that have showed up to events that had to make a serious drive to get there. Until Charleston, the 0bservers that held the record for the longest drive were from Alberta, Canada (4.5 hours)…but it was shattered by Joe, who drove a whopping 11 hours from PA to make it to Charleston after being unable to see us when we began the tour.
Jacksonville, FL – It rained the majority of the time we were there, but the sun came out (albeit briefly) for us to have a meet and greet. It was so nice to see familiar faces come to multiple events!
Orlando, FL – We hesitated having an event in Orlando on Thanksgiving Day, but decided to anyways! The Mobile Observatory was posted up outside of Eddie V’s, a delightful seafood and steak restaurant. Thanks to Mark, the manager, for hosting us! It is always nice to run into a fellow Buckeye/Ohio State graduate. If you are in the area and are ever looking for a nice place for fine dining- look no further!
It is simply amazing how fast time flies when you are on the road, moving to a new place every day or so. When we were in the Carolinas, we were apprehensive and even considered rescheduling our stops due to temperatures. We spent Thanksgiving night at the Loves truck stop between Orlando and Tampa, and we were not expecting to wake up to 41 degrees in central Florida. Ben, bless his heart, is calm, cool, and collected for the most part, but when it comes to the functionality of the RV and something going wrong, he tends to jump to worst-case scenarios.
Example: When we were stuck out in the boonies of NJ with no service and the RV wouldn’t start, there was a small panic attack. “Oh my gosh, something TERRIBLE has happened! The starter is probably the problem – OMG we can’t put the slide in. OMG we are going to have to get towed, how are we going to get a hold of anyone?! This is going to be sooo expensive. We’ll have to stop the tour for who knows HOW long until this gets fixed!” I always try to stay positive- “I’m sure it’s not that bad. Everything will be OK. Its not going to be as bad as you think- this is just a hiccup and we’ll keep moving on!” That good energy and positive outlook just HAS to be there…. Otherwise we’d both be running around losing our minds!
So when it came to the RV dealing with the possibility of not being able to withstand the temperatures, and us having to deal with a number of things that could go wrong (frozen tanks, broken lines, water pump freezing, etc)… we needed to make sure we were PREPARED! After all, its one thing when you don’t know what the temperatures are going to be; its another when your husband is S0 and watches the weather every day like its his job (oh wait, it is!).
In addition to a full tank of propane, had the tanks drained and carried plenty of water on hand in case. Dealing with this cold (and a spazzing husband) was quite the operation – but we survived with NO problems! Many high fives were exchanged between us.
We are currently in Clearwater, Florida, taking some time off to catch up on work on which we’ve fallen behind, and set a few days aside to be with family. The Mobile Observatory has been an absolute beast, but its time for her to get some servicing done for the last leg of the journey. The tour HAS been updated, with many stops in CO, NV, CA and more being postponed. We’ve decided to stop in February after the Conscious Life Expo to get me home and settled in preparation for welcoming a new life into our family. At that point, I’ll be 6.5 months pregnant, and we don’t want to take any chances on the road if something goes wrong.
Ben will continue to be at selected events, including a potential stop at PrepperCon in Salt Lake City, and we’ll try to hit the road again should things fall in place and it’s the right thing for our family. We’ve connected with people that have raised their children in an RV, and can cook a full Thanksgiving meal in theirs, so nothing is impossible!
When we began preparing for this journey in March, there was so much doubt and skepticism, from friends, family, work colleagues…this was a HUGE, drastic change. What were we thinking? Life was good- we had settled comfortably in our home, had stable and great jobs, not too far from family and friends… the next thirty years were to play out there without incident. The overall consensus was that we frankly, had lost our minds! We wondered it too sometimes!
It has been incredible experience so far. We have learned SO much, have done new things beyond our comfort level, and my favorite: met people we will consider family for the rest of our lives. From eating delicious Taber corn in Canada, going sailing for the first time, seeing so many different farms all over the country, Ben’s first time riding a hovercraft, learning how to switch out the RV house batteries by myself, eating FRESH squeaky cheese curds in Wisconsin, to relaxing next to a bayou and eating boudin in Louisiana…its been unreal. On top of it all, we got pregnant, which was an incredible surprise! This year will go down in the books as unforgettable! Now, a brief overview of past events and a reflection of life on the road- this has been long overdue. Also, for those who have been to our stops so far, if interested in being part of the documentary, please contact me!
Floyd, VA – Dogtown Roadhouse had a great crowd, along with delicious pizza! Thanks to Dave, Annemarie, Dylan for being great friends and helping us facilitate our stop to Kongpop!
Arlington, VA – Progression on research and filming with Dr. U-Yen. This was a stop we were looking to since the beginning! Thank you to his wife, Manisa, for a delicious lunch, and Dr. U-Yen for sharing his insights and knowledge.
Madisonville, TN – We had a packed room at Hiwassee College with knowledgeable people and bright students. The only college we’ve seen that had RV hookups!
Mount Juliet, TN – Lunchtime chat with the folks of ESC Lab Sciences – no photos from this stop due to sickness.
Nashville, TN – W were situated in the park near the life size replica of The Parthenon (which interestingly enough- the real one served many purposes over the course of its existence: a temple, church, mosque, etc.) Auburey, a huge S0 supporter, made s0 much food to share with everyone- she has the most generous heart!
Little Rock, AR – We were parked right in front of the Museum of Discovery, where we had the opportunity to show people sunspots and meet many!
Oklahoma City, OK – Whole Foods Market was our stop here, and it was filled with many longtime supporters. We were met with such kindness and support, and got some fun takeaways from Dang Coconut Chips, a sponsor!
Dallas, TX – Deb and Greg were great hosts, and we had a nice evening in Lavon at the Grand Heritage Clubhouse. We had a bunch of young students around the first part of the evening, and met the brightest 10 year old that shocked Ben with how much knowledge he knew about the Sun! We also had a presentation with the Astronomy students of Community High School.
San Antonio, TX – Pearl Farmers Market: We stocked up on some farm fresh eggs and had a delightful afternoon with San Antonio observers. It was a beautiful day; so many people came out! Thank you Lance and Ellen for your hospitality!
Houston, TX – Another beautiful day to see sunspots! We were at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Sugar Land. Great people, so much support for the road ahead, and many great photos taken by Frank!
Sulphur, LA - Eight months ago, on route to the Electric Universe Conference, Ben and I were waiting for a flight in Dallas to Albuquerque. A gentleman recognized us, approached us, and told us he wanted a spot on the RV. He was on the same flight as ours, and we connected throughout the conference. We stayed with Gary in Sulphur, and it was one of the coolest stops we had! We were at a stunning castle (Chateau De Bon Reve) for our venue, and Ben had the chance to ride in a hovercraft!
The Traveling Lifestyle
Getting used to living out of a 36ft RV is not easy. We not only got used to limited space and storage, power, water (no long hot showers), we learned how to maintain the electrical/plumbing systems (bad water from campground= don’t smell the hot water!), and develop a system to co-ordinate in terms of groceries, pet needs, monkey list before hitting the road, and so much more. We had to make sure we were prepared in every way – this wasn’t a vacation. It was to be a year of crazy scheduling and traveling, hitting the road at 6 AM to make progress to the next city, navigating through major metropolitan areas for events (Downtown Chicago. Lollapalooza a mile away. Enough said.), meeting and networking with people and progressing on research, as well as making sure what allowed us to take this journey on in the first place (S0 News!) and premium content remained at the quality we expected of ourselves. I am incredibly proud of Ben for maintaining his 6:30AM EST release of the news in spite of time zone changes.
What has made it easier on the road? The Next Exit has been an incredible resource for us- a book with a list of every exit off US Interstates, and tells you whether there are restaurants, RV friendly gas stations, hotels, campgrounds… a must have! We decided to not tow a vehicle due to added cost, and have had to work around it. For the most part, it has been great - hosts, friends, folks we’ve connected with along the way have offered to help drive, get food, etc. I convinced Michael Steinbacher to drop me off at Macy’s - it was the first time I had been to a mall since the journey began! Then there are days when you make do. When I found out I was pregnant and had to fly back home to see the doctor and take care of business – we ended up taking The Mobile Observatory to the airport! We have to plan ahead of time to look, depending on the area of the country, for Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, or similar to stock up on good foods to stay healthy on the road. This kind of schedule takes a toll, and not just your body… especially when you’re pregnant.
Where do we stay along the way? We’ve stayed with MANY wonderful people – supporters, sponsors... sincerely hope to keep in touch as the years progress. We’ve been treated like family and given so much love. There will always be a special place in our hearts for these special observers! The Mobile Observatory has visited many RV campgrounds; they’ve been a great spot for events – it works out so well on many levels- accessible roads, close off the interstate, our water/power needs are met, visitor parking available, and after the event is over we don’t have to worry about driving somewhere to settle for the night. We are members of Passport America, Good Sam, KOA and Harvest Hosts - some areas have better accessibility/pricing to campgrounds than others; it helps having options to pick from. We agreed to get a hotel once a month to decompress and maintain sanity – it works- that’s when we get our monthly dose of cable. No channel surfing or Netflix in this MO – no time! We’ve boondocked many nights at Cracker Barrels, truck stops, and caught up on work at rest areas off the highway. If we stay at truck stops, we always make sure it’s a large one that can accommodate plenty of trucks and isn’t full. It takes a lot of effort to maneuver such a large vehicle, and maintain speeds on the road when there are oblivious drivers, or speed demons that try to cut in front without any room. Once momentum gets going on these massive machines… it is NOT easy to stop quickly, and dangerous! Trust me, we know- we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the Canadian Rockies, as well as the mountainous winding roads with steep declines in Virginia/West Virginia!
Granted, we have struggled on MANY occasions these past few months- we had our battery die in the boonies of NJ (with no cell reception!), gotten ourselves wedged in places we thought we’d NEVER get out of, lost many battles with tree branches (the MO has the battle scars), had a near death experience with a bridge we didn’t think we could go under and no way to turn around (we thought we were 13’ tall… the bridge allowed 11’11”)… the list goes on! You mentally prepare yourself to the reality that things can go wrong, and you just go with it and make it work. Pushing forward all the time.
Thank you tremendously for the flood of kind words for a healthy pregnancy. Finally wrapping up the last weeks of morning sickness (hopefully!). Ben has been incredibly supportive during my times of being insufferable to feeling sick – not only does he still get up on time every morning, but will make sure I have crackers and water before I get up and picks up on anything that needs to be done if I have no energy to do it. It has been a ride of emotions to plan for life ahead, and a whole new world of learning we are going through – but we couldn’t be happier to be riding in this life together!
Time - there is never enough of it. October is halfway through. We're amazed we're still in one piece frankly! The last two weeks have been a blur. From Louisville, KY to Richmond, VA - there's quite a bit of driving being done.
Our Louisville, KY event included two stops in one day - the Expo Center and a presentation with the Astronomy students of HFHG Middle/High School Co-op. As usual, the dogs were the stars when they pranced out of the RV! Thanks especially to Ricky for helping us facilitate our stops, and to Tim for being so supportive!
Inevitably, the RV needed servicing - she was down for the count longer than we would have liked. Cascading manifestations of Murphy's Law forced us to leave her back home in Ohio for a few days to get work done (the generator in particular was the biggest problem). It was a huge bummer; we didn't want to have to cancel our event in Sistersville, WV, and decided to rent a small vehicle for a few days. The Wells Inn is a historic building with a beautiful old Victorian style feel to it; we can't wait to see what it will look like when renovations are complete! The food was amazing (the owners are from New York; the menu is one you'd find at a small high end restaurant)! All turned out well - we had a chance to see family and friends back home, even stop by our house - the yard was decorated with painted pumpkins ...it looks better inside than when we lived there!
We made a quick stop to Romney, WV, to meet with some families that had coordinated together. A BIG thank you to Jeff and Marion, our hosts, for their hospitality. We had a small learning session on the James Webb Space Telescope - we soaked it all up, and the dogs met new friends to play with!
Next up, Baltimore, MD! We were posted-up at the Maryland Science Center for a meet and greet. We had prime parking- the Orioles game was that day and Oktoberfest was within walking distance. It was a great day, and we met a wonderful new group of folks and sponsors, including supporters that had come to our Hershey event! Thanks to Joe for helping us schedule this great location (wish we had time to explore more of Baltimore- walking around the inner harbor and checking out everything left so much to be desired!), and Ken for the organic, non-GMO tomatoes and peppers!
After a wonderful day in Baltimore, we started our journey towards King George, VA. Our hosts Cathy, Mark and Sam were great; I'm bummed I forgot to take some pictures! They had early start times and long commutes, and we had planned to stay out of their hair the following morning, but received a pleasant visit early around 6:30AM that included freshly baked scones. White chocolate and raspberry too, which makes everything 1000x better! I did manage to get a picture of the scones at least!
Today, we were in Richmond, VA. We wish we had more time to explore the areas we've recently traveled; there is just so much to learn and see! But alas, the grueling schedule continues...the people we meet and our journey so far has been totally worth it - next post will recap our four months of living on the road - it will be honest, that is for sure.
Our stop was at Hermitage Grill was great - not only did they have delicious food, we all shared some fantastic conversations together! Thanks to our sponsor Q and wife Pat for connecting us with Hermitage!
This past week has been so enjoyable for our family- we've been doing a LOT of driving and not much sleeping...but have had the opportunity to create some wonderful experiences that we'll look back fondly on. Our first stop, which was VERY much anticipated, was Skyview High School in Nampa, ID. We knew the students had been longtime watchers (thanks to very great educators!) and had sponsored our journey, so we were PUMPED to meet them!
We were impressed- the students were articulate, insightful, and supportive! Teachers took the time to take other classes out as well, including Geometry, Anatomy and Physiology classes - we had a great time, and the dogs got plenty of attention! THANKS SKYVIEW!
Our stops in Cheyenne, WY and Wilber, NE were more low key and relaxing. We've realized we have been overly ambitious with our stops and traveling, and at some point have to slow things down to avoid sheer exhaustion. One of the most common questions that has been asked - "So when do you guys sleep?"
Although we make our best efforts to make as many stops as we can, we recognize our health is important to continue the tour!
We had two events during our stop in Kansas City, KS. The first was at Open Door Christian School - we met a bright group of students (4th-6th grade) to show them some sunspots, and teach them about our star. Thanks to Renee and Joe, who helped facilitate this stop for us, and to Mrs. Christopher, Principal, for having us! The kids had watched a few clips from the Sun Series, and had knowledge of sunspots, coronal holes, flares, etc. One bright young student made a very insightful comment when comparing the Earth scale to the sun - "The Sun is like a basketball, and the Earth would be the size of a peppercorn!" So much potential for these small scientists of the future!
Our evening event was at Walnut Grove RV Park- we had an amazing group of people that came. Lots of laughter and swapping of stories - we hope to visit Kansas City again someday! One consistent feeling that we get at our stops, is that the people we meet never feel like strangers, but long time friends catching up and connecting. It has been such a treat to meet so many like minded! We were even lucky enough to have some ribs from Oklahoma Joe's, a famous barbecue joint in Kansas City that Anthony Bourdain endorsed as one of the top "13 places to eat before you die". Had no idea but we were happy to try it... pretty tasty!
Tomorrow begins a new month - hopefully another month of safe travels, good health and no more RV troubles!
We absolutely enjoyed our stop in Lynnwood, WA. Our host, Bob, was just a delight to be around and he made our visit extremely memorable. Our first evening entailed of a lovely dinner together with friends Julie, Kurt and Denise. We spent dessert eating the best Caramel Torte we've ever had in our lives, and had more fun playing musical glasses than adults should have. Easy entertainment, eh? We decided a few weeks before the actual event to make it a potluck, and boy did that turn out to be one of our better ideas! We had a great turnout and people filled the tables with all sorts of delicious dishes (ours was a salad with fresh tomatoes from an organic farm the previous day). If anyone left hungry that night, it was NOT from lack of food! I propose all future stops to be potlucks! Thanks to Kurt of D&KP Productions Seattle for filming the event - to be included in our documentary!
It was time for the RV to be serviced, so we were able to take care of that too. Bob was gracious enough to let us use his washer and dryer- I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER! Laundry has been one of the more arduous tasks on the road. For some reason, at campgrounds we always end up on a site that is on the opposite end from the laundry facilities. Walking back and forth across a campground, realizing you are short a quarter or forgot a dryer sheet, etc... it could always be worse though, and we end up laughing about it.
Next up, Spokane, WA! What a stop - our hosts Terri and Thomas were awesome. They gave us free reign on the garden to pick out some fresh strawberries... I discovered one of their chickens, Anna, LOVES strawberries and will just constantly cluck at you nearby until you give in. Picked one for me, one for Anna, one for me, and so it went. They have a BEAUTIFUL Newfoundland, Miss Kira Thunderpaws - our dogs were in for QUITE the shock! Her head was probably their combined weight - she was an incredibly sweet and gentle dog. Our event took place at Argonne Library and there were some very lively discussions (at one point, heated!) going back and forth. Spokane friends were incredibly hospitable to us and we wish we had more time to explore the city!
The next day, we headed towards Portland, OR for our next event. Stopped at a gas station to clean the windshield from the bug cemetery it had morphed into. Within two minutes of getting back on the highway, a bird relieved itself and it splattered ALLLL over. This bird had a substantial meal the previous night too, I'm sure! Sigh. Then, a tiny unwelcome visitor AKA Mr. Highway Rock decided to present us with a BIG chip in our windshield! It was just not a good day for the glass on our RV!
We survived and made it to Cascade Locks, where we had a pleasant get together with those in the Portland Area. We met sponsors, chatted with new friends and We found a bottle of wine outside our door that morning. Niiiice!
Currently just wrapping up our adventures with Michael Steinbacher, Electric Universe Geologist - he and Ben had some day outings to see basalt formations. One of their stops included visiting the Bureau of Land Management. Apparently government geologists get Fridays off; there were none to be found! We'll be doing Steinbacher Adventures: Part Two early next year when we reconnect again in New Mexico and Arizona!
Our blog covers the journey as we roll along - sharing stories of people we've met and engaged with, places we've seen, the discourse between a couple with two animals sharing <300 sq ft of moving living space, and more!