We had a great time in St. Clair, MN last week - Gary and Nancy were spectacular hosts. Ben showed off his skills backing in the RV; they were impressed! They shared so much knowledge with us - it was our pleasure to get to know them and learn about their history, city and family. St. Clair was one of many cities that sustained substantial flood damage in September 2010 and it took a collective community effort to move forward. Students were pulled out of school beforehand for sandbagging operations in preparation for the storm, and it was an understatement to say that community came together (some kayaking through the streets) to mitigate the damage done to their homes, and those of their neighbors. The strength, sacrifice and resiliency of the human spirit is just astounding in times of tribulation, and the photos showed nothing less.
Our event was held at Memorial Park, and our Sun provided another day of viewing pleasure to check out her spots. Gary (aka Suspender Guy) had a surprise treat for us before we left :
Custom Suspicious0bserver Suspenders!
I could hear Ben's inner child screaming with delight and fashion approval. These aren't your every day, run of the mill suspenders - they are free of metals and clips, extremely sturdy and produced in Minnesota by Suspender Guy! Click on the link or photo to reserve your pair!
We truly enjoyed our stay and were incredibly sad to leave. Great people with kind hearts - they are family to us now! We headed to Summit, SD for a quiet stop to catch up on some work...assumed it was going to be an uneventful few days. I was enjoying some corn on the cob that afternoon when Ben stuck his head in the RV and said, "...You might want to come out here and check this out."
I poked my head outside and LO AND BEHOLD:
Were my eyes deceiving me? Was there another young couple that lived on the road, enjoying the RV lifestyle while making as many stops as we were? We are not alone - meet Heath and Alyssa Padgett.
Newlyweds from Texas, Heath and Alyssa, 23, decided to purchase a Coachman and travel around the country for seven months, working an hourly job in each state, peering into the lives of workers, learning their stories while enjoying the views on this extended honeymoon. They are filming a documentary as well! We shared trials and tribulations of our travels, and found a resonating note with them. We admire their tenacity to pursue a bigger dream. "I don't know if I can see going back to the real world after this," Alyssa had mused. We get it. Flashback to our lives before this journey even came into creation - we both had great jobs, had purchased a quaint little home in a thriving community, close to great schools...life was content. The next 30 years of our lives would unfold here. Or so we thought. Who knows what the future holds for us, or the Padgetts? To quote Ehrmann - "whether or not it is clear to [us], no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
We are currently in Bismarck, ND - took a small break from the RV to stay in a hotel, and are thankful for a spacious shower, a toilet where the wall isn't a foot away from your face, and a big OPEN room. Ben was banished from the RV bedroom one night the other week due to some major issues with flatulence. In my defense, its a very small space, with tiny windows and substandard airflow! Happy to be here. It is clear from below who has already claimed their spots on the bed. We've made some adjustments to our schedule this week, it is updated under The Journey tab of the site. Until next week!
After the navigational nightmare in Philadelphia, Ben had turned to me and said "No more big cities. None. We can be outside of the city; close enough where people in the city can make it out. But NO MORE BIG CITIES!"
Fast forward a few weeks later. It is a week before our event in Chicago...
Me: "Chicago is coming up in a couple of days. By the way, I scheduled an event at the Planetarium. In the big city. Also, we have TWO events!"
Ben: "Don't you remember what I said about not being in big cities? We have two events?!"
Me: "Vaguely...did I mention that Lollapalooza is happening the very same weekend? About a mile from where we'll be."
Ben: "...You want me to have a heart attack and die, don't you? I'm not going to make it past 50..."
...We survived! Our event on August 2nd took place with Joe Guzman (Chicago Astronomer) just outside the Adler Planetarium - it was a beautiful day; there were several weddings and events going on, and the lakefront location provided gorgeous views as we looked at sunspots and Ben shared the news regarding his research paper. Happy times.
Navigating through the city that night was not easy. Every road we needed to turn on was closed. People were everywhere... and only half followed road signals. Highways = heavy fast moving traffic, and directions were not kind (take ramp right, and in .2 miles, get all the way to the other side for the left ramp, etc) - we both breathed sighs of relief upon making it to our evening destination. On the 3rd, we brought The Mobile Observatory to Abbey Pub. We all had brunch (delicious Irish breakfast with rashers and black and white pudding) as conversations were shared... Thanks Tom for inviting us! Even though it was the first time we had met many of these folks, it didn't seem like it at all- more like old friends reconnecting again.
The next few days were spent at a farm in Wisconsin, thank you Ted and Autumn for your amazing hospitality! We had a great time exploring their farm; bits will be shared in the documentary that Ben is diligently working on.
Up next was our meet and greet in Madison, WI. The KOA stay was pleasant (thank you kindly to those that came out!), and gave us time to catch up on much needed work. We've accepted that we will always be in a perpetual state of being behind on tasks, no matter the time management tactic we employ. Our last official stop in WI was Cole Watch Tower. Much admiration goes to Billy and Nyoka as it is a tremendous undertaking to restore seven stories of this tower. They've made a TON of progress on this historical landmark and prevented it from being torn down. We can't wait to reconnect with them in the future and see how things are!
Next up: Minneapolis! Thanks to those that came out to meet and share words of support. Catherine made AMAZING chocolate oatmeal cookies that we just gobbled up. Feelings of shame looking at the empty plate that evening. On the healthier side, friends brought fresh veggies from the garden, yum! Currently tucked away in St. Clair, MN preparing for the next few weeks. Canada pushed our buttons last time as finding internet to access was not easy, and we hope to have a better time during our second leg up there. The schedule has been grueling, it has not been easy... we surely miss the comforts of home and seeing our family and friends, but the journey must go on! Should there be anything you'd like to see on the site, please contact us!
Another month begins! The last two weeks seem like a blur, but it was very productive; making new connections and forming friendships that will last a lifetime. Our Warsaw, NY stop was brief, meeting with supporters from Rochester and the surrounding area. We spent some time having really eye opening conversations with Brian, who is taking a similar journey with his family, but to promote love and healing, teaching his six year old all different facets of life as they travel the country. His son, Tristan, has his own Twitter handle, https://twitter.com/TristanIsLove, and we are so excited to follow them on their journey and keep in touch. All of their devices are powered by solar panels on top of their Subaru!
Next stop was The Emlenton Mill in Emlenton, PA. Our hosts, Nancy and Paul, had much to share with us. Nancy had the opportunity to travel all over the world when younger, and we loved hearing about her cultural experiences. The Mill itself was filled with things to do; from learning the history of the first steam powered grist mill and exploring the museum, checking out the antiques and bunkhouse, and enjoying dessert from the creamery overlooking the Allegheny. Needless to say, we ate quite a bit of ice cream during our stay! Great folks, with so much love and work put into the mill... we wish them nothing but happiness and success, and know we will keep in touch!
After a restful stop in Emlenton, we headed to Barberton, OH to prepare for a live show at The Barberton Herald's main office. We are so appreciative of Cheryl and Tim for helping us with this new format - recording and streaming to share some of the basics with viewers, allowing questions to be directed through comments. People seemed to really enjoy the format, as we received many messages the next couple of days requesting Ben to do more live shows like this! The staff of this wonderful family owned business were all incredibly hospitable, treating us to a VERY tasty fried chicken lunch (and sending more with us for the road)! We hope to be back someday!
Our next event was slated to take place north of Indianapolis, in the city of Carmel. We had a prime location in the Arts & Design District (thanks Teresa for making it happen!) and had the opportunity to stay with incredible hosts, Skipper and Carol. We feel incredibly lucky to have met them - they are a lovely couple, and we know we will see them again before the end of the year! Skipper turns out to be a fantastic cook; this worked very well for us :)
A number of people came out to visit us in Carmel, including sponsors and a team that drove 2.5 hours to see The Mobile Observatory (Kara and Chance, you guys rock). Ben was able to do a few interviews, including one with Gary Welsh (http://advanceindiana.blogspot.com/2014/07/suspiciousobservers-mobile-observatory.html). We all had fun cramming together under the awning when the rain came in, and all observed in awe at the double rainbow that appeared afterwards (with references to the viral video of course).
We are currently in Michigan, planning for our next stop in Grass Lake this afternoon, and will head to Chicago this weekend for two events (we're ambitious)- one with Joe Guzman (Chicago Astronomer) at the Adler Planetarium, and a casual stop at The Abbey Pub! It is going to be a hectic weekend as we realized Lollapalooza is also taking place less than two miles away! Preparing mentally to deal with Chicago traffic... until next week! Love to all.
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!