Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oh Moab... maybe another time?

So we're moving on!  We got up yesterday morning and spent some time in Arches National Park - it's amazing!  It is just another place that I find majestic... it's so awesome that these places and formations and landscapes are created naturally.  Here's a picture of Ben and me in front of one of the arches:
Since we slept late, ate breakfast, then did Arches, it was the afternoon before we were ready to hop back on our bikes.  We decided to go over to Slickrock trail, which is one of the classic places to ride in Moab.  The really cool thing about that spot is that you can choose to do a 2.5 mile practice loop, rather than starting in on the whole 13 mile bit.  I'm glad we started on the practice loop, 'cause holy cow!  It's like a different sport out here!  There were places where I felt like I was in over my head, and also some places where I felt like I'd accomplished something new, so maybe you would call it a "challenging ride".  After the practice loop, I decided to head back to the car.  As silly as it feels to bail on one of the classic Moab rides, I would feel a lot sillier if I got myself in trouble by getting in a little too deep.  I think it would be more suited for me when I'm a little better equipped, both in strength and skill.  Another day, Slickrock.

Ben kept on going, deciding to do another part of the trail, but not the whole thing.  (Don't worry, he had his cell phone and I knew where he was going and what time to expect him back... and it all worked out just fine).  He was really glad that he rode a bit more, felt awesome in some places and totally sketched out in others.  The bummer is, he did something to his knee... the uphills here are totally insane - like, hard to walk up, let alone peddle a bike.  He must have tweaked something while pushing hard on an uphill, and it's been bothering him a lot ever since.

We're a little disappointed, but the trip must go on, and we decided it would be better to take a full day of rest instead of doing another ride before hitting the road.  We'll have to come back to Moab another time.  We started out mid-morning, drove to Four Corners (because who can resist being in 4 states at once?) and then kept on going 'til we made it to Flagstaff, AZ.  We're spending the night here at a hostel, then hoping to feel up to a good bike ride tomorrow.  We're also hoping for some productivity in terms of oil changing, mail sending, and banking... hopefully it'll be a success!
And here's another map for your enjoyment:
And, just for good measure, a couple of mtn biking pictures:

Monday, November 28, 2011

The First Real Mishap.

After spending a lovely Thanksgiving with my family in Kersey (and Ben with his in Charlotte), we hit the road and made our way to Moab, UT.  My Grandma suggested that I post a few pictures to show you guys all how we have been traveling.  She's right, I should have done it sooner... So, here is a picture of the car:

The car is full to the brim of everything we want to live off of (and with) for the next while.  You can see the bikes on the back, and the rocket box... Full of skis, a snowboard, boots, our winter gear and all sorts of other stuff.  We're staying at a campsite here in Moab - here's a picture of our tent and Ben cooking some dinner.  Also, notice the awesome candle we have burning on the table.  It was a gift from my Aunt Kathy (the one on my mom's side this time).  She makes them herself and they smell delicious, and you should really check out her etsy shop, Delicate by Nature Handcrafts, for some excellent Christmas ideas.
So, for our first day in Moab we decided to hit up one of the trails that is supposed to be a great introductory ride... Klondike Bluffs.  First I'd like to tell you about the scenery... It's so different from where we're from.  It's all canyon rims, red rocks and sand, and gosh... It is so beautiful.  It's amazing - I find myself wondering how it's possible that these formations and landscapes are created naturally.  Here is a picture from the actual Klondike Bluffs, where the trail took us.  It looks beautiful and desert-y and warm, but check out the ice puddle... Beautiful yes, warm no.
We picked up a fun trail called Baby Steps and took it back down to the trailhead... We had had ridden a little over 12 miles.  We took a break and decided to go for one more loop, another 3 miles or so to finish it all up and get a good experience of the trails where we were.

For those of you who don't already know, 15 miles is about the point in a ride where I start to lose steam completely.  A little food and rest is good enough for me to keep on pushing, but I was already starting to get fatigued.  I took two good falls on that last loop... On the first one I just hit my shin on a rock, which stinks, but, as it turns out, is a pretty familiar feeling for me.  The second fall sucked a little more, haha.  I don't even know what happened really, but I'm sure it had to do with being tired and not having good form.  I basically just got ejected from the bike and skidded a little before coming to a stop.  It wasn't a high risk fall or anything, but I did manage to land on the heel of my hand pretty hard.  Oddly, it doesn't hurt much to ride... Just to do everything else, heh.

Well, we were on our way out to the car to head to town, and somehow I got turned around on the trail.  There was a place where the trail split, but I only saw one direction to go... I felt like the trail should end soon, but somehow it just kept going.  It kept going uphill, which I didn't remember (but thought to myself, you just weren't paying attention or something).  Well I was exhausted and just couldn't find Ben, and usually he waits for me regularly...so I yelled his name and he didn't answer, and that's when I began to figure out that I was lost.  Not like die-in-the-wilderness lost, but went-2-miles-in-the-wrong-direction and uphill-when-I'm-tired lost. So, what was there to do but start to cry, turn my bike around and totally pity myself as I worked my way back down.  A bit down the trail I heard someone yelling, so I yelled back... Yep, it was Ben, coming to my rescue.  Finally we caught up to each other and he practically collapsed from being so tired and scared that I was lost... And I just cried, some more... And then we went back to the car, and this time I did not get turned around.  I have to admit, even though I knew I wasn't in real trouble because I was on a trail, there was a part of me that really was scared to be somewhere completely unfamiliar and by myself... Not so good.

We got back to the car, both exhausted... I ended up clocking about 19 miles by the end of it all.  While kind of pleased with that outcome, the fact was that we were both coming off an adrenaline rush, we were hungry, my hand hurt, and Ben was having some bad sciatica type pain from pushing so hard there at the end. So, we opened two mini bottles of wine, got changed, and sat down for a bit... And then we made our way to the local brewery for dinner and a couple beers. We topped the night off with Advil and a movie, then hit the hay and slept for almost 11 hours.

The good thing is, we've already been laughing about it tons.  Ben told me "not to wonder off" when I went to brush my teeth last night... hopefully this isn't a trend I'll continue!  Today has been a better day, though we're both sore - and all of yesterday was good other than the getting lost business.  I'm blogging by campfire tonight... It's lovely, but my fingers are a little chilled, and dinner is almost finished (beef stroganoff), so I'll be getting back to you again soon :)

Family Picture

So, just thought I'd drop a family picture in here.  This is my mom's side of the family (or part of them):
Left: Jake, Kathy, Grandpa, Deb, Me, Grandma, Andrew, Desi                 Right: Jake, Kathy, Grandpa, Deb, Me, Grandma, Andrew, Darin
That's Kathy's new puppy, Bella, I'm holding... she's a sweet, but feisty, corgi.

Friday, November 25, 2011

There is a lot to be thankful for.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I'd like to do a post dedicated to the spirit of the holiday... everything I'm thankful for.

I think I'll start by revisiting my original 4 goals for this trip:
1. To have lots of fun.  I am.  We've been on the road for only 10 days, and I can't believe how much we've done and seen so far.  We have been eating good food, seeing good people and laughing a lot.
2. To remain flexible.  I'm not sure I've really been tested yet, but I can honestly say that our loose itinerary and "see how it goes" attitude is more exhilarating for me than stressful.  I'm embracing it :)
3. To stay healthy.  I am thankful for the good food we've been eating, which has mostly been homemade. I'm glad we are having a relatively regular opportunity to exercise, and I'm straight-up thankful for my health in general... can't take that one for granted.
4. To keep liking each other.  This one has been easy... we laugh together every day.  We are truly happy to be doing the things we're doing.  And, I repeat, there is nobody I'd rather have by my side for this adventure.  I wake up every day thankful and excited to spend it with Ben (and hopefully he feels the same way about me, haha).

This year has really been a crazy one.  It has been a roller coaster and a year full of all kinds of milestones... my dad died, my brother and sister-in-law had their first baby, I paid off all of my student loans, Ben and I quit our jobs at a place where we have spent amazing years, we left a town and a house and friends that felt like home.  It has been epic.  And life changing.  I mean, I just met an entire half of my family I never really knew before last weekend...  and, the adventures of 2011 aren't over quite yet.

I can't really explain how whole all of this is making me feel.  I know you understand.  This is a time in my life that I will look back on forever - I am and will always be thankful for the opportunity to have these adventures, for my other half who challenges me when I need it and always supports me, for our amazing families, for our friends - I know we will be friends for a lifetime... I just have the feeling that good things are in store for us, and I feel so lucky and so excited!  Though, to be honest, I wouldn't mind a less eventful 2012...

Thanks to everybody who keeps up with the blog.  It's really special to me to be able to share this experience with you... whether we're close enough that you know all the details of my life, or you're someone I haven't seen or talked to in years.  It's been pretty darn cool to see what kind of network I have out there...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Making Our Way South

The latest excitement of this Little/Clusiau adventure was a visit to Mount Rushmore!  It totally lived up to my expectations... I mean, how could the giant faces of 4 presidents carved into a mountain not meet expectations, really.  I don't mean to sound unpatriotic or something... of course I am appreciative of everything they did for our country.  But, faces carved into a mountain?  Isn't it a little... absurd?  Maybe even funny?  Well, our trip to Rushmore was most excellently topped off with a visit to the gift shop, and it did not disappoint.  Everything Rushmore was available - t-shirts, coloring books, patches, socks, ornaments, sewing kits... I mean, you name it and they had it.  And, yes, we indulged.
After the that excitement, we also visited a local winery and then made our way to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  If you don't know about Crazy Horse, he and the memorial are pretty interesting and worth looking up... you know, another giant head carved into a mountain.
The rest of Wednesday we spent traveling south to Kersey, CO.  Most of my mom's family lives in and around Kersey, which is just north of Denver.  This is another place where I just feel at home.  We didn't get to see this side of the family often growing up, mainly because of the sheer distance between us, but it's always easy and fun to fall into place with everyone when I'm here.  

After Kersey, I think we'll be moving on to Moab, UT.  Ben ordered a new derailleur since we never could find a shop that had one.  It's scheduled to get here, to my Grandparent's place, tomorrow.  And, we're not moving on 'til we have that part, because our bikes need to be ready!
Here's the progress so far... I can't believe how far we've come already!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And we've got a winner!

Hello People!  To start, here is a family photo from this past weekend:
 We’re still on the move… we’re currently in the middle of working our way from Grand Rapids, MN to Kersey, CO.  We decided on a route that would take us by Mt Rushmore, so we headed west from MN into North Dakota and camped last night at a KOA in Bismarck.  It was a really good night – we got into town pretty early in the evening so we ran a couple errands, went to an Applebees and had a couple beers, then went back to the campsite to make dinner and get ready for bed. 

The first thing we did last night was to purchase a new mac-daddy 2-burner camp stove.  Sorry Mom – the other one leaked fuel and caught itself on fire, so we figured a replacement was in order.  The new stove did a great job and Ben cooked up some delicious chili with ground pork, and yes you guessed it, the rest of the leftover Porketta.  Mmmm.

So, not sure where you are while you’re reading this and what your weather is like, but it is definitely winter up here.  It got down to 5 degrees last night!  We camped in the car again (it just seems warmer than in the tent on the ground).  It’s so nice because the car starts warm and delightful, then just cools down throughout the night.  We woke up to frozen crystallized windows and cold air, but it was cozy in our sleeping bags.  Ben pan-fried thick slices of homemade banana bread and made mocha with pressed coffee and homemade hot cocoa mix – all compliments of my Auntie Carrie (thank you!)… a perfect start to the morning.

So, Ben and I have been holding off on the car bingo until now in an effort to savor the experience… ya know, we don’t want it to be over too quickly.  Well, we decided to go ahead and bust it out for this leg of the trip, and we’ve each won twice so far!  We also accidentally messed up the order of the presents (Ben thought #11 was #1), so here is what we’ve won so far:
#11 – Another set of car games, including checkers, snakes & ladders & chess
#2 – A magic set… can’t wait to fool all of you with our new tricks :)
#1 – A whoopee cushion.  Yes!  I’m totally slipping this under Ben’s sleeping bag tonite!
#3 – A pair of sweet candy cane socks (pretty sure Ben is going to try and claim them).

We’ll get back in the proper order after this… I think we’re also going to try some more difficult bingo requirements… like the “L” or something like that.

So how many people have driven through North and South Dakotas?  Wow, they are big states.  The views are enormous… you can see for miles and miles and the roads are super straight.  I’ve never seen so many round bales, cows & buffalo in my life, but despite the redundancy, it’s a very beautiful part of the country.  Here’s another map of our progress – From November 15 through November 22.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mmmm Porketta

The weekend with the whole Clusiau family finished up as nicely as I can imagine.  We all got together for dinner yesterday, relaxed last night, and then Ben and I visited my Uncle Tom's dealership this morning to see what my grandfather started and say one last goodbye.  I left with the feeling that the Clusiaus are like home... I can't wait to plan the next visit and continue keeping up with each other.

So, I've got to tell you guys a little bit about Porketta.  Have you ever heard of it?  Well, a family named the Frabonis introduced this super delicious seasoned pork shoulder to the Northern Minnesota area 50 years or so ago, and they are still made and available today - not only are they sold locally, but now you can order their products online.  From time to time we got to eat Porketta growing up... you know, for holidays or other random occasions.  This weekend I got to talking with my family about Porkettas... and how gooood they are.

Well, let me tell you about the delight I had when we went to my Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy's place for dinner yesterday and they had prepared a Porketta along with all of the other delicious fare.  I think I almost drooled when Dave opened the lid to the pot and I caught a whiff of it.  This lucky girl got to chow down on one of the best pork products ever, then they packed Ben and me a to-go container for the road.  Let me show you the amazing burrito I had for lunch today:

This is roasted red pepper hummus, porketta, and some yummy antipasto that my Aunt Kathy made. (Hey, Aunt Kathy, do you think you could send me the recipe?)

Well, I just have to tell you about how my Porketta-filled weekend was topped off.  When we left this morning, my Uncle Tom had packed a cooler with a whole uncooked Porketta - that's right.  It's on the road with us and just waiting to be prepared once we arrive in Colorado (yes, Colorado family... get ready!).  What a treat!

In case you're wondering, yes, there are people other than the Frabonis who make Porketta, but it would really just be a waste of your time.  You should just go ahead and visit this page and get one for your next holiday feast.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Learning a little bit about the Clusiaus

So I thought I'd do a quick post about the weekend so far.  It has been really great.  Ben and I got to Grand Rapids on Friday afternoon, and we've been spending just about every minute just chatting and hanging out with my dad's family.

In anticipation of meeting the Clusiaus, I was a little nervous about what to expect.  My dad didn't get along really well with anybody in his family and I have never really known any of them, and then here we were getting ready to spend an entire weekend with them all.  My mom kept saying that there was nothing to worry about because they're family, and even if you don't know them, there is just something there that makes it comfortable and familiar... well, she was right.

It has been completely fascinating.  First, I see my dad in both of his brothers.  They all have the same sense of humor and they laugh just the same way.  They have the same mannerisms and the same ways of protecting us kids.  My Uncle Tom's smile is practically identical to my dad's (this is both good and spooky at the same time... seeing my dead dad's smile all weekend has been kinda crazy).

The best part about it is that we are all coming together.  It seems to me that there is a real trend in the Clusiau history of hurt feelings and grudges and estrangement.  A big part of the reason I wanted to come here was to get to know my family, and specifically to learn about all the positive stuff that comes with being a Clusiau.  There is something so awesome about sitting down with both of my dad's brothers, their significant others, my cousins and their families and laughing and learning about each other... we've been able to talk about the really crappy stuff that's happened and we've been able to share the hilarious stories, and we've even looked through pictures of the family from the early 1900s and on.

It's been fun to learn that I really look like a Clusiau.  It's also fun being in a town where my last name is actually really well known.  Ben and I spent some time with my cousin Kellie and her husband, Pete, last night and cracked up forever about how Kellie and I carry on some very "Clusiau" traits.  Ben and Pete laughed at how Kellie and I organize things similarly, have the tendency to be late, like to have all the laundry folded, and are obsessive about cleaning the house before going on vacation.  They laughed about the fact that if we get the idea to finish something before we do anything else, there is really no stopping us.  We laughed about how my dad and Uncle Tom keep (kept) files and notes on everything (and everyone).  It's so much fun to realize that despite disagreements and estrangements between our fathers from time to time, they parented us in very similar ways.

I'm excited to spend this afternoon with everyone again and continue the conversations.  It has been a really fulfilling couple of days being here, and for the first time in a long time I am feeling a connection with the Clusiau name and family.  I think we're at a turning point... I hope one where we'll spend time together regularly, keep up with each others' lives, and continue a trend of friendship and love and family-ness.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Next stop: Family

So, here's a sad Ben with his rental park bike:

It's funny... Ben has called just about every bike shop between Madison, WI and Grand Rapids, MN and nobody has the derailleur he wants in stock.  They are all super happy to special order it for us, but that's no real help to traveling folks.  They all say that they don't carry something that high of quality in stock regularly - only if they're doing a special build or something.  Hmph.  Maybe we'll order one?  Or just wait until we're in CO to get one?  Does this have something to do with the fact that we aren't by any real mountains?  It just seems like we could easily go to a shop in Brevard and find the SRAM X9.  Fooey.

Well, we are currently on our way to Grand Rapids, MN and we'll be staying the whole weekend there.  That is where the majority of my dad's family lives.  It really kind of hit me when my dad died that I don't know that side of my family very well... like, I'm not even sure I would recognize a lot of them.  So, one of things I really wanted to get out of this trip when we first started planning it was to try and connect with the Clusiaus.  It turns out that I am a lucky girl and my dad's brothers and their families will be keeping us for the weekend - we'll be seeing where my dad grew up, looking through all the old family albums, and most importantly, getting to know each other a little bit.  I'm really excited about it.

Also, I thought I'd post a map of our progress around the country.  Here it is so far... this is from Tuesday morning to Friday afternoon:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ooooh Mannnn

Well, today was pretty... good? interesting? both? yes.  As I posted earlier, we ate at Wishbone in Chicago, and it turned out to be pretty darn good.  We did have some interesting folks seated next to us... let's just say we know all the details about food network plans in the next while, and we witnessed somebody putting lottts of sugar in their cheese grits. I mean, I can totally understand sugar in plain grits, but sugar in cheese grits... is that weird to anyone else?

So, it turns out that there is a Ray's MTB in Milwaukee too!  And we went there.  It was different than the Cleveland one, but still super fun.  Then guessed what happened?!  No, not that.  Ben broke his rear derailleur... damnit.  Yepp, like completely broken.  On day... yeah, day 3.  He is not a happy camper.  He says it isn't his fault and that I'm making him feel guilty.  It wasn't his fault, but it still stinks.  He had to ride a funny rental park bike after that... I'll post a picture of him being sad with it tomorrow.

Well, we didn't last much longer at Ray's after that, so we hit the road.  We stopped to have some dinner (cheese curds for an appetizer, apparently a Wisconsin fave), drove on for a little while, and now we are in the middle of nowhere.  Seriously, if we disappear, come looking in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin.  No, no, no, don't actually worry.  We're camping in the car again tonight, but this time we're at an actual campsite.  It just happens to be miles from a main road and completely deserted other than us.

Tomorrow we'll have a pretty good chunk of driving to get through, but then we'll be catching up with and hanging out with some family in Minnesota.  I'll keep you posted!

Hello Busy (and awesome) Travels

Allllllright.  So, we had dinner on Tuesday night at the Colston house - it was awesome.  Momma Colston did indeed make us a delicious dinner of lasagna, salad, bread.  Not to mention the brownies and ice cream for dessert... yum.  We had some really good catch up time, and were sent off in style with pez (my favorite candy, courtesy of Allyson) and homemade cookies (from the Colstons).  We also ended u with a tiny tri-pod in our car... Ben, did you do leave that there on purpose?  Either way, we will certainly put it to good use.

For everyone's enjoyment (That's me, Ben, Kristen (Allyson's roommate), other Ben, Allyson, Nate & Nick):

So we left Canton without any real plan for the rest of the day.  We got a tip from Andy & Liz last week about an indoor mountain biking park - well, let me tell you, it will live up to all of your dreams.  We headed to Cleveland first to check out Ray's MTB.  Well, we ended up spending about 3 1/2 hours there - so much to do!  It's crazy that it's indoors, but your options are endless.  They have multiple "trails" lots of obstacles... even a foam pit!  Here's a picture of Ben doing one of the elements in the expert terrain (I stayed safely at a distance from that section!).

Well, something we have been failing at the past couple days is lunch.  We are working on this.  The goal for today is to eat some at a regular time.  Not surprisingly, after biking we were starving.... so we went to the website that follows the TV show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives to find a restaurant in Cleveland.  We settled on an awesome little place called MELT Bar & Grilled.  Ben drank a beer with the description "will give you a kick in the butt and big hug at the same time" - he agreed.  I had a pear cider... delicious.  We both had some green bean casserole soup and specialty grilled cheeses.  Mine was the "Parmageddon" and had pierogis, kraut, and sharp cheddar.  Ben's was "The Dude Abides" and had meatballs, marinara, and mozzarella sticks :)

That was the end of the excitement... we filled up the tank, I got a big coffee, and we peaced out of Cleveland.  We drove I-90 West until we were about an hour away from Chicago.  We had our first sleep-in-the-car-at-a-rest-stop experience of the trip.  Not to worry people, it was well populated (and free!) and also not illegal (we looked it up).

This morning we're on our way to eat at a fun little place called Wishbone in the heart of Chicago - close to where Oprah's studios are (were?).  Also, as promised, here is a picture of the Car Bingo (no winners yet):

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Title!

Okay okay, already not doing so well at this.  I meant to tell everybody about the title of the blog.  Hopefully "Adventures" is pretty self-explanatory.  Now for the "Car Bingo" part...

So, Ben and I have some really really really good friends Zach and Blaire (a lot of you probably know them).  They are totally awesome.  You know, the kind of friends who really get you, and you don't have to filter the things you say or the way you feel when you're with them, and you always want to hang out... yeah, they're that kind.

Well, Zach and Blaire gave us the most unexpected and wonderful road-trip gift.  Well, it's kind of a bag of gifts.  We got to open one when they gave it to us - it's a set of car bingo!  Have you guys seen this before?  Ben had, but I don't think I have ever played it.  I'll try to post a picture of it tomorrow.  Anyway, it's got all kinds of things on it like cows and churches and street signs and people and more.  So, to offer us a little bit of fun during our days of driving, we have car bingo to play - and the best part: each time one of us wins we get to open a prize!  There are 11 prizes and we have to open them in a certain order.  I can't wait to get started (and win, hopefully).  I know with the minds of Zach and Blaire  behind it all that I am in for some good laughs.

Thanks you guys!!!

Officially Adventuring

Well, welcome to the blog!  Really, my hope is to keep this relatively updated during our travels (and maybe even after that?), but I'm not sure I'll be very good at it - time will tell.  I'll do my best to post regularly and even put up pictures... but, I warn you, Ben and I are not good at picture taking... we often just plain-old forget.  I'll work on it.

So, here's the story.  We quit our jobs, moved out of our house, and now we're driving around the USA.  This road trip is going to be about 40 days long... enough to see a lot but still be home with family for the holidays.  A lot of people have been asking us the same question, but I think my insurance agent put it best when he said, "You're quitting your jobs and traveling, and then you don't have a plan... don't you think that's kind of a ballsy thing to do?"  Well, hmm, not sure how to answer that one.

Yes, we know the economy isn't at its prime right now, and no, we don't have actual employment plans after this (though we do plan on being employed), but it is just the right time.  Through some hard work, some very generous parents, and a little bit of fate we have come to a point in our lives where we are debt-free - that's right.  No house payment, no car payments, no student loans... nothin.  We have a place to put our things, a car with 4-wheel drive, and health insurance.  So, we were feeling a little bit restless and figured Now Is The Time!  Before we get into careers, or go back to school, or get sucked into a stationary life some other way, we are going to adventure.

Well, maybe you will be interested to know that I have some goals for this trip.  Here they are (the list might grow as we continue):
1. Have lots of fun.
2. Don't get too worked up about the details - remain flexible.
3. Stay healthy (as in, don't get injured, and also, don't just eat crap).
4. Keep liking each other.  Ben and I spend a lot of time together normally... but we'll be taking it to an extreme for the next little bit.  My hope is that Ben still likes me at the end of it all, and vise versa.  There is nobody I would rather have by my side, so I'm hoping for lots of laughing, fun, and even some mishaps to tell you all about along the way.

Ben and I are also extremely fortunate to have a giant network of supportive and loving family and friends.  It is going to be so much fun to see a bunch of people during the journey, and just to share it all with everyone else.

So, we're nearing the end of day one.  We left Gastonia, NC this morning and will end up in Canton, OH.  We're visiting some fabulous friends from camp: Allyson Shank, Ben Colston and Nicholas Colston (maybe we will see Nate too?  I don't even know).  I heard that Momma Colston is making a lasagna for us all to enjoy together when we get in, then we'll head to Allyson's apartment and relax & hang out for the rest of the evening.  I can't imagine a more perfect way to end day 1.

Thanks everybody!  Stay posted!