** Disclaimer: I realize that this is long overdue and very dated. I started writing this when I said, but have added onto it as the weeks have flown by, so please forgive me the lack of continuity. **
Wow. Wow. Wow. There are really no other words. It has been a week since we left. An entire week, has flown by in the blink of an eye. I cannot believe we are already a week into our trip! And this is my first blog – oh no! I apologize!! But, Lauren has done an amazing job of recapping the events of this past week! I must learn how to incorporate photos – they add so much to the blog. Not to be repetitive, but to share other bits and pieces from the past week, I will quickly recap. I must get better about blogging each day. We are both so busy each day, we must force one another to carve out time to blog. Anyways, onto this past week.
The send off breakfast was so much fun, but not only that, it was so inspiring. Here are a lot of the people who have made this happen and support what we are doing, all gathered together in one room to see us off on this amazing journey. It was a very surreal moment for me, much like all of this has been. Once we said our goodbyes, one in particular was very sad for me (miss you Chris : ) ) we were off and that was that. In a matter of moments, we had just begun a journey that we had spent the past four months extensively planning. Just like that. We headed to Clovis, California for our very first interview to kick things off. I am so thrilled that everything worked out for us to meet with Rebekah, the beautiful young woman we met the week prior on Dr. Phil. It was a perfect beginning to this trip, and I was so thrilled to see her, her mother, Peggy, and her brother once again. She has such strength and I just know she is going to do beautiful things in her future.
From there we set off to Naan and Pop’s (Sue and Gary Martin) house. My dear good friend Jessica Ross’s (I guess now Hall : ) ) grandparents opened their beautiful home in Gilroy to us to spend our very first night of the road trip. Of course we would have made it there sooner if my iPhone hadn’t rerouted us to the IBM Research Center in I don’t even know where. Thankfully, my mom and I had just been in Gilroy for Jess’s wedding and when I told her that Naan and Pop lived right by the church she realized that we were no where near their house! I got Naan on the phone immediately and she set us straight in our mistaken directions. Finally we arrived at their beautiful house where open arms, an amazing meal, and great conversation awaited.
Wednesday morning we had our first school assembly at Ceiba College Prep in Watsonville, which I was extremely nervous about for some reason. But, thank you Pepperdine for Public Speaking 101! Thankfully all went well and it was a huge learning experience for both of us. After that we had to replace the little trailer box on the back of the car, which we had name Chucky, with a new rooftop storage space, now named Rocky. Chucky was bringing us down, literally. But, thanks to Tony and Matt at Outdoor World in Santa Cruz – they helped us find the perfect storage container for the top of the car! Trying to close it every morning is a sight to see, as many times one of us ends up sitting on the top of the car, on top of Rocky, in order to push it closed enough to lock. After we ditched Chucky and gained Rocky we headed to Martinez, CA to meet with Shannon. She contacted us because she heard about Kind Campaign through a friend that we went to Pepperdine with and wanted to get involved. She was such a treat to interview and talk with – and as Lauren mentioned, we were able to convince her to sing the National Anthem at the end of the interview – she has a beautiful voice! We left Shannon’s and headed to San Fran!!! I have been to SF once before and loved it, and this trip was no different. I just wished (as I do with every place we go to) we had more time. But, I feel like we made the most of the short time we had – we had an uplifting group discussion with three awesome girls – Susan, Paula, and Megan, danced on the streets of San Fran to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, then went to dinner with Jonno and his girlfriend and ate some of the best food at a hidden treasure - the House of Nanking, stopped in to see what was happening at a karaoke bar, and to top it all off we then drove to Berkley to stay with Christina Sedighi, my friend from high school who saw my cry for help on facebook when we were in need of places to stay and opened her apartment to the crew! It was a packed day, but we met and reconnected with good friends and shared wonderful memories.
The next day, Thursday, started with a big task. We had a shipment of 400 shirts delivered to Christina so that we could have enough merchandise while on the road. We didn’t think about the fact that the mini-van is full to the brim. So we spent the morning counting and sorting these shirts and sending them to different places across the country. We were able to disperse the little that we kept with us in different places in the car so that everything fit. Now people will know why it takes us five minutes to get them the size they want – we have to check in every crevice to find said shirts! Once we shipped the shirts off we got a quick bite to eat at a diner recommended by Christina, we hit the road to Portland. Boy, it was a drive! We drove most of the day, but made one stop in Dunsmuir, CA and talked to Shannon and Bryan. They saw our loud minivan driving down main street, so they walked over to see what we were all about. We had a great discussion with them on the street across from their newly renovated theatre and music venue (we are considering venturing back to Dunsmuir for their Halloween party…). After stopping in Talent, OR for dinner we continued on the long journey to Portland. Even though it was probably around 1:00 AM and she had work early the next morning, we were greeted by Casi Ticer with a huge hug, smile, and towels and washcloths at each person’s bed. After reminiscing about my time with her and Florence and looking at her many photo albums, we finally forced ourselves to hit the hay. And that we did, until we were awoken by the alarm for the following day’s interviews.
Friday was a wonderful day. We had breakfast that the Ticer’s so kindly supplied, and then headed over to meet Gina Egging and four amazing girls from the cheer team that she coaches, Isabella, Miranda, Kayla, and Shannon. This interview was a treat. Here are four girls who have all the energy in the world, who right off the bat were so comfortable with us. But, once the cameras were rolling and we started talking about the issue, these girls opened up with experiences that they have had in their past that no one should ever have to go through, but especially not 7th and 8th graders. A couple of them went to school together, a couple have transferred in between different schools, yet all have had some kind of experience with girl against girl crime. What fascinates me is the way in which they have handled these experiences. They are all part of Gina’s cheer team, where they have found common bonds and where Gina does not allow any bullying or self doubt occur. They were such a great group of girls and we am so thankful to Josh Evans (Lauren’s friend) for introducing us with them!
While we were at the park, so were two other little girls, Isabelle and Gabriella, who around 7 years old had some words to share on the topic. Although they were still so young, they told us that they have seen their friends be mean to each other, but that they think it is “mean and wrong”. After playing around at the park for a bit, we headed into downtown Portland. I love it! It had such a cool, hip vibe. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and the people at The Daily Grille told us about the rose garden that overlooks all of Portland. We rerouted Kristina, our next interview, to the Portland Rose Garden. Wow, so glad we did. What a gorgeous view, beautiful roses, and just an overall great atmosphere. We had a very powerful interview with Kristina, also a graduate from Pepperdine. She opened her heart and shared her honest feelings about her experiences in 3rd grade that are still affecting the person that she is today. After spending some time with Kristina and Mary, we hit to road for Walla Walla, Washington.
Of course, it is not in our nature to drive without stopping! Especially when there is beauty like we saw at Multnomah Falls. This was only the second waterfall I have seen in my life (the first also happened to be just this past summer in Hawaii – thanks to the Harrison family!) and it’s official – I love waterfalls. Not only did we talk to some guys from Alabama (Josh, Ben, and Eric) about their perspective on the issue, I also found out where Lauren wants to get engaged some day… good to keep in mind! After our short stop, we kept on trucking and finally made it to Walla Walla! Our first stop was the Ice Burg – famous for Ice Cream and Burgers. It was AMAZING. Holy cow, it was so good. So we brought it home to Lauren’s grandma’s house (Debra’s mom’s house, Virginia and William Henry) and were greeted by Debra’s famous zucchini cookies – sooo good! Although we all could have hit the hay, we rallied so that we could see what was happening at the local Walla Walla Fair. And I am so glad that we did. Not only was it nice to stop and take a breather, but it was so much fun – we saw farm animals, played fair games, and rode the boat ride (the one that swings back and forth)! It was SO worth it! Finally, we called it a night, anxious for the following day…
Saturday was filled with fun! We were in the Walla Walla Frontier Day Parade (it was labor day weekend). It was so much fun! We were decked out with our Kind Campaign Mini Van, pink cowboy hats (bought at the fair the night before) and pink balloons. It was a workout though! The crowd was so receptive and excited about the project! We were so honored and excited to be there – it was a very surreal feeling for me. It was also a very hard workout for me! I haven’t gone on a walk/jog/run in quite some time, so the sprint from the car to the groups of people almost did me in!
Afterwards, we headed to a gorgeous park in the area. There were several people who stopped by and shared their stories. We spoke with Kally and Cindy MClure, Lori, and Ashley. Lauren talked extensively about the interview with Lori, so I am not going to go into details other than to say, the mood of everyone following her interview was altered. You could sense a different demeanor in everyone once she shared her story. It was very powerful. After a crazy morning, we took a bit of a breather – Lauren’s grandparents took us to lunch, then Debra took us on a Walla Walla tour of beauty! We drove around the country side “ooohing” and “ahhing” over the beauty, and of course stopping every now and then to take pictures. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Walla Walla and head onto Boise. We arrived in Boise late that night, but were so excited to be staying at the Courtyard by Marriot Boise Downtown (www.marriott.com), who donated us a room through the workings of MPE (Meeting Professionals Expectations – check them out at http://www.meetingpro.com/commercial) We were thrilled with our stay at the Courtyard in Boise – the rooms were wonderful, and we got an amazing complimentary breakfast! It was such a nice treat!
Sunday, was once again an amazing day. We woke up so well rested and took advantage of the complimentary breakfast! We didn’t have anything planned that day, so we head to the mall, of course! We were hoping to spread the word about the campaign, and meet some new friends who might be interested in sharing their story. It was our first time to really embrace the random ‘street interviews’/spur of the moment interviews, so it took us a while to get the hang of it, but finally we got into a groove and things went really well. We met two great girls, Isabel and Rachel, who shared what happens at their school between girls and their excitement about the campaign.
Of course, time flies when you are having fun, so before we knew it we needed to head onto Idaho Falls. We were all so excited when we needed to pull off and get gas and a city named Bliss was coming up – we had to see what was going on in Bliss, and I am so glad we did! In a matter of moments, we had started up a conversation with Patrick, then we moved inside and talked to Alene and Natalie, then to Breanna and Candie, then Nichole and her family, then to Alma and Kristy, and finally on our way out to Ready and his girls. Whew – who knew so much was going on in Bliss, Idaho, population 275. Even in a town this small, they all had something to share and say about girl against girl crime. With that, we continued our journey to Idaho Falls, where we arrived at the Fairfield Inn and Suites (again thank you MPE and Marriott for the complimentary rooms!)
Monday is already here. We had a long day ahead of us, but as has happened the past week, we never know what to expect. Well, today was no exception. We were driving to Jackson Hole, WY and were about to enter Wyoming, when Lauren says “Pull over, pull over – we have to see what these guys think about the issue!!) As we are whipping over to the side of the road, I look out and see a huge group of bikers. Up for an adventure, but a little nervous that the car is going to go over the edge, I start to get the release forms, etc. I won’t go into details about the experience because Lauren has done an amazing job, but I will say that since meeting these men, we cannot stop talking about their brotherhood and sincerity of welcoming us into their lives. We have been in a bit of communication with them and I hope that we can remain friends with Scott, Steve, Neil, Ben, Jim, George and Danny because they welcomed us into their lives no questions asked and in doing so have impacted our journey in such a positive way.
We finally made it to Jackson Hole – so gorgeous!! – and grabbed a bit to eat in the town square. While we were eating we met Nancy, Toleen, and Heidi who have all had experiences with the issue. Nancy and Toleen at 50 years old joined the army and fought in the Persian Gulf War (props to them!!!), and they said that even in the army they saw that competitive nature shine in women. We wrapped lunch and headed onto our final destination of the evening Yellowstone National Park. This may be one of the most beautiful drives in America! The natural beauty that was surrounding us called for some stops along the way to take in the beauty and snap a few photos, but knowing that we still had quite a drive ahead forced us to put the cameras away for a bit. Until we stopped at Old Faithful, but by the time we got there and it was supposed to blow, it was very dark and VERY chilly. Packing only one suitcase, it was this night that I realized that I did not pack and closed toed shoes – I made a stop at a Wal Mart later to remedy the situation! After waiting to see the beauty of the Ol’ guy, we continued driving until we made it to the beautiful McCaleb home, where Jim was waiting up with amazing food and conversation. We ate and talked until the wee hours of the morning, when we finally called it a night, knowing that we had to wake up in a matter of hours to continue our journey.
And then it was Tuesday. It had been a week since we hit the road, yet in some ways it seemed like a lifetime since we started, and in others it seemed like it all passed by in the blink of an eye. Does that make sense? Anyways, point is – I can’t believe it is already a week into the trip, but so much has happened I cannot imagine that it has only been a week that all of this has fit into. Wow, I am rambling. I will move onto what actually happened today. On our way out of town we made a stop at the post office on the way out because Jim gave each of us an amazing Yellowstone book, but we did not want them to get ruined in the packed car, so we safely sent them home! While we were there, we got into a conversation with Jean about women and the importance of female friendships. Then we hit the road out of the park, but had several sightings along the way!! We saw a couple of bison/buffalo (I don’t know the correct term, I think it is bison, but please correct me if I am wrong!) – one was lazily laying on the side of the road, whereas the other was straight up in the middle of the road walking towards our car!! I think we captured this exciting/nervous moment and our reaction to it on film – priceless! Of course, Lauren and I couldn’t leave without stopping and singing our rendition of “Home on the Range” – I am sure it will be a hit song after the documentary is released : )
In route to Crawford we stopped in Cody, Wyoming to grab some BBQ, but first stopped in at Cassie’s Saloon and heard Crystal’s experience with the issue. We liked the sound of the name of the city Thermopolis, so we figured it would be a great place to stop. We soon sparked up a conversation with Tammy and Jessica; Sean, Mike and Amanda who directed us to Sarah’s store, Nature’s Corner, where we found Mother Theresa’s quote of Kindness displayed. Once again, everything happens for a reason and stopping in Thermopolis was no exception! We had almost made it to Crawford, but we had to stop to fill up on gas in Casper, Wyoming. Even though it was already really late, we ended up getting into a inspirational conversation with war veteran, Robert, who shared his thoughts and prayed for our journeys safety and success. The end of the first week ended with a bang while we were searching for our hotel in Crawford. It was another iphone mishap, that was not good timing. It was late, it was dark, and my iphone led us into a field in search of the hotel. When we came to an open lot and it said we had reached our final destination, I called it quits on the iphone’s directions and simply said get us back to the main road – wherever that may be. Thankfully, once we got back to the main road, Chris spotted the County Line Motel sign from the back of the car and just like they said, the keys were waiting for us under the mat. We quickly made our way to our rooms and hit the hay, we were exhausted after a long day of driving!!
Well, I know I am extremely behind, but I am still getting caught up on the weeks ahead of this blog, but in the past now. I am going to do my best to finish up the 2nd and 3rd weeks as quickly as possible to give y’all an idea as to what we have been up to! You can make the assumption based on the lack of blogging that one thing that we have been is BUSY. So very, very busy, but everything has been so very, very exciting – so check back for the upcoming weeks blogs!
love love love,