Alaska

get lost

Three cheers for this piece! (Thanks to my brother for sending:)

If you’ve never disappeared by yourself, taken off, hit the road, please do it now- it will change your life forever. For real. (And it is summertime, so extra easy to just jump in the car.)

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Solo Travel

Solo Travel

Want to figure out what you’re made of? Build your independence and find your badass? Gain some clarity about something? Go hike, drive, bike, sit, walk, run, explore- and do it alone. It will be a pretty amazing experience and will teach you things you never expected.

Happy trails my friends! So many possibilities await…

#SoloTravel #JustDoIt #JumpIn

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there’s something about a road trip…

…that makes me jump up and down with excitement, my heart skip a beat, me feel totally and completely alive.

Today we head out for a long wedding weekend. Of course I am thrilled to celebrate love, see old friends, meet some new, eat some yummy food, have some yummy drinks, and shake my booty on the dance floor- but mostly I am thrilled to get behind the wheel and JUST BE ON THE ROAD.

I woke up bright and early in the dark this morning feeling different than most days lately, being that I have a home base and don’t travel, travel, road trip as mush as I used to. (Which might I add, is very tough and by that I mean, often feels like torture.) I woke up feeling energetic, powerful and ready to seize the day in a whole different way than I usually do now in my “normal”-ish life.

This means a few things:

1.) Clearly I can’t fight it- this girl (thumbs pointed inward) is a road warrior, and that will never change no matter who else I try to bend myself to be.

2.) I need to check myself (translation; smack myself) to keep finding adventure any way I can, and write more in this “normal”-ish life. (Obviously if you are following me here still, you know my writing has MAJORLY slowed down since I went from road warrior to home base girl last summer and that is not Ok with me.)

3.) Everyone- I mean every, single, one of us- deserves to find, have, and keep something or some one (and as often and much as possible) that makes us feel excited, our hearts skip a beat, and totally and completely alive.

With that I will say (to myself and you reading this); Today is the day. What are you waiting for? What makes you feel completely and totally alive?

Figure it out and find a way to live it. After all…this is your one rodeo.

Random throwback photo from my road to trip to Alaska a few years ago:

Road tripping is my religion

…boy was I one happy girl that day.

#TodayIsTheDay #TheRoadIsMyReligion #FindYourRodeo

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how does this author know so much about me?

A friend sent me this blog post today and as I read it, I kept thinking; YES! YES! YES! That is totally me.

DON’T DATE A GIRL WHO TRAVELS

She’s the one with the messy unkempt hair colored by the sun. Her skin is now far from fair like it once was. Not even sun kissed. It’s burnt with multiple tan lines, wounds and bites here and there. But for every flaw on her skin, she has an interesting story to tell.

Don’t date a girl who travels. She is hard to please. The usual dinner-movie date at the mall will suck the life out of her. Her soul craves for new experiences and adventures. She will be unimpressed with your new car and your expensive watch. She would rather climb a rock or jump out of an airplane than hear you brag about it.

Don’t date a girl who travels because she will bug you to book a flight every time there’s an airline seat sale. She wont party at Republiq. And she will never pay over $100 for Avicii because she knows that one weekend of clubbing is equivalent to one week somewhere far more exciting.

Chances are, she can’t hold a steady job. Or she’s probably daydreaming about quitting. She doesn’t want to keep working her ass off for someone else’s dream. She has her own and is working towards it. She is a freelancer. She makes money from designing, writing, photography or something that requires creativity and imagination. Don’t waste her time complaining about your boring job.

Don’t date a girl who travels. She might have wasted her college degree and switched careers entirely. She is now a dive instructor or a yoga teacher. She’s not sure when the next paycheck is coming. But she doesn’t work like a robot all day, she goes out and takes what life has to offer and challenges you to do the same.

Don’t date a girl who travels for she has chosen a life of uncertainty. She doesn’t have a plan or a permanent address. She goes with the flow and follows her heart. She dances to the beat of her own drum. She doesn’t wear a watch. Her days are ruled by the sun and the moon. When the waves are calling, life stops and she will be oblivious to everything else for a moment. But she has learned that the most important thing in life isn’t surfing.

Don’t date a girl who travels as she tends to speak her mind. She will never try to impress your parents or friends. She knows respect, but isn’t afraid to hold a debate about global issues or social responsibility.

She will never need you. She knows how to pitch a tent and screw her own fins without your help. She cooks well and doesn’t need you to pay for her meals. She is too independent and wont care whether you travel with her or not. She will forget to check in with you when she arrives at her destination. She’s busy living in the present. She talks to strangers. She will meet many interesting, like-minded people from around the world who share her passion and dreams. She will be bored with you.

So never date a girl who travels unless you can keep up with her. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, don’t you dare keep her. Let her go.

Confession:

I’m amidst one of the worst winter-duldrum/when does this end and get warm again already/why am I not living in the tropics/on the road full time right now- times I’ve ever had. I’m sure you’re probably thinking boo-hoo, Diane- don’t you travel enough? Haven’t you been to enough spots? Aren’t you thankful for what you have done and where you have gone? Well, no, no, and yes. Travel is simply a part of my heart & soul. I can’t explain it. The above blog post makes me want to run- not walk, and do more.

I’ve tried so hard to shake this pesky bug, this lifestyle, this insatiable hunger for all things exploration and travel, but I just can’t. Sigh. I want to (I really do!) I want to be “normal” but I just can’t be. I’ve realized more and more lately, that probably the only thing that will ever keep me happy is living light and free; Free to stay if I want, to go if I want, to embrace the full “Me-ness” that is me, the forever overly curious, fight to feel truly alive everyday, wanderer.

At the moment I’m under a big blanket feeling cold, stuck, pretty uninspired, and not really myself. In an effort to ditch those yuck feelings, I just perused a bunch of my goofy, fun, and slightly ridiculous travel photos:

The above photo should actually say; I just love everything…TRAVEL. 

Ok, now I feel better. I guess when those blah, endless feeling wintery days strike- It’s best to fight back with memories of all the awesome that has been a part of my life already, and all that is still to come.

The reason I started my current BLR 365 project (have you seen it and gotten on board yet?) is exactly for days like this. I really do believe we can feel totally alive and make everyday an adventure, even when we are feeling glum/stuck/yuck. It’s all about taking a minute during your standard day, to look back, dream forward, do something creative, or let your mind wander about all that’s possible in the future.

What makes your soul burst with excitement?

#LifeOfATraveler #Wanderlust #StayUnstuck

PS~ A huge THANK YOU! To my always supportive, fellow lover of all things travel & adventure, fantastic friend, David who sent me Don’t date a girl who travels..

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HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY BLUE LOLLIPOP ROAD!

YIPPEE!!!

Today is Wednesday October 16, and this makes b-day number 5 for BLR. Let’s celebrate!

Cupcake anyone?!

She-Daisy Cupcakery Cupcake

This is the perfect time to write about the above de-lish treat (sun drop pound cake with a sun drop glaze and lemon buttercream) that Wendi, Owner of She Daisy Cupcakery gifted me a few weeks ago after she bought a pair of my vintage Frye boots. (Craigslist rocks.) So yeah, I took a treat from a stranger. (I seem to keep breaking all those rules our parents told us to live by.) Wendi was a blast to talk to. She quit a career that was blah, followed her passion to the land of things sweet- and voila a cupcake company! Another good story about a random encounter with a hard-working, inspiring person who followed their heart. I love being able to share about these kind of people here.

Without a doubt the best part of these past 5 years on the Blue Lollipop Road, has been meeting new people, the kindness of strangers, and spending time with those already in my life that I love. What else is there, really?

Ahhh- yes, the people I’ve met along the way, who share similar interests:

Million Mile Joe

Hood River, Oregon travel people

Allen & Judy Kirkwood on Alaska Ferry Boat

Meet Jack Burrows: Blue Lollipop Road

…the cities I’ve fallen in love with:

Chicago skyline from my apartment

Toronto view

…my various office locations:

Blue Benn Diner Office

Coffee Shop Office

Finger Lakes Office

My BLR Chicago Office

Coffee Shop Office

Coffee Shop Patio Office

…the food I’ve noshed on:

Chicago Brunch de-lish

Food truck tacos

Bongo Room Pancakes

Blue Benn Diner breakfast appetizer

…the places that’ve helped me find the way back to myself:

Thank you Argentina! I found myself again

…the signs that make me laugh:

Signs at The Chocolate Barn

Signs In Bathrooms

Upstate, NY Road Signs

Farmer's Market

Funny Signs: Blue Lollipop Road

Funny Signs: Blue Lollipop Road

…the excitement, energy, and adorable kids (and adults) who keep the Strong Mojo alive:

BLR Play It Forward Day 2012

Ben & Sam with blue tongues

The Carter Girls playing mini gold in BLR tees

Blue Lollipop Kids!

Caleb & Carter with blue tongues

Scott & Sierra love blue lollipops

…the adventure from coast to coast and beyond:

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

BLR-Mobile at the Alaska Border

BLR in Bermuda

The original Blue Lollipop Road: Cafayete, Argentina

Henna in India

Bermuda sights

Iquazu Falls, Argentina

London

"Crabbing" in Ketchikan, Alaska

…the lessons I’ve learned:

BLR inspiration

…the special friends I’ve reconnected with:

BLR Play It Forward Day 2012

BLR Play It Forward 2013

BLR PLay It Forward Day 2012

BLR PLay It Forward Celebration Cocktails 2013

…honoring lost friends by giving back to hometown female athletes, so they have the opportunity to go out and see a bigger world too:

BLR Memorial Scholarship recipients Hannah Patterson & Mercedes Chen

(Above left 2012 Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship recipient Hannah Patterson, and 2013 recipient Mercedes Chen at a recent soccer game:)

…events with good friends in beloved landmarks:

Cubs at Wrigley!

…the strangers out there who’re also on the Blue Lollipop Road:

BLR partners in crime

…the freedom I have found and felt:

Finding freedom on the Blue Lollipop Road

Finding freedom on the Blue Lollipop Road

…the truths I’ve come to know and trust:

Knowing what makes me richer

…the journeys and daydreaming in the sky:

Plane ride to Bermuda

…and on the road:

VA farm country

…the cheesy places I’ve been:

BLR-Mobile at South of the Border

…and the beautiful:

Napa hot air balloon mornings

…the nicknames I’ve acquired:

Nicknames

…knowing that there will always be bumps, so I better strap in tight:

Buckle up on the BLR

…never losing faith in things that I hope for:

I think so too

Things I wish

…and to wherever, and whatever- the road leads to next:

The Blue Lollipop Road

5 years ago today I drove down a road in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and “Blue Lollipop Road” popped ever so randomly into my head as I was brainstorming a best way to share my stories with more than just family and close friends. Who knew this is what it would become! I’ve managed all the above on a shoestring budget and with no plan whatsoever. I didn’t grow up with a trust fund, I never spent my childhood jet-setting the globe with my parents (I barely made it out of the state of Vermont until I was 15), I’ve never taken any writing or computer classes (I’m sure that is very obvious considering my regular grammatical errors and other:), and at the risk of sounding so cliche’- I’m just a small town wildly curious kid, that came from humble beginnings, learned in an heartbreaking incident at a very young age how short life is, and since then have decided that every day is a chance and a choice to live like I mean it. During my journeys on this Blue Lollipop Road, I’ve learned things that’ve absolutely changed my perspective and my life as a whole, I’ve seen places that’ve taken my breath away, and I’ve met people I wouldn’t have been able to in my wildest dreams- all because of this platform. Now that is something to celebrate!

I’ve written and shared here in and effort to keep myself in check and awake about what’s really important, to prevent myself from falling into the drone-zone, and to remember all the things that are possible. I hope by visiting here, you stay fired-up about life, like a kid in a candy store too.

Here’s to the next 5 years, and to going for it all.

What are you celebrating today?

#HappyBirthday #LifeOnTheBlueLollipopRoad #ThisIsWhatILove.

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inspired by best of the road

After these past few weeks of talking about, reviewing, voting on, and dreaming of America’s most:

*Beautiful
*Patriotic
*Friendly
*Fun
*Best for food

…small town spots. Team Blue Lollipop Road was inspired to dive into our photo archives and pull out some of our snap shots that reminded us of each category.

*Beautiful

Sitting on a lawn during sunset in Cape Elizabeth, Maine:

Cape Elizabeth Maine sunset

Morning grapevines and hot air balloons after a run in Napa:

Napa morning hot air balloons

Hiking near Hood River, Oregon:

Hiking near Hood River, OR

On a boat ride and fishing trip in Juneau, Alaska

on the water in Juneau, AK

*Patriotic

Driving through Poland Springs, Maine

Flag on firetruck in Poland Springs Maine

On the back roads of Sandgate, Vermont:

The BLR-Mobile in Vermont at covered bridge

The town square in Bath, Maine:

Town sidewalk in Bath, ME

*Friendly

With Ferry Manager in Swan Quarter, North Carolina:

Swan Quarter, NC Ferry Manager

The staff at Mainely Custard in Freeport, Maine said- “Come on in!” when I told them I was a big ice cream fan:

Staff at Mainely Custard

The Popcorn Man in St. Helena, California:

The Popcorn Man in St. Helena, CA

3 gents I met at Alaska Brewing Company in Juneau, Alaska:

Friends in Juneau, AK

*Fun

Our hilarious rafting guide near Hood River, Oregon:

Rafting guide in Hood River, OR

Staff on a Beatles themed  food bus in Virginia:

Staff on the Yellow Submarine Food Bus

Dancing Pedro at a country bar in Illinois:

Diane dancing with Pedro in Illinois

Concert goers dancing the night away with us in Wilmington, NC:

Fun concert friends in Wilmington, NC

*Best for food

Me noshing on a whoopie pie in Maine:

Diane noshing on a Maine whoopie pie

Dessert at Dano’s on Seneca, Hector NY

Dessert at Dano's on seneca Lake

Breakfast crepes in Madison, Wisconsin:

Crepe at the Bradbury in Wisconsin

Fresh veggie quesadillas in Illinois:

Quesadilla in Illinos

Dessert crepes in Charlottesville, Virginia

Diane noshing on Crepe in Charlottesville, VA

(Clearly we are not afraid to dive right in!)

So many amazing people, place and things in America to enjoy. We love that when you travel, all you have to do is be your interested, open, and curious self- and people invite you right in to join anything!

There is always plenty of adventure around every corner…

Here’s to the road!

 .

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voting ends tomorrow!

Have you put in your reviews for Best of the Road yet? Where do you like to adventure, eat, drink, play, go? See some of Team Blue Lollipop Road’s favorites here and pipe in with your own reviews, then vote for us here so we can be a finalist team in the 2012 rally!

If you need some travel inspiration for yourself or to vote for us, here are a few photos from “there road”s I’ve taken the past couple years.

Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, CA:

Pacific Coast Highway CA

Sitting on the side of the road at sunset in Sitka, AK:

Sunset Sitka, AK

Stopping to take in the mountains in Yukon, Canada:

Yukon, Canada BC

Relaxing at sunset at Seneca Lake, NY:

Sunset over Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, NY

Sitting on the beach in Outer Banks, NC:

OBX, NC

During a bike ride outside Cafayate, Argentina:

Road outside Cafayate, Argentina

Looking up at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, NC:

Cape Hatteras, NC

Ferrying into Juneau, AK:

Ferrying into Juneau, AK

Kneeling by the water at the Taj Mahal:

Taj Mahal, India

Hiking near Hood River, OR:

Hiking near Hood River, OR

From the walking trails at Iguazu Falls, Argentina:

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Parked on the side of the road looking at the Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau AK:

Mendenhall Glacier Juneau, AK

Driving through Central Canada:

Down the road in central Canada

So where are you getting inspired to go this summer?

There’s a whole big world out there ready for the taking. Let’s hit the road together!

 .

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best of small town america

Here’s what Rand McNally and USA TODAY are sending teams out in search of, for the Best of the Road Rally 2012. The:

  • Most Fun
  • Most Patriotic
  • Most Beautiful
  • Best for Food
  • Friendliest

…small towns in America.

This Blue Lollipop Road sure has been to plenty of small town stuff on that list, so how about some daily pix until the voting ends to inspire you all to VOTE FOR US?

Ketchikan, AK local Mike took me and another traveler from “the lower 48” out fishing and touring on his boat one day during my summer 2010 visit. We stopped at a few spots, did some hiking, saw black bear and had a blast. The nature around the Naha River Trail was gorgeous!

Hike around Naha River Trail Ketchikan, AK

I am not so good at fishing for what we were trying to catch though. Talk about a crack up when I caught these giant gelatinous things!

The "Deadliest Catch" in Ketchikan, AK

Just call me a fisherman on the Deadliest Catch.

Being serenaded by Fisherman in Ketchikan, AK

Speaking of, later that evening after a shower for $1.25 in a laundromat (if you’re ever road tripping to AK and sleeping in your car, don’t forget your quarters for your every few days shower at various places like marinas and laundromats. It will be the best $1.25 you ever spent!)- I walked into an empty restaurant and ponied up to the bar for some eats and relaxation. 5 minutes in chatting with the staff, I was bombarded by a crew of fisherman “fresh” off the boat. These guys claimed they were the ones who actually caught the fish for the deadliest catch to stage for the TV show. I don’t know what the truth is, all I know is they were ready to P-A-R-T-Y and they were so entertaining I stayed for several hours observing. (They thought I was some secret spy reporter.) They made me stand up on the piano when another patron started playing so they could serenade me. I laughed so hard for 2 hours my stomach hurt. These guys were characters and then some. Quite the stories these Alaska Fishermen who spend 22 days straight on boats have.

I’d definitely categorize Ketchikan, AK as some amazing small town fun, friendly and beautiful. I met the real deal people that night!.

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oh the places you will go

As I’ve been working with my talented, patient, and generous web guy Bobby sending him information, photos, links, etc. for the BLR face lift we are doing, I found this link from A Skirt! Magazine issue I was featured in before I drove to Alaska.

My, my, the things that have happened since this photo and article. Oh the places we have been.

This BLR-mobile got different license plates, added branding on the bumper, it drove all the way up to the Gateway to the Klondike:

The BLR-mobile at the Alaska border in Skagway

…and went through the Inside Passage of The Last Frontier, then all the way down the west coast spending nearly 5 months total on the road with an extended work stay in Napa, back east, then a move to Chicago, travels back east again, back to Chicago, back east once more and just back to Chicago this week. (With so much in between.)

Phew!

I don’t think I’ve ever shared here after that Skirt! photo shoot, I left the east coast headed for Alaska with only $600, a fresh oil change, a few paper maps, and all my belongings in the trunk. (As in everything I owned.) If you do any sort of calculations on mileage and gas, $600 is not even enough money for gas to get to Alaska let alone any other expenses. I made it there and back and then some as listed above because at the time I wanted to make that journey happen so badly I would’ve walked there if I had to. Not only was I safe, happy, and did I have an amazing time, but I didn’t have to walk there. Why? Because along the way things just happened. 

It’s so fun to look back and have those hell yeah- I did that! moments.

When you take a step towards life (and work your ass off) the universe responds. That is no joke, and this photo above is a perfect example. There are no secrets or superpowers I have that you don’t have too.

Is there a “place” that you want to be so badly, you’d be willing to walk there? What’s holding you back from starting that walk?

This calls for a little Dr. Seuss moment:

Oh the Places You’ll Go:

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets.  Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry.  Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

You’re right Dr. S!

We have brains in our heads, we have feet in our shoes, and we can steer ourselves in any direction we chose!.

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i should pay starbucks…

…for all the unplanned and totally random, awesome connections and moments I have made while working from their billion locations.

Just now, business guy next too me updating friend: “Yeah, so my son graduated and he’s on his way to Alaska. He wants to stay there for the summer and be a fisherman. My wife is kind of freaking out.”

Of course I invited myself to butt in the conversation with: “Let him! Oh my god! Please! It will be the coolest thing ever for him to experience and will make him a better human. I really believe that, I have done this for a long time, I am nearly 34. You can even call my mother- she will tell you that by me travel and trying new things- moving to where I’ve known very few people and very little about, has helped me become a most resourceful and overall badass fearless person. Isn’t that what every parent wants?”

Bam.

I’m closing my computer and walking out the door of Starbucks now. Thanks Starbucks.

Hey business suit guy with the kid who wants to go fishing~

If you love him and want him to become the best kid you could dream of- let him go! I promise you’ll never regret it and neither will he. if you are reading this , send me an email or note here. I love sharing my “road” resources and I know some amazing people from my time in Alaska. I’m happy to help!

Here’s to one life. Do it while you can…:).

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