the real deal

It’s been about 10 days since the good madness began for Team Blue Lollipop Road soliciting votes in hopes to be chosen for the Rand McNally/USA TODAY Best of the Road 2012. I have worked my tail off already and can barely sleep at night because I want so badly to go on this trip with my Mom. The anticipation and excitement of it all (and we are not even on the trip yet!)- is the energy I live for. I love it. I love “meeting” new travelers on social media, I love watching the videos from last years competitors, I love reading about small towns I have never been to and daydreaming about going to to them.

This competition and rally is particularly important to me because it’s about Small Town America. The people, the food, the fun, the everyday life. This is what I have always traveled for and what the whole point of Blue Lollipop Road is: It’s about spending time with interesting and fun people in regular everyday places. My favorite travel memories are the ones where I’ve done nothing big or “important”, just the times enjoying coffee shop chats with people like Jack Burrows:

Jack Burrows- road people

Jack sat down beside me as I typed away at my computer in July of 2010 and told me about his Inn that he owned on a little Island where I was in NC. Just a happy smiley guy excited to have a visitor to his town. (How could you not love that face?) Another one of my most favorite road times was meeting these little cuties near the VT/NH border in September 2011 when I stopped at their lemonade stand:

Cutie-pies at a lemonade stand

(It’s as if this was staged it was so incredibly adorable, but it was totally random.)

I was quite the lemonade stand entrepreneur myself when I was little. (Mom will tell you stories on that and how I tried to sell “rock pictures” at my lemonade stands too.) I always have to stop to support my fellow business ladies like these, and naturally I couldn’t leave without a photo, so I asked the moms and dads if I could take one and give the girls a blue lollipop which they happily agreed. I didn’t even have to ask these 4 to stick out their blue tongues. They were giggling and loving it:

Blue lollipop tongues!

This picture is one of my favorite I have ever taken in the thousands I have. The pure joy of a simple sunny day with a lemonade stand and a lollipop.

These are the kinds of moments I live for, and why I stay curious and travel. These are moments you can’t buy, force to make, or get anywhere else but on the road. That is why I want to go on this Best of the Road rally with my Mom. I want to share with her moments like these that are out there to be had because she is a huge reason why I’ve made such a rich and full life of adventure. She’s always encouraged me to go, do and be exactly what I want with no expectation or rule other than to work hard and follow my heart and that’s exactly what I am doing here.

So? In all the moments of butt-busting to get votes, vying for social media attention and nuzzling Team Blue Lollipop Road into a spot in the lead to be chosen as one of the finalists, my hope is that the authenticity of Mom, myself and the spirit of Blue Lollipop Road will always shine through more than anything else. Spending time in Small Town America and moments with people are where my heart and soul are. If I could choose how to spend a dream day, or a million dollars if I had it- being in a car on a x-country trip in the USA like the one that I am competing to get in on now, would be my absolute first choice.

Here’s to the road!



reason #787

To VOTE FOR TEAM BLUE LOLLIPOP ROAD for the Rand McNally/USA TODAY Best of the Road rally 2012!

A special thanks to our Friday lunch waiter Joel for being a sport about this! Talk about jump right in when a stranger asks “Do you want to be in a video?”

What a cutie he was and super fun.

Thanks for helping Team Blue Lollipop Road Joel! We will be back for lunch soon! (And by the way I stopped on my way out and found your boss to tell him what a great server you are 🙂


reason #478 to vote for team blue lollipop road

for the Best of the Road Rally 2012:

We find slabs of pizza and aren’t afraid to chow down!

Sicilian slab at Miccuci's

Welcome to the “sicilian slab” I found at Miccuci’s Grocery in Portland, Maine:

Micucci's Sicillian Slab

This slab was one of the freshest, most delicious, piping hot, squishy amazing melt in your mouth things I have ever eaten. (Translate: hosed.) Up close and personal when I was halfway through:

Micucci's Sicillian Slab

Mmmm….so, so good. This slab didn’t have a chance and was gone in 4 minutes or less. I actually stood up and ate the entire thing.

Want to feed me some of your best small town food? This girl is not afraid to eat…bring it! Vote for your town and maybe we will see you there.

VOTE FORE TEAM BLUE LOLLIPOP ROAD and put us on the tour of the best eats across the USA!


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!


hello from my chicago rooftop!

After talking to Mom this afternoon about the fact that the competitors that are hot on our tails to win a spot for the Best of the Road rally, I decided to make this video:

Who needs a shower to make a video? Who needs to see a video right side up? (Oops!) If you can’t laugh at yourself…

***(I like to roll with the first unscripted take. Just lean sideways! 🙂

Running up to the rooftop after the gym when you have 2 minutes before you have to be somewhere and start talking to the camera while your neighbors are tanning and drinking beer? Well it’s a conversation starter anyway!

Because Mom and I aren’t currently out on the road like some of the other teams vying for a spot to go on this rally, I have a few tricks up my sleeve I’m going to have to pull out to jump in the fun just as if we were. We have to get creative! Archives of road trip adventure are about to come out of the woodwork so get ready.

Have you voted for us yet today?

Get ready Chicago! This chick is going to be beating feet on the street to get your votes! We are so going to be one of the 5 teams on this Best of the Road 2012!



Team Blue Lollipop Road is leading votes so far, but we still have 20 days to go, so we still need your support!

CLICK HERE to vote for my Mom and I to be a part of the 2012 Rand McNally and USA TODAY’s 2nd annual search for the Best Small Towns in America!

Here’s the dish on this Road Rally:

Rand McNally and USA TODAY send amateur travelers (that’s us!) across the country From Washington DC to Seattle exploring the Best Small Towns in America naming the Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Most Fun, and Best Small Town for Food with blogs, photos, reviews and videos to take you on the journey from wherever you are. (As if you are riding in the car with us!)

Talk about the perfect trip and exactly what Blue Lollipop Road exists for! I have always been an advocate of not just “vacation” travel (like only seeing sights at sites) but the immersion experience, actively engaged vs. passively observing. The nooks and crannies where you nosh and spend time with local characters is where you find the good stuff.  Mom and I have always been fascinated with small town America (probably because we both grew up in a tiny town and appreciate where we came from so much) so we would LOVE to be one of the teams selected for this trip.

Here’s my mumsie and I:

Mom and I at Sea Dog Brewing Company in Maine

Pick us! The Peacock’s (that’s our actual real last name) are ready for adventure!

This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom and I and cracks me up. The guy behind us is really enjoying his food while were relaxing on the patio at the Sea Dog Brewing Company in Maine with my brother and sister. It’s pretty awesome to be best buds with your Mom and siblings as an adult. (I couldn’t resist adding this photo of my adorable smilin’ brother with his yummy Sea Dog samples):

My brother Brad at Sea Dog Brewery

During this trip we stayed in Bath, (The City of ships!) and wandered different spots in Brunswick and around the Portland area. New England in the summer is just absolutely gorgeous, and Maine is one of our favorites.

Bath Maine cottage summer

…even on a cloudy day it’s beautiful:

Portland Maine Coast

If you’ve been following here of any amount of time, you know I have photos  and stories galore of people, places and food from my 50 state adventures. But? I know I have only touched the surface of what the USA has to offer for small towns, so help Team Blue Lollipop Road get on the road this summer to go search for more!



direct from ireland this morning

Meet Erin:

Erin Mullaly at Carrauntoohil, Co Kerry Ireland

Yep, he’s an “E-r-i-n” male Erin. Irish you think?

Erin and I have been pals for years since living in Virginia. He moved to Ireland about 8 years ago. Each year on St, Pat’s Day he sends a photo of himself in some Irish spot with a big smile. It’s become my favorite part of this day. (I think I have posted his pix here before…) This just came in via email with a caption:

“…from the top of Carrauntoohil, Co Kerry – highest point in Ireland!”

Love it. Thanks Erin!

Here’s to tradition, fun days with friends, green rivers, and people who move for adventure because they’s always wanted to.


road trip!

To my horror, I realized the other day that I had not been out of the state by car in 5 months. How did that happen?- I though. Simply unacceptable for me.

So I decided I’d drive to Nashville this weekend.

The week didn’t turn out quite the way I had anticipated, so I am taking a a shorter, quicker road trip. Hint: To a cheesy place with really cute kids:

Ali and Wisconsin Farmer's Market cheese bread

I’ll have to go get my country on in Nashville another weekend soon. This face is too hard to resist.

The road and good old friends await, so I am off…

Here’s to not letting too much time (like 5 months) pass in between doing what you love and seeing who you love.


what makes you come alive?

Check out my friend Sean, Founder of One Week Job:

Today is a prefect day for me to share this, as I have made a big decision in this theme of coming alive. I will share all about it here in 3 weeks, so stay tuned.

If whatever you are doing with your time isn’t making you come alive, the time is now to make a change.

Thanks for being an awesome inspiration Sean!