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 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:
(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:
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!