I saw this video on CNN yesterday during a work meeting. There was a TV on silent near where we were all sitting. Choking back tears as I was supposed to be listening to my boss, my heart just hurt for this kid and the millions of others who ever feel alone, misunderstood, or hated for just being who they are. I did a little poking around on the web, and there seems to be some speculation as to whether this video is fake or not. If this video is fake, this young man is one of the best actors I have ever seen. I’m not sure how you could fake pain like this:
Fake or real, it ultimately makes no difference. This video brings attention to a serious issue, and if it does nothing more than make a single person stop and think before they wanted to hurt themselves, I am a huge fan.
Jonah, you do have a million reasons to be here, and we all think you are perfect just the way you are.
Let this video inspire us all today, to show a little extra love to someone you know who might be going through a tough or lonely time.
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Today was my last day on what has been a most incredible trip. There couldn’t have been a more perfect way to celebrate hope, freedom and possibility (what Blue Lollipop Road is all about) than taking a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I can’t thank everyone enough for the votes that ended up sending me there! An absolute best grand finale for this 18 days on the road in my loaned Honda.
It was a beautiful day for an early morning drive out of the city to Liberty State Park in NJ to catch my ferry:
…where I walked up to enter the building and was met by “tough” S.W.A.T Policemen Gerry and Malichi:
Yeah, they were big softies and having fun, but as soon as I started rolling the video camera they put their straight faces on. Just wait- there’s more coming with these guys later…
It was time for me to explore and learn about the millions of people who had been on Ellis Island arriving in America for a new life. I have to say I was completely in awe of the stories, facts and images I saw inside that building. It was almost as if I could feel the souls of those who had been there. I was completely captivated by what I saw and read. I overheard other visitors around me from all over the world speaking different languages (some I’d never heard before) looking for traces of their lineage. This was one of those times that I was reminded again that behind every single human, there is a interesting story. A pretty powerful feeling for a Monday morning for sure. I was so intrigued by my surroundings I spend hours just wandering and taking it all in.
A few photos from things I saw. Luggage used by the travelers:
…items found during the restoration of the building:
…The Registry Room:
My favorite story from The Registry Room of course being that of the kissing post.
Other signs and quotes that caught my eye:
…and one image of a little boy that I could not stop staring at:
Have you ever had one of those times when you get what seems like an adrenaline rush and feeling of I want more, more, more more!? That feeling when you know you have a true passion for something? That’s how I felt today at Ellis Island. Learning about people, their lives and culture has always been my favorite thing about traveling. Standing in the history of where millions of people from around the world once were there made me want to jump back in time and just be among all of them learning everything I possibly could. (And surprise, surprise- has given me an idea for a project.)
Thank you Ellis Island. You are now among my favorite spots in my travels.
On the way out, it was back to my not so “tough” new S.W.A.T pals Malichi and Gerry. I had fun sassing them and they gave it right back to me. (Boy do I love that.)
Meet smiley Gerry:
Yeah, I pretty much told him his muscles had nothing on mine:
Gerry and Malichi- Considering you have already left a comment here, I know you are reading this. I also know you are laughing. Good times right? Good thing I didn’t blow your tough cover. (Malichi, I can’t believe you managed a straight face in every picture! If only the people knew…)
Thanks for being such good sports!
Goodbye’s were said and off to the Statue of Liberty I went, back on the ferry:
…and time to walk up the steps to the pedestal:
…where I met National Park Service Employee, Walter. Friendly teasing and heckling about about the amount of steps to climb:
Oh the characters I meet and all the people like Walter I wish I could sit with for hours. I bet that man has put thousands of smiles on faces over his 20 years there.
So nice to meet you Walter! Thanks for putting a smile on my face.
After my walk up, I had time for one final video to give a thumbs up:
…and back to my afternoon car drop off time:
What’s next? Well, an immediate 850 mile drive back to Chicago to work at job #2 in 24 hours, lot’s of wrap up from this trip, a big time announcement about something very exciting I’ll be doing in a month and maybe…a nap?
These 18 days may have just ended, but the Blue Lollipop Road does not. Just one adventure ending, in time for another one to start…
THANK YOU HONDA!!!
***Total miles driven today, day 18: 44
***Total miles driven on trip: 2,822
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind: 27
(A side note for Big Apple travelers: CityPASS offers discounted admission to the Statue of Liberty, as well has 5 other top attractions in New York City for $109. This is a 40% discount, compared to the combined regular box office prices. I love a good deal- so check this one out if you’re planning a trip!)
It’s my last full day before the car return. (Boo!)
I wanted to give a little tour of this amazing 2012 Honda Hybrid Civic that’s been so good to me over the past couple weeks:
It’s a good thing I love this car so much because I sure have spent a lot of time in it stuck in traffic the past few days!
I thought I’d have a bunch of wander time in the Big Apple tonight, but by the time we spent all afternoon on the Jersey Turnpike and actually getting in to the city, there was only time for dinner and bed. (I have a very early rise time to catch the ferry in the morning to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.) I had to squeeze in at least one NYC landmark food spot, so as suggested by a friend;Â Lombardi’s Pizza it was. (America’s first pizzeria!)
Tomato, basil and the freshest, most delicious mozzarella you could eat on a pie. Mmmm…
All in all most of today was spent in transit, but even a few hours in NYC is a thrill and energy feed that I will take any day. (Not to mention the pizza treat!)
In the morning I go to the top voted spot Honda Fans picked from the Honda Facebook poll and I am thrilled! What a perfect way to end this incredible trip. Thank you again to everyone who voted!
***Total miles driven today, day 17: 117
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,778
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 26
I don’t even know where to begin on this zany, crazy, fun, feast of a stop.
My “plan” for today (once again, plans when I travel seem silly to even bother to make most the time) was to explore at least a couple food spots friends and readers had suggested around the City of Brotherly Love before we hit up the Honda Civic Tour show. I usually like to eat a little here a little there- like a smorgasbord of a city so I can fit it a bunch in when I only have a short time in a place. Well, that was so not happening after our entire afternoon at Koch’s Deli in West Philly. (And I cannot tell you how 110% Ok I was with that!)
Let the best kind of madness began:
…and then we went inside:
Surprises left and right, me stuffing my face again, (Mom- aren’t you proud?) and so much happening I couldn’t keep my head on straight. (Actually, that’s probably because I was on a cheese and pickle high.) Ezra continued to stuff everyones face as he lovingly heckled not only us, but allllll the customers. We made friends with everyone around us including Brita in the orange sweatshirt who was, like my friend Jocelyn- a “virgin” first-timer to Koch’s:
In case you don’t know this, I can eat. (Review above videos and nearly every post I write.) I’m not afraid of some food and a 5 mile run after to work it all off, but my god I ate more food standing in line at Koch’s than I eat at Thanksgiving sometimes! I had about 62 kinds of cheese, 342 pickles and I’m sure equal amounts of meat. Ezra was scolding me to “eat, eat, eat!”- so I threw vegetarian life to the wind and went in head first in a carnivore-fest. I tried pastrami types and random beef something or other. Meats I would never ever usually touch, have never eaten before, or haven’t tried in 10 years. It was out of control and I was in the moment going all the way. At Koch’s there’s something in the air that makes you want to scream NIKE!- and just do it. So I did. The overall vibe and scene in this place is a come, eat, laugh, and whoop it up. You can’t be shy here. I love that. It’s very clear by the hundreds of photos and notes covering the walls that lots of others love it too:
I finally got myself organized from the sensory overload, to order my hoagie: Honey turkey, onion-cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers and oil and vinegar:
Did Ezra slice it right there and make me try with yet another pickle? You bet he did!
Then he gave me a smooch:
…and I gave him a blue lollipop:
Of course I left blue lollies for the other staff too. Barbie (who actually was the one who made my sandwich) and Bryce who was slicing and dicing behind the counter. When Bryce heard I was driving a Honda he grinned, piped up and said excitedly: “Hey! My first car was a 1991 Accord and it had 300,000 miles on it!” Meet Bryce, fellow Honda fan:
After meeting the whole staff, talking to the regulars, and eating what seemed like ten thousand samples of meats and cheeses, we collected our sandwiches, said our goodbye’s and out the door for a wrap up video. You guessed it, the surprises were not over:
Oh Koch’s- I will so be back! You might go down in history as my most favorite sandwich experience ever. Thank you Ezra, Barbie and Bryce for such a great afternoon.
Naturally I wanted to check out all the Honda stuff, so we wandered to where the Civic Si CoupeÂ giveaway was. (Custom designed by the guys of Blink 182):
Did I sign up to win it? Heck yeah! Then I got tattooed up for the night:
As we wandered the masses before the show started, I spotted this little rocker dude and had to ask his mom if I could take a picture. Meet Ricky:
How adorable is he trying to be all tough with his mohawk?!
We found our seats and the show was about to begin:
Opening act Matt & Kim came on and got the crowd riled up:
They were hilarious! A sassy duo you would totally want to hang with and get into a little trouble. There couldn’t have been a better opener leading up to the show, starting with My Chemical Romance:
This show was my first time hearing much of these guys. They were awesome, the crowd loved them, and was excited to find another band to be a fan of! Blink 182 still had my heart though:
(Crush time!) Yep, I am still carrying a crush I had over 10 years ago that started after seeing them at a music festival in Upstate, NY. I picked an old-school song of course, to go with my old-school crush.
The amphitheater was packed and the crowd was on their feet and just going nuts the whole show. (We were too!) It was SO MUCH FUN. Being there made me feel like I wanted to be a rock star and wonder why I don’t go to more concerts. Thanks Honda! The guys announced on stage that this was the biggest show crowd on the whole tour and I got to be there thanks to you- yeah!
What’s the best surprise after jumping around all night screaming and singing with thousands of strangers and being exhausted as you sit bumper to bumper trying to get out of an after-concert parking lot? Koch’s Deli leftovers to nosh on! Mmmm…midnight snack. We were so glad we had those. What a day. Talk about going to bed full, exhausted and smiling…
Tomorrow I head to NYC to be close to the ferry for my final day Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty tour!
***Total miles driven today, day 16: 53
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,661
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 25
Driving, driving and more driving- so hello from the car:
Traffic really was a bear.
I’m not joking when I speak of these dance parties I have in the car and belting out tunes. So? I just kept the camera rolling:
Yep, I realize I’m never going to live this one down. My Mother will crack up about my comment on the aerobics (because it’s true.) I certainly didn’t plan on posting this one, but? Ever have those moments when you really want to do something but you get all shy? Then you think- what the heck, just press send you chicken! How embarrassing could it possibly be?
Well, there you have it.
I might just get DORK tattooed across my forehead.
Hello Philly! Let’s go have some more music fun and make fools of ourselves shall we?
Blink 183- I totally crush on you!
***Total miles driven today, day 15: 279
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,608
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 22
Yes, that many places in one day and then some. This is where I will ask you to get out a map to follow this story.
No really, go grab a NC map- you are going to need it!
During yesterday, day 13 around OBX and after hearing there were going to be issues with getting to Cape Hatteras with road closures, rearranged ferry’s and ferry schedules, I started asking and calling and calling and asking. Yep, the 800 numbers, locals, staff at various business and visitors centers, even police officers- you name it, I asked and tried and tried and asked, determined to make it to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. As you will hear in the following videos and see in the photos- I didn’t make it, but I did meet some southern sweeties and had quite the drive through the back roads of NC.
I was told/given several stories before I began my attempt to make it on a ferry. Everyone had good intention and really thought they were giving me the right information, but turns out no one really knew what was going on and I didn’t find out the actual deal until I went allllll the way to the end of the line to learn Cape Hatteras was not in my cards this go around. What a wild good chase!
(Ok, now unfold that NC map.)
I left from Nags Head and drove through Manns Harbor to Stumpy Point Bay to catch the ferry I’d been advised to try. (For all of you who are not familiar, normal practice to get to Hatteras is to simply drive from Nags Head on route 12. That route is currently closed, so the reason this fun debacle began.) I was met by a police officer in Stumpy Point Bay next to a “road closed” sign. The officer broke the news that only locals and supplies could be sent on that ferry. He advised me to go to Swan Quarter, so back up the road I went to Manns Harbor, then to Columbia. I headed south from Columbia, through the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge to Fairfield:
…then into Swan Quarter:
…where I pulled over to park and learn after all that calling, asking, and driving, my plan was not going to work:
The good thing is, met and ended up spending the next 2 hours with incredibly warm and funny Swan Quarter Ferry staff:
Mitchell, Wayne, and Glenda fed me coffee, encouraged me to sit and stay as long as I wanted, gave me a desk so I could charge my camera battery (no WIFI at that little building) and treated me like I was part of the family. From my videos it’s plain to see that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these fine folks. Here I am with Ferry Station Manager Mitchell:
What a trip it was to hang out with these people, what a run around, and what a bummer in the end that I wasn’t able to make it to Cape Hatteras. Then again, it’s the journey- not the destination, right?
A huge thanks to All the staff at Swan Quarter Ferry. I am so coming back to see you all!
North I headed, deciding to take back roads on my way to I-95. (Why not keep going with the theme of the day right?) I passed cotton fields:
…and roads that really felt like they just my stop at the end of the earth, so I thought it was funny that I passed this sign:
By the time I reached VA, I needed a big ol’ shower and sleep and that’s just what I did.
Now? Off to Philly with my gifted tickets to the Honda Civic Tour concert this weekend (Thanks Honda!)- and to wrap up the last couple days of this trip.
Making it to all three of the top voted spots from the Honda Facebook page? Sigh. Well, I made it to Kitty Hawk, tried very hard but obviously didn’t quite make it to Cape Hatteras, but I’m determined to make it to the top-voted Statue of Liberty before returning my awesome loaned Civic Hybrid on Monday, so stay tuned!
Here’s to being reminded we it’s impossible to compete with Mother Natures plan, expecting the unexpected, and getting a big fat “E” for effort!
***Total miles driven today, day 14: 244
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,329
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 21
I had to start day #13 at the place where I wrote my first blog post ever; Front Porch Cafe’ in Kill Devil Hills nearly 3 years ago to the day:
It was cool to revisit the Front Porch Cafe’ and see the same chair (broken or not) that I sat in long ago, dreaming of what would become of this new idea I had for a thing called Blue Lollipop Road. To think of all the incredible things that have happened since these chairs:
After I got some laptop work time, I had to check out a reader suggestion; Duck Donuts:
For some reason, recently I have become a huge fan of fresh cinnamon and sugar doughnuts. (I am usually chocolate obsessed only when it comes to treats, so I’m still trying to figure out where this new craving has come from!) Add one more to the list of spots that get my yummy stamp of approval on the doughnut front:
I rolled up to the window to pay the entrance fee and Darius asked: “Do you sell lollipops?!” I laughed and told him no, (then gave him one of course.) Darius and I, two grown-ups having a moment of fun over a special blue lollipop. You’ve gotta love the never fail smiles these little candy sticks bring. Darius and I chatted for a few minutes. I asked him about details on transport, etc. to get to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse as I had just been informed there would be some issues because of road closures after the hurricane. (I would later find out that Darius was the first of manyÂ people who gave their best efforts to help me get there…)
Great to meet you Darius, and thanks for all your help!
I explored the grounds and was schooled in all things flight:
Inside the Visitor Center:
Outside near the actual flight path:
I took a drive around the loop:
…and a walk to the top of the hill. It was a beautiful day to be outside:
I am so thankful the readers from the Honda Facebook poll sent me to Kitty Hawk! To walk around this property (especially as a traveler) and see first hand how flight was born was very cool. I overheard conversations and watched groups of older men (clearly pilots and flight junkies) walking the flight path, calculating and analyzing how it was all done, and discussing details with each other with an overtone of nostalgia that was adorable. It always makes me smile when I see people truly enjoying their passions and hobbies.
The day was hot and I needed to get my daily dose of movement in (to work off all those doughnuts!) Off I went for a long run on the beach. (Running barefoot on the beach is such a bonus way for me to get some miles in.) The best way to end a hot and sweaty beach run is to take a dip in the salty warm ocean of course! Â I took a moment to stretch rest as the sun started to set:
I saw Jennette’s PierÂ to my right so decided to go there to catch the full sunset:
Who did I meet there? More nice people of course! Meet Ron and Rita: Husband and wife from Pittsburg:
Ron played videographer for me so I could say hi in my full glory of beach after run grubby. I have to admit I love this end of day chill and dirty, sandy, salty summer kid feeling.
Ron, Rita and I talked and talked until it got dark. We shared travel stories, talked about our favorite cities, and they told me about their son and grandson. Once again, sweet people- complete strangers I could have spent several more hours with. If there were only more hours in a day to meet, talk to, and learn from all the interesting people out there…
Thanks for your video help Ron and Rita! It was nice to meet you.
Next up is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!
***Total miles driven today, day 13: 125
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,085
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 21
As I mentioned in my last post, it was clear a few days ago that the Honda Facebook poll and all of you readers here had voted in the winning place for me to visit by a landslide (Statue of Liberty.) I looked at the two runners up (Kitty Hawk, NC and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse) and thought- why not go to all three? So North Carolina or bust!
Just rolling in, I am one Happy girl:
(Great face I have right where YouTube froze me in this video, right? If you can’t laugh at yourself…)
Kitty Hawk welcomes me and the loaned BLR-Mobile!
(Have I mentioned how much I love this Hybrid Civic and the fact I am getting on average 42.9 mpg? You know I love saving $ on gas and being thrifty in general. This car rules on saving me and helping me afford this trip! I can’t believe I only have 5 days left on the road. Tear…)
The endless dunes don’t even look like they could be real! From the top you can see the ocean and the sound- which feels surreal:
See those long skinny white things on the bottom-left of the photo? Yep, those are forÂ hang gliding lessons that are available to take on the dunes. How cool and fun does that sound?
I sat and stared at the ocean and the sound for a while just taking it all in. The sun started to set:
…and got more and more pink:
Jockey’s Ridge is a must do and the sunset in person is so much better than any photo or video could be! Next time you plan a beach vacation put OBX, NC on your list of to-go-to’s if you haven’t been here before. This undoubtedly my favorite beach area in USA. There’s something to be said for how clean it is, the fact that it hasn’t been taken over by a million neon lights, and that there’s mile after magnificent mile of uninterrupted sandy space for relaxing and playing. I heart OBX forever!
…and a fresh veggie press sandwich on homemade bread. (Oops! I gobbled it up and forgot to take a photo. I guess you’ll just have to trust me that is was delicious. So delicious that I forgot about my camera.)
WIFI, microbrew, and eats recommended by a local was the perfect night office Â I needed so I could get some of my work done. (Thanks Steph!)
Tomorrow it’s more beach exploring: Kitty hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and making my way to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The weather is supposed to be even more warm and sunny than usual in September here so perfect timing…
Thanks for all the votes to send me here!
***Total miles driven today, day 12: 215
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 1,960
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 20
Announcements all around! Guess where I am headed?!
Surprise! I know that the winner by a landslide on the Honda Facebook poll page is the Statue of Liberty (so I will round out the trip and go there on my last day- next Monday) but I also thought; How fun would it be to go to all three voted on spots?! This is how I roll on my road trips. Why not?
So I made my way through Virginia today, snapping photos of random stuff, and mostly on back country roads:
I love how there are always chairs outside convenient stores in the country so regulars can sit and shoot the sh*t. Nightcrawlers for sale inside too. Score!
…so of course I asked Owner Clay if I could video tape him and ask a few questions:
I love his hat. What a total character Admiral Clay was. So genuine, that in itself made me want to buy sandwiches from him. (Which we did and they were fresh and delicious!) My favorite thing Clay said after the camera stopped rolling was that when people asked him why in the world he wanted to do what he does, he answers: “Where else can you look out and see five or six thousand smiling face?”
Amen to that and thanks Clay! It was nice to meet you and I will indeed look your daughter up in Chicago.
How fun would it be to have an old school bus as a food “truck”?
Meet Michael (left) and Max (right), the sandwich makers:
…of course fully Beatles branded to complete the Yellow Submarine package:
I continued to wander with the festival crowd:
…had a sip of apple dessert wine:
…and some rose’:
Erik (above left) was wandering and offered me a glass so I accepted. This was after I was already talking to Ken (left) about his fancy shirt he had on. (Robert Graham I learned.) Why not bring two strangers together with me to take a picture?Â (They happened to know common people by the way because turns out they were both Army guys) Good times with random strangers once again.