our favorite coach

First part of this trip was east coast, big city, people I know and of staying in comfy apartments, houses, cottages. With that came “fancy” travel of showers everyday, “no- I am paying for dinner and drinks, this is my donation to your trip!”, time with people I love and good conversation filled with encouragement, advice, and brainstorming on possibilities of where to move after Alaska and how to reach my next goals in life. It’s been much needed, much fun, and exactly what I needed for a push for the next phase of my trip:

Back to my unsalted peanuts, apples and granola instead of steak, pasta and home-cooked meals. Showers will be sporadic, sleeping in the car, or not at all for a day or two is in my near future, along with lots of time with strangers instead of people I know, and only and sights of mountains, valleys and much fewer humans instead of the thousands and skyscrapers I’ve just been around. The no-mans land and less-populated space I’m going into will be the perfect place for me to ring in my 32nd birthday, reflect on the past 16 years of my life, and think of what I want the next 16 to be. This leads me to my story of Traci and why I went to NYC before leaving the east coast:

When I was in NYC, I met and spent time with my old soccer coach Traci who I hadn’t seen since my friends funerals in 1994. There was no real reason we had fallen out of touch, or not seen each other in all those years. Lives move in different directions and time flies. Sometimes when you go through a horrible tragedy with someone, you almost don’t know how to face it/them until years later either. That and it feels impossible to understand why terrible things happen, what it will mean to you, or what kind of impact it will have on your life until long after the instance. (At least this is my experience.) I found Traci last year and was ready to email her out of the blue. When she returned my email signing off 16 years later with; “Much love and strong mojo” I knew in an instant that 8/18/1994 had indeed changed her life forever as it did mine. Before every game so many years ago, our coach Traci, all my teammates and I would scream “STRONG MOJO!” in the circle before games started. It was our thing, our motto, how we all were together as powerful young women. Traci had taught us that strong mojo was team work, ambition, being who and what we wanted, enjoying our time together and appreciating life. It was about being proud, honest, confident and having integrity.

My day in NY with Traci was a flood of emotions. (For the both of us.) I’ve been open and free on talking about my deceased friends in hopes to share their spirit and continue their legacy. This is so important to me. As much as words and stories have and will continue to roll out of me, it’s still difficult to constantly revisit the way my heart snapped in half after getting that phone call at 3:56am and hearing the words “They are gone.” (Now I am officially crying in a busy coffee shop as I type this. Sheesh!) Spending time with Traci catching up on 16 years, meeting her amazing and adorable little family, learning about her life and sharing about mine, was exactly the therapy, time, and strong mojo I needed for this trip. 3 weeks from today as I take the death anniversary day to think about 16 years without our friends, Traci and the rest of the MAU soccer girls will be doing the same wherever they are. Every August 18th will be the same for all of us for the rest of our lives.

So to the stranger Steve Hampton that I don’t know who left comments accusing that I was a fraud and that I’m on some gluttonous partying trip, you have got to be kidding me. You claim to be a follower? Really? Have you read over 600 posts and 2 years of my work here? Did you just read the first part of this blog post? Have you read other hundreds of post inclusive of personal information about me, my family, and my life I have written in an attempt to learn about myself, try to be a better human and potentially inspire others to live their own truths and be proud of themselves with all good and bad parts and issues we all have? Could you consider that even though I am wide open and probably seem careless and free about so much of life, that it’s still difficult for me to constantly air the dirtiest of my laundry? Do you think I’d make up stories about my dead best friends to get cross-country wasted and get strangers to finance a cool fun road trip? I understand that putting my life on the world wide web opens all doors for judgement. That’s to be expected. I felt hurt and pissed off thinking about your comments initially. Those feelings faded fast after thinking of the Traci’s of the world who love and really know me. Because of the people who love me, I take your negative hateful comments not in a negative way but as a lesson. Sometimes people will judge, and not everyone will like me. That’s Ok. I know who I am, I like who I am, and enough people out there know what this trip is about and what Blue Lollipop Road stands for. That’s all I need. I’d encourage you to find your Traci, your Maria and Brandy, something or someone that means everything to you. Share those things with others in a positive way. Find things that make you happy. I promise it will make you feel so much better than being judgemental and jealous of me.

Dear Traci~

Thank you for our time in NY, and time all those years ago. Thank you for teaching me strong mojo. Your gifts have given me love, support and confidence all these years, I’m able to take negativity and criticism like comments from a reader here with a grain of salt. I keep believing in myself because of people like you. Thank you for loving all of us like you did and still do. We love you too. You will always be our favorite coach, our big sister, our mentor and our hero. I feel proud to be in the mix of all the young people you continue to positively influence. I look forward to seeing you soon and never want to wait 16 years again!

Much love and strong mojo always-
Diane 🙂


today is national milk chocolate day!

How is it possible that I never knew there was one until today? How is it possible that there even is a National Milk Chocolate Day?

This reminds me to thank everyone again who has gifted me Nutella for my trip. I have a Costco-sized jar in my car now from my last stop. I think I need to start talking about how much I love apples and porches, then maybe that’s what people would gift me and I’d eat more fruit and have fast fancy cars to drive…ha!

Nah- I’ll take the Nutella.

I’m dedicating todays morning post to my cutie patootie small fry pal Libbie. She is the daughter of my friend. Before I left VA we had a couple ice cream dates. Apparently she has been asking “When is Diane coming back so we can go get ice cream?” Talk about my kind of buddy! Here is a photo of her at one of my favorite places for a sweet treat called Bev’s. Don’t you just want to squeeze this adorable this face?


If you are a chocolate lover out there, I’d love to post a great photo of yours like this if you’d like to send one to me. If you have a recipe for something chocolate-y you’d like to share, send that, or maybe share a chocolate spot somewhere I can check out in my travels? I’ll take it all and keep posting about the de-lish spots I find too.

Happy chocolate feasting!


meet gary

Gary is my friends dad. He is one of the kindest, most genuine, insightful and accepting people I have ever known. He and his lovely and equally wonderful wife Jeanne, have been loving, accepting and welcoming me into their home for the past 13 years every summer as if I were their own child. My cottage time is so sacred and has always been the favorite few days of my summers.

After a dinner on the patio overlooking the gorgeous lake the other night, Gary asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him. He hadn’t caught anything worth keeping all summer until that point and thought I might be able to bring him some luck, so off we went. He caught a tiny fish pretty quickly but nothing after that. We joked about a hex on the boat or something as there have always been trout a plenty in years past. Fish or not, it was worth going out as the company was great as always and I even got to drive the boat home. Here’s a photo of Fisherman Gary. (By the way since our outing the other night He’s broken the hex and reeled in a 6-pounder!):

Fishing Gary 7/10

I also snapped this photo of the shore room as we were speeding away in the boat the other night. This was an addition to the cottage a couple of years ago for Gary’s 70th birthday. I get to sleep there when I visit now. One word to describe waking up in that room? Heaven.

Shore room at cottage 7/10

There are many reasons I love coming to the lake, but the biggest is the time I get with my friend Patrick and his incredible parents. Over the years I have learned so much from them even though they probably would never know they were teaching. I’ve learned about acceptance, love, joy and being grateful. I’ve been inspired to be more open and give more of myself. This family exudes light, life and love more than I could ever describe. Their overall positive energy is a force to be reckoned with and they have that magnetic way that just makes you want to be around them as much as possible. They are the purest beings and a few of my absolute favorite ones on the planet. Each summer as I pull up the long steep road away from them, I feel completely full and peaceful.

As my time at the lake comes to an end now, I already dream of boat rides, quiet dock time, dinners on the patio, listening to the lapping of the water, the lessons, and all the true conversation over the sunset shores with this family. Thank you Patrick, Jeanne and Gary for every moment of our time together and every ounce of love you continue to give me and everyone around you.


meet gabriela

This is my day 3 in NYC and only at lunchtime. I am whooped. It’s whooped in a good way, but my lord you can do some walking, touring and seeing just about everything in this place. I have lots of stories I’m looking forward to sharing, but I must first go back to my night in NJ with Gabriela and Phil on Tuesday…

Gabriela started reading my blog about a year and a half ago. She wrote a comment to a post that I had written about how ignorance is bliss and I responded. She replied back to me and we have been email buddies ever since. We have exchanged stories, photos and pretty much been pen pals, like we all did in elementary school. Just notes, but never meeting face-to-face until this week. When Gabriela learned that I was going to be driving north for my first leg to Alaska, she wrote and told me it’d be “an honor” to host me. It was actually an honor for me to meet her, a stranger who I’ve bonded with and who’s been a loyal reader for so long. She’s never put off by the utter nonsense and babble I often write, but has promoted and encouraged it.

Upon my arrival to her home, I got an excited welcome like you get when you go home for Christmas. She and her husband jumped up from their chairs on the patio to greet me and immediately offered me drinks and anything else I might want. We chatted as if we’d been old friends for years and they toured me around their gorgeous property. There was so much green and everything was so lush, it was hard to imagine I was only 30 miles outside of NYC. They had vegetable gardens and blueberry bushes, pretty flowers, a fire pit and slate patio, and even a white fence. I learned that the house was put up in 1926 after it’d been ordered out of the Sears catalog. It’s The Del Ray model. These houses would arrive in 30,000 pieces. Price; Just over $2,000. The garage is The Avenue model and came at a price of $173. (How neat is that?) Every little piece of the home and property was just lovely. Here are a couple photos:

Gabi and Phil house

Gabi and Phil house, NJ

Gabriela is from Brazil- her family all still there. She came to the states for work about 3 years ago where she met Phil. They’ve now been married a year. They host and attend lots of bbq’s with neighbors during the summer, so were excited about grilling up some veggies and meat and stuffing me too. (I was excited to be stuffed!) Gabriela made a Brazilian “sauce” that is essentially the garnish and big pop of flavor you pour over your dish. The sauce that night was yellow and green peppers, tomato, onion, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt. It was incredible. Here’s my first helping of dinner:

Dinner with Gabi and Phil

(It’s officially impossible to be a vegetarian on the road or eat light with these types of meals, but really who would want to? I I’ve been an absolute carnivore in the past few days and I have to say I am loving it. I might switch back to vegetarian status in due time.)

We all grilled together, visited and scarfed. Grilled corn, asparagus, and squash fresh right out of the garden 15 feet away. After dinner Phil made us fresh espresso and surprised us with ice cream. This night was a feast like you read about. Full and long conversation with so called strangers who ended up being not so much strangers at all, but more like those friends you’ve had for years. They told me stories about a pesky raccoon who they’d been trying to catch for days and the strategies including all kinds of food bait and waiting up all night trying to nab him. The stories were hilarious. I’m convinced the raccoon was playing with them, barely defying them every night flipping them the bird as he ran away with all the treats they had put out to bait him. (Phil spent hours outside that night with another friend trying to catch the bugger with still no success. That varmint must be one smart cookie.)

Exhausted from a long drive, lots of good chatter and a feast, Gabi and I snapped a quick photo before we all retired to our rooms for bed:

Di and Gabi

She was off to work in the morning so Phil generously accommodated me with breakfast, coffee and even lead me to the interstate to make sure I found my way ok. Before leaving the house, he wanted to make sure I got a photo of the back of the shed that he had painted. I happily snapped this:

Gabi and Phil shed

I’m very thankful to have met people like this. They were 1,000% generous to me for no gain other than to be just that and share good company. My favorite thing to do in this life is to feast, visit, and spend time with people that I care about who are interesting and fun. This was no doubt one of those times.

Thank you to Gabi and Phil for welcoming me with open arms as if I were a part of your family. I look forward to staying in touch for many years to come and hosting you sometime in your travels down the road. Cheers to new friends!


here’s a little ditty

Meet Jack

Jack Burrows- road people

I plopped down in a chair next to him after grabbing a coffee today. I had planned on taking a quick 5 minutes to get online and double check my mapped route to destination next. It’s so fun when plans change because you run into someone interesting.

As soon as I sat down, Jack said “I saw you eying that chair next to me as soon as you walked in here!” I just laughed and shook my head. Jack asked me where I was from and I told him that I was traveling. He then broke into this story about how he used to drive small country towns taking photos of old filling stations. He had wanted to make a book out of his photos. He suggested that we go on the road together and take pictures. We could write a book together he told me. We both laughed. I told him that I might just be writing a book myself. He asked- “What? How?” I told him I wrote a blog, he didn’t know what that meant so I pulled up this site to show him. As I scrolled the pages for him he mumbled a bunch of “Well I’ll be damned. Isn’t that something.”

Turns out Jack owns an Inn in Manteo, NC and a bunch of other property around the mid-Atlantic. That’s what fills his time besides people watching in coffee shops. This relaxed summer Santa look-alike had plenty of stories for me which I could’ve listened to for hours, but I had to get on the road so we said our goodbyes after an hour.

Happy summer and people watching Jack. Thanks for being my first road person for this trip.


get your kicks

I am happy to share the news that Fruit 66 is sponsoring me for the Alaska or Bust road trip. They have stocked me up with more cans of their D-lish drink than I could imagine to keep my thirst quenched. I’m a fan of this sparkling juice because it’s all-natural and there’s the equivalent to one full serving of fruit in every can. You know I eat and drink my fair share of treats and chocolate, so this is a good alternative for me to grab instead of a soda on the road.

Fruit 66 gives a portion of their proceeds to the School Nutrition Foundation. Their product is in a slew of schools and replaces those bad for you sugary/high-fructose corn syrup drinks for kids. I love that. Any program or product that promotes health and activity (especially for kids)- I am all about endorsing.

Here’s a funny addition to my Fruit 66 story:

I leave Richmond, VA (home base of the drink) for the first leg of my trip to meet up with my Uncle’s extended family on their beach week. As I brought a few cans into the house, his 9 year old niece Gillian sees me and screeches “I love that stuff! We have it at my school!” (She lives in GA.) This sassy little cutie whom I had never met before was all about smiling for the camera as she guzzled down her can. What a perfect poster child for this stuff.

Thank you Fruit 66! I am already making friends and keeping the kids happy with your yummy drink.

Gillian with Fruit 66


meet sarah

Sarah Intern goofy face

Sarah is my rock star, mack-daddy, bomb-diggidy Blue Lollipop Road intern. She was born in Alaska, that’s why she emailed me in the first place. Our meeting went like this:

She emails me answering my ad; “Hey! Id love to help you with your project.”
I call her immediately; “Um- wow, great, can you meet…maybe like- right now?”
She responds; Absolutely. I’ll see you at the coffee shop.”

(She is there waiting for me before I can even get there.)

We sit down with nothing more than a quick “hey!”, we leave the coffee shop 2 hours later after we agree to meet late night and work until ridiculous hours because she knows I am leaving in a week. She then proceeds to keep constant communication and work practically 24/7 for me to help get the new site launched, decide on branding, take photos, tweak photos, brainstorm ideas, show me some tricks and tips on different technology and a whole bunch of other stuff. She’s helped with the whole shebang.

This girl is spectacular. She is smart and sweet, adorable and talented, reliable and driven, organized and responsible and most and best of all genuine and fun. This is a stranger I have now only known for a week, but already feel like is my second little sister and I know we’ll be friends forever. I am so beyond lucky to have her as my intern and a part of this project that means so much to me. I love how some things just work. I haven’t had to explain a thing about myself, the project or anything I have needed help on since the second we met, she just gets it. It’s like we are on the same brain wave.

Did I mention she is doing all this work for free?

Below is the two us goofing around before I said goodbye to start my trek. What a gem she is. I will miss hanging with her, but I’m so excited to be able to work with her throughout my journey.

Dear Sarah,

You RULE. Thanks chica. With your help, I have been able to kick off my dream job/trip/project in style and stress-free. This means more than I could ever explain.

Di and sarah goofing around


Kid Attitude

I took this photo of my friends little girl Ali around the holidays a few months ago. She is a sweetie and always well-behaved, that’s why this particular photo is so funny. You can almost hear inside her adorable tiny noggin; “Bitch please” and “Whatev Mom and Dad.”

I love cute kid pix.