People

blr do-gooders!

Well happy Monday to me to wake up to an email from my 6th grade (and might I add, favorite) teacher of all time, Mr. B this morning:

Diane,

Here is a picture from the front page of today’s Banner. I thought you’d like to see. Nice t-shirt, eh?  Good choice for the scholarship. Hope you are well.

And then there was a link to this:Making BLR proudYay! How proud are we of our July 2013 Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Travel Scholarship Winner, Mercedes Chen?!

BLR and Mercedes Chen

We thought she was deserving of our scholarship dollars in 2013, and to find this surprise today in May of 2015? That. Is. Awesome. I love that someone we chose for a winner, who embodies the spirit & zest for life our friends had, continues to do good for the community we grew up in.

High-fives & BLR love to you, Mercedes! Glad you are wearing the BLR colors with pride. Keep doing what you’re doing!

#GreenUp #HometownPride #NeverForgetWhereYouCameFrom

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pour some sugar on me

Meet my friends, Jon & Dana:

Cheers to syrup

These two started making maple syrup as a hobby a couple years ago. (You’re looking at a toast of the good stuff, above.) They’re now cranking out a serious production as a tiny team. As far as I remember, it takes 25+ gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. That’s right, twenty five plus gallons of sap! Talk about a labor of love:

Schoolhouse treats

*(Side note: Jon has been a travel buddy of mine for a long time. We’ve back-country camped, hiked, and road tripped across the USA together. We’ve both been writing our respective books for many years, and we’ve shared much great conversation about life over good beers. We’ve eaten Mexican food for Easter in Pueblo, Colorado after getting a speeding ticket as we drove through the middle of nowhere Kansas. Oh the adventures! Imagine my delight when he found and married Dana. It’s totally awesome when your bff guy friends find the coolest women to share their lives with. Lucky me to have such great friends.)

So what did these friends send in the mail last Friday?

I love snail mail

A mega maple syrup surprise!

Maple Syrup Goodness

Do you see the drops on the outside of the jug? Don’t tell anyone, but I definitely took a little taste of those because I was so excited. Finger-lickin’ good!

Saturday morning we made a huge batch of pancakes and found that our jug was so full, we had to dip some pancake pieces first:

Breakfast

…to make some room to pour. Mmmm:

Pancakes

(As you can see, I got so busy eating, I almost forgot to snap this photo.) Ohhh…sooo…good!

Are you jealous? You should be- this stuff tastes amazing!

Do you want to get your own? You can! Sweet! (See what I did there?:)

Jon & Dana’s School House Maple is still available to buy from this season. Here’s what they have:

Plastic Jugs:
Sampler ~ $3
1/2 Pint ~ $5
Pint ~ $10
Quart ~ $17
1/2 gallon ~ $32
Gallon ~ $58

Glass Growler or Tin:
Sampler ~ $5
Half Pint ~ $8
Pint (tin only) $14
Quart ~ $22
Half Gallon ~ $36
Gallon ~ $62

These prices are crazy good, so get some while it lasts! If you have any questions, you can email Dana directly: danaeclay@yahoo.com

Thanks Jon & Dana! You guys are the best!

What’s your labor of love?

#MapleSyrup #Sweetness #BestKindOfFriends

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holy crawfish boil

They say don’t play with your food, but I couldn’t resist the other day when the first of two crawfish boils began:

Crawfish playtime

Those suckers didn’t have long to live in that bucket before getting boiled up and spread out for the feast:

Bayou Feast

And I thought I got excited about food? Well, this sweet Cajun could give me a run for my food love money diving in the way he did:

Louisiana Crawfish Boil

Could his face be any closer to the table? I love it the pure focus. Three men put down 15 pounds of crawfish that night, and the next night? Another 30 pounds with a different crew at a camp site:

Crawfish Boil

I’ve been to Louisiana before, but boy this time I realize, it is indeed like a whole different country down here. My “No thank you, I don’t eat any fish/seafood” responses to meal-offerings, have left many of these kind, generous locals horrified (but I think secretly glad they can have my share of the clawed crustaceans:) I’ve opted to indulge in the 9 billion doughnuts available at various unexpected roadside shacks we’ve encountered:

Road Food

Here are two of the four we noshed on in the sunshine at the picnic table:

Breakfast

Needless to say we aren’t going hungry this week here in Cajun Country.

How do you feast locally?

#RoadFood #CajunCountry #LifeOnTheBlueLollipopRoad

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go solo

Love articles like this and couldn’t agree more. Want to find your inner badass? Just go. Go alone, and don’t wait for anyone. You’ll surprise yourself.

BLR Honda Sponsored trip

Here’s an article I contributed to a few years ago. I wrote about jumping out of your cozy comfort zones, too:) Even Vanilla Ice said I’m on a roll and It’s time to go solo.

Where do you go alone?

#LifeOfATraveler #SoloTravel #LifeOnTheBlueLollipopRoad

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go take a hike

At least that’s what we did yesterday! Can’t keep me inside when It’s 75 and sunny, on a weekend or a week day. (It’s Monday and I’m typing this from an outside patio table; my office for the afternoon.)

Here’s our view from the top of the mountain:

Panoramic from the top

At the top

Mountain Top at Crowder's

Life on the Blue Lollipop Road

As seen in these photos, things are not quite blooming and green yet, but even though most the color was brown, the skies were still blue- so I was happy. (Obviously.) Minus the littering idiots who left their Dean & DeLuca lunch garbage all over the place, it was a perfect day. (For god’s sakes, people- stop littering!)

I think winter has reared It’s ugly head for the last time this year. (At least in NC, anyway.) Time to grab yourself, your family & your friends- and go play outside!

How do you enjoy the great outdoors?

#Hike #NC #LetMeBeFree

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precious grains of sand

Those rare times when someone takes a few extra minutes out of their day, just to be nice, do something good or go the extra mile. Those are awesome times I wish would happen more. The below email popped in my inbox unexpectedly last week from someone we met on vacation in December of 2013:

Dear Diane and Kevin,

I just took a Facebook tour of your photos. It totally amazes me just how much you have traveled and how much you two have seen. I am so pleased our paths have crossed. Knowing people like you and Kevin has certainly enriched my spirit. I guess I am getting older and I am definetly not the man I use to be but when you share your life through photos like the ones on Facebook I am so grateful I did what I did when I was a younger man. So keep on doing what you are doing. Be happy, smile, love, live. Life is like a grain of sand on the beach. So small and so precious. Keep me in the loop with the Blue Lollipop Road .

Your admiring friend,
Andy

How sweet is that?

If had to guess, Andy is mid-upper 60’s. He’s single and travels alone a lot. When we met him he wasn’t afraid to sit down and talk to us (or anyone else for that matter.) He was kind, funny, and full of stories. I could tell he was a hard worker. An all-around interesting guy. We shared several meals with him during that week of vacation- we kept running in to each other and we all enjoyed spending that time together. And the end of the week we exchanged contact information and from there we’ve just kept in touch a few times via email.

This is letter makes me smile huge, and feel thankful, proud & motivated- to do more.

Everyday I wake up trying to think of ways to motivate and inspire people to be fearless, get out and travel, to explore beyond their everyday surroundings, and to talk to strangers. I know travel changes and teaches people, in a way that nothing else does and it is my biggest wish that everyone do more of it. I lobby to convince scared parents to let their kids take a Gap Year, or go on an exchange program, I try to convince adults their lives aren’t going to fall apart if they decide to quit that job or person they hate and go on a walkabout to get to know themselves again or to recharge, I myself explore all the new people, places & things I can on a regular basis so I keep pushing and stretching myself- and so I have stories to share here. Hopefully these are the reasons people like Andy above write me and tell me to keep doing what I do. I love that.

Here are some photos from that holiday vacation:

BLR in the Bahamas

Sweet Cajun Kevin

Cruise BLR 2013

Ahhh…the Bahamas.

Dear Andy,

Thanks for cheering us on! I promise we will keep being happy, smiling, loving, and living. You are right- life is like a grain of sand on the beach, so small and so precious. We’re glad there are people like you out there who recognize these things, live accordingly, and share in our adventurous spirit! We hope to see you “on the road” again.

Diane 🙂

Here’s to never knowing who you’ll meet and what friends you’ll make!

How do you connect to make new friends?

#LettersOfInspiration #RoadFriends #LiveLikeYouMeanIt

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play it forward 2015 official announcements!

The schedule for our 4th Annual Play It Forward Event has been set! See full details here.

If for some crazy reason you are on the fence about whether or not you will be participating, maybe I’ll inspire you by sharing a photo from each of our first 3 events…

2012:

Play Forward Give Back

2013:

IMG_4815

2014:

B30

Get on the bus, Gus! We’re doing good things, having fun and we want YOU! Won’t you join us?

Today is the day. What are you waiting for?

#PlayForwardGiveBack #RememberCelebrateLive #LoveHome

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meet grazia

The Fabulous Grazia

This sassy, fashionable, world-traveling, 77-year-old, was the hostess of the Oscar Party I went to on Sunday night. I’d heard about how fabulous Ms. Grazia was for weeks. That was true and then some. This woman has the smile, energy, and the sharpness of a 27-year-old. She’s warm and welcoming to everyone around her. We had a blast.

Don’t you just love the sparkly vintage gown?! (Perfect that Lady Gaga is in the background on TV, too.) I’m about 40 years behind this lovely woman, but I hope to carry half the effervescence and joy for life that she has- for the rest of mine.

You inspire us with your never-ending smile, Grazia! – And absolutely embody my remember, celebrate, live mantra, by truly celebrating life. Love it!

How do you all out there, celebrate life Grazia-style?

#Oscars #LivingItUp #Ageless

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dear chicken shit, do you need a hug? :)

Yes, I am talking to you who posted this comment in my inbox anonymously on Saturday:

“You’ll never write a book of any worth because you can barely write a sentence. Also, there’s a fine line between celebration and exploitation. Just being, you know, unfiltered.”

It sounds like you need some love in your life, my friend! Maybe I should go find this guy again and send him your way:

Hugs are better that hate

So sad you’re hateful and wrong Mr./Mrs. comment leaver. I feel sorry for people like you. I think you need a hug! (And a backbone.)

While you continue hiding behind your computer, sending opinions and judgments (with no name attached) that are so far from the truth they may as well be in Siberia, I’ll be out loud & proud here, living it up, unfiltered and transparent as always. I will continue celebrating my friends, and everything/everyone I love, and I’ll keep doing good work giving back to my community.

You should really get a life and find more positive ways to spend your time. There’s a whole big, fat, huge awesome world out there…

Love,

Diane

PS~ For someone who thinks I can’t write, you sure have spent a lot of your time reading and poking around here! That’s pretty hilarious. I know you’ll be first in line to buy my book:)

#DontBeJealous #GiveAHug #Celebrate

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