Letter #630: #Winning, but I need your help

Dear competition,

I love to have fun. I can also be pretty competitive. Combine the two, and I’m all in.

I hit the road recruiting for Kanakuk next week and that in and of itself is fun and exciting. Throw some of you into the mix on top of all the adventures I already know are going to happen”…I’m excited. And I want to win.

So here’s the scoop. Best photo taken during our travels in the following 5 categories wins. It’s that simple.

This has potential to be hilarious. “Hey, I just photobombed your pic…can you text that to me?!?!”

I am already known for making memories and having a whole stinkin’ lot of fun on the road. “Breaking into’ stadiums. Getting locked into them and literally scaling a wall to get out. Visiting creepy Elvis shrines. Finding secret rooms. First time motorcycle ride.

I love to travel. I love to have fun. I was already doing this kind of thing anyway, but this just added a whole new dynamic to my travels.

This is where you come in. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t quite know where adventure lies in cities I’m unfamiliar with. Plus adventures are ALWAYS way more fun with friends. Here’s the list of where I’m coming this fall. I’m already excited to simply see you and do life together in the flesh, but I also need you to brainstorm how we’re going to win this contest and make memories in the process. If I’m not coming to see you, feel free to suggest ideas or even road trip to find me 🙂 Kidding. Kind of.

Laughing just thinking about the possibilities and adventure that lie ahead,

Adventure and memory seeker

Letter #445: Traveling Update

Dear traveling,

We pick right back up where we left off next week, and I’m excited for the places I go and the people I’ll see! Our exact destinations still aren’t 100% set in stone, but I’m going out on a limb and spreading the word anyway.

  • January 23: Kansas State
  • January 24: KU
  • January 25: University of Arkansas
  • January 26: Mizzou

I’ve never been to Mizzou, and I’m stoked to go back to the other three schools. Lots of fun folks to catch up with! What’s really crazy is this is the only week of you for me this spring. The girl that lives on the road is only out one week. This is a total curveball in how Branson spring works in my world. I think it’s a good thing though. I’ve had zero stability in my life for the past year and half as far as long term Branson living. This will be a good gage of how I really feel about calling Branson home.

All this being said, when I was typing out my upcoming adventures I realized I never added up how many miles we’ve acquired thus far. Earlier I estimated I’d hit 10,000. Let’s see if I was remotely accurate…

  • First three weeks of you: 3,246 miles
  • Branson-University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY): 600 miles
  • Kentucky-Vanderbilt/Lipscomb (Nashville): 213 miles
  • Vandy-Union University (Jackson, TN): 132 miles
  • Union-Southeast Missouri State University (Cape Girardeau, MO): 158 miles
  • SEMO-Branson: 296 miles
  • Branson-Mississippi College (Clinton, MS): 424 miles
  • MC-Mississippi State (Starkville): 136 miles
  • MS State-Ole Miss (Oxford): 98 miles
  • Ole Miss-Branson: 348 miles
  • Branson-Birmingham, AL: 511 miles
  • Birmingham-University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa): 59 miles
  • Bama-Valdosta State (Valdosta, GA): 349 miles
  • Valdosta-University of Georgia (Athens): 245 miles
  • UGA-Branson: 716 miles
  • Branson-Southwest Baptist (Bolivar, MO)-Branson: 148 miles
  • Branson-Missouri State (Springfield, MO)-Branson: 85 miles
  • Branson-Drury/Evangel (Springfield, MO)-Branson: 100 miles
  • Branson-Missouri University of Science & Tech (Rolla, MO)-Branson: 294 miles
  • 8,158 miles in the fall…plus next week…
  • Branson-Kansas State (Manhattan, KS): 329 miles
  • K-State-KU (Lawrence, KS): 85 miles
  • KU-Arkansas (Fayetteville): 265 miles
  • Arkansas-Mizzou (Columbia, MO): 311 miles
  • Mizzou-Branson: 204 miles

9,352 miles. I didn’t quite make it to 10,000 with work travel, but sprinkle in all the driving we did around the cities once we were there and I bet it was close! Plus if I throw in my treks to Stillwater for the K-State and Bedlam games, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m sitting at 11,888 miles. Wow. That is A LOT of miles! Good thing I’m still enjoying you!

Excited to get back on the road next week,

Extensive traveler (who still wants a really cool U.S. map for my wall to track where all I’ve been)

Letter #414: End of the Tunnel

Dear traveling,

Today is my last day of you, at least work related, for 2011. This deserves all sorts of celebration!!! For eight of the past 10 weeks I’ve been from Texas to Tennessee, Missouri to Mississippi and everywhere in between. The ninth week I was in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. So for 50 of the past  days 70 days, I’ve been doing you for work. At least eight of the extra twenty days were doing personal you. Holy smokes! When I think of it like that, I now understand why my life is so chaotic.

Today, all of you for work purposes comes to a halt…well, until January. For this I am thankful. I can get my feet under me with everything that’s been slipping through the cracks of my job at the office. Maybe I’ll actually think about Christmas. I’ll finally get to go to the grocery store after a two and a half month hiatus. I can hang out with people who live in Branson as well as sleep in my own bed for more than one day at a time.

You are really fun, but you are tiring. I’m looking forward to creating a little stability in my life, but definitely not before I head to Stillwater this weekend for Bedlam!!!!! Go Pokes!!

Stability starts Monday,

Seer of the light at the end of the tunnel

Letter #390: Next Adventure?

Dear adventure,

I don’t think I ever realized how much I love and look forward to you in my life. Seriously, I love making memories, visiting iconic sites, eating at local venues and doing the most unexpected things. I’m not sure I would have understood this about myself if I hadn’t done this job that involves a crazy traveling schedule.

This being said, the next few weeks sure have a ton of opportunity for you. Check out all the places I get to visit…

  • Oct. 30 & 31: Lexington, KY; University of Kentucky
  • Nov. 1: Nashville, TN; Lipscomb and Vanderbilt University
  • Nov. 2: Jackson, TN; Union University
  • Nov. 3: Cape Girardeau; Southeast Missouri State University
  • Branson
  • Nov. 6 & 8: Jackson, MS (family shows)
  • Nov. 7: Clinton, MS; Mississippi College
  • Nov. 9: Starkville, MS; Mississippi State
  • Nov. 10: Oxford, MS; Ole Miss
  • Branson
  • Nov. 13 & 14: Birmingham, AL (family shows)
  • Nov. 15: Tuscaloosa, AL; University of Alabama
  • Nov. 16: Valdosta, GA; Valdosta State University
  • Nov. 17: Athens, GA; University of Georgia

I get to see SO many fun people in these places, and I just know you will show up several times along the way. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me. Maybe the best part about all this……once I finish these three weeks of traveling, it’s Thanksgiving!!!! Which means it’s my favorite holiday and family, friends, food and Oklahoma happen the next week after my travels. As much as you’ll show up while traveling, I know you’ll poke your head in the midst of the Rothers as well!

Here’s to a lifetime full of you,

Adventure lover


Letter #381: The Lou…

Dear St. Louis,

The Gateway to the West…

…I say the gateway to great food!!

The Hill: the Italian district. Unbelievable food and service.
Ted Drewes: Legitimately probs the best ice cream I've ever eaten. First to coin upside down concretes.
Coolest burger joint I've been to...14 total seats, 7 on each side of the counter. 2 entrances because you can't go across in the restaurant. Good food. Great atmosphere.

Even though I’m pulling for the Rangers, I still really like the Cards. You’re also the gateway to great baseball!

Wouldn't mind catching a game here at some point in my life...

You’re also a gateway to great people…

St. Louis, you are lucky to have this girl!
The old K-Life guy (Ward), new K-Life guy (Brian) and Drew in front of the sweetest K-Life house I've ever seen.

…The ones I remembered to take pictures with, the ones I met for the first time this week, the ones I forgot to take pictures with and the ones I have yet to meet.

I learned a ton about you last week. You’re very quirky. Kind of life this shark!

This is just cool...a lighted shark with letters cut out of it. Keep your eyes peeled for crazy stuff like this I could use for camp or just for my own personal decor! Seriously.

Quirky in the sense of having a great deal of culture. Private school is normal. Like 13-27 thousand dollars a year normal. Baffling to me.

You are a melting pot. White. Black. Italian. Greek. Catholic. Jewish. You house everything. It makes sense though since you were the gateway to the west.

You have a ton of money. Old and new money. In the midst of this, you have ridiculous shopping and others right up my alley! I went into Plaza Frontenac just for kicks and giggles…let’s just say I received funny looks for being underdressed. Then I stopped by West County Mall…H&M, Forever 21, you name it, they had it!

All in all, you sure were a good place to spend a week. I’d love to come back and explore more soon.

Until next time,

Enjoyer of you

Letter #374: Where’s Next?!

Dear trail,

The first 15 days we spent together were an absolute blast. I can’t think of a better way to have started this year’s traveling. Before that stint of you was said and done, I spent significant time in five different states and drove through at least three more. Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. I don’t even want to begin calculating the number of hours I spent in a van! Regardless you were a blast, and I’m excited to tackle more adventures on you.

Today’s my last day in Branson after a week off from the road. I pick you back up tomorrow. Laundry, school, friends and OSU football will be at the top of my list of things to complete today. Tomorrow I head out on you again. The question is where do I get to go next?! Well, I’m here to tell you…

  • Oct. 17-21st: St. Louis (family shows and I think I’ll interview at St. Louis University and Greenville College the 18th and 22nd respectively)
  • Oct. 22nd: Branson
  • Oct. 23rd: University of Tennessee
  • Oct. 24th: Tennessee Tech
  • Oct. 25th: Carson Newman
  • Oct. 26th: Lee University
  • Oct. 27th: Covenant College

Here’s the glimpse into our next two weeks. Lots of people I’m excited to see and tons of adventure calling my name. You sure do make my life exciting and fun.

Go Pokes,
Professional Traveler
P.S. What do I need to do while I’m in St. Louis?! I’ve never spent time there and am excited to experience it first hand! World Series game?!?!

Letter #370: Flight Antics (The rest of the story)…

Earlier I began this letter…here’s the rest of the story!

Flight takes off and you seem to be going as planned. I’m headed to Texas and by golly I now have my boots on! Dallas, I’m coming! We’d been in the air for about 25 minutes, and I began to notice we were descending quickly. My heart starts to race a bit, I am looking fervently for huge buildings and a city below me large enough to be Dallas. I can’t find it. There’s no way 25 minutes gets an eight seater to Dallas. My heart’s beating a little faster. Nobody else seems to care, but I am literally making peace within myself that if it’s my time then it’s my time. Long story short…..ummmm hello, nobody informed me we were stopping in Hot Springs, AR!!!!! I legitimately saw my life flash before my eyes. All was well. I switched planes in the midst of a Charlie Daniel’s concert being set up on the runway, and they even let me back on with my three bags. Again, zero security!

Next flight was a breeze. I get to Dallas where I don’t expect a grand welcoming. I was in an eight passenger plane. The pilots, no longer the young, cute ones, inform us we will now have to go through security since we’re at a larger airport, so we should follow the signs to receive our bags. The signs take us through parts of the airport customers are never supposed to see. One large, cement room after another. After a good seven minutes, we open a door and sunlight hits us. No more signs. I am standing in a parking lot. Where the heck could my bag be?

About a minute later a luggage cart (yes, the kind they drive around on runways to fill planes) barrels around the corner hollering at us. “Are you Seaport Air?” At this point, I’m dying laughing, anticipating my luggage being dropped out of a luggage cart in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. I might as well have been a tarot card reader because this is the exact series of events that played out. I asked man where I am supposed to go for my connecting flight. He gave me very ambiguous directions, and there I stood alone in a parking lot with a 34.5 pound rolling suitcase, three carry-ons and my cowboy boots. It’s also 97 degrees. I can see the arrival area of the airport, but it is a trek away.

Thus I begin the hike. Two miles later I arrive at the Southwest terminal. At this point I’m feeling good. First order of business…ensure the 50 pound bag limit. I confirm this, find a seat to sit in and immediately begin repacking my suitcase. Once again, shoes changed in the middle of the airport. Cosmetics back in the suitcase. I even reorganized to put my purse in my suitcase so I only had two carry-ons. I was in the big leagues now. Three carry-ons will get you kicked off planes. I finally got situated and headed over to check my bag. Type it all in only to read, “You cannot check-in more than four hours prior to boarding.” Oh, I forgot to mention I had more than a five hour layover. At this point all I can do is laugh. Honestly, can this get any better?!

I end up posting up in McDonald’s for a good three hours doing school and life. There I sat with luggage abounding as I typed papers on my laptop, used Internet on the iPad and talked on the phone. Seriously, I am a walking Apple advertisement. To top it all off, I knew I’d be eating out a ton in the next 15 days, so I made it through this entire day with a sack dinner which I ate at my McDonald’s table. I know, I’m crazy.

After 10 hours of you, I made it to Houston and then in College Station around midnight. I ended up arriving having completed a great deal of school and acquired more patience in one day than my whole life combined!

Moral of the story: you get what you pay for. My flight may not have been seamless, but it was cheap, it got me there and it provided me with great entertainment! I’d recommend Seaport Airlines to anybody…50 bucks one way. Who’s coming to visit me?! True moral of the story: I really just didn’t want to forget this, but it also reminds me life is only what we make it to be. I could have easily been ticked the whole day. Instead I just chose to create great stories from it and laugh a ton. Wouldn’t trade you in this way for the world.

Bound to have a few crazy stories as much as I do you,

Hilarious traveler, adventure seeker

Letter #369: Flight Antics

Dear traveling,

You are always an adventure, and while I’m embracing my time at home I can’t help but laugh about a few of the hilarious moments I ran into during my first journey on you this year. Somehow in the midst of life and keeping up with blog posts I missed sharing this story. I think I verbally laughed and shared it so much that I just forgot. I hope you find this as funny as me…

If you remember, my last journey was 15 days ranging from 45-95 degrees and activities ranging from tailgating to interviewing. Thus, my typical carry-on suitcase wasn’t going to cut it for packing purposes. With a full size suitcase in tow, I headed off to the most bizarre airport I’ve ever experienced. You see, when I fly I look for the cheapest route possible and this time it just happened to be on Seaport Airlines out of Harrison, AR, which is 30 minutes away. Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad, it’s new to me too. Boone County Airport…smaller than the local gas station.

Literally, I walk in, show them my license, zero security or lines and am ready to weigh my bag. My connecting flight was Southwest which means 50 pound bag limit. Little did I know Seaport had a 35 pounder. The lady takes my bag and quickly informs me I will need to pay the extra weight fee. 42 pounds. We all know I’m cheap, so I wasn’t having any of this $35 extra. Without hesitation I took my bag back, shuffled all toiletries and appliances into my purse, exchanged my cowboys boots for my flip flops I was wearing and re-zipped in hopes of a seven pound differentiation or at least for it to be close and for the lady to show me grace. I handed over the bag for round two, and with $35 on the line held my breath…34.5 pounds. BAM! Can we readdress the fact that I straight up changed shoes in the middle of the airport?!

At this point I’m thankful for the 35 bucks I just saved. She then asks to weigh my carry-ons. Side note: I’m convinced they need to know the weight to know how much gas to put in the plane. Oh no. I look down to see my purse filled with cosmetics, my Mountainsmith with my school books and another bag with work, laptop, iPad, etc. I had three bags carrying a good 25+ pounds. This was not looking good for me. I glanced at my bags and debated how I was going to handle this. I decided on complete honesty. “Ma’am, I’m going to be gone for 15 days, and I have to bring school and work with me. I realize I have an extra bag, but would you be willing to weigh two as one?” I’m convinced I found favor with this lady because of how I treated her from the beginning because she graciously agreed.

I proceeded to take my 25 pounds worth of bags to the plane. Oh, did I mention it only holds eight passengers?! I lug my stuff up the two steps in takes me to get into the second smallest plane I’ve ever been on and realize I can’t even stand upright inside. No big. The pilots were cute, it was cheap and I was excited to get to College Station. I call myself out from the beginning on being a complicated passenger, so everyone (all five of the other passengers including two pilots) is laughing at me. I kindly place my belongings underneath my seat to stay out of everyone else’s way. Oh no, I’m informed the oxygen masks are there so I can’t block them. Thank goodness the plane wasn’t full because the pilot who doubled as the stewardess proceeds to seatbelt my bags into two seats. Seriously, I was that girl. Not to mention the other “empty seat’ on the flight had a dog zipped into a carry-on bag buckled in. We hadn’t even taken off and it was madness!

(I’m committed to keeping my posts brief, so tune in later today for the rest of the story…)

Letter #353: Traveling Gypsie


Dear traveling,

So you begin. It’s crazy that it’s that time of year again, but I’m stoked. You are my favorite part of my job in the fall. Good thing. If you weren’t I’d be one miserable girl! Especially considering my first stint out is for 15 days!

Let me explain. I work for Kanakuk Kamps. We’re a Christian, sports camp whose mission is to develop dynamic Christian leaders through life-changing experiences, godly relationships and spiritual training. In order for this to happen, we must have campers coming to camp as well as staff to make camp happen. Thus, we have winter trail where all the directors travel the country interviewing staff and telling families about Kanakuk.

I am lucky enough to get to be part of winter trail and because I’m single and childless I spend LOTS of time on the road. Like 10 plus weeks. At this stage in my life, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Living out of a suitcase and sleeping in a different place every night doesn’t stress me out in the least. Getting to see friends, campers and interview along the way excites me. The trickiest and most dreadful part for me is packing. Packing for 15 days with temperatures varying from 45-95 degrees and activities from tailgating and football games to work engagements and a conference…strategy is necessary. Based on the above picture, I’m not sure how much strategy occurred!

After lots of laundry and finally just selling out to finishing, I’m packed and ready to go. Flight leaves at 1:15, and I’m College Station bound! I’ll detail my adventure more in a later post, but for now all you need to know is I’ll be wearing orange amongst the Aggies!

So it begins,

Traveling gypsie

P.S. Happy First Day of Fall to the best readers in the world!

Letter #347: Traveling Junkie

Dear trail,

You are coming so quickly. I’m looking forward to traveling again this year and am anxiously awaiting to find out exactly where I get to go. You see, of all the people who travel for Kanakuk, my life is the least complicated. I only have to take care of me where as all the other people are either engaged, married or married with multiple children. Thus, travels get a little tricky trying to space out dad’s time away from their families and whether or not the moms can travel at all because of their little minions.

Then there’s me. No strings attached. Send me wherever because I’ll be happy to go and nobody else is affected. I love this part of my job. It’s hands down the highlight of my non-summer months. I get to see the country, visit places I never would otherwise and spend time with friends all over the USA. You’re a blast; you challenge me; you allow me to meet really neat personalities during interviews; you bring adventure to my life.

So, this is my last week in Shady B for awhile. I don’t know exactly where I’m going yet, but this Friday I depart (more on that soon). With that being said, this is my last weekend at home for a bit. Here’s to getting a ton done, enjoying some rest and having home-cooked food for one more week!

Excited for you this year,

Traveling junkie