Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective.

The story of Linda and Madeline Around the USA

March 10 – April 26

Start Port Jefferson New York

End Port Jefferson New York

Total Distance:  8,004 Miles

Hello, Friends!

After months of calling, planning, organizing and a couple of weeks of being home and reflection and growth we have so much to share we didn’t know where to begin. Suffice it to say, we have decided to cut to the chase.  No long drawn out blog… we’ve created a poster to summarize the heart and soul of our trip.  Who knows, maybe you will print it out and stick it on your wall.  We hope it gives you some inspiration and courage to make uncommon choices.

Thank you all for your support as we’ve steered through this journey, we hope you enjoyed traveling with us. We are planning our next trip. We’ll keep you posted!

Enjoy your journey and happy travels from Linda and Madeline

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All Good Things…

All Good Things…

Well, here we are at home.  We knew we would get to this moment eventually.  As you know, all good things must come to an end, but the end of one thing always means the beginning of something else!

For our first couple of days home we slept in, extremely late in fact.  Yikes!  We’re exhausted; we need a HOLIDAY!!!  Only kidding, partly.

We’d planned to have a PJ day and take our first day home off from “school” and catch-up on household things but on the second day when we both woke up at 8:30am and I could hardly keep my eyes open we decided to just hang out and watch TV.

At first we caught up with what is going on in the world; we watched the 3-episodes of CNN Student News we’d missed.  Because we’d just visited CNN AND because we were just in Illinois contemplating the Sears Tower it was amusing to us that the first thing Carl Azuz lead off with was a story about the  tallest building in the world, which is in Dubai.  Even more interesting, is that the 2nd tallest building is opening next month is in Tokyo, Japan.  The Sky Tree Tower, is 2080 feet straight up and the hope is to bring tourism back to Tokyo which (remember) was affected by last years devastating earthquake.

Then, we KNEW there was something going on with Illinois (something about water) while we were there so we decided to watch an old Tivo’d episode of How the States Got Their Shape:  As it turns out, in 1675, Kaskaskia, IL was the original Capitol of Il (not Springfield).  Because of the Mississippi floods, the Capitol (literally) moved from Illinois to Missouri.  The original Liberty Bell, which was a gift from the King of France, Louis XVth is in an old church in Kaskaskia.  This gift was given in gratitude in exchange for fur, wheat and flour etc., it predates the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and has a crack too.  We KNEW there was a story about Illinois, we just couldn’t remember it at the time!  It’s an interesting story, you should look it up.

Finally; we watched George Lukas being interviewed by Oprah at Sky Walker Ranch in San Francisco.  Remember we were there just a couple of weeks ago.  What was interesting to me was that while in SFO M picked right up on the fact that area around Sky Walker Ranch was “so inspiring”, because that is exactly one of the topics Oprah and George discussed during their interview.  “A beautiful, nurturing and inspiring  place” George Lukas said “It’s not a little cubicle in a giant skyscraper –on purpose.”

So our adventure began and ended with two creative geniuses, two film makers in fact; our first interview via email was with John Lassiter, CEO of Pixar.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what Madeline is going to be when she grows up?  I do know she is very smart, a pretty darn good interviewer, extremely creative and loves doing creative work such as drawing, animation and making music.  Hmmm, I wonder…

May the force be with you and happy travels from Linda and Madeline

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We’re Ho-ome!

Day 38

Reston, VA – Port Jefferson, NY

Distance:  305 Miles

An early breakfast with David and a 2-hour dip in the pool we were on our way north to our final destination–HOME.  It was kind of sad because we were leaving David but we were going home—and our kitty’s were waiting for us.   Literally, just like always; Precious was waiting by the front door for us when we arrived.

We had fun driving in the sun!  It was a sizzling 90 degrees all the way to the Verrazano Bridge where it dropped down to a more comfy 75.  Everything was in bloom.  We couldn’t believe it; it seems we left in the winter and came home to summer?  Yay, sunshine!

The 5-hour drive turned into 6 ½ since 6-miles before the Verrazano Bridge, 2 of the 4 lanes were closed—tack on an extra 51-minutes.  And then one of the three lanes was closed on the Belt Parkway—tack on another 39-minutes.  We were so close, yet so far.

Tonight our cross country adventure ends.  I can’t believe that more than a year ago we started planning and organizing our trip.  Interviewing so many people who inspire us and making new friends, seeing old friends and family, learning about our United States, all of your phone calls, emails and texts, those early mornings spent writing our little blog and 38 days later…Poof!  It’s all over. *Gulp*

As for tomorrow, we don’t know what’s in store for us besides rest.  We do want to share what we learned during our trip but first we need to decompress before we come up for air.  We will write a proper conclusion to our adventure and add photos to our blog soon.  Until then,

Happy Travels from Linda and Madeline

Remember:  There’s a new beginning attached to every ending, it makes me smile just to think about it.  So, here’s to endings and new beginnings…

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Reston, Virginia! Daddy!

Day 37

Youngstown, PA – Reston, VA

Distance:  215 Miles

We left early in the morning for the short 4 1/2-hour drive south to Reston.  It was a pretty uneventful trip until we came into Virginia and Madeline missed her first “Welcome to STATE” sign of the entire trip.  Needless to say, we couldn’t have that so we turned around and did a “Do over”.  Madeline has officially seen every Welcome Sign we passed during our trip; we believe there were about 25 of them in all.

David was at work when we arrived so to get some energy out, Madeline jumped into the pool and indeed; made more pool friends.  Me, I noticed David was reading the new Patricia Cornwell novel Red Mist and I brought it down with me.  I pretty much read half way through before we left the following morning.  I don’t much read fiction anymore but I always love, love, love Patricia Cornwell and Kaye Scarpetta.

When David came “home” I went out for takeout and M & D had some Daddy and Me time.  After dinner we slowed waaaay down and settled in to watch How to Train Your Dragon.  Unfortunately not a one of us could sleep for hours afterwards.  ugh.

We would have loved to have stayed longer and explored where early colonists settled, where presidents lived, and where Civil War battles were fought but our kittys were calling.  Besides, David expects to be here in Reston again very soon.

We are coming to the end of our adventure together.

Happy Travels from Linda and Madeline

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Today we are Driving Towards our Grand Finale—DADDY!

Schaumburg, Il- Youngstown, VA

Day 36

Distance:  433 miles

Pretty much for the past 35 days we have gone to bed exhausted and woke up and just run; but this morning I am sitting here catching up on our blog and Madeline is watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV.  Ahhh relaxation.  This was such an incredibly uplifting and much needed stop for us.

We are so relaxed and it is pretty overcast so Madeline and I have decided we’ve had enough.  Today we are heading southeast towards Reston, VA.  We are going to see Daddy who has been working there for the past 2-weeks.  We MUST come back to Illinois, there is so much to see and do and we love it here!

We’d hoped to visit some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style homes and visit the Sears Tower (one of the world’s tallest buildings)today, but NOT in the rain.  We are already planning our next trip to Illinois.  We want to visit Springfield the capitol, where our 16th president Abraham Lincoln is buried.  Oh and the Taste of Chicago festival (all kinds of great music and fabulous foods)–we must to come back one July.

I knew it would be more than a marathon to make it to Reston but I guess all that time in SFO tapped into my endurance training and I said we’d go for it.  Our plan was to stop and get grounded (out of the car) every three hours.

As we said our fond farewell to Chicago, we were carefree and having fun Rolling in the Deep with Adele blasting on I Tunes.  We were heading into the Windy City of Chicago and drove past the Sears tower and under the EL then past Wrigley Field Baseball stadium.  Did you know Wrigley Field was the last Major League stadium to have power lights for nighttime play?

As soon as we crossed into Indiana it began to rain and didn’t let up for the remainder of our day.  Since we could barely see anything past the front on the car, we played Unfortunately and Fortunately.  The game goes like this:  The first person begins a story by saying something like:  “We went on a trip to the Sears tower today.”  The next player must say something beginning with the word “unfortunately.”  The next person continues with “fortunately…”  We had a lot of laughs play much of the day.

Madeline also made some fantastic music on Garage Band and when we get home we are planning to make a slide show of her cross country artwork and set it to music.  Madeline’s Mobile Art Gallery!

We have come so far!  We’ve traveled around the United States meeting people who inspire us and reconnecting with old friends and family; listening, learning and sharing makes this a pretty powerful experience, and one that I know will have a lasting positive impact on us and hopefully t on the lives of all those who we touched.

Happy travels from Linda and Madeline

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What a Difference a Day Makes

Omaha, NE – Schaumburg, IL

Day 35

Distance 458 Miles

Schaumburg, Illinois was the destination of our next adventure.  I’m sure there is much to see in Nebraska but with the wind and rain all day; we can’t say it was very interesting for us.  Iowa was much the same.  We couldn’t even see any of the corn fields the Chinese Vice President came to visit back in February.  I suppose I can’t really complain about the weather considering what is going on south of us.

As we crossed into the Prairie State from Iowa the sun came out and yay us!  Luna was low on gas and I found a gas station where it was fairly easy to pump.  yay us again!  Happy day–go figure.

We made it to do the Lego Discovery Center at 4:59PM, just in time to get the evening discounted rate and finally, morning coffee at 7pm at one the best Starbucks in the USA and dinner at the best Whole Foods in the United States, then Pool time.  Madeline made another pool friend and they hung out and swam for a couple of hours.  We found a bunch of Hollywood magazines someone had left at the pool and we brought them back to the room and ended up staying up way too late reading trash—mostly just looking at pictures to see what everyone was wearing.  Oh what a restful night!

Best hotel entire trip—cheap, immaculate, comfortable beds.  Yep, we are absolutely loving Illinois and already making plans to come back.  Good night, sweet dreams.

Happy travels from Linda and Madeline

note to ourselves:  write to Starbucks and Whole Food Market when we get home— we have a plethora of reasons but we are too tired to write them up at the moment.

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Day 34

Fort Collins, CO – Omaha, Nebraska

Day 34

Distance 542 Miles

Alright, we’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The Good News:  The sky was clear and the views were terrific as we headed out of Fort Collins along the back roads!  We drove on Highway 76 towards Julesburg the northeastern corner of Colorado. In 1860, Julesburg was a stop on the Pony Express.  What our eyes saw was absolutely beautiful; everything was flat for as far as the eye could see and then we were surrounded by snowcapped Mountains.

With the 100th anniversary of the Titanic coming up this Saturday, Madeline reminded me that her pen pal lives in Nova Scotia where the Titanic went down and Molly Brown (the “Unsinkable Molly Brown) was a resident of Colorado.  Molly lived in Denver and she was a passenger on the Titanic when it sank in 1912.  Her heroic rescues that night earned her the nickname “Unsinkable.”

Back to listening to Rich Kid, Smart Kid—I like what this guy says.  We were back on track.

The Bad News:  When we hit highway 80 again the wind and fog were yuck.  Then the fog lifted and the rain fell.  We couldn’t even see other cars to play a license plate game.   All and all, I honestly can’t complain.  We’ve been very fortunate with all of the driving we’ve done over the past month.

We were hoping to get to Des Moines, but just couldn’t stand the weather any longer so we stopped in Omaha for the night.

Did you know:  Interstate 80 follows much of the original Lincoln Highway.   The Lincoln Highway was the first interstate highway built in 1915, it went from New York to San Francisco.

Happy Travels from Linda and Madeline

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Not sure what to entitle this blog, Down Hill or Rocky Mountain Hi or High!

Day 33

Rawlings, Wy – Fort Collins, Co

Distance 164 Miles

With a 5am wake-up call, we left early in the morning and headed east on highway 80 towards Laramie, Wyoming where we dropped down Highway 25 (south) into Fort Collins, Colorado.

Before the sun come up this morning just south of Rawlings we noticed a Sinclair Oil Refinery; refineries are always so creepy looking in the dark.  We talked a little about how Sinclair has been around since the early 1900’s and the Great Depression, then we touched on the poor decision America  made (by not paying attention)  in the 1960’s(OPEC) regarding value of oil and then we touched on the importance of history… a complicated and ongoing conversation to be continued at home.

Last night we were supposed to visit with my dear friend Mark Williams and his family for homemade pasta dinner but since we arrived so late (this morning) the only one home was Mark. Mark and I have been close friends since we both lived in San Francisco.  Mark was going to flight school and now he is now a private jet pilot.  Mark turned his dream into a reality and it is beautiful to see.  Wow!

As soon as we arrived, Mark whisked us off for breakfast.  Bummer, we’d missed Susan and the boys, they were already at school.  In San Francisco on Sundays mornings, Mark would ride his bike and I would run and we would treat ourselves to coffee and apple fritters so; OMG, Madeline’s first cinnamon roll and a hot chocolate with a mountain of whipped cream AND for me a steaming hot fresh out of the oven Apple Fritter, yummy.  I felt a little guilty because I know how much David enjoys cinnamon rolls but they never taste the same left over.

Our plan was to fill the car up with gas and go.  BUT we had the same problem as in Utah so I needed to take Luna (the name we’ve chosen for our car) to the VW dealer.  While we were waiting for their phone call we stopped by and said a quick hello to Susan at school (we always seem to have these 2-minute, cut to the chase, personal conversations in the oddest places) took the dogs over for a little nature walk—looking for snakes.  Madeline was once again in dog heaven.  Fort Collins is a walking/bicycling and happening town!

Finally late in the afternoon the call came and I almost cried when they told me Luna needs a new fuel tank and that it would take 4 or 5 days, maybe more….to have her repaired.    I felt overwhelmed and ( Area 51 all over again….but I knew I had to stay positive, face the bad news and think.   I made a quick call to David who was in a meeting and then back east to our VW dealer.  Then I did a quick Google search.  While doing all of that I ate the remainder of my apple fritter and believe me; it provided no comfort.   Bottom line, this is a fluke and we will probably never see such a thing again.  The car is safe to drive but it takes forever for me to pump fuel into it.

Mark invited us to stay there with them or around the corner at his Mom’s and there is so much to territory to explore in Colorado but financially, we were not prepared to stay an additional week so we decided to spend the night and then deal with the fuel tank when we get home.  The overnight was an unexpected but welcomed respite!

Madeline and Riley (11) bonded instantly over a video game on the Mac as soon as Max and Riley came home from school!  It was a busy night, both boys had music lessons (guitar, drum, base) plus football practice…

boys u tube video

We had a big ol’ family dinner and I was beyond excited when Susan and I had an opportunity to bond over American Idol, red wine and jelly beans!   You see before this Susan and I had only met a couple of times, the first time being in a bathroom on her wedding day.  I will not even attempt to tell that story because when she tells is it is so funny; then we met again at a park on our way home to Maine from San Francisco.

We woke at 6:15 so we could enjoy breakfast with the family and we had SO MUCH FUN! When Susan looked across the room at me and touched her heart as she walked out the door my eyes filled with happy tears. *Sniff*

Happy travels from Linda and Madeline




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Day 32

Day 32

Winnemucca, NV – Rawlings Wy

Distance:  643 Miles

Pretty much an uneventful drive day but we didn’t make it to Fort Collins.

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E.T. Territory

Day 31

San Mateo, CA –  Winnemucca, NV

Distance:   424 Miles


Leaving San Francisco was difficult for both Madeline and me; so many great conversations with friends, family, loved ones…that was the best part!  Everyone had watery eyes when we left, but we definitely felt blessed for having the chance to spend so much time together.

Madeline spoke her first words in San Francisco, made her first friend and Grandpa caught her first steps on camera while we lived here.

1st step pic

As we left SFO traveling northeast towards Reno, Nevada a sad Madeline watched a video (she hadn’t watched a video until we hit California).  For me reading all the familiar signs, I was aware of everything;  I spent time being nostalgic and sentimental and reminisced about riding my bike rides in just about every inch of the Bay Area North, East and South; up to Lake Berryessa, the 99 miles east from my front door to my friend Judy’s at the state capitol, Sacramento.  As we passed through Yolo County, it reminded me of sky diving and hang gliding.  And then ohh at Donner Pass we saw the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains on the California/Nevada border.   I’d forgotten it was spring and spring skiing in Lake Tahoe or Boreal or Sugarloaf on the Nevada side would have been a great experience for M.  ugh, I wish I’d thought of it earlier.  Both Madeline and I were stuck in the muck.

We knew we had two big drive days; we were trying to make it to Fort Collins, CO for Tuesday homemade pasta dinner with friends.   We had to move our noon interview with Stan Schmidt the author of the Life of Fred books out a bit because we had a late start out of San Francisco.  Stan was a high school math teacher when he created the character of Fred.  When Stan switched to college he “brought” Fred along with him.  After Stan retired, his daughter suggested he put the Life of Fred into a series and the rest is history.  Madeline and I both enjoy the LOF series; Stan puts a fun perspective on things.  The series is much more than just learning math facts, it is about how we use math everyday in our lives.  We love stories like this.

We felt bad because we had really low energy going into this interview and as it turns out, this interview with Stan and his lovely wife Lynn was actually absolutely perfect timing.  I’d say the best part of the interview was when we asked Stan “What do you do when you get down…?”  He replied that stays with his sadness (feels his feelings) and watches a movie which is exactly what Madeline had just done as we left SFO.  All of our interviews have been fantastic; but this was exactly what we needed to hear at THIS moment.

Just after our meeting with Stan, Madeline was not even fazed (good thing we had that discussion in Georgia) when I was pulled over and received a ticket while pulling out of the Mc Donald’s parking lot.   I was wrong and it is never a good thing to drive while not using the hands-free.  We were really running late and I wanted to check in with David and the Bluetooth wasn’t kicking in so I dialed his number while sitting in the parking lot.  I started driving after I dialed the number and as I was putting the phone down the Bluetooth kicked in I looked up and he turned his lights…  I was WRONG and deserved the ticket.  I received a ticket for Distracted Driving.

We felt as if we were stuck in “Area 51”.  Even though we were nowhere near Area 51 (“Top Secret” military base) it certainly had an affect over us.  Madeline was staring out the window at nothing but a brown, hot, and dry dessert.

When we arrived in Salt Lake City we felt as if the fog had lifted!  The lake was all white with salt and we noticed a Morton Salt sign and factory.  We don’t know how Salt Lake is actually connected to Morton but we do know Morton is headquartered in Chicago, IL anyway we didn’t feel like Googleing it from the car so we made a note to check it out when we get home.

We had an interesting turn of events when we stopped for gas and lunch just off of Highway 80. We discovered the most beautiful park, Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City. But before that story, I should mention I had a little odd thing occur while pumping gas.   I couldn’t get the gas to pump into the gas tank.  We weren’t in dire need so we decided to go have a proper lunch and then get gas on the way out of town.

As we were pulling into the parking lot for lunch I noticed a beautiful park and we decided to stop for a quick look before we left town.  Sugar House Park is a large pond surrounded by beautiful green grass and by apple blossom trees in full bloom—(finally we got to see apple blossoms, we just missed them in Washington D.C. and we missed ours at home), then surrounded by snow capped mountains.  We felt so at peace there.  We noticed two young ladies having fun with silk (you know, like the aerial rope silk in Cirque de Soleil) and we went over to have a closer look.  The next thing we knew, Madeline was swinging high above my head cocooned in silk.  The girls were really interested in our trip as they are leaving shortly for a trip around the world.  How fun is that?  bummer no camera

After the park we stopped to fill up with gas and again I had the same problem of not being able to pump gas into the gas tank—I do have some experience pumping gas, 4,000+ miles…  Anyway, I noticed it was another Chevron station so I decided to go to the next closest gas station where; you guessed it, I could not pump gas into the tank.  Embarrassed I asked the women at the cash register to help me out (maybe there is some trick to pumping gas in Utah or maybe she knew something I didn’t).  When she couldn’t pump,  my heart started racing; you know that feeling you get when there is something you just don’t understand or can’t control.  Yikes, this just goes with our day!!  My mind did a quick check of my premises–just had 20,000 miles check up in SFO, maybe something to do with VW?  Just then I looked up and saw the exact same car directly in front of me so I walked over and the women said “Yes, I noticed your plates, I just drover here from Washington, blah, blah, blan”  Anyway she tried to pump and couldn’t and had never this experience in all of her travels.  Ugh, finally we figured it somewhat out:  I had to hold the nozzle about ¼ of an inch in—not push it all the way in as usual.  note: deal with this while we are in Colorado.

We drove for what seemed like forever and our bellies were rumbling so we stopped in a pretty much ghost town for the worst pizza ever.  We were both sick with bellyaches afterwards.  Traveling east back onto Highway 80 for us we were hoping to make it to further today but staying in Winnemucca seemed appropriate for our day.  In my head I kept thinking “Stuck in Winnemucca.”  I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

I don’t like traveling in the dark for several reasons, number one is that the big boys travel at night–the double and triple 18-wheelers, secondly, the dear run wild especially when we are out in the middle of nowhere, and finally, with Madeline I have an exposed vulnerability so I prefer to be safely tucked into our hotel before sundown.

We’ve only traveled at night two times this trip and both nights we arrived at the best hotels—friendly, spacious, and immaculate—too bad we can’t stay longer.  We arrived at the hotel late, sad and had a 5am wake-up call.

Happy travels (?) from Linda and Madeline




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