I would have to say West Virginia is probably the most beautiful state I've driven through so far. The drive is mountainous, green, and absolutely breath taking! I only planned for a three day visit and I really wish I would have planned for longer. I had a minor scare when I first arrived because there was a flash flood warning! Check out how high the water got by my cabin!
After that, all went swimmingly! Sort of... I ended up getting a flat tire. Luckily it was at a Wal-Mart! I checked out a glass blowing manufacture. They had a garden with cool glass art, chickens and ducks. An odd combination, but fun to see. I had the best burger I've ever had at Fat Patty's and I visited the New River Gorge. My gps would not lead me to the visitor center so I arrived after it closed (insert sad face.) I did drive over the bridge but you will not find this heights fearin' lady walking over that bridge any time soon check out the height comparison below!
This is my home for the next few weeks or months. If I'm not staying with someone it is KOA all the way! No luxury, no bathroom just a bed and A/C. The A/C is really all that matters for the dogs.
What else do you do in Kentucky besides drink bourbon and ride horses? A ton! Louisville has a bunch of great museums. You can buy a ticket and get into 6 museums for the day. I went to the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Frazier History Museum. I also ate where Guy ate and wasn't disappointed. And of course I rode horses and drank bourbon!
Of course I'm three states behind! It always starts with not having internet access, but then I get distracted by all the fun activities keeping me busy. I stayed in Bloomington, IN. "Go Hoosiers!" I love, love, love college towns. Probably because I love, love, love school. If it didn't cost a lot of $$$$ and I didn't have to take test I'd go back in a heartbeat. I always feel in my element, inspired, creative, determined and focused around college towns. ....And I almost always have epiphanies because my mind is clearer and laser focused. This time was no different. I didn't see any famous sites instead I hung out with the locals. I stayed with an old coworker and it gave us some time to catch up. I went to fourth street which has a ton of great ethnic restaurants. My go to curry, yum! I visited Nashville...Nashville, IN. It's a cute town filled with unique shops great for moseying around. I stalked up on local fruits and veggies at the farmers market. The best place I went to was Lake Monroe. It is gorgeous, like a scene from a movie. You have to hike approximately one to two miles, part of the way with a skeptical pug in your arms. The water was bath water warm, there were flat rocks to sit on in and out of the water. There was someone playing a guitar and people dancing with an added bonus of a meter shower! I am still kicking myself for not bringing my camera because I didn't want it to get wet. Well at least I'll always have the memories!
This is completely crazy to me. Each day I feel like my mind grows from new experiences and my heart over flows with love from everyone’s generosity. Since I have no need to watch the time all the days sort of blend together and I rarely know what time or day it is. It’s awesome! Not always having internet…awesome! Enjoying the sun everyday…amazing! Truly the only thing that could make this better is if I got to see my mom’s face every day like when I am at home! My mom = awesome! Six states down 20 more to go on the eastern side.
Before I left I had some of my family members and a few mentors write me letters in a notebook to read along the way. One note included this, “I know you are not a morning person, so enjoy all those sunsets.” Here are a few Ohio sunsets over Lake Erie. In true Jo style, I have yet to see a single sunrise, but I have seen a sunset in every state!
Anyone that truly knows me knows I have been pretty die hard about trying to meet Dolly Parton for the past 6 years. I have gone to 2 concerts, tried to win meet and greet tickets, and waited out back for her. I went to the Oprah show and waited out back for her. I went to her store grand opening and tried to win meet and greet tickets. I wrote a blog about 365 ways to meet her. Basically, anything within reason and not making me seem like a crazy stalker. When I saw they were offering VIP experiences for her latest tour I couldn’t pass them up.
The entire experience was incredible and a dream come true. Basically as soon as she saw I was on the list she had me escorted out to her tour bus, we had a preconcert tea party and then she sang directly to me the entire concert. Ha! Wouldn’t that be amazing? The truth: I arrived an hour early. They allow you to look at the merchandise without any lines. Then you get to have a bunch of delicious appetizers and a few free drinks. Next you get to tour some of her old outfits. They have cardboard cut outs next to each case of outfits to show you what time frame they came from. You also get to see some of her old instruments all rhinestoned up. At this point since I am not much of a drinker, I was decently buzzed and gave my number to one of her employees and told them if they were ever hiring to give me a call. He had heard me telling someone about my adventure so we also browsed through my website a bit. After that you are escorted to the meet and greet area. It is a brief time that you get to meet her and chat, and to be honest is was so sparkly I feel like I entirely blacked out when I met her and it was just a dream. Once I looked at the picture though it all came back to me. It really was that sparkly. If you look closely you can see rhinestones in her hair. And our boobs make the perfect yin yang, so we are destine to be friends forever! Being seventy, she could have easily stamped and mailed the concert in, but she didn’t. It was by far the best concert I have ever seen of hers. Plus I made some new friends!
I feel terribly guilty for not having a post about Ohio yet since I have been away for a week now. I know not having internet is a good reason, but I had such an amazing time I feel like I should be shouting it from the roof tops and making the effort to stop at a Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi. Ohio’s welcome sign says “So much to Discover” and that rings true everywhere. With four presidents originating out of Ohio, to the creation of aviation plus the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cedar Point and plenty of hiking trails there is something for everyone! I personally toured the Garfield house, went on a walk every night, took a very informative trolley ride around Cleveland, met Dolly Parton in Columbus, went to the Cleveland Aquarium, was recruited by NASA, jammed out at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and made sure my heart was in good working order on the rides at Cedar Point. I had a blast.
A little back story, about 6 years ago I waited on a gentleman who was in town for the Xcel Outage. Thankfully he only has good memories of my serving/pie baking skills, but the first time I met him I kept screwing up everything. It was crazy busy and it took me forever to get his coffee and his order. I screwed up what kind of toast he wanted. Usually if I am in this situation I try to be nice, but quickly give them their bill so I can get the entire experience over with. This time instead I just kept talking and word vomiting random stories to try and turn this downhill experience around. Well it must have work because I eventually told him about my goal to road trip the United States; he said if I was ever in Ohio I could stay with him and his wife. They are truly the greatest people and amazing host. Not only did they open their home to me, they showed me all around Ohio and gave me 10 plus suggestions of things to do in other states. It was so nice to finally meet his wife. She is probably the most inspiring and genuine person I have ever met. She was so smart and interesting. Her eyes would light up when sharing stories and she has this wonderful hearty laugh. I could tell she was so passionate about life. Absolutely great people and I hope I get the opportunity to go back again. If you are reading this I don’t think I could thank you enough, but thanks again!
Another Penny from heaven! This was stuck in the cement right outside my room in Michigan. I checked all the other steps, mine was the only one! It was such a nice surprise. When I find a penny, not only does it make me feel like my friend is watching over me. It also makes me think of all the support/advice I have had from family, friends, coworkers and so many more. Everyone has been so encouraging on this journey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!