Thursday, April 29, 2021

But You Can!

When I finished the first leg of my advanture, I tallied up a few statistics:

     Miles traveled: 4,737
  States visited: 16

     Number of first-time-visit states: 8

  Specific towns visited: 20+

  Days/nights on the road: 13 days, 12 nights

  Number of at least partly-sunny days: 5

  Number of mostly-rainy days: 6

  Number of snow-filled days: 2

  Number of nights spent in a motel: 2

Each of those numbers, even the number of rainy days, make me smile, because each one represents something I accomplished.

But there’s something I can’t put a number to that doesn’t make me smile. 

I didn't keep track of the number of people who, when chatting with me or responding to my social media posts, shared either how much they would love to do what I was doing or that they had always dreamed of visiting a place I was visiting. Over and again they’d add, “but I could never do that.” 

Every single time I heard or read those words, I wanted to put my hands on the shoulders of the speaker, look them squarely in the eye, and say, "Oh, but you can!"

While I don’t know all the particulars of those people’s circumstances, I do know that what I did can be done by almost anyone who is physically mobile.

Don’t believe me? 

People in all sorts of circumstances travel alone all over the US and around the world . . .

        people on their own, with a partner, or with a partner & children  

        people with full-time jobs, unemployed, or retired     

        people in their teens all the way up into their 90’s

people with limited funds — from a couple hundred dollars in their pocket to 

a miniscule monthly Social Security or retirement income

people with severe physical limitations 

people undergoing chemotherapy

people whose only mode of transportation is an on-its-last-legs vehicle

people on bikes and on foot

      people not letting their circumstances stop them from achieving a dream

Your dream may not involve travel. 

But whatever it -- your dream -- is, it’s time to stop thinking of why you can’t go after it and, instead, begin planning how you’re going to do just that.

As you read this post, I'm on leg 2 of my 
advanture. I hope you'll join me on Facebook, where I share a daily recap of where I've been and what I've been up to. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Apology and Explanation

 I had planned to post every Thursday while on my advanture, but that simply hasn’t been the easy option I thought it would be. So rather than struggle and stress over accomplishing a Thursday post, I’ll continue to post daily on FB (Patti Lincecum Miinch) and will post about my journey after I return home.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Somewhere on the Road (Road Trip, day 1)

Wifi and battery life being what they are, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post here on the blog every day, but my plan is to post every morning with a recap from the day before. Tonight, I thought I’d just share a recap of today’s drive.

I pulled out of the driveway at 8 a.m., headed East. Traffic going the same direction through the St. Louis metro area (both on the Missouri side of the River and on the Illinois side) was light, thank goodness. I stopped midday for a quick lunch and continued on.

Eventually, I entered “Kentucky”, and the view from the driver’s seat was stunning (except for the 3 times I encountered — for about 10 min each time — very heavy rainfall and strong winds). Within a couple of hours, I actually said to myself several times, “Kentucky is an absolutely beautiful state”.

Following the instructions given to me by the very polite Albert (aka Bertie, the helpful British man inside my gps), I turned off the main highway (interstate?) onto a state highway. Almost immediately, I came to an adorable small-ish town with a sign stating “Historic Downtown, Antiques, and Shops) and an arrow pointing to the left.

I decided a detour was in order, so I turned left and drove through a delightful town. I drove slowly (the speed limit was 25, so I wasn’t holding anyone up) and took in the beautiful, stately homes lining the street leading to the downtown area. 

And then I saw a sign that indicated I wasn’t in Kentucky after all — I was in Indiana!!

So, to set the record straight, INDIANA is an absolutely beautiful state!!

Friday, April 2, 2021

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese (book review)

The numerous strengths of All That Really Matters, by Nicole Deese, combine to make it a unique and interesting must-read for readers of women’s fiction and/or contemporary romance. 

The novel’s setting and story line are fresh and, in a culture dominated by social media, relevant. Protagonist Molly McKenzie is a highly-successful social media influencer; just as her career seems destined to reach a milestone she has only dreamed of, her life takes an interesting turn.  

At the center of the novel is Molly’s view of herself, those around her, and her faith. Deese subtly and deftly explores how Molly’s perspective changes without being heavy-handed or preachy. In fact, although this book is published by Christian publisher Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing Group), it does not read like the typical contemporary Christian novel. And in this case, that is a good thing!

Alongside Molly’s story, Deese has created multiple interesting and complex (but not overwhelmingly so) supporting story lines. She deftly weaves them all into one cohesive plot that engages and holds the reader’s interest. 

The characters are well-developed, complex, and believable. Both Molly and Silas (the main male character) are engaging, very likeable yet flawed individuals, and the reader can easily identify with them both and with their struggles. The minor characters are (with one exception) also developed appropriately and believably. 

The story is told from the viewpoint of both Molly and Silas. Individual chapters are told from one of their point of view, with the majority of them narrated by Molly. Deese does an excellent job of transitioning from one narrator to another in a way that is smooth and “natural”.  

All That Really Matters isn’t perfect, of course. Ethan, Molly’s boyfriend/manager is a character that can be found in sprinkled throughout the world of contemporary romance. Fortunately, he makes relatively few appearances. Similarly, the clashed-at-first-meeting and sparks flew, followed by a second meeting and a quick romance is somewhat cliched. However, the unique and contemporary elements of Deese’s novel more than compensate for that.  

This novel is a delightful read for anyone who enjoys reading women’s fiction and contemporary fiction. Its characters and plot lines certainly elicit numerous relevant and timely (even timeless) discussion points, making it an excellent book club selection as well. 

**Would you like to receive a free copy of this book? Post a comment before 11:59 p.m. on April 30 as to why you would like to read this, and your name will be entered in a drawing for the (gently-used) advance copy that I received. Or, if you want a brand-new copy (or don’t win my drawing), you can order an advance copy:

I received an advance copy of this novel, which will be released on April 6; my review was not influenced in any way by that fact. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

FAQ's (Road Trip, part 3)

In the weeks since I first shared with anyone other than my immediate family those outside my plan to take an extended road trip this Spring, I’ve been asked the same couple of questions more than a few times. I thought I’d share those questions — and their answers — here.

Q: Since you aren’t sure exactly when you’ll be leaving, how are you making hotel reservations? 

A: I won’t be staying in hotels . . . or motels or air bnb’s. Instead, I’ll be sleeping in my minivan. I have a Murphy bed (thanks to my wonderful friend Alex, who has renovated and remodeled several of my homes) with a 7” gel-infused memory foam mattress that is as super-comfortable. 

Q: So you’ll be staying in campgrounds and KOAs?

A. I plan to stay in a campground or KOA only one or two nights on the first — and longest — leg of my advanture, On the remaining nights, I will be either boondocking  or stealth camping. Boondocking is camping without any hook-ups — no electric, water, etc — on BLM property or similar places. Stealth camping is the practice of sleeping overnight in your van/car without drawing attention to yourself in the hopes that nobody will take any notice. Of course, I will only stealth camp in places where it is legal and will ask permission. Possible locations include police station parking lots, truck stops (in the area designated for cars only), and retail establishments parking lots (some Wal-Marts and Cracker Barrels, for example). 

Q: No electricity!! How will you watch videos or play games on your computer or participate on social media?

A: I don’t watch videos or play games on my computer, so that isn’t a problem. I will need to charge my phone and ipad, though, so I purchased a Jackery power station (and solar panels). Since I’ll be moving to a new town frequently, I’m not taking the solar panels with me on this trip. Instead, I’ll charge the Jackery as I drive (it plugs into the “cigarette lighter” type power outlets in my van) and charge my phone and ipad as needed. 

Q: So if you aren’t going to stream videos or movies or television shows, what are you going to do in the evenings? 

A: I’m going to play that by ear. If the community I’m visiting on a given day has some sort of evening event or a downtown that stays open in the evening, I’ll take advantage of that. Once I retire to my minivan for the evening, I’ll post on social media, read a book, journal, knit, and pretty much do what I do in the evenings when I’m home.

Q: What about privacy? Won’t people be able to look in on you? Where will you get dressed?

A: I’ve made reflectix window covers for every window in my minivan and will put those up at night or if I need privacy during the day. 

Q: Do you have a kitchen in your van? How are you going to eat?

A. No kitchen, but I do have a very nice, large cooler. I’m going to eat sandwiches and lots of fruit and vegetables. I plan to enjoy one snack or meal “out” every day; I may have breakfast or lunch at a small cafe or eat dinner at a restaurant where the locals congregate. No fast food or chain restaurants and no “touristy” restaurants. 

Q: What about personal safety? Aren’t you afraid to visit new places and sleep in your van alone?

A: I’m sure there will be moments when I feel uneasy, but I plan to take precautions to at least minimize, if not completely eliminate them. First, I’ve carefully researched the towns I’m visiting; all are noted for their low crime rate. Second, I won’t ever drive to a new town, arrive at night, and look for a place to stay. Instead, I’ll drive in the morning, and as I walk around and explore the town I’ll be staying in that night, I’ll be on the lookout for a safe place to park overnight. Third, I’ll pay heed to my “gut”. If a place doesn’t feel safe, I won’t stay there, and I’m taking “emergency” money to cover a couple of nights in a hotel, just in case. Fourth, I’ve researched the laws in each state I’m visiting and will have a legal personal protection device with me.

There you go -- the most-commonly asked questions and my responses. Feel free to ask any questions you might have; I'll answer them as quickly as I can.