Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Long and Winding Road

MINI Takes the States is officially over for me, as Mom and I arrived back at my parents’ house yesterday evening and I’m back home today. We spent two nights with my cousin in Wisconsin before heading out Monday morning. Mom didn’t want to push through to Texas in one go so I arranged for us to spend the night in Kansas City, not far from where my father grew up. We stayed near Country Club Plaza and ate at Winstead’s one of my dad’s mother’s favorite places. Mom was excited to get a real chocolate malted while I had a chocolate milkshake with my burger and tots (and onion rings). The décor is very 50’s Miami – pink and teal, with neon signs and a jukebox. I can just picture Nellie sitting in one of the booths. It’s been more than 30 years since I’ve been to Kansas City and I was struck by how hilly it was and how humid when we walked back up the hill from the Plaza to our hotel. We left too early and had too much driving ahead of us to stop by to see Dad’s old house but I’d like to make it back there sometime to see that.

Missouri and Kansas were the only places we couldn’t find 93 octane gas. I still had my bottles of octane booster (I didn’t find the folks I had promised it to before we left the MINI hive) so I was in good shape. I found it interesting that a good portion of IH 35 through Kansas is tolled, but like the Ohio Turnpike, it had nice rest stops along the way. That’s something we came to appreciate during our time on the road – clean, well-stocked bathrooms. It’s the little things, really.

We made our way through Kansas and into Oklahoma in good time. I haven’t been to Oklahoma City since high school and I may go back for a long weekend. One of the great things about this trip was the chance it gave me to see parts of the country that I might not have visited otherwise. I’d love to go back to Baltimore, for the aquarium and some of the historical sites nearby, including Gettysburg. It’s so close and a beautiful drive. I may try to do MINI on the Mack to help break the record and to get out to Mackinaw Island. I could probably swing taking a week – a couple of days to drive up, a day or two in the area, a day to visit family in Wisconsin and then back – without too much trouble.

Another conclusion I made during this trip is I am very, very lucky. I have a good job that I enjoy that is also comfortable with me being out of the office for the better part of three weeks. I can afford a trip like this, between hotels, gas & food. And speaking of food, I know where my next meals are coming from. I live close to a grocery store and have a car so I don’t have to walk or ride a bike. I have more than fast food and convenience stores in my area so I can eat well (or not, if I chose to). Some of the areas along the route were remote and food options were very limited. I would go so far as to call them food deserts and it’s not much of a logical leap to think of the residents as food insecure. I don’t know if MINI had this in mind when they planned the routes and partnered with Feeding America, but that’s the conclusion I’ve made from my own personal experiences. The #DefyHunger campaign is so important and we’ve raised a lot of money & food along the way – over 1 million meals so far – but it’s far from over. Every little bit helps and Feeding America keeps their food donations local and the money raised helps provide meals at 11 meals for every for every dollar. You can go without one run to the coffee shop or lunch out this week, give what you would have spent and provide enough food for an entire week for someone. That just blows my mind. So please give. Most of you are in a similar situation as me – you know if and probably what you’ll be eating tomorrow – 1 in 7 people are not as lucky. Here's the link again -

Thank you for following along on my adventure. I still have some projects I'm working on - editing videos, working on a web map of the routes & stops - and I'll post those when they're finished.

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