Southwest to the Southeast

Here are some other great pictures from New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama that did not make it into the original posts. Enjoy!


Look Again

Here are some other great pictures from National Parks, California, Arizona and Colorado that did not make it into the original posts. Enjoy!

More Wonders of the West Coast: Oregon and California

Here are some other great pictures from the Oregon and Northern California  Coast that did not make it into the original posts. Enjoy!

Wide Open Spaces: Wyoming to the Oregon Coast

Here are some other great pictures from Wyoming, Montana and the Oregon Coast that did not make it into the original posts. Enjoy!


More from Missouri and South Dakota

Here are some other great pictures from St. Louis, Kansas City and the Black Hills that did not make it into the original posts. Enjoy!

There’s No Place Like Home – Looking Back and Looking Forward

Reflections by Angie

One month after our return we are nestled back into life as we know it in Knoxville. There were many blessings awaiting us upon our return- treasured friends & family, Mac(our dog), a warm home with separate bedrooms, unpacked suitcases, our community of faith at St. John’s, school and work. We have talked often about how the magnificent trip feels both recent and far away.

I have been profoundly changed in 2011. The transplant and the realization of this trip (a five year dream come true) have been the primary change agents in my journey. I have acquired an inner peace I did not know before. I have developed and am committed to a self development plan anchored in healthy body, mind & spirit rituals. New passions have been lit within and through intentional prayer I am awaiting the guidance to bring them to life.

There are so many people to thank for their contributions in making our dream a reality. Nature’s Way Montessori (for working with us to create a learning plan while “on the road”), Project GRAD Knoxville and Knox County Schools for granting my leave of absence, co-workers for covering my “shifts” with absolute commitment and professionalism, spirit-filled “send-offs” and “welcome back parties” with homemade cookies, dog and house sitters extraordinaire(thank you Liza, Amber, Amy & Karen) and last but not least – all of you for your prayers and support along our path!

We have been thinking about some of the lessons learned through our journey. I am confident those lessons will continue to blossom and develop as we carry this very special time of our lives with us everywhere! A few I offer you are;

*Dream big but be willing to modify your dream to give it wings! Our original dream was to travel for a year. If we had stuck to that dream the Green Lantern would still be under 200,000 miles. Adjusting our time frame brought the dream to reality.

*Pack light. Really. I mean it! I am notorious for over packing – whether it’s a weekend trip to Birmingham or a week at the beach. The amount of stuff we took was absolutely crazy! Loading and unloading it in 35 different cities gave me a new appreciation for less is more. Pack for your trip and then remove 1/2 of it!

*Don’t take your washer and dryer for granted. We encountered too many that don’t live with the gift of cleanliness. The negative energy I sometimes carried with me as I traveled downstairs to do laundry has been replaced with an appreciation for that convenience in our lives. Coin laundries just aren’t that special. Examine what you think about in a negative “have to” way and reframe your thoughts- embrace them as “get to” experiences and appreciate them for the hidden blessings they carry with them.

*Be intentional in reaching out to others – everywhere you go!  We both shared and received blessings through the people we encountered along the way. We all have needs. We all have gifts to offer. We really are a connected group of brothers and sisters.

*God’s creation is amazing, detailed and inspiring! Whether you are on a trip to a new land or in your own backyard – be mindful and grateful for the miraculous beauty all around you!

I am so grateful and blessed! I am excited to explore the ways we can help other families achieve their dreams.

Stay tuned!

Reflections by Beck

First off, I am happy to be back in the sense that we are with family and friends again. But I am also sad because the trip is over.  You have to imagine that we met many people on our trip and you have to understand that people are what they are. Definitely another thing picked up on this trip – love your life for every moment is beautiful.

Travel (a poem by Beck)

Travel is wonderful

Near or far

Beauty of nature

Bustle of city

Travel is wonderful

As one

The butterfly that flies

The human that walks

Travel is wonderful

In love




Reflections by Griffin

I learned a lot on this trip. I enjoyed the entire experience and all the memories that will stay with us. A few things I learned are:

  • Live in the moment
  • How to pack for two months into one suitcase
  • That our family has great taste in music
  • And that this is a very, very big country.

Just the whole adventure was really something to smile about. It is hard to put it into words. It still feels surreal to me. But at the same time I know it is very real. And I won’t ever forget that.


Reflections by Scott

As we pulled out of Angie’s parents’ driveway in Birmingham and headed toward Knoxville on September 15 a bittersweet feeling that our “grand adventure” was coming to a close became reality.  Everyone was happy at the prospect of getting back home to our own house and our “normal” life, which is anything but normal with all the blessings in our lives. But there was also a feeling of sadness knowing that the trip of a lifetime covering over 9300 miles, 22 states , 70 days and numerous experiences and lessons learned would be ending as quickly as it began on July 7th, when we left our driveway for our first stop in St. Louis. Lucky for us all our planning worked out great and our van the “Green Lantern” did not give us a bit of trouble, as we traveled the highways and byways of this big, bold beautiful country.

After being back home for a month, the kids are back in a routine, Angie is back hard at work and I am in search of my next opportunity and the trip seems in some ways close but yet faraway. We all learned a great deal about ourselves, each other and the United States of America while on our “wanderlust” and here are a few of my thoughts;

  • Most hotel chains need to spend a little more on toilet paper
  • My wife really does not like bears, bats or snakes
  • Orange barrels and “Caution road work ahead” are not just native to Tennessee but exist all over the country
  • The Western states are full of Subarus, coffee shops and casinos

But Seriously,

  • People are the same all over they just want to be treated with respect and courtesy
  • America is beautiful with glorious vistas and huge areas of undeveloped land
  • Unfortunately there are major areas of need in the U.S.
  • Every day is a brand new day so enjoy it
  • The long term effects, blessings and lessons of this trip will be far reaching and are unrealized at this point
  • Dream big for even the fool knows you cannot touch the stars but that does not keep the wise man from trying

I could go on and maybe I will at some point but for now let me just say a word of thanks to all who supported our dream with their time, talents and prayers. Thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing us this “odyssey”.

Beach and Birmingham Therapy

We know that we have been incredibly blessed by this trip. We are focused on gratitude and the abundance of it all. That being said – we are struggling with the end drawing near.

We said good-bye to New Orleans and headed for the Gulf Coast of Florida. Just a week ago we weren’t sure if Tropical Storm Lee would deter us from putting our feet in the white sands of the Gulf. Sunshine, pleasant temps, delicious seafood, sunsets over the water and never ceasing waves won out …….. and we give thanks!



The water was perfect – no jellyfish and no seaweed. We all enjoyed the mesmerizing ebb and flow of the Gulf and constant breezes. Griffin and Beck had so much fun waging a war with the waves on a tiny raft. It was nice to begin to close out the trip with such inspirational beach scenery.


We were celebrating a big birthday for my dad and six months of health following the kidney transplant.

My brother Mike was supposed to join us at the beach. He just relocated to West Palm Beach with a new job in solar and wind energy so he couldn’t make it. He was very missed but we toasted him, his new job and his great health!


After leaving the beach we headed to Birmingham. The birthday celebration continued with another festive night out and scrumptious meal. We also spent time relaxing and visiting with old and very treasured friends.


I was very lucky to be granted a meeting with the Alabama Kidney Foundation. They are writing a feature article that will highlight our transplant journey and kidney health. It will be published in their December newsletter. The other exciting news is that they have also invited me to partner with them and present a session during their upcoming November conference. I have so much passion for this cause and want to educate and inspire others!

The time finally came to pack up and with little breathing room we turned The Green Lantern toward Knoxville, Tennessee!


Nowhere Like Nawlins

I have to admit that a part of me was dreading the visit to New Orleans because I know firsthand how miserably hot and humid it is this time of year. Then Tropical Storm Lee came into the picture and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to go. Ends up Lee moved on and left behind absolutely gorgeous weather in the bayou. There was no humidity, plentiful sunshine, breezes and high 70’s.It was glorious and perfect.

Our friends Malcolm and Gina were gracious enough to invite us to stay in the downstairs apartment in their home. So we canceled the hotel reservations and headed for Esplanade Drive. They live in such a great area and their home is decorated with special artwork. beads, trinkets and special mementos with a true New Orleans feel. It gave us a great dose of quality time with Gina, Sadie and Mac (we left Malcolm working out of town in San Antonio).

Our first night we headed out to a local restaurant by the lake to meet old friends. Griffin and Beck had their first experience with soft shell crab. We dined by the lake and appreciated being in a special city.

I went to college a few hours from New Orleans so I was blessed to experience the culture, food and spirit city many times. Scott and I returned several years after we began to date to meet friends at the Jazz and Heritage Festival. It was a new experience for both of us to have the kids with us and do more of a true “tourist” visit.

We spent the next day in the French Quarter. We had such a great time. The kids loved it. We ate traditional Cajun lunch followed by beignets at Cafe Du Monde. The musicians serenaded us on many street corners. Some playing solo-others in organized bands.

We went to the Presbytere Museum to view exhibits on Katrina and Mardi Gras. The Katrina exhibit was moving. The spirit and resilience of New Orleans is like no other place/people I know. Their experience through Katrina really embodied the Desmond Tutu quote that we love “Even at the end of our very worst day it’s in our DNA to take care of our brothers and sisters.” Their stories were inspiring,…..the struggles HUGE. It was a celebration to visit six years after Katrina and see the city in such great shape. It had the same vivid colors and vibrant energy that it did on our previous visit nine years ago. The Mardi Gras exhibit was fun and a nice contrast.

We bought a painting from an artist in Jackson Square. We have named her “Green Angel.” Once we return home come check her out. The artist, Renee Perez, was full of joy and truly honored by our purchase. She is lively and will help us keep our trip visually alive.

Malcolm and Gina live near City Park. We embraced the beautiful weather by spending some time in the park. There are the most incredible large wind chimes hanging in one of the old, beautiful trees. The sound was so beautiful and mesmerizing that I made a recording of them on my phone. I look forward to the peaceful, auditory escape they will bring my way once home. The boys had fun playing football and we all gave thanks for the day and its blessings.

On Thursday, I was lucky to spend a “girls’ day” with Gina. She took me on a tour of New Orleans consignment shops and we ate a scrumptious lunch at Cowbell. It was great to have hours of “girl talk” and bargain hunting. Scott and the boys rode a streetcar, bought collectible pins at Hard Rock New Orleans and tooled around the city. They ate at Stein Market and Deli, voted best deli in New Orleans three years running and they loved their sandwiches.

That night was the opening New Orleans Saints NFL game and the entire city seemd electrified and ready to cheer their team to victory! We gathered in Old Metarie with special friends from college. The time together was a treasure. It’s amazing to hug old friends and realize you’ve been a part of each others’ lives for decades. It is also great for old friends to get a chance to know your children. Griffin and Beck were a hit when they walked in the door carrying a king cake (thanks, Gina) and ready to “tune into” football. Although the Saints lost, the evening was an ABSOLUTE winner with all of us.

The next day we packed up and headed to Perdido Key, Florida. Both Griffin and Beck made comments about wishing they could stay in the bayou longer. When we asked them why they loved New Orleans they said, “We like everything. We guess it’s just the overall vibe.” Well said!

They Call it Texas (Part Two)


We arrived in Austin on a hot, hot afternoon and checked into our hotel. Being that it was the starting weekend for college football and the other UT was playing in town for their home opener it was a crowded place.

That night we found the famous Threadgill’s restaurant and music venue was within walking distance and we decided to go there to eat. Their motto is “home cooking” with such favorites as chicken fried chicken, steak and pork chops as well as all the sides. A teachable moment occurred at dinner when Griffin asked “do you get free refills of beer just like with cokes?” Everyone enjoyed the meal and afterwards we decided to walk across the South Congress bridge to downtown for some adventure. Under the bridge lives what is said to be the largest colony of urban bats in the U. S., which fly out at dusk. It was too late to see them but we did smell them-if you know what I mean. We walked around downtown for a few blocks and then headed back to the hotel.

The big day had finally arrived, the one Griffin had been waiting months for, Tennessee’s home opener. We had the fortune of getting connected with a Tennessee Alum, Andy Potter, who runs Austin Food Tours. If you are ever in town give him a call and explore Austin food from a local. Anyway, we found out that a Tennessee alumni group was watching the game at a restaurant, the Cedar Door, not far from our hotel. So we were all happy about that arrangement.

But before all that, first thing Saturday morning Angie headed out to the City Garage Sale, something she had heard about in a consignment shop in San Antonio. It was a few blocks from the hotel and she ended up finding some “treasures”.  She also brought back some sushi from a well known food truck for lunch, Sushi-a-Go-Go. We then decided to head out to the area known as SoCo, meaning South Congress. It is filled with shops, restaurants, bars, music venues, food trucks and some sidewalk arts and crafts sales. It was smoking hot but we managed to hang out for a couple of hours, ate some Amy’s ice cream, listened to a street musician, bought some trinkets and generally browsed a number of shops. We then headed back to get ready for the game.

We dropped Angie off to go do some window shopping as the boys and I headed to watch the game. We arrived, found a table, met the other fans and waited for the game only to discover a weather delay. Then an hour and half later as Angie arrived the game started and we got to watch the opening game with other UT alumni and fans. We ate and then said our goodbyes as the third quarter ended. We listened to the end of the game at the hotel on the computer. With the Vols winning  and our other adventures Saturday was a good day.

Angie started the day at a local park and trail. She was able to “move and groove” for a few miles on a shaded trail that traced the river’s edge.

On Sunday, we had planned on going to Barton Springs, which is a natural spring located close to downtown within Zilker Park, a large city park. As we arrived and parked to walk to the springs, we felt like we were in a sand storm because of the hot, dry wind whipping up the dust from the drought that Texas is enduring. The springs are one of the places that people love to hang out with friends and family. Since they are natural springs the water temperature is around 68 degrees year-round so no easing in here, you just gotta suck it up and jump in and boy is it brisk on your initial entry. It is kind of weird because there is algae, water plants and fish all around you, it is like in a natural swimming pool.

Afterwards, we headed to get a small bite to eat and found a food truck that had been recommended-Torchy’s Tacos. They had some of the best food we had in Austin and we wished we had eaten more – from the queso to the different types of tacos. That evening we had heard about a free concert on the lawn a short walk from our hotel. The band Grupo Fantasma, a well known Austin Latin Funk group, rocked the house as the boys played an impromptu game of football with some local kids. After the concert we went to a local burger bar called Hopdoddy for a burger, some fries and a milkshake, it was very good and then we headed home.

On Monday, we shopped at the flagship Whole Foods store, Waterloo Records and the surrounding area before heading to Lafayette. We discovered some important words of wisdom on a store.  So, breathe and relax – your health depends on it!

As we headed south of Austin toward Houston,  some of the Texas wildfires were in our view as huge plumes of smoke filled the skies. In fact, near Houston the smoke almost blotted out the sun. Today, wildfires still rage in Texas and many homes have been lost so let us remember those in harm’s way. They need our prayers and RAIN DANCES!

All in all Austin was a very good adventure and we would like to return at some point for more exploring but the 100 degree temps and hot winds really put a damper on the outside exploration.

Big and Broad: They Call it Texas (Part One)

by Griffin and Beck

The drive from Carlsbad to San Antonio was a long one. Being the expert travelers that we are, it didn’t really feel that long. We ate blizzards around mid-day at Dairy Queen, that was about it. Beck and I passed the time by doing schoolwork, playing on the game cube and enjoying the scenery.

When we arrived in San Antonio we visited the Hard Rock Cafe on the Riverwalk. Beck and I enjoy collecting pins from Hard Rock’s we get to visit. As the Hard Rock says, I guess we’re “pinheads.”


The next day we went to El Mercado (The Market) which is a famous plaza and market place. As we have discovered along this trip “famous” can sometimes translate into “touristy” such as with Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fransisco. This time, however, it was a Hispanic touristy place which sounds weird but it was also fun. Dad, Beck and I found our very own keepsakes from the market place!

I am El Trueno Naranja (The Orange Thunder), Dad is Te Grande (Big T), and Beck is El Hombre Pequenio Paquete de un Golpe (Little Man Packs a Punch).

There was also a museum at the El Mercado, (the MuseoAlameda) the only Smithsonian related museum outside of Washington D.C.  It had lots of cool Hispanic art.

That night we went down to the Riverwalk to take a tour of the river by boat. It was a nice way to get to experience and learn about the city. We floated down the river as the guide told us about the city and showed us some optical illusions. Then we ate at a nice restaurant called Casa Rio.


When we woke up for our second day in San Antonio we said goodbye to mom as we split ways. The three amigos made our way to the Alamo. We visited the shrine and walked around the inside of the fortress. It was a neat experience and we were able to nod our heads and say, “Davy Crockett is pretty popular here, but of course he is from Tennessee.” You might not be surprised to know mom went to find some consignment stores in the city.


That night we met an old friend of my parents’ fresh out of college days. He took us to a restaurant that he liked, and we had fun just chatting and laughing and I really enjoyed hearing him and my parents exchange stories.

The next day we headed north toward Gruene, TX (pronounced Green). As we arrived we pulled up to Rockin’ R Toobin on the Guadalupe River. It was a beautiful day. We decided it was an awesome way to welcome in September. We floated for a couple of hours and enjoyed ourselves. We saw plenty of turtles, fish and some deer along the way. We ate lunch and shopped around Gruene. Dad was excited to visit the famous Gruene Hall (famous for music). Mom and Dad both got vintage cowboy boots for a great price at an antique store.


We headed out the next day for Austin.

by Angie

Hot, hot, hot, hot…..did I say hot? The temps were 100+ while we were in Texas. It is sad that the state is enduring such a drought. I did make an observation that there was a correlation between increasing temperature and decreasing patience/tolerance. I think subconsciously and literally we have made the turn toward home. Although that brings blessings it also brings some sadness. As we tried to stay hydrated I encouraged a spirit of “This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice.”

Griffin and Beck have had their own money to spend on this trip. They have been very intentional and reserved in their spending. On their own they decided to buy t-shirts at Hard Rock that benefited the relief efforts in Japan. They were proud that 75% of the t-shirt cost went to the relief effort. I was proud that they were jazzed to spend their own money in support of others in need!

Overall, I appreciated the architecture, culture and history of San Antonio. We loved, loved, loved being with our old friend Malcolm again! Anytime that you get to spend with “faraway treasured friends” is a true gift! We explained to the boys about the ebb and flow of relationships in life. There are people you love and have to “let go” due to logistics. You welcome them back into your presence with open arms at anytime. The rest of that life theory is that you have to let some people go to embrace the people that are right in front of you. It all works – in ebb and flow.

Floating down the Guadalupe River was fun and I was celebrating that we encountered NO SNAKES!!! As we welcomed September I reflected on the truth that it really doesn’t matter where we are, what we’re doing, where we are sleeping, what we are eating….what matters is that we are together…spending quality, engaged time together. When we get home the spaciousness of our home, our separate spheres of interests, various demands on us and other people will drive tiny wedges into our state of togetherness. That is life. We will continue to intentionally carve our family time together it just won’t be as incredible as it has been for months on this once-in-a-lifetime journey!!!

Austin, here we come!