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Tag Archives: travel

Week 47-People’s Choice, Day 3-Cathy

Welcome to my first international blog post people!  That’s right Scott and I have hoped over the border into good ‘ole Canada to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary.  I can’t even believe how much we’ve experienced in the past two years and I certainly wouldn’t change any of it for the world!  One person who has left an impression on me in the past couple of years is Cathy Scott.  She is a brave Irish woman who traveled all across America a few summers ago.  I had the pleasure of knowing her because she stayed with my mum (as she would say) for a couple of days.  I was amazed at her adventurous spirit and kind heart, and I even had the chance to catch up with her again when she made her way to NYC in the last leg of her trip.  Thanks Cathy for showing me how strong and loyal the Irish truly are.

Cathy loves NIH!

Cathy has been reading and totally encouraging me and my blog from across the pond since the very beginning.  When I asked my Facebook friends for ideas for this week she piped up and asked, “Do Northern Irish charities count?”  Yes ma’am they certainly do!  She she sent along a couple of great ones.  The first being Northern Ireland Hospice, which provides a lot of care and a lot of love to local children and adults.  No one wants to talk about getting sick or dying, because we’re all delusional and have convinced ourselves that we’re invincible.  Clearly, this is not true.  NIH is great because not only do they have take care of those who have life-limiting or life-threating conditions but they also support their family and friends, and usually in the comfort of their own homes.  Started back in 1983 NIH cares for more than 3,000 patients every year.  Their care is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they truly care for each of their patients as the individuals they are.  NIH is there to help carry families through the rough times, and all at no cost, but really no price tag could be put on the peace they provide.  Another Northern Ireland charity providing help to those in need is the SOS Bus.  Anyone who has ever been to a big city might have noticed that some forms of public transportation are closed by the time those who have been drinking since happy hour are ready to go home.  Unfortunately this can lead to individuals not only putting their lives at risk by driving but also putting other people’s lives on the line.  The SOSB provides these people with a safe way to get home, but they do so much more than that.  They openly welcome anyone in out of the cold, and have professional paramedics on hand in case anyone is in need of medical attention.  SOSB is about more than just providing a free service to those in need.  It is reminding Ireland, and the world, that it’s important for us to make time and care for each other.  Our communities are only as good as we make them.

Northern Ireland Hospice Donation 

SOS Bus Donation 

So here’s to you Cathy!  You may be 3,000 miles away but I can feel you love and support everyday.  You’re a beautiful person on the inside and the out, and I truly count it among my many blessings that your path crossed with my family’s.  You’re a great mom, a wandering soul like myself, and I just love your accent.  Life is too short to be anything but happy, and I have you to thank for showing me that.

Week 32-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 7-NOLA

We’re in the NOLA baby!  We’ve officially made it to Louisiana and the annual American Society of Animal Science.  New Orleans is just as I remembered it, hot, smelly, vivacious, and unique.  When we were here three years ago at this time we fell in love with the architecture, culture, and charm of this Cajun city.  You would never know that a hurricane devastated the area almost six years ago.  All the jazz musics, neon lights, beignets, cafe au laits, hurricanes (drinks not inclement weather), po’ boys, and fleur-de-lis have helped me remember how thankful I am for this city…even if it makes me sweat before the sun comes up.

French Quarter in NOLA

I can only imagine all of the histories and stories that are floating around in the French Quarter and beyond.  Thankfully, the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans make sure the history of the city lives on for years.  Since 1976 NRCNO has been working to promote the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods.  They have also helped over 5,000 families restore more than 300 homes since Hurricane Katrina, which is valued at more than $10 million.  PRCNO is also extremely sensitive to the tremendous past and heritage that New Orleans holds, and is respectful of it when restoring buildings.  They implement programs to educate and advocate the general public about the importance of preserving the only New Orleans we have.  I know I want to come back again one day, and I might even want to bring my kids one day.  Ok probably not the kid part, but they can grow up and then come here themselves.  I want them to experience the live jazz music pouring out of the clubs into the cobblestone streets.  Tipitina’s Foundation supports the irreplaceable music scene here in NOLA and Louisiana.  TP was founded after Hurricane Katrina and they initially helped musicians with anything they need to carry on with the immediate lives and get back to normal.  They have four main programs that range from donation of musical instruments to public school to creating a network of workforce development and job skills training.  One of the coolest programs of TP is the Sunday Music Workshops where kids have the chance to learn and play with some of the best musicians in the world at the famous Tiptina’s Uptown club.  Over 4,000 kids in 70 different schools have benefited from the $2.2 million worth of instruments TP has donated.  Talk about sweet music to my ears!

Preservation Resources Center of New Orleans Donation

Tiptina’s Foundation Donation

So here’s to you New Orleans!  You have won me over again in a matter of a few short hours.  The resiliency and spirit that you have is unmistakable, and even a little bit contagious.  You’ve been a place for me to learn, see some new things, and have a little bit of fun too.  Where would we be without you?  Probably a little more sober, a lot less sweaty, but nowhere near as fun!

Week 32-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 6-Atlanta

That’s right folks, Asheville yesterday and Atlanta today!  I am officially living the life of a jet setter.  Well, not exactly but that makes me sound a lot less exhausted and crazy than the past four days have really felt like.  We are here in Hotlanta on the way to New Orleans for a conference this next week.  I’ve flown through Atlanta several times, and I’ve even driven there to visit what the city has to offer once when I was in high school.  Visiting the Coca-Cola museum was about the extent of what I saw, but I had a gut feeling Atlanta had a lot more to offer, and I was right.  Thank goodness to long layovers and my little 365 day project.

Stunning Atlanta

I’m not really one of those people who have been to a lot of cultural events.  I think I would really enjoy plays, operas, musicals, and ballets if I would just bite the bullet and pay for the tickets.  Atlanta would be a great place to start because the Atlanta Ballet is the longest continually operating ballet company in the entire nation.  Founded in 1929, the AB runs the gamete from classics to inventive originals and everything in between.  AB has a diverse set of dance classes that it offers through the Center for Dance Education which they opened in 1996.  The center is focused on nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for the not quite as young to express their creativity as well.  Over 150,000 people take advantage of this staple of the cultural community in the peach city each and every year.  I say, whatever twinkles your toes.  Or in the case of our next organization, whatever warms up your pipes.  The Atlanta Opera has been bringing high quality opera productions to over 100,000 people annually since it began in 1979.  They want to be sure they put on a good show but they also want to educate the public about the art form and provide programs and services that fill the needs of the community and grow the program.  If I had time today I’d get my behind over to both the Opera and the Ballet!

Atlanta Ballet Donation

Atlanta Opera Donation

So here’s to you Atlanta!  You may only a place I get to visit on my way to somewhere else, but I still like you.  I watch the Real Housewives who live with you, eat the juicy Georgia peaches that come from around you, and drink the tasty Coca-Cola that you know all too well.  After today though, what I’m really thankful for is your great cultural scene.  We could all use a little more culture in our lives, right?  Thought so.  

Week 32-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 5-Virginia

In case you haven’t heard, Virginia is for lovers.  So true, and that’s probably why I love Virginia so much.  Our drive back to good ‘ole West Virginia today was lined with sunshine and beautiful views, but the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia really took the cake today.  We had such a great time celebrating the clearly visible, and totally adorable, love of Jessie and Logan and we were sad to leave this afternoon.  It’s funny how a beautiful ride can help lift your spirits, and put you in a better mood.  Virginia has the beach, the mountain, and everything in between.  Turns out the people who live in VA are just as gorgeous as the landscapes.

I know I write about food and water all the time, but it is pretty important to our everyday living, so I think that makes it ok.  Feeding America Southwest Virginia has been around since 1981 helping fill the empty stomachs of Virginians.  Their entire mission is to serve as many people for the least amount of money possible.  FASV partners with over 340 agencies such as non-profit food pantries, children’s feeding programs, shelters, soup kitchens, rescue missions and elderly care facilities. These partner agencies rely on the FASV to provide them with large quantities of food to which they may not otherwise have access.  The community that is formed has provided essential nutrition for less fortunate families in southwest VA.  Hunger can come in all different shapes, sizes, and faces.  The volunteers at FASV spend over 18,000 hours meeting, feeding, and really getting to know those faces.  If we all spend a little less time stuffing our own faces and stuffing other people’s then we’d all be a lot better off.  We’d also be a lot better off if we fed our minds with the art our communities provide for us.  The Virginia Museum of Fine Art Foundation helps raise funds and manage the investments for the museum.  The work VMFAF has been doing since 1976 has helped collect, preserve, exhibit, interpret art, and teach Virginians and beyond about studying the arts.  The museum has become internally known for their creative excellence and innovative programs, which wouldn’t be possible with the Foundation.  Each year hundreds of thousands of people are able to experience the museum in person, virtually, or by attending traveling exhibits and workshops across the state.  Oh I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.  Admission to the museum is always FREE because of the support of VMFAF.  Score!

Feeding America Southwest Virginia Donation

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Foundation Donation

So here’s to you Virginia!  Most people don’t realize that you’re special because you’re a commonwealth and not a state, whatever that means.  You were a part of the original thirteen who made our nation what it is today.  Thank you for being a place where we can go to kick back and relax, or kick it into high gear and give back to a place who has led the way in giving.

Week 32-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 4-Asheville

It is a beautiful day here in Asheville, NC!  Jessie and Logan are getting married today, the sun is shining, and I get to share it all with my wonderful family.  Scott and I had a great time last night at the rehearsal dinner and slept like babies in our comfy hotel bed.  We slept in, had a great brunch at this little organic cafe, and then strolled around downtown Asheville looking at the sights and shops.  All in all, a perfect start to what promises to be a day to remember.  With all the wonderful little independent shops and great restaurants around town, you can tell Asheville is a community of people who welcomes everyone with open arms.  I’m so thankful to be here to share in Jessie and Logan’s special day, but I’m even more thankful that places like Asheville still exist and thrive.

Today is your day Jessie and Logan!

Ashevile is known as the land of the sky, and that doesn’t even do it justice for how gorgeous the scenery really is.  So it’s no big surprise that The American Chestnut Foundation has called Asheville home since it began in 1983.  They are restoring a species to its native land in the woodlands of the eastern United States, and helping to establish a blueprint on how to restore other tree and plant species.  TACF has turned to science in order to successfully research and breed the American chestnut tree.  American chestnuts were crucial to the economies of rural communities who depended on their nut harvest and lumber potential in order to survive.  TACF harvested its first blight free nuts back in 2005, and they hope to begin reforestation with this line by the end of the decade.  TACF is also in the business of teaching our nation’s youth about the importance of this tree so they can be sure and protect it for years to come.  Another organization that you may not think of when you think of Asheville is the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.  Twenty years ago if a child was diagnosed with a brain tumor, they were essentially given a death sentence, because so little research was being conducted about this disease.  Thanks to organizations like PBTF that is no longer the case today.  They have been working since 1991 to find the cause of and cure for childhood brain tumors, increase public awareness about the disease, develop better methods for early detection, and provide support for children and their families who are in the midst of being affected by a tumor.  PBTF is the world’s largest non-governmental funding source for children’s brain tumor research.  The passion for the mission and compassion they show their patients will help them eradicate this terrible disease forever.  I love when people dream big and do everything in their power to make it happen.

The American Chestnut Foundation Donation

Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Donation

So here’s to you Asheville!  You have great food, wonderful people, and amazing views!  I know you are a place that I will be back to visit many more times.  It’s no wonder that people want to vacation and get married here, because you exude the charm of Paris.  Thank you for holding onto your roots, and letting them grow to support a community that makes the world a better place.

Downtown Asheville

Week 31-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 2-New York

Ok, ok, I’m not in New York but tonight I wish I was.  Today is my friend Karen’s birthday, and I’m not there to help her celebrate.  Insert sad face here.  Plus I just really miss all the sights, sounds, smells, and people of New York City.  I never knew how much I would love the city before we moved up to NJ.  I had always fantasized about what it would be like, but it far surpassed my expectations.  I’ve been a lot of places, but I definitely left a chunk of my heart on that island.  It is a big concrete jungle where dreams are made of, but it’s also a place where you can be thankful you have seen, even after you leave.

What a beautiful city

I have driven to New York, flown to New York, and even taken a water taxi to New York.  Even though I’ve traveled there by road I definitely didn’t make the road, but Make the Road New York has paved the way to justice for many New Yorkers.  Back in 2007 MTRNY was created when Make the Road by Walking and the Latin American Integration Center, two of New York City’s most innovative and effective grassroots organizations.  MTRNY calls Bushwick, Brooklyn home and they strive to help New York’s low-income and immigrant majorities.  Built from the ground up they have served countless residents of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.  They use community organization, leadership development, adult education, youth development, and legal and support services to promote equity, opportunity, and economic justice for all.  New York also does really care about its people from the city to upstate.  New York Cares was founded by a group of friends who wanted to take action against the pressing social issues NYC was facing back in the late 1980’s.  NYC is the city’s largest volunteer organization, and their volunteers share the vision created back in 1987 that we all have to chip in to make the city a better place.  They run volunteer programs for 1,200 nonprofits, city agencies and public schools.  Over 53,000 people volunteer each year to help over 400,00 New Yorkers, because they know the work they do with NYC really matters.  God, I miss the city.

Make the Road New York Donation

New York Cares Donation

So here’s to you New York!  You have kept my friends hostage from me for way too long now.  Of course, you were also the place where I met them, so I guess I forgive you.  If you can make it where you are, you can definitely make it anywhere.  Thank you for showing me how to live and love life in the fast lane. 

Week 32-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 1-Pennsylvania


This next week is going to be filled with traveling, which I love so what better to write about?  I actually went on a trip up into Pennsylvania today to work with some sheep producers, and loved every minute of it.  Some people have said that I have a gypsy soul, but part of the reason I love to travel is to come back home.  Dorothy had it right, there really is no place like home.  Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful when you’ve been in the car or the air for hours and all you can think about is getting to your final destination, but the journey is half the fun.  Plus, taking a trip is always a great excuse to eat some fun junk food.  I think we can all be at least a little thankful for that.

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of Pennsylvania?  Jon Bon Jovi?  No?  Well it well after I tell you about the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.  JBJSF works to see and maximize the potential of people affected by poverty and homelessness by providing them with permanent housing, job training, and programs to help them stay on their feet.  JBJSF is doing its part to end the cycle of poverty.  Since they began their mission in 2006 they have helped over 200 low-income families and individuals build a place to call home.  This time last year JBJSF was announced as one of the partners in building Rights of Passage, Covenant House Pennsylvania’s newest project. Rights of Passage will provide temporary housing for 20 homeless youth under the ages of 21 and will consist of 10 two bedroom units of affordable housing.  Jon has figured out the key to success not only in music, but also in charity work.  Anything can happen, one soul at a time.  We didn’t go quite far enough North to make it to Pittsburgh, but it is the closest big city in Pennsylvania to us in West Virginia.  I’ve been there once before, and I’m excited to go back many more times especially when I learn about charities like The Pittsburgh Project.  For 25 years TPP has been creating new leaders and serving the city’s most vulnerable residents.  All year-long TPP staff holds after school or summer programs for more than 450 of Pittsburgh’s youth.  They also send out more than 2,800 volunteers each year to make repairs on the house of the elderly in the community who are unable to fix the problems themselves.  Pittsburgh seems to always be thought about as the red-headed step child of the great Pennsylvanian cities, but TPP working hard to change how people feel about their beloved city.  Thankfully their have developed nerves of steel, from their hometown no doubt, when it comes to defending the P-Burg.

Beautiful Pittsburgh

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation Donation

The Pittsburgh Project Donation

So here’s to you Pennsylvania!  You were the birth place of so many things that we hold near and dear to our hearts here in America.  You are huge, but your communities make a girl feel like she’s right at home.  You have more colleges and universities than you can shake a stick it, and they’re all stellar.  You can never be thanked enough for all the opportunities you afford us, even if we don’t realize it.

Week 5-New Year’s Resolutions, Day 1-Travel

New year, same blog

As 2011 is getting closer by the day most of us are starting to think about what our new year’s resolution will be this year.  This week is all about being thankful for a new year of opportunities.  I have always loved to travel and see new places and lucky for me this year is starting off with a bang.  I’m thankful for all the traveling I was able to do because of my grandmother.  She loved to travel and even though she wasn’t here to see it, she made sure I was able to travel to my heart’s content.  I’m thankful for our move to West Virginia and for the all the new places, near and far, we will travel to in the upcoming year.

Scott and I love to go camping so I was SO excited when I found these Volunteer Vacations through the American Hiking Society.  Get out.  Give back.  That’s their motto, and I like it.  AHS has vacation locations from Alaska to the US Virgin Islands where volunteers spend a week building and maintaining hiking trails.  You can pick the date, difficulty level, location, and type of accommodations that you would like to experience and sign up!  Forget those trips to Disney World, this is where the real magic happens.  Okay so I realize that some people really do like to kick back and relax on vacation and not build hiking trails.  Well guess what?  You can bid on a vacation at BiddingForGood and help support a charity.  They have helped raise over 100 million dollars for charity by running over 10,000 auctions.  So now you can take that luxury African Safari you’ve always dreamed of and the proceeds will go to support Washington State University’s viticulture and enology programs.  Now you can feel even better about taking that vacation that you’ve worked so hard for.

American Hiking Society Donation

Bidding For Good Donation

So here’s to you traveling!  You take us to exotic places and help us make memories that last a lifetime.  You push us to get out of our comfort zones and try something new.  Here’s to traveling to new places in 2011 and helping others as we do it.  “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine