In mid-May I introduced, Madeline Carl and Meredith Jacob, the traveling filmmakers from Stephens College. On schedule (more or less) and already half-way through their 50 States in 50 Days adventure, I decided to check in with these college seniors for an update.
This trip is all about collecting stories and inspiring people to achieve their seemingly impossible goals (which will later be used to create a documentary film), so my burning question was about the mission's status. Meredith filled me in:
Our mission has been wonderful. We have met a lot of characters and many diverse people along the way. We met a guy who pulled over OJ Simpson while he was on the LAPD 20 years ago and a girl in Times Square who was nearly naked and covered in body paint. We've been told many goals and heard stories that are vastly different, not one person we have met has aspired to the same thing as another. Goals range from attending medical school to seeing grandchildren again.
Glad to hear that the trip's focus is on target, I wanted to know more and asked Madeline for additional details.
The trip so far has been pretty incredible and totally full of surprises.
I guess I can talk about our daily routine. Every day we wake up around 9 am. (Meredith always wakes up first because she is part robot.) Eventually I wake up around 9:30 and immediately shove some sort of food into my mouth, and we pack up. We spend some time talking to our hosts, say our thanks, get suggestions for any attractions on our way out of the state, or we just give big hugs. Then we hop in the car and make our way to the next state.
The driving times haven't been too crazy. The average from state to state so far is about 4 hours (longer drives are about 8 hours). This will change soon when we head west to complete the next 20ish states.
When we arrive at our destination in the next state we usually meet up with our hosts. We talk with them about the local scenes and cool spots; they either give us good directions or come along with us. We explore the towns and cities trying to get a real taste of what makes each one so special. We have mostly stuck to our plan of the cities we want to see, but we have tried a lot of attractions based on what locals suggest. I mean, we pick our attractions based on Internet research, and as accurate as that may be, the locals know far more than Google attractions (no offense Google). We have been open to pretty much everything on this trip.
We have learned a lot about ourselves and a lot about each other. One of the things I was most fearful of when starting this trip was having to spend all of my time with one person. Because no matter how much you love someone, things can get pretty tense. But, we actually have had a great time and had very few arguments. Most have been minor and mostly due to sleepiness. We have been open and communicative with each other and talk about our feelings (not cheesy--just effective in problem solving), and we've been able to remain calm and happy.
With additional questions still looming, I asked Meredith about traveling challenges they have experienced. I'll just share with you the one I found easiest to relate to (perhaps you can too); it involves keeping the car clean.
It's a constant struggle to keep up with our car; within one day it can be clean and spotless and at the end of the day be a pit from hell where it looks like a dumpster was unloaded in our backseat.
Hoping to get the backseat dumpster visual out of my mind's eye, my next questions focused on memorable things, specifically a location and food experience they found unforgettable.
The most memorable place we have been so far has been West Virginia. We stayed in Weston, home to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. It's a haunted abandoned asylum with a history of many deaths and crazy stories (like most asylums).
The most "memorable" food experience we had was in Maine ordering whole lobsters. Madeline had never had lobster, and I had only had "clean" lobster tails. So we got our cracker thingamabobs and just started hitting the lobster. Juice flying everywhere, cuts on my hands, and the waiter chuckling upon asking us if "everything is going ok?". The inner part of the lobster was not the prettiest thing we have ever seen; we gagged a few times; and eventually we conquered the beast, but that sucker fought to the very end.
I'm having a blast traveling with my women's college sisters, even if that's simply enjoying their updates on Facebook (fiftystatesinfiftydays). If you would like to get in on the fun, visit their Facebook page for daily updates.
Before I sign off, I'll share with you several photographs as well as their travel map. In the first one, Meredith is getting her butt kicked in North Carolina. Finding this attraction off a travel app for silly roadside attractions, they just had to stop. The remaining images, in order include Madeline and Meredith sun bathing on Cape Cod, checking out an art museum in Delaware, and visiting our nation's capital.
All Images Courtesy of Madeline Carl and Meredith Jacob