Right on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we found our little end-of-summer sanctuary. It was mid-September, the warm days were fleeting, and I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to my favorite season. With some spare time before the state project, we drove through rural New Jersey to get to the wilderness of the Delaware Water Gap.
The element of a road trip for this “50 States: Artists + Veterans United” tour was crucial for us because we were determined to piece together the diversity of this country, both socially and geographically. New York City is a place that, although very relevant in the country’s culture and media, feels far away to most living in the United States.
We began our time in Connecticut nestled near a beautiful field of sunflowers. Those are words I can’t say I’ve ever expected to type out, but it’s true and we have photo-evidence to prove it.
Did you guys know that Pennsylvania is super hilly? Well, we did not. I remember driving to the Warwick Hills campground in Warwick, Pennsylvania, that was located just 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia, and being surprised by the winding roads and huge hills that turned into rolling hills when we were almost to Warwick.
Tyler and I have often noted how different this experience would be without Noel. When we shared the tour with our families, one of their responses was wondering what we were going to do with “the cat.”
We stopped at a Walmart in Plymouth for the night where I, um, well I had a moment. The next day was my birthday and it was the first time spending it away from my family. I found myself crying in bed while blowing up said balloons. The next day I was able to look back on the hilarity of it, crying in a Walmart parking lot…
After spending a couple nights in a holding pattern in parking lots at a Cabela’s in Maine then a Walmart in New Hampshire, we finally packed up the car with drinks and snacks for the road and a hour or so drive later, we found ourselves already in Portsmouth – 68 miles later! We didn’t even get a chance to start eating our Peanut Butter m&m’s. Sad, I know.
After leaving Vermont, we headed east and rolled into White Mountain National Forest near Gilead, Maine. We stopped along the Wild River and immediately became aware of our surroundings: birds singing, not another person or car in sight, the freshest air we’ve ever smelled, the cool shade of the trees with sun occasionally poking through, and the peaceful sound of the flowing water.
After over a year of planning, countless emails, pitches, grant applications, conference calls, and meetings, the day to hook up the Airstream and hit the road arrived. Our journey to our first state project in Vermont included a pit stop at Niagara Falls to kickstart our new nomadic life on the road.
As a part of the Texas state project of the “50 States: Artists + Veterans United” tour hosted by USAA in partnership with AIGA Austin, HAS HEART will share how the mediums of art, design, and fashion are uniting the military, creative, and civilian communities.