When we first set out on the tour, as excited as we were to be traveling, we were very aware of the reality that we were going to be on the road in a car, like, a lot. Yet, we were lucky to ease into road-trippin’ by driving through the east coast. Our journey to New Hampshire from Maine was a perfect example of that.

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.

At the Walmart parking lot, Noel had her lowest moment of the tour. While she’s a well-adjusted kitty now, at only two weeks into the tour, she was still a little apprehensive about being transferred to and from the trailer. When I was bringing her to the truck from the trailer, she wiggled her way out of my arms and made a run for under the trailer. Tyler fortunately grabbed her, scooped her up and began walking her toward the truck again. That was when, in a panic, one of her claws punctured his neck. Yep, you read that right. In one side, out the other. Later our friends Seth and Sally would go on to joke that we should have looped a hoop through for a nice neck piercing. It took time but Tyler eventually forgave her. I mean it’s not like she did it intentionally. Since then she’s adapted to different environments, and we hold her differently when transporting her to avoid any wounds.

Our campground was located along the Great Bay, just south of Portsmouth, a coastal town that hinges on the border of Maine. To be honest, we were still getting used to life and work on the road so we didn’t explore New Hampshire as much as we could have. It was on this third week of the tour that we realized we may have planned the state projects too close together. Thanks to the connections regional AIGA chapters provide us in most states, there are still some that don’t have a local chapter. New Hampshire is one of them.

While Tyler was incessantly working away outside in his hammock at trying to finalize the new [HAS HEART] website you’re on now (with a few distractions popping their head out every now and again), I gravitated toward cold-calling and emailing to find project participants. I take great pleasure in online investigation and I constantly joke with Tyler that it’s a skill I need to capitalize on. Well, even as I, inspector gadget, researched and reached out to a few potential participants, the project days neared closer and closer. I eventually spoke with Karen from the University of New Hampshire’s Military & Veteran Services department who thought she had someone that would be perfect for the project. The issue was timing — too soon.

After moving the project date for the next week, we then reorganized the entire tour schedule, spacing out projects to give us more time for planning and working. Thank God we came to our senses then. We were feeling good, though, Adeliz Feliciano was confirmed as our New Hampshire Veteran and toward the end of that first week, Tyler, who had reached out to a marketing agency who recommended another marketing agency who recommended Alfonso Fabrega, had confirmed him as our graphic designer. With days left before the project, we were feeling confident we had enough time to find a videographer and photographer. Think again.

Fortunately, the day before the project, things worked out. I came across Creative Mornings Portsmouth that photographer Raya Al-Hashmi and videographer Miles Woodworth are involved in. I decided to send the two of them emails and to save on time, I copied and pasted the same email.

Well, after scrolling through their Instagrams (@rayaonassignment & @seacoast_flash), I realized that they were actually a couple and could just imagine them sitting together reading the same email, showing each other, laughing, then deleting. I guess this is where my self-deprecating humor benefits me. I decided to email them together, totally admitting fault to sending them the same email before while also admitting that I scrolled deep into their Instagrams, but that it was all for good reason, that we were desperately looking for a photographer and videographer.

They graciously laughed it off, commenting that they noticed but didn’t blame me. They got it. Their understanding was a strong indication that they were ideal for the project. Tyler and I believe in things happening for a reason and this is an example of it. We hadn’t found a photographer and videographer and that’s because they needed to do it. A bonus was that they quickly connected us with 3S Artspace that allowed us to use their “attic” workroom for the project last minute. 

It wasn’t much, but it was enough to work with! We sweated through the summer heat to rearrange the room the day before the project and hoped to God it wouldn’t be hot and humid the next couple days. 

It may have been a difficult process, but we finally confirmed the project participants and all of that work was worth it as the group got along so well. I still think back to silly little moments and actually laugh out loud.

So, yes, the “journey” part of New Hampshire didn’t exist so much because we were constantly working, on planning, but in between those moments, we had a great time being little hermits in the Airstream, making lots of coffee, walking to the campground’s dock to watch the sunset, cooking meals, having campfires, and walking Noel on her leash.

We got a few double-takes by other campers to make sure they saw what they thought they saw — a cat being walked on a leash? After realizing the cat was more so the one walking the human attached to the string, Noel quickly became a hit around the park.

We did make it down to downtown Portsmouth a couple of times in the two weeks that we were there and it is the most quintessential colonial town you can imagine. The streets were incredibly narrow, lined with navy, red, white, grays, greens, and even pink (!) houses with painted crisp white trims. My favorite were the unpainted, wooden houses.

We stumbled upon Strawberry Banke, a small colonial village within Portsmouth, there to give visitors an idea of what it was like to live in colonial New England. We then approached people carrying pizza boxes on the sidewalk, asking them where to get said pizza, and then had a delicious margherita pizza. I’m thinking we wouldn’t have made very good pilgrims.

In addition to working on the website and project planning, we also had a few more vinyl decals that needed to be cut and installed: our social media links and brand partners and sponsors Alpha Industries and AIGA, both of whom this project wouldn’t have even been started without.

So this next part is going to include a lot of complaining. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The other thing that comes to mind about New Hampshire (aside from a ridiculously fun project with the NH crew) is one of the worst customer service experiences I’ve ever had. Let me explain, receiving mail on the road is tricky, especially when you are moving around as much as we are. There are some forwarding services that people rave about, but those only work when you are at a location long enough- some RVers are seasonal, living at these sites for months. Mail has been a bit of a tough situation for us. 

For the first three weeks of the tour, we had been using a temporary license plate for the Airstream, provided by the dealer. When we hit the road, we knew that within a couple of weeks they would be sent the permanent plate soon, we just had to figure out a way to get it. I called the postal service shops all around us regarding having mail sent there. Most turned me away, saying I had to purchase a PO Box from them or change my address. Again, tough situation. There was one, however, that said that they did accept mail pick ups. Perfect- we’d have Woodland Travel Center send it there.

Fast forward to a week later, I walked into this postal shop only to be snapped at, blamed, and then patronized by the older man working the front desk, then later told by the owner that it actually had arrived earlier in the week (earlier than we had expected) but that he then, a couple of days later, decided to send it to the UPS warehouse located in Exeter. 

So, right before we left for Massachusetts, Tyler visited UPS limbo, a place where lost and rejected packages go. YAY for driving legally with a plate.

All in all, New Hampshire was a relaxing place to regroup and refocus. When you hit the ground running like we did, we’re lucky we had an opportunity to tweak a few things to make sure we’re doing the project the best way that we can. We learned the humbling lesson of patience and persistence while planning the state’s project while also being reminded of the importance of others’ kindness from our wonderful project participants. New Hampshire, you may have given us one bad apple, but you gave us plenty of memories and several friends that made up for it.