With the support of many hands, we’ve been on the road for 545 days, driven 39,095 miles, visited 36 states, completed 38 projects, have worked with 46 Veterans and 117 creatives, and launched 14 projects with 24 more currently preparing to launch. Now, 18 months later, our initial funds have been fully utilized and deployed, causing us to pause the upcoming tour projects in order to raise the finances needed to complete the rest of our nationwide mission.
From Charleston, SC, we continued our way south through Georgia into St. Augustine, FL. We pulled into Anastasia State Park right along the Atlantic coast and set-up camp for two nights within a sandy jungle — easily our favorite campsite thus far on the tour. Noel also became a big fan of this set-up because from every vantage point she could spy on birds up-close and even spotted those infamous little Florida lizards for the first time in her cat life.
Downtown Charleston was covered in our first taste of Southern-styled charm that included ivy-covered walls, cobblestone streets, weathered paint finishes, decorative rod-iron railings, oh, and a Pineapple Fountain. This fountain wasn’t the only pineapple we saw. We began noticing on homes, gates, mailboxes, and more. But why?
To break up the long drive from Delaware, we spent a night in Cabela’s parking lot in Garner, NC. The next morning while we were getting ready to drive the last three hours to Charlotte, we got a knock on our door. As much as you can prepare for nights spent in parking lots by calling ahead and speaking to management to ensure that they allow overnight parking, you still kind of brace yourself for a knock on the door by some sort of official.
To be honest, we arrived into Delaware the day before the project and then left the day after the project. It’s been our shortest stay in any state, but that’s meant to be a diss on Delaware. I’m sure there’s things to do and see, we just didn’t have the time. The little time we did have was spent on some much-needed Fall cleaning, including a drawer that Noel quickly filled, as any cat does.
Visiting Arlington on Veterans Day was particularly special because it is the final resting place of all kinds of people with all sorts of service experiences. You go in knowing this but nothing can possibly prepare you for its size and scale. You hear and read statistics but you aren’t often faced with a visual of it all.
After finishing the DMV and Delaware state projects, we ended up back in Maryland but this time, along the Atlantic ocean. It was mid-November and surprisingly, a beautiful time to visit Assateague Island and National Seashore.
Right on the boarder 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.