Thank you, thank you, and thank this giant list of people!

Whoa. You actually did it. You actually voted, actually campaigned, actually helped me win!

And then, I won. $10,000 for my education. It may just be a twentieth of the cost, but it’s a tenth of my loans, and it came from you.

Technically it came from CollegeScholarships.org, a website designed to help students find scholarships. Really though, it came from you.

You gave me a scholarship! 11,902 votes were cast for me. It seems like wild amount, but to be clear, I don’t have that many friends. It breaks down to something more like 900 votes a day, since voting is allowed once a day. Hmm… Full disclosure, that is still more friends than I have.

It isn’t more friends than we have, though. We have 990 friends a day, because we voted from the USA, Vietnam, New Zealand, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Peru, Australia, Ukraine, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and places I may not even know about. You came from classrooms and offices and Facebook. Many of you I know, even more I’ve met, and many, many, many are people I’ve never heard of.

That’s why we came away from this with a win though, because you didn’t just vote, you sent out the darn link to everybody you knew. You used influence, persuasion, seduction, intimidation, and pity to get those friends to vote.

So for all that, I thank you. I wanted to thank every single person I could find that voted for me, but it was brought to my attention that some people might not actually want their names broadcasted at the world. Plus, I’d surely miss about 9,000 people.

However, I do want to thank the people who did more than vote. I’m sure I’ll miss some of you as well, but you really made this happen, especially that tough last day and a half. When I went to bed last night, I was sure we were cooked. When I woke up, we were on the way.

Before I thank you all for making this an award winning blog and me a less indebted college student, I want to tell you what’s next. What sort of career did you sponsor, exactly?

Wait I have a career? I don’t actually. I have been working as a journalist these past six months while traveling and writing this blog, and during the Occupy movement. In fact an article I wrote was published today at CampusTalkBlog:  http://www.campustalkblog.com/occupy/the-student-super-committee-takes-on-the-debt-crisis/

Aside from that, I’m a college student. I want to be more though. I wrote a novel based on this road trip adventure, with lots of boring stuff taken out and interesting conversations thrown in and some stories made up where I wished they had happened but didn’t. It is not an autobiography, it’s a book based on a true story. It delves deeply into the mindset of a teenager traveling alone on his own, dealing with the relationships, the people, the culture, and the physical world around him. It gets heavily into the psychology of youth solo travel, and the general absurdities that enter the mind of a nineteen year old when all he has to distract himself is trying to hit all the bumps on the lane divider on the highway. My record was 112.

It’s a first draft, but I’d like to get it published someday in hopes that I can bring the really great parts of the story on this blog to other people, and because I’ve always loved reading and writing and thought it would be amazing to actually do it for a living.

So that’s what I hope this contest results in. A book! Whether or not I stay a writer or become a wind turbine engineer, I have no idea, but I want to play this thing out until the end. I’ve got a draft of a novel, and if you help me, hopefully then some publisher somewhere is looking for that nineteen year old with a road trip novel. …Know anybody?! ;)

So we’ll see what happens. Thanks for everything…

First, a special thanks to Ginny Deckelmann. I don’t know what she did for this campaign, but she was the first fan for this blog and my work, I won’t ever forget that.

Second, to my followers and readers. I’d name you, but WordPress does not actually tell me most of your names, and you might not like that anyway. You guys are the best.

My campaign team

My mom and dad, because if I working like a dog, they’ve been working like a dog sled team. Things aren’t easy financially as they once were, and they have stuck it out like champs, waiting for me to get my act together and get a scholarship.

My trusty college advisor Don Forsyth, who recommended I apply and laughed at me the whole time while I begged you all to support me.

My old trusty high school advisor, Matthew Ives, and the rest of the Masters Faculty and Administration for putting up with me through high school and helping me out when I really needed it.

The McAuliff and McDonnell clans, for their support and dedication to helping out one of their own.

My faithful social media assistant, Shelley Sauerhaft. Without her, I’d be facebook illiterate. With her, I had a group with several thousand members helping me.

Craig Calhoun and the Social Science Research Council, you all powered a fledging candidacy and made it a winner.

My brother, sister, and girlfriend. They weren’t calling every single person they knew, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t get real close.

My Posters

 

The folks who posted the voting link on facebook and spread the message to all their friends. It made all the difference on that last night:

Sara Negovetic, Matt Eley, Joe Macewan, Robert McArdle, Susi Blitz, Amanda Coyne, Cristina Doi, Ali Goldman, Casey and Erin McAuliff, Shelley Sauerhaft, Stewart Wesley, Zach Fisch, Erin McAuliff, Meghan Maloney, Tara McAuliff, Liam McAuliff, Casey Minella, Hannah Miller, Anita Carroll, Jules Barbara, Long Nguyen, Harry Sudock, Dan Carlin, Noelle Turtur, Siena Naumann, Becky Plotkin, Rachel Citron, Stefan Kelley, Whitney De Luca, Carl Ceraolo, Mitch Mosk, Kendal Newman, and many, many more I am not friends on facebook with so cannot see! Or just can’t find for some reason. If I missed you, just tell me and I’ll add you. If you don’t want to be here, tell me that as well!

As one of the many weird promises I made, I said each of you could have a handcarved Christmas ornament from my workshop. Since I don’t want to make more than people actually want, please email/message me and I’ll make one for you in time for or after Christmas…!

My Tweeters

My editor over at CampusTalkBlog, Rick Sherrell, along with fellow candidate Shannyn Allen, Mike McAuliff at HuffPO, Amanda Coyne, Dan Carlin, Tien Le, Craig Calhoun, and others I can’t see because they didn’t say @johnmcauliff!

My Commenters

They commented on the comments thread beneath the vote chart:

Richard Simon, Ginny Deckelmann, Phuong Dang, Bhaskar, Rae Wainwright, Trinh Duy Luan and Kelsey L. There were a couple others before the first round was shut down, but I can’t see them now!

My Spreaders

This campaign was won on email and in person. Social media came second. Many, many, many, many, people helped out sending this out to as many as possible, including a few other candidates. I will never know who the vast majority of you are, but you made those votes happen to keep me moving up every day by expanding my dedicated voting pool.

My Supporters

This is basically everyone I think voted for me. I suppose some of them might not have, and thousands of others did that aren’t visible to me, but these are the folks who lt me know they voted, or joined the Facebook group, or something awesome along those lines.

Everyone already listed and…

Chelsea Long, Michelle Polyak, Lisa Warren, Alex Williams, Memento Mori, Katarina Radovac, Kresimir Zadravec, Tea Swarovski, Majan Dreic, Dejn Do, Silvia Sabangi, Peter Prindiville, Jerrie Miller, Cindy Hall, Ruthie Kriedler, Peter Schuster, Lynn Heron, Elizabeth Dorton, Anthony Giambra, Shane O’Neil, Mimi Mudd, Sam Bernstein, Larry Chung, Zach Nichols, Anya Verkamp, Peter Mclaughlin, Paul Nirenberg, Anasa Fraser, Chris Colahan, Janki Patel, Ruba Dabash, Christian Reiger, Peter Gallagher, Matthew Lewis, Lindsay Hollander, Mitchell Grey, Gabby Chenel, Freddy Serrano, James Turnbull, Andrew Hsu, Perry Minella, Conor James, Dodge Landesman, Dale McGraw, Kendal Newman, Julia Picciotto, Elliot Michael Greenham, Todd Brewer, Jacob Sunshine, Natasha Angelovich, Eliezer Ayala, Tyler Pager, Hannah Perry, Jacob Dannett, Shana Wallace, Sophia Chianese, Mike Wiener, Mike Orlando, Dani Marryshaw, Kelly Kurz, Thomas Griego, Dylan Pager, Ruben Prince, Keith MacArtney, John Desan, Nick Fleder, MJ Marty, Lucas Buyon, Matt Koz, Melanie Hundt, Kory Diserens, Jaqueline Hunt, Sumi Nair, Hailey Randell, Erica Phillips, Dana Goin, Annie Hudson, Megan Calabrese, Alec Courtwright, Steph Vega, Alex Barie, Stephanie Ann, Ryan Malone, Shosha Spivack, Jess Gutfleish, Stephanie Tafur, Alina Bourke, Madison Brown, Katherine Ingersoll, Kristin Schwam, Rachel Ward, Julia Brimelow, Joanna Leff, Becca Mack, Emma Leeds, Felicia Butler, Emily Martin, Chris Frost, Brian Eckert.

Whew.

Lastly, thanks to WindAid and everyone I met along the way that made this trip amazing.

I tried my best to make this as comprehensive as possible, but I know I missed literally, thousands of people. Thanks so much to them and everyone else who voted and to CollegeScholarships for hosting the contest!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I essentially haven’t slept since Thanksgiving, so I’m going to go get six hours or so before catching the 9 am train. Thanks again everyone!

P.S. If you still feel like a voting, a fellow traveler friend has the chance to go to Tanzania on a $5k scholarship, so help  Kelly out with a daily vote at http://www.volunteerjournals.com/volunteer-travel-grants/entries/languages-love

You, the $10,000 readers, have me tied for first

I’ve got $10,000 readers, $10,000 friends, $10,000 colleagues, $10,000 family friends in 10 countries. You guys have worked $10,000 hours, in tiny little 3 second vote bursts, to put me in first.

 

I have no idea why, but that is amazing. I hope it is because I inspired you, or because you loved my writing. Really though, this is about marketing and popularity. It feels great to feel loved, and I’m sure some votes are based on quality, but let’s not pretend this is proof I’m a good writer or blogger as the case may be. Some of the best blogs and the brightest bloggers have one percent. And one of the best, David Shiffman, is tied for first with me. It will come down to the finish. I have no doubt he’ll pass me again before we are done, because he is doing something amazing for one of the world’s most misunderstood and fascinating animals. I’m glad though, to share the race with someone who never cheated.

 

This is good, in a way. It means that I can’t help myself. I can’t vote twice, or sometimes even once a day because of the 1 house 1 vote rule. Only you can help me. You can, you did, and you’re going to keep going until we win this thing tomorrow at Noon Pacific time. Because you are amazing.

 

Thanks to everyone who posted, tweeted, emailed, begged, pleaded, sold their souls to the devil, let the bank foreclose on their homes, forgot to pick up their kids from school, spent all day at work on facebook, all to get a couple extra votes for a kid who slept in the back of a Camry. Where is Toyota in all this by the way? Hmph. (I hope none of you actually did any of these things!)

 

Anyhow, I love you. Even if this does not work out, you did something amazing here for me and my family. So let me give back:

 

The $10,000 itself will go to my education, either at the University of Richmond or at NYU-Gallatin. Some of the money I save on education costs though, needs to get given back. So here’s my contribution plan:

 

NaNoWrimo, who helped me write my novel this past month that I’ll finish tomorrow. (www.nanowrimo.org)

The Goh Endo Memorial fund, in Honor of my friend who passed one year ago yesterday.

The Senior Scholarship Fund, the fund my class and I started to give someone else a chance to have the amazing education we did.

Sharks. If I win, unfortunately sharks do not, and I don’t like that. I think sharks are amazing, so something is better than nothing.

Educational charity, maybe Summer Hill elementary in Richmond, VA where I was an assistant teacher last fall.

The Giving Garden, a Kickstarter farm project started by my amazing girlfriend. (www.the-giving-garden.blogspot.com)

Populus, the political media transparency project I am working with.

3-D printer Kickstarter project to bring affordable 3-D printing to ALL, because 3-D printing is the future of everything.

 

I’ve never really had the money to donate anything other than my time to the things I really care about, but since essentially YOU handed me a scholarship (if I win) it makes no sense to use it all for me. This way, the kids at the Garden Road School and Summer Hill can learn, future students at the Masters School can get a chance to thrive, sharks can get a fraction of the help they need, and everybody else can get a little bit of transparency and affordable 3-D Printing!

I realize that last one is weird, but just trust me on that one. You’ll be able to make your Christmas presents on your dresser.

Lets make this happen. I’d say yes we can, but all I can do is ask you. Yes you can! On your smartphone, office computer, and home computer! With the help of a wonderful family, great friends, and a couple of university presidents and schools, you made it happen!

Love,

John

P.S. Also, I need this to be over. I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep for three days. It’s like sleeping in the back of a Camry.

 

The Road trip of Passage starts and ends with you

Without you, I’m just a teenager sleeping in the back of my car. Without you, I’m just  a kid driving around, vulnerable and lonely.

With you, I’m just 4% away from being an award winning blogger. With you, I had the responsibility to interest, inspire, and excite you about the world I got to explore. You kept me sane when I was far. far away.

That’s a big difference. You make a big difference.

Whether or not anything I’ve written here inspired anyone to aspire to be a better self, or take a road trip, I don’t know. I hope so, but I hope just as much that you simply discovered writing you enjoyed. I had no idea this blog would become a finalist for a $10,000 blogging scholarship, or that you could help me into a tie for second place with three days left to vote.

It did though. You did, I mean. It was you that was inspired, you that read, and you that voted. To be honest, you pretty much did everything. All I did was write, and benefit from your comments and the knowledge that every day, 40 people took a look at my work.

So in the spirit of doing, one last time, I need you to do one last thing. On November 30th at 3 PM, the contest ends. I’m tied for second. Over the next three days, I’m trying to make a major push for this thing. And by me, I mean you. If you voted, if you asked your friends, posted on your facebook, emailed your mailing list, or flyered the heck out of the mall, we just might be able to win.

You’ve already invested the time to read all 40,o00 words of this blog. A few moments more and the investment could pay off bigtime.  could get money for school, and it will be officially confirmed that you, have good taste in blogs.

http://www.collegescholarships.org/blog/2011/11/18/2011-blogging-scholarship/

Thanks for everything, really. You made my road trip into a rite of passage.

John

The Ballot was rigged! Please vote again to help me get a second shot at the $10,000 scholarship!

Friends and readers,

 

The ballot you all may have voted on was rigged to support some candidates. It is my hope that these candidates are eventually disqualified, but that is not the case right now.

Please join me in voting again, which is now a DAILY vote, meaning that you can vote once per day, as I attempt to win the scholarship.

 

Will it work? Who knows. I’m in 5th now with a long way to go.

 

Please vote right here: http://www.collegescholarships.org/blog/2011/11/18/2011-blogging-scholarship

 

if you really want to help, send an email saying that you too feel like those who cheated should not be given a second chance to info@collegescholarships.org

 

Best wishes and thanks for voting,

 

John


RTOP is a Finalist for a $10,000 Blogging Scholarship. Can you help me win?

Hey everyone,

THIS blog was nominated for a $10,000 blogging scholarship, and was selected as a finalist.

It will be hard to win, but it just might work if you can help me out.

IF AND ONLY IF, you liked this blog:

First, vote yourself right here: http://www.collegescholarships.org/blog/2011/11/15/vote-for-the-winner-of-the-2011-blogging-scholarship/

Second, it would be AMAZING if you could send this out to your email lists, friends, colleagues, anywhere  people gather and YOU wield influence.

That’s pretty much it. The other blogs have, in some cases, thousands more followers, so I’ll need every ounce of help I can get.

 

Thanks in advance to everyone who takes a couple of seconds to vote and send an email out,

 

Best,

 

John McAuliff

By the way, check out my new series about Occupy Wall Street here: http://www.campustalkblog.com/occupy/the-college-generations-moment/

Props to my little white Camry, you made it all the way home.

It looks quite a bit like a chipmunk., or maybe a squirrel.

In my final post on the Road Trip of Passage, some perspective:

13,500 miles driven—From New York to San Francisco, 5 times.

35 states—in my entire life, I’ve been to 38.

Three countries—I’m counting that half hour in Canada.

105 days of travel—fifty five alone, sixty with a group or my family and friends.

41,000 words—the equivalent of a 150 page book.

50 state license plates—I found Hawaii!

How is what I did any different from an extended vacation? With just a few words before this project comes to an end, I’ll try and identify what I learned in my travels.

I set out on May 21st with the phrase in mind: “I had the familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” It is a line from the Great Gatsby, and one that seemed to perfectly explain what I hoped to do.

When I left Richmond, I was unhappy. I wanted to change a lot about myself, but feared that if I stayed in the comfortable environment that Richmond provided, I never would. Life would need to begin again so that I could remake myself, as it does for plants in the spring, so it would for me in the summer.

My list of initial goals were hard to specify:

-          Become more confident, outgoing, and charismatic

-          Become stronger, physically and mentally

-          Become better at making friends

-          Become more self reliant

-          Learn to seek happiness from life on my own terms

-          Test my resourcefulness

Itself (in my opinion) a worthy pursuit, but the concept of the Road Trip was a selfish one. Leave your friends, family, and loved ones behind then have them worry for three months. Having gotten the contract with USA Today College to write, I had to figure out what it was I could write that might actually help somebody.   I ran across a quote: “Once you have hitchhiked across Africa with 10 bucks in your pocket, starting a business doesn’t seem too intimidating.” Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix who took a grudge against Blockbuster late fees to the extreme, said this.

Thus, the trip was to be an adventure of the spirit, a test of the body and mind, and a building block for my future, whatever it might hold. Other college age students who had a lust for adventure but didn’t want to fall behind their friends with internships would hopefully be persuaded that a solo trip could be as potent as working in an office in terms of self development—and therefore, in Reed Hasting’s opinion, professional development as well.

In the end, ideally I’d learn to find happiness even when times were hard, become self reliant enough to be able to do whatever it is I set my heart on, and truly become the man I wanted to be—one who can talk to anyone, of any type, anywhere and be at ease.

The question is, did I succeed? And if I did, will it last when I re-enter a familiar situation?

I’ve come up with several ways to answer this, so I’ll try all of them.

In the first method, the Road Trip can be divided into four parts:

The South

The West

Peru

The Father-Son trip

Each had a different focus and taught me different lessons.

Kangaroos in Kentucky.

In the South, I got the hang of sleeping in my car and living alone. These days were the hardest ones, because I had to fight the urge to lean on the people I loved at home. It was just as exciting though, to finally be out on my own. After fifteen days, I was exhausted. Three pieces stand out to me in retrospect: a deeper understanding of my southern heritage and the racial stigma that accompanies it, an expansion of my journalism skills while covering the Country Music Festival, and the first of the two moments of social butterflying I had during the summer. It was I think the most cerebral of the four parts, and I spent a lot of time thinking about values.

The Mountains in Glacier.

Out West, my perilous adventures in Glacier and on the Canadian border built a measure of self reliant behavior I had never really witnessed in myself before. That, paired with a trip to meet the aunt and uncle of a friend in Wyoming who lived almost entirely self sufficiently, gave me an example I couldn’t forget. It was in Wyoming too, that I first heard the words “Let Life Happen” which added a spiritual aspect to my trip and pushed me to go further and try as many different things as I could.

The Ocucaje Desert.

In Peru, my time was divided between the turbine project and my solo backpacking. By in large I was unable, after a month and a half alone, to work with the same people everyday so I struggled socially. My time in the workshop however, did force me to overcome my weakness in technical and manual tasks, and taught me that instead of shrugging when things broke, I could actually fix them. On my own I discovered that the world has roles for people I had never imagined, and that the life I had been living at College was one of many I could pick from. Socially I alternated between gregarious and reclusive.

The Grand Canyon at full moonrise.

During my drive with my dad, I learned much more about where I came from. We visited three relatives I had rarely seen, and got to know sides of my family I never knew existed. Spending seventy-five hours in the car with my Dad also supplied ample time to talk. It also cemented the tough decision I have ahead.

The second way of figuring out what I’ve learned is a list I made sitting in the airport waiting to come home from Peru, with some additions:

The Road Trip of Passage…

…Opened my eyes to the possibility of what’s possible, the options available in life.

…Taught me to accept my values, even if the society at large does not.

…Improved my writing, reading, thinking, and talking skills, and arguably made me wiser.

…Taught me how to survive on my alone, mentally and physically.

…Gave me the courage to do things differently.

…Helped me grow less shy, and more open, even with strangers.

…Taught me about where I came from.

…Inspired a possible career (journalism.)

…Showed me places in the world with secrets undiscovered and adventures left to have.

…Taught me how to use my hands.

So arguably, I accomplished a lot of my goals. I became much more outgoing—or at least I can turn it on if I need it. I learned how to extract excitement and happiness from loneliness and danger. I learned to live on my own if need be. In effect, I built a safety net of skills and ideas, so that if things don’t turn out, I’ll have something to fall back on.

The shark teeth, and other natural treasures I encountered.

The final way I have been able to explain my goals and accomplishments is through six pieces of wisdom I got from six of the people I met. Adults whose respect (I hope) I earned, and whose impressive qualities stood out to me. I refer to them as badges of wisdom, because in a certain sense they were earned. They were either explicitly given, or observed.

Mike, Trujillo, Peru- Even if you don’t always do good, always know good.

Caroline, Trujillo, Peru (but also everywhere)- There is no right or wrong way to do anything.

Linda, Sheridan, Wyoming- Let Life Happen.

Geoff, Sheridan, Wyoming- Live Simply and trust yourself.

Roberto, Ica, Peru- It does not matter what you do, so long as you do good while doing it.

Todd, Trujillo, Peru- Life is about the experience.

They often seem simple, but each person provided keys to figuring out whatever I was struggling with at the time. Whomever can give me a nugget of wisdom for my current dilemma (see the last post) can get themselves added, too. I made plenty of other friends and received plenty of other great advice, but these six stood out to me in a way others did not. The idea is that they are adults—not family members—whose badge of wisdom I “earned.” Their words and actions helped me come to tough decisions, or figure out that one needed to be made.

Mementos from a summer well spent.

My last contribution to the blogosphere, for a while anyways, is a list of the unusual animals I encountered and the books I managed to read. Most are pictured in the blog somewhere, if you are interested in seeing one you might have missed.

So that’s the end. Maybe it was amazing, or perhaps a group of ordinary experiences strung together to sound amazing. I certainly didn’t achieve the arrogant goal of “Restoring the Road Trip” as an American Rite of Passage, but I do hope I encouraged people who feel stuck in the situations they are in to save up their money and break out.

All things considered, the Road Trip of Passage accomplished what its name denotes. It was a Rite of Passage. I believe I am better prepared now to meet the world, and although things will never be entirely within my control, nor should they be, I will be able to handle whatever I come across. The good and the bad, the terrifying and temple-rubbing, the miserable and joyous, will all be manageable. Thanks for being here with me. On the loneliest nights, having someone to write for made all the difference.  Now, on to the next adventure, maybe you’ll join me there, too.

The states this group took me too. If I remember correctly, I spent at least one night in each one.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Amazing Animals:

Desert Fox

Whale Shark

Beluga Whale

Roadrunner

Elk

Moose

Grizzly Bear

Grey Whale

Pacific Sea Lion

Black cormorant

Bottlenose Dolphin

Humboldt penguin

California Nightsnake

Albino Trout

Amazon Parrot

Incan hairless dog

Kangaroo

Black Swan

Manta Ray

Albino Alligator

Books:

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Of Love and Shadows

A Stranger in a Strange Land

Shop Class as Soulcraft

The Screwtape Letters

100 years of Solitude

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Difference between Abraham Lincoln and Occupy Wall Street

The place we were given to stay by a friend of my dad's in Santa Fe.

The last leg of the long trip that began way back on May 21st, 2011 took us from Santa Fe, New Mexico, through Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, all the way to Springfield, Illinois in just two days. It was in Springfield that we stayed with the last family member of the trip, my Uncle Steve. My dad’s youngest brother, whose children have all left home, lives in a suburban neighborhood not far from downtown Springfield. We enjoyed the novelty of spacious beds, engaging conversations, and ribs to die for.

Uncle Steve is not the only person of repute to live in Springfield, Illinois. History buffs and casual students alike will recall the sixteenth president, one Abraham Lincoln, made a home for himself in Springfield. When he arrived he was poor, when he left for the White House, he made $5000 a year at time when the average American made $150. He would of course go on to preside over the dissolution of the union, the end of slavery, and the reuniting of the states. Not bad for a country lawyer.

Supposedly the world's largest cross, somewhere in Oklahoma. Or Texas, I'm not quite sure.

Lincoln’s story reminded me though, that often to change the things we want to change most, to correct the most heinous injustices, we have to work within the system and take the opportunity when it comes. Had Lincoln, who, as far as history knows, always hated slavery, taken to protesting rather than politics, slavery might still exist. And so, as I have watched the Occupy movement unfold, I have, for the first time, had to make the conscious decision to move on what moves me and support the Occupier’s, or stay the course of higher education and system living and wait for the time—if it ever comes— when I can help create the world I want to see. Perhaps these two things are not diametrically opposed,or maybe there is a line to walk in between, but for the vast majority of my driving hours, my mind was occupied with those thoughts.

The spot and couch where Lincoln was offered the nomination for President.

After touring the Lincoln home and watching a video on his life, it was on to Indianapolis and the home my father spent his high school years in. As we drove the ten miles from the interstate through what was once farmland and in now strip malls, we came up on a funeral home and a barn that, over fifty years ago, was my father’s home. It was amazing to see him point out the changes, rediscover his old bedroom, and tell stories of the house to the funeral assistant who let us inside to look.

The house has changed dramatically, but interestingly enough the barn remains pretty much unchanged in fifty years. It was in that house that my father made the same decision I have to. Work with the system to affect change, or against it. Once a lock for the Foreign Service, his time in the Peace Corps (in, where else but Peru?) led him instead to protest the Vietnam War as the President of the Committee of Return Volunteers. Had he not, he would never have founded his own organization and spent the last forty years working to help the Vietnamese, Laos, Cambodian, and Cuban people. Had he stuck with the Foreign Service, who knows…

My dad's high school home.

And so, from Indianapolis to Mansfield, Ohio we sped, arriving later than we thought thanks to the ever changing time zones. The very next day, we woke up early, completed our final day of between eight and ten hours of driving, and arrived without incident in Irvington, New York—to everyone’s shock, in time for dinner. Even more of a shocker: no speeding tickets for all 4,603 miles of the final leg of the Road Trip of Passage.