I’d Map That


Mike has never been an avid traveler. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy himself when he goes on vacation, but in getting to that point he 1. has to take time off of work – something he’s pretty terrible at doing, unless it’s taking time off work to go work another gig (something that’s encouraged in his field), and 2. plan way ahead/spend money, two things he definitely doesn’t love doing. Knowing this going into our marriage, I made it a priority that we’d go on at least one vacation a year. Each year, I’ll plan it and since Mike prefers to drive his vehicle (not fly and obtain a rental car) it’s pretty easy to keep the money spending to a minimum.

It was pretty easy to hash out the guidelines for trip planning. While I do love a good European vacation, that will be a treat every several years instead of annually. Instead, we’ve decided to focus on seeing the states, all of the states. Driving to the 48 contiguous ones. And popping up into Canada every so often to visit with my Aunt/Uncle/Cousin and see more of what’s got to be one of the most overlooked country by Americans, that is in-fact totally worth visiting and exploring.

So far, we’ve ticked 9 states off of the list with 2 more getting checked off later this summer (we’ve actually been to more individually, but the official tally is a ‘we’ thing). In order to commemorate each of our adventures, both big and small, we purchased a large ‘school-style’ map of the United States that includes a sizable amount of Canada (bonus!). Since Mike’s busy finishing up the second in-house studio for Studio255 and preparing to start work on the new deck, the task of finding/purchasing/hanging the map and pins fell onto my project list.

My initial plan was to buy cork squares, nail them into the wall (the adhesive that comes on the back isn’t rated well at all) and pin the map to the cork. I found a few flaws in that plan. Mainly that doing it this way would make the map a permanent fixture on our bedroom wall, if we ever wanted to re-paint the room or move the map to another wall or place in our house, we’d have to take out all of the ‘places we’ve been’ pins, separate the map from the cork, separate the cork from the wall, and try to put the whole thing back together. I also figured that if the map was just pinned onto the cork, it might sag overtime and would be more susceptible to suffering the wear and tear of having exposed edges.

I evolved my plan to include mounting the cork onto a thin sheet of wood and using spray adhesive to stick the map to the cork, and then screwing the whole thing into the wall. Then I decided that I should probably make a frame to keep the whole thing from looking jenky. There I ran into the problems of weight, thin wood bowing, and the potential of wanting to move the map down the line – would taking the screws out rip the paper?

It wasn’t until I roped my Dad into the project that it got its sea legs. He replaced the thin wood and cork with lightweight foam core, solving both the weight and bowing problems in one fell swoop. At Home Depot we found some lightweight decorative molding to use as the frame (instead of the crown molding I was initially envisioning) and my brother used his building expertise to show us how to best sandwich the whole thing together.

My Dad and I decided to assemble the map/frame on Sunday at my parent’s house before I was to attend a matinee performance of Evita with my in-laws. My usual 1-2 hour morning napper decided to sleep for 2.5 hours, which threw off our departure time. While my Dad waited for Luke and I to get to his house, he decided to use the spray adhesive that we bought to make the double thick foam core base. When we arrived at my parent’s house, I deposited Luke with my Mom before helping my Dad carefully adhere the map to the foam core. After using a rolling pin to smooth out the bubbles, my involvement was pretty much done. See, we were waiting for my brother to volunteer to help out with the cutting of the wood… and that took a while. In fact, it still hadn’t happened at the point when I needed to leave for the show.

When I got back to my parent’s house that night after the show and a birthday dinner for Mike’s grandmother, I was pleasantly surprised that my Dad had happily finished the framing of the map. After clipping a few long nails on Monday, he triumphantly walked the map over to my house (it was too big for the car). Later Monday evening, when I had a quiet half hour, I happily added pins to the map, looking up specific places where we’ve stopped along the way and wondering where 2015’s adventure will take us and what it will be like to plan a vacation around the energy-level/attention span/tastes of an 18-month old.

Note: The Badlands and Toronto have not yet been pinned since I ordered some pin flags to mark significant yearly trip destinations – they haven’t come in the mail yet, so I’m not sure if I’m going to actually like/use them or not.

Another Note: If you’d like to purchase this map for yourself, it’s 47″ wide and 39″ tall and you can purchase it from AllPosters.com (link here). This blog entry is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with AllPosters.com.




I’ll take a nice Moderate with a side of Camaraderie



Election Day is one of the defining holidays in our country’s ideology. We get to express our first amendment rights and say who we want to lead us and how. We used to look to our leaders to serve our best interests and protect us. But with the rise of the Career Politicians and 24-hour news stations, politics in the United States has turned into a giant competition with losers and more losers. What is there even left to win? Respect? Trust? Fulfillment knowing that they made a difference? No, they win hyper-critism, extreme opposition to anything they try to do, only the respect of half the country as well as several new lines and wrinkles aging their once airbrushed appearance.

Current-day politicians are like professional athletes without the rockin’ bods. Just like professional athletes, they are way over paid. Part of that problem is endorsements. While an athlete may be paid by Nike to only play in Nike shoes, a career politician is funded by lobbyists and corporations with money to spend and an agenda to push. Not to mention that when you make that much money, how are you supposed to serve your state or country’s best interests? Do they even know what our best interests are? Do we even know what our best interests are anymore? An unfortunate trend in both professional-level athletics and politics has been living above the law. Or in Congress’s case, making the laws work in your favor. No one is shocked anymore at political sex scandals, corporate embezzlement, or crooked politicians. Lastly, they’ve become household names. In America we love our celebrities. We act like we know these people, personally. We speak of them casually by their first names and defend them like we would our own children. It pits neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend and worst of all, can even pull family members apart. Unless Tom Politician actually is your neighbor, childhood friend or uncle, he’s not going to be shovel your driveway, be a shoulder for you to cry on or tell you a dirty joke over the Thanksgiving dinner table. And yet, somehow his (or her) honor and career ambitions are worth scathing words, hurtful comments and severed relationships.

Shouldn’t we be a society where both sides are lobbying for the same thing: to preserve the rights and freedoms that our forefathers fought for, to keep us safe and to bring America back to the historic superpower it once was. And the differences between the sides would consist of how to achieve those mutual goals. The day after election day, instead of half of the country pissing and moaning about losing the election – could we band together to support our president and congress and trust that even though we may not necessarily agree with the how, that the outcome would be the same? A safe and prosperous country where everyone has the chance to thrive and we’d all be treated equally.

It’s ironic to me that the thing that makes us a democracy is the very thing that brings out the worst in us. If we don’t band together as a nation and stop pointing fingers and sabotaging progress – we’re no better than those countries and groups overseas that we’re fighting against. So tomorrow, instead of bragging or whining – how about throwing your faith and support behind the future. And in 4 years, how about we find candidates who the majority of the country can feel supported by (a nice moderate anyone?) so we can get back to working together instead of splitting this country in half.

4 Great Men in a Rock


A couple days ago, Mike and I ventured over to the town of Keystone to see Mount Rushmore. We were quite impressed on a number of levels:

1) The craftsmanship that went into such a masterpiece. Sculptures produced by chipping stone away never cease to amaze me.


photo of a photo - shows the scale compared to a human

2) The scale. See the above photo. Enough said.

3) The fact that it is probably the least touristy tourist spot that I’ve ever been to. There are no outside vendors hawking cheap souvenirs. When you reach the summit of the hike, there is no one offering to take your photo and then sell it back to you. No sponsor logos plastered on anything. The entrance fee was a modest $11 total for the car and good through the end of the year. There is a discreet bookstore inside the museum and a souvenir shop by the entrance, that’s it.

4) The museum is just enough information to be informative and answer any questions that you may have, but not overwhelming.

5) The fact that the design for Mount Rushmore changed majorly twice after production had already begun!

I 100% recommend a visit at some point. The sight and accompanying information really provide you with more of an appreciation for this National Monument.