In 2007, Angela and I went on a two-week Christian mission trip to the African nation of Rwanda to take labor, love, medicines and other scarce resources. Rwanda is where in 1994, over the span of just 90 days or so, nearly 1 million people were killed in what is considered the worst genocide since the Holocaust.
In preparation for that trip into a far and unknown land, the organizing pastor told us that the most important thing we should do to mentally gear up for it was to remember the unofficial motto of the United States Marines: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.
That advice has left an indelible mark in my perspective to all of life’s journeys and it is precisely the motto that will guide our family as we head into the 10,000-mile, 34-state PapiBlogger Family Road Trip.
Today, a day before the trip, we will sit with my son Jonathan (10) and my daughter Elena (6) and in a serious Clint Eastwood-style tone we will show them the U.S. Marines Corps-inspired Improvise, Adapt, Overcome Trick. If they take it to heart, we will not only have a smoother vacation but the kids will learn a profound lesson that will serve them well the rest of their lives.
Like the Marines (my father-in-law Manuel served as one during Vietnam), we understand that the motto is meaningless unless we have prepared for “battle”. Many of you are wondering what we’ve done to prepare for this trip so here are some highlights to keep in mind:
– Papimobile: Chevrolet is generously providing us with the official “Papimobile”, a fully outfitted 2010 Chevrolet Traverse (a Consumer Reports 2010 Family SUV “Top Pick”). This state-of-the-art vehicle will comfortably seat the five of us in plush leather and comes with GM’s incomparable OnStar system for navigation and safety, as well as a great entertainment package featuring: XM satellite radio, DVD player/TV for the kids and lots more. As if that wasn’t enough, the Chevrolet Traverse gets best-in-class fuel economy at 24 MPG highway, which on a lengthy trip like this translates into substantial savings!
– Telecommunications: As we wind through the country we will need superior telecommunications service so we are counting on our sponsor Sprint Nextel’s 4G and 3G networks to help us upload videos, blog posts and more. I’m being furnished with an Android-platform phone called the HTC EVOtm 4Ga XYZ, the first 4G/3G phone ever made. My wife will have a top of the line Samsung Reclaim, which is also unique because it is environmentally friendly (more about that later). My son Jonathan will have an emergency back up phone called the LG Rumor Touch. It will allow Elena and him to make calls, download games and watch Sprint TV (including the Disney channel and much more!).
– Entertainment: Sony is furnishing our family with an incredible Sony VAIO Netbook that we’ll be using for posting most of our content to the web, a top notch portable DVD player, headsets and more! Sony’s sponsorship role is what we call the “sanity partner” because they are not only giving us quality electronics; they are helping us keep the kids entertained.
– Packing: We are packing as light as we could but bringing clothes for all seasons because we will encounter beaches, desserts and even snow-covered mountains. Our vehicle will have a First Aid kit, plenty of movies (including several seasons of The Twilight Zone series that we crave) and some terrific gear from Sony for video blogging (Bloggies), computing (a Netbook for the kids), a portable DVD player, headsets and more.
– Food Strategy: Only baby Briani will have a steady supply of food onboard. That said, we have some hungry, growing kids so we will make many stops along the way to try local fare and regional specialties. We’ll also plan to visit some of the coolest looking McDonald’s restaurants in the nation for breakfast and/or dinner, including a “Railroad” themed McDonald’s outside of Las Vegas, a flying saucer McDonald’s in Roswell, NM and the Times Square McDonald’s which has a Broadway flair.
– Mapping the Trip: Attached (PapiBlogger Roadtrip – Last updated June 15) is a map with what we call tentative dates and times for the rest of this trip. Periodically, in the spirit of “improvise, adapt and overcome” we may tweak it but these dates look pretty solid, at least through our days in Los Angeles. In many places, due to time constraints in our busy schedule, we will only be able to visit the most obvious things to see but we will try to make everything different or interesting. For example, we’ll be visiting the world famous “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” Ghost Train Adventure in St. Augustine, Preservation Hall in New Orleans, the Marfa Lights of West Texas, the Oregon hotel where the horror film “The Shining” was shot and both Plymouth and Salem, Massachusetts. There will be plenty of off-beat stuff we’ll deliberately target.
– Daily Trip Facts Graph: One of the coolest things we will be doing is keeping tabs on key facts about the trip. Every day, at the end of the day, we will upload the latest facts about the trip. Among the things we will keep track of are the number of total miles driven on the Traverse, how many were driven on that day, what states we drove through and more. If there’s anything else you feel we should look for or count, let us know pronto via Facebook or email!