Tours of 2009
Kentucky Tour, West Virginia Tour, North Carolina Tour, Route 1 Tour, Massachusetts Meandering Tour, Hoosier State Tour, Ohio Tour
Kentucky Blue Grass Tour
Kentucky Blue Grass Tour
We traveled through the rolling hills of northeastern Kentucky, stopping in Flemingsburg (pop. 3,100).
On the 4th of July in Flemingsburg, I talked with John Dunn and Dwayne Roller. Roller was awarded a Purple Heart during the Korean Conflict. Dunn was stationed in Thailand servicing U.S. bombers during the Vietnam War.
In Flemingsburg, our family attended a quintessential 4th of July celebration: hot dogs, hamburgers and country music.
In Ashland, Kentucky, we talked with Liz Trabandt, who is in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. She coached varsity girls basketball at nearby Russell High School. The small school twice made it to the Kentucky State Finals. She likened this to the team in the movie "Hoosiers." Whats more, Kentucky, like Indiana, takes its basketball very seriously.
West Virginia Tour
The Mountain State Stop
At a campground just outside Huntington, West Virginia, I interviewed Frank Holcomb. (He's from Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in Mason County.) He's a retired state trooper who was once shot in the leg answering a domestic dispute call. We talked at length about gun violence in America (where there are now, on average, 100,000 shootings a year.)
We then headed into Huntington, West Virginia (pop. 50,000), where we spent a week doing a whirlwind of things.
I was interviewed by an online newspaper in Huntington. Then, while doing a whistle stop event in the downtown area, we were interviewed by Channel 3 News. I then met with Herald Dispatch columnist Patrick Grace. Stumped at Huntington's "Jolly Pirate Donut Shop" where a local advised me not to say anything against coal while campaigning in West Virginia.
In Huntington, we talked with Gratton Gannon, whose wife inherited the "Hatfield Cemetery." That's right, the Hatfield, as in the famous, or rather infamous, "Hatfields and McCoys."
We took our kids to the Rec. Center at Marshall University in Huntington. (On Nov. 14, 1970, the Marshall University football team and staff (75 people in all) crashed while approaching the airport here. All 75 were killed.)
North Carolina Tour
Tar Heel State Stop
We headed into Durham, North Carolina, for the Green Party Annual Convention.
During the three days at the convention, we attended (among other things) a number of seminars on issues related to the environment. The topic that got the most attention was: global warming. The Green Party, by far, has the best platform when it comes to curbing global warming. They want to see caps on carbon emissions, much more green technology, a focus on much more mass transit, bicycling, walking, much more local production for local consumption.
While at the Green Party Convention, we also watched a documentary about the recent phenomenon of tops being blown off mountains in West Virginia in order to get at the coal deposits. This was startling as far as the breadth of the environmental degradation this wreaks.
During the weekend, I also took some time off to take our boys to a Durham Bulls Minor League Baseball game. We sat on the lawn beyond the center field fence. The whole night cost 20 bucks for the three of us, and that included getting some soda pops in official Durham Bulls collectors cups.
Route 1 Tour
Route 1 East
We intersected with Route 1 in southern Virginia. We then followed it north through Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and part of Maine. The campaign tour spanned almost 900 miles.
The following are just a few vignettes from the trip:
In Colonial Heights, Virginia, I gave a talk at St. Ann's Church. I said our lifestyles in America are significantly fueling global warming. As a result people are dying now from floods, droughts, super-charged hurricanes and typhoons. In essence, it's like were firing slow motion bullets at the countries that are most in harm's way at this point.
While in Colonial Heights, Virginia, we also visited Henricus Village, which was the first English settlement in (east) from the original Jamestown.
In Naragansett, Rhode Island, we took our kids swimming in the Atlantic. The waves were curling at about five to seven feet. That's a little higher than they get back home in Lake Erie. (The water was a bit cleaner, too.)
In Stamford, Connecticut, we interviewed Richard Duffee. Hes a lawyer who, for a time, taught in India and married a woman from the slums there. He was so impacted by the poverty he saw there, that he decided on a new take home income for himself. That is the world's average income: $9,543 for his now family of four. The rest (and it's considerable) goes to Third World relief funds.
In Lee, New Hampshire, we talked with two groups (Republicans and Democrats) who were outside the courthouse there protesting for, and against, health care reform. It was quite a spirited debate, on both sides.
In Biddeford, Maine, we stood in solidarity with a group protesting abortion in front of a Planned Parenthood office.
After our campaign tour of Route 1, we headed east to west across Massachusetts. The following are a few of the highlights:
I gave a pro-life talk in a church in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Took the kids to a YMCA in Hollyoke, Massachusetts and overheard a man in the weight room talking about his addiction to the video game Assassin. In his early 20's, he plays it two to three hours every night. (And our society gets more nuts by the minute.)
In nearby Chicopee, Massachusetts, we met with Jackie and Bob Mashia. They have a modest, one-story ranch style home. On the roof are four solar panels. The panels power the hot water heater and Bob estimates they save $100 a month, not to mention helping to save the planet.
Also while interviewing the Mashias, we learned the year before they had taken in a homeless woman for awhile. The reason: She needed a place and Jackie said, well, it's what Jesus would do.
We stopped in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, home of the National Norman Rockwell Museum. Our campaign asks people to consider going back to the 1950's, in spirit. That is, going back to a time when there was a slower pace of life, more wholesomeness and neighbors knew neighbors.
Our last stop in Massachusetts was at the Retro Pop Shop, featuring vintage signs, cool memorabilia and more. This place was chocked full of 50's stuff. When I told owner J. Pierre about our campaign 50's thing, he said: "Cool, the 50's is where I live man. You have my vote."
Hoosier State Tour
Hoosier State Tour / Fall 2009
Towns: Garrett, Auburn, Kendallville, Goshen, South Bend
In Garrett, Indiana (pop. 5,000), I talked with Mike Zumbaugh. He volunteers regularly at the town's Recycling Center. He told me he was initially ordered to work there as part of his Community Service. But he liked working there so much, he's continued on the past two years. How often does that happen?
In Auburn, Indiana, we talked with Mary Voiral. She put up a full size crucifix in her front yard on a busy street here. She said at a time when they are removing monuments with the 10 Commandments, and other religious symbols, from public places, wouldn't it make sense for people of faith to display similar things in their front yards? Good question.
We stopped in Kendallville, Indiana, where we visited the Mid-America Windmill Museum. This is the second biggest windmill display in the world. There are 54 windmills here. (The biggest display, by the way, is in Lubbock, Texas.)
We then stopped in Goshen, Indiana, where we spent part of the afternoon with our kids running on the Goshen College track. While there, my wife Liz met a woman jogging with her two young daughters. They were running a mile. The woman explained her daughters would be competing in the Fitness Health Festival in Fort Wayne. Throughout the summer they have kept a log of their miles. They are running (over time) the equivalent of a marathon, 26 miles. With the epidemic of childhood obesity in America these days, we could use more moms like this.
We then journeyed northwest to another college, Holy Cross College in South Bend, Indiana (right across from the University of Notre Dame). There I talked in a couple of Christian Response to the Globe classes. Professor Mike Griffin takes the contemporary topics of the day worldwide and teaches about what the Gospel's response would be in the year 2009, 2010, 2011... During the talks, I said based on the Gospel message, that in my "first 100 days" in D.C. (that's right, in the White House), I would declare "war." I would declare war on worldwide hunger. With 24,000 people starving to death every day in the world, it's a huge issue.
Over the weekend in South Bend, we passed out a lot of campaign flyers at a downtown "Art Walk."
Ohio Tour / Fall 2009
Towns: Yorkshire, North Star, Beaverdam, Findlay, Bluffton, Van Wert
We left Cleveland and headed west...
We stopped in Yorkshire, Ohio, where I gave a talk at an Organic Farm Festival at Dan Kremer's "Eat Food For Life Farm." Kremer is an absolute "evangelist" when it comes to organic growing. He says artificial pesticides and herbicides are being ingested by consumers and exploding into things like cancer in some peoples' systems. What's more, he explains these same pesticides and herbicides are hurting the microbes in the soil, which are part of the nutrition chain to the plant. As the food nutritional value diminishes, so does the strength of our immune systems. If we're looking at healthcare in this country, this is an area that needs a lot more attention. (One in three people now get cancer in this country.)
In North Star, Ohio (pop. 136), I talked with auto-mechanic Larry Bubeck. In his late 40s, Bubeck said kids these days are "chocked full of behavioral problems" and at some point parents should wake up to this. He recommends that parents again become a lot more disciplinarian, that paddling comes back to schools ("It worked for me," he smiled.), and that youth again learn the value of hard work.
In Beaverdam, Ohio, I talked with Don Baker. He's involved with a new group called "The Sons of Patrick Henry." They are concerned their liberty is being incrementally infringed upon and they are mounting grassroots efforts to protest this. (It is a spirit somewhat akin to the one growing in the Tea Party.)
In Findlay, Ohio, we talked with Larry Cole, a "born again Christian" who said he is tremendously alarmed by the rapidly declining morals in this country. He said, for instance, that he is shocked with what's being shown on television these days. He said society would do well to go back to watching, say, "Ponderosa." (Note: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played his high school football at Findlay High School here.)
In Bluffton, Ohio, I took our kids to a Bluffton University football game. Bluffton lost 41 to 7 to Michigan's Adrian College. While Bluffton's first string quarterback got hurt and Bluffton had a number of turnovers, I think the main reason they lost is their mascot: a "beaver." This would strike terror into the hearts of absolutely no one -- "...unless you're a tree," a friend of mine joked. (Note: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was born and spent his early years in Bluffton, before moving to Findlay. And the Beavers could have sure used him today!)
At Sunday Mass in Van Wert, Ohio, the priest said during his homily that he'd just read that 40% of people who graduate college now -- will never read another whole book in their entire life! There's a reflection on society, huh.