Pioneerin’ Spirit!

Arts Power heading

I think that if Laura Ingalls Wilder was traveling the country today, she would be a photo-journalist of sorts. After all, the world’s “growin’, changin’…but Poineerin’ Spirit, that’ll always be around, no matter what!”

So here’s MY journey out West – one photo a day. Enjoy!

January 18th – Livingston, NJ: LAURA INGALLS WILDER had our official opening in good ol’ Jersey!!! The school was absolutely wonderful, and even drew us these amazingly detailed “Playbills” after seeing the show. Look closely, and you’ll see the grasshopper attack, the campfire scene, and Nellie in the sack! So happy to start off this tour on a great foot in my home state 🙂 Now, off to Maryland!


January 19th – Westminster, MD: For our second show, we were in a beautiful Maryland theatre, the Carroll Arts Center. The theatre staff and crew were so awesome, and we even made the marquee!!! After the show, we stopped for lunch and were approached by a young boy and his Mother who had seen the show. He wanted to say hello and tell us how much he enjoyed it… Even though the ending made him feel ‘a little sad inside’! It was such a treat to meet him and hear that he was touched by our show. The magic of theatre, folks!!!


January 20th – Richlands, VA: Traveling along the western-most roads of Virginia, today’s drive took us up, up, up the mountains, and all the way back down, down, down. The steep, winding roads showed us some absolutely breathtaking views (but I was driving, so this particular photo is of the more tame plains). We’ve been marveling at the similarities and differences between our travels and the Ingalls family’s. We’ll be lucky enough to travel some of the same roads, although we are having some very different adventures!


January 21st – Travel Day: Today, we travelled the 8 hours home from Virginia (thankfully missing the Inauguration traffic!). We stopped at McDonald’s for lunch, where My Fitness Pal was very pleased with the meal I concocted from a small salad and tuna can, and then saw a gaggle of geese in the parking lot! Special shout out to my awesome Ingalls Family for dropping me off in NJ before heading into NYC 🙂 Love you guys!


January 22nd – The Backroads of Rural Connecticut: after a two-show day in Paterson, NJ, we hit the road for New England. We ended up taking our break at an adorable restaurant/bookstore that not only let us use their facilities without buying anything, but also had a “take your first 3 books for free – after that, 50 cents each” policy! Always great to get a taste of the local culture 🙂


January 23rd – Concord, NH: the beautiful Capitol Center for the Arts wins the award for best tech crew so far! You guys rock!!! Plus, the talent each gets their own dressing room… Not too shabby.


January 24th – Paterson, NJ: No balloons?!? Looks like we’re going to have to make some adjustments to the climactic surprise party/techno dance scene.


January 25th – Cast Laundry Day: Just two short days until we leave town for 2 months, so we figured we deserved some fresh costumes! Yours truly has been assigned to costume laundry/maintenance, and I’m honored to keep our cast smelling (and looking) fresh!


January 27th – Ridgewood, NJ: Today, we had an afternoon show at a wonderful Middle School, where we had a very appreciative audience full of Girl Scout Troops and Birthday Parties (and where we found this very confusing mantra in our dressing room/the Spanish classroom). Afterwards, we had a Q&A and a Meet and Greet, where we signed autographs! Now, we’re in the road in upstate NY, and tour has OFFICIALLY begun… “Look out, USA… Here we come!!!”


January 28th – Fredonia, NY: Four shows over two days in one venue = Ghostlight.


January 29th – Oregon, OH: before leaving New York State, we stopped for lunch at The Upper Crust, a quaint and delicious little bake shop in Fredonia. Nothing like tomato soup and grille cheese on a rainy afternoon 🙂


January 30th – Travel Day: We stopped for a quick, impromptu lunch in Chicago! Delicious, entertaining, and an all-around great road-trip decision.


January 31st – West Salem, WI: Wisconsin greeted us with a beautiful snow storm and refreshing wind chill temperatures of -10F! But the Heider Center for the Arts is warm and cozy… And full of inspiring Harry Potter quotes.


February 1st – Culver’s: The day I had my first Butterburger… And life changed forever.


February 2nd – Milwaukee, WI: Uncle John (Our stage manager’s Uncle, and one of the kindest, most generous people on earth!) showed us around Downtown Milwaukee. We went to the Milwaukee Public Museum, where we saw incredible Natural History exhibits, including this exhibit of the same Wisconsin Prairie the Ingalls Family travelled across! So amazing to see the gorgeous, untamed prairie as they would have seen it.


February 3rd – Super Bowl Sunday!: Uncle John took us to a friendly neighbor’s Super Bowl gathering, and I won the 4th Quarter Prize! Still not quite sure how, or why… But that kept it interesting! As did Beyonce’s ferocity. Even the stadium lights couldn’t handle that jelly.


February 4th – Sharon Lynn Wilson Center for the Arts: Here is a vertical panoramic shot of the beautiful Sharon Lynn Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield, WI. Those are birds flying around the ceiling 🙂


February 5th – Aurora, IL: The gorgeous and amazingly hospitable Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL


February 6th – Waukegan, IL: Caution – Creatives Crossing : )


February 7th – Springfield, IL: Today was a very meaningful day for our little Ingalls Family. Not only is today Laura Elizabeth Ingalls’ birthday, but it’s also our one month cast-aversary!!! Also, finding ourselves in Springfield, IL, we decided to watch the masterfully told story of ‘Lincoln’ last night and visit his burial place today. Such a touching experience.


February 8th – Baraboo, WI: The beautiful and historic Al Ringling Theatre


February 9th – Dundee, MI: An early morning drive to our show gave us the gift of seeing the sunrise. No filter necessary : )


February 10th – Grand Blanc MI: Almanzo Wilder, husband to Laura Ingalls. Many thanks to Dusty Ballard for the wonderful article:

February 11th – Flint, MI: Just one of the many things we learned from Laura Ingalls Wilder – all men should be like Pa.
February 12th – Kalamazoo, MI: What would Dr. Seuss have to say about Kalamazoo on this beautiful day!?!
February 13th – Travel Day: the 7th time we drove through, around, or past Chicago.
February 14th – Rhinelander, WI: Bowling on our day off!!!
February 15th – Rhinelander, WI: Unconventional Space – “Make it work!” #timgunn #keepingusonourtoes #howlongshouldahashtagbebeforeitshouldreallyjustbeasentence — at Nicolet Area Technical College NTC.
February 16th – Rhinelander, WI: Home of the hodag!
February 17th – Minneapolis, MN: The Mall of America
February 18th – The Hernan Family Farm in Mitchell County, Iowa: #nocaptionnecessary
February 19th – Travel Day: a perfect photo from home
February 20th – Kansas City, MO: Unanimous decision to set our alarms for 6:00 AM the next morning to outrun the snowstorm rather than leave Kansas City a night early and miss the BBQ… no regrets. I would have taken a photo of my food, but it disappeared too quickly : )

February 21st – Travel Day: a blissfully uneventful, thoroughly snowy travel day
February 22nd – Travel Day: Mount Rushmore!!! — at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
February 22nd – The Day So Nice, I Instagrammed Twice: The Badlands, South Dakota
February 23rd – Gillette, WY: “We’ll never fall over if we have each other to lean on.” #snowstorm
February 24th – The Oscars
February 25th – Day Four in Gillette, WY: Chinese Buffet for lunch… Is it just me, or are fortunes getting stranger?
February 26th – Where else… Gillette, WY: The Gillette Planetarium offers free weekly shows, including educational video, astronomy/constellation lesson, and laser show!!! (This week, feat. the musical stylings of Metallica.)
February 27th – Cam-Plex Multi-Event Facilities: The venue in Gillette, WY was so kind and courteous! Not only did they feed us lunch, but a Secret Society of “little old ladies” baked us each a box of DELICIOUS cookies! Infinite thanks, Gillette. #letshaveacookie
February 28th – Travel Day: On the road from Wyoming to Montana, nothing behind us but open road and nothing ahead but snow capped mountains. #ilovemyjob
March 1st – Travel Day: you don’t need to use a filter at a rest stop between Montana and Washington. Mother Nature takes care of that for you here : )
March 2nd – Travel Day: Who could get sick of these views?? Even the rest stops are breathtaking.
March 3rd – Seattle, WA: Today, I fell in love with a wonderful city. Pikes Place Market, Pioneer Square, the Waterfall Gardens, the Space Needle, the Original Starbucks – more gorgeous sights and sounds than could fit into this insta-post!!! That’s not the last you’ll be seeing of me, Seattle.
March 5th – Everett, WA: Survivor: Disney Princess Edition. Sorry, @jeremylagunas …Jasmine has slowly been kicking the other gals out of the van. We thought she and Ariel had an alliance, until one morning, she too was found missing. Thanks to her cut-throat and cunning strategies, Jasmine is the official reigning champion of… SURVIVOR: DISNEY PRINCESS MAGNETS
March 4th – Olympia, WA: The day I parallel parked the van like a champ! (On the opposite side of the street, no less!) And then I tried Pho for the first time. Both experiences were delicious. On an unrelated note, did you know that every 2013 years, March 5th comes before March 4th?! Is that true?! It sounds true… I’ll decide that it IS true!
March 6th – Travel Day: We stopped in Portlandia for lunch! The rest of the cast had family and friends to visit, so Jackie and I had a girly date… At Slappy Cakes!!! Make your own pancakes at the table? With Nutella and bananas and apples and granola?? For lunch??? Yes, please!!!
March 7th – Klamath Falls, OR: Happy Birthday, @sparklesmcgee !!! Consider these shelves of ceramic dogs as my gift to you… Until I get home and we can celebrate in style : ) — with Amanda Sparkles Aulicino.
March 8th – Travel Day: soaking up the glorious California sunshine, and marveling at the majestic mountains… Here at last!


March 9th – Santa Rosa, CA: FaceTime / KittyTime


March 10th – Santa Rosa, CA: Brunch at an amazing community outreach chef apprentice house and Wine Tasting Tour throughout California Wine Country – now that’s what I call a Sunny Sunday.


March 11th – Modesto, CA: I’m thrilled to say, it lived up to the hype : ) #animalstyle


March 12th – Modesto, CA: Heaven is a good book, an iced coffee, and a palm tree against a sunny sky between performances. Living the dream here, folks! — at Gallo Center for the Arts.


March 13th – The Mojave Desert


March 14th – Travel Day: We had ourselves a little adventure! When we went to hit the road after our lunch break, our van YNY (pronounced Winey), decided to make a funny noise and produce some even funnier smells – thanks to AAA and the incomparable Arts Power team, YNY was up and running 24 hours later! I guess the touring gods just wanted us to experience Chandler, AZ : )


March 15th – Travel Day


March 16th – Travel Day: oh, hey there, Mexico!


March 17th – Saint Patrick’s Day: nothing like a little Texas BBQ to celebrate your Irish heritage #notaccurate #stilldelicious


March 18th – Austin, TX: Day trip to explore Austin, TX! We did some beautiful sightseeing, had a delicious lunch, and I was lucky enough to see my cousin Derek and his wife Melissa!!! Friendly family faces this far from home were such a treat – plus, they just plain rock : ) #iheartaustininmorewaysthanone


March 19th – San Antonio, TX: The Empire Theatre


March 20th – San Antonio, TX: San Antonio River Walk


March 21st: Well, we had ourselves another adventure out here on the roads of life! And now that its all said and done (and ends happily), I can share it with the world : ) In the middle of the night, our touring van, including our set, costumes, props, and sound equipment, was stolen. Waking up to an empty parking space was quite a shock, but thankfully we were all safe and sound! The amazing San Antonio police department found YNY (our van), within 2 hours of it being reported stolen, but unfortunately, it was EMPTY… except for a few key items, one of which was our wagon top! …The other being my book THE POWER OF NOW, with a big ol’ thief footprint in it! The story continues the next day…
March 22nd: …after we reunited with YNY, and took her to the Ford Dealership for some love and affection, we got an amazing call from the ArtsPower offices (who, I must say, were MAGICAL throughout this entire experience!). Our next venue, and our last before a week-and-a-half break, wanted us to come do the show anyway!!! The amazing Temple Theatre in Lufkin, TX and the surrounding community set to work finding us props, costumes, and set pieces so that we could perform our show! The two days we spent in Lufkin were truly inspirational, and we cannot thank the staff and community enough for their time, energy, and friendship – they went above and beyond, all in the name of theatre! The incident had left our spirits a little bruised, but the amazing people of Lufkin revived our faith in humanity tenfold : )
March 23rd: We made the front page of The Lufkin Daily News! This heartwarming story circulated throughout the community, and we had a wonderful public show to finish up our time in Lufkin (not to mention a memorable dinner at The Boil-n-Go Crawfish tent!!!). I can’t think of a better way to finish up this photo-a-day project, or our time on the road. One more month of shows in the tri-state area… but nothing could compare to this wild ride. Good thing we’re all full of Pioneerin’ Spirit!

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