When I first came up with this idea more than a year ago, I ran it by my wife. I once again reminded myself that I married the right woman when she didn't say that I was crazy, but instead got to thinking and she had our route laid out within an hour. Well, that was March of 2016- and before we hit the road, it was a crazy time of planning, booking shows, more planning, and figuring things out.
Well, it's now official. We've performed 50 shows in 50 states in 50 days! Our final show was at First Baptist Church of Honolulu in beautiful Hawaii. The people there were great and Pastor Barry did a wonderful job of setting everything up. I had long wondered what it would feel like to take the stage for show number 50, knowing that it was a major milestone for us. Well, honestly, the last two months have been such a whirlwind that this show really didn't feel different. It was a blast as always, knowing that you have the greatest job in the world when you get to make people smile (and the fact that you can use your platform to share the greatest message of all). You can't really do anything different in the show because you want this audience to have the same experience as the folks at every other show. It's not until after everything is finished that you can look back and realize that it all actually happened!
We also went to Pearl Harbor. Here's the USS Arizona memorial:
One morning, we spotted these wild dolphins from a boat:
Here's Clay in front of one of the filming sites for his favorite movie- Jurassic Park!
As for the beaches, they're just what you'd expect for Hawaii. Here are Grandpa Chester and Eli enjoying the view:
So- since leaving Cincinnati on May 27, we have put 14,447 miles on our Jeep. 2712 of those miles were in the very beginning, just to get to the Seattle airport to kick this thing off. Now that we've completed show number 50, we're on our way back to Cincinnati. We won't arrive until well into August, though, because we've made a stop in Taos, New Mexico. We're here for a series of shows around the city, hosted by Calvary Taos. By the time we arrive home, I estimate we will have driven more than 16,277 miles!
So far, we've had 20 McDonald's meals, 13 Taco Bell, as well as a zillion Subway, Domino's pizza, Arby's, Jack in the box, hotel food, gas station food, grocery store food, food from our trailer, food from the venues where we've performed, as well as every other type of restaurant you could possibly imagine. We've stayed in 14 Best Westerns, 10 Quality Inns, 7 Comfort Inns, and everywhere else in between. In fact, before Hawaii, we hadn't stayed in the same place for more than two nights!
We've basically been running around the country like maniacs, living out of our suitcases. We've been through 4 oil changes for the vehicle, several folks needing haircuts while on the road, and two kids losing teeth (yes, the tooth fairy does visit Hawaii).
As for the show itself, we've set up on big stages with and without curtains, small stages, areas where there was no stage at all, lots of outdoor venues, and quite a few areas where we had to be creative to make everything fit. We've had thunderstorms hit us in the middle of unloading the trailer, and right in the middle of the show on July 4. The big heavy sound case fell on Silas in Louisiana. We've had to load our equipment into venues where there were two flights of stairs. I had a broken rib for a decent chunk of the tour. We performed in Minnesota with the power completely out, by the light of the audience's cell phones and with a live acoustic band behind us providing our music. I had a heckler in the audience in Maine (actually a very nice lady, she just disagreed with what I had said). In Iowa, we had an incident backstage with baby Eli which resulted in Paula and Faith doing some quick work with duct tape to make his clothes look normal when he appeared on stage.
So, here we are in Taos, New Mexico. I can't begin to explain how amazing this tour has been! We've been to all 50 states in a relatively short period of time! I am beyond thrilled that the kids have gotten to see so many amazing things across this country. We've seen the Mendenhall glacier, Yosemite, Mt. Rushmore, the geographic center of the nation, Mall of America, Lake Erie, a cow milking plant, New York City (the subway and the Statue of Liberty), the ocean in at least five different places, a house in Kentucky that looks like a goose, Gatlinburg TN, two world class magic shows (Branson MO and Honolulu HI), Cadillac ranch in Texas, Four Corners, Horseshoe Bend (of The Grand Canyon), the famous lights of Las Vegas, and all of the amazing sights in Hawaii!
AND, since we've arrived back in the continental USA, we've seen more. We visited the famous sites in Los Angeles, such as the Hollywood sign:
So, upon heading East, we passed back through Arizona. In Sedona, we stopped at the place Faith wanted to see:
We had already seen a taste of The Grand Canyon at Horseshoe Bend, but this time we went to the real thing:
We now get to relax for a week in Taos before doing the big show for the city. This, by far, has been the most memorable summer of my life. God sure has blessed our family to have been able to see this country in every corner.
So, some advice: Get out and see some place you've never been! Life is short, so you should enjoy every moment. If you don't think you can visit the other side of the world, trust me- you can. Just find a way to make it happen.
Here's one more photo of a sign that I've seen in several hotels now:
Get out and see the world around you! We've had a blast doing so, and we're not even home yet. The world is beautiful!