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Plucky 2008

2008 Home Page

About The Trip

Day 1
Los Angeles to Atlanta

Day 2
Atlanta to Savannah

Day 3
Savannah to Charleston

Day 4
Charleston to Myrtle Beach

Day 5
Myrtle Beach to Asheville

Day 6
Asheville to Knoxville

Day 7
Knoxville to Lexington

Day 8
Lexington to Louisville

Day 9
Louisville to Chattanooga

Day 10
Chattanooga to Atlanta

Day 11
Atlanta to Los Angeles


    September 8, 2008

    Now that the 2008 trip has concluded, visit the Plucky Survivors Home Page for updates.


    September 7, 2008

    Plucky Survivors See America 2008 comes to a close as we finish our trip with some Atlanta sightseeing. Check out the last day of this year's journey on the Day 11 page, now posted.

    But this doens't meant the fun is over. Tune in tomorrow night for more info on what is coming up.


    September 5, 2008

    Our last day of driving in Plucky Survivors 3 sees us get enchanted in a magical forest, revisiting history, and getting our spot on the Pig Hill of Fame. Read all about it in the journal for Day 10.


    September 4, 2008

    On today's journey, both Rick and Mary relive some childhood memories and we find what could very well be the best cupcakes we've ever tasted. That's a high bar, y'all. Check it out in the Day 9 journal, now posted.


    September 3, 2008

    Rick celebrates his birthday by making Mary tag along on a 250 mile detour to get a hot dog. Plus, a type of candy we'd never sampled, a couple of big bats, and the birthplace of the cheeseburger. Read all about it on the Day 8 page, now posted!


    September 2, 2008

    We've got a week complete and today was one of our busiest yet with stops at a science museum, an Appalachian museum, a restored shaker village, and a 54-hole bible themed golf course. Read all about it on the Day 7 page!


    September 1, 2008

    We're more than halfway through the trip now that we have completed Day 6, in which we experience the grandeur of Biltmore and whatever the opposite of grandeur is in Gatlinburg. More pork, more museums, and 20,000 salt and pepper shakers. Check it out on the Day 6 page!


    August 31, 2008

    Our fifth day of travel is complete and we are still cow-less - at least when we're driving. But we did see a Mexican themed truck stop, lots of countryside, an eclectic town, and a big, big house. Check it out on the Day 5 page.


    August 30, 2008

    News Flash: We address the great bacon-wrapped hot dog controversy in today's update. Plus, more on Charleston, more on barbeque, and Rick beats Mary in miniature golf. Not that's he's unduly proud of that or anything. Read about it all in the Day 4 page of the site.


    August 29, 2008

    Another day under our belt in which we flirted with two southern belles, investigated a scandal, and judged a food competition! Check out the full road trip journal with pictures on the Day 3 page!


    August 28, 2008

    The second day of Plucky Survivors is complete. Read all about our visits to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Oakland Cemetery, and Savannah. Plus we eat two lunches and have dessert before dinner that also included dessert. Read all about it on the Day 2 page.


    August 27, 2008

    Plucky Survivors has begun! In Day 1 we travel in style, almost re-enact a scene from a Steve Martin movie, and have our first taste of freedom. Read all about it on the Day 1 page.


    August 26, 2008

    It's a little after 7pm as we write this, the night before Plucky Survivors begin, and we are estimating that we are both about 90% packed. Who are we and what have we done with Rick and Mary?

    So yes the bags are mostly packed, the Biggest Book o' Fun is printed, the iPod is ready for road music, the camera battery is charged for photos, the Plucky Mobile is waiting, and so are we! We've decided we're just not going to think about the single computer, apparently something like a Commodore 64, that crashed or something today and caused massive delays in flights across the country. We've decided it will be fixed by tomorrow and that's that. And we're not going to worry about the various hurricanes and tropical storm remnants that are lurking around the general neighborhood we're going to be. Nope - all worries are gone because Plucky Survivors starts tomorrow!

    The next update will be from Atlanta tomorrow night! See you then!


    August 25, 2008

    Big news today as we have settled on the final host hotel for this year's Plucky Survivors trip. Click on over to Day 5 for news on the fancy digs where we'll be staying in Asheville, North Carolina.

    Have we mentioned... Plucky Survivors starts the day after tomorrow---!!!!--so now seemed like a good time for Mary to realize she's going on a road trip the day after tomorrow. The suitcase is out, packing lists created, magazines assembled for plane and excellent hotel bed reading. She's doing this in between checking email obsessively hoping her German test result will come in sooner than it's supposed to. The test went fine, thanks for asking, at least, so she felt during it, but since then she's been second guessing herself and you know how well that usually goes. Updates on the results as they come in.

    Rick hasn't begun packing, instead choosing to wait until the night before because any other strategy ends up with him huddled in a corner rocking and muttering things about why he needs room for just one more pair jeans. "Just one more..." he'll whisper.

    Since Rick updated everyone on his own health matters, Mary thought she ought to do likewise, just so you know what this whole Cancer Chick thing is about. In 1997, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, and though treatment was successful to the point that she went into remission, it returned metastasized to her liver in 2001. Another nearly four years of remission followed, but since late November 2005, she's been dealing with on and off (mostly on) recurrences, in liver and various bones. She usually feels fine except from treatment side effects. By some unpleasant coincidence, she's been in active treatment on each Plucky Survivor, but though not as convenient as last year, when she simply carried her oral chemo along with her, downing it before barbeque and casino outings. (She's currently getting once a month infusions of Doxcell.) At least this year she has both hair and virtually no side effects, not to mention ten intact toenails, so this leaves her with little to complain about. Given she's about to have nearly two weeks of road side attractions, barbeque and Rick's company, she has nothing to complain about.

    Except her German test, of course.

    Back to packing! Or rocking as the case may be.


    August 23, 2008

    Courtesy of Mary's sister Deb - aka last year's Plucky Passenger - we now have an official mascot for the trip (see picture below).

    For those of you new to Plucky Survivors, the reason why the cow is so appropriate is because of a little game we like to call Cow! It's the official road game of Plucky Survivors and you can read all about it on the Cow! page in the games section.

    The fun thing about the cow mascot is that it's actually a bank so we're working coming up with a twist to this year's game - a new rule addition that can take advantage of this opportunity. We're thinking something along the lines of whoever loses the day has to contribute to the cow bank. Or maybe even more challenging, every time you pass a bank with a drive through on your side of the car, you can either contribute a buck to the bank or you lose half your cows. We're still thinking about it - watch for developments when we get on the road.

    We're also still looking for our overall theme for the year, something that will also probably come to us while we're on the road like it usually does. The first year wound up being about legacies and what people do to build them on both small and grand levels. Last year was it was more about the things you do along the way to that legacy; the human journey, if you will, and human potential. It's been a tough 12 months for both of us from a health perspective but we're both fairly determined in our own plucky kind of way to keep on keeping on, which seems to fit in well with the region of the country we'll be visiting. There's a reason we dubbed this year's trip "The Plucky Shall Rise Again" beyond just the obvious.

    Less than four days and counting as of this writing. We're looking forward to having you along for the ride.


    August 22, 2008

    Mary had her German test today - you know, the one she has been studying for months now - and afteward she looked up and said, "Oh... when are we doing Plucky Survivors again?"

    That would be this Wednesday, Mary. Rick has told her that all she really needs to do at this point is pack a bag and that'll pretty much take care of it.

    But back to the continuation of how to plan a road trip...

    One side note from yesterday's udpate is to remind folks that in addition to every state having its own tourism website, most cities also have websites for visitors and they can be really handy in finding local favorites.

    Picking a route is a complex game of "Sophie's Choice." What Rick usually does is use some sort of map software and put spots on the map for each of the places that could become a stop on Plucky Survivors. It usually becomes obvious fairly quickly what's going to work and what is just so far off the beaten track that no matter how interesting it might be, we just won't be able to do it on this trip. Look at major and minor cities that could provide enough hotels for pitstops, check the roads between those cities to see if there are any interesting byways, and then you just start a-mapping.

    Once you take a first pass at the route you need to do a reality check. Yes, you've set it up so you can stop at whatever odd museum you want to stop at, but is it actually open on the day you are planning to be there? And more importantly, does it still exist? More than one Plucky "bright idea" has been squandered by a closed sign upon our arrival (see Dinosaur World for an example). Most attractions no matter how minor have some type of website and if they don't there is usually a phone number that you can call to verify operating times.

    Then it's all about finding places to rest your weary head at the end of each day. Guide books are invaluable, and we're not just saying that because we're guide book writers. They are often the only source of unbiased opinion and review that you can find these days. Internet sites are important and can often provide you with very useful details and reviews from other people, but make sure you know the source before you start trusting what you're seeing on the net. For instance, Rick is very proud of the fact that Vegas4Visitors.com is one of the few sites about Vegas where you can find critical reviews of hotels, restaurants, shows, and more. Most Vegas websites (not all, but most) are corporately owned and derive a big chunk of their income from partnerships with the very hotels, restaurants, and shows they are "reviewing" so it's often hard to find a negative word even when one is deserved. The same applies to websites about other cities so surfers beware.

    Using sites like Travelocity or Orbitz are good for price comparisons. They can often direct you to the hotels that are both in and out of your price range with one quick search, but you should always check multiple sources for room rates to see who has the cheapest. Often these days, you'll find the lowest rates by book directly through the hotel website - even cheaper than the big travel re-sellers. One of the hotels (that shall remain nameless) that we are staying at was advertised as $144 on one of the big travel booking websites but through the hotel's website it was $20 less.

    But you gotta eat, right? Food is more of a catch-as-catch-can proposition for most road trippers and that's often a shame because you can miss some must-visit locations. Going back to the official tourism websites, many will have dining sections where they talk about specialized regional cuisine and the best purveyors of same. You can also visit a handy website called RoadFood.com or buy the book of the same name. Both are good for finding off-the-beaten-track gems. Finally, spend some time on websites like FoodNetwork.com and go though their archives of shows that focus on "Best Of" or "Top 10." You may find something very exciting there.

    But one of the lures of the open road is the anything can happen nature of it so restaurants are the one area where you can just go until you see something that looks interesting. We still feel that places like Craig's BBQ and The Udder Cow were divine intervention.

    And of course, don't be afraid to talk to people. Chat up folks at the gas station while you're filling up the car or at the convenience store where you'll grabbing a cold drink or just the folks wandering down main street of whatever town you happen to be in. Us jaded city-folk often forget how nice and friendly people really can be and most of them are eager to share their town's "must-see" or "must eat" destinations.


    August 21, 2008

    On Planning Road Trips

    Lot's of people have been asking how we go about planning Plucky Survivors. How do we choose the route? Where do we find cool things to do and see? How do we choose hotels and other essentials for places that we've never been?

    The simple answer is: research.

    For Plucky Survivors 3 we had narrowed down our choices of region to either New England or the Southeast, mainly because those were the two areas we most wanted to visit. Not that there is anything wrong with any other area - these were just the ones that appealed most to us this year.

    The first thing we did was go online and order the visitor's guide from every state that we might be hitting during the trip. You can get these for free by visiting any state tourism website - just type in the name of the state in your favorite serach engine and somewhere near the top of the list should be the official visitors and tourism website. Somewhere on that website you can usually find a form to fill out to request everything from a visitors guide to road maps to coupon books and offers, all for free.

    Also on these website you can usually find a calendar of events that will list out everything from state fairs and parades to music festivals and more. Plug in the dates you're traveling and they will provide you with a list of cool things to do.

    Next we combed a bunch of websites that specialize in road trip ephemera. There are a bunch out there but RoadsideAmerica.com is probably the best. They specialize in the weird and wacky, which is where we find a lot of the things that make it on to our itinerary.

    Armed with a list of museums, attractions, events, festivals, and roadside oddities for both the Northeast and Southeast, we simply compared the two and thought that the trip you see representated on this site for 2008 was the most interesting. The South Carolina BBQ Championships had a lot to do with it, we will admit.

    Then comes the hard part - planning the exact route making sure that you're covering enough ground each day to see all the stuff you want to see, but not driving so much that you don't get a chance to stop and smell the giant ball of twine, so to speak. Because we live in Los Angeles and do a lot of work in Las Vegas, we picked the distance between those two cities - within spitting distance of 300 miles - as a good yardstick by which to measure a decent day's drive. Some days we do less and we may do a little more but not seriously more than that because then all you're doing is sitting in a car watching the scenery go by.

    Tomorrow we'll talk more about finding that route, verifying that your plan is doable, picking hotels, and more.

    Plucky Survivors 2008 starts in six days!


    August 20, 2008

    We know you can count, but ONE WEEK UNTIL PLUCKY SURVIVORS!

    Just sayin'.

    In today's update, we thought we'd talk about Rick's shoe issues. So, fresh off winning $30,000 on a slot machine (see August 10, below for photographic evidence), Rick decided he'd splurge and get a new pair of shoes for the trip. And by splurge, we mean buy them somewhere other than Payless, which is where he does most of his shoe shopping.

    What he was looking for was relatively simple - a pair of white tennis shoes or sneakers or whatever they are called these days. That's it - nothing fancy. No pretensions to fashion, just something comfortable to walk in. No stripes or bling or flashing lights or gel bubbles or multi-colored laces or miniature televisions in the tongues. A simple pair of white sneakers.

    Apparently, they don't make those anymore, or at least not very many of them. Through several stores he traipsed and finally managed to find exactly one pair that fit his "simple white sneaker" request and so he bought them, despite the fact that they more closely resembled orthopedic nursing shoes than sneakers. Better to feel good than to look good, right?

    The next day Rick put them on, eager to start breaking in the new pair of shoes so they'd be nice and settled in before the inevitable walking part of Plucky Survivors. About 30 minutes into the day, Rick's feet were telling him that there may be a problem. About an hour into it, they were telling him that indeed, there was a problem. By noon, his feet were saying that not only had he made a huge error in judgment but that these were definitely not orthopedic nursing shoes. They were actually medieval torture devices designed to LOOK like orthopedic nursing shoes, which is darned nefarious if you ask us.

    It's sort of like turkey bacon. You think it's bacon, but no... it's turkey. Nefarious.

    Anyway, so he took off the shoes, threw them in a corner, and went to Payless. And they were having a sale. And he wound up buying two pairs of relatively simple white sneakers. He's much happier now and so are his feet.

    There's a moral to this particular story in here somewhere but we're too busy thinking about bacon right now to figure it out.

    Did we mention ONE WEEK UNTIL PLUCKY SURVIVORS!


    August 19, 2008

    We are just a little over one week away from Plucky Survivors 2008! Rick is actually having dreams about it and spends almost every waking hour saying things like "Am I on vacation yet?" He really needs a vacation, people.

    Mary is dreaming about her German test coming up this Friday but after that Rick will remind her that we're going on a little trip next week.

    Meanwhile, the debate continues about the intricacies of what Plucky means and today we found a terrific example of it in Christina Applegate.

    We've been fans of hers for a long time, even more so with her show "Samantha Who?" which Rick boldly proclaimed as the best new comedy of the TV season last year. Come on... Christina Applegate, Jean Smart (Rick can quote full episodes of "Designing Women"), Melissa McCarthy (ditto "Gilmore Girls"), and the rest of the terrific cast plus smart, subtle writing? What's not to love?

    In case you've been paying more attention to the Olympics and the endless speculation about who will be the Vice Presidential candidates, Ms. Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer recently and made the decision to have a double mastectomy. That decision was brave and ultimately rewarding in that her docs now say she is 100% cancer free, say hallelujah.

    But it's how she's talking about it that makes us love her even more. In an interview with Good Morning America, just three weeks after the operation (!!!), she talked about how she'll be undergoing reconstructive surgery, saying "I'm going to have the best boobs in the nursing home. I'm going to have cute boobs till I'm 90."

    If that isn't Plucky we don't know what is.

    So we're making Christina Applegate an honorary Plucky Survivor. Hey Christina, wanna go on a road trip with us?

    You can watch the full GMA interview here:
    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=5606034&page=1


    August 18, 2008

    Turns out we've stirred up quite a healthy conversation about the meaning of Plucky.

    Many additional nominees for the title of Plucky have been bandied about, including Nancy Drew, The Little Engine That Could, various plantlife, and even The Bad News Bears. Yes, this is the kind of high-minded debate Mary, Rick, and their friends and family engage in. At least this one hasn't come to name calling or fisticuffs.

    Back in Plucky Planning news, we still have one more official host hotel to announce - we're just waiting for a final confirmation and then we'll be posting all the details. Keen observers will note that there are three nights on the itinerary without hotels listed. Despite our best efforts and the undeniable lure of being Plucky or at least associated with Plucky, there are a couple of stops where we couldn't find an accommodations partner. Instead we're booking rooms at affordable yet relatively stylish digs in locations that are convenient to our schedule. We'll tell you more about those hotels when we get there.

    We're also casting a nervous eye toward the Atlantic Ocean, not because of Hurricane Faye but of what else might be brewing out there ready to pop up like she did. Yes, it is totally our fault for booking a trip to hurricane country during the height of hurricane season but this is the best time of year for Plucky Survivors in terms of convenience for us, so we think they should just move their silly storm season somewhere else. There are plenty of good months left. February. February is a good month. Let's do hurricane season then.

    And finally, for absolutely no good reason at all other than it made us laugh today, a classic scene from one of our all-time favorite shows, "Soap." Enjoy!


    August 17, 2008

    What is Plucky?

    You'd be amazed how many people have been saying that to us recently as we mention Plucky Survivors. Or maybe you wouldn't - maybe you are just as confused about the meaning of the word Plucky as others are. We think it's primarily a generational thing, which of course makes us feel old, but beyond that it's a word that isn't used all that often anymore.

    The dictionary defintion of plucky is "having or showing pluck or courage; brave" but we expand that definition to include people, places, or things that show determination, strength of character, firm resolve, the ability to not take things too seriously no matter how serious they get, coming back against all odds, and facing adversity with dignity.

    We asked some friends and family to give us examples of people, places, and things they thought were worthy to wear the mantle of Plucky.

    Barack Obama and John McCain are Plucky in their own ways. Our particular politics make us more inclined to appreciate the pluck of Senator Obama but that's the thing about being Plucky - it's bipartisan!

    New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are definitely Plucky as they continue to come back against all odds from Hurricane Katrina when it would've been easier to just give up and move inland. Ditto Rick's hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which is recovering from devastating floods earlier this year.

    Our friend LeeAnn suggests that Winston Churchill was Plucky, although definitely not in a cuddly way and we have to agree.

    Another friend Steve thinks that Dickens heroes have more than their fair share of pluck and also mentions The Hardy Boys although from a generational perspective that's probably not going to do much to help the people who don't know what Plucky is until the movie comes out next year with Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise.

    Mary's husband Steve (aka Rock Critic Guy) cites Olympic Gymnast Kerri Strug as being Plucky for her perfect vault to win the Gold Medal for the US despite having a broken ankle.

    Do you have any nominations for people, places, or things that are Plucky? Send us your ideas by using the online form.


    August 16, 2008

    An inescapable part of Plucky Survivors is the stuff we are surviving. We don't like spending a lot of time talking about our respective health issues for a lot of reasons. First, we can't imagine why anyone would be interested... the Olympics are on. Michael Phelps. He's interesting. In a lot of ways. What were we talking about?

    Another reason is because we don't want to appear whiners, especially when we know so many people have it so much worse than we do. We've gotten e-mails from Plucky Readers who are suffering through seriously debilitating illnesses and ours, while certainly serious, for the most part are just inconveniences when it comes to their affect on our daily lives. Mary is able to continue pursuing her Ph.D. and working and traveling and Rick goes to work every day and watches lots of TV and occasionally goes to the refrigerator. So lengthy dissertations about what is trying to kill us just seems gauche.

    Having said that, we understand that people are interested and as mentioned it's part of the story, so let's discuss it briefly and then move on to more interesting topics like donuts and BBQ, shall we?

    For the latest on Mary's adventures with cancer, you can visit her website CancerChick.com. A recap may be in order for this forum but for now you can get a more in-depth idea of what's happening in the Maladies section of that site.

    As for Rick, the last year hasn't been exactly what he'd call fun from a health perspective but not really much more than unpleasant in the grand scheme of things. The meds he has been on for the last 8 years to control HIV began to fail in late 2007 and so his doctor switched him to something else. We'll spare you the very gory details but let's just say it didn't go well. Another combination was decided upon in early 2008 and that has been side-effect free for the most part and seems to be working pretty well.

    The other health issue he's dealing with is a condition called Barrett's Esophagus. The short version is that years of acid reflux causes damage to the esophagus resulting in a cellular change to the tissue that lines the tube, making it less flexible and sensitive - closer to the type of cells that line the intestines. Lots of people probably have Barrett's and don't know it and on it's own it really isn't that big of a deal except that it can predispose you to esophageal cancer, which is currently the fastest growing type of cancer in the US in terms of the percentage of new cases.

    Rick's Barrett's is extensive and includes both low and high grade dysplasia, which are the types of cells that happen right before it changes to cancer. So every 6 months he has to go get tubes stuck down his throat while his gastro-guy takes a bunch of biopsies. It sounds worse than it is - as far as he is concerned it's a day off work and some really good drugs.

    Up until recently there wasn't much that could be done for Rick's particular version of the condition since the regular ablation techniques that burn away the bad cells don't usually work well or have very bad after-effects for cases that are as extensive as his is. But now there's this new thing that Rick likes to call the James Bond Villian Device that may offer some hope of stopping this before it turns into cancer.

    The James Bond Villian Device is a computer-guided device that precisely maps the depth and breadth of the Barrett's tissue and then burns just the bad tissue away with a laser, leaving the healthy tissue underneath unharmed. It's a very new procedure and his gastro-guy is one of the few in the country who are going to be doing it so he's lucky in that regard. He'll probably go in for the procedure at the end of this year or the beginning of next.

    The moral of all of this is if you have heart burn don't ignore it. There are usually no symptoms for Barrett's and even esophageal cancer so most people don't know there's something going on until it's too late. Go see your doctor to talk about options for controlling acid reflux and examining whether it has already done any damage.

    Okay, health discussion over for now. Let's get back to more interesting topics, like how Rick is going to kick Mary's ass in Cow! this year. Oh, yes... it's on!


    August 15, 2008

    We're going to be starting our road trip off in style with the latest host hotel that has joined Plucky Survivors. Check out the Day 1 itinerary for the details about where we'll be spending our first night in Atlanta.

    So since this website is not only brand new to most of you but brand new period, we thought we'd take a minute to point out some of the features of PluckySurvivors.com.

    You're in the Road Trip Journals section where you can find all of the material we've written and photos we've taken for the first trip in 2006 and The Midwest Express in 2007. And of course this will be the place you'll find all of our daily adventures for The Plucky Shall Rise Again starting August 27, 2008.

    In the Stay, Eat, See section we have broken out all of the things we've written about hotels, restaurants, and attractions during our nearly 5,000 miles across America. This is the area for our reviews, thoughts, musings, photos, and contact information for each venue.

    The Photos & Video area has, well, photos and video. The photo slide shows are a great way to see our trip without all of the prattling on we do in the Journal area.

    Don't forget about the Games and Activities section. This is where you'll find some fun road games including all of the rules and variations for the official Plucky Survivors Road Game, "Cow!" plus printable bingo games, scavenger hunt suggestions, and even some online games just for fun.

    The Are You Plucky? area is where we ask you to get involved either in Plucky Survivors by taking the Plucky Pledge or in your world in general.

    And finally the About Us section is about... ummm... us. We were going to make it about other people but we figured that would be weird. This is the area where you can read our bios, send us e-mails or suggestions, read about how we met, and more.

    Thanks again for visiting and we're looking forward to you coming along with us (in a cyberspace kind of way) on Plucky Survivors See America 3: The Plucky Shall Rise Again. The adventure begins August 27, 2008.


    August 13, 2008

    What are we going to do on our last day in Atlanta? Well, it's going to involve fish, soda pop, things that turn, and Tara. Find out all the details in the updated itinerary on the Day 11 page.

    We have a couple of other hotels to confirm in the next couple of days and then our work on the planning portion of the trip is mostly done. Then it's on to the executing on the plan part, which is just as stressful.

    We haven't even started on this year's Book o' Fun, the ridiculously detailed notebook full of itineraries, maps, scavenger hunt lists, and other bits of silliness that has come in handy for the last two years. In case you're wondering about its full title... the first year's book was the Big Book o' Fun; last year's was the Bigger Book o' Fun; and this year's will be the Biggest Book o' Fun of course. Next year's will be the No, Actually THIS is the Biggest Book o' Fun. Or maybe we'll just move on to things like Huge, Massive, or Ginormous Books o' Fun.

    There's also the soundtrack to consider. We have requested satellite radio for our Plucky Mobile but we aren't guaranteed to get it so we'll be bringing along an iPod full of music to accompany us on the road. We haven't even downloaded "Georgia On My Mind" or "Sweet Georgia Brown" yet! What were we thinking?!

    And then of course there's that whole packing thing. We'll worry about that on the 26th.


    August 12, 2008

    Who doesn't love a good ghost story? We certainly do and that's just one of the reasons we're so excited about the latest hotel that has invited us to stay with them during this year's trip.

    The Gratz Park Inn in Lexington, Kentucky has a very colorful history that you need to read about in the updated Day 7 itinerary.

    Meanwhile, yesterday we casually mentioned Mary's website and a German test. Actually, while there is a great deal of kvetching about the German test on CancerChick, there isn't any real explanation as to why Mary's taking German, especially right before a road trip, not to mention while she's dealing with all those pesky health issues. It has to do with that Ph.D. she's pursuing--actually, "pursuing" seems too active a verb for her leisurely pace, but then again she's been doing chemo for almost three of those years. That's her slacker reason for slacking off, anyway.

    But the degree program requires passing tests wherein one does translations of theology in French and German, and while she did the French early on, the German remains. She can't move ahead in her program without it. Her school offers a daily intensive class designed specifically to help people pass the test; again, it's translating theological German (Otto, Barth and the like), so don't ask her if she can sprechen sie Deutsch because she can not. She can't even spell it. What she can do is translate theological German, albeit laboriously and with the aid of a dictionary. (One is allowed to use a dictionary during the test.) Well, she can sort of translate theological German; the verdict is out as to whether what she is doing is "translating" or just "throwing a bunch of words at a piece of paper." It better be the former soon, one hopes, because the test is the 22nd; that's less than two weeks and counting.

    Consequently, daily time spent in class, daily time spent doing even more German homework, the occasional visit to her doctor for chemo, some time spent recovering from same, and she's even less involved in the planning of Plucky Survivors than ever. Once in awhile, she glances at the itinerary and says "Hey, we are going to do thus and such? That's so cool!" and then promptly forgets what thus and such is because she's trying to remember definitions of dative prepositions and what the future perfect passive tense looks like. This actually works out well; not only does she get to be continually surprised and pleased by how awesome the trip is, it's the very definition of "vacation" for her. She travels a lot, and she has to do a lot of planning for those trips. Having someone else do all the planning is the next best thing to heaven. Heaven is lounging in a really nice hotel room bed with mindless TV on and a good book in hand, but Rick's usual jam packed schedule does not appear to be allowing for much of that. That is not a complaint; one of her hard and fast travel rules is that if you didn't do the work, you don't get to complain about the work that is done.

    Dative preps are:
    aus
    auBer
    bei
    mit
    nach
    seit
    von
    zu

    In case you wondered. She's still working on what they mean. But that's what the dictionary is for.

    Parenthetically to all of this is the fact that Rick took many years of German in high school and remembers exactly one phrase: "Der fernsehapparat ist kaput." It means the television set is broken. Rick is sure this will come in handy some day.

    Tune in tomorrow for our update on what we'll be doing in Atlanta on our final day of Plucky Survivors.


    August 11, 2008

    Told ya there would be more news to report today.

    We now officially have a host hotel for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Although "hotel" doesn't actually cover it. Be sure to check the Day 4 itinerary for more information about the "Fabulous Beachside Resort" we'll be staying at.

    As mentioned below, we have decided to use some of Rick's ill-gotten gains to do an upgrade to the Plucky Mobile. So this year we'll be renting from Avis and will be getting a Ford Escape Hybrid. That's right, Plucky Survivors Goes Green! Well, as Green as a road trip can be, we suppose.

    In case you haven't lately, you should check out Mary's website Cancer Chick for the latest updates on things like her health and the big German test she has to take right before Plucky Survivors hits the highway.

    And of course there's always Rick's website Vegas4VisitorsVegas4Visitors.com, which has nothing to do with his health or German unless its that one time when he got heartburn after eating schnitzel at a Vegas restaurant.

    More updates coming this week including a hotel announcement for Lexington, Kentucky that may have us hiding under the covers and we will be making our picks for what to do in Atlanta on our last day.

    Plucky Survivors starts in less than 16 days!


    August 10, 2008

    We should have more to report in the coming days as we put the final details together for Plucky Survivors 3. We still have some outstanding hotels to get confirmations from and a couple of other surprises we're working on but that should all be worked out this week. We hope. Because if it's not, we're going to lose what little is left of our respective minds.

    The big news for today - at least as it relates to Plucky Survivors - is that we are considering an upgrade for the Plucky Mobile. We have a car reserved already but Rick had a little bit of luck in a local California casino last night and by little bit of luck we mean big heaping buckets full of luck with a particularly generous 10x Pay slot machine (see photo below). So we're thinking we might splurge and get a little something special in which to spend our 11 days on the road. Look for the Best Plucky Mobile Ever in a couple of weeks.

    Look for more substantial updates tomorrow and for the next couple of weeks.


    Blurry and dark but that really is Rick and a very nice slot machine. Pretty, pretty slot machine.


    August 9, 2008

    We are constantly wondering why we can't just take a vacation - why we have to turn it into some sort of project; more work than the actual work we are trying so mightily to escape from.

    Just call us over-achievers and leave it at that.

    But this year, we've decided to turn Plucky Survivors See America into more than just a vacation, more than a road trip, and more than just work. We're going to turn it into a fundraising event by asking our readers to take the Plucky Pledge.

    Just like those dance marathons of yore, we're asking our readers to pledge money for us as long as we keep dancing, or in this case as long as we keep driving. For every mile we drive during this year's trip from August 27 to September 6, 2008, you pledge an amount of money and at the end of the trip we'll total it all up, collect the pledges, and donate it all to one of three very worthwhile organizations.

    So for instance, if you pledged a penny for every mile that we drive and we wind up driving 2,000 miles, you'll be donating $200 to the Plucky Pledge fund. Pledge any amount you want for any distance you want - a penny for every ten miles for instance or $1.00 for every fifty miles.

    Just for reference purposes, Plucky Survivors 2008 will cover somewhere between 2,200 and 2,500 miles depending on how lost we get.

    Your donations will be split amongst the following charities:

  • The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
  • The Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Flood 2008 Fund

    To pledge, simply go to the Plucky Pledge page and fill out the form. Thank you!


    August 8, 2008

    There's no really big news for today, but that isn't going to stop us from blathering on about it.

    We're talking to a lot of hotels and local visitors' bureaus and we'll probably have some additional announcements early next week but we haven't gotten confirmations yet so you'll just have to be patient on real news.

    The one thing we did want to mention is how incredibly helpful and friendly all of the people we have been dealing with are so far. The press and media representatives and other executives we've been talking to have been bending over backward to accommodate our Plucky needs, wants, and whims and we couldn't be more grateful to them. You have to trust us when we tell you that being travel writers has many upsides but there are definite downsides and most of them involve having to set up tours and visits to things that you'd think people would want us to do and write about. It's a lot harder than it should be more often than it should be, but this year's trip has been a breeze comparitively speaking.

    Although why more people aren't inviting us to be judges for eating competitions is beyond us.

    Less than 19 days until the start of Plucky Survivors 2008, which of course reminds us... check out the new Home Page for the countdown clock to the trip and the new Plucky 2008 poster.


    August 7, 2008

    We're big fans of Alanis Morissette but one of our biggest complaints about her hit "Ironic" was that most of the stuff in the song wasn't actually ironic. Rain on your wedding day? Black fly in your chardonnay? A bummer for sure, but ironic? Not so much.

    The e-mail we got yesterday... now that was ironic. Allow us to explain.

    We are members of a shadow organization; a secret society composed of like-minded individuals who live our lives around one simple but deeply edifying motto: Make Mine Bacon Wrapped.

    We call ourselves The Fat Pack and we really like pork. We think that everything tastes better if its wrapped in bacon. Bacon wrapped hot dogs are a staple, we've had bacon flavored candy and potato chips and cheesecake, and one member even has a recipe for a thing called Pork and Pork and Pork and Beans. If a ham is around, Mary actually finds herself incapable of being able to stop eating it.

    So we had been talking to the very friendly folks at the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce about the Beach, Boogie, and BBQ festival over Labor Day weekend, an event we were very eager to go to because it includes the South Carolina BBQ Championships. They have a bunch of other competitions during the event including one that they asked us to be guest judges for.

    The event is called the Anything But Pork Contest. It's basically a competition that covers food that doesn't have pork in it and we have to judge it.

    See, now THAT'S irony.

    We're deeply honored by the invitation and not just because we figure there will be a lot of desserts for us to taste!

    To accommodate this invitation we've had to change our itinerary for Day 3 of our trip so check out the new route.


    August 6, 2008

    Another unique hotel has come on board the Plucky Survivors train. Or rather, we're getting on board theirs as we spend the night in Chattanooga at the famous Choo Choo Holiday Inn. Check out the Day 9 page for more details.


    August 5, 2008

    Just over three weeks until the trip begins. Have we mentioned how much we need this vacation?

    Today's news is the announcement of our host hotel for Savannah, Georgia - the beautiful Planters Inn in the heart of the historic district. Visit the Day 2 page for more information about the place plus all the contact details.

    Tomorrow, be sure to check back for yet another hotel announcement. We'll give you a hint... "Pardon me boy..."

    That's it. That's all you're gonna get.


    August 2, 2008

    It's only 3 1/2 weeks until Plucky Survivors! How did that happen? When are we going to pack? Way too much stress, that's all we're saying.

    But the good news is that there are lots of people out there looking to pamper us while on the trip including the fine folks at the 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky who have invited us to spend our evening there with them. Click on to the Day 8 itinerary for a photo, contact details, and more info about this unique hotel-meets-art museum concept.


    July 31, 2008

    The itineraries for two more days have been posted! Day 9 includes horses, caves, dinosaurs, and country music (perhaps about horses, caves, and/or dinosaurs) while Day 10 will feature rocks, monkeys, and pigs. Read all about it!


    July 30, 2008

    Who is John Rutledge and why are we staying at his house?

    Well, the Honorable Mr. Rutledge was one of the original fifty-five signers of the constitution and the first governor of South Carolina after the Declaration of Independence was signed. His home, built in 1763, is now a boutique hotel with 19 luxurious rooms in the fully restored building and has been named as one of the top 100 hotels in the United States by no less than Conde Nast Traveler. The folks with Charming Inns of Charleston who manage this property and several other historic hotels in the area have invited us to spend the our night in Charleston at the John Rutledge House Inn and we couldn't be more excited about it. This is what the old south is all about y'all.

    You can see a picture of the hotel and get the contact details on the Day 3 page of this year's trip.


    July 29, 2008

    On Day 7 of our trip we're going to be seeing a Kentucky Fried Museum and playing a little bible themed mini-golf, then on Day 8 we're traveling 100 miles out of our way for a hot dog. Read all about it! The itineraries are posted now.


    July 25, 2008

    Check out the itineraries for Day 5 and Day 6 now posted! Find out where Rick is convinced he's going to die and how he's going to insult an entire race of people by claiming their heritage and where Mary is going to get ideas for her next home remodeling project.


    July 24, 2008

    Where are we going on the third and fourth days of our trip this year? You can find out now that the itineraries for Day 3 and Day 4 have been posted. Just to get you excited, one of the days involves a BBQ championship!


    July 19, 2008

    The itineraries for Day 1 and Day 2 have been posted! Find out where we'll be going, what we'll be eating, and whether or not we have to get up some ungodly hour of the day to catch our flight.


    July 15, 2008

    Okay, gang - time to get serious about this. We're about 6 weeks away from the start of Plucky Survivors!

    Today we have posted the official About The Trip page for the 2008 journey and over the next couple of weeks we'll be adding itineraries and other information for each of the days we'll be on the road. Come back here for updates or, if you're like us and can't retain a thought for longer than about 4 1/2 seconds, you can sign up for our RSS Feed or our E-mail Newsletter and we'll remind you when something has been updated.


    June 11, 2008

    We vascillated a lot, but after careful thought and way too much sugar, we have picked the location and official title for this year's trip: Plucky Survivors See America 2008: The Plucky Shall Rise Again!

    We'll be starting our trip in Atlanta, Georgia and will be driving more than 2,200 miles throughout the south including stops in:

    • Savannah, Georgia
    • Charleston, South Carolina
    • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
    • Asheville, North Carolina
    • Knoxville, Tennessee
    • Lexington, Kentucky
    • Louisville, Kentucky
    • Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Along the way we'll be visiting a lot of the weird and wonderful sights, attractions, and events the region has to offer including an acre of land that is owned by God, a drive through safari, the South Carolina BBQ championships, the world's largest bat, the Dukes of Hazzard museum, the Colonel Sanders Museum, a 54-hole bible themed mini-golf course, the Scopes Monkey Trial museum, and much, much more.

    We'll be updating this page with additional details as we figure them out, itineraries, maps, and more over the next couple of months, so either bookmark it or sign up for our RSS Feed or our E-mail Newsletter.

    Plucky Survivors See America 2008: The Plucky Shall Rise Again starts August 27, 2008!


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