Sunday, February 2, 2014

RAK Day 18: Some Wicked Colda Weatha

Living in Traverse City, I'm getting used to cold winters. However, as I mentioned in our most recent post: cold weather is not something that gets easier to deal with.

We spent a day exploring Cape Cod, which included a chilly meander over to the beach and a long day spent lazing around on the couch. After long journeys in the car, sometimes a day in is needed to recoup, so this day was exactly what the doctor ordered.

The next morning, we woke up bright and early (and extremely well-rested), so we could start our trek even further north. First stop: Boston.  After jumping our snow-covered car's dead battery --apparently you can't leave the light on overnight. Weird!, we were ready to roll.

RAK #50: Wow, 50th RAK -- that's crazy to think about. Anyways, back on track. Using my superb web-browsing skills, I found an organization called Breakthrough Greater Boston that was in need of school supplies and incentives. We dropped off a few bags of school supplies as well as some art project kits and iTunes gift cards to help fill up the incentives category.
The Breakthrough Greater Boston staff!
The goodies we dropped off.

Breakthrough Greater Boston's goal is to transform urban education for students and teachers. According to their website, through six years of intensive, tuition-free, out of school time programming, Breakthrough changes students' academic trajectories and supports them along the path to four-year college. Simultaneously, it builds the next generation of teachers through competitive recruitment, research-based training, and coaching from masters teachers. They strive to inspire their brightest students to a career in teaching. Breakthrough Greater Boston is trying to close the achievement gap one break through at a time.

Since we have many friends who are teachers, Dan taught English in Spain, and my mom taught for eighteen years, we felt that this RAK really hit home and was something that we felt good supporting.

After we dropped off the supplies to the wonderful staff members, we stopped at a Starbucks across the street to do a bit more Starbucksing (RAK #51) -- in fact, one of the lucky people we passed off a $10 Starbucks card to was one of the employees of Breakthrough Greater Boston.

Next up...a nine hour drive to Burlington, Canada. Luckily, the roads weren't too bad and making it through customs was easy-peasy, so we didn't stumble across any major delays...and arrived at our scheduled time of 11pm.

Our Canadian hosts were (stay with me here) my mom's best friend's cousin Pam and her husband Dave. Pam, Dave and their family live around 45 minutes away from Toronto, which is where we spent our day. Well, technically we spent our day at the Ripley's (dolphin and whale free) Aquarium of Canada, which was gorgeous and a great way to spend our day. The aquarium opened in June, so everything was in excellent condition...we actually went through some exhibits twice. THAT good. 
An absolutely amazing jellyfish display
Dan hanging out next to a shark, of course.
We brainstormed our next RAK (which is in the works...we will tell you about that one very soon!) and headed back to Burlington, where we grabbed a bite to eat with Pam's son Austin, who is a new dad of an awesome baby girl named Claire. Austin and I go way back (Pam, Dave and family have been visiting Florida for years during the holidays), so it was pretty cool to see him as a responsible adult. 

The next morning, we packed our bags and headed out for our final stop before we made it back home: Commerce Township, outside of Detroit, Michigan where Dan's sister Maggie, her husband Adam and their adorable nugget Adeline live. It was wonderful to see familiar faces again, especially since it finally felt like we were almost back to home base. We spent our first day playing with Maggie and Adeline (hide and go seek, singing songs, you know... the usual) until Adam got home from work. We all headed out to dinner at a local place and ended the night by watching a strange Joaquin Pheonix/Philip Seymour Hoffman movie.

We woke up to a whole bunch of snow, but still managed to make our way to downtown Detroit to commit a few more RAKs...yes, Dan was driving. I was in the passenger seat trying not to yell/overreact. I tend to do that... a lot.

Our first stop/RAK #52: We dropped off children's warm socks, mittens, gloves, hats and three chili's gift cards to a food bank that was in immediate need of those items for people who did not have those supplies for their younger children. My mom had been saving some warm, fuzzy socks to give to the local donation center, but the need for warm clothing simply hasn't been great in sunny Florida; imagine that! So, she gave them to us, I picked up some extra goodies at Target and we donated them to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, who was more than grateful for our contribution.

Our next stop was at the John D. Dingell Veterans Hospital, which Adam was able to tell us about from his work team's charitable endeavors over at Nestle's frozen foods division. Remember how we struck out in Washington DC when we tried to donate Chive shirts to veterans who needed a pick-me-up and then couldn't find a contact to allow us on base? Well, we decided to donate the shirts to this facility instead. My contact, Marvin, was very helpful and let me know that he knows of some deserving recipients of the shirts. We felt good knowing that we were supporting our veterans, but we felt even better knowing that we were supporting veterans that were living in a city that is in need as well.
Thanks for the shirts, Chive!

Tomorrow we make our way back home, where we have another RAK or so to commit to finish off our roadtrip. We will also let you know how the Canada RAK turns out!

In the meantime, be sure to check out this article written by Michele Miller of the Tampa Bay Times -- she recapped the roadtrip beautifully and we are so thankful for her taking the time out to get to know us and tell our story.

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