Traveling Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Traveling outside of my familiar city always brings into question the types of foods that might be available for me to eat.  It can be difficult eating safely in areas that do not have the abundance of choices available to me that Portland offers.

Whenever I fly,  one of the most important planning tasks I must accomplish is food preparation.  I want food for my flight and a bit to have on hand in case choices are slim in Charlotte.  Honestly,  I just prefer my own food.  I focus on making snacks and breakfast foods.  I find that lunch and dinner are easier meals to enjoy at restaurants because I can almost always find something on the menu to eat.  It is rare that I find nothing, though it has happened.  Remember that failed cross country road trip I took?   I wrote about it here:  Hello From Wyoming!  My goodness,  what an experience that was!  Currently,  plans are being created to try again,  this time for a successful cross country road trip later this year!   That awful trip is also my reminder to always have plentiful supplies of my kind of food on hand when traveling!

For my latest travel adventure,  I’ll be flying to Charlotte, NC.  In less 24 hours I’ll be hanging out with my boy!   I am so excited!!!   I have not seen my son in over two years and it has been about three and a half years since I have visited him.   This is a long over due trip and visit!!   Even better;  my daughter will be traveling from Boston to join us in Charlotte.  I get to be with both my kids!!!  Did I say I am excited?!!   I am elated we’ll all be together again!!   This time it will be in happiness;  the last time being my mom’s death when we were all together.  We have all kinds of fun things planned and I am looking forward to playing for days with my kids.  Gosh,  do I need this vacation!!   I have taken several small trips over the past year,  but it has been nearly a full year since my last big adventure to Boston.   Remember that trip?  Boston Bonanza  was a blast!   Check out all the food I enjoyed!!   I’ll see how Charlotte has progressed in that area in the years since I have visited.

I make and bring food I know can travel well and remain relatively intact after getting knocked around in my bag.   I have breakfast for the plane,  lunch to eat at my layover,  or more likely run like a champ to my next gate and eat on the plane!   We will see how this lay over goes!   I have a few of my kind of  “essentials”  I like to have on hand tucked away in my carry on.   I am ready for my east coast adventure!

Check out some of the yummy food I am bringing along for my trip!  I didn’t get a chance to grab a picture of the egg and turkey bacon mini casserole I’ll be eating for breakfast in the morning once I settle on the plane.  You know I’ll be eating good!

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savory breakfast pancakes

 

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layover lunch pizza!! YUM!!

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two kinds of hearty, nutritious breakfast cookies!

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can’t forget the treats! gf/df snicker-doodles! Oh, yeah!!

 

 

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Gluten Free Camping Done Right

Gluten free camping food is such fun to make!  I love coming up with unique and delicious foods that are considerably more indulgent yet still stay in my personal dietary guidelines. I just returned from my first camping trip of the season.  I am getting a late start this year. I have had too many other weekend activities that have kept me from pitching my tent. Oh wait…. I don’t have a tent!  Ha!  I did learn my car is the perfect camping vehicle and even snuggles two people in quite nicely with a bit of elbow room.  I learned a lot in this first camping trip which created moments of deep reflection.  It is one of the reasons I have such a fondness for weekends in the woods; it brings me back to a balanced place where I feel grateful and peaceful.

I certainly felt “tipped” often enough on this trip.  It is not just my first of the season, but my first since I have moved and have had my stuff stored away.  My busy week prior to leaving did not give me time to pick up my camping gear until the day before I was to head out.  I just packed it in the car and that is where it stayed until we unpacked it at the campground.  Assuring my camping friend I had everything we needed, imagine my surprise when we started setting up camp and discovering I actually did not have some things we needed.  This fell on the heels of some other pretty crazy debacles that delayed us even getting to our spot until almost dark.  We laughed a lot about all of it along the way until it became clear we were missing some vital items.  It took me some time to remember that “M” and I had gone through all of our camping gear and downsized last fall when we were done traveling for the summer.  We got rid of a lot of equipment, deciding we would replace it later with more space efficient items for the next season.  That is now and considering what happened in my life between that time and today, there is no way I would have remembered this took place.  After laughing hysterically at the craziness of everything that took place just to get to our peaceful spot, we settled in and got creative with what was available, only running to the little market down the road for propane.  We made it work.

Digging through those camping buckets unearthed a plethora of painful memories as I reflected on the journey and experiences that led me to where I am today.  “Blessing upon blessing has reigned down on you”, just said to me last night by a friend; this is true. Where I am today is nothing short of miraculous in my opinion.  I have been lifted and gifted in the most beautiful ways.  I love right where I am in my life.  Dare I say I feel like I am truly living my dream.  I certainly feel like I am on that path.  But, I had to take some time to reflect again on what happened that lead me here today.  I had to process some thoughts, rehash a few things, reflect and let go a little more.  I had my own personal burning ceremony early one morning.  After quietly celebrating to myself for creating a successful fire, I spontaneously threw a word search book “M” had given me for Christmas into the flames.  It had gone into my “take with me belongings” when I moved, but I just stored it away on a shelf forgetting about it until I was packing for camping.  I love doing word search puzzles when camping.  Sitting at the fire, staring at that book next to me dredged up only anger and betrayal.  I said a few things out to the Universe, dropped it into the fire and let it burn.  I found a long purple knit thing in a bucket that “M” had made; an aborted attempt at a scarf I think, and we had used it to tie things.  I wrapped it around my fire poking stick and dropped it into the flames as well.  I love the powerful symbolism of this ritual and upon completion I felt lighter, more relaxed.  It feels great to close the book on that chapter of my life, however, six months later I am no more enlightened on why it ended.  It matters less and less.  It still astounds me the same.  I have come to my own closure and am comfortable in my truth.  It will likely never cease to make me shake my head in dismay because while I have definitely had my share of awful experiences, what I just went through is absolutely the most cruelty I’ve experienced by another human being; one that declared their love for me on a regular basis.  It simply makes no sense and it was so wrong.  I now see even more clearly the painful world “M” lives in that would move her to be so callous.

In the flames of the past, I recreate my current experiences and my future.  Just as stunning as the ending of my relationship and what I thought was my future, is the astonishing beginnings that have cultivated since this has happened.  The doors began to open before I even moved from “M”‘s house.  I have had continued remarkable experiences.  I cannot help but be grateful, often in a deep and moving way.  When I come full circle in my thoughts, I rest in grace.  My reverence for life is more profound.  I have found my balance again.  My trips into the forest always bring enlightenment.

With some heavy stuff getting processed, I am glad we came well stocked with the fixin’s for some great gluten and dairy free meals that were delicious and comforting.  Eating this way while camping can be easy with just a little preparation before heading out.  I like to pre-mix ingredients into plastic zip bags as much as possible, making it much easier to prepare at the camp site.  There was some good food eaten around the campfire, along with plenty of enjoyable conversation.  As well, there were many opportunities for silence and reflection.  Even with the harried experience of getting to the site and our lack of proper equipment, in many ways this was a successful first camping trip of the season.  I look forward to the next time and being much more prepared!!

I did learn that I can throw stuff together pretty darn quickly and am always successful at making things work with what I’ve got.  Camping, like life, is a learning experience.   The serenity and grace of my surroundings brought me back to center.  All is truly well in my world.

Check out some of the yummy food we ate and take in the beauty of our gorgeous Oregon forest.

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In The Beginning, There Was Breakfast

Here’s what started my day and fueled me for the long drive home yesterday morning.  I had some coconut flavored almond yogurt mixed with banana slices, my home made sunbutter crunch and some hemp seeds.  The combination was delightful and gave me the energy and focus to power through my day so I could finally be home.  My determination was relentless. I succeeded.

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I woke up in my own bed this morning to cat paws tapping my eye lids urging me to get up. Mind you, it was only 4:30am, but it was the sweetest and happiest wake up I could have had.  I have a day filled with things to do and take care of so here’s what will get me going today.

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There is a combination of veggies (about 3 cups total) including two types of baby kale, arugula, baby spinach, red cabbage, red onion slices, carrot shreds and sliced zucchini, all sauteed in a tablespoon of coconut oil.  I rarely eats eggs, but I decided today will be an egg day and scrambled an organic free range brown egg into the sauteed greens.  I sprinkled some basil, fresh ground pepper, a little garlic and sea salt then tossed about 1/8 cup of hemp seeds over the whole mix and gave it a stir.  I swear those little hemp seeds give me power!

It is so good to be home and it is great to have fresh, home cooked food.  Fuel up with breakfast every morning and try adding some hemp seeds to whatever you eat.  In addition to the delicious nutty flavor it provides, you’ll be giving your heart a healthy dose of omega fatty acids, boosting your immune system and reducing overall fatigue.  Who doesn’t need that?!  So, get to sprinkling! Remember, breakfast is the most important meal to re-fuel you after your night of sleep and give you the pep you need to get your day going right.

I am providing the recipe for my sunbutter crunch; one of my favorite road trip foods.  I replaced the honey with brown rice syrup.

Gluten Free Sunbutter Crunch Granola Recipe

Ingredients

¼ cup creamy sunbutter (or any nut butter)
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups certified gluten free rolled oats
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with gluten-free non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the Sunbutter and honey in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the Sunbutter has melted. Stir in the vanilla, oats and salt. Make sure all the oats are coated with the Sunbutter mixture. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared cookies sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking. Let cool. Mixture will become crunchy as it cools.

Servings:

A gluten free recipe that makes 8 – ¼ cup servings.

(adapted from this original recipe: http://simplygluten-free.com/blog/2013/01/gluten-free-sunbutter-crunch-granola-recipe.html)

Salt Lake City Saga

I am happy to say that this post will actually contain some of the content I had hoped to discuss when I first began my trip; gluten free/dairy free across America.  But first, I just have to use this space as a rant so bare with me while I get this out.  You see, sitting in my motel room in Salt Lake City yesterday morning brought the full realization that this is as far as I will get across America.  Utah.  I was driven here with my car in tow to get a proper diagnosis and repair quote for it after I broke down in Wyoming.  You can read about that right here:  http://wp.me/4cJfr

I learned that the repairs to my car, which basically would be a new engine, will cost more than the value of the car.  A previous repair job to fix a thermostat and radiator hose issue that I received a couple months back in my home town was not done properly and is believed to be the crux of the problem.  It was exacerbated by outside temperatures and not allowing the car to rest for long enough periods during steep uphill climbs when it would begin to overheat.  It was so dang hot with very few safe and shady places to pull over.  It was such a dilemma that as I look back, I don’t know that I would have done anything different.   But, you know I had a lot of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” thoughts.  It would have eventually broken down regardless of how many times I stopped and cooled it.  A loose fitting hose was causing it to overheat.

Let me just say, I sold a pretty sweet Toyota Corolla so I could buy this vehicle.  I wanted a bigger car.  I missed my truck for its size and capabilities.  I wanted space on my road trip for supplies and sleeping.  I bought this car specifically with my trip in mind.  I have had it for four months.  Yes, that’s it.  Four months.  Now, those of you who know me closely, you know the bad car karma that has followed me all of my adult driving life.  I had a reprieve for a good long time, owning one vehicle for seven years.  That Toyota and I could have probably had a good long ride together, too.  It was just too small for me and hurt my back getting in and out.  I really wanted a road trip vehicle with a strong engine.  I thought I had it.  It was fabulous in so many ways and for the one night I did actually sleep in it, it was about as perfect as I could have wanted.

So, as you can imagine, I have had quite a range of emotions over this entire ordeal.  Since last Thursday evening I have been without my car and have been stuck in areas that leave much to be desired, in my opinion.  My savings are quickly dwindling because instead of camping along the way I am now staying in motels as I have no other options.  I have been in Salt Lake since Friday when I learned my car is not worth fixing.

The entire weekend was filled with multiple conversations to car dealerships, car shopping and  re-thinking the idea of fixing my vehicle.  I was unsuccessful with anything having to do with a vehicle.  In between doing this, I spent a lot of time walking in circles, getting lost, sitting on street corners so confused about where I was or how to get where I wanted to be.  Why was it that each time I asked someone for directions they weren’t from here?  Just my luck, right?  It was so damn hot and I had reached my capacity to deal with anything remotely difficult so I gave up being confused on the streets and spent the rest of my Saturday in my motel room wasting away another day.  Hey, I am grateful for my studio style motel room that is quite spacious with a couch and chair so it seems more home like.  At least I didn’t feel claustrophobic.

As frustrating, exhausting and overwhelming as all this was, I knew that I would be here through Monday so I did the best attitude adjusting I could to accept my situation, and I just have to say, that was not an easy task!  I used my Saturday motel time to try and find the positive things about where I am.  I read up in visitor’s guides about all the places I could get to by public transit which is just a two (metropolitan, so more like four!) blocks walk.  I studied maps, something that does not come easy for me.  I tried to understand the city grid which uses the Temple Square as its focal point where all directions begin.  I wrote down directions of places to see, location of the grocery store, times of trax arrivals (public transit), addresses of all locations I wanted to visit.  I had a plan and on Sunday morning I was ready to have a good day.  I wanted to try and have at least one decent day in all this mess.  What I didn’t realize is this city pretty much shuts down on Sundays.  So my plans were shot since nothing was open.  Seriously?  Who closes a park on Sundays?  This city does!  Even though I am not a fan of shopping malls and avoid them as much as possible, I was willing to wander one on Sunday.  Yet, even the mall was closed.  Really??  Because it’s Sunday?  That doesn’t even make sense to me.  It was nearly 100 degrees that day and this heat is so dry with no wind.  100 degrees in Salt Lake is not like 100 degrees in Portland.  I was absolutely done.  Did I mention it was HOT?!  I was done wandering the streets crying because I was lost and so confused about where to go, I was done trying to find something….anything to do that would make this stay better.  I completely gave up.  I worked so hard to come up with a plan, I struggled to find any sort of good in this, I wanted to have some kind of fun.  Nope. Wasn’t happening.  Sunday was another wasted day in my motel room.  That day, I just slept. Seriously, I just laid on the bed or on the couch feeling sorry for myself.  Did I say I was grateful for a king size bed with lots of fluffy pillows?  Yes, well it helped me to completely check out of that day.  I could no longer cope.

I was so thankful for Monday to arrive.  The city was open again, public transit had a more consistent schedule and I was determined to get the heck out of here by days end.  I got up and out very early before the heat arrived.  I actually did not get lost.  After 3 days of trying I finally got it.  It starts with turning left once out of the motel.  I am horribly direction challenged and those who know me well will understand the hilarity of that phrase.  I was able to get things I needed,  I was clear headed and could focus on my surroundings and felt very accomplished by the time I returned to my motel and still had the entire day ahead of me to find a solution that would get me out of here.  Do I even need to say what happened with the remainder of the day?  No, it was much like the rest and here I sit on Tuesday morning; still in Salt Lake.

After an entire day that ended up like all the others since I’ve been here, I was back in tears and beginning to think I would need to find a job here or something because I would be stuck here forever.  I found too many challenges in most of my ideas and really just couldn’t think about what I should do.  I can’t really explain what happens when I get overwhelmed these days, but I blame it on grief.  Usually, I can get through rough spots and come up with a practical solution.  I am very practical minded and don’t often let emotions rule my thoughts or behavior.  I am a thinker, an observer and a problem solver.  However, it has been a different experience since my mom has died.  When I get overwhelmed all sense goes out the window.  I can’t think practically, in fact, I can hardly think at all.  It’s like I just shut down and have tunnel vision.  So, when what seemed like my only options for leaving this state had been exhausted I truly did not know what I would do.  I was imagining all kinds of scenarios, none of which were good or even realistic.  So when I received a suggestion to rent a car and just come home, I thought why the hell didn’t I think of that?! There is even a car rental place directly across from where I am staying.  I look at the damn building each time I walk out the motel door.  The thought of renting a car never came to me.  See?  Tunnel vision.  I called my son and he helped me to make a reservation. Yes, I am completely capable of doing this on my own in any other circumstance.  Yesterday, I was very thankful for the help and I really did need it.   Later today I will be picking up the rental car, going to the service center to retrieve my belongings from my broken down car and be on my way home.  This trip across the country ends here.  So many things about this are horribly disappointing, but my biggest disappointment is not getting to visit my son who lives in North Carolina.  He worked really hard to finagle time off from his job so he could spend time with me.  The last time we saw each other was during my mom’s illness and death.  I wanted to spend happy time with him.  This makes me really sad.

Today, this nightmare finally ends.  I can only hope (beg the Universe!) that my trip home will be smooth and no more problems will occur because I have had plenty of them all ready, thank you very much.  I am so excited to leave and get back on the road.  I am also so depressed and feel completely defeated.  I can definitely put this experience in the never want to do this again category.  I have found very little to enjoy about this trip, however I did find a little gluten free here in this horrid city (Sorry to any Salt Lake natives! How do you live here?).  At least I got to eat my kind of food for the most part.  Oh, and for anyone who ever again says I pack too much food for trips, I will have you know it was the best thing about this trip. I have eaten the way I want, lacking in some fresh produce at times, but I have had my kind of food for this entire trip because I pack a lot of food!

I found this store that is similar to a store in my home town and while minimal, I did find organic and gluten/dairy free products.  Most people I have talked with here look at me like I am from another planet when I mention gluten free.  One wonderful motel desk clerk knows his gluten free places and happily shared a great Chinese restaurant that had options for me.  I did order from there and it was quite delicious.  Quite by accident, I learned of a gluten free bakery that is close to me.  I would like to think I’ll stop by there today, but I’ll see how my morning goes.

So, if you have read this far, thank you for sticking with me.  This is probably the longest blog I have written.  Here’s a look at what I have been eating, what I purchased and what little bit of the city I have seen.  I plan on taking those two plastic containers you see in the picture that are filled mostly with a mix of greens and dividing them up evenly between the containers, adding some other veggies and some deli meat chunks for salad meals.  I was pretty impressed with myself for even coming up with this solution to decent meals.  I take delight in the little things.  It’s all I’ve got right now.

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salad greens, veggies & left over imperial chicken from chinese food place made a fantastic to go salad!

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My bag I used to haul my supplements doubles as a great lunch bag! It’s insulated & that small metal container has ice in it to keep my salad cool! Ingenious!

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Harmon’s carries some of my kind of foods!

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says it right here!

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IMG_2526 My homemade sunbutter crunch. Perfect morning food with the almond milk I purchased.

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Here’s the food I purchased!

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My daily walk to anywhere was on this street

 

 

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city creek mall actually has a real creek and real greenery

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Temple Square

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Hello From Wyoming!

Here I am in Evanston, WY, which appears to be the betting capitol of of the Mountain States. There is betting in every form from keno to horse racing to greyhounds to rodeos.  I have been here since last night due to a botched home town auto repair job that resulted in my car having issues while on my travels and eventually breaking down completely right at the highway off ramp of this tiny cowboy town. The only auto service shop in town does not have the right machinery to repair my car so it will need to go Salt Lake City, UT which is about 80 miles away. I am so grateful to AAA right now. Me and my car will be towed in the morning where I will likely stay through Monday while my car gets repaired.
This is certainly not the road trip I envisioned. In fact, most of this trip so far has been challenging and not so much fun for me. I battled with myself to even blog about these obstacles that have created way more stress than I have cared for.  I would say that I almost feel embarrassed that this long dreamed journey has been what feels to me like a complete bust.  I don’t really know what I expected, but I didn’t anticipate car troubles that would keep me from moving along for days or the expense involved in repairs.
I suppose this experience now becomes part of my journey. I have been intrigued by small town America where there is most definitely no gluten free or dairy free options. I guess I can say I am also grateful for my meticulous food planning and preparations because even though I have had cooling issues with my food and have had to toss a few things for safety sake, I still have quite a stock of food. The motels where I have stayed have had refrigerators and microwaves so in that regard, it has worked well for me. I am, however, desperately low on fresh produce and that led me to the motel’s salad bar that I was excited for until I viewed my options. There was iceberg lettuce, not even spinach! along with about 5 other things that I could eat. Thankfully there was a dressing available so although it was far from my ideal salad, I have to give credit to the freshness. That salad was crisp and satisfied my need for fresh veggies. Even though I love my home made food, after days of travelling, it’s fresh factor is dwindling.
I understand that Salt Lake City is relatively large and will likely have grocery store options for me. I guess I will find out tomorrow. For now, I will be heading down the road to enjoy the evening fireworks, which I hear are pretty great. Have safe and happy celebrations if that is what you do on this day.

Here’s a couple of my road trip foods I ate today!

Enjoy!

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Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding

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pizza made with basil/artichoke pesto, roasted radishes, swiss chard, artichoke hearts, chicken breast pieces and a sprinkle of basil.

The Journey Begins

The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of preparations and incredible anxiety as I loaded up my car and headed out of Oregon on my adventure across the country.

I have anxiously awaited this trip for so long and dreamed about it for even longer.  Now it is here; my road trip across middle America has begun!  Gluten Free/Dairy Free Across America  {http://wp.me/p4cJfr-ph}  is my blog that highlights my trip.  I had intentions to blog my beginnings yesterday morning before I hit the road, however anxiety and my overwhelmed state of mind made it pretty impossible to accomplish anything other than getting ready to leave and even that was incredibly difficult!

I had a few stress related glitches and there were a few moments when fear paralyzed me from going further.  I left home a lot later than I had anticipated, forgot a few things in my haste, most importantly-all my maps and travel books!  Yeah, that was cause for severe panic.  Feeling very disoriented and after some brief encouraging words from my sweetie, I decided to continue on and pick up maps along the way.  My first night was near Ontario, OR at a very peaceful campground.  I met a super neat guy who had the same vehicle as me.  He gave me some sound wisdom on how to baby my engine over the steep mountain roads so I won’t have overheating issues.  He also was kind enough to show me some maps so I had an idea of what I was going toward.  He even highlighted some choice spots to check out beautiful sights.  And so it begins….

I am currently enjoying a little air conditioning in a Whole Foods Market in Boise, ID.  I needed some time to orient myself and this store feels familiar, so here I sit.  I also need to be available for a phone appointment so I’ll hang out and find my center again.

I am sure there are plenty of options for my kind of eating since this is a Whole Foods Market, but I am plenty stocked with food at the moment.  I am not impressed with my 12 Volt cooler, but I may have it over full.  It is just too warm to have mediocre cooler temperatures so I have decided to purchase an insulated cooler for food safety (and my health!) sake.

Here’s a few pics of some yummy road trip food that I have enjoyed so far.  I promise recipes later!  It’s all in the car right now!  So far, I am happy with my road trip food choices. Now, I must seek out some additional cooling before it all goes bad!  More to come as I journey along!

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Gluten Free/Dairy Free Across America-GoFundMe

Hi there!  My name is Cathy and I am embarking on a road trip journey across middle America. This is an eight year dream coming to actualization this summer as I venture from Oregon to North Carolina seeking out and identifying the best gluten free & dairy free food finds in each state I travel through.

I am here today in celebration of the opportunity to finally make my road trip a reality.  I am fortunate that I have summer time off from my job, making it possible to fulfill this dream. The untimely death of my mom just six months ago has made me realize there is no time like the present. The time is now for this long dreamed adventure.  This trip is a personal challenge; a vision quest, you might say. Recent trying times have caused me to take pause and attempt to find meaning in these profound life changes.  This trip will help me re-discover my strength and find the courage to go deeper in my own growth to find the sacred in my loss.  This trip is about connection.  I look forward to bridging the gap between cultures and people with the one common bond familiar to us all.  Food.  There is always a story tied to food.  I want to tell these stories.

I created this as a way “share the ride”.  Not everyone can jump in the car to join me.  By blogging about my journey you will be a partner in my travels.  However, you can take part! Make comments on my facebook, twitter and blog posts!  I want to interact with familar people as I adventure into the unfamiliar.   I am humbly asking my community for support-if you are moved by stories I’ve shared here or if you know someone who could benefit from my recipes, please share this post and my blog information.  If what I am doing has inspired you in any way, please consider a “pay it forward” contribution to my trip expenses on this GoFundMe campaign.  http://www.gofundme.com/wwwgofundmecomFoodRad
In return, I will do my best to provide detailed information on local eating establishments and grocers who offer special diet foods!  I’ll gladly share food traditions along with their cultural similaries and differences.  There is always a story tied to food.
Thank you to those special people in my life who love me and offer me unconditional encouragement and support in starting this page to help me fufill my dream.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you!
Namaste,
Cathy