The Impact of 12

How much of an IMPACT can you make in 12 Months on the road?


The Beginning

Books for America strives to put the power of reading in the hands of everyone

“Have you ever volunteered with us in the past? Have you ever worked in a library before? Shelved books before?” – Dennis

“No…no…no.” – Me

“Are you familiar with how the system works?” – Dennis (face showing he is getting a little concerned)

“I have read a few books and been in a library before…” – Me (sarcastic smile that drew a laugh)

How hard could it be? You pick up the book and put it in the right place. Those were my thoughts going into shelving books with Books for America. Books for America is a non-profit organization that donates new and used books and other forms of educational media to disadvantaged organizations and schools. They have now awarded grants of 1 million books to schools, shelters, and many other educational programs and organizations. I was working Continue reading “Books for America strives to put the power of reading in the hands of everyone”

12 pics that attempt to sum up the first road trip…

My first road trip from St. Louis to Orlando took me almost 1,500 miles through 6 states over 4 days and 3 nights. I have already seen a roommate from undergrad and two from Grad School. Needless to say, I got off to a FAST start. The goal of all the miles of course was to outrun the snow. I did outrun it (sort of…more to come on that later). Although the Orlando crowd has been a little disappointed in the recent “cold” front, I can happily say this is much warmer than where I was just a little over a week ago.

Let me get back on track though. As I considered the best ways to sum up my first road trip, it took me some time to decide. I certainly learned a lot on this first trip. Most importantly that I am not a bad solo road tripper (certainly not something that is for everybody), but it was also good to drive the last segment with a good friend. I was actually wishing there was more daylight to explore on the longest segment of my ride. There were a few oversights along the way…purchasing a CD more recently than 2008 may have been a good idea. I was reminded of those 12 months that I was actually semi into music…hello Toby Keith, Akon, James Blunt. My spontaneity also led me to a road closure, so I will have to visit the Trail of Tears museum another time. All in all it was a good trip and the best way to sum it up is to show you 12 pictures from the road…

I don’t know how it did, but everything fit in the Sentra. You can even see through the windows out the other side.
Didn’t quite make it to the Trail of Tears Museum.
This may be the rockiest road I travel on all year. The “gravel” was the size of baseballs.
Flood waters were seen far too often in MO. This picture from a town just outside of Portageville where I stayed for the first night of my journey.
A lot to see in Memphis where I stopped for a few hours. This was the site of MLK’s assassination.
I’ve have spent many a days at the Cardinal’s major league stadium as well as the AA stadium in Springfield, so it was good to see the home of the AAA club.
Hopped off of 55 for awhile to drive the two lane roads. Well worth the extra time it added.
Real nice spot to eat in Jackson, MS. This was the view from the table.
Landed in Bay Minette for the second hometown of a roomate on the trip.
brent beach
So I cheated a little since this is 2 photos, but the before and after water shots were too good to leave out.
The view from the passenger seat on the last segment of the journey, when I actually got to be the passenger for awhile.
Landing in Orlando of course meant heading to Disney World immediately. Although this was the next morning, it was the perfect cap on an exciting road trip.

The 12 “Bubble” Items

Packing your life for a year in to a Nissan Sentra is not the easiest thing to do. You have to be very selective about what you can and cannot bring. I have always packed light for road trips and was known for carrying around just my little yellow bag. This trip would be a little different as I had to pack for multiple seasons and many destinations. Not making it in the car no longer meant it wouldn’t see use for a weekend or a week. It now meant this was something I didn’t need for 6 months (on my 12 month journey I plan to travel through St. Louis in June where the rest of my things that didn’t fit in the Sentra will reside).

As I thought about my selections, I could compare it to only one thing…Selection Sunday. Each decision seemed tougher than the one before, but just like the selection committee for the NCAA tournament, I slowly made decisions on which items would make it IN the Sentra. I left on a Saturday, so mine was “Selection Saturday.” Below are the 12 “bubble” items. If you don’t follow college basketball, they are the items just on the brink of making it. If you want to see how well you know me, try to determine which 6 items from the list made it on the trip.

HINT: I included 2 items on the list that I simply forgot to bring. True oversights by the committee.

The 12 Bubble Items

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Stripey (20 year old cat)
  • Bike
  • Golf Clubs
  • Fan
  • Disney Tickets
  • Oatmeal Bowl
  • Tent
  • Extra Set Of Car Keys
  • Suit/Jacket
  • Extra Keyboard

Which 6 do you think made it IN the Sentra??


My Sentra just looks built for this…it will certainly be tested this year.


Golf Clubs – NO chance the committee was going to leave this essential item on the outside looking in. It was one of the first things in my car not just because it was the biggest, but because I knew I’d skimp on some clothes to get the golf clubs in there.

Bike – Although large in size, I knew I could put this on the back of the Sentra, so it didn’t take up any of the all too valuable inside space.


Football – It’s been up and down over the years, but can be played with almost anybody which was important criteria for the selection committee.

Oatmeal Bowl – Consistency is key. The committee saw no bad losses on the schedule. Although most places with a microwave also have a microwave safe bowl, this is the one I use every morning and got added at the last minute. (NOTE: It has already been used).

Tent – Ultimately, the opportunity is there for an adventure with this item making the trip. Committee just couldn’t overlook the possibilities. (NOTE: Mine doesn’t quite look like this…)


Extra Keyboard – This was the one the committee got wrong. Not necessary and hadn’t been used in the last 6 months. If they looked back, they would reverse this decision.


Suit/Jacket – I battled with this one for days. There will certainly be opportunities to wear a suit or a jacket and there may be nights where the committee regrets their decision, but it ultimately didn’t fit the mantra of the trip.

Basketball – This certainly could have found its way into the Sentra. It was in hand multiple times, but the decision came down that a hoop was also needed to play basketball and where one found a hoop they often also found a ball.

Stripey (the 20 year old cat) – This was easily the most talked about item. Never really an option, but had to list due to the serious talk it received from those on the committee.


Fan – This seemed like an excellent option. A small fan that could help control climate regardless the different situations I found myself sleeping in and a cordless one would have worked well for camping. Unlike the NCAA tournament, items can be added later and this is an item that could work its way in eventually.


Extra Set of Car Keys – This was truly an oversight. Although often forgotten throughout the year, the extra set of car keys can be known to have some very big victories over tough opponents.

Disney Tickets – If you didn’t know (I didn’t until 3 weeks ago), Disney tickets used to NEVER expire (way back in the day). We have some from a trip when I was 11 that still have one day left. I intended to bring them for use during my first stop in Orlando, but they never made it in the Sentra.


Did you correctly identify all 6 items that I brought?

6 – THANKS for still reading Mom and Dad! 😉

4-5 – Impressive.

3 – Mediocre.

1-2 – Not Good.

0 – So….you thought I brought the 20 year old cat with me?!?

12 Rules of the Road

The journey starts today. That means my first road trip is about to be underway. After a few stops, I will be in Orlando by Tuesday. Those all rhymed and it was entirely on purpose. Expect it to happen often. This was sarcasm….expect it early and often if you follow along with my travels. I will have numerous road trips ahead of me, so I decided to come up with some “Rules of the Road” to guide my travels.

My 12 Rules of the Roadroad-rules

  1. What can Brown do for Me. Straight from the DMV: “Brown traffic signs reference local recreation areas or scenic points of interest.” Scenic points of interest are certainly things I want to visit on my journey…at least one visit on each segment.
  2. Ask and Eat. I will ask the first local their favorite place to eat in the city/town and eat there. Simple….hopefully.
  3. Phone a Friend. At least once on each trip.
  4. The Impact of 12 Over. This may be the one impact of 12 I will elect not to explore on my journey.
  5. No Fast Food. It’s about the journey right? I will be in no hurry. I have to make a few exceptions here though. Obviously if the local recommends it that overrides it. If the local says their McDonald’s has the best fries in the country…I can’t contradict them until I’ve tried those fries. This is also simply for driving time. Once I am in the city all bets are off.
  6. Read. If you read a book without ever actually reading…did you really read the book? On each segment I will “read” at least one chapter in an audio book.
  7. 12 Miles. Share with someone the story in hopes of raising more money for the charity I am supporting at that time. If you haven’t heard the 12 miles story….go here (after you read the last 5 obviously)!
  8. An Apple a Road trip… The saying goes something like that. One piece of fruit on each segment.fiber-apple1
  9. Map Ahead. At least take a look at my road trip book to see what points of interest they recommend beforehand…in case picking a random brown sign isn’t hitting all the highpoints.
  10. Rock Away. If there is a sign for the world’s largest rocking chair or largest anything, you can bet I’m stopping.
  11. Windows Down. If you don’t breathe in some of the air from a state, can you really say you were there?
  12. Open Road. You don’t expect me to have all 12 rules before I even start the journey? Once I hit the open road, I will add a rule for each segment. All suggestions welcome.

Although the rules seem hard and fast, the real goal is to enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. Each segment of my trip across America should be just as enjoyable as the city I land in for a month.

Making an Impact

In May 2015, I started working from home as I finished up grad school. This gave me the opportunity to work from home and live anywhere. Originally from St. Louis, going back home for the first 7 months was an easy choice and was both fun and relaxing. That being said, the opportunity to work from anywhere certainly doesn’t come often and this was something to take advantage of before the opportunity escaped.

Not too long after starting the job, I started joking with friends about moving around the country for the year. Certainly this wasn’t a feasible idea…or was it? As the days piled up and the options were weighed, it became obvious that traveling around the country was certainly a possibility. What had started as a playful idea that was fun to joke about, became more than an idea as the snowball started to roll down the hill.

Soon, enough people had heard about the idea and encouraged me to go through with it that it became a reality. I started to consider how to shape the journey and where I could visit during my year on the road. To provide some structure I decided on 12 cities in 12 months. This would become the early tagline for my journey. One month was long enough to land in a city and see all the sights before moving on to the next city.

As my plans developed some meat to them, I noticed how quickly this resonated with those around me. The tagline was sticking with people and it was a powerful message. Each time I talked to someone new about the idea, they were engaged from start to finish. There was an opportunity here to do more than just travel around the country. Seeing 12 different cities would be an unbelievable experience, but there was an opportunity to do something much bigger here. There was an opportunity to MAKE AN IMPACT on not just my own life, but others as well.

Over the course of the year, my journey will be impacted by the incredible generosity of others. This became obvious as my plans started to fall into place. Blessed to have friends and family willing to open up their homes to me and share their couches/extra bedrooms, my journey will be helped immensely by their generosity. The impact of these 12 months must be passed along to others, especially those not fortunate enough to have couches and beds to crash on across the country.

Over the next 12 months, I hope to make an impact through the power of 12. This site will certainly chronicle my journey and pass along stories from each corner of the country, but more importantly it will be about the 12 hours I spend in each city helping those in need and the $1.00 I will donate for every 12 miles I travel to a charity each month. I encourage you to read about the causes and peruse the stories, but also consider joining the push and making a pledge to MAKE AN IMPACT.

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