Leavin' Montana + USA Road Trip with Lessons Learned (Peaceful yet Sad)
Story of an 11-week, 14,000 mile road trip across USA that peaks in Montana where a man dies.

Solution

Background:
Using my personal journal as a guide, this approach combines classic face-to-face storytelling with digital online media during the course of one short poem told through various media: my personal print journal, photographs, short videos, the posts on my facebook page, and my youtube account.

[NOTE: Updates I've made through edits include adding the text of my first journal entry, a comment about possible ways to implement this idea, and the text of the poem "Leavin Montana" that I refer to in my description. I took "story spark" out of the title because this is a complete idea with both the story and the cross-media application. The intented audience is, for one, people who love travel, and for another, people that love true stories about life's important lessons. I also think educators would get a lot of use out of this story, as the trip was very educational and the story has morals.]

The trip I took across the USA was just me and my 3-legged dog. We learned a lot of lessons about life that transcend all current media. With my laptop and digital camera, and all my friends at home kept track of my trip through Facebook. One of my videos from the trip has about 30,000 views right now , and the URL for all our videos is at www.youtube.com/schoolaintsobad. A couple hundred people followed my trip on facebook, and that  adds a whole new dimension to the story-telling, as their comments and posts become a part of my story because they influenced my trip while I was on it.

I also kept a handwritten journal of my trip, and the lessons I learned regarded trust, serendipity, and being open to kindness. The trip led us through the mid-West; into the Rockies; out through the CA, OR, and WA coasts; back through the Rockies; into Montana; and then into Yellowstone. I then left Montana and went basically straight back to my home in Pennsylvania. I picked up two trainhoppers on the way back. That's a story in and of itself!

My idea boils down to this: I would like to integrate my journal, the videos that you see on youtube and the pictures that you can see on Facebook (just let me know or add my dog to see the pics: her name is Ada Compton). There is a wealth of media just in these few places-- they bring my oral stories to life... as we all know you have to transcend media in order to get the "full effect" of anyone's story!

[SEE Coment Section below to see what "product" could be made from my idea and how these media items could be "melded" together into one package for both coffee tables, digital libraries, and live audiences. ALSO in comments section now are excerpts from my journal.]

The thesis of the story is this: Trust and openness to the common good can lead you to experience serendipity. It is good to receive kindness and to try and help your brother as much as you can

A bit of plot... Sometimes I wonder where there is Love, and why is life so fleeting. My father had a major heart surgery a few years ago at Christmas time, and we almost lost him. When I was on my roadtrip this summer, I got a bit lost in Yellowstone late at night-- so I pulled into a gas station to turn around. When I got out of the car, a woman was yelling, "HELP ME! My husband is having a heart attack!"
The next hour was spent--me and another man, along with a Ranger and a couple other people-- trying to save this man's life. I've never felt so hopeless. I've never felt so useless. I could not stop thinking about my father and his heart attack. My father is doing well today.
The story of this roadtrip ends a bit differently. Sadly, but with a sense of peace because of the lessons I've learned. This story is told through the pictures and video I present, but there are no actual pictures of this man having a heart attack, of course.

The photos below are a few representative samples.
They tie the story of the man dying together,
with journal excerpts,
video,
and a poem.
So, the story is a bunch of stories-within-a-story --each is very short, but my trip covers a lot of ground. There are great stories at every stop on my journey, including one about a friend that ditched me at The Grand Canyon and turned out not to be such a friend anyway-- but, this story ends up with me making two new friends (serendipity!).

Here is the first entry of my journal (this is the text of the story), and there are 11 weeks worth of text. It is handwritten in a book, so I can't upload it so to speak. If the idea is sold , then the journal is the text that is sold and of course then I would transcribe it or it would be printed in my own handwriting - which is nice enough to read :) Each entry is short, because it is supplemented with photo, video, and various Internet must-have (example: google maps of the area being told about).

[day one entry]

01 June 2010
Tuesday
Keystone State Park
Pennsylvania

Today is the first day of my road trip and I am sitting here by the fire at a picnic table about four hours from home at Keystone State Park. It is about 30 miles east of Pittsburg.
I 've spent the past couple weeks in preparation mode, but have not mapped out a precise itinerary-- only a rough version of one. I'm glad-- because my original pit stop for tonight was near Ohiopyle, and I'm not too close to it :)
I am mainly trying to practice being present-- enjoying the moment rather than jumping ahead or wallowing behind.
There is hardly a soul at this campground beside me and Ada. It is nice, yet eerie, Mom asked me before I left it I was scared. I said "no" and it is true, but I still appreciated her prayer for safety and her tears of love. Dad was not nearly as emotional outwardly, and I appreciated that, too.

[end of day one entry]

******

Here are two more excerpts from early in my trip, one week into my journey (around 1000 miles from my home in Pennsylvania), I had stopped on the east border of Kansas to see my friend Gabe for a couple days before moving on.

 

[Sunday, 06 June 2010]

[Kansas City, KS]

 

My last day in Kansas City went by quite fast, actually. I mostly tried out different routes to El Paso on the Internet. Originally, I was going to cut diagonally across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to get to Kristen and Jimi�s place in El Paso, but Gabe mentioned how I would be able to see Pike�s Peak in Colorado in about 600 miles if I traveled due West across Kansas. So, then I mapped out that route. Other than that, my dog Ada and I played with Gabe�s dogs Cal and Abby all day.

Gabe got back from his class at about 5, and we sat and chatted for awhile and then went to a Japanese hibachi restaurant. Gabe has told me more about his life and family in these few days than he did the entire time we spent together in Washington. We were talking about Lori, and then she called�it was really bizarre!

When we got back from dinner the dogs were really wound up. Gabe and I looked at my Hawaii photos and videos. I am glad I am coming back through this way and that I get to see Gabe again on the way home.

 

[Monday, 07 June 2010]

[Colorado State Park]

 

I could have never imagined today. I started out thinking I was just going to stop in Kansas somewhere, but ended up driving all the way through Kansas, past Colorado Springs, to near Pike�s Peak. When I said goodbye to Gabe this morning, I would not have guessed I would go this far. As I sit here at the campsite I finally found, there are coyotes howling all around me and Ada is attentively standing on guard. They are really close!

As I drove today, I decided I would call Lynette, but then I was not happy that she did. I knew she had moved here from Pennsylvania, and she had said once when she was home that I should stop by and visit her if I were ever in Colorado. I thought she would be really welcoming, but she was rather the other way around, almost like, �Why did I call?� Oh well! I scratched the plan to see her and I am more than happy to say that I�ll be driving up Pike�s Peak tomorrow morning.

My goal wasn�t Pike�s Peak, but rather just to get close to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Hopefully, I will backpack in there and spend a couple days there with Ada. I think I can do that because pets can go on most National Park land.

I cried when I saw the mountains rise up on the horizon while driving West today. It seems I always cry when I see the mountains. I instantly feel like this is a home where I�ve never lived, and it reminds me of that Soul Asylum song where they say, �Homesick for a place I�ve never been.�


******

The Poem "Leavin' Montana" (by me) reads as follows:

Leavin Montana
Funny the things
that make a man
cry. Leavin Montana
with tears in my eye.

Been 10,000 miles,
seen all the rest,
& already homesick
for the Glory
of the West.

Montana made me
a patriot.
Montana made me
break a bit.

Funny the things
that make a man
die. Leavin Montana
and wonderin why.

[end of poem]