By Verlie Edwards

How do you approach a road trip? With excitement, planning and a willingness to “go with the flow.” Really, all you need is a great friend and a full tank of gas!

Last summer my best friend, Leanne Ivey, and I embarked on a cross country driving adventure that began in Fort Worth, Texas went to Washington, D.C. and then to the Florida Gulf Coast before returning to Fort Worth. Oh, the stops between all these cities were as much fun as the major cities we visited.

I’ve been asked how did you pass the time – sing songs, tell stories, what? We went retro – just like when we were children. We tracked license plates, watched the clouds to see what shapes they could make and enjoyed the scenery. We also shopped and enjoyed new restaurants at each and every stop!

Lunch at The Trump Hotel in our nation’s capitol was amazing. They have done an extraordinary job of blending the old architecture (it was the former U.S. Post Office) with the new. A beautiful setting for an outstanding meal. In West Virginia we shopped at an Amish craft shop, watched hot glass blown into beautiful pieces of artwork … “picked” at Antique Archeology in Nashville…ate yummy home cooking at Lady and Sons (Paula Deen’s restaurant) in Savannah and sipped summer libations on Pensacola Beach at Margaritaville Hotel. Great memories!

One thing we both realized is that we love the wide open spaces of Texas! As we traveled through Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky the majestic trees were beautiful, but the extremely high trees on both sides of the road were visible for as far as you could see day after day after day. We missed our Texas sky. We now understand why people who move to Texas often ask “where are the trees?” Fort Worth has so many more trees than other parts of our state, we never understood the question. Now we do. I love our trees, but I also love our expansive sky.

The clouds were amazing. From fluffy, growing pillows to dark, angry storm clouds, we experienced everything. We saw images of dogs and fish floating across the sky and around the next corner the dark threatening clouds brought pounding rain that hampered our ability to see the cars ahead. Then a rainbow appeared and all was good again. Mother Nature showed her creativity. On the way home, we finally broke through the trees and the Lone Star state’s beautiful painted sky of orange, purple, yellow and blue emerged.  We agreed that a power higher than us was responsible for these breathtaking views.

My traveling partner had been to many of the cities we visited, but I had not. She made sure I experienced the beauty and fun of each location. It’s impossible to express how grateful I am to have a friend that shared these experiences with me. And, we found several places we want to revisit. Opportunities for more shopping, touring, eating, shopping and exploring await us.

We traveled over 3,000 miles, visited 14 states, counted license plates from 44 states, District of Columbia, two provinces in Canada and Mexico. This was truly a vacation to remember.

My bags are packed and I’m ready for the next adventure.

Let your curiosity and sense of adventure allow you to do what we did — fly forward and explore new worlds!

Verlie McAlister Edwards was raised in Abilene, Texas and it’s there that she realized her love for writing. She enjoyed a special high school English teacher who happened to be the school’s newspaper sponsor. In order to take another class under her, Verlie signed up for journalism and the journey began. Unlike many students, she never changed her college major – she was always focused on journalism as a career. She graduated from the University of North Texas (UNT) with a degree in journalism and political science.

After graduation she returned to her hometown and worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News covering the local education scene from the students’ perspective. Following a year of graduate work at UNT she moved to Fort Worth where a career in public relations and political affairs flourished. She always wanted to work in academic PR and achieved that goal early in her career at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

After many years providing public relations consultation to the osteopathic profession and serving as the communications director/special events fundraiser for Lena Pope Home (a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected youth) she joined the staff of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors (GFWAR) as the communications and governmental affairs director. It’s here that she found her calling and further developed her skills in the political arena.

After 11 years in that position she took her writing, political and organizational skills to serve as chief of staff for Texas State Representative Rob Orr, a past president of the GFWAR. She remained on Rep. Orr’s staff throughout his 10 years as an elected official and then served as District Director for his successor, Representative DeWayne Burns, during his first legislative session. At that time she retired from the Texas Legislature and began working part-time as curator for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams’ personal museum.

Verlie is excited to use her writing skills to help the Iron Butterflies Project as both a writer and Vice President and Editor-In-Chief.

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