Beautiful San Fran

As a Cleveland Cavs fan (well more Lebron James fan) we were worried that William would not like the “Golden Gate” city.  But one can’t help but admire the views of the bridge that can be seen from various different vantage points.
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On our way into the city, the fog was crazy.  You could see it literally moving down the hill and over the bridge.  It was fantastic and the pictures just don’t do it justice.

Mackenzie is getting pretty spoiled as we drove another 47 miles to go get her another American Girl shirt.  These CA stores sure don’t spare any expense in setting up a store.  It is easy for them to fund as most store charge .10 for a bag, which we found kinda humorous.
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Coming from Vegas, Arizona, and Southern Cal, we were loking forward to the temperature drop but not sure if we were ready for the first day here.  It was cold enough to see the exhaust from vehicles in front of us but we loved it.  Even the kids didn’t mind it.  Surprisingly, they only asked to go to the pool once.
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Like most big cities, Kelly does a great job finding a historic house and though they had painted it, it was still neat to see the “Full House” house.
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We walked around the Fisherman’s Wharf, listening to the sounds and smelling the aroma of the bay.  Couldn’t do so for long at $5.25/hr to park but it was worth it.  It was neat seeing so many different walks of life in one small section. 
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The kids got try In-N-Out and loved the hamburgers.  It was like a madhouse in there…people crammed in and the cashiers yelling over each other to get the next order.
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Being in this city in particular, the morning of the first Pride parade after the recent ruling, reminds us that we are foreigners in this land.  We are called be light and salt to our nation.  When Christ was asked, what are the greatest commandments, he responded by saying that the law is summed up in these two: Love God will all your heart, mind, body, and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  The recent ruling does not change our charge from the Lord.  The command that we stand on is to love.  No matter how we feel about different lifestyles, we will love because He first loved us.
#48statesover48dates #thomas6travels

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I Pulled Up to the House about 7 or 8…

You should have seen the kids’ face and heard their squeals when we told them to be ready with their cameras, just in case they saw a celebrity.  Although we are sure it will be something different next week, Mackenzie says that she wants to be a member of the paparazzi, ha! They did see one…some guy named Joey from Liv and Maddie! I don’t think we’ve ever seen them so giddy!

Our first night in LA we went to eat at Bob’s Big Boy to try the original double-decker sandwich, however, we were not greeted or even acknowledged for ten minutes after we sat down at the booth… so we walked out.  But we still got some good pictures.
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The kids had been begging for ice cream so we took them to Fosters Freeze. It was so good that we went back the next day too.
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One thing we would not be able to get used to in the city is the traffic.  Traffic during morning rush hour, on the way home after work, during the middle of day when everyone should be at work, and traffic just because.  It was crazy to look at the GPS and it say it would take 58 minutes to go 18 miles.
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But the sights we got to see made up for it.  As loves of old TV shows and classic movies there were few locations that were mandatory stops…

The Brady Bunch House
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The Father of the Bride House
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The Fresh Prince of Bel Air House
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We also went up to see the Hollywood sign. The girls were practically jumping out of their seats as we drove up to it!
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The people who live on the street sure didn’t like us and others stopping on the road to take the picture and let us know it by their continual honking of their horns.  It was funny to us though.  Speaking of honking horns..don’t be a millisecond late at going at the green light because you will hear it!

Walking down Hollywood Blvd for the first time is quite an experience. 
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Between the rappers, superheroes,
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and Disney princesses
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we were still able to find the star on the Walk of Fame that meant the most to Kelly.
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Mackenzie continued adding to her American Girl collection by getting another shirt at the huge LA American Girl store at The Grove.
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The drought here in CA has been pretty intense and while driving we saw the beginnings of a brush fire that took all night to get under control.  Even the next morning you could see the smoldering still in the sky. Please join us as we pray for the families that were displaced because of this.
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We took a trip to the historic and famous Randy’s Donuts where they make the best honey and wheat donuts. 
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We happened to run into an awesome couple from NJ who have invited us to give them a call when we get up that way. 
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This stop was on our way to see the hospital that William was born at.  He left California when he was little so he never had the chance to actually see it before now.
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You can’t go to LA without hitting a beach for a few hours.  We took the kids to sunny Venice Beach.  As usual, Mackenzie made a friend in the water.  It was neat seeing her venture further out on her boogie board and riding the waves in.
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We placed our hashtag on the back of the RV on the ride out of LA (#thomas6travels) and can’t wait to see how many others join us on our journey.
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In the next few days we start heading up into the coast and back across the northwest.  Please be praying for us to continue to be intentional with our conversations with others.

#thomas6travels #48in48 #48statesover48dates

Back where it all started…

If you are reading this from Georgia, or for that fact, anywhere other than from Nevada or Arizona, you cannot possibly grasp how hot it is here. It hit 112 degrees on the dash of the truck and the locals said it was 114.  It was so hot that we did not even want to go to the pool until the sun had already began its downward climb.

The pool offered a bit of a sanctuary for us while we were in the shade, but the kids couldn’t have cared less.  We don’t understand how kids do not have a gauge of how hot it is when they are having fun but we are glad that they enjoyed it.
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We had the conversation with the kids about what to expect on the Vegas Strip, but due to the intense heat, we had an excuse not to go out and walk around.  But in the morning we decided to drive through on the way to CA and the kids, especially Macey, could not understand how it could be open 24 hours a day.  She could not get that the stores never close.
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The Welcome Sign to CA came up on us pretty quickly.  Guess we were looking for a more spectacular sign… It was, however, the first state picture in two states where everyone got out for the pic.
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Gig-up is a HUGE Cars fan.  His favorite line the past few days has been, “I ain’t no Mac…I’m a frito Mac (which is supposed to be “Peterbilt” but he doesn’t know the exact word yet).”  So it only made sense that we stopped at the Wigwam Hotel (Cozy Cones Motel in the movie).  We had to stop in the middle of a turning lane and run across the street since it was not big enough to pull the RV in.  He loved that.
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Getting into CA took us back down memory lane.  It was 14 years ago that this whole Thomas family started.  We took the kids back to the first apartment we had together.  It was a converted motel from 1959, 288 sq ft (yeah 14 x 12 was the whole apartment size), $650/mo, and it was where we began: Apt # 11.  The manager who moved us in was still working there.  She was nice enough to allow us to show the kids the inside of the apartment so they could have a grasp of how little it was and compare it to their bedrooms now.
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We showed them the hill we had to walk up to get to our grocery store, Vons. 
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Our favorite Vons location near my old Navy base was converted into a Ralph’s as they had moved to a bigger location.  We had to have the chicken tenders and wedges that we had many a times while we lived there. 
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Perhaps the most vivid of memories of Vons is standing in line at 9pm on payday night (it was 12am midnight EST) waiting for the money to be deposited so we could buy groceries.  We would stand in line calling the bank every few minutes until we could actually start ringing up.  Brings a smile to our faces just thinking about those times.

WIlliam is not the biggest fan of bridges but the kids loved going over the Coronado Bay bridge. 
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It didn’t feel like a roller coaster but the kids rode over it with their hands up in the air.  Maybe we have done a good job with letting the kids experience things, but WIlliam remembers that the beach in San Diego was the first time he saw the ocean in person and he was speechless as a 18 year old kid. 
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But the kids just looked at the water and instead wanted to climb on the rocks.  It makes us joyful to know our kids have had some of the experiences early on in their lives that we didn’t have at times.
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The Old Time Trolley was our primary mode of transportation when we lived there, since we did not have a car for a while out in CA and it gave us time away from our small apartment.  Not sure what all we talked about on our rides together or why we enjoyed it so much, but we still are the same now: always together and always laughing. 
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We rode the trolley down to the Gaslamp District and walked to Horton Plaza, the outdoor mall with 7 stories, which would have been amazing to the kids if the outlets in Woodstock hadn’t been outdoors.  It was unbelievable for us 14 years ago and it was surreal being back there.
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The ride back was interesting…had a lady stare at us pretty much until she got off, another guy kept busting out in the worst runs and falsetto singing that may have possibly been ever sung, and there was a baby, who although cute, was way too loud to be that close to.  But, all of it made for a sweet trip back down memory lane. And, it put Gigup right to sleep!
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Can’t believe we are back where we started.  Grateful to God for His hand of protection getting us this far and keeping our marriage so we can share this with our children.

#thomas6travels #48statesover48dates #48in48

The GRAND Canyon

If you have got up early to see the sunrise, you have caught a glimpse of the beauty God has created.  We could not stop admiring the handiwork of God.  The rock formation in the middle of nowhere, the bright green bush standing in the midst of a parched desert, and the snow capped mountains still dotting the horizon… they all stand there proclaiming God’s goodness.  We are certain that the kids were getting tired of us snapping pictures.  Everytime we would ask them if they were seeing this they would respond, “All I see is rocks!” One day they’ll “get it”…
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Yesterday, Mackenzie celebrated her 10th birthday.  She has been talking about being 10 for years now. It was awesome to see the joy she had when a park ranger asked how old she was and she responded with a big smile: “10!”  10 is one of the ages that are a big deal in our familiy.  They get to have a crisp $100 bill in which they get to spend it on whatever they want. 
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It was neat watching Madison, who had this experience 2.5 years ago, get excited for Mackenzie. She bought a Samsung Galaxy tablet (with a little help from Daddy, of course).
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For her brithday, she asked if we could be at the Grand Canyon.  And, to be honest, we didn’t think that it would be such a big deal.  With the formations and landscape that we just drove through, what could possibly top that???
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Wow!  That’s all we could say.   The look that Kelly gave William, as we neared the edge to look over, spoke what words couldn’t say.  It was absolutely amazing.  Just imagining the hand of God pushing through the rock and winding down the way, as the waters receeded, is awesome to dwell upon.
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This trip has really opened our eyes and we are only 12 day and 11 nights in! We thank you for your continued prayers and joining us along the way.

#thomas6travels #48in48 #48statesover48dates

From 41 degrees to 104 degrees…within hours

HOT! HOT! HOT! With getting up so early to try and beat the heat in Utah, we did not have enough time to get a blog out in the morining, so we decided to combine the two.

Our plan was to leave from Colorado Springs and drive through Denver and on to Moab, UT in one day, but after looking on our trip plotter, we noticed that the mileage was a bit off. That said, we decided to look for an RV park about 15 miles to the west of Denver.

We made our first stop at Chick-fil-a on this trip.  After eating the amount of McDonald’s biscuits that we have, it made the meal fantastic to the taste.  With everyone satisfied and possessing a full stomach, we went across the street to the Denver American Girl store for Mackenzie to buy a city shirt for her AG dolls. She collects them when we go traveling and so far she has Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbus, and now Denver.
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Our next stop was to the world famous Hammond’s Candy Factory.  We were able to take a tour through the facilities and even got some free broken or over made candy.  The kids couldn’t help but to be jealous thinking that the workers could eat all the candy they wanted.
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At our stop for the night, we met a nice couple and their son from California.  They were full timers so we picked their brains about the best routes and best sites.  They confimed that all of the research that Kelly has done will pay off as they noted that the campsites we have reserved are all great ones. The son is in charge of the Sweeney Todd production in Bakersfield and offered us tickets, if we could make it there.

One guy we met was from Montreal, Quebec.  While WIlliam doesn’t remember a whole bunch of French, he had enough to have a simple conversation with him.  The man informed William that he was “unique”, so we assumed that he meant because he speaks some French and Spanish.  The guy went on to say that we are unique because in his many years of RVing, we are only the 2nd African American family that he has seen on a site.  It’s neat to know that we are doing something, as we have been told a few times, that many families like us don’t do often.
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The next morning we journeyed to Moab, UT requiring us to travel some serious mountain inclines.  We went up from an already high 7,800 ft to over 12,000 ft. It seemed like we just climbed and climbed for forever, although it was only an hour.  Although we were not fans of the stress we thought would be on the truck going up, we certainly were not prepared for the 4 mile-6% grade and the 6 mile-7% grade going down.
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We were not able to catch a picture of another sign but it sums up the gravity of the decline.  It read: “Don’t fool yourself truckers.”

Obviously, we made it over the mountains and the frigid 41 degree temps….
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…and right in to +90 degrees, as we got into Utah.  All of the kids except Mackenzie, of course, bailed on getting out for the picture.  They claimed it was too hot.
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Before the day was over, we would see 104 degrees and hearing that 110 was on the horizon.
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We took the kids to 7-eleven to have their first Slurpees! Needless to say, they liked them.
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We’re still all adjusting to the time difference, William woke up at 4:45 this morning and the sun was coming up! Not used to that part yet but we’re getting there! I’m sure when we get used to it, it’ll be time to head back east…

Please join us in praying for Charleston.
#thomas6travels #48statesover48dates

Over the Mountain and Through the Hills

God continues to show out on our trip!  We will tell you how in a bit.

Yesterday, we hit the 2000 mile marker and we hit our 9th and 10th states: New Mexico and Colorado.
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Leaving from Amarillo got us up early and took us across some beautiful country.  It is amazing that God has a name for each and every bush, blade of grass, and cloud, no matter how small they are.  We arrived in the state of New Mexico so early that all of the kids, except Mackenzie, were still fast asleep.

We decided to stop for gas, although we still had about 3/4 a tank left, since we were not sure how often we would see a gas station.  We met a retired Army vet who prepared us for the steep grades and high paths we would be climbing through.  He was concerned that we would either have some transmission issues going up or brake issues going down and gave us an alternate route.  So, of course, we began to pray that God would give us guidance as to which route to take before we arrived at the choice within the next 45 miles.

Don’t know about anyone else, but God chooses to always make things largely plain for us.  About 600 yards in front of us was a fifth wheel trailer that we hoped we could catch up close enough to and follow whatever route they took.  As we drove, it did not seem like we would ever catch up, but thankfully before this big climb, there was a rest area that we could stop at that they had pulled off at also.

Before we share the first thing God did, I will share the jist of the conversation we had with them.  We asked where he was headed and if he was taking what is called ‘Raton Pass’ up the steep mountain to get there. He was headed to Colorado Springs like us and he was taking the journey up that same mountain.  He said he was not worried about the climb and that we shouldn’t be either as our truck could carry much more than we were up that mountain.

Take a look at his RV:
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If you did not see what we see, let us explain.  We bought a Forest River RV as well.  This let us know that God had directed our attention to this camper specifically.  But where God went over the top was the name of the camper: Cedar Creek.  If you have ever written us a letter or visited our house, you would know that we live on Cedar Creek Way.  We were so sure that God had purposely placed these travelers in front of us as an answered prayer.  To God be the Praise!

Once we arrived in Colorado Springs, our site was right beside another Georgian.  No doubt, we (and that means William) had to start a conversation with them when they returned to their site.  Kelly noticed that they were from a small town, called Cave Springs, in north GA.  Once they arrived, the first question we asked was if they knew friends of ours that lived there, S. and L. Watson.  Not only did they know them, it was their sister and brother-in-law. Hello! Can you say, “small world”?!?  It’s amazing how God will bring you through a mountain and then send you confirmation that He kept you when you got over it.
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We took the kids to Garden of the Gods and they talked us in to going on a hike. There’s not really much I can say about how spectacular it was… words cannot describe it.
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For dinner, our good friends and William’s mentor Chuck and Sandy drove out to come eat dinner with us.  What a time of fellowship and encouragement it was to spend time with them.  It has seemed like forever since we were around someone we know so it was really nice to have a meal with them.
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Thank you for continuing to pray for us! Colorado was a concern for us when it comes to pulling the RV through the mountains. #THOMAS6TRAVELS #48STATESOVER48DATES

What A Day!

It seems like the only song that comes to mind is the lyrics to the musical, Oklahoma! while driving through the state. But for the kids, it was “get your kicks on Route 66”! Can’t tell you how many times we heard that…

We got our first taste of back roads on Old Route 66. Fitting with the road, we made a visit to one of the 2 Route 66 museums, where we took a decade by decade tour of the history of the road.
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It was neat to see the pride of the original store owners, in spite of the larger highways that caused visitors to bypass their cities. (We know all about this, thanks to Gigup and the many hours that we’ve watched the movie, Cars!)
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Of course, we had to leave our mark 🙂
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When we stopped to get gas, we met a nice family from Valdosta GA, traveling to Colorado Springs. Anyone with a GA tag, William is going to make a way to talk to them 🙂
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At the entrance to Texas, they caught up to us and gave a friendly honk, which seemed to imply, “safe travels, good to meet you”. This only seemed right as the motto of the state is “Drive Friendly”!
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Our first stop in Texas was a great representation of the state of Texas: a huge cross! The lady in the gift shop said that the cross is 60 stories high, which seemed heard to believe until we looked at this picture of the kids, standing next to it.
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It was exhilarating to see our kids looking at the statues, around the cross, and to see them have a good understanding of what it all meant. Even, Gigup said that “God died on the cross” 🙂 We knew he meant Jesus but it made us all smile!
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The drive through Texas was relatively short considering that we drove through the top. So, it was shocking to meet another Georgian so quickly at the acclaimed Cadillac Ranch.
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Her name was Kelli Price, she is a photographer and she captured a picture of our family with our tag on one of the cars (Kelly came prepared with spray paint, in hand).
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For lunch, we made sure to try Whataburger, which many said was a must in Texas!
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William, however, was not impressed because he said it tasted just like a McDonald’s hamburger!

For dinner, we rolled in style and surprised the kids with a limo ride to The Big Texan, the home of the 72 oz. steak that’s free, if you eat it in an hour.
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While there, there was a lad who attempted to give it a go. Although he gave it a fair effort, he could not finish the meal, which comprised of the 72oz. steak, a loaded baked potato, a salad, a roll, and 3 shrimp cocktails.
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Kelly knew she couldn’t go to Texas and NOT get steak, she opted for the smaller 8oz. sirloin!
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The kids were knocked out after such a busy day…and it carried over onto this morning.
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Texas is a gorgeous state! And, the weather was perfect (76 was the high)… we even had to turn on the heat this morning because it was in the 50s! Captured these pics of the sunrise… pictures do it no justice!
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We’re starting to get in to the picturesque part of the country. Which involves a lot of driving, we’re hoping that our kids’ interest will still be peaked and that we will make wise gas decisions! Please continue to pray for us and for safe travels 🙂
#thomas6travels #48statesover48dates