3600 Miles, 55 Hours & 3 Pets: From Florida to British Columbia

In 2005, my family spent six weeks living in Whistler, British Columbia. My dad and brother flew, but my mother and I drove an SUV full of everything we’d need including four suitcases, three computers (remote work, ftw!), three pets, and one litter box.

This is the story of Sherra and Ashley’s Cross Country Adventure.

Spoiler alert: things get REAL WEIRD in Colorado.

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Road-tripping around France

August 20, 2005. I was 20 years old, had 6 years of French under my belt, and got to fly international first class (!!!) avec mon père to Paris. Two full semesters studying abroad. I’d been planning this for years. A full year abroad was the whole reason I stayed in-state for college, letting scholarships cover my tuition so my dad would fund a year in Europe.

My dad was going to be with me for two full weeks. As he’d been to Paris a dozen times, and I’d been twice before (and had 10 whole months ahead of me!), after getting my apartment all set up, we decided the best use of our time would be exploring other parts of France. So six days into my year abroad, we rented a weird yellow Peugeot and hit the road.

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Bad Schwartau

In elementary school, I used to tell people that Schwartau was the shortened version of my real last name, the Ellis Island version given to my ancestors when they immigrated to America. My real last name was Schwartauburgerhifinfiner. My friends believed me, for years. But it’s not true.

My real last name is Schwartau.

Growing up, I knew that it was

(a) German

(b) hard for people to say

(c) harder for people to spell

(d) the last name of very few people in America (according to this site, only 107 people in the US have this surname, and this site confirms)

and (e) also the name of a jam and jelly company in Europe

Every year for Christmas, my dad would order hundreds of jars of Schwartau jams, from the mini to full size, and we’d give them to everyone: teachers, neighbors, friends, the accountant, their lawyer. (Try the wildberry, so tasty!)

Never once, as a kid, did I think I’d get the opportunity to visit the town that birthed Schwartau jam and, maybe, my family: Bad Schwartau. But in 2009, my dad made that happen. Let me share with you our Bad Schwartau adventure, in pictures.

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