A Slight Change in Plans! – My Route 66 Charity Tour

Hello my little demons!

So, there has been a ‘slight’ hick-up, which has resulted in changing my plans with my Route 66 Charity Tour.

BUT DONT FEAR! I’m still going!

I won’t go into detail, but long story short – I’ll be going on my own now. The friend I was supposed to go with has decided he no longer wants to be my friend. Don’t ask me why, I cannot answer that. As I cannot for the life of me work out what I said or did, I am just going to assume that it’s got nothing to do with me. I also do not want to divulge into it publicly as it’s not fair to do so. I will wish him luck in the future though.

It never really crossed my mind to cancel any of my plans. We had discussed a trip around the Highlands (the NC500 – Scotland’s Route 66), taking camping gear with us, and I’m still planning on doing that in the Spring/Summer once I’ve got my motorbike. And, of course, he was going to come with me down Route 66. If you’ve been following this story from the beginning, you will know that I tried to do something like this before; I was going to tour America and Canada for Charity, I had actually paid for a working holiday visa to Canada already, but my plans fell through. I’m determined not to let my plans fall through again! You can read about it here.

Plus, I really want to raise funds and awareness for Selective Mutism!

In light of what happened recently, it has made me realise that the only person I really trust is myself. People can easily let you down. So, I’ve made the decision to do this ALONE. It kinda feels poetic, actually, like one of those soppy life-changing movies that hit you in the feels. But with cars, motorbikes, food and the open road!

Hell, it’s going to be scary, but I’m hoping that I’ll build up my confidence, work on my skills filming and editing, and plan the socks off it, all in the next year or so until I go. It also has some new challenges that I never thought of before.

The three main challenges are; 1) filming myself – I have limited filming experience, other than just starting filming myself for my YouTube channel I am going to create, which involves me sat… still… at my desk, I have no idea how this will work. I’m going to research into hand-held cameras, go-pros or similar and figure out what the best options are. I know for sure that my beloved Nikon DSLR isn’t a good option – it only records 20 minutes at a time for a start! And I cannot see the screen to record myself – sitting at a desk is fine because I can set it up and sit still…. or try to at least.

2) the other biggest challenge is doing all the driving! With a second person, the driving can be split between us, but now I will be driving it all. Theoretically, I don’t see it being an issue, as I love driving and I will be taking my time seeing sights anyway along the way, so will be doing plenty of stops. I also am pretty handy, knowing a fair bit about mechanics in case something breaks, and will be considering this in the planning stage in case I need to look into breakdown cover options, researching recovery companies in the areas I drive through, and even taking a set of tools with me. But practically, I could get tired and make mistakes, getting lost or stuck. I also have to be weary when I’m taking to a camera and driving!

3) the last, and probably one of the more important ones, is personal safety. I’m sure the majority of the trip will be safe enough. I will be researching how safe areas are, making sure I only stop in safe areas and stay at hotels that have good ratings and so on. I do have some self-defense training from one of my old job roles, but I am also considering taking self-defense classes too. This is going to be one of the biggest things I will be researching and planning, especially being a female solo traveller!

On the up side though, doing it alone has it’s benefits – I can do what I want without compromise. I’m also introverted; socialising can drain me and I need to recharge, doing a whole month-long trip with someone else can get very tiring, and I know I like my own company. I can also be in control of the music. Also, being a solo-traveller, you’re more likely to get upgrades! 😉

So, although it was a huge shock and was a little upset when I lost a friend, I’m not going to let these things stop me from what I want to do in life!

Watch this space for more updates soon!
Also, watch this space for my first YouTube video – it’s currently being edited and will be uploaded soon!

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Penny’s Birthday Grove

So, November is here, whether we like it or not. Which means it’s officially Autumn and Winter will soon be here (no, we’re not talking about the C word!)

November for me has always been greeted with a mixture of feelings; I dislike the fact it’s getting cold, I dislike that it’s getting darker at night and less hours in the day – although sometimes I don’t mind the early dark nights – but I love the colours on the trees.

But, there is one thing that is ‘personal’ about November…

November, is also the month I was born! It’s my birthday!

And this year, I’m doing something very different; I’m planting trees!

Okay, so, technically, I won’t be the one physically planting them. But after moving to Inverness (you can read about that here and here) I came across a great charity that is planting trees to re-wild the Highlands; Trees for Life.

Up on the Highlands of Scotland used to be a vast forest; the Caledonian Forest, spanning the right across, with only select areas now remaining. Trees for Life is an ambitious, award-winning conservation charity that is rewilding the Scottish Highlands, planting trees and encoraging wildlife to return.

So, rather than writing a wish list full of new books, DVDs, music, things for my new flat, tech, etc, for my birthday, I set up a website on Trees of Life for people to consider donating a small fee to this Grove to help rewild Scotland, restoring balance to the ecosystem and combating CO2 emissions. I have already paid to have one tree planted, each new tree is only £6!

Click here to donate to Penny’s Birthday Grove

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I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

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Travelling Route 66 for Charity – Update

Hello my little demons! 😈

I wrote a previous blog post explaining about my charity tour of America, and why I’m doing it, here.

Since then, I’ve already done a lot of planning (yet, still a lot more to go!). I’ve come up with lots of amazing ideas, bought some maps, found some amazing resources and I’m finally getting there with the intial interary.

We’re doing a road trip down Route 66!

(c) Penny Hooper

Now, Route 66 sounds like an easy thing, just follow the sign posts for Route 66, right? But Route 66, as I have found, has had many alterations over the years, bypasses and re-directs, bridges no longer used, cities and towns built up over it, even the start and end posts have moved.

The original Route was established on the 11th November 1926 (although, from what I can gather, it was being built before this), it was altered in 1930 to follow a completely different line between Springfield and East St. Louis. In the late 1930s, the route was redirected again to cut off Santa Fe. The original route used to connect gold and silver mines such as Oatman, but in the 1950s these were cut off, leaving Oatman abandoned. And a lot of the interstates that were constructed saw the Route 66 abolished, some even cut through the route, meaning it’s no longer possible to drive the whole of the old route anymore. I even saw one section is on private land now – and the owners were selling parts of it to keep it safe from further distruction!

As for the start and end points, these were also moved, both in Chicago and Los Angeles, which you will learn more about both when we come to do the tour but also in blog posts along the way. You can see the map below has the old and new routes, the red is the newer route, the pink/purple bits are the older routes.

Now, we could just stick to the newer route, the one that is mostly mapped on modern maps, but that would be too easy! So, we plan to travel down as much of the old route as possible (unless the road is too dangerous, a dead-end, on private property or no longer exists) to see the areas that those early road trippers would have seen.

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_66#Changes_in_routing

Originally, when I was coming up with ideas on what I wanted to do for this American tour, I was adamant to fit in lots. I wanted to see the Florida Keys, Atlanta, Washington DC, maybe visit New York city again, drive up to San Francisco up the California State Route 1 and visit the Bonnerville Salt Flats near Salt Lake City. When I realised doing the Route 66 will take a minimum of three weeks as it is, I knew we couldn’t do all of it. Well, not unless we can take two months off work and have lots of spare money! So, we stuck to Route 66. There will be other opportunities to see the others another time (maybe, if this one is successful, more road trips?)

Of course, we will be doing a few smaller things, such as going up to Milwaukee to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum (already got an invite), a two-day detour to see the Grand Canyon and another one/two-day detour to see Las Vegas (driving over the Hoover Dam of course!). We also plan to fit in a motorbike ride in Los Angeles, not all the way up to San Fransisco, but maybe at least to Pismo Beach.

We have a lot of ideas that we want to do along the way too, as you know, we will be doing this for charity; well, we have picked out at least four charities. One is close to my heart, one is close to Mozz’s, and the other two we both choose. Of course, I haven’t contacted any of them yet, as I’m still finishing off the itenary, and I have to sort out some personal things, but hopefully in the next few weeks, we can share! But we also have a few ideas such as little challenges or charity events on the route itself, one is even quite big, but again, I need to contact a particular charity to pull it off!

Although we have planned a lot of it already, not only researching where the old route goes, marking it on a map, what sites to see, what time of year to go, and so on. We still have a lot to do.

* We need to make sure we get the right visa; this isn’t just a tourist visit, we plan on filming and fundraising, this might not be suitable on a tourist visa,
* We need to work out the best camera equipment; do we spend a bit more to get a decent go-pro or will cheap action cameras be okay,
* What rigs will we need to set up cameras inside a car and on bikes/helmets,
* Maybe even microphones so we get a decent quality sound,
* We need to work out costs involved; visas, flights, fuel, car, insurance, food, side-trips, hotels, even the costs of bags, cameras, internet wifi dongle, subscriptions and software we might need,
* we also need to know which areas are American-Indian territory so we can respect their land (I plan on contacting the AIANTA – American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association for this too),
* And lots more!

I still have yet to set up a YouTube channel, get it establed now and practice filming, editing and the like. I also plan on getting my social media verified, which is very difficult to do. And of course, around all this, I work full time and I’m trying to publish a new book and write a memoir.

So, now I’m going to get back to marking sites on my USA map after spending two days researching the route and marking it out, then hopefully, I can contact the charities and get the ball rolling!

Watch this space!

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

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Touring America for Charity!

A few friends will remember that I had planned a trip around America and Canada for a charity. I was going to go to Canada first, find some work, save up, and then travel around, maybe even visiting other countries. All doing this to raise awareness and funds for a charity.

I was deadly serious about it too, I had bought my Working Holiday Visa to Canada, got police certificates for it, set up a page, I even got a few people invested, including a few celebrities – at least they shared my posts.

But, due to personal reasons, I had to cancel it all. And I felt defeated that I failed and let people down.

I was also met with a lot of negative criticism from friends and family. “Why don’t you do something smaller?” “Do you even have a plan?” I had lots of people think that I was just after money from them when I asked for support, but in reality I just wanted them to help share the word, to show that they were rooting for me and wanted me to succeed.

I lost friends over it. And I felt like I had proved them right; I failed.

I never stopped thinking about it, what I missed out on, the friends I lost, it still eats away at me. But I also never stopped believing that one day, I would do it! I’ve always been one with big ideas, and yes, a lot of times they don’t work out, but I also believe that people can do big and amazing things if they work and persist. And I want to be one of those that didn’t give up, and made a different!

So, I am planning it all again!

This time I plan to go to America on a food, bike and car tour, raising awareness and funds for charities that support world hunger, mental health and/or child abuse.

Most people know I love my cars, having tinkered with most of the cars I have owned, from basic maintenence such as services or timing belt changes, to going mad and stripping it for track. I also love my bikes, having wanted to get my bike licence for years but keep putting it off due to the costs. I love the naked, deep sounding Harley-Davidsons and Triumphs (the Triumph Bobber Black is on my Christmas list!)…and of course, who doesn’t like food?

As for the charities, mental health is extremely important to me, as I have had, and to some small extent, still suffer with mental health issues myself. I had selective mutism when I was a child (to read more about this, I wrote a post about it here), which caused no end of probelms growing up, even to this day it causes a few issues. I then developed depression and anxiety because of it.

And of course, stopping world hunger and child abuse are both important to me too.

For this trip, I plan to set up a YouTube channel to document it, setting little challenges for myself along the way, so that people can watch my progress. I plan to visit sites of interest, places like the Harley-Davidson Museum, the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah, watch a Monster Truck show, try out an electric motorbike, eat at the best food joints, whether that’s street food, restaurants, maybe even try wild hunting, I plan to find the best roads to travel down – yes, Route 66 may very well be on the list, maybe even meet a few interesting people – I have a few in mind, if I can pull it off.

It’s going to be big, requiring a lot of planning and it’s going to cost a lot, I know that. It might not work out the way I plan, but either way, I plan on going one way or another. I have to.

I also may not be going alone. As I have been discussing the idea with a friend of mine who is also very interested in going. He’s a massive foodie and car nut himself, and loves America!

Planning might take a while, as there is a lot to sort, and I have just signed a 12 month contract with work (that’s a story for another day!), so I have plenty of time to plan, make contacts and save. I also have yet to get my bike licence! I also plan on getting a few sponsors, such as travel companies, bike/car companies, even clothing companies, if I can.

Either way, I am extremely excited to start off this new adventure, to visit more of America, experience new things, meet new people, and most importantly… make a difference!

My love for animals – Animal Advocacy

Hello my little demons,

If you’ve been following me on Facebook and Twitter, you may have noticed I post a lot about animals; pet adoptions, missing pets, fundraisers, even just funny videos or posts about animals to brighten someone’s day.

I have a huge love for all animals. Dogs, cats, rats, mice, horses, snakes, and even the smaller ones. Yes, even creepy crawlies! (I have a keen interest in entomology)

Although I wish I could adopt and rescue all animals, big and small, my current situation means I cannot. And, I cannot yet make the commitment. It sounds like a bad thing, selfish even, but it’s not. I currently haven’t got my own house.

And yes, okay, I have also got a love for travelling too and thus don’t want to have a pet in the case I need to uproot without a moments notice. But this is one of my mental health coping mechanisms; travelling (I’ll explain that in another blog post for another time). I therefore cannot commit to having a pet (at least nothing as big as a cat or a dog) because my mental health would be at stake from my inability to uproot and travel, and thus the well-being of that pet would be at stake too.

However, I have considered fostering temporarily if my future landlord is okay with this.

So, because I cannot personally adopt, rescue, or otherwise own my own pets, I try to help in others ways.

This is Melli, she is up for adoption here: https://www.niagaradogrescue.org/pet/melli

An actor I follow on social media also does his own advocacy for adoption and fostering dogs with Niagara Dog Rescue in Niagara, Canada (Niagara is the region on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls), and because of him, I have posted a lot of dogs from Niagara Dog Rescue.

I have a bit of an interest in Niagara Dog Rescue now, because they specifically rescue dogs from high-risk kill shelters. They have rescued many dogs from the US, but they’ve also rescued dogs from other countries, including Iran. I’ve even heard they are happy to relocate dogs to future homes in other countries.

I’ve personally been in touch with them and they have informed me they do relocate dogs to homes in other countries, they have done so before. It is up to the new owner to organise the dog’s transfer and if, for some reason, it didn’t work out, they would want to ensure you were properly set up with a local rescue who could help with rehoming.

They’re specifically a volunteer-run fostering organisation, they don’t appear to have an actual shelter but instead have a load of volunteers that foster the dogs until they find their true home. I think this is a great idea, the dog gets used to home-life before adoption, rather than being stuck in a kennel.

Because of this, I have posted pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to help these poor pups get their forever homes they deserve. Like I said, I cannot personally adopt, but if I share, there might be someone I know who can, or maybe a chain reaction of re-tweets/re-posts might happen and someone somewhere is willing to adopt.

If you’re interested in adopting a dog (such like Melli above, who is still available), please do give Niagara Dog Rescue a look:
https://www.niagaradogrescue.org/

Here’s the list of available dogs they have: https://www.niagaradogrescue.org/status/available

In the past, I have also given monthly donations to WWF (I adopted a snow leopard). Which, due to deciding on a career change and going back to university meant I had to cancel my monthly donations. But once I start back at work and get a wage coming in each month again, I will be looking at doing more for animals (and my other charitable interests).

I hope that what ever little bit I can give or do, will make even a small bit of difference.

I also hope that my small actions will inspire others. You don’t need to do a lot to make a difference. But if we all at least make small chances, this can make a big impact overall.

I’ll also be blogging about my other charitable interests (such as Mental Health, the environment and LGBT+), so keep an eye out for my other blogs!

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If you liked this post, please don’t forget to like and I’d love to hear your comments too. Have you adopted a rescue pet? Do you give to a wildlife charity such as WWF? Or do you do other advocacy, such as sharing missing pet posts on Facebook? I’d love to know other animal fans!

Also, please don’t forget to check out my others posts:

Charity News

My Books

Travel

If you’re interested in giving to WWF, here’s the link: www.wwf.org.uk/

A little of topic, but if you like sci-fi / space themed films and TV shows, please do check out ‘The Expanse’. It’s not only a great TV show, based on a book series, but the actor I mentioned plays in it. Everyone is also very lovely!

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

A while ago I signed myself up for a charity walk with The HALO Trust, which involved a 34km walk along the Salisbury Plain Training area. The challenge (Safe Steps) was to help raise money (and awareness) to reduce landmines around the world.

https://www.halotrust.org/

On the 25th, myself and my partner completed it! (Pictures below)

…And were we regretting signing up for it at the end of the day! Sore from the waist down, blisters on our feets, sunburn because we both forgot suncream and weren’t expecting the sun to be that strong! And in much need of a cup of tea (or something stronger!)

But now that I have recovered (almost, still a bit of sunburn!), I am glad I completed it! It’s an amazing charity and we managed to raise ~£310 (also expecting another £30 soon!) in total.

I am a little disappointed we didn’t manage to raise the £500 total, but the £310-£340 is still a good chunk, and along with all the other walkers (505 in total), I am confident they managed to raise a decent amount on Saturday!

Now, here are some photos from the day! (Photos are my own, if you wish to use them, please get in touch!)

Fundraising to reduce landmines!

Update 12/08/2020: Please note this fundraiser has now ended, please don’t try send me funds. Thank you. 🙂

On the 25th of May, myself and a friend will be walking 35km through Salisbury Plain Training Area for the charity, The HALO Trust.

The HALO Trust support several projects, including landmine clearance, which will be the project we will be supporting.

As we both work/study on the UK’s Defence Academy, we are both invested in such a project, and are both excited to raise awareness and funds for such a great cause!

Our target is £500 for the two of us. However, we’d like to smash this target and raise as much as possible for all the good work The HALO Trust do around the world.

If you’re interested in helping this cause, please check out here:

https://www.gofundme.com/penny-and-liam039s-campaign-for-the-halo-trust

TheHALOTrustWalk