The Visited States Map Generator

Currently making its rounds across Facebook is the Visited States Map Generator where you simply click on the states you’ve been to and it highlights them in red. Or maybe it’s magenta. I’m currently typing this from an old laptop that has not been calibrated.

I digress.

You guys probably know by now that I love looking at maps and aerial perspectives. This silly website brings me much joy. Now I have a visual to tack on to our Places We’ve Been page. *two thumbs up emojis!*

This is my version above. I have not counted Utah because I’ve only been to the Salt Lake City airport. I also don’t know how I couldn’t have been to Iowa seeing as every other state it touches I’ve been to. I’d have to check old McFarlin Choir Tour records…

And here is Trae’s map. Number wise, he’s at 31 and I’m at 32. Probably the #1 place I’m jealous he’s been to and I haven’t is Yellowstone. He says he’s jealous of Hawaii. The goal is to get our maps matching, hopefully in black out status eventually!

Okay, you know you wanna if you haven’t yet: Create Your Own Visited States Map


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Lung Cancer Awareness Month

We’ve been contacted to share the survival story of Heather Von St. James in honor of Lung Caner Awareness Month. Her story ends happily, so she is working to raise awareness of the dangers of inhaling toxic substances. We are happy to help her spread the word!

Heather was diagnosed eight years ago with pleural mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She had just given birth to her daughter and was told she may not live to see her first birthday. After a series of treatments and the removal of her left lung, she is now in the small group of mesothelioma survivors.


Heather and her daughter Lily.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity called the mesothelium. The only known cause to mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.

Heather’s cancer was caused by wearing her dad’s work jacket that was covered in asbestos fibers to do chores outside when she was little. Her mesothelioma symptoms were similar to other lung diseases, so to help differentiate, here are some of the symptoms of mesothelioma:

  • lower back pain or side chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • anemia
  • blood clotting disorder
  • bowel obstruction
  • difficulty swallowing
  • fluid effusion
  • coughing up blood
  • facial & arm swelling
  • muscle weakness

Most patients notice symptoms two to three months prior to diagnosis. But mesothelioma’s most unique fact is its long period of time between exposure to asbestos and symptoms appearing. The average latency period for mesothelioma is 35 to 40 years. Because of this, the cancer often progresses to further stages before diagnosis, making treatment limited and less effective.

Treatments for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. But the most effective way of treating the disease is still undetermined. Because only 3,000 people a year in the United States are diagnosed, it’s hard to get enough research to find a reliable cure for this disease. Currently the main goal with treatment is to ease pain & suffering and prolong the highest quality of life for as long as possible. Most patients don’t live past 15 months, so this makes Heather’s story even more remarkable.

Cam_Lil_HVSJ Family

Asbestos was used before the 1970s, but can still be found in buildings and products today. It is banned in over 50 countries, but not in the United States.

If you feel so inclined, please help Heather spread the word about the dangers of inhaling toxic substances. She is a force of positivity and hope for this terrible disease!

If you’d like to read more about mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website has more information about symptoms and treatments. And I highly recommend taking a couple minutes to watch this video of Heather and her family!

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Collapsed Ceiling in Hartshorne, Oklahoma

As we were about to embark on the Talimena Scenic Drive, we stopped in Hartshorne, OK to meet up with Jonathan (he had to work that morning so he drove separately). As we drove through the downtown area I noticed a building that had it’s front structure, minus the windows, and a collapsed ceiling. I thought it looked really cool so we took a few minutes to wander over there and stretch our legs.


web_Hartshorne_02It seemed like a cool place for some portraits – even Trae caught on before I had a chance.

web_Hartshorne_03Man shoot.

web_Hartshorne_06Andy took a series of cute photos of us here. I’m not going to share them all because I think there may be another holiday card contender in there, and I’ve already share one in this post! :)

Shandy’s turn!

web_Hartshorne_08 web_Hartshorne_09

In Googling Hartshorne I found out that the official Chamber of Commerce website is a Facebook page, and that Hall of Fame baseball player Warren Spahn was a resident (whether alive or not, I’m not sure. He’s buried there) – which also led me to learn that the statue outside the Right Field entrance of the OKC Redhawks Baseball field is of Spahn. Huh!

web_Hartshorne_11So much cool photography potential…

web_Hartshorne_12One last wander over to a giant mural of Will Rogers and…some other stuff.

There is something so mysterious about small towns. Especially ones of this size (Wikipedia says the population in 2010 was just over 2,000 people).

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Also from this trip:

Our Beavers Bend Cabin

The Talimena Scenic Drive