Minimum Highway, Maximum Donuts


Long time no blog. Oh, and long time no videos. Sorry about that. I'm on the road a lot right now, but I promise to get to the new one, "How Do I Get My Kid to Shower," up this week. I kid you not, I get this question on a regular basis. 

I just got back from Seattle, where I spoke at Microsoft and a couple of schools. Hurricane Toby messed with my return flight despite the fact that a Toby is less of a fearsome storm and more of a nice guy you send your good friend on a blind date with. 

Thanks to Toby, we (I was with Finn, my 14yo) were stuck in the Pacific Northwest for an extra three days, so I rented a car and we embarked upon an adventure.

We'd visited and eaten all the Seattle stuff, including hot, house-made donut holes at Lola, so we changed the GPS settings in the car to "minimum highway, maximum donut," and got out of town. First destination, Mt. Rainier. Finn's science teacher, Mr. P, suggested we make the trip. They are studying plate tectonics in school, so we set out to get up close and personal. 

Mt. Rainier
: Stratovolcano
Elevation: 14,411 ft.
Tectonic Plate: Subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate and North American plate
Glaciers: 26
Donuts: None

Sure, I knew about the active volcano part, but what I did not know, is that Mt. Rainier is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It's so dangerous, it's on the "Decade Volcano" list, one of ten volcanoes so appallingly, imminently dangerous they merit close study and monitoring. 

It did not erupt while we were there, but it was close. Thanks for the tip, Mr. P. 

On to Portland (back roads, Voodoo Doughnut). We painted Portland red (read: we went to Powell's Books, ate dinner with our friend Asha, and went to bed early), then headed west, through Tillamook State Forest (one of the wettest places in the U.S.), then puttered around the Oregon coast. If we saw a sign for it or noted a little interesting cove on the map, we went.

Recommendation for good marionberry cobbler? We sought it out (it was delicious).

Octopus Tree? You'd better believe it. 

Eventually, we made our way up the 101 to Astoria and its sea lion-strewn docks. Astoria may hate the annual occupation by sea lions, but we loved it. I know they probably have super fishy breath, but I don't care. 

On our final day, we went over the huge bridge at the mouth of the Columbia River, and wound our way through coastal Washington toward Tacoma (Rt. 101, Legendary Donuts) and the airport.

Along the way, I received a couple of bleep-worthy tweets from high school students. I was confused, as I have not written anything about increasing homework loads or supporting year-round school recently. After the swearing, however, came the pictures. 


While Finn refuses to believe it, the hashtag confirms it. I'm a meme.

I asked one of the kids lobbing tweets at me what was up, and he informed me that one of my articles appeared on the SAT as the writing prompt.

Teenage Jess hates adult Jess right now, but adult Jess thinks this is one of the coolest things that's ever happened to her. 

I get to be home for an entire week while my college kid is on break. I'm thrilled, and the animals seemed kind of excited to see me, too. 

L-R, Lucie, Walter, and Gunther.

L-R, Lucie, Walter, and Gunther.

Watch for new videos (here's the link to the Gift of Failure FAQ playlist at YouTube) and check out my schedule below  to see if I will be in your town soon!

March 28BeBold, Bedford, NH (topic: preventing childhood addiction)
April 3Silver Creek Middle School, Rockville, MD
April 4Sheridan School, Washington, D.C.
April 5Congressional School, Falls Church, VA
April 18-19Canyon Ranch, Tucson, AZ (private)
April 24Harding Township Schools, New Vernon, NJ
April 28National Association of Junior Auxiliary Annual Education Conference, Mobile, AL
May 1Huntington Middle School, San Marino, CA
May 2-4Mom2.0, Pasadena, CA (registration required)
May 9Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Tampa, FL (private)
July 1-3Canyon Ranch, Lenox, MA (private)
July 11College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, ID
September 27Crofton House School, Vancouver, Canada
October 23The River Center, Peterborough, NH