Friday, January 30, 2015

Guess my first corporate sponsor!

In all of the letters I've been sending out, I've gotten several "no, thank you" letters or - in the case of McDonalds - a recommendation to check with the local McDonalds for sponsorship.  Either he clearly didn't understand what I was requesting, or he wants me to go to each McDonald's and ask for free food when I needed it.  I'm hoping that wasn't the case! LOL

So, today, I received my first YES!

I had written to Poo-Pourri.  I'm sure you've seen their commercials with the twee English girl sitting in a public bathroom dressed for a tea party and suggesting that stinking up the place just isn't done.  Their commercials make me laugh, so I wrote to them in the same vein, suggesting that in visiting 120 different people stinking up the place would make me quite unpopular  and that I really didn't want to offend that many people.  So I asked if they would send me a couple of bottles that I could take with me.

Today I got this email:

Thank you for your interest in Poo~Pourri! After reviewing your request, I would be more than happy to get some samples in your hand.  Please let me know where I should have the package delivered to. Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon! 

With all good wishes, 


WooHoo!  While it's not the most important part of my trip, it might be an essential item I don't wish to do without! :)  I even asked if they wanted me to return them should the trip not end up happening and they said no, that I could keep them. Yay!

Thanks Poo-Pourri!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Disappointment and Sadness are a part of this, too.

This afternoon I told Tommy that I would probably have to take my iPad with me when I went on my trip.  He replied, "Where are you going?"  I thought he was kidding since we've been talking about it now for three weeks, so I said, "Ummm.... go look at the map on the Seminary room wall!"

He still wasn't getting it, so I told him that each of those little tags was someplace that I was stopping and that I would be leaving June 10th, right about when school got out and getting back on Oct 10th.  Then I heard a horrible sound: an 8 year old sobbing his heart out when he realized that Grandma was going to be gone ALL SUMMER!!

Oh dear.  I called him to me and held him on my lap for about 10 minutes while he cried about me being gone for so long.  I kept trying to explain: "I'll be leaving a while after Papa's birthday, then I'll miss my birthday, Mommy's birthday, Nick's birthday, then Daddy's and Maddison's birthdays, then I'll be back."  That just made it worse.  Then I tried, "Well, I'll leave when you get done with 2nd grade and I'll be back right after you start 3rd grade."  Nope, that was a dumb choice, too.  I even tried to joke with him that he was just going to miss my iPad and not me, but he wasn't having it.  It just brought a fresh wave of anguish.

I explained that I would send postcards home and that I would be able to Skype with him while I was gone and that appeased him a bit, but oh my goodness.... I broke his heart.  Finally we just sat with him on my lap in silence, enjoying the sweet time we have together now.  My sweet, tender-hearted grandson.

In other news, I received a reply from Cracker Barrel and they regretfully cannot support me for my trip.  I guess I'll just need to work a little harder and do without Lemon Pepper Trout for awhile.  No replies yet from Ford; Enterprise Rent-a-Car; Pepsi; McDonalds or PooPourri yet.  I'll let you know!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Time to Start Asking for Stuff.

Today is the big test.  I just sent letters to Ford and to Enterprise Rent A Car to see if they'll loan me a car.  I'm sending the letter to other companies also, but thought I'd start with those.

I sent a letter to a company that makes personal safety jewelry called Cuff.  It's a little devise that fits into a bracelet or necklace that will call 911 when pressed.  Their product is in pre-sales right now and won't be available for a few months yet, but they suggested I contact them later in the Spring, so we'll see.

After hearing the Pepsi half-time ads, I decided that it would be fun to see if Pepsi will give me some sodas for a half-time on the trip.  That should be somewhere around Glacier National Park in Montana and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  Wouldn't that be funny to just pull over and offer people a Pepsi for half-time?

I'm getting more excited about this trip all the time!  LOL

Here's the letter I sent:

It All Started With An Accidental Dare From My Husband…

Hi,  I’m Judi Stull.  I’m a Realtor (among other things) in Mount Airy, Maryland.  For a long time, I’ve harbored a dream of traveling around the U.S. but it was just cost prohibitive to stay in hotels every night and pay for gas while traveling that long.  I wanted to visit other Realtors, friends and family members who are flung all over the country.

One day, my husband said, “You can do it, if you can do it for free.” 

I just laughed at the time, but then a few weeks ago I decided to ask my 1500+ friends on Facebook if anyone would let me sleep on their couch for the night if I stopped by.  Within a few hours I had more than enough offers to get almost all the way around the U.S.  I was missing 5 states.  I even had friends in 26 other countries offering to let me stay with them!  I’m now getting offers from friends of friends in the states I was missing.

My first thought was to use an electric car so I didn’t have to pay for gas, but I soon realized that my route would not allow for that.  There just aren’t enough charging stations in the places I’m going.  However, I could use a hybrid!  I’m only scheduling about 250-300 miles a day so I will have time to visit and to see some sights, which will allow me the time needed to stop and charge up an electric hybrid.   During the times when there aren’t any charging stations, I can use gas power.

I’ve already had people offering me money to cover the costs for tolls and gasoline.

What I need now is a car.  Will you loan me a car to do this crazy social media fueled trip?  I will be gone a little more than four months and will probably drive a little more than 20,000 miles.  It’s just under 19,000 with only having cities, not exact addresses, on my route.   I am hoping to leave on this trip June 10th and to return on October 15th.  That’s 129 days if I stick to my schedule.  I will be staying with 120 different people and will be visiting nearly 300 people, all of whom will know that you have loaned me a car.  Plus it will be mentioned several times in my blog and on social media. 

I am very active on Facebook (Judi Bland Stull) and have been for many years.  After cleaning out my friends list of people who were no longer active, I ended up with 1522 friends. I am followed by 1133 people on Twitter (@JudiStull) and use Twitter, Yelp, Instagram and Swarm fairly regularly, I have a blog just for this trip at .  I am a good driver with no accidents that were my fault.  I don’t have any speeding tickets or other driving issues, even though I will admit to exceeding the speed limit occasionally. 

Will you help me make ThisCrazyTrip a reality?


Judi Stull  410-599-5955

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Creating a Schedule

I am feeling so loved right now!  

I have found that there's not much that will make me feel more loved than asking if I can spend the night at someone's house and getting all of the responses that I've read!  It's truly humbling and amazing. 

From Facebook on Jan 23rd: 
"Do you want to know the most amazing thing about planning ‪#‎ThisCrazyTrip‬ ? People are so good! Even if I can't spend the night at their house, they are bending over backward to help me have a great trip. I've had offers of money, showers, food, explorations in the area and today, two people said, "Well, we won't be home, but stay at our house anyway!" One of these people has never met me in person. I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of my friends. smile emoticon Thank you."

Since I started sending out the letter, three days ago, I have had three offers to spend the night even if the homeowners won't be there.  I've been offered showers, a gym trip, a whale-watching trip, a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a night out in Branson to see a show, homemade meals including famous fried chicken and a Brazilian dinner.  I've been offered money, sponsorship, gift cards and other help. 

When I've asked for one night, I've had friends say, "Just one night?  You can stay longer if you want!" When I mentioned that I was planning to camp out in Yellowstone even though I was a little wary of the bears, my sister Sandy even suggested "I'm completely just throwing this out there (aka don't count on it) but are you allowed to stay in a hotel "if" the guest pays for it?  For instance, I've never been to Yellowstone so I might want to visit around... hmmm, maybe July 18th.  If I happened to fun in to you there and I happened to have a pre-paid hotel, could you stay with me without jeopardizing the success of your crazy trip?"

(My answer, in case you're wondering, was "Sure! I'd stay in hotels the whole way if someone would pay for them!") LOL 

Honestly, there's not much that warms my heart more than a response from someone that says, "We would LOVE to have you stay with us for whatever you need."  

Sniff. My heart is full. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Letter

Here is the letter that I am sending to all of the people on my list that I'd like to visit. 

Before I can take ‪#‎ThisCrazyTrip‬ plan to companies that might sponsor me, I need to get okays from everyone about whether I can spend the night or take a few minutes to meet with them when I'm in their town. So, I just wrote this letter and will be messaging people with it today and tomorrow. 

In case you hadn’t heard, I’ve been planning a trip around the US. My husband, Bob, said I could do it if I could do it for free, so I’m doing a social media experiment and asking friends if I can sleep on their couch for the night. I have a tentative schedule in place with a start date of June 10th. I’m still working out many details like getting a car, asking Cracker Barrel or other restaurants for free meals on the trip, starting a Kickstarter to cover tolls and maybe gas if I can’t get it sponsored. It is a little scary and a lot of fun thinking about doing this. I’m also trying to work out a way to raise some money for Heifer International while doing this. There are still a lot of things to do before this trip can become a reality, but I’m moving forward as if it is. 
I’ve spent the past two weeks mapping out my friends list and creating a route that will get me around the US in a little over four months. 
I would like to schedule a stop to see you on __________________________. 
I do/don’t need to spend the night that night. 
Please reply and let me know if you think that date will work.
If I’m just stopping by, I can stop by an office or someplace nearby to just get together for a few minutes to an hour. 
If I’m spending the night, I don’t need much, just a couch. I’ll bring my own blanket and pillow.
I don’t drink or smoke (but don’t care if you do.) I like most kinds of food. I’m allergic to cats, but have Benadryl.
I do not want people to go to a lot of fuss, no cleaning or getting ready, ok? Just a chance to get together for a little while and smile. 
I would like to ask some questions about where you live, what are the “don’t miss” sites in your state? What are the best restaurants or places that you enjoy? And I’d like to know more about you! 
I am hoping to write about this in a blog and for NaNoWriMo in November (National Novel Writing Month), so I’ll need your signature allowing me to use your name, city (no address, just the city) and a photo. 
You can follow along at
I can’t wait to see you!!



In Real Estate coaching, and especially at Keller Williams where I work, we are often asked to decide upon our "Big Why".  What is the One Thing that makes us want to do what we do?  It can change from time to time, as we meet our goals or as our needs change.  My big Why for Real Estate has most often been my family.  I sell Real Estate because I want to be able to provide for my family and I want to work in a business that allows me to be available to my family when I am needed.  Real Estate allows for a more flexible schedule.  That generally means that I don't make as much money as I could if I would really work harder, but I like that I can work when I want to.  Some people wouldn't think that I was very successful because I don't make a ton of money, but to me, I AM successful because I'm living life as I want to live it... I spend a lot of time with my grandkids now, and was able to spend a lot of time with my children when I felt that they needed me to be home in past years.  I have clients who have become great friends and who refer business to me because they feel that I've done a good job for them, and being less busy than many of my fellow Realtors means that I can give my clients pretty much undivided attention as they need me.  Since I have a husband with a great job, it's a Win-Win for me.

When I decided to do this trip, it meant taking more than four months off of doing my job.  That's a pretty tough thing to do financially, even with my laid-back style of working lately.  I'm still recovering from knee surgery, so I haven't been very active and this allowed me the freedom to step away from my job for the time it will take to do this trip.  I'm a little conflicted about walking away during our busy time of the year, though, even though I'm very excited about doing the trip.

So, why am I taking this trip?

Several years ago, when our youngest son, Matt, was in middle school, I wanted to try homeschooling him and I thought it would be a great idea to drive around the country, visiting zoos.  I would get him involved by writing a book about all of the zoos and have him give a kid's perspective and I would write the adult perspective about each of the zoos.  My husband, Bob, was not as excited as I was.  Neither was Matt.  So, that idea went out the window.

Then last year, I wanted to visit my mother who lives on the West Coast near Portland, Oregon.  I live in Maryland.  My ADD-addled brain's thought pattern went, "Wouldn't it be fun to drive there?  Oooh!  If I'm driving there, I could take Tommy (our grandson, who was 7 at the time) and we could visit his other grandparents in South Dakota.  Oh!  And we could take a different route on the way back and visit his other great grandmas who live in Oklahoma and Kansas...  Oh, and we could see all these great sites... " You get the idea. Sadly, Tommy wasn't interested and Bob, again, thought I was crazy.  We ended up flying to the West Coast.

Driving around the country has long been something that I thought would be fun. A little grueling, perhaps, but fun.  Bob and I don't get along so well when we travel together, so going alone is probably the best choice for our sanity and our marriage.  No sense throwing away a perfectly good 33-year marriage for one trip around the U.S.!  LOL

As I've said before, it started out as a "What If..." project.  Almost a joke, in fact.  But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.  It's now become almost a reality!

Brian Buffini is a real estate coach who I have followed for years.  I love the things he teaches and his idea of doing "Pop-Bys" is something that I've tried to do at various times, though I have not been good at it in the past couple of years.  He suggests that we should Pop-By our past clients with a small gift, reminding them that we are in the real estate business and thanking them for their past business with us.  We should also ask for referrals and build our business in this manner.  When I was doing Pop Bys, I was doing a good amount of business just from the referrals I received from my friends and past clients.

I thought this trip would be a great way for me to Pop By to see many of my past clients who have moved to other places and a good way for me to get in touch with other Realtors around the country.  Referrals between other Realtors is a good part of business, too.

But this trip couldn't just be about business.  It needed to be about something more than just me.  I have been a speaker for Heifer International ( for at least 10 years.  They are an organization that I believe in and trust. So, I'm trying to figure out a way to make this be a fund-raiser for Heifer International, also.  My friend Laura Scott suggested that I make a Flat Stanley type project with Judi the Heifer and take pictures of a flat cow everywhere I go.  What a fun idea!  I think I might change the name, though.  LOL

So, here are my BIG WHYs.
1.  Pop By past clients, friends, family and other Realtors to enhance our relationships and become better friends.
2.  See the Continental U.S. and hopefully get enough sponsors through Kickstarter to go to Alaska and Hawaii.
3.  Raise money for Heifer International.
4.  Prove to my husband (and others) that I can travel around the U.S. for free.
5.  Have fun!

At my bridal shower nearly 34 years ago, the attendees were asked for their words of wisdom for me as a new bride.  My sister Linda wrote, "Always Have Fun!"  Some people laughed, but it is the only thing that has stuck with me and it is still my creed.  So, Always Have Fun!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

An Accidental Dare

It Started As An Accidental Dare From My Husband.

I've been wanting to travel around the US for some time now, it has probably been two years since I first thought about it seriously.  But the costs involved in hotels, gas, or renting a small motorhome or camper just made it impossible.  Not to mention time from work and from teaching.  It just wasn't going to work.  Until Bob said, "You can do it, if it doesn't cost anything."

Bob doesn't remember saying that (based upon the expressions I get when I mention the Accidental Dare.)  I don't know, maybe I dreamed it.  It's possible these days. 

Ten days ago, on January 7th, I posted THIS on Facebook:
          "I've been wanting to take a trip around the US visiting friends and family along the way for quite a while now - probably a couple of years. Bob said I can if it doesn't cost anything. LOL I was trying to figure out a way to do that and realized that I have Facebook friends in probably every state. This is totally in the "What if..." stage at the moment, but what do you think? Would you let me camp out on your couch for a night as I came through town? LOL I know a good portion of my 1600+ friends in real life, but a lot of you I've never met. I'm trying to figure out a Social Media Experiment here - what if I could get around the US just by the goodwill of people I know online? Am I crazy to try this? I think it would be a fun blog!!"

I got a much larger response than I'd hoped for, so I started going through my friends list on Facebook.  I found that it's pretty difficult to just READ through my Friends list.  It changes each time I go to the list and it's not in any order, nor can it be sorted into any useful configuration.  So, I did a search for A's.  Only about 20 people showed up.  Ummm. That can't be right!  So I did a search for Aa, then Ab, etc.  Occasionally, I'd have to search for four letters in order to get down to less than 20 people, and I still missed a few people.  After a few days of working on this, I thought I had a pretty definitive alphabetical list of people and where they lived.  I knew people in 47 states and 26 other countries!!  I sorted that into states, then I mapped those cities onto a blank US map.

I took the state lists and rated each person #1 through #5.
1.  People who offered to have to me stay or I don't need to ask.
2.  People I feel comfortable asking.
3.  People I might ask if needed.
4.  Public figures, single men or others I will never ask if I can stay.
5.  Ignore.

Then I took my #1s and #2s, marked them on the US map and last night I finished creating a route than went through every state, visiting everyone on my list.

During this time, friends had asked me about paying for gas and food and if that counted in my "no cost" rule.  I thought I would ask a car dealership to loan me an electric car for the trip, but after searching for Electric car charging stations throughout the US, and knowing my route, that's not feasible. (Which made me sad, since I really wanted to drive a Tesla!)  I made a list of all electric cars and all electric-gas hybrids to see which types might work best for this trip. 

I came up with the following cars, based solely on a few articles:

Cadillac ELR
Chevy Volt
Ford C-MAX Energi
Ford Fusion Energi
and the new Audi A3 E-Tron

the Toyota RAV4 EV would have been terrific, too, but it's been discontinued.

My son Eric suggested that I talk to rental car agencies instead of dealerships, which is a terrific idea since they are nation-wide instead of local and would be more likely to loan me a car in exchange for free publicity for a few months.  And today, my friend Francine Speaker asked if I had spoken to any company like Subway for free food?  No!  I hadn't even thought about it!  I think I'll contact Cracker Barrel, since I would happily eat there every day for several months.

Since this is looking more likely to happen, I decided that I'd better start a blog and get everyone up to speed on how this started.  Now you know the HOW, next time I'll talk about the WHY.