Our Progress...

"Off to the Races..."
Monday, February 22nd

Yes folks, today is THE day. The day that we begin our 15,864 mile journey across the United States. I am happy to report that the weather looks wonderful for this last week in February, so I strongly suggest that you get to work logging those miles because fairly soon we are going to find ourselves in the middle of Iowa, in March, with sub zero temperatures and freezing rain. I am sure you all know by now that not every state is lucky enough to experience "Spring" in late February!

Anyway, with our first "Mile Monday" behind us, I am predicting that we have made it off the Greenhills campus, and down Douglas Blvd, maybe stopping at Target for a quick snack and a "road-y soad-y". (That is East Coast talk, meaning a drink for the road.) We then turned West onto I-80 passing through Sacramento.

As you know Sacramento is our State Capital! But did you know that it is actually our 6th State Capital since 1854? Other cities that have had the distinction are: Monterey, San Jose, Vallejo, Benicia and Auburn! Did you also know that the city of Sacramento is actually located in two counties - both Sacramento County and Yolo County. When we are at Greenhills, we are actually located in Placer County.

One claim to fame is that Sacramento is home to the Pony Express. Long before we had mail trucks delivering our mail, messages were sent by horseback. The Pony Express stretched from here all the way to the State of Missouri, which we will "jog" through later on in our journey.

The Sacramento Kings are our local Basketball team, with "Slamson" as their mascot. (I believe he is a lion?) The Kings started in Rochester, NY as the "Royals", and then moved to Kansas City before they landed in our city. While my loyalty lies with a completely different team, for the purpose of our journey here, I will claim the Kings to be my second favorite.

Moving on from Sacramento we continued our journey West on 1-80 towards San Francisco. At this point we were probably a little tired from the 108 mile journey but still happy to check out the Golden Gate Bridge and ride the Cable Cars. Did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge was almost painted black and yellow, as it was decided that this would help big ships to see it in the fog? I'm not sure it would have made our "list" if it had not been painted the deep and beautiful orange known as "International Orange". The bridge is rarely shut down, but in 2014, two black-tailed deer decided to check out the bridge for themselves during the evening commute and shut the whole thing down causing quite the commotion.

As for those cable cars, they are our only "moving" national landmark. And they don't move all that fast either, toping out at 9.5 mph uphill or downhill. I'm not sure how often you have spent walking the hills of San Francisco in high heels, but those cable cars are often times a welcome site! But enough about San Francisco, we need to keep movin', so back on the Interstate to "jog" south towards the San Andreas Fault, 281 miles away. I am estimating that we didn't make it there today (~1 mile x 350 kids) but we will (easily) get there this week if we all keep up the good work! Oh, and make sure to make a quick stop outside SFO for the "Manhattan Clam Pizza" (hold the clams) at Amici's East Coast Pizzeria.

Don't forget to log your miles for the week here: Log Miles or check out our route here: The Route

Heading South on Hwy 1 ...
Thursday, February 25th

With this weeks mileage totals beginning to trickle in, I felt it was time for another quick update. First off, MAJOR PROPS to all of our Third-Graders. Third Grade has truly embraced this Virtual Jog-A-Thon with several of them logging more (daily) mileage than I logged while training for the Chicago Marathon. Totally impressed. Personally, I can't wait to see a huge uptick on Friday when the rest of you add your contributions to the effort. (hint. hint.) Oh, and as a side note, I did have to change a few of the questions on the "mileage submission form" as clearly the question around the capital of Illinois was way too easy for you guys. Go Greenhills Teachers! :)

So yes, while we have technically (only) logged 159 miles to date, I am optimistic that many of you have already 'done the work' but are waiting to record that mileage on Friday. As a result I will be taking some liberties in order to push us onward towards our lofty goal. If I don't do this now, one of these posts is going to wind up being way to uh, "epic", for any of our respective attention spans.

After dining on "clam-less" pizza at Amici's we headed South on Highway 101 towards San Jose. I would have suggested a brief stop at the Tech Interactive but surprise, surprise it is closed. Instead grab a late night snack (to go of course) at Aqui (the Chicken Taquitos are A-MAZ-ING) and continue on, jogging past the Monterey Bay Aquarium (also closed), beyond Carmel (if your legs are up to it, you are welcome to take a short detour to the "17-mile drive") to the Bixby Bridge.

Bixby Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in the nation. Growing up on the East Coast, I was under the impression that ALL of California looked like this. Well played California, well played. Anyway, the construction of this bridge began back in 1931 at a cost of only $203,000. In 1998, the State did a $20 million seismic retrofit (to make it Earthquake safe). With this type of ROI, I guess we should have all invested in bridges back in the 1930s. You know, if any of us had been born yet.

Beyond Bixby Bridge is Hearst Castle. (And.... closed.) Hearst Castle is listed as one of America's "10 Most Amazing Castles". While jogging by the grounds, we were lucky to spot one of the 126 wild zebras that roam freely through San Simeon. William Hearst had a private zoo at the castle until 1937 when it was disbanded, hence the zebras. Luckily he returned the Polar Bears to a nearby zoo. While I am all about bumping into a zebra while out on a run down Highway 1, I am not as cool with running into a Polar Bear.

Now onto the San Andreas Fault and a little geography lesson for all of us. The San Andreas Fault is a right-moving ('dextral') strike-slip fault. It marks the boundary between the North American Plate on the east and the Pacific Plate on the west and was the cause of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. The SAF stretches 700 miles in length, but, luckily, does not pass through Placer County. Phew.

Our final stretch for the day takes us another 158 miles to Death Valley. Did you know that Death Valley is the largest National Park in the Lower 48? It also boasts the highest temperature ever recorded IN THE WORLD at 134 degrees in 2013. Even I would remove my sweatshirt in that temperature! Our country's lowest point, Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level is also in Death Valley. Good thing we are passing through in February as the average temperature now is a mild 72 degrees. Say goodbye to all that beautiful California weather though, we head East in the morning!

Don't forget to log your miles for the week here: Log Miles or check out our route here: The Route

What Time is it Anyway?
Sunday, February 28th

As of Friday, February 26th, 122 of you have logged 906.8 miles towards our daunting goal of 15,864 miles. While we are only 6% of the way there at the moment, I am not all that concerned because my experience doing the “actual” Jog-A-Thon (back in 2019), tells me that you all like to wait until the last minute to really lay on that Greenhill’s spirit.

That being said, we ended our first week adding two new (really big!) states to our tally. I’m sure that your legs are starting to feel it by now -- particularly all those third graders who represent 51% of all logged miles. A jog through Death Valley left many of us longing for a tall glass of water and randomly, an ice cream cone. Luckily, just outside of the Mohave Dessert (in Nevada), we crossed paths with Seemoore's Ice Cream Stand”. Seemoore's claims to be the tallest Ice Cream Stand in the World (yes, that is an actual thing.) It is here that we all snarfed down a waffle cone all the while fending off the native antelope ground squirrels who appear to have a predisposition for our frozen dairy delicacies. Who could reset a dessert in a desert? :)

Did you know that Nevada gets fewer than 10 inches of rain a year making it the driest state in all the United States? It is also nicknamed the “silver state” even though it is the largest gold-producing state in the U.S. (And 4th in the world!) While I personally prefer diamonds, I wouldn’t be too upset to trip over a large gold nugget on my way through Las Vegas. Speaking of gold nuggets, the Golden Nugget makes up one of the many hotels on the Las Vegas Strip (one of the oldest actually) that famously offer up over 150,000 hotel rooms -- more than anywhere else on the planet.

Continuing on towards Arizona, you can’t miss seeing the massive Hoover Dam which stretches nearly a quarter of a mile (1244 feet) and 724 feet tall. At its base it is as thick as two football fields stretched end-to-end (660 feet) and at its top as thick as a four-lane highway. The amount of concrete used to build this structure is as much as a four-foot-wide sidewalk wrapped completely around the Earth at the equator. Oddly, there is a heavily substantiated rumor that (some) of that concrete is still curing today which might be a little unsettling if you are one of the 20,000 vehicles a day that drive across the dam from Nevada to Arizona on a regular basis.

As we enter Arizona on this last day in February, know that Arizona is on “Mountain Standard Time” and NOT “Pacific Time”. That means that while it is 8PM in California, it is 9PM in Arizona. BUT during other parts of the year, Arizona stays on the same time zone as California. This is all because Arizona does not observe daylight savings time. While this may not seem like a big deal to you now, just wait until the day you enter the workforce and spend the good part of each meeting trying to figure out what time to schedule a follow-up meeting with an Arizona-based customer. Sigh. Anyway...

On the way to the Grand Canyon a stop in Seligman, a.k.a. the birthplace of Route 66, is a must for those of us who will always hold Lightning McQueen’s in the highest regard even when their own children have decided to "move on". Seligman, as you can assume, is the inspiration for Radiator Springs and the only place where you can grab a milkshake at the REAL Cozy Cone Motel.

While Denny’s doesn’t always top my list of dining establishments, the one in Williams is a great place for us to grab a quick “moon over my hammy” before heading into the Grand Canyon. Because I am a glutton for punishment, I was tempted to take us on a trail down to the Colorado River and back but because we are behind in schedule (and there is probably some school liability issue) I opted to just catch the sunset at Hopi Point. A few fun facts about our short visit to the Grand Canyon are that it is the most visited national park in the United States; it is bigger than the state of Rhode Island, and the most dangerous animal in the park is the rock squirrel. (And yes, I had to google this to see if this was some special kind of crazy, unhinged, squirrel that chased down unsuspecting tourists or something but, thankfully, it is not. The rock squirrel is just the same type of stock squirrel we find back here in Granite Bay.) So with that settled, we pack up to head north to Utah.

Don't forget to log your miles for the week here: Log Miles or check out our route here: The Route

Virtual Jog-A-Thon - WEEK ONE RESULTS:
Monday, March 1st

1024.3 miles through California, Nevada and Arizona.
(14,659.7 miles to go!)

For their last and final Jog-A-Thon, our Third Graders are really making their mark. I think we should all cheer them on for their 4th (sometimes 5th!) and final Jog! (sniff. sniff.)

Other Teachers that have been represented but not visible on this chart are: Shafto, Palazzini, Chen, McMahon, and Pool (EVA).

I must say that I am quite impressed with those that were able to "skip" an entire 10 miles. Although I am even more impressed by the 9 miles logged "cartwheeling". Some serious talent here at Greenhills!

Other "States" that were popular but did not make a large enough impact on the chart to be visible are: Japan, North Canada, New York City, Washington D.C, Philadelphia and the often requested "Hawayyi" or "Haawii".

The answer is..... "International Orange"! Nice work!

The answer is.... Fairfield! This was a tricky one!

Hitting the Wall...
Wednesday, March 3rd

In our first week, we managed to successfully cover over 1000 miles. Now, on Day 10 of our journey we seem to be hitting the proverbial “wall”. The time when our glycogen (stored energy) within our muscles is completely depleted and, as a result, logged miles trail off as “Jog Across America Fatigue” sets in. To boost morale and get us back on track, I have decided to "throw you all a bone" and offer up our first incentive -- the “three-for”. Starting Monday, March 1st through Friday, March 5th for every mile that you log, I will award you three. We don't want to find ourselves stranded in North Dakota now do we?

Anyway, with our “three for” solidly in place, we are able to put “Stage One” behind us after trekking another 500+ miles through the snowy state of Utah. Did you know that the mountains of Utah receive an average of 500 inches of snow a year? With so much snow it is much easier to find a sledding hill in Utah that does not charge you an arm and a leg just to sled down it, unlike our own state of California where one is forced to pay twenty bucks, just to park behind a Shell station and use, what they consider, “their” snow. Sigh.

Another interesting fact about Utah is that they list their state food to be “JELL-O”. The people of Utah consume more of this gelatinous, no-bake delicacy per capita than anywhere else in the United States. "JELL-O" is so popular here, that when Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, a “pin” for the event was made, featuring a bowl of green “JELL-O”. While I personally do not like a dessert that is served in a bowl (pudding, ice cream, etc.) as they tends to be too opaque, the transparency of “JELL-O” allows me to be fully onboard with Utah's decision.

Continuing on, our 375 mile jog from the Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon had plenty of “photo ops” as we moved from colorful cliffs to the striking red rock. In Kanab we stopped to tour the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary which happens to be the nation’s largest animal refuge. While there, we were lucky enough to participate in several of the classes they offer including “bunny yoga”, “braiding cat toys”, and my personal favorite, “how to draw a pigeon”. After tapping into our creative sides, we continued to Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is most famous for its unique rock spires, known as “hoodoos” formed by water, ice and gravity. Bryce Canyon isn’t actually a canyon but a natural amphitheater, and a magnificent one at that. For those interested in astronomy, on a clear night one is able to see a whopping 7500 stars in the sky versus the 2500 spotted in most rural parts of the U.S. In the 1950s prairie dogs were completely wiped out from the area but were successfully reintroduced in the 1970s. These cousins of the ground squirrel are meant to have a vocabulary more advanced than any other animal language that has ever been decoded. All I can say is who knew that there was a job out there being an animal decoder? I feel like I may have missed my calling.

Our final stretch took us to the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake is the largest salt lake in the Western hemisphere, and the fourth largest lake in the world that does not flow into another water system. On average it is about the lake is 14 feet deep but can be as deep as 33 feet. The smell of there is pretty memorable, similar to that of a rotten egg. Yuck. In the 1980s, a flamingo named Pink Floyd escaped from a downtown aviary and made his way to the lake whereby he spent his time eating brine shrimp and socializing with the swans and the gulls. Pink Floyd liked to “summer” in Idaho, where we happen to head tomorrow. Perhaps there we will get the chance to see “Pink” in a “flamboyance” (technical term for a flock of flamingos) with all his buddies. I will certainly be on the lookout.

Don't forget to log your miles for the week here: Log Miles or check out our route here: The Route

Fishing from a Camel...
Friday, March 5th

With just a handful of hours left to log your miles during our “three-for” promotion, things have really started to pick up. I am hopeful that at this rate, and with some additional “mile multipliers”, we will make our sizable goal after all. As of this morning, an additional 347 miles or (x3) 1,041 miles have been added. While our third graders continue to account for 46.5% of all activity, the rest of you are really stepping it up this week and giving those third graders a “run” for their money. Whatever the result is in the end, know that “everybody wins” and this is by no means a competition. (I just happen to like using my newly acquired “charting” skills in Google Docs to run reports.)

Adding 1,041 miles takes us out of Utah, into Idaho and then across through the state of Wyoming. Ironically, Idaho is the state that my six-year-old has chosen for his "state report" this month. He could have selected from other (more) popular states like: Florida, Hawaii or New York (like you all did in the survey last week), but instead selected Idaho because it has Triple Play which is the “Chuck E Cheese” of the Northwest. (So proud). Luckily there is more to Idaho than just skee-ball and bumper boats. For one, Idaho grows nearly one-third of our nations potatoes. It is so famous for potatoes, that the starchy vegetable has graced its license plate since 1928. Our 43rd state has its name derived from a Native American word that means “the land of many waters” and is oftentimes referred to as the "Gem State" as one can find nearly 72 types of precious stones here. One misleading fact about this state (per many different websites) is that it is illegal to fish while riding on the back of a camel. As one can expect I was all over this fact, trying to uncover the origin, but instead found that the actual verbiage is more like “it is unlawful to chase fish up or downstream on the back of any animal”. I’ll be honest, if I were a camel, I would find this complete misrepresentation on the Internet deeply offensive.

Continuing on our journey, we came across what looked a lot like a volcanic wonderland. We soon entered the infamous Craters of the Moon National Park which was created by a handful of lava flows over time non of which erupted from volcanoes, but instead oozed out of fissures in the earth and occasionally spewed out of vents. The result was the 618 square miles of cinder cones, lava tubes, tree molds, lava rivers, spatter cones, and lava beds. (Bonus miles will be awarded to any of you aspiring geologists who can tell me what any of the aforementioned actually are.) Being at Craters was like we were jogging on the surface of moon. (Which, I actually do not recommend unless you have super strong soles on the bottom of your running shoes.) On the way out of Craters, we made sure to stop in nearby Arco to sample the fried pickles at Pickle’s Place. Fried Pickles are surprisingly delicious,

Onto Wyoming, "the Cowboy State", and into Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in March of 1872. It is home to more than 10,000 hydrothermal features – hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles, travertine terraces and geysers. "Old Faithful" is the most famous of all the geysers because of its regularity, but in the last few decades it has become considerably less reliable (“faithful”). It still erupts around 17 times a day with each “show” lasting between 1.5 and 5 minutes, reaching a height of 184 feet. Just like in times past, we waited close to an hour for it to erupt and the moment it did, my mom called. Go figure. Yellowstone has the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 – grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, fox, moose, elk and a whole lot of bison which like to congregate on the roads and create “bison jams”. No matter how many pick-up trucks are (quite literally) on a bisons tail, they never move faster than they need to. Guess you get that privilege when you have lived there since prehistoric times.

Leaving Yellowstone, we head across Wyoming for our final stop on the way to Colorado. If you were hoping for a “roadie soadie”, know that we will not see a single Target, Wal-mart, McDonalds…or any other prevalent retail or restaurant chain for the next 350+ miles. It is almost like we are camping or something. Finally after many, many hours, we find ourselves in a “hot spot” known as Thermopolis, population, not many. Thermopolis is home to some dinosaur bones (big deal) and two hot mineral water parks with numerous water slides; the cheaper of which my husband insists hasn’t been inspected since the 1960s. I, personally, fully appreciate the “untouched” nature of this particular water park and the fact that the lifeguards could care less how many family members choose to 'bomb' face down, down said slide into the murky, albeit super warm water below. It is truly amazing what you can find in a “no fault” state like Wyoming. Such a contrast from California :)

Don't forget to log your miles for the week here: Log Miles or check out our route here: The Route

Cheeseburgers and Donuts
Sunday, March 7th

One observation that I have made upon collecting the myriad of results from last week survey, is that Greenhill’s students are quite conventional in their choice of ice cream. When given the option to choose from hundreds of different flavors in (nonetheless) an open text field, the majority of you opted for either: Chocolate (25.3%), Vanilla (22%), or Mint Chocolate Chip (20.9%). Yes, there were some outliers (all the various Sherbets, Cookie Dough, Strawberry, etc.) AND one particular third grade class that took the liberty to detail out exactly what they wanted as a topping, the number of scoops they prefer, and their choice of cone, but generally speaking, most of you were pretty, traditional. I guess this goes to show us how In-n-Out Burger has been able to create such a successful empire from just three simple products – a burger, fries and a soda (or a vanilla shake for the 22% of you). Guess we all just like what we like.

Speaking of shakes, you all really started to shake things up this week logging an additional 1108.96 miles which (x3) equaled a massive 3326.88 miles added to our total. This means that as of Sunday evening, we are 27.75% (4,351.18 miles) of the way through our journey. Always the optimist, I am considering this to be "right on track". That being said, Mrs. Gerould is so confident in your ability to pull off the full 15,684 mile journey that she has designated our final “Mile Monday”, (Monday, March 22nd,) as “Patriotic Monday (a time to proudly wear your best red, white and blue) IF we are able to get to 65% participation by next Sunday. I feel that if we could all just take a “page” from our third graders, we would get there, no problem.

Jogging over three-thousand miles took us to Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. With the mountainous area of Colorado being over six times the size of Switzerland, this part of our run took some serious discipline and hard work. Did you know that we aren't the only ones running through the mountains? Colorado (Silverton to be exact), hosts one of the Worlds Hardest Endurance Runs. Participants have to run 100.5 miles, climbing 33,000 feet in total, with the highest peak being over 14,000 feet in under 48 hours. All I can say is that it is a good thing they run that event in July because we would never want any of the race competitors to feel demoralized if they got passed by a 1st grader wearing a Greenhills shirt.

The capital of Colorado is Denver whereby the 13th step of the state capital building is exactly one mile above sea level. (Hence the nickname “Mile High City”). While Utah chose to host the Winter Olympics in the 1990s, Colorado stakes its claim as the only state to ever turn down an offer to host the Olympics. Perhaps this was because Denver had set bigger sights - like laying claim to the invention of the cheeseburger which was trademarked here in 1935 at the (no longer in existence) Humpty Dumpty restaurant. While other states (Wisconsin and Kentucky) claim that they were the origin of this American staple, they do not have a stone marker to prove it. Denver, on the other hand, has a small, engraved hunk of granite that spells it out in no uncertain terms. Who doesn’t love a good ‘ole fashioned cheeseburger with ketchup? My nine-year old, that is who.

After fueling up on cheeseburgers we continued south to Pikes Peak. At this point we had already ascended several “14,000 footers” (Colorado itself has 53 of ‘em) so why not summit another. Pikes Peak is 14,115 feet and the difference between the top and the base of the mountain (in temperature) is thirty degrees or more. Pikes Peak is the most famous peak in Colorado because it is the most attainable. One can drive it, hike it, or take the train via the Cog Railroad. Once our group made it to the top, we indulged in a couple of donuts at the Summit House before continuing on to New Mexico. I mean honestly after the trek we just made; we totally earned a donut or six.

While only five of you listed New Mexico as the state that you (most) wanted to visit, I have to add my vote to bump that up to six. New Mexico is by far one of my most favorite. While Denver may be the “Mile High City”, Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, "goes big" by reaching 7,199 feet above sea level (well over a mile). Santa Fe is a lovely city with a colorful arts district, intriguing ghost tours run by people who take themselves way too seriously, and the best sopapillas (fried, puff pastry) a girl could ask for. While it was tempting not to dance in the street wearing a sombrero after devouring said sopapillas, we chose not to, because, well “dancing while wearing your sombrero” can oftentimes land you in jail while in New Mexico. Not a place I want to be.

Albuquerque (made famous by Bugs Bunny), is home to the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, hosting over 500 hot air balloons every October. The reason why balloon pilots love this event is the Box – a set of predictable wind patterns that allow balloons to fly north at low elevations and then cruise back south at higher elevations. The 1000s of spectators just love it for the bright colors. Smokey Bear (there is no “the” apparently) is also from New Mexico. Smokey was invented during World War II to help educate the general public about the dangers of wilderness blazes. His namesake was a black bear cub found by a firefighter during a massive wildfire in Taos, New Mexico. While this sounds like it was straight out of a Disney movie, I am happy to report that Smokey went on to live a happy life at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

On to White Sands National Monument where great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world's largest gypsum dune field. Gypsum is different from any other rocks because it will dissolve completely in water, like sugar or salt would. It is different than typical sand because it does not absorb heat from the sun. So even when it is super-hot in the desert, the sand is cool and comfortable to walk on. White Sands is also home to 3000 African Oryx, a species of antelope from East Africa introduced back in the 1970s. Not sure how one manages to smuggle a 400-lb antelope passed airport security and/or customs when we can’t even bring a bottle of shampoo, but whatever, things were different then.

Our final stop for the night (or this post) was at Carlsbad Caverns. With beauty abounding in the desert above ground, the Caverns are made famous by the 119 caves beneath the surface. Before elevators were invented, people explored the caves by climbing down on flimsy ladders or by being lowered down in a bucket. I don't have much luck with caves so I just decided to visit the gift shop. There are also 300,000 bats that billow out of the caverns each night which is awesome for those of you who are not completely alarmed at the idea of 300,000 bats in your immediate vicinity. I think it is time to say goodbye to New Mexico and head East towards Texas.

Don't forget to log your miles for the week here: Log Miles or check out our route here: The Route