capture1Three months, 9,000 miles, 10 states, and numerous cities across the U.S. — that’s how Susan Mauntel and longhaired dachshund Moki spent their summer. Her secret to keeping calm throughout her travels? “Knowing that God is in control, and using my iPhone GPS!”

“My theory is that you should go somewhere you’ve never been at least once a year,” Susan says. “Get out of your comfort zone, off a plane, and into your car.” Besides re-visiting places she used to live in Colorado and California, she targeted four cities along the way she had never explored before: Kansas City, Tulsa, Memphis and Savannah.

capture2Susan is no stranger to the drive from Florida to Colorado, having spent five winters in Naples. However, each time, she makes a point to “diversify” the road trip. Born on July 7th (7/7), Susan’s motivation this year was to spend her 77th birthday with dear friends in Colorado.  While planning her trip, Susan read that the Ringling Museum was making its way to Bentonville, Arkansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, for an exclusive art museum tour in the fall. “I thought to myself, if they can do it, I can do it,” she says. From there, she set to work planning her route.

Susan’s travels began on June 13th, with her first stop in a small town called Apalachicola, six hours away in Florida’s Panhandle. After a meal of the town’s famous oysters and getting a good night’s sleep, she moved on to her next destination, Bentonville, to take in the Crystal Bridges Museum of capture3American Art — a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, and architectural wonders. Next, Kansas City to see the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and visit with Plymouth Harbor residents, Phil and Barry Starr. Her wonderful hosts took her to both museums and introduced her to Winstead’s — a famous local diner where they courted in the 50s!
Following her self-guided art tour, Susan made her way to her former home, Aspen, Colorado, to spend a month in her cousins’ ski house. She spent time with friends at the Aspen Music Festival, the jazz festival, Shakespeare in the Park, and celebrated her birthday with “18 dynamic ladies I’ve
known since the 80s.” Then she was off to Denver to see more friends, and discovered the ART, a new, exciting hotel, steps from the Denver Art Museum.

Susan and Moki then headed to the West Coast by way of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Prescott, Arizona. After pit stops to see friends in both those towns, she set forth to her old stomping grounds in Southern California — San Diego and Los Angeles to be exact. “It was good to see the Pacific Ocean again,” she says with a smile.

capture4Many art museums, galleries, and plays later, Susan began the adventure home. She stopped in Aspen again, then Breckenridge for a week with her best friend from college. Tulsa, Oklahoma, came next to see her cousins. “I imagined Tulsa to be flat and dusty. To my surprise, I was met with rolling hills, big trees, and green grass,” she says. “It was beautiful, wonderful to be with family — and to see more art museums!”

Memphis, Tennessee, and Savannah, Georgia, rounded out her trip. In Memphis, she stayed at the renowned Peabody Hotel and witnessed the famous duck parade. She also visited Elvis’s Graceland, the legendary Sun Records (Million Dollar Quartet), and the National Civil Rights Museum. Savannah ended Susan’s travels with a quaint bed and breakfast and a dinner cruise featuring Southern Gospel singers.

On an inspirational note, Susan adds, “You don’t need three months to do a fun trip. Take a weekend, get in your car, and head to a place you’ve never been.” While Susan (and Moki) are unsure of their next destination, we’re sure it will be a good one.