I’m Joan Stommen from Kalamazoo, Michigan. I met my husband working on our college newspaper. Our two children rewarded us for an awesome childhood by giving us five grandkids. I’ve worked as a reporter, an elementary teacher and principal, a fitness instructor and writing coach. I’m now retired but substitute in the local schools and work with authors as our town’s Ambassador for Hometown Reads.
What is the passion that drives you to collect adventures?
I am a traveler, a ‘doing’ traveler where I can hike, ride horses or bikes, climb, kayak, and try new different kinds of things like dog sledding, paddle boarding, sleeping in a treehouse, or road tripping through small-town America. I belong to the Great Lakes Adventure Club; mainly for hiking and biking.
How did you discover this passion?
It was 2002 when I climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge. My brother, an Australian citizen, encouraged me. Our dad visited him the previous year but became too ill to do the climb. His ticket was still good, so I was given the honor of doing it for dad. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. But that accomplishment, that thrill stayed with me. I grew braver and felt an appetite for challenges and off-the-beaten-path kind of adventures.
What is your favorite memory from one of your adventures?
I have so many…but the best was seeing the 911 Memorial on a rainy afternoon during a vacation in NYC with my twelve-year-old granddaughter. She was born on September 12th, 2011….so it was quite meaningful to her as well. Hiking around Uluru and riding a camel in Ayers Rock, Australia in 2016 was another unforgettable moment in time.
If you could give someone advice about pursuing their passions and collecting adventures, what would it be?
Just go and do, have no regrets. After retirement, my husband and I traveled first class, rented a beach house in Ventura, CA two months every year and bought a classic car to keep out there. We may have fussed about spending money sometimes….but two weeks before we were to head west, he didn’t wake up from his nap. I do not regret a single penny, and although I live frugally, my money goes to travel…it will always make you richer! It’s also important to note that I mostly travel solo….I want women to know they can do it! I also take each grandchild on a vacation of their choosing…one more to go!
What are 3-5 MUST HAVE items you always pack when traveling?
- I keep a go-bag/duffle ready with trial-size everything.
- Healthy snacks, a pair of pajamas, shirts, and pants to mix or layer, a swimsuit and a paperback book…pretty much covers how I pack for every destination.
- I buy classic pieces and comfortable shoes…they work for most places and seasons.
What are 5 fun facts or quirks that not many people know about you?
- I love to dance to the oldies.
- I choose stairs instead of elevators.
- I snort when I laugh….but everybody knows this.
- I’m an open book! I tell everyone my story if they’ll listen.
- I make people laugh…that’s me, fun and quirky!
What inspired your blog name?
My blog is gramcrackercrumbs.com. My oldest granddaughter started calling me Gramcracker when she was five…seeing graham crackers in my pantry I guess. Her little sister picked it up and then the others as they came along. When I decided to start a blog, she suggested Crumbs when I told her I was going to write about the bits and pieces of my life.
Where can people connect with you?
You can connect with me here:
Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski says
It looks like you’re having so much fun! That’s great! I’m a widow as well and it was a struggle. Glad you have the means to travel when you want.
Joan Stommen says
Thank you for reading and commenting Rebecca. Travel keeps me going…the planning, anticipation and new experiences. Not a lot of financial means, just my priority….and determination. Hope you’re planning something new and fun!