Things to read...

If time is short, I'd suggest reading at LEAST The Prologue and Legend of The Pinto Bean Posts!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Vet Plans Road Trip to Meet America & Needs Your Help

Below is a copy of the iReport submitted (pending approval) and also a copy of his original post asking for help...but there's a little more to it. Unfortunately, the original budget for the trip is going to fall far short. When the planning started, gas was at $2.15/ the date of departure gas will most likely be close to $4.00/gallon. I need a little help! Any little bit helps and donations are greatly appreciated. Donations can be sent via Paypal. Feel free to send inquiries, comments, suggestions, etc to the trip's email address And feel free to share this w/ family and friends!!!

Daniel McConnell thought nothing of his country's request to relocate to fact he welcomed the challenge and the adventure. Unfortunately, his all-expenses-paid tour of Afghanistan ended early when the Apache he was piloting crashed in the barren landscape. Through a miracle, he escaped with his life. However, he did not come home unscathed. He lost his right hand below the elbow and sustained a traumatic brain injury among other injuries.

The one thing he's never lost is his passion for life. After several months at BAMC in San Antonio, Daniel returned to Tennessee where he is now in medical school at ETSU. Effects of the his brain injury and the obstacles presented by being an amputee increase the difficulty of medical school, but have not held him back. He continues to embrace life and has become an inspiration to others.

A little more that two years after his return to the states, his country is calling him again but in a slightly different way. It's calling him to explore the countryside and meet the people he sacrificed so much for. Year one of medical school is rapidly coming to a close and the summer
break is to be used to 'set yourself apart' from other med students.

Daniel decided when he heard that, that he would set himself apart...and not by doing research like everyone else. He decided that since he dedicated eleven and a half years to this great country (and even lost body parts for it), he wanted to see it and meet his fellow Americans.
He's planning to make a big circle around the country...starting in Tennessee driving up to Maine, over to Oregon, down California, and then across to Key West. He will be driving (and living in) his old '84 Suburban affectionately known as the 'Pinto Bean' with only the company of his furry, four-legged co-pilot named Rocky. He's planning to stay off the beaten path and see as much as he can with plans to write a book about his adventures.

He is planning to hit the open road towards the end of May. (Unfortunately, when he originally budgeted, gas was $2.15/gallon and now it's rapidly approaching $4.00/gallon...we're hoping he won't have to cut his trip short.) But he is looking for suggestions for the book. What would you like to read about? What part of American culture do you think has been missed by mainstream media? Do you know of any 'must-stop' destinations?

You'll be able to follow his trip on his blog: He won't be posting the juicy stories since they'll be reserved for the book, but he'll try to post updates along the get out your maps and stick pins to track his progress!

Original Help Request:
Well ladies and gentlemen, I'm appealing to the unwashed masses for some help and ideas. Please take the time to read this and see what ya think. First, a brief history. I was an Apache pilot in the Army until I lost my arm below the elbow in a crash in Afghanistan. After that I was booted out of the Army b/c they wouldn't let me fly anymore (FAA signed me off as A-OK, but that's another story.) Anyhow, I'm now in medical school in East TN, where compliments of a traumatic brain injury and the amputation, I've been having quite the experience.

Well this summer is the only one we get off (eight weeks) and the school recommends you "do research or work in a hospital to 'set yourself apart' from other medical students." Well I figured a few months ago that if ALL med students are doing research etc, HOW does that set you apart?? Well this is where my idea comes into play. Do read on….

I've decided that since I gave 11.5 years of my life to this country, and even lost body parts fighting for it, I want to SEE it, and the people who live in it. My plan is to drive basically a big circle around the USA from TN to Maine, then Oregon, down Cali and off to Key West. I have a beat up 1984 Suburban I've been preparing for the trip, and my plan is to live in it, along with my mildly retarded Boxer. I hope to see a lot of sites, stay off the interstates, and meet a lot of interesting people along the way…

Anyhow my ultimate goal is to maybe write a book about it, the stuff I see and the people I meet, along with the life I've led so far (I've done a LOT of stuff….) My question for all of you all is "what would you want to read about? What ideas do you have?" Also, given that gas is approaching $4.00 a gallon, and I budgeted for this back when it was $2.15, does anyone care to contribute, b/c I'll sure appreciate and need it!! I've considered a different vehicle, but I HAVE the suburban, and I can live in it whereas a car would be too small, and the tent thing is a little hard with one arm… Anyhow, please at least suggest ideas, and if ANY of you are on other forums and care to repost this, I'd sure appreciate it!!


The Banker said...


Your post on CL Chicago sucked me in. I have never posted to a blog before - so I am sure you will receive other posts that are more clever - but I am the first -- andthat should count for something. I know I can't speak for everyone in the heartland- but from your profile - you sound like our kind of people. We are a hard working family in the SW burbs of Chicago -- so if your trips brings you this way we could probably BBQ up some burgers and share a cold one. I have had three nephews serve in IRAQ and AFGHANASTAN -- and we are lucky enough to report that all come home safe and sound -- not sure if they went over too sound -- so maybe strike that last part:) I also must say I'm a bit worried about you making it very far in that truck --- I'm a MOM I had to say it --looks questionable. My advice -- If you have not named that vehicle -- give it a name and a strong one --perhaps you can trick it into being reliable.

I will visit the site again and track your course. In the mean time if you post your paypal account we could probably help out with a modest donation to put a few gallons of overpriced fuel into the truck.

Daniel said...

Hey Ms. Banker! Thanks for the first comment!! I hope my blog sucks more people in!! Anyhow, as for the truck, part of the fun will be seeing if it makes it! BTW, it was christened the Pinto Bean many moons ago! Amazingly, it's the most reliable vehicle i've ever owned. One break down (broken belt) in 2.5 years! Anyhow, if you care to paypal, I use for that! Thanks either way!! Daniel

LieuStew said...

First and foremost - GOD BLESS YOU and THANK YOU for your service to our country!! I just saw your post on CL Dallas. I usually just check out the "rants and raves" for giggles and was surprized to find a post worth responding to. When do you plan to leave on your odyssey? I am a Retired Fire Lieutenant/Paramedic forced out because of a radical on-the-job back injury, so I can relate (on a smaller scale) to you being kicked out. It's kinda like "Hey, thanks for putting your life on the line for over 20 years, now kindly leave".

Unfortunately, my ability to help you financially right now is very limited, but I will send something your way when I can.

Are you coming through Dallas? With a little notice I might be able to whip up a little support when you get here. Good Luck and God speed, Mark.

Daniel said...

LieuStew, thanks for the words of support!! No idea for sure WHEN i'm gonna make it there but keep following here to see!! AS for support, and is nice, be it ideas, good wishes, or monetary!

Also, please e-mail me or check back here so i can reply to comments!! I can't seem to figure out how to directly!

rugby_penguin said...

What is your dogs name? He looks like a good friend.

Daniel said...

Rugby... My dog's name is Rocky aka Rockstar. he'll be featured soon in his own story!

Dennis said...

Good luck! As a former Apache crewchief, I am used to taking care of pilots:) If you pass through the Denver area I would be honered to put you up for as long as you would like to stay. Rocky is more than welcome also!
I spent 5 yrs ta FT. Campbell, Aco 3/101st I loved that area. Enjoy your trip and get in touch if you're in this area.