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“Expedition 56” visits our territory

Globe trotting and cross country treks are staples of the 21st century; however it is a rare person who names their journey as they set out on the road, and even more unusual to find those travels intersect with exactly the same number— pinpointing age, time, places and charitable donations along the way. Samoa News was recently introduced to one of those rare people, whose first time visit to the territory included a wonderful backstory. Nancy Zyburt was born in a small town near Detroit, and spent most of her life in the rural districts of Michigan where wheat fields and corn fields make up the landscape. The town of Chelsea was her home for 33 years, the place where she raised three daughters and ran a studio, the ‘Dance Arts of Chelsea’.In May, 2012 she sold her business, whose staff and organization she called wonderfully creative. It wasn’t an abrupt decision, but was a long time coming. “I was ready for a change” she said. She had for years “a vision of traveling across America” but raising three young children and holding down a business kept this dream out of reach.Her journey from the farms of Michigan to the rest of America began in earnest when her youngest daughter graduated from college, and she decided it was time to go. “With my last daughter graduated, it opened up the door for me to leave. I sold the business and the little pieces started coming together. I realized that I was meant to be doing this.”Officially, she calls her journey “Expedition 56”, and she keeps a blog with that name to document her travels. Unofficially, she calls it her “Give Back to America” Journey. She said, “I made up my mind that I wanted to give something back to my country, in my own way.” As for the name, “Expedition 56”, she explained, “ I’m 56 years old; I was born in 1956, and I’m on a 56-week journey to all of America—which together adds up to 56 (50 states, five territories, plus Washington, D.C.) In keeping with her numerical theme, Nancy Zyburt is making a $56 donation every single day of her journey. She is also walking eight miles a day, which is of course —56 miles per week. American Samoa is her 20th stop on this journey.She flew here from Hawaii, a few days later than expected. Due to a flight delay out of San Diego, she saw some of the Aloha State sooner than she planned. A tour of O’ahu kept her busy for a few days, before her Hawaiian Air flight to Pago Pago. Arriving in the dark, she was whisked away to Sadies by the Sea, where she woke up to a cerulean blue sky, a warm tropical breeze and “one of the prettiest harbors I had ever seen” Samoa News caught up with her next to that harbor, where she spoke of her time here. And true to her plan, she recounted donating $56.00 each day to a worthy organization. While here, she gave money to the National Park Service (her first stop on her first walk thru town) the American Samoa Red Cross, a church in Sa’ilele, Hope House, the Tauese Sunia Ocean Center, “a woman with four children in the military” and Matatula Elementary.She said, “I always try to donate to a military base donation in each state, because if it were not for their service, I would not be free to pursue my dream.” It may have not been a base this time, she said, but she knew her donation would go to help people who were serving our country.While here she also hiked up to Blunt’s Point, Mt. Alava and walked through “many beautiful villages”. In one village, she saw a cricket game for the first time.She said when she turned 56 last year, she was determined to make the journey, and include the territories—which she became aware of when she started collecting commemorative U.S. quarters a few years ago.To date, she has visited 19 states - and now this, the first of her treks into a U.S. territory. From here, she returns to Hawaii, and then on to Guam and Saipan. From there, she will return to the States, where she will pick up her car and her trusty Labrador retriever, “Tula”.In the continental U.S. she is traveling in a van —ala the 60s (except, it’s a minivan, she smiles) and her dog, “Tula” travels with her. A chocolate Lab, she named her Tula because it was a Norwegian word for “calm and gentle”. Tula walks with her everywhere in the states, but she left Tula with her daughter for this part of the journey.“Yes”, she said, “I had a ‘Tula’ connection, unawares.”Naturally, she visited the village of Tula, where she took lots of pictures. Follow Nancy Zyburt and her journey at www.Expedition