Ice Cream Expedition: Updates From the Road

This summer Young Explorers Caleb, Jordan, and Cameron are driving across the country in an ice-cream truck to show kids how easy it is to explore their world—as well as protect it. Supported in part with a National Geographic Young Explorers grant, the Ice Cream Expedition will make stops all over the United States, talking to kids about their favorite places to explore in nature. We'll also ask them to take a pledge to protect those places, and of course, give away free Magnolia ice cream! Keep checking this page to get the latest updates from the road.

Nashville, TN 8/28/2014

The expedition next took us to Nashville, Tennessee—also called Music City. Right after we parked the truck at a friend’s house, people began to gather and ask questions. It turned out that they were on their way to film a music video! On this trip, we've met people of every sort, and that has been one of the most incredible parts of the journey. In Montana we met a family of ranchers. In Texas we met a group of people who go curling. In San Diego we met a marine biologist who raised sea horses. America is a large and diverse place, and this ice-cream truck has allowed us to meet many kinds of people.


Photograph by Jordan Fatke

Atlanta, GA 8/20/2014

In Atlanta, we held our event at a beautiful botanic garden. Here the kids started exploring right after getting ice cream! I talked with a nine-year-old named Adam who finished his pledge, jumped up on a ledge, and spotted a butterfly chrysalis in a nearby plant. Exploring should happen everywhere!

New Orleans, LA 8/16/2014

Geographically, New Orleans might be the most interesting city in the whole country. It's located at the point where the Mississippi River delivers the water it has carried across the country to the Gulf of Mexico. Along with water, the river carries mud. This sediment creates the unique bayou marshes that house wildlife ranging from alligators to herons to turtles.


As has been the case for the rest of the expedition, we were blown away by the places that kids explore and the ways that they like to protect these places. Hearing about exploring the wetlands surrounding New Orleans was a unique treat.


Photograph by Jordan Fatke

Austin, TX 8/13/2014

Our time in Austin, Texas, was fun. We started off with a trip to the Austin Ice Cream Festival, a place where many different ice-cream shops and trucks come out to showcase their ice cream. Although there were some delicious flavors, I’m still partial to our purple yam with coconut (or macapuno ube if you’re in the Philippines).


Our main event was at an amazing place called the Thinkery. Here they request that everyone ask two big questions: why and how. These questions are at the heart of exploration and discovery. Asking these questions makes a true explorer.

Tulsa, OK 8/7/2014

We drove southeast from Colorado to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here we held an event at a park in the middle of the city. This park was a wonderful place where people of all ages could gather. There were kids playing in the fountains while their adults did yoga, listened to concerts, and visited farmers markets.


Our event was before an outdoor screening of the movie Back to the Future. Since the movie is about time travel, it made me think about what I could protect if I could go back in time. I think I might try to save the passenger pigeon, a bird species that used to darken the skies with their numbers. This bird became extinct through hunting and habitat loss.


We couldn’t stay in Oklahoma long, as we needed to make it to Texas to stock up on ice cream. 

Boulder, CO 8/4/2014

In Boulder, we held an event next to a marsh. It was a stark difference from the high mountains, but it was amazing to see so much life in a small area. The kids we worked with loved the marsh, and in the past week found tadpoles, minnows, water striders, and more. These kids were true explorers and conservationists taking a close look at their world.


Photograph by Jordan Fatke


Photograph by Jordan Fatke

Estes Park, CO 8/3/2014 

The mountains were always close by our events in Colorado. When we were in Estes Park, we decided to drive the ice-cream truck into Rocky Mountain National Park. We like to think we might have set a record for the highest altitude ever driven by an ice-cream truck (12,000 feet above sea level). We liked hearing from a few kids who were exploring at the top of the mountain. We spotted a yellow-bellied marmot, an animal that only lives at high altitudes.

Colorado Springs, CO 8/2/2014

Coming home is always fun, but this time it was even more special because I came in an ice-cream truck. My younger siblings were especially excited because they were allowed to eat as much ice cream as they wanted.


A great way to explore in your own yard is to keep track of how many birds you see. You can send your list to the Audubon Society to help scientists track where birds live. One of the easiest ways to protect birds is to put a bell on your cat's collar so that they can’t catch the birds. 

Seattle, WA 7/25/2014

After a quick drive up from Portland, we arrived in Seattle. It had been a very exciting ten days to open the expedition holding six events, giving away 1,983 cups of ice cream, and driving 2,057 miles.


We visited a camp run by the Audubon Society of Seattle. This group loves all of nature, but it especially loves birds. We enjoyed hearing about their favorite birds and places to see them in this beautiful area. One of the kids from the camp, Atticus, wanted to explore and protect the forests around Seattle because he enjoys camping. Atticus drew a picture of himself telling someone to not chop down a tree. He demonstrated one of the most important ways to protect a place, which is by showing others that you care about it.


Photograph by Jordan Fatke


Photograph by Jordan Fatke

Portland, OR 7/23/2014

On our way to Portland, Oregon, we stopped at a National Park called Crater Lake. At 2,000 feet, this lake is the deepest in America. That’s so deep that you could stack the Statue of Liberty six-and-a-half times and it would still be underwater. Despite its name, the lake was not created by a meteor leaving a crater. Instead, it was made when a volcano erupted about 8,000 years ago leaving a very deep pit that filled with water.


Once we made it to Portland, we went to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I love talking with kids that come to the truck, and especially seeing what each of them loves to explore and protect. One of my favorite pledges from the event came from a three-year-old named Aggie. She loves the ocean, and wants to protect it by keeping it clean. This was especially important to her because she lives on the Hawaiian island of Maui, which is surrounded by the ocean. My favorite part of this pledge is the picture that Aggie drew. The ocean is not easy to draw since there are so many interesting parts to see. Aggie did a good job of capturing the colorful diversity. 

San Francisco, CA 7/20/2014

In San Francisco, we held an event at the California Academy of Sciences—one of our favorite museums. One of the most interesting parts of the museum is its unusual roof. Its called a "living roof" because it is made with dirt so that plants can grow all over the surface.


In San Francisco, many kids that we talked to had an interest in protecting the bay and marshes that are near the city. These are such important parts of the San Francisco ecosystem and it was great to see how kids explore and protect them. After the event, we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most famous San Francisco landmarks.


Photograph by Jordan Fatke


Photograph by Jordan Fatke

Los Angeles, CA 7/18/2014

Traveling across the country giving away ice cream is such a fun way to hear about exploration from people that look at the world in many different ways. In San Diego, we were right by the ocean at the aquarium. In Los Angeles we were right in the middle of one of the biggest cities in America.


Sometimes it might seem like you can only be an explorer when you're far away from other people in the wilderness, but the kids in LA showed us otherwise. Their ideas of places to explore and ways to protect these places were so interesting. You can help protect the world wherever you live!

San Diego, CA 7/17/2014

The Ice Cream Expedition kicked off in San Diego! It is the start of a very long trip, but we couldn’t be more excited to travel around the country in an ice-cream truck. During the next two months, we will travel around 10,000 miles. That’s about three quarters as long as the Great Wall of China!


We started our trip at the Birch Aquarium, and talked with some great kids. It was great fun to hear their perspective on the places that they love to explore and protect.  Two popular places in San Diego were the canyons and the beach. 


Photograph by Jordan Fatke