My flip flopped feet dropped out of the driver’s side door onto the gravel pavement in the parking lot. We were here at Stop One- Washington D.C. I stood up on the edge of the car and looked over the roof at my two travel companions. Tom was already snapping pictures and Joey was looking out at the new scenery that surrounded us. First on the agenda was monument hopping. Like pinballs in a machine we quickly walked from the Jefferson to the Washington to the World War Two to the Lincoln to the Vietnam to the… well you get the drift. This morning once our feet hit the ground our cameras were up and monuments were in front of the lenses. I called my parent’s from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.“Hi! Where are you?” My mom answered.“Hi! I’m calling from the steps of the Jefferson!”“How long have you been there?”“Five minutes, stop one at stop one!”A huge smile spread across my lips and I looked out across the mall at the Washington Memorial and I suddenly felt totally thrilled.
Last night and this morning Joey and I were frantically packing up the remains of what we didn’t realize was so much stuff in our apartment. This trip was weighing heavily on my mind because I was wishing I had more time to pack and prepare. We did really well last night packing up the car and getting mostly everything out of the apartment, the only problem was there was no room for Tom’s stuff or for that matter Tom himself! We were going to have to do some rearranging. We were finally ready to jump in the car and get going but I thought I should do a quick once over of the old place. The last three things in the apartment were a tapestry over the smallest window in the living room (I call it the gun turret window), a busted lock from when we locked ourselves out and Joey removed the door handle (after a while of other attempts at getting in…) and a life sized sticker of Master Chief. This random selection is the product of living with a self proclaimed pack rat. Anyway, that stuff went straight to the dumpster and we got in the car and got on the road.
We pulled up to Tom’s and I was immediately relieved that not only did he have a huge smile on his face but he didn’t mind that we were half an hour late and he laughed out loud when he saw the state of the car and helped us move stuff to his car which will be meeting us in Portland in a few months time. I drove first, and honestly didn’t feel any real waive of excitement at first. I was just driving along thinking about all the extra stuff we had, how little sleep I had gotten, how I felt bad for Tom because the back seat is basically a cave of backpacks and other assorted stuff, I was looking for some kind of fast food to get Tom some breakfast (Joey and I had already eaten), I was trying to remember where my GPS charger is (I still don’t know), I was watching Joey try to hook up the internet and laughing at Tom who was giving him a hard time for not having it done five minutes ago… it really didn’t hit me that we’re on our road trip until my feet hit the pavement and I could see the monuments in front of us. This is it America, no turning back now!
We found all-day parking near the Jefferson Memorial
, and made our way around that monument and toward the more easily visible Washington Monument
. Tom made good use of his new tripod, eliminating the need to tap any strangers on the shoulder to take our picture, while we pose and quietly wonder if they're going to steal our camera.
As we were walking over to the Lincoln Memorial we ran into our first random “hey we know you!” person. Anthony Unger, one of Joey's fraternity brothers from college, crept up on Joey while riding his bike and gave us all a laugh. Tom documented the moment with a picture. We visited the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial for a somber reading of a medal of honor award for a fallen soldier. We followed with the Constitution Gardens, then the Museum of American History and finally the Museum of Natural History and by then our feet were achy, we were attractioned out and we were ready for some amazing hamburgers from Five Guys, a local staple of almost-fast food (but much better than your average Whopper). Now, at 9:30 on our first day on the road I’m sitting in Tom’s sister Lela’s dining room table with Lela, Tom and Joey, each of us with a lap top (you kids these days…), each of us clicking away, and I’m suddenly on the trip of a lifetime. Feels pretty awesome. ~Sarah
This is officially our first post from the road. Moreover, it's our first mobile post, as I'm sitting in the backseat of the Xterra, with Joey riding shotgun and Sarah driving as we coast down 202 South to our nation's capital in Washington, D.C. We're connected to the internet thanks to Joey's Blackberry, which is riding precariously next to him in the front seat.
We worked out a few opening bugs and got some swear words out of the way in terms of getting online. Photos are another story, they might take a while to upload from the mobile phone. But believe you me, you can't wait to see this jam-packed car of ours.
First stop is the Lincoln Memorial. See you there.
In most of my worldly pursuits throughout my life, from the first day at school to the first day at work, from the driver's license test to coping with my first hangover... all of these things bear a common trait. In approaching all of these activities and an endless array of others, I've found a modicum of comfort in taking time to talk to someone else who has had that experience before. Nothing makes you feel better about going into a potentially stressful situation than discussing the best way to approach it, so as to minimize those pesky nerves. Here's hats off to my sister, Lela, who has taken this role of "wise elder" for me on many past occasions.
This is different. The plan that we're about to execute is a pretty original work of art, which unfortunately means that while we've accumulated a plethora of advice with regard to visits in specific cities or regions, there's really nobody to talk to who has done exactly what we're about to do. Scores of spectacular travel stories exist on the pages of books and the internet - but there's no precise precedent for our trip.
There's a lot that comes with packing up and leaving - and even more that comes with packing up and, essentially, spending the summer as a homeless man. And we've done just about everything in our power to maximize the quality and enjoyability of our coming venture.
But man, am I nervous.
It's the anticipation to dwell among some of the world's most breathtaking scenes, that makes the anxiety diminish somewhat. It's the excitement before exploring vast, unfamiliar city streets and their every unique corner. It's those deep, dark feelings that flash across my mind, longing for a beautiful experience from the past that I can't seem to recreate, or even clearly recall. This trip will open up a flood of new ideas and memories that will change the way I look at the world, and move my life in a way that I cannot begin to imagine today.
And together with Joey and Sarah, the three of us will keep each other in line and on track for a flawless road trip on each and every level. If I didn't trust in that, I wouldn't be going with them.
We leave tomorrow. I hope you'll check in frequently over the next 100 days; it's going to be amazing.
Memorial Day weekend is almost synonymous with backyard BBQs, parties, good food and good friends. Saturday morning (ok, early afternoon) when I woke up the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the air was full of spring pollen and it was time to head to George and Steltz’s new house for the going away party they were throwing us.
It was a gorgeous day for a get together. When we arrived the place was already buzzing with activity; there was a lovely display of cheese and veggies, burgers on the grill and an ice luge gently melting in the soft heat from the sun. The usual crowd was milling around, my best friend from home, Regina, was there and some amusing outfits caught the corner of your eye as you mingled with a veritable who’s who of Phi Sig alumni.
The theme of the party was Dress Like Joey and, if I may say, his soon-to-be travel companions nailed it. I had a dress with a floor length skirt on (wait for it…) which was rolled up into my shirt to make a belly and PJ pants rounded out the outfit; Tom had a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts which, after a short time near the beer and ice luge, were covered in large wet stains. What can I say, we have the Joey fashion down.
The day wore on and the night faded in and we lingered with our friends until the wee hours of the morning peeked over the horizon at us. We quietly disbursed each in our own time. Joey and I left Tom cozily wrapped in a blanket on the floor, and as we drove off sleepy and with a not so gentle reminder of last night pounding in our heads we each had satisfied smiles sitting on our lips because who could ask for better friends than these?
East Coast, you'll be dearly missed. The West Coast has some mighty big shoes to fill.
With less than a week before we hit the road, we've done almost everything in our power to plan around every edge of our trip. We've bought supplies, we've done tons of research and whatever else you can think of - all with the end goal of providing you, the readers, with the most immaculate travel publication on the web.
Yesterday, our ability to do so took a big step forward, with the introduction of the Canon PowerShot A1000. This fantastic little piece of work was a collaborative gift from my two roommates, Ian and Dave, and my lovely girlfriend Bernadette. I had levied my concerns over the past few months (apparently in their presence) about my ability to accurately display the power and beauty of the many different sights I will be encountering. My last camera, which was decent (a Nikon Coolpix L6), was unfortunately little more than just that, decent. So with the new equipment on board, and a new tripod on its way to me in the mail, I expect to be taking some amazing photos during this summer-long voyage.
This new camera boasts a 4x zoom lens, 10 megapixel resolution and even manages to correct for shaky hands. This night shot at right came from my front step, with no tripod in sight. Not too bad for a beginner. I should take a moment to thank these three wonderful people for their gift and their generosity. And you, my dear readers, should probably be doing the same, as this new toy will play a major role in your online entertainment for the next few months.
So keep a close eye. The trip starts Sunday. Until then, here's wishing you all a splendid Memorial Day.
(From top) Photo by yum9me courtesy Flickr.com; photo by Tom Stanley
Here is our new map. This third representation of our route is based on a relief map that is in the public domain in the United States by virtue of the fact that it is a work of the US Government. You can also find it at its new home at the top of the Where We’re Going page. And while you’re there read over a stop or too, especially if you are familiar with it or the surrounding area. Then let us know what we are missing. It is never too late to add to the plan.
Only ten days left until departure...
We may be equidistant,
she and I,
from the beginning and end
of our once joined journeys;
each of us, now lives apart,
stalled at a comfortable place,
but frustrated and longing
to walk along the next road.
I have planned and saved with care
and, weighing health against wealth
against enigmatic time,
to walk once again in the
undiscovered lands of life;
whereas she, in reflection
has also planned and saved
then, disdainful of caution,
steps from shelter,
knowing her beginning path
but not where it will take her,
captivated by dreams of
the winds of change on her face
whispering of worlds unseen.
My parents took me out to Stockbridge, Mass yesterday to have lunch at the Red Lion Inn and to see the Norman Rockwell Museum. The Red Lion is kind of a landmark around here; it’s been a vacation spot for a long time and is actually featured in some of Rockwell’s paintings. It’s a large old white building in the middle of Stockbridge that looks more like a huge house than a hotel.
My picture here is more of my parents than it is of the building, so use your imagination. There are rocking chairs on the porch and rickety screen doors leading to the carpeted inside where there is a sitting room in the lobby filled with old sofas and other ornate furniture. We ate in the Tavern rather than the main dining room so as not to be so fancy. Lunch was still pretty upscale considering most of the time for lunch I eat tuna fish and crackers in my cubicle at work. I had a delicious Pilgrim Sandwich which is homemade wheat bread piled high with turkey breast, stuffing and a cranberry mayonnaise. My mom had a Field Greens Salad with cranberries and walnuts and my dad had a Chicken Caesar with lemon and anchovies dressing (not whole fish, just the flavor).
We headed off to the Norman Rockwell Museum after that which is about a mile and a half down the road. The picture here is of his studio which they actually cut in half and moved to the site where the museum is. Rockwell lived around Vermont and Massachusetts in his later life (he was born in New York City) and a lot of the people and scenes he paints are from my neck of the woods. Rockwell was employed with the Saturday Evening Post for a long period of time and pained over 300 covers for them. They had a whole room dedicated to his magazine covers which were fun to look at. He also painted the Four Freedoms after a speech by President Roosevelt, which famously depicts Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. Rockwell tried to give these paintings to the government, and when they turned him down the Post ran them inside the magazine. People all over called the Post asking for prints and the government decided to take Rockwell up on his offer after all. These paintings were seen all across the country and with the purchase of a War Bond you got a free set of prints; Rockwell helped raise over a million dollars for the war effort. Stockbridge itself is a very charming little town and as we walked along the sidewalk my mom pointed out all of the charm oozing from each quaint New England house. For those of you who know about the song Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie, it is an actual restaurant in this town, but now it’s called Theresa’s.
Today is Saturday and to wrap up the week the family is getting together for my mom’s final concert with the Pioneer Valley Orchestra for the season; they will start up again in September. It should be a really nice way to end the week here at home. Until next time America. ~Sarah
With so little time left, Tom, Sarah and I have been up to quite a bit of stuff. Sarah has been better acquainting herself with the blogging interface while at her parents’ house (Tom or I used to upload and, to some degree, format blog posts her) and as you can see she is doing a great job. Tom has also been up to some pretty cool stuff arranging our schedule and contacting people for various reasons. I am sure you will hear more from him in the near future. And, there’s me, Joey, the guy who’s writing this post. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
There’s nothing glamorous about this one, but if one of us trips on hike and breaks a bone, there’s nothing like the reassurance that we won’t be clawing our way out from debt for the next several years. We went with a short term, 1,000 deductible, and insurance-pays-everything-after-that plan from Assurant. Because it is only for emergencies, (no regular check up’s, etc) the premiums are low—much lower then the COBRA plan my employer is obligated to offer to departing employees. If anyone is between jobs, even for a few days, I highly recommend this option.
We all are getting bank cards to access our collective road trip account. This is not to keep track of Tom’s spending vs. my spending or anything like that. It is so if we want Tom to get money from an ATM while I order lunch and Sarah purchases tickets, we can do so. Even with these cards, all expenditures will be collectively agreed upon.
My blackberry (bought for this trip) is now able to be “tethered” to a laptop via USB cord for a mobile internet connection. Add a peer-to-peer wireless network, a computer “desk” installed in the passenger side front seat, and many hours driving and—BOOM—a mobile office and network. This means mobile blog posts! Or it means mobile ticket purchasing, mobile correspondence with people from the next stop, really mobile anything that you could do from a home internet connection. Awesome.
There is really no quick, good, software way to easily create a map with eighty-two stops. My original design used Google Maps, but this had to be done a couple stops at a time before screenshots were taken, and then the whole thing was stitched together. They have since upgraded to road trips that could take twenty five stops at a time, but this still has a ton of extraneous information like names of places that we aren’t going to. In addition, one can’t clearly read all the names of places as some are covered by the route. I moved to a free 60 day trial Microsoft Streets and Trips. This would have been pretty cool if we had used it earlier for planning, but let’s be honest; the current map is kind of ugly and has even more extraneous, and even wrong, information visible (like where nights would occur if we were driving strait through, nonstop). Finally, we settled on a public domain United States relief map altered with the always free GIMP (check this out if you havn't) to display our route and stops, which will be unveiled soon.
This brings me to my next point. Sorry there are no pictures in this post. My next post one will have a nice big one.
edit: I almost forgot to mention changing my address and mail forwarding from the post office to my list of preparations. And about a week before the trip, I'll change my address on file with banks, car insurance, credit cards, etc. to my Mom's house.
There you have it. And if this post was more informative than exciting, just wait 16 days, 20 hours, and 48 seconds. They’ll get better.
When my mom asked if I wanted to go to an antique fair with her friend Cyndie and her while I was home on vacation I thought it would be a great way to experience something I would never other wise do on my own. When I think of antiques I think of big old stuffy, dusty barn style houses filled with very expensive, very breakable, very old, very large stuff. This is what I was expecting to see when we arrived at Brimfield.
The antique fair was set up like any local fair, only without the rides. There were tents open on one side filled with stuff, there were long tables with bins full of things, there were lemonade and hot dog stands and places to sit to eat. What immediately surprised me as we parked the car in a field behind some of the tents were the people I saw milling around all of the stuff. I had it in my head that it would be an older more distinguished looking crowd. What I saw right off the bat were people that reminded me more of carnies than what I imagined an antique salesman would look like.
Everyone was very nice and the people selling the stuff were happy to talk all about what different things were and where they found them. I hadn’t thought I would be buying anything, instead I imagined following my mom and Cyndie around snapping occasional pictures of odd looking old stuff and experiencing a new part of America in preparation for my trip this summer. As it turns out I bought five records from a thirty- something man who was telling me about how he had just picked them up a day or so ago, and right after I picked up the records I ran into a young kid with a few lip piercings and wild blonde hair who had a small table filled with a random selection of Japanese things. What caught my eye was actually something for Joey, a set of two miso soup spoons. The kid told me he was in Japan visiting his cousin who was stationed over there when he found them.
Cyndie bought a whole set of dishes with a cute red flower design around each piece and my mom bought a few Blue Willow dishes to go with a set she is collecting for me to have in my later (less travel heavy) life. All in all the three of us went away happy ladies and I discovered a whole new side to antiquing I had never imagined before.
Until next time America.