Monday, March 25, 2013

Austin to Big Bend

Our drive to Big Bend was a long 7.5 hours, through the beautiful scenery, exotic game ranches and anti-Obama yard signs of Central and West Texas. It was mostly uneventful and enjoyable, until the fuel light started flashing and beeping at us. It seemed we had overestimated both what our highway gas mileage would be and how close the next gas station was. For a while it was looking pretty dire, but we managed to coast into Fort Stockton and made it to a gas station in time. I maintain that we were running on fumes, but Alisha claims (based on her “research” and checking the “internet” and the “owner’s manual”) that we still had a whole gallon of gas left. In any case, we’ll be more careful in the future. (That’s actually the only thing I really dislike about my Prius: the fuel gauge is wacky as hell. I can go 100+ miles before it shows any drop in gas level and then it drops quickly and erratically after that. It’s pretty unreliable, so I never know when to trust it, which makes long drives a challenge.)

We think this would make a great ad photo for the Prius.
Once we gassed up, we found a (the only?) grocery store (Lowe’s) in Fort Stockton and went in to get supplies. This was a mistake. Yes, they had just about everything we needed (although buying the Jumex brand “Peach Nector” was another mistake) and yes, the prices were reasonable, cheap even. The real problem was that the whole store smelled like shit. Literally, like shit. It smelled as if someone (perhaps a terminally-ill employee) had taken a massive, rank dump in the AC unit, which then circulated the stench throughout the entire store. Well, not the entire store, the bathrooms actually smelled decent.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Big Bend Update

Well, it's been a few days since I've posted and it's been a busy couple of weeks! Our blog will probably be a lot like this for the whole trip, as we go in and out of places with no cell reception/wifi. I'll try to post as often as I can. I'm currently drafting this section while sitting in our campsite at Big Bend National Park while the wind threatens to rip our shelter apart. Fun!

At two weeks into the road trip (and three weeks of homelessness), I think we're adjusting pretty well. We went pretty hard at SXSW (as to be expected) but had a day off before we left Austin (when I last posted). Now, we just spent the last five days pushing ourselves pretty hard to see everything there is to see here in the park. We're taking today off to relax, read, write and spend some planning time online up at the visitors center (hooray for free wifi!). We still need to figure out what our two days between Big Bend and Ruidoso, NM will look like. If we have time today, we may even tidy our car (which is a complete mess!).

At three week, my beard is also at a pretty good length, where I usually like to have it. I predict by week five or six, it will already be quite ridiculous. As for our food, we brought a lot of random stuff from our apartment in Houston and spent $70 at a grocery store in Fort Stockton (more on that adventure later) and it's been lasting pretty well. We've just about finished the perishables and things that need to be kept cool (and only needed to buy one bag of ice all week). It's been surprisingly fun planning our meals to try to stretch the food out as long as possible. We've also been pretty good at not spending money this week, except on some ice cream and beer after exceptionally long/hot days or hikes.

We started the trip (as I mentioned in a previous post) in Austin, first staying for a couple of nights at McKinney Falls State Park (highly recommended!). On our first real, non-travel day of the road trip, rather than relaxing or exploring, we went to the state capitol to take part in an Equality Texas Lobby Day, talking to State Senators and Representatives about the employment non-discrimination bills currently under consideration. It was both frustrating and fulfilling, as politics usually is, and we met some great people!

After that we moved into the apartment of my friend Laura and headed out to the craziness that is SXSW. After five very full days of mostly Canadian music, poutine, bacon candy, free beer and tacos, not-so-free BBQ, hipster/brony spotting, chatting up rappers, insane crowds (but no riots), finding out what my beard will soon look like (see photo below), late nights, early mornings, sore feet and good friends, we took one day of rest and laundry (and hanging out with our Austinite friends) and started the long drive west to Big Bend. That's got to be all for right now, as both my laptop and phone batteries are about to die, but I'm hoping to get something up about our adventures here in the park soon!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

And Off We Go!

Well, it's been a crazy/exciting week at SXSW, as it usually is, but tomorrow morning we're packing up the car again and driving the 7 hours out to Big Bend National Park, where we'll be staying for about a week. I'm assuming we'll start posting more after that. Up to now it's just been music festival adventures; just two chilly nights of camping in Austin and then staying with some friends.

As for SXSW, we managed to see 68 shows over five days, with 56 different artists, 39 of which we had never seen before. It was pretty intense and we're pretty exhausted today, as you'd expect, (especially our feet) but today is a rest/laundry day, so taking it pretty easy.

On Monday, before the festival even started, we took part in an Equality Texas Lobby Day at the state capitol, speaking to State Reps and Senators about workplace non-discrimination bills. It was a pretty rewarding way to spend our first full day in Austin!

Things will probably be pretty quiet from us for the next week or two, since we'll be camping and far away from civilization! But expect updates once we get to New Mexico!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Last Day in Houston

It's hard to believe, but it's our last day in Houston before we head out on our road trip! We're staying with friends in the northern 'burbs, taking it pretty easy. Hit up an amazing breakfast taco place (Titas) then a relaxed indie coffee shop. At some point today we're going to have to pack up the car, but why not put it off as long as possible? Updates will follow soon!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Very quick post here. Alisha and I are officially all moved out of our apartment and our stuff is in storage. We've still got a week left at work, so we're staying at friends' places for the week while we finish up our employment. It's been a great weekend, saying goodbye to friends and places, getting my saucer at the Flying Saucer, showing up hungover to a one-year-old's birthday party and getting excited to get on the road!

We're also trying to figure out the best ways to document and get the most out of this experience. We've been experimenting with websites like Daytum and Roadtrippers as well as this blog, Facebook and Twitter. Of course, we'll be taking lots of photos and posting them whenever we can, and we've already been taking daily photos of my facial hair to document it's growth to ridiculousness. Also, we've taken the idea from a friend to do a gift exchange between all the people we are staying with. Each host can give us something they don't need anymore and we'll pass it on to the next people we stay with! We'll try to be giving some warning to our hosts about this, but we'll see what happens.

We'll be officially leaving Houston on Sunday, March 10th (my last day of work is Thursday, Alisha's is Friday) and will be camping near Austin for a couple days before South by South West (SXSW). More updates will follow soon!

Monday, February 11, 2013

In need of a name (and hashtag)

For some reason, Alisha and I have been struggling to come up with a name for our road trip. I suppose not all trips need a name, but this one seems so long and life-changing that it needs some sort of title! (Such as a friend's Americanarama tour - also around the continent, but mostly by train, and in the other direction.) We've had a few suggestions, one of the best being Continental Drift, but we're looking for more ideas! (I specifically like anything with "nomad" in the title, for obvious reasons.)

We are also looking for a hashtag to use for our trip on twitter. Both Alisha and I are on twitter, but I'm the only one using it frequently (@canadajanes). We've had way more suggestions for this one, with the best coming from our friend Donna: #roadjanes. (That's right, you can follow this trip on facebook, twitter and here on this blog!)

Anyway, these obviously aren't the most pressing matters concerning us, but let us know if you think of any great ideas! We've got less than a month until the road trip starts, and less than three weeks until we are homeless and once again nomadic!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Restarting the Blog and Five Weeks to Go!

Wow, apparently it has been a couple of years since I've posted anything on my old travel blog. I tried to keep this thing up and running for a while after I moved to Houston, but eventually my job and normal life got in the way and I stopped writing. Well, I may be a little rusty at travel writing, but I'm about to start up again! In five weeks, my wife (Alisha) and I will be heading out on the road for a 128-day trip around the continent, from Houston to California, to Vancouver and across Canada to Southwestern Ontario. We will be attempting to use this blog as the journal of our adventures, so stay tuned here for updates along the way! In the next five weeks I hope to be posting a number of times in order to get back in the swing of writing and to fill you all in on the process of planning this sort of trip. Thanks for sticking around! --Andy