Wednesday, 8 June 2016

London Calling

London Calling
One Girl's Need For Some Serious Change

I am all for new beginnings. You know, clean slate and all that. A fresh start opens you up to an endless new array of possibilities and opportunities. It's also a chance to kick those proverbial "what ifs" in the arse. God I hate those sodded what ifs, it's just another way of defining regret and regret implies that something is currently holding you back. Seeing as I hate commitment and anything holding me to a place/idea/lifestyle is commitment in its finest, I despise such a notion. So let's raise a glass (preferably alcoholic but you do you) and cheers to New Beginnings and other fruity, magical crap like that.

Now that I've practically outed myself as a certified commitment-a-phobe, I feel like I need to elaborate a bit more on the concept as it plays a huge factor in my need for a fresh start. It goes a bit further than my hatred for staying in one place for too long or how the thought of getting comfortable in a steady routine job gives me hives; it's more to do with my need for change.

Basically, the point is that I crave - no, I NEED - some spontaneity in my life to keep me sane. I developed this love for the nomadic lifestyle when I really travelled alone for the first time. As soon as I stepped foot off of the plane and onto English soil, I felt this complete and utter shift. From that moment on, home became more than where I was born or where I grew up; it became where I felt the most comfort.

That year (and a half) of traveling taught me more than any high school or university education ever did. My appreciation for art and cultures grew, I found a passion in writing and I also uncovered an entirely different side of me that I never knew existed. This new side of me was confident, spontaneous, adventurous, and even brave at times. I never thought that I would become a cliche and that traveling resulted in me finding myself. But I did, in a way.

This is how I knew that returning to Canada would be a bittersweet homecoming and it explained why I felt so caged and trapped in suburban hell. Basically, ever since I have returned to this perpetual suburgatory known as Mississauga - the bottom feeder of the GTA and where dreams come to die - I have been bored out of my mind. I convinced myself that this current state was temporary and I wasn't getting comfortable with routine life, but rather biding my time until I could settle up university debts (with the hopes of someday venturing off far far away from this place). In fact, that was the only thing that truly kept me sane these past two years. Unfortunately, it didn't make things any easier.

The nomad in me could not physically allow myself to settle, the explorer in me was constantly searching for the next spontaneous adventure and the neurotic masochist in me was refreshing the travel websites for flight deals and work abroad every chance I got. Again, all this was just to remind myself how temporary my situation was.

I even distanced myself from writing because I didn’t believe that my mundane lifestyle was worth reading about. And it wasn't (unless you enjoy reading about my trip to Loblaws or how a customer yelled at me for getting charged $1.50 for bbq sauce. I know, riveting stuff). But since life is all about perspective, I've decided to forgo dwelling on the things I cannot change for the moment, and instead focus on the things that I can.

I've always believed that if you don't like something about your life, you should change it. So that's what I am doing, I'm changing it - or rather, switching things up - which brings me to my current predicament and the main reason for this blog post.

This summer was supposed to be different. I had some pretty exciting news to share with you all; things that were meant to change the very course of my life. It was supposed to be big, like seriously adulting big. I may have even been slightly presumptuous as to have already written up a blog post about this particular news as a means to share it to you all, but then things fell through and now it's pretty much moot. Which is irritating on so many levels...for one, I had the best title for the post and now I can't use it *sigh*.

Okay maybe I am being a touch too dramatic but that aside...I'm not going to lie guys, I am pretty gutted about this particular thing. I know I am being incredibly stupid and vague about this - for all you know I could have been sharing the news of becoming a high class escort (I'M NOT becoming an escort by the way, neither high class nor low, not even middle class) - but honestly, the truth is that I'm not ready to share this part of my life right now. I will, eventually. But right now the disappointment is still fresh and I need to just move on.

Even if my luck isn't the greatest and my plans tend to always fall through, one thing I can count on in my life is my ability to rationalize in any given situation. It's a survival tactic I have developed as a result of things not always going according to plan. See, instead of dwelling on the past and things I can't change, I try to move forward and retake control of the situation. So when disaster stuck - or rather disappointment struck - I did the one logical thing I could think of: I went home.

One place that always gave me the distinct feeling of coming home after a long and tiresome journey was London, England. I've never had that overwhelming feeling of home until I stepped foot onto the Tarmac at Gatwick Airport a mere 3 years ago. Little did I know that leaving England mean't leaving a piece of me with it. England has my heart guys. So the only justifiable option for me during a time of crisis is to return home and get my heart back: London's Calling and I'm Answering.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Our Epic Detour: The End of the Road

Our EPIC Detour:
The End of the Road

The Drive from Austin to Florida took some time but we managed to make it into Tallahassee by early afternoon. We had spent the night passed out in a parking lot somewhere in Alabama but another nights sleep in the car wasn't as bothersome as the other times since we were all too tired to care or notice. I think spending the majority of our time in the car had made us accustomed to the lack of comfort or maybe we had just accepted that it wasn't going to get better than that...either way, it made the night's sleep tolerable.

Since Becca and I were dead set on going skydiving, our new goal for the day was to find a place to do so and this required calling places that offer last minute skydiving gigs (as usually people plan this stuff ahead of time..who knew?). We managed to find a Groupon deal for a skydiving place outside of Jacksonville Florida, but when we called ahead to ask if there were spots left to skydive for the next day, they informed us that the only available spot was in 3 weeks time (which was OBVIOUSLY not going to happen). It's a good thing that we checked before we purchased the Groupon because it would have been a useless purchase and a waste of money - and when you are traveling on a shoe-string budget, you want to avoid spending money when it just goes to waste (but that's just common sense).

Luckily we found a place in Titusville, Florida just outside Orlando that offered skydiving jumps for $199 per person (which is still very expensive but it wasn't like we were going to find anything better than this, especially last minute). We scheduled our jump for the next day and then got back on the road to drive towards Jacksonville where we planned on camping for the night. 

Finding couchsurfing hosts in Florida turned out to be slightly more difficult than normal as not many people accepted last minute requests and the only confirmation we got happened too late for us to accept (which is a darn shame since the guy lived on a beach...oh well, next time!). So instead we found a place where we could camp on the beach (or at least SUPER close to it)...yeah we were trying for a round two of beach camping since Galveston was an absolute failure and a half. 

We stopped off at a Walmart to grab supplies and snacks before we headed over to the campsite but it was only after setting up the tent (much easier this time without the hurricane winds) and making ourselves at home when we noticed that we didn't have any firewood to start a campfire. While the most obvious solution to this problem would be searching for wood and branches, unfortunately the proximity to the ocean made it so any available wood was too wet to use. And any seasoned camper knows that wet wood will not spark a fire...but I think that's just common sense as well. 

With this new predicament, we found ourselves back on the road in search for the nearest gas station to purchase a starter log (not ideal but it would get us a small fire started at least). Afterwords we headed over to a nearby restaurant for a proper meal.

During our delicious seafood dinner - of which I can't remember what I ate but know that it was delicious - we met this group of guys sitting at a table beside us who worked on a ship that was docked close to the restaurant. One of the men looked like a captain off a pirate ship, long white beard and all...actually I think he might have even had an eye patch...but that may just be my imagination running wild. Either way, I like to think that he had an eye patch. Anyway, he was sitting next to two younger guys (around our age) and after we discussed plans and shared travel stories, they offered us a place to sleep on their ship for the night. Now normally, one might find this request slightly fishy (ha!) if it happened under normal circumstances, but seeing as we had a genuine conversation with them before hand, we had a pretty good idea on each of their characters. Honestly, if they had asked us sooner before we already set up camp and figured out our accommodation, we would have been totally up for it...however, it was bad timing so we had to respectfully decline. But sleeping on a cool is that? Okay, yeah I've been on a cruise before and I know that it isn't such a big deal BUT it would have seemed cool regardless. Geez can't a girl dream?

After a lovely dinner we returned to camp with our starter log and proceeded to find kindling and tinder in order to properly get a fire going. As I had mentioned before, much of what was available near our campsite was too damp but we managed to gather a good enough pile to get a small fire going - which ended up being perfect as we were able to roast our marshmallows over it and make s'mores. I was a little disappointed that the campsite wasn't as rowdy as it is known for as we were hoping to meet people there. There was a small group of guys we had met earlier but they had already gone to sleep by the time we got back (which was like 9:30/10pm so that was super lame of them).

As such we decided to get ready for bed so we could lounge around for a bit. I had gone to take a shower and as I was walking back this one guy stopped me  and asked if I had a flashlight he could borrow as he was looking for the batteries for his which had fallen on the ground. I gave him a light from my phone and we made idle conversation when all of a sudden a large boom sounded out from above and when we looked up we saw a fireball shooting over our heads. It all happened in the span of like 5 seconds but after it disappeared and the sky went silent around us, we looked up at each other at the same time and said "did that just happen?" It was one of those things that happened so fast, you need to pinch yourself afterwards to convince yourself that it actually occurred. After we confirmed to each other that it did in fact happen I returned to my tent to ask if Jelena or Becca had heard and/or seen the fireball. They looked at me like I was insane and said that they heard nothing which completely baffled me as it was SO loud when it happened - like I almost I thought it was a bomb. 

I actually had to google the incident when I returned home to find out if I dreamed it up and found out that YES, it did happen. I was not crazy. See here: Florida Fireball . Either way, it was such a surreal experience that it continues to baffle me even just writing about it now. It's definitely one of those things you have to see to believe it but even then it doesn't seem real.

After this strange occurrence I settled back into the tent and curled up in my sleeping bag with a beer and a good book. Jelena had fallen asleep quite early so Becca and I decided not to wake her and because the beach was completely dark and empty, we went for a cheeky streak. Eh, when you are on a trip streaking or skinny dipping is a right of passage plus it is incredibly freeing...this must be how nudists feel every day!

The sleep in the tent was one of the best nights sleep we got on the trip, mostly because the waves hitting the shore was so incredibly peaceful. Seriously, a girl could get used to this!

The next morning we woke up early and drove south to Titusville for our skydiving appointment. I won't go into detail about the actual dive as I am going to write a separate blog about it but do know that it was a great day.

Overall, Florida was an excellent choice for a detour and an experience we won't soon forget. Now it was time for us to head back to cold and snowy St. Catharines but not before a cheeky detour to straddle the state lines between North Carolina and Virginia -for an actual Walk To Remember experience...sans Shane West unfortunately - and then a cheekier detour to Washington DC to say a quick hello to my man Abraham Lincoln.

As we left New York and crossed back into Canada, we each looked at each other and took a collective breath; it was finally over.

However, while the road had reached it's destination, it wasn't the end but rather the beginning of a new one. 

And so the countdown began.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Our Epic Detour: Sandboarding in New Mexico

Our EPIC Detour:
Sand boarding in New Mexico

Okay, I have definitely reached the moment during a blog series where it gets more and more difficult to write...mainly because I just end up becoming sick of the whole thing. This happened once before when I did the Christmas Chronicles...however I think it's actually worse this time because I ended up stretching the entire trip into WAY more posts than I initially intended. But the show must go on, so let's power through these last 3 posts! You with me? Nope? Cool.

I don't know if this just happens to me, but I constantly find myself watching travel video after travel video wondering how the hell some of these wonderful places can possibly exist - and also, why am I not there right now? Photographers and Scenographers have this amazing ability of showcasing these glorious landscapes and turning them into something out of a dream. Seriously, it's a talent. I'm talking those jaw dropping scenic montages where an adventurer is driving alone on a deserted highway and the road just continues on into oblivion. It is the highway out of an Aerosmith music video; every road tripper's dream and an urban legend...until now.

Ladies and gentleman, I have found one such highway that offers some of the most amazing views from the road: Texas Hill Country. Sure this glorious place may not have majestic mountains and stunning ocean views BUT it does have some quaint little Texan towns, rolling hills AND desert lands that stretch on as far as the eye can see. We even drove past some abandoned towns that looked like something out of a John Wayne movie. I almost expected a tumbleweed to roll across the road in front of us....instead we got discarded McDonalds takeout bags blowing along in the wind. Ah 'Merica. There you go taking something wonderful and throwing up commercialized crap all over it. 

Anyways...back to the trip.

So when I last left you we had reached a bit of an impasse in our trip which we solved by pushing through towards our next destination: New Mexico.

New Mexico was my choice in destination for the road trip. I originally decided on this state because it was one state further than Texas and closer to the coveted route 66 highway but when I found out that White Sands National Park was a thing, it was a given. I researched a bit about this place enroute from Austin (and by that I mean a quick efficient google search of New Mexico's "hidden gems") and found out that this National Park not only looks INCREDIBLE but you can also rent circular discs and go Sand-boarding (or rather, sand tobogganing). Hell to the Yes!

So now we were more than just excited, we were absolutely stoked. It was just what we needed to lift our spirits from the other night (and a few nights before that).

While we had driven through the night we still had a ways to go, so we trekked on only to stop for gas and breakfast once we reached El Paso (or at least just outside it). After a luxury meal of McDonalds, the standard road trip fare, we took some time to walk around and admire the surrounding view as the weather was all too lovely to pass up and the empty desert roads stretched on for miles.

The trek from Austin to New Mexico was the first time that we really felt like we were on a road trip across America. These are the roads that Willie Nelson and Neil Young sing about; these are the roads Jack Kerouac wrote about; these are the roads that wanderers dream about...but maybe not the roads that you want to end up stranded on as there are usually no rest stops for miles and most likely plenty of snakes. A terrible way to die if you ask me...but then again you could argue that all ways to die are terrible. Regardless, you do not want to get stuck on the darn road.

Once we reached the sign marking the border between Texas and New Mexico, we stopped our car and got out to properly give ourselves a New Mexico welcome. Yes, we straddled the state line and took MANY - and I mean MANY - pictures. We couldn't help ourselves, we are products of cheesy 90s/early 2000s movies like A Walk to Remember so it was a must, especially since the scenery was so incredibly picturesque. There was no shame.

We arrived in Alamogordo shortly after 3pm and easily found our way to the national park. After we rented our sand boards we drove in closer to the park and got our gear out of the back. It was hot as hell so we changed into our bikini tops, loaded up on sunscreen and donned our sun hats. If you are as pale as me you know to add on multiple layers of sun cream unless you want to look like a lobster the next day, which is hardly flattering unless that's the look you were going for.

One thing that was especially cool about the park is that we didn't need to wear flip flops or sandals as the sand was perfectly cool on our feet. The sand is made up of gypsum crystals which are soft to the touch and do not absorb the sun's heat, which is one of the many things the park is known for. Even in the hottest part of the summer - in the desert heat - you can still safely walk on the sand without doing the "walking on eggshells" jig you usually do when you are on the beach. I thought this was particularly cool and it almost felt like a continuous foot massage every time you took a step :)

While there were a few cars in the parking lot, it was not busy at all (probably because we were visiting during the off peak season) so we had no trouble finding a secluded place to wander. Once we trekked to the top of the largest hill, we set down our stuff and cracked open the beers..well I did at least. Okay so the park said that alcohol was forbidden during the fall/winter months (strange but whatever), however WHO could possible reprimand us when the hills stretch on for miles? Surely they can't possibly patrol every single sand dune, it's impossible! I figured I would take my chances and as long as I didn't litter or leave anything behind, I'd be in the clear. Lord knows a day like that NEEDED a nice cold beer to complement it!

After a while we decided to try and sand board/toboggan down the hills. While I said I was super excited about this before...I was slightly less eager by this point. Probably because when we first got to the park I tried to plummet head first down a small hill and ended up face first in the sand with my mouth completely filled with the coveted gypsum crystals. Was it a smart option to go head first on my first try? No probably not, but that hasn't stopped me from doing stupid things in the past and surely wont stop me from continuing to stupid things in the future.

I always thought that my stupidity was only heightened in hindsight...and while this is true it clearly hasn't given me enough insight to change my ways. Oh well, I guess I will remain willfully ignorant to my stupidity. I wonder if they offer a Blue Peters Badge for this feat? I should look into it...

Anyway, back to round 2 of sand boarding failures. This time I went feet first with my butt firmly planted on the disk. Of course I chose the highest point on the hill (go big or go home) but as I needed to break in the fresh sand and leave the first trail, I also got to be the one who removed extraneous obstacles from the path. Lucky me. Unfortunately round 2 had me defeated by a cactus and just as much sand in my mouth. 

However, now that I had made a path, it was much easier and less hazardous to toboggan down. And while it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows at first, I have to was so much fun! Seriously, it you ever find yourself near New Mexico, detour to Alamogordo and visit this place. You wont regret it! But bring water! If it was this hot in just February, lord knows how hot it gets in the middle of the summer.

After we left the National Park we grabbed some dinner at Sonics, a drive in burger joint where you park and order at a kiosk and a server delivers your food. Becca and I had each ordered a burger, fries and a milkshake while Jelena ordered at least 3 combos. Seriously! That girl could eat! On a side note... no, they did not deliver our food on roller skates much to my dismay but after working as a waitress many a years I can vouch that roller skates and delivering food would NEVER be a good combination. 

Once we finished up our food and watched the sunset over the horizon, we decided to pack our stuff back up and head back to Austin as we wanted to visit this Texas roadside buffet/restaurant that Austin had recommended to us earlier but we never got the chance to visit. One of the things on our road trip "bucket list" was to eat one the state's famous dishes and since this place has one of the best Briskets in Texas, it was a sure thing.

Unfortunately on our drive back to Austin we were stopped by border police just outside El Paso. It was in the middle of the night - possible 3am - we were all groggy and exhausted and the lovely officers made us stop our car, get out and show them our passports. Even though we were MILES from the Mexican border and did not cross any borders except the state borders, we had to show our passports...which makes zero sense to me but whatever. Unfortunately we had hid our passports and emergency money in a small compartment under the lining of the know, in case someone broke into the car. While this was a good idea originally, it now proved to be a pain as we had to remove everything from the trunk to get to it.

Which took some time to the amusement of the officers and less amusement of us. Once we finally pulled every last item from the trunk, removed the lining and got our passports, the officer barely glanced at them before handing them back to us and letting us go.

Wow, thanks for nothing mate. Now we have to put everything back into the trunk *sigh* it was just a giant waste of time.

Alas the journey continued and the next morning we went to the roadside buffet and tasted the most amazing brisket and sweet tea ever. We then spent some time at Hamilton Pool, a hidden grotto near Austin. Even though the water was arctic temperatures and I'm pretty sure I lost all circulation in my limbs after swimming in the grotto, I braved the cold until I reached the waterfall and then booked it back when I felt something brush against my completely numb leg. I have an irrational fear of fish touching yeah, it's safe to say that I'm not a snorkeler or scuba diver.

That aside, the past two days had both exceeded our expectations so to continue the adventure Becca and I decided to amp up the trip with another cheeky detour: skydiving. And what better place to do this than the sunny state of Florida?

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Our Epic Detour: Keeping Austin Weird

Our Epic Detour:
Keeping Austin Weird

It was clear that our venture into Texas wasn't off to a great start (especially with the whole Galveston Island debacle) but alas the journey must go one with the hopes of turning things around. Next up was Austin, Texas, Becca's choice of detour on our road trip.

Becca chose Austin because she loved the city's motto - "Keep Austin Weird" (a slogan that was introduced to promote Austin's small businesses) - and when she told us that the city had an indie music following and generally good vibes all around, we knew this information going forth was a hopeful indication of good things to come.

While on the road from Galveston to Austin, we sent out some last minute couchsurfing requests and while we got a few potential responses, one in particular stood out to us. This host used to live in Hawaii and avidly plays the ukelele, which immediately sparked an interest from Becca as these are some of her favourite things. But the thing that sealed the deal was his name: Austin. Yes folks, we stayed the night at Austin's house in Austin. The chance for such an opportunity was too perfect to pass up, so we accepted his offer and 45 minutes later we were pulling into his driveway.

Choosing Austin as our couchsurfing host ended up being an ace decision on our part. First of all, he wasn't cynical of the city which would have been a huge deal breaker - just look at how the New Orleans trip went. And second of all, he ended up being a great example of an ideal couchsurfing host (which was surprising since it was actually his first time hosting travellers).

When we got to Austin's place, he welcomed us into his house with a seemingly never-ending supply of mimosas - always a positive sign. He was incredibly hospitable, showing us around to a great burger place and even offering to make us a delicious - and healthy - meal. Things were definitely turning around!

After another much-needed shower - something that we often take for granted when we aren't travelling - we got ready to spend the night out in the city. Austin dropped us off at 9th street (a popular place in the city for nightlife) and we spent the next couple hours hopping from bar to bar. We even got the chance to visit a proper Coyote Ugly bar, where we were given free shots and I was invited to dance up on the bar...which I did OF COURSE. Never turn down the chance to dance on a Coyote Ugly bar especially if Shania Twain is playing #rulestoliveby.

Soon enough, Becca and Jelena joined in as well and we showcased our awesome (awful) dance moves while trying not to fall flat on our asses in our high heels - a difficult feat, let me tell you!

Overall, it ended up being a great night and was made even better when Austin and his friend joined us later on. Nothing beats a good night with good company!

The next afternoon Austin took us on a hike to a swimming creek where we just chilled, enjoyed the beautiful scenery and listened to some lovely ukulele music courtesy of our awesome couchsurfing host. While we had every intention of leaving for our next destination that night, we made plans to all go camping at this stunningly gorgeous campsite that Austin recommended. Seriously, this place had a grotto and waterfalls, and had a swimming creek that looked like something from a disney movie. Frankly, we were all super excited for this detour but like the detour in Galveston...things didn't go to plan.

STORY TIME! (a.k.a Ranting time...)

Basically, plans fell through as soon as we got to the campsite and discovered that the owner (at least I got the impression that he was the owner) was a massive twat. We had gotten through the gates with no problem and went to park in front of the office so we could pay for a campsite and unload our supplies. Before we got out of the car we saw a man with a long white beard and moustache standing in the shadows near the office watching us. NOT MOVING AT ALL, just watching us. So that was slightly creepy and should have been a huge sign to turn straight around but alas we just stayed in our car and stared back. Yeah, we were not getting out of the car with creepy mcgee just a stone throws away. Well...we didn't have to wait very long because then he started to come over to our car with a very disconcerting expression (in other words: not helping the creepy factor). So we rolled down our windows to find out what he wanted and were greeted with - by far - the rudest and downright obnoxious welcome. The guy asked us what we were doing - were we going to go in and pay or what? - and we told him we were going to pay to camp but we were just waiting for our friend to arrive. This is when the guy laughed in our face and said that the park is closing in 5 minutes, we either pay or leave the premises. See, we had the impression that the gates closed at 9pm - as this is what Austin told us - and as it was only 7:55, we thought we still had plenty of time. When we tried to explain that we were from out of town - "clearly - and didn't know, oh was he happy to set us straight and call us idiots for not knowing.

He was willing to let us stay but refused to wait fifteen minutes for our friend Austin to join us, seeing as the office closed in 5. We were willing to pay for both our stay and Austins but the guy was not having any of it. Seeing how we didn't want to ditch Austin since he was the reason we were even at the campsite in the first place, we had a bit of a predicament which wasn't made better with the owner breathing down our necks and being a huge dickhead. I seriously needed to bite my tongue when I tried to reason with him since he was grating on my every nerve but when he called us stupid tourists, we drew the line and immediately left.

Look I understand the need to go home after a busy day at work and not wanting to wait one minute more. I understand that some people think they are the exceptions to the rules set in place, and that he got the impression that we were one of those people just trying to stretch the limits. Dude, I've worked in the service industry many-a-years. I have dealt with tons of those people and much more bullshit that any person should ever have to handle BUT NEVER have I EVER been unintentionally rude to a customer/client. Scratch that, I have NEVER been rude to a customer/client EVER, even when it was warranted. What I am trying to get at is the fact that regardless of the situation, there is a better way he could have handled it - and that's putting it lightly. There is no reason he needed to be incredibly rude to us when he could have just explained the problem to us in a polite and professional manner. He was dealing with Canadians for goodness sake!?! We are reasonable people! Probably the most reasonable people he could have encountered! We had no intention of skirting the rules, we just didn't know what those rules were and needed someone to explain them to us. Sorry but I don't think confusion or a miscommunication on the park hours warranted such abusive and downright ignorant comments from the OWNER of all people. It was not a pleasant experience I'll tell you that much. I was almost driven to write a really long and nasty yelp review but thought better of it. There is no good in stooping to his level because that doesn't make me any better than him.

It's such a shame that things went down the way they did because the place did have huge potential. Oh, and if you want to know the place it's called Krause Springs; there's no reason I need to censor the name of the just made me angry thinking about it all over again. I'll even post a picture to show you how much potential this place did have.

Yes. This was the abyss we were supposed to stay in Austin...
You can now cry. 
Alas, I think we can all agree that it was good that we didn't stay there in the end as I think I would have felt ashamed if I actually gave my hard earned money over to that shmuck and encouraged such horrific customer service.

I think the biggest downfall of the night was that we weren't able to see Austin again or give him a proper goodbye, but he was incredibly understanding when we sent him a message discussing the encounter - and also thanking him profusely for his amazing hospitality. See, SOMEONE had the ability to be understanding and NOT an asshole! IT IS POSSIBLE PEOPLE!!!! Honestly, the whole experience was incredibly surreal, especially since we had received amazing Southern hospitality thus far but I guess it just goes to show that some people just suck regardless of where they come from.

With these unfortunate turn of events we came to another roadblock: we now had no place to stay for the night and sleeping in the car just felt like another defeat. At this point, Jelena and Becca turned to me and asked for my opinion on what we should do. It was yet another opportunity for us to either give up and accept this defeat or move on. But giving up just isn't an option.

I thought about it for a bit and then decided with finality that we would start driving towards New Mexico - our next destination - and then stop off on a deserted roadside after a couple of miles to lie on top of the car and stargaze. It was one of the things we had talked about doing for quite some time, so it was as good a time as any to do so. And that's what we did. We stopped off on the grassy shoulder of the Texas hill country highway, talked for a bit and just unwound.

Sometimes you just need to take a moment when things go sour to stop and reflect on your experience. It's obvious that things won't always go the way we plan them to, so it was time to stop planning and just start doing. This way, we couldn't be disappointed when things didn't meet our expectations #roadtripsurvival101.

As we all lied on top of the car starring up at the starry night sky, we collectively decided from that moment on, nothing - I repeat, NOTHING - was going to ruin our road trip. Moving forward, we were going to make the best out of the remainder of our trip.

And that's just what we did.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Our Epic Detour: Slightly Windy in Galveston

Our EPIC Detour:
Slightly Windy in Galveston

Well folks, we've made it this far, Day 4 of the (completely lame and hardly) EPIC Detour. I realize that this odyssey hasn't been the greatest of stories but bare with me because the adventure had only just begun! There is still plenty of time for more excitement and opportunities for public humiliation, believe me!

So where were we? Aha yes, we had just left Louisiana and by nightfall, had made it into Houston, Texas. Since it was later in the evening and we didn't have any immediate plans, we needed to find somewhere to crash for the night. It was at this point where Becca turned to me and asked: "where should we go from here?" Jelena was knocked out cold in the back seat, so it was up to me to make a decision...this is somewhat of a regular occurrence since both Becca and Jelena are incredibly and frustratingly indecisive. Don't get me wrong! They are both great road trip companions, but indecisive as hell! A typical conversation goes like this: Me: where do you want to stop for food? Both: I don't care. Me: Okay, that's great that you don't care but that's not going to solve the problem now is it?!?! Agh! 

Anyway, since a decision needed to be made I figured that when in doubt, go south (#wordstoliveby). And south is where we went...hence, we found ourselves in Galveston, Texas.

As soon as we realized that Galveston was an island and camping on the beach was in fact a thing, both Becca and I agreed that this was an top class idea. Oh the possibilities!

As soon as we made it to Galveston we stopped off at a gas station for sustenance and supplies (for Smores of course). At this point Jelena had finally woken up and as she was still a bit disoriented from sleep, we filled her in on our magical and brilliant idea. See, here we are imagining up this perfect scenario where we would camp on the warm beach, drink beers and eat smores by the fire. Oh yeah, and there would also be hot guys there who coincidentally were also musicians. As they jammed out on their guitars, we would all join in on a chorus of kumbaya and live happily ever after, the end....ah, the dream. Well, SURPRISE SURPRISE reality wasn't so nice.

I look like I'm smiling but
 I'm crying on the inside
We got to the park where we planned to camp for the night and luckily just made it in before the gates closed. The office wasn't open so we had to pay for our stay using their honour code - which entailed dropping off the funds in an envelope into the pay slot - which we proceeded to do with huge smiles on our faces thinking that it was going to be a great night. HAHAHAHA! Boy were we WRONG!!!

We parked the car at the camping spot and started to unload our supplies from the car. We noticed that there were quite a few other RV's in the area but no other why would this be the case? Hmm? Well, let me tell you why...

Because it was cold as tits with hurricane-like winds that's why! A bloody monsoon!

Now I will have you know that I am a seasoned camper. I can put up a tent blindfolded, drunk off my ass, with one arm tied behind my back AND in record time, BUT under strong winds in the arctic tundra?! HA! I couldn't get one bloody peg in the ground before the entire thing nearly blew away, ALMOST taking me with it! When I finally wrestled the freaking thing into the ground, it was damn near impossible to put the rain fly on since the wind practically capsized the entire tent. And if that wasn't enough, the universe then decided it was a good time to rain BUCKETS on us.

At that point it was time to admit defeat and so, we packed up the tent once more and hauled ass back into the car. This was becoming a recurring event...

Feeling pretty crappy since our dreams were once again crushed by reality, we unanimously decided that it was another failure of epic proportions. For this reason, we agreed to just bite the bullet, leave the park and drive somewhere else. Bye Felicia!

Which would have been fine IF we could have gotten out of the bloody park! You know how I said we were lucky to have got into the park before the gates closed? Well, they were sure as hell closed now (of course they were) and we now had no way of leaving. Yeah, really lucky we were...

So once again, we found ourselves sleeping in the car...which I guess is still better than sleeping outside. Since we had no choice in the matter, we figured that we would park directly in front of the office and as soon as it opened in the morning, we would go in and try to get our money back. Which we did and the lady was nice enough to give us a full refund. I don't know if I should be happy that she felt sorry for us or embarrassed that it should have been common knowledge that no one really camps there...apparently Galveston is known for attracting tropical storms. Who knew? NOT US!

So after we finally escaped from another one of my TERRIBLE ideas, we decided to celebrate our misfortune with some hard-earned pancakes at Dennys. It was Fat Tuesday, so pancakes were necessary but then again...they always are. Plans flake? Eat pancakes! #wordstoliveby

After our delicious and completely heart attack inducing breakfast, we wandered off to the shore to walk along the beach, take pictures and admire the pier. Even though it was still quite nippy out, this plan actually managed to salvage the detour to Galveston Island...although I still have nightmares about trying to put up that tent! Grr...

So folks, what did we learn from all this? First and foremost, DON'T rely on me to make a decision unless you want your plans to fail. Secondly, all it takes to break me is an unreliable tent and harsh weather conditions. And lastly, there is nothing that some pancakes can't fix.

Universe, just kill me now.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Our Epic Detour: Mardi Gras Shenanigans

Our EPIC Detour:
Mardi Gras Shenanigans

By mid-afternoon on Day 3 of our (so far, not so) Epic adventure across the US, we reached Louisiana. While this was my first time celebrating Mardi Gras, it actually was not my first time in New Orleans. I had visited the city a few years prior as it was the port of call for a cruise I went on with my family. My sister had visited the city pre-Katrina on a school trip back in high school, so we were fortunate enough to have her as a guide during that trip. She was able to give us better insight into how the city had drastically changed yet somehow managed to maintain it's mysterious and haunting aura that allures people back year after year. Although I never really had a chance to fully explore the city in all its glory during that trip, I was given a good enough taste to want to come back and that one quality that really stayed clear in my mind was the mystery.

New Orleans:
A city where carnival masks are both grotesque and beautiful, a hint of magic and voodoo roam freely throughout the streets, and jazz wraps around the French Quarter like a warm blanket.

But bare with me as this is where I might lose you. While New Orleans captured part of my heart, I was NOT a fan of Mardi Gras. Granted, I think it had much to do with the fact that our couchsurfing host damn near scared us shitless with horror stories of friends getting raped and killed when they ventured too far from Bourbon Street, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Since the festival was in full swing, the closest place we could find that would accept us for the night was in Luling, Louisiana which was only a 30 minute drive to the city of New Orleans. Our couchsurfing host Michael and his mother warmly welcomed us into their home and offered us enough fried chicken, jambalaya and gumbo to feed a small country. It was a warm southern welcome indeed; one that a girl could really get used to (boys take notes!!).

Once we got ourselves settled into our room, we all took turns savouring a much needed and well-deserved shower before getting to the main purpose of our trip: Mardi Gras (or Carnival). 

Now let me explain how things started of terrible and gradually got worse. While Michael was a very accommodating host, he did very little to ease our minds about our venture into the streets of New Orlean's French Quarter. By that, I mean he expertly showed us all the places on a map where we could get shot and murdered, all the drinks we needed to avoid unless we planned on getting roofied or passing out on a street corner, and other terrible things that could potentially happen if we weren't careful. To illustrate his point further, he even gave us real life examples of such terrible things; sometimes going into a little more detail than necessary. I mean, the guy told us vivid stories of his friends getting killed, woman raped and drugged, and other such gang related violence that had occurred as a result of wandering a bit too far passed Bourbon. And by a bit too far I mean, ANY street north of the tourist ridden Bourbon Street. Safe to say, the three of us were practically glued to each other the entire time; a definite buzz kill to the trip. Look, I know that crime in New Orleans IS in fact a problem, but I felt that the way he approached it did not give us any peace of mind in the slightest. While it is important to know these things (safety first!) telling us only the bad parts and skipping the good isn't the best way to welcome a guest into a city that you so call love. Definitely not recommending that he run for ambassador of New Orleans any time soon that's for sure...

That being said, his advice wasn't all bad...he did recommend us a couple of places that were (in his words) "not terrible" and parades that were "potentially" worth seeing. I mean, with that kind of enthusiasm I'm sure you're all booking your next trip to join in on all the fun... 

So, with all this new knowledge at our arsenal we got ourselves ready and were back on the road to explore the infamous - and now only slightly terrifying - New Orleans.

When we got to the city the first problem we encountered was parking. Isn't it always the first problem, no matter where you are? See for us, everywhere that Michael had recommended we park was taken (of course) and we were reluctant to venture too far from said places - you know, with that high risk of being raped and mutilated in the back of our minds. Thanks again Michael.

It was when we were almost completely SOL that we found a place that MAY or MAY NOT have be a parking spot. It was one those times when the lines were blurred between what is right and what is wrong...literally, the lines on the ground were almost completely faded into oblivion. Hence how it could have been a potential parking spot or just the faded remnants of a body never know in this city.

After we parked in this precarious spot, I went over to ask a couple of policemen who were chilling in their car nearby if it was okay to park there (as getting a parking ticket or being towed was not on our list of things we hoped to accomplish that day). After explaining our predicament, I was given a noncommittal shrug to which we took as a firm okay.

Score one for us! We found a parking spot. We are living the dream.

So here we are walking the streets of New Orleans , glued to each other like Kim Kardashian is to a front facing camera, and so far it was going just swell. And by that, I of course mean that things were absolutely terrible. We started to check out an outdoor market and art gallery until we noticed that some greasy old men were simultaneously checking us out. Brilliant. Just what we needed to ease our worries and make the trip more exciting. They even took our collective repulsion as consent to grab hold to our derrieres. Charming.

At this point we decided it was time to move a bit closer to the action. And by that, I meant the French Quarter and not getting sexually assaulted by senior citizens. Unfortunately, getting sexually harassed by geriatrics and sleazy men alike just does not do it for me. I know, I'm a party pooper what can I say.

When we got to Bourbon Street it was a literal attack to the senses. There were bright colours and loud music and beads flying everywhere; not too mention the pungent aroma of booze, vomit and piss. Yes, good sir, t'was a classy affair indeed.

SIDE NOTE: Something you can probably gather about me (if you've read basically ANY of my other blog posts) is that I truly dislike touristy things. I have always believed that the heart of a city is found through a local's perspective which is why I choose couchsurfing over hotels or hostels, resent most guide books and truly believe that if a place needs to advertise itself to gain visitors, it's probably not worth seeing. But just like you can't go to London without seeing Big Ben or visit Paris without walking up the steps of the Eiffel Tower, there are definitely some exceptions to the rule. Unfortunately for me, Mardi Gras was NOT one of those exceptions.

In fact, Mardi Gras is the epitome of a tourist trap BUT it doesn't have to be. It's all in how you approach the festival (ideally with an open mind and not an open shirt). Now I know you're probably thinking, "who the hell is this chick to say what is the right or wrong way to celebrate a festival? This girl went there once and now she thinks she is some big shot whose opinions matter?" And now you might be thinking "who the hell is this chick to say she knows what I'm thinking. You don't know me. You don't know my struggle; my trials and tribulations. You don't pour my cereal *snaps fingers*". Okay you are totally right. Who the hell am I to think that I know everything. I clearly don't, and if you know me at all you'll know that I'm wrong almost 90% of the time (at least I'm consistent!). I can really only speak my mind and voice my opinion based my own experience, and someone else can have drastically different view on the festival from their own. But from my experience, I honestly felt that the infamous Mardi Gras that everyone talks about and is familiar with - you know, the one where girls flash their tits for beads and everyone drinks excessive amounts of alcohol and parties like its 1999 - isn't the true spirit of the festival. 

First of all, I feel like I need to stress this point: ONLY TOURISTS FLASH THEIR BOOBS FOR BEADS. No self respecting person would chose to expose themselves just to get a few cheap dollar store beads. And just as a side note, I am all for freeing the nipple, but that campaign has nothing to do with advocating boobs for beads; that is just ridiculous. That being said, you do you girl (or guy). But if you really want beads, there is a much better way to obtain them and I am not talking about buying them because that notion is almost as ridiculous as flashing your tatas for them (okay, not really but still a terrible idea).

If you really want beads, go to one of the many parades and I assure you that you will get more beads than you will ever need in your life. Even better that this, I can downright promise you that getting them will feel much more satisfying, if only slightly more painful. Seriously, those people on the floats whip them at your head. But more on that later...

Walkie Talkie Adventures

Okay, so by now we had already walked down Bourbon Street and saw more boobs than we ever thought possible along with many other questionable things. Things that will forever be scarred into my memory (*shudder*). Let me just say that seeing a man snorting cocaine off another mans shoe because he dropped it was one of the least worrisome sights. As you can only imagine we are less than delighted with our experience thus far so we collectively agreed that a pint of ice cold brew was more than necessary. With a new destination in mind, we hightailed it away from the chaos and directly into the least chaotic pub in sight. With newly acquired liquid encouragement in our fists we started to collect our travel experiences up until this point of our journey. This was when we realized that nothing of note had happened on our "epic" detour. Seriously bummed out now knowing that our expectations have drifted way further from our reality, we started to drink a bit more... Alcohol is always the cure for disappointment, just ask Hemingway...okay, bad example scratch that. Stay in school kids.

During our alcohol induced haze we started to play around with our walkie talkies, calling out to each other in code names from our 2ft apart distance. Yes, we are cool don't even deny it. And to answer the ever apparent question: "why in god's name have you brought walkie talkies with you?", I will counter you with a why the hell not?

  1. We are 90's kids in all our glory.
  2. We were on a cross country road trip without the use of our cell phones and at the time, found our selves in a city where splitting up could have be potentially hazardous.  
  3. We didn't want to risk losing our phones and walkie talkies are small and easily transportable. Plus, who would dare steal a walkie talkie?
  4. AND We got to call each other by code names and sign off with "over and out".

Now good sir, I ask you once more why the hell not? 

Well, as we were fooling around and getting more and more obnoxious with our codenames, we heard another person's voice on the line. Taken completely aback, we all looked at each other in shock: "Did you hear that? Did that just happen?" After 5 minutes of our collective gawking and radio silence, we concluded that no one had said anything and it was all in our head, probably a result of that liquid encouragement. That was until we heard it again and it now became our mission to find out who the other person on the other line was and discover their whereabouts. I blame Kim Possible, Spy Kids and all the other early 2000 spy shows that fuelled this insanity... 

Once establishing our battle plans, we proceeded to move outside to acquire better reception. At first the guy on the line was reluctant to give his whereabouts to us. I can't imagine why? Three girls with a set of walkie talkies asking you to tell them where you are, isn't strange AT ALL. So obviously this tactic wasn't working so we switched to humour, slight blackmail and maybe some desperate pleading....Anyway, in the end we found the guy only to discover that he works at a hotel as a security guard, which explained the walkie talkie. Apparently no one else was cool enough to use a walkie talkie outside of their job....who knew? Something else we discovered was that the guy we met was very different than the one we pictured. It's funny when a persons voice doesn't quite match their face! I wonder if my telephone voice matches mine? Actually, I don't think I want to know that answer...

So our walkie talkie adventures led us on a wild goose chase around the city but we ended up meeting some pretty cool people! We later learned that everyone who worked at the hotel could hear our entire conversations (oops!) and thought they were getting pranked by each other (which further explained their hesitation to give out any information). The valet guys also thought that some drunk girls must have stolen one of their walkie talkies and were being stupid....again, oops! Either way, this ended up being one of the highlights of the night! 

After chatting with them for a while we ended up taking their advice and hitting up one of the parades. This was where we discovered the true Mardi Gras. There was dancing and music and plenty more locals than there were tourists. Already a good sign! We ended up scoring more beads than we could carry and a few other treats. There was no holds barred with the people who were working on the floats. They literally WHIPPED beads at you with a speed and power that would impress a Major League pitcher. And I am not talking about one or two beads; I am talking about entire packages of them. Look away at the wrong moment and RIP. I almost scored the Mardi Gras spear (the golden catch of a Mardi Gras parade) but some woman snatched it straight out of my hands. Seriously, these people were crazy! What killed me more than almost getting killed from this woman's abuse was the fact that I was absolutely livid that she stole my spear. HOW DARE SHE STEAL THE MOST COVETED MARDI GRAS CATCH STRAIGHT OUT OF MY HANDS. Let's forget the fact that it was plastic and most likely would have gone straight into the bin afterwords, this was all about my dignity and bragging rights! I find it funny how something as silly as a parade can turn the most mature of adults into incredibly obnoxious and unreasonable children, myself included. Oh well, I guess everybody needs an excuse to be a kid once and a while, and Carnival is the best excuse for that for sure!

After watching the parade we wandered around for a bit and then headed home. By now we were so weighed down by Mardi Gras beads that our necks were beginning to cramp up. Also, it had started to rain. So we hightailed it back to the car and then we ventured back to our couchsurfing accommodations for a much deserved sleep.

The next morning we packed the car back up, said our goodbyes and thank yous to Michael and his mom and were then back on the road. As we neared Baton Rouge we stopped for some lunch at Popeyes and had the BEST chicken po-boy that I have ever had in my life. Also, the crew at Popeyes were full of southern hospitality giving us free sweet tea (YUM) and much more food than we initially ordered (Becca ordered popcorn shrimp and was given like 20 pieces instead of the 8 that she expected). When we were back in the car, I cranked up the Chuck Berry for one last Louisiana hoo-rah and whilst singing our hearts out we drove past all the murky swamplands with Texas in our sight. We maybe even spotted an Alligator here or there...or were they Crocodiles? I really wouldn't know the difference, but I sure as hell don't want to be close enough to either one of them to find out.

 Overall it was a great trip, even though it wasn't what we expected (though things rarely are). But we live and learn!

Next up: Texas Baby! 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Our Epic Detour: The Beginning

Our EPIC Detour:
The Beginning

It was Friday, February 13th, 2015 at 10:15am when I got a call. No wait, not just A call, I am talking about THE call. It was the call that started our collective journey across the Great Big US of A; you know, the one that we have been completely not planning for months...make that, years. 

All that non-planning came down to these five simple words: "Our thirty minutes starts now."

I hung up and took a minute to collect myself - I mean, one must be shaken for a few moments after receiving such a call. After realizing that I was being silly and wasting precious time, I hauled ass to get my duffle bag packed. Side note: I once read that duffle bags are the most inconvenient pieces of dog shite travel equipment in the entire world. With that, I agree wholeheartedly, for they are truly awkward-shaped, lumpy, and seem to hold sod all. That being said, I still found myself scrambling over my feet trying to stuff all the necessary items into said tiny ass bag - a rather strenuous workout for me. 

I was basically arse over tit trying to stuff every possible item into my bag when I remembered how Becca made a list of required packing essentials to refer to. This turned out to be a godsend for me because - as most of you probably know - I am not exactly the greatest packer in the world (HA! Understatement of the century). My motto is "If you think you need it or if it is anywhere in sight of you whilst you are packing, stuff it in the bag". Not exactly a great motto when you find yourself trying to stuff a mini fridge and a packet of twinkies into a carry on, as these are obviously just standard essentials. Henceforth, a list keeps me sane. 

In hindsight, I actually think leaving these things to the last minute helped my case as I am definitely a seasoned expert in the art of procrastination. I guess it's all part of being an adrenaline junky, what can I say? 

Once I had everything packed and ready to go (only took 10 minutes!) I jumped in the shower and made myself moderately presentable. I didn't really need to impress anyone as I was going to be in a car for pretty much the entire day, so I wasn't worried about how I looked. That being said, I still didn't want to frighten my travelling companions. 

As I was pulling up my pants, I heard a honk from outside. Becca and Jelena had arrived. And in other words, it was go time. 

I dragged my duffle bag (which somehow seemed to weigh 50lbs...I think my chicken arms had something to do with that...or maybe it was the mini fridge?) and other essentials (pillow, blanket, books, soccer ball, etc) outside and we tetris'd the shit out of the trunk to maximize our space. It's actually kind of amazing how much 3 women can manage to overpack even with such limited time constraints. With three duffle bags, multiple blankets and pillows, a cooler (of beer and food), a tent and the road trip essentials box (toilet paper, tissues, walkie talkies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, first aid kit, etc...) - oh yeah, and other useless crap we considered essentials - the trunk was filled to the brim. 

I went back to lock up but as a last minute decision I returned to my room to grab my Italian textbook. Here I thought that being stuck in a car for hours upon end would certainly free up some time to become bilingual (wishful thinking really). See, my logic believed that I was going to miraculously decide to study - something that I rarely, if ever, do - instead of doing, practically anything else. Spoiler alert: I never even opened the damn thing. I know, big surprise there. 

So with that last useless item packed, I was out the door and into the car. The Epic Detour had officially began. 

A Decision Is Made

After filling up the tank and a quick car wash, we were well on our way to the border. It was at this point that a decision needed to be made: What was our destination?

Now you need to remember that this was in the middle of February and Ontario was an ice-box - I.e. cold as tits. With this in mind, I think it was collectively agreed that we were going to go as far south as possible to escape the arctic temperatures. But the real question was: where? So we decided that the best way to choose a destination was to each choose a place we wanted to visit, that way everyone got a say. See? Compromise!

In the end, we came to an agreement:
  • Jelena chose New Orleans for Mardi Gras
  • Becca chose Austin, Texas
  • And so, I naturally decided that heading one state further wouldn't New Mexico it was for me. 
Crossing Borders

Okay, not even an hour and a half into the road trip and we were lost...well, kind of. As per road trip rule #6 we were only using road maps to navigate and would only rely on a GPS if we need to find our way to a specific address (as residential streets aren't located on a road map). 

Honestly though, I find that I've gotten lost more times than not whilst using a GPS. Damn things are constantly trying to reroute the entire trip and take me in a convoluted direction which ends up being 3x longer than necessary. 

But anyway, back to getting kind-of lost. 

So we had crossed the border from Niagara Falls into Buffalo, New York and somehow found ourselves off the highway into downtown Buffalo. I KNOW, I KNOW, major crisis. Alert the police (rolls eyes). Yes, this wasn't a huge deal as Becca and I have been to Buffalo many a times, BUT the very fact that we had to stop to ask directions on how to get back on the bloody highway when we were literally just over the border, is sad. Incredibly sad really. Needless to say, that detour was less than spectacular.

The rest of the day flew by without incident. We drove out of New York, glided through the tip of Pennsylvania, turned south at Cleveland and down through Ohio into West Virginia, where we decide to rest for the night. Being the economically savy travellers that we are, we thought why splurge on accommodations when we have the luxury of a Walmart parking lot at our convenience? Yes, we were sleeping in five star accommodations alright. After choosing the perfect parking spot (we really had the pick of the lot) we then re-tetrised our selves inside the car to make room for sleeping quarters. Our brilliant idea of pulling down the back seats and converting the entire trunk into a giant bed definitely had flaws in hindsight. For one, it was cold as fuck outside. Secondly, it was claustrophobic x50. We ended up spooning each other which was comfortable for all of 15 minutes and then the hours dragged on of constant shifting every 10 minutes when limbs became numb and extremities suffered frostbite. Safe to say, it was one of the most uncomfortable sleeps I have ever had, and I have slept in a bathtub (don't ask). Alas, morning finally came and I think the general consensus was to NEVER repeat that experience again; our first road trip lesson learned.

Stuck in a Snowstorm

From Charleston, West Virginia we traveled South West into Kentucky where we encountered another slight detour. It was snowing pretty heavily that day and we somehow found ourselves stuck behind the ONE snowplow (in all of Kentucky it would seem) on a long-winded, two-lane scenic route. No one seemed to have snow tires on (amateurs) and so we were moving at a glacial pace. Being stuck in Kentucky in a snowstorm wasn't our idea of a good time, I can assure you.

After we finally exited Kentucky (which took way longer than it should have) we made the decision to get as far as Alabama and crash there for the night, so that we could make it to Louisiana by mid afternoon. 

When we finally made it to Alabama, we were all too tired to care about sleeping arrangements and just found another parking lot. So that whole decision to NOT sleep in our car again, yeah that lasted about as long as my relationships (which are non-existent). To be fair, this time it wasn't so bad because it wasn't AS cold and we decided to just sleep in our own seats instead of moving around everything again, which ended up being a better idea. 

So to sum up the first two days of being on the road: it was less than spectacular but still gave us all some good time to bond. You'd be surprised how close you get to your travel companions when you are stuck in a car together for long periods of time!

And while these two days of travel seem slightly less exciting than you'd expect from an Epic Detour, the next couple days offered a bit more excitement in the form of Mardi Gras, southern hospitality and unexpected walkie talkie adventures. So stay tuned!