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 hurt...so 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!

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