Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 6, June 3, 2006: St. Augustine to Jacksonville

(Day 5, or start from Day 1)

Day 6, June 3, 2006

This morning we woke up to the smell of pancakes and bacon....oh, thank you thank you thank you Betty Jo.

After breakfast, Betty Jo said she would wash our clothes for us while we went into downtown St. Augustine which was quite amazing timing because we only brought clothes for about 5 days worth of travel and this was day 6. We had planned on washing everything at some point and so it was great that she offered because I doubt anything would have been washed for a couple days. We have decided to just hit local thrift stores and buy some local clothing when we need t-shirts, sounds like a good idea to me.

After leaving the house, we headed to downtown St. Augustine, it rained all day. :( We bought panchos at a local "tourist" shop and wore our sandals and just splashed around, we even saw a random peacock just hanging out in a tree...

St. Augustine (as I wrote yesterday) is the oldest city established in the U.S. So, there are lots of historic sites to visit and look at. The "Fountain of Youth" is here in St. Augustine and after waiting in line for a bit, Ford and I got to try a bit of the water from the Fountain of Youth...tasted like rotten eggs. yuck.

After we sipped on water that will make us remain young forever, we walked around to the nation's oldest masonry fort (1672), Castillo de San called Fort Marion.

We walked all around Fort Marion and we started to walk into the Fort to look around, we saw that it cost $5 to thanks. Hey, we have a long trip ahead of us, can't blow all our money on day 6!

We left Fort Marion and took a stroll down the famous St. George Street and wound up stumbling upon Flagler College... I want to go here. :)

After walking around the college and walking into the main foyer area to snap a couple photos we left and toured a nearby winery, my first winery tour. After that, we headed back to the house, said our goodbyes and headed up to Jacksonville to stay with Ford's cousin, Rebecca. - 2011 edit: Because we are both Colts fans, I decided this was the best photo to use, stole it from Facebook, :)

Since we were getting there pretty late, there wasn't a whole lot of "hang out" time. We met up at a restaurant with lots of her friends and hung out for a few hours before heading over here to her apartment for the night. It was a great feeling to be able to sit back and relax with a bunch of people our age in a city we were unfamiliar with. Jacksonville seemed like a great city, but, we've been in Florida for a few days now and have so much more to see.

Tomorrow, we are heading to Charleston, South Carolina. We made a last minute decision to not head over to Georgia for Atlanta/Stone Mountain and just stick to the coast for now. A choice we hope not to regret.

(Day 7)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 5, June 2, 2006: Vero Beach to St. Augustine"

(Day 4, or start from Day 1)

Day 5, June 2, 2006

We slept in late today (10ish) and sat around and watched the movie "Goodnight and Good Luck" and ate lunch. Around 1 p.m. we all hopped in Rivers's car and headed down to a river to go kayaking...I had never been kayaking so it sounded like fun to me.

Kayaking is a blast, yet a little bit of the enthusiasm was taken away once the 100 degree heat started to kick-in and I realized that I forgot to put on sunscreen or wear a hat (I'm an idiot).

The kayaking was six miles long and lasted about a little longer than an hour and it actually was really fun. Rivers also paid for the cost of us renting kayaks...on a two-month road trip we'll take all the free stuff we can get. :)

Once we showered up and left Rivers's house later on we started heading up north to St. Augustine, Fl. to stay with my relatives, Skip, Betty Jo, Chad and Gavin. Betty Jo is my mom's cousin and I haven't seen them in awhile so it was great to stop by for the night. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the nation...that's my trivia fact of the day.

When we got here, we all watched Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals (Heat vs. Detroit) and the Heat won the game and series (4-2) putting them into the NBA Finals.

After the game, Ford and I went with Chad to go play some basketball ourselves at a local goal/parking lot. It felt really good to be doing something that reminded me home just a bit...hanging out with family and playing basketball, I love both of these things.

When we got back to the house after numerous games of "H.O.R.S.E" Ford went to sleep and I stayed up to watch the movie "Super Size Me". I had heard so much about it and was glad I saw it...I now don't think I want to eat fast food at all on this entire trip and that sounds great to Ford as he eats healthy anyway...I think there might be numerous tuna sandwiches in my future non this trip.

(Day 6)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 4, June 1, 2006: Vero Beach to Miami/Key Largo and back to Vero Beach

(Day 3, or start from Day 1)

Day 4, June 1, 2006 -

During this trip, it is quite understood that we do not want to spend money on hotels. We want to be with the people that we encounter every day. So when we woke up today and tried to plan out the day's activities we came to a "blank" when we thought about where we were going to sleep tonight.

We got up around 9 a.m. and had breakfast with Rivers and his wife, Katy, and said our goodbyes then took off for Key West. The drive was gorgeous and we had the windows down for most of the day.

As we passed through Miami, we decided to stop and look around considering neither of us had ever been to Miami. We saw a sign for South Beach and decided that since we had heard of the South Beach Diet that it had to be a place to see. While in the city streets we saw a sign for "A-1-A Beachfront Avenue" and instantly started singing Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby."

We got out of the van at South Beach and I was surprised at how few people were there. We jumped into Pacific again and swam in much warmer waters than we were used to. After drying off, I made some comparison comments of Lake Hefner and South Beach and we hopped in the van heading south.

Going over the bridge we noticed a large arena and then saw a sign about the Miami Heat and we got excited. Last year Miami got Shaq and now the Heat are pretty dominate. Last night they lost in the conference finals to defending champs Detroit; Series is tied at 2-3 and they play in Miami tomorrow.

Going through Miami, we reach the beginning of the Keys and quickly figure how long it is going to take to get all the way down to Key West with such a slower speed limit so we decide that Key Largo is a good place to stop.

We stopped to fill up the tank and ask some of the locals about what there is to do and they suggested snorkeling and told us where to go...sounded good to us. So, we went snorkeling. While snorkeling I came across a 5' barracuda that I swear growled at me. Pretty scary. We also saw some lobsters, stingrays and some tropical fish...this trip is already incredible and it's just Day 4!

After snorkeling we went to a local eatery named "Hobo's" and got some seafood and ordered a couple of beers from Key West. We both ordered a Mahi-Mahi sandwich...Yum! We watched the first part of the Yankees game and when we left they were up 5-0 but I saw that they lost 7-6 to the Tigers.
Well, as it was almost dark and we were exhausted, we called up Rivers and asked if we could drive back up to Vero Beach and stay with him again...he said yes. So, goodnight from Vero Beach.

(Day 5)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 3, May 31 2006: Orlando to Vero Beach, Fl

(Day 2, or start from Day 1)

When we woke up today, I found out that the first bummer of the trip has video camera doesn't work. Yes, the video camera I just bought one week ago was no longer working. So, I headed up to the Best Buy nearest Megan's house and explained to the manager my dilemma, he basically told me that there was nothing that could be done except leave it with them and they will fix and ship to my house in a few weeks...that falls into the "absolutely unacceptable" category because that would mean that I do not have a camera for the rest of the trip. RIDICULOUS.
While all this back and forth banter is going on between me and the manager a stock-boy comes over to me when the manager leaves and tells me he has an idea of what I can do...he said that I should hand the camera over to be fixed and sent back to my house, then I should buy a used camera because they can be returned within 14-days for a full refund. New plan, buy a new used camera from Best Buy every two weeks and keep the video tapes from the camera...sounds like pretty plan but it's at least better than buying a whole new camera. So, with new (used) camera in hand, I am ready to get the heck out of Best Buy.

Now, we all hopped in the car and headed over to Cocoa Beach, about an hour drive to the Pacific Ocean.

After driving for the past couple days and talking/thinking about getting to actually do something fun, it was nice to just sit back and follow someone who knew where they were going and didn't need a map. The beach was great, and as always, I got sunburned...not too bad though.

After swimming (or laying out, if you're Megan) we went to a couple of the surf shops just to look around and be out in the sun. Before we went in, I decided to change out of my wet bathing suit and let it dry...I decided the best place to put it out to dry was on top of the guessed it, I forgot about it.

After all the goodbyes and hugs, we hopped in the car and headed south to Vero Beach to stay with another friend of ours, David Rivers. Rivers was one of our church leaders while we were in high school. He moved out to Vero Beach and became a youth pastor about two years ago. We called and told him we were on the road headed his way and he gave us directions to his student ministry's picnic out at the beach...Vero Beach is gorgeous. White sand was everywhere and after our "hellos" and introductions to various people, we joined a couple high schoolers in playing "catch" with polo sticks/balls. It was a blast.

After the picnic, we followed Rivers on over to his house and stayed up late catching up on how he was doing and of course he had lots of questions about our trip and I think this is about the first time I've realized...we have no clue what we are doing.

(Day 4)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 2, May 30, 2006: New Orleans to Orlando

(Day 1)

Day 2, May 30, 2006

We woke up at 8 a.m. with lots of excitement and headed in into downtown NOLA and saw the Super Dome and New Orleans arena. The dome looked in really bad shape still...Hurricane Katrina happened about 9 months ago and there are signs of it everywhere.

Heading over to see the "Ninth Ward" we noticed hundreds of abandoned cars still underneath the interstate overpasses. The Ninth Ward was the location in New Orleans said to have been hit with the most damage. It is just a mile or so from where we were staying.

We drove through the "neighborhood" for about 15 minutes...I write "neighborhood" because there are technically houses but I'm not sure if any of them have occupants. Roofs are torn up on most of them and some cars are still overturned.

When we decided to come to New Orleans, I knew we would still see some of the visible effects of the hurricane, but I did not expect all this...I feel like this hurricane just came through last week.

All of these house will need to be bulldozed to the ground as there is very little to save.

As we left New Orleans, still in a little shock, we hopped on I-10 for most of the way. Driving through Gulf Shores Alabama made it a little tempting to just pull over, stop and hop in the Gulf but we knew that we had a long way to drive today. We were going to stay with my friend, Megan, while in Orlando. She used to live across the street from me in high school but now lives in Orlando with her friends Ashley and Emma.

We finally arrived in Orlando around 8 p.m. and followed Megan up to a local restaurant called "The Fill-Up Station" where everything was 1/2 off...our kind of place.

Now that we are finally over to the east coast and won't have a 10-hr driving day for awhile, we can actually kick back and relax...and we can tell, it's going to be a great road trip from here.

(Day 3)

Monday, January 17, 2011

May 29, 2006, Day 1: Oklahoma City to New Orleans

(The writing of this journal is a little erratic. Some is written in past tense and some in future tense depending when I found time to write. Some posts will be in future AND past tense from when I went back and wrote more to that day...just, try to keep up)

May 29, 2006, Day 1 -

Today is the day that we start our journey around the United States. When I say "we" I mean Dave Ford and I. We really don't have much of a plan except to make it back safely a couple months from now. The only dates that we have on the calendar to make sure we hit just right is July 8 and July 24. On July 8, Ford has to fly home for a wedding from Chicago...By looking at a map, we figured we'd be in Chicago on July 8 so he went ahead and bought a ticket that day (I hope we actually make it to Chicago then). On July 24, I have to fly home for Dad's election, he just announced that he is running for the 5th district in the US Congress. With those two dates in mind, it's time to leave.

For our trip, we are borrowing Mom's Pontiac Montana. It's a 2004 and she just got it a little over a year ago, when we return in a couple of months we will have put more miles on it than she has. :) Anywho, we took out all the seats in the back out of the van and put them in the garage to give us more room. We put down a futon in the back and put a down comforter on top of the futon. After that we put a fitted queen-sized sheet over. It is so comfortable!

With the entire back of the van open for luggage, we each brought one big duffel bag and a pillow. We are putting all of this on one side of the van and the person who isn't driving will be able to lie down on the other half of the futon (at least that's the plan for now).

I just bought a video camera a week ago for this trip. So pumped!

Armed with little more than a Rand McNally map, some Raman noodles and a couple cans of tuna, we hopped in the car headed to a gas station to fill-up the tank, set the odometer to "0" and air up the tires. We got an oil change yesterday so we should be good for another week or so.

Some problems...tire gauge is not working, gas pump declined Ford's credit card and we just found out that the cigarette lighter for ipod and a/c "plug-ins" in the front isn't working either...ugh.

We filled-up paying in cash, put air in the tires without a gauge and ended up buying an extension cord and converters to reach to the cigarette lighter in the back of the van.

Our first stop - New Orleans!
We decided our trip should head out to the east coast first and a first day stop in New Orleans sounds perfect. Neither one of us have been there and we found a place to stay through Ford's Dad's friend (whom neither of us have met).

After 10.5 hours of driving (stopping at a Dallas Walmart for van supplies) we arrived in New Orleans. We are so excited to be doing this we can hardly stand it. After meeting up with "our contact" we found out that the house we'll be in is normally a rent house just a few blocks from the French Quarter. It's a two story house with a pool and hot tub. We walked around Bourbon Street with eyes wide open...I'll just say it...we were pretty scared and a little naive about what we were getting ourselves into on this trip. We didn't stay on Bourbon Street too long and quickly decided to find something to eat a couple streets over.

After that, back to the house, hop in the pool and much needed sleep for the next day's long drive to Orlando.

(Day 2)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My idea for the next 68 days:

Last night, I had and idea.

Back in 2006, I didn't have a blog. I didn't really want one for many reasons.

One, seemingly the only option was Xanga.
Two, I didn't like Xanga.
Three, I didn't think blogs would last...back then everyone wanted to write blogs and have everyone read them but almost the only way anyone knew how to get the word out about their blog was by word of mouth or e-mailing the link to everyone they knew everytime there was a new blog update...While Twitter, Facebook and MySpace were starting to gain ground, they were still fairly new and to me, the blogosphere was dying.

Now, when I decided to take the most ridiculous trip of all-time (my 68-day roadtrip around the U.S.) I decided I would actually try to take notes and write everything down day by day...and I did.

Since we averaged about 2.5 hours in the van each day, I had plenty of time to write down my daily events. I wrote most of my daily activities down on college-rule notebook paper only filling out about 2/3 of a page per day, some longer and some shorter. I've had all this in a notebook along with many other notes (gas prices at every stop, daily expenses, mileage markers) and lots of photos to share. Since this is all just in paper form I have always worried that something might happen to it, i.e. lose it, it gets wet, a fire...something like that.

I have decided to start on Monday, Jan. 17 with Day 1 on this blog. For 68 days, I will transcribe all my notes and writings day by day with interactive links and photos just as I did in 2009 in Europe. Just because I didn't have wireless capabilities in 2006 or ways to communicate my crazy trip totaling over 14,000 miles doesn't mean I can't start now.

This Monday, Day 1, will be our start to the trip, details of what we hope to do and our destination spot #1, New Orleans.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What a tiring NYE weekend

Well, THAT was a busy weekend.

It all started on Thursday (because we had off work on Friday). I headed home and changed out of my suit as quick as possible and threw on some jeans, t-shirt and grabbed my new Thunder jacket (thank you, Marek - X-mas) and headed downtown for a night out with my friends from OKC LOYAL Class V.

We all met at Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse for some yummy appetizers and happy hour drinks and then headed across the street for Downtown OKC Inc.'s "Downtown in December" Chesapeake snow-tubing at the Brick. This event has been going on for years and I had never been (which almost makes me an anti-Oklahoma Citian but I'm not).

Despite the long line of eager tubers of all ages, it was a blast. When you are with a group like that where anyone can learn how to have a good time no matter the circumstances, every get-together is a good time. After our tube-a-palooza ended we all went over to JJ's Alley because we had some time to kill. Marek, Jordan Satarawala and I went to grab a Peach Wave Yogurt first and then joined everyone for about 30 min at JJ's before we all hopped in our cars and headed over to the Speakeasy for some live music and dancing. Good good times.

The next day (New Year's Eve), was not anyone slower-paced. After waking up (I slept in so late that I embarrassed to tell you when I actually got dressed) I met some family and friends at Quail Springs to see the movie "Little Fockers". I really didn't have high expectations due to the pathetic "Fockers" sequel but this movie brought me back to the original movie, "Meet the Parents". It was great and I found myself laughing out loud at numerous scenes (the old guy behind me that continued to laugh all by himself even when jokes weren't being said made the movie even more enjoyable).

After the movie, I headed home to change into my Thunder gear and headed to the Hawks/Thunder game. While the game was close for practically all 48 minutes, Thunder pulled off the victory. Like lighting, I rushed over to interview the interim coach for the Hawks and then jogged (literally) back to the media room to transcribe and head across the street to the NYE Freakout Show being performed by the Flaming Lips!!

The show was incredible. It's definitely one of those "you just have to be there" moments...

When the first-part of the show ended, I stuck around for a little while longer to hear a few songs from their 1999 album "Soft Bulletin" and ended up getting home at 2 a.m.

The 2 a.m. bedtime might sound early on a New Year's Eve to some of you (and entirely too late for the rest of you) but I HAD to go to that I could wake up 4.5 hrs later and enjoy a 12hr.

Dad picked me up at 6:50 a.m. and after a Sonic pitstop and a bacon, egg and cheese toaster, we hit the road, destination = unknown. We had a 16hr drive to Green Bay but we knew we were going to have to stop somewhere before that to watch the Sooners dominate the Fiesta Bowl, that place ended up being Dubuque, Iowa 12 hrs away...about six hours into the trip I realized that the only footwear I brought happened to be the slippers I was wearing in the car...#CaseyFail (Dad had an extra pair...#DadWin) When we asked the hotel attendant where to watch the game, she suggested "The Ground Round"
which ended up being something of a mix between Pioneer Pies and Applebees...the place had popcorn on every table as you sat down. OU won. night over. sleep.

Waking up 7:30 a.m. and out the door at 8 a.m. meant we reached Green Bay around noon. Green Bay = no no...Green Bay = frigid...that's about right.

Whie we were pregame tailgating we met up with Mayor Schmidt and he gave us some pregame field passes to walk around during warm-ups...SWEET

Packers needed the win in order to clinch the playoffs and win they did, against the arch rival Chicago Bears. 10-3. Having the Packers win made the trip definitely worth it.

We jumped back in the car and started back towards home and decided to drive for four hours and make it back to the Dubuque hotel we stayed at the first time through Dubuque, Fairfield Inn. Hotel, bed, sleep.

Waking up the next morning we hopped in the car at an early 7:45 a.m. knowing we had at least a 12hr ride back. When were driving through Dyersville, Iowa we made the last-second decision to go to the Field of Dreams house/baseball field (backstory - in 2005, my dad and I visited the field in the summer and played catch in the outfield all by ourselves. The people who owned the property were locking up the souvenir shop and just told us to lock the gate when we left). We arrived at the house yet it looked nothing like it did 5 years was covered in snow and no corn field (already harvested). Since we were there alone, again, we got out and ran the bases, I went up onto the porch and took some photos and more videos...very, very cool. I recommend every fan of the movie do this at least once.

Long weekend. over.