Letters from the Road

Dear Other Drivers,

Please kindly remember that when you want to switch lanes, it is common courtesy to be going faster or at least matching the speed of the car you are cutting in front of. Also make note that my stopping distance is double what you think it is; Clarence the MyPod is quite hefty which takes a toll on my ability to decelerate.

Sincerely,

Frustrated

 

Dear State of Virginia,

Your choice of state park names is somewhat comical. “Hungry Mother State Park”… really? Sure, the legend surrounding it makes sense in a mysterious sort of way, but it drove me crazy for over 100 miles on I-81 until I could safely Google such strange nomenclature.

Yours,

A Puzzled Citizen

 

Dear State of Arkansas,

Please fix all the potholes on your highways and interstates.* They’re large enough to swallow a small child whole.

All the best,

Rattled

texas 1
*Do you see how Texas has relatively smooth highways?

Dear Chicken-Who-Made-Me-Sick,

You gave me food poisoning and delayed my journey. You should be ashamed of yourself. Making me be sick for hours at a rest station was a real low-blow.

Regrettably,

A Convalescent

 

Dear Commerce Industry,

Could you kindly come up with a chain of restaurants/hotels/gas stations that begins with the letter “X”? Playing the alphabet game has become very difficult. Thank goodness for Quality Inn and Zaxby’s.

Regards,

A Bored Driver

Advertisements

Second Departure

map
A brief recap of Part I of my trip

My winter hiatus has absolutely flown by. It seems like I pulled back into the Northern Virginia area only a short time ago, tugging along Clarence (the teardrop trailer) like a faithful pet.

Now the days are getting longer, and the temperature is gradually rising. I’m eager to get back on the road to visit the remaining 23 national parks. The Pacific Coast promises a whole new world of discovery: deserts, mountains, forests, and beaches. The northern border of the U.S. will be rife with intriguing flora and fauna, adjoining up with the natural areas in Canada, my homeland.

will do some things differently. I’ll plan out my time a little better depending on the size and available activities in each park. I’ll be smarter with where I lodge each night – warmer temperatures will mean less need for pricey electric hookups. I also intend to adjust what I’m bringing with me. During Part I of my trip, I toted a variety superfluous goods around the country that I barely even looked at, nevertheless touched.

What’s Staying Behind:

  • Half of my clothes, particularly cotton
  • Unnecessary camping gear
  • My climbing rope (I decided I didn’t trust strangers to prevent me from falling)
  • Some books, puzzles, office supplies, and activities

What’s Coming Along:

It’s going to be good… stay tuned for pictures, stories, and happiness.

DCIM101GOPRO
Looking forward to more days like this – drinking my morning coffee and reading a book before hitting the trails. Livin’ the Pod life!

 

 

100 Days and Counting!

20160910_110043
Stretching my legs at Carhenge, a roadside attraction in Nebraska

Remember in grade school when you celebrated Hundreds Day? It was quite a milestone to have invested 100 full days into your current grade level.

Well, tomorrow marks my hundredth day on the road. It’s been an incredible journey, so I created a short video to commemorate the expedition thus far.

Click here to Watch Me!

Jelly Beans and Miles Hiked

jelly-beans

You know those contests where you guess the number of jelly beans (or some other sugary candy) and the closest person wins a prize?

47parks.com is doing the miles hiked version of this.

Here’s how it works:

  • Leave a comment with your estimate of how many miles I have hiked in national parks since the beginning of my trip (state parks and walking in downtown Memphis doesn’t count)
  • Next Friday, September 30, I will announce the winner
  • Your prize? Either a big bag of jelly beans or any picture from my blog sent to you as a 8.5 X 11 print

Keep in mind that some parks, like Dry Tortugas, contain very little “hikeable” land.

Also, if you don’t see your guess posted right away as a comment, don’t panic, I have to approve all comments before they become official.

Good luck, have fun!

20160915_133556

(Oops… I accidentally deleted this post earlier, hence the double-publish)

Cuisine (Part II)

Food has become my frenemy while living on the road. I still enjoy a delicious meal, yet sometimes food preparation is simply a hassle.

My Yeti cooler has been phenomenal. It keeps produce cool and refreshing for up to 3 days. I thought I would miss my salads and raw veggie snacking, but I’ve been able to maintain my fruits and vegetable intake no problem. It’s a good thing, too, since McDonald’s cheeseburgers and vanilla cones have become a go-to (only $1 each).

Depending on my location, my eating habits vary drastically. Some days it feels like I’m just consuming energy bars, nuts, apples, and dried edamame.  Other days I feast on local cuisine or my sister-in-law’s impeccable frittata. I’ve gotten pretty creative with my nourishment, as well. A Spam sandwich, or Spamwich, isn’t half-bad. Also, Siracha can spruce up even the blandest of ingredients, including a lukewarm can of turkey chili.

The bottom line: I feel good, healthy, and still haven’t had to dip into my emergency MRE’s.

recipe-for-post

Treasuring Beauty, The Mile High City, and Traveling Safer

“I’m sure that after all the national parks you’ve been to, this is underwhelming.”

“You’ve been to all these incredible places – what are you doing here?”

People I run into seem to believe that my senses have become dulled towards appreciating beautiful things in a “lesser” setting. Sure, I’ve gazed upon the Appalachians, snorkeled in picturesque waters, and watched the sun set over Colorado mesas. Yet despite all of the big nature moments I’ve experienced, I still thoroughly enjoy the simple things about being outside. Whether it’s feeling a cool breeze as a respite from the hot sun, or exploring a strange rock outcropping, I am not in the habit of comparing my natural encounters or rating my perspectives. If anything, visiting so many national parks has piqued my curiosity and honed my ability to pick out the most alluring views. I have learned to treasure beauty, regardless of the place or form.

20160907_101529-1
Red Rocks Park (Morrison, CO)

Denver is a great example. This city is surrounded by a great outdoor playground. During my stay, I hiked in some local parks, marveling at the uniqueness of the area and its relative solitude despite its proximity to hundreds of thousands of people. My 2-day break from camping was ideal: I had all the amenities of a city, yet the ability to escape into nature for hours. My gracious Denver hosts, J.C. and Renae, are fellow nature-lovers and explorers. In fact, J.C. is a traveler/blogger who focuses on helping sojourners travel safely. I was able to gather some pro tips about staying safe while on the road.

In a couple days I’ll say goodbye to Colorado. The views have been spectacular, the people have been gregarious, and the beauty (big and small) has been absolutely extraordinary.

20160908_123445
The Royal Arch in Chautauqua Park (Boulder, CO)