Monday, September 10, 2012

The Big Map

When we started the initial planning of our trip, two years ago (!), we bought a giant, laminated wall map and mounted it on a sheet of cardboard so we could plot our route with push pins.  Unfortunately, we couldn't find a complete map of North America (or even US and Canada) so we ended up with a continental U.S map.

When we got the map, we were assuming we'd go to Alaska. After a few conversations with people who had done the drive (and especially one with Angie's grandfather, Bill, who said, "are you SURE you know how far that is??), we finally got on MapQuest to see what the big deal was.  The big deal is that Austin to Anchorage is 4,000 miles, one way! 
Banff, Canada became our northern-most destination in the west.

Anyway, back to the map.  When we left town we needed a good bird's eye of the route, so we removed the pins, replaced them with sharpie dots, and rolled up the map to go with us.  Along the way we marked our route in sharpie markers and this is what happened...

The West, in red ink.
I swear we were sober, at least while driving, but there's so much to see and only so many ways to get there and we even went back to see a couple of things we missed.  What a crazy awesome mess.  This was 15,000+ miles.

The Southeast/Florida leg in black ink and the Eastern leg in Purple.
Many more roads at our disposal and smaller mountains but still a crazy convoluted mess and another 15,000 miles!

Hey, but that's the point of an epic road trip.  Go anywhere, anytime, and see everyone you can along the way!  We're already trying to figure out how to fill in the gaps...

So, to sum it up, the map is going back on the wall and, besides our photos and memories, is one of only a few souvenirs we have from the trip...
and one of our most cherished.

Monday, August 27, 2012

So how much does it cost to drive your house around for a year?

We've been back in Austin for about a month. It's been very nice to have all the comforts of a modern house (A/C, laundry facilities, big fridge, shower, a real bed, small car, dishwasher, etc *thanks Barbara!*), but we are very proud of ourselves for living in a van for a year. And that's a "proud" as in "wow, I can't believe we did that!" 

As you know, we set out with a pretty strict budget. Our goal was $75/day for 365 days = $27,375.
The final tally turned out to be......

Days on the Road, (including time spent in Austin between legs of the trip): 396
Average Amount Spent per Day: $68.77
*Keep in mind, a lot of days we spent nothing, others we spent hundreds if we needed gas, food, lodging, etc.*

= $27,232.92 spent total
$142.08 under budget and we traveled (or at least didn't earn money) for an extra 31 days!

Miles Driven: 29,614
U.S. States Visited: 42
Canadian Provinces Visited: 7
Percentage of Days We Actually Camped: 40%
Number of Times We Stayed in a Hotel: 23

It worked out to less than a dollar per mile, but most of that is because we stayed with so many people throughout the year and had cheap housing when in Austin (thanks Ryders!). We had more than half of our allotted camping budget left over, due to the extreme hospitality of our hosts. Thanks to all our family and friends (old and new)!  We spent the money we saved from not camping on groceries and gas, going over budget in each of those categories by 9% and 18%, respectively.  Fuel really got us, it was expensive all over, especially Canada.  But, since we still came in under budget overall, I think we could've met our $75/day goal even if we had camped every night. We would've just cut back somewhere else, namely, wine...

So really, anybody can do a trip like this. We proved you can do it with very little money and if you stop and work along the way it could last as long as you want.  It's only as physically difficult as you want it to be. It's more about your state of mind and being willing to not have those comforts of modernity. So sometimes you have to take a cold shower because there's no hot water. Or maybe you're warmer than you like to be. Or colder. Or your bed is a little hard. Or your diet gets kinda boring. Or there's no wi-fi or phone signal. But the payback is experiencing stuff like this:

 And that was just the first 5 months of the trip!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Austin, Home Sweet Home!

We're back!

We set out on our "Great American" road trip June 21, 2011 and officially arrived home July 26, 2012.

After visiting 42 states (some multiple times), 7 Canadian provinces, and driving nearly 30,000 miles, we're finally home...
and still married!

This chapter of our travels is done but we'll be continuing to blog about the trip, our budget (we came in under budget!), favorite places, and future travel plans.  We have successfully scratched the "epic road trip itch," for now, but it might be spreading into a rash... in a good rash sort of way... uh, if there is such a thing... y'all know what we mean!
Stay tuned for more adventures!

For now, we're in our lovely city of Austin for the foreseeable future and look forward to reconnecting with everyone and becoming contributing members of society again!  We visited some incredible places and have returned with a fresh perspective about our home and how much we love it here.  It's good to be back.

Now we just need jobs!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Days 115 - 117: Big Fun in "Big D"!

After a fantastic time at "pig roast," it was time to turn towards home.  My high school buddy, Christopher, tracked me down a while back when he was visiting Austin and invited us to drop by for a visit when we passed thru Dallas.  So we did!

His kids are great and really rolled out the red carpet for us.  This greeting was on the driveway when we arrived and Carson was nice enough to let us borrow his bedroom!

After a hot, 6-hour drive, the first thing we did was jump in the pool with Mercy, Carson, and Meadow!

Kipper made an instant friend with the neighbor's dog, Lacey.

Christopher and Jamie live across from a great park.  This is their sunset every night.

After some delicious burgers for dinner, we relaxed and caught up on what's been going on the last 20 years or so.

Following morning, we took a walk in the park with the neighbor, Scott, and his son, Logan...

and afterwards went over to the Dallas Arboretum where there was a glass sculpture exhibit.

The sculptor is Dale Chihuly, whose work we also saw when we visited Tacoma.
Full circle!

The glass sculptures were all over the Arboretum...

in fountains...

...and flower beds

 ...and in canoes.
Thanks to Christopher for getting us in with his family pass!

Speaking of sculpture... We didn't go to the zoo but we saw their giraffe statue from the highway.  The sculptor is the same artist that created City Museum in St. Louis.
Full circle!

We had lunch at Rusty Taco, which is the first TexMex we've had since we left Austin in April.
The fish tacos were awesome!

Christopher took me on a little tour of some of our old haunts, such as lower Greenville...

...and then we met up with everyone for dinner at Fireside Pies.  Yummy pizza!
It was a great meal and great company.  Thanks, Christopher, Carson, Mercy, Jamie, Meadow (being shy), Paige (that's a reflection, she does not have a mohawk, although that'd be cool), Scott, and Logan.

Christopher had been wanting to visit the "Sixth Floor Museum" in the old Texas School Book Depository building so Angie and I joined him.  The museum chronicles JFK's assassination  and is very well done.  Photos are not allowed inside but here's the exterior.  Oswald was at the corner window...

Some other interesting Dallas history.  The town started as a trading post.

After the museum, we met up with another old friend of ours, Bo, (who I hadn't seen in a looong time) for a bite to eat at Snuffers Hamburgers!  We had a great lunch, caught up on what each of us has been doing, and had some belly laughs about the trouble, near-death experiences, and fun we had together as teenagers.

It's nice to have friends that you can not talk to for a decade (or more) and just pick up where you left off!

Thanks to Christopher, Jamie, Bo, and everyone for a great visit.

Come see us in Austin!