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So I’ve had a full semester to take in what I experienced in my all-too-quick cross-continental excursion. My conclusion? The adventures are far from over. My travels have only just begun. There are so many more places on my list that I haven’t yet seen. So many I have only just begun to explore.
I had the time of my life on this trip. It truly changed me. Being totally on your own for a couple months in absolutely unfamiliar places, while, never staying at each place more than a couple days, changes your perspective on life. Just as important, it changes your perspective on how to meet and interact with people.
Today, friends and strangers alike seem so much more approachable than they did pre-journey. Without learning in practice, one cannot understand the value in the ability to make great friends, even if just for a day, with any encounter.
So what do I mean when I say my travels have only must begun? Here’s a plan in the making: the voyager in me will continue to travel every change he gets, while the entrepreneur in me will try to turn this passion into a business opportunity. With the social media movement in advertising, what forward-thinking company wouldn’t want someone like me blogging about my encounters with their product? I’m envisioning another journey across the country in a new electric vehicle (Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt…), while using all the brands and products I discussed in my previous post. Consumers don’t listen to the old marketing push anymore. They want to hear stories, and follow valuable content. My plan is to provide this content.
Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned, because up next will be a post about my favorite stops along the way. And you better believe that the Canadian Rockies will be right up there…
On a side note: I’ve just secured the domain “chriscrosscountry.com” so you will soon be redirected there once I have the time to blog will soon be
It’s been quite some time since I chimed in here, but looking back I have a feeling this blog just isn’t finished yet. So I thought I would put together a list of things that got me through my journey. Oprah has her Favorite Things. Here are mine:
Yes, the glorious 1996 Saab 900 Convertible. For 12,000 miles, she was my closest friend. And now she’s still going strong with 150,000 miles clocked.
America the Beautiful Pass: an All-you-can-eat National Parks pass for $80
Not much else to say here. Each park is about $25 to get in. Or you get the $80 pass that gets you into any of them in the country (as well as monuments) for an entire year.
Coleman PerfectFlow Grill Stove
Just pure awesomeness in grill form. I used this baby at least twice a day, usually three times. What else? I only consumed five propane tanks (at $2 each). Each morning I used the stove to heat water and make coffee, and make eggs and toast for breakfast. For dinners, I often enjoyed grilled chicken, rice, pasta, burgers, and whatever else I wanted, just like if I had a kitchen at my disposal. It’s a kitchen in your trunk, and on sale for $70, it’s a no brainer.
Chaco Z/1 Sandal
These aren’t your average pair of sandals, folks. The fine people at Chaco have figured out how to make a supportive, comfortable and durable hiking sandal! I wore these every day of the summer, and still wear them today in Boston. They cup the heel of your foot and conform to your foot’s shape providing an excellent level of arch support. I’m no foot doctor, but it’s easy to tell these babies are exactly what your feet have been asking for.
I hiked across the continent in my Chacos! While I like the looks of my leather straps, I found they took a long time to break in, and started to stretch. I’m getting mine replaced (for free – thanks to great customer service) with the straps that apparently last longer and wear better.
Marmot 2-Peron Tent
Ah yes… home sweet home. At 6’7, I can not fit in a one-person tent, but I found myself quite comfortable in there. Pops up in just a minute, rolls up into a tiny sack, and it keeps the bugs and rain out. What else could you ask for?
Therm-a-Rest Camping Mat
It’s no luxurious air-mattress, but it was surprisingly comfortable. Again, it rolls up into a small package and fit nicely in my trunk with everything else when I was done with it each morning.
Camping French Press
GSI Outdoors Java Press
Yes, I’m a coffee snob. No I didn’t need to drive to a Starbuck’s each morning. The french press is how I make my coffee at home, so why not take the press on the road with me? All I had to do was heat up water on my grill/stove, and I was good to go.
Here’s a tip I learned along the way – at gas stations, hot water is always free. (Just be nice and ask first!)
Being on the road for ten hours at a time, you often find yourself looking for another swig of coffee. Why settle for the crappy, bitter, old coffee at a gas station when you can make your own? Just go to their coffee pot, pour yourself some hot water in the trusty camping french press, and you’re already on your way to a great cup to keep you going for hours.
Ok I won’t spend too much time on this one, but this one was my lifesaver. For navigation, and keeping you all up to date on this very blog, I used my iPhone exclusively. I found campsites, gas stations, grocers, and local attractions with Yelp and the AAA app. Most importantly, every picture I was able to share on this blog (save the skydiving shots) was from the iPhone! Pretty impressive…
That said, any smartphone will do. Just make sure you’re connected in one way or another.
Brings back some great memories… Nick, you’re up right?
So I put all the best shots from a few sources in one “best of” album…
Check out the maps to the right once you’re in Picasa. The ones I took from my iPhone have coordinates assigned to them
|Road Trip, Summer 2010 (Best of…)|
Yes… I’m home…
Let’s recap my last 24 hours:
Left Wisconsin Dells at 6PM, got into my campsite last night around 2:30AM, slept 4 hours, started driving again at 8AM, got to Niagara Falls around noon, stayed for an hour and a half, and drove another 6 hours home. Managed to cover over eleven hundred miles in 24 hours. But I made it…
Thanks again for tuning in. It’s been a wild ride…
I guess couldn’t (quite) get away with driving between 90 and 100 miles per hour for ten thousand miles straight… Sure enough, on my last day on the road, I got pulled over. In Ontario. Here’s the kicker though- no, it wasn’t for speeding. No, not for my burnt out break light that I’ve been driving with since I hit Colorado. Nope, not for that front plate I never put on my car. Not even for that expired insurance card I’m carrying (Dad… I’m still insured right? ). Apparently the great province of Ontario just isn’t as much a fan of my radar detector as I was. The nice officer pulled me over, confiscated my gadget that’s already saved me between 15 and 20 tickets this summer, and let me go with a nice $170 fine. He said, and I quote, “Your radar detector is being seized by the crown, and will be destroyed.”
Well good luck getting that $170 from me, boys. I’ll just buy another radar detector for $140, pocket the $30 and call it a day. Besides, I don’t plan on visiting your neck of the woods again any time soon…
PS- Niagara Falls was pretty sweet. I’ll give you that. And that double rainbow was nice too.
I’m now just six hours from home. Mom I hope that fruit salad is waiting for me in the fridge!
As I write this I am having a hard time believing that this amazing trip is about to come to an end. I spent the past week with Maggie in Minnesota, and now (at 2:30AM) I just arrived at a campsite on Lake Huron just 10 minutes from the Canadian border. Tomorrow it will be a three hour drive to Niagara Falls, then from there just a seven hour drive back to Connecticut. Wow. I can’t wait to back home, so see the family, to be introduced to my mom’s new house and puppy, to see friends, to head back to Boston… But after such a mind blowing two months I wonder what the “real world” will feel like.
Back to last week… Of course it was great to see Maggie after so long, and no surprise we ended up despite a great time in Minneapolis.
The condensed version: we took a stroll around a pretty park outside the city (Minnehaha), checked out the nightlife a couple times, spent a day at the zoo (where I finally had my close encounter with a bear… Hadn’t had one since my second day on the trip in the Appalachians), and wrapped it all up with an awesome camping trip to the “biggest water park in the world” in Wisconsin Dells. Yes, for all those who know better than to take that last bit for granted. I managed to drag Maggie into a tent for a night, and wouldn’t you know it not only did she survive, but she rather enjoyed the experience.
(Maggie has some better zoo pictures on her camera…)
Waking up just a quick drive away from Noah’s Ark Water Park, we had breakfast and headed over for a thrilling day of slides, tubes, and chlorine under the sun. We closed out the day with a quick go-cart race which of course I dominated. That evening Maggie headed back west to her home, and I continued east to mine. Three hours later she arrived, and I here at this campsite just five hours afterward.
(Proof that she did in fact come camping! She’s my camping apprentice now…)
After breakfast I was about to head out to Mount Rushmore, but got sidetracked when I started talking with the neighbors- two kids doing the western chunk of my trip. It was fun exchanging stories and giving them pointers. In not leaving the park early, though, I became a target for the patrolling ranger, who ended up with seventeen of my dollars for my use of the facilities. No big deal. Soon after, I did make my way to the famous carved mountain. Fortunately, I arrived with the expectation that I would not stay long, s I was not disappointed after leaving in just ten minutes. Mount Rushmore was a great spectacle of human engineering but there wasn’t anything else to do but look. No matter the size, one can only look at a sculpture for so long…
Next up, the Badlands National Park, which was just an hour and a half east. The park definitely had some Pretty unique features- the kind of thing you’ll never see anywhere else. It seemed like a area in the dessert full of giant sand castles.
The wildlife was a fun spectacle as well- my campsite was next to an enormous prairie dog city. A buffalo was grazing right outside the tent site as well. I also drove past a mountain goat. It’s funny the things that have turned into the norm’ these days…
There was a stargazing program lead by one of the rangers that night. With absolutely no light pollution, looking up at the stars was an incredible experience. At the program I met a couple brothers driving from Oregon to Jersey who had been to a lot of the same places I had. Comparing stories was fun.
That morning I awoke at the free campsite (yup, legally, officially free. I’d never heard of such a thing at a national park) to see that everyone except for one other guy my age had packed up early and left. After packing up my tent I approached him to hear his story. Clearly he had a good one- he was camping out by himself “cowboy style” (no tent/sleeping bag). Turned out he was a real interesting guy- kind of like me, he decided to hit the road one day and explore what he had never seen before. He’s been doing canoe camping too, which sounds like a great time. He was headed west and I east, and he hadn’t much of a plan beyond the today so I gave him some highlights to see on a map. Sounded like his ultimate goal was to make it to Alaska and visit a friend, and perhaps even stay…
I was headed to Minneapolis that day and hadn’t much use for any of the parishables I my cooler so I offered to cook up a big breakfast. He was pretty excited to have some eggs, turkey, cheese, toast, and coffee. He told me he had been living off rice and oatmeal.
From there we parted ways and I headed out for the 7 hour drive to Minneapolis to see Maggie!!