Let me introduce us. There are 5 of us. All international, 3 Brits and 2 Slovakians.
Josh & Rado are our designated drivers.
Shaggy was our map-reader until we outsourced his job to the china made GPS.
I’m the resident blogger, facebooker and paranoid weather-person
And Katerina is the person who keeps things interesting by asking crazy questions.
Our mission, East Coast, South up to California in 21 days on a mega budget. Ultimately having the trip of a lifetime.
FRIDAY – NYC – NJ – PHILLY – DE – MD – DC -VA
We did New Hampshire, did Boston and got to NYC all on separate days. The guys picked me up- 12 o’clock sharp on Friday afternoon outside Chelsea. Because of the budget we had set ourselves, I had a roadmap that I bought back at home with the bookstore discount & we had Cached google map directions. This seemed like an awesome idea right? Real map reading, proper Jack Karouak ‘On The Road’ style. But as soon as we set off from Chelsea, I soon realised that whilst Goggle Maps will eventually get you there – it might take you in some bizarre direction before that. It took us some weird way around lower manhattan, rather than directing us to the West Side Highway (which would have made much more sense) getting us stuck into grid-lock traffic.
Holland Tunnel 45 minutes later with 2 very hungry Slovakians, we were in New Jersey. YAY. All hungry from anticipation we jump onto the first service station we get to. We wander the food court looking for over-priced and under-whelming sandwiches and hot dogs, although Shaggy seemed to be pretty stoked by his first Pop-Eye’s Shrimp burger thing experience. It was clear from here on in that this kind of life-style would cost us too much and we’d be well over weight and unsatisfied if this service station habit continued. We decided there and then that we needed a food kitty and to stop at Walmart.
Half the journey to Philly is spent trying to explain to Katerina that it is illegal to drink alcohol in the car. “But, no beer? in car? Really” She seems genuinely pretty bummed. She asks if we can bribe police officers. Again, she seemed disappointed with the answer. We get to Philly. We do all the touristy stuff in 2 hours – we check out Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, Benjamin Franklins grave, Get a $5 Philly Cheese Steak from a dope street vendor, take some dope photo’s, use a Starbucks without buying anything (because this is how we roll) to google map our journey from Philly Art Museum to our Motel in Arlington, VA, get a crazy black women telling us that there are better parts of Philly to take photo’s of, and then we did the Rocky statue and the steps with all the runners copy-catting the idea. We were pretty pleased with ourselves. Look at us internationals, navigating the US roads with just google maps on running low laptop batteries. Katerina asks about beer.
When leaving, Google Maps takes us through some Philly ghetto, and all the back lanes through Delaware – where we stop at a Walmart – buy bread, cheese in a jar, slices of American cheese, potato chips, Philadelphia Cheese, ham and peanut butter. We like cheese, obviously. A bunch of Powerade, some twizzlers and coke. The Slovakians try to hunt down alcohol when a Walmart assistant tells us that it’s not sold here. They’re gutted. But we say, hey we’ll get to DC soon and we can chill in the Motel with some beers.
A seemingly 3 hour drive from Philly turned into a 6 hour ride to DC due to Google Map craziness. Where we ended up in Baltimore (instead of doing the outskirts), scouted out a Pop-Eyes for Free wifi to RE-CALCULATE our route to Arlington, VA. But things aren’t that simple. We take a highway that was going the right way, but different to Google Maps. AT 11:15pm we get stuck in GRID-LOCKED traffic right outside DC. For about an hour we sit there not moving. With the city on the horizon almost teasing us, we decide that whatever the price, we’re gonna put in for a GPS. We talk about the joys a GPS will bring us in the traffic. Falling into Google Maps awkwardness, we miss the turn of, not once, or twice, not even 3 times but 4 times! We drive around the Sheridan Hotel – which we were wishing we reserved by this point – and the Pentagon about 4 times. We ask for directions at a gas station and pull into a MacDonalds for more free Wifi – a mere 1.3 miles away from the Motel. SO close, yet so far.
It is now 1am Saturday morning, we can’t believe the luck at the awesome Motel that I had stumbled upon online and reserved us. It had the hope of the 60’s. It felt like we could have been in a Hollywood classic movie. Modernism eat your hear tout. Everything was everything. We were the new era seeking out adventure.
We settle in for the night. I of course Facebook a brief update. And everything is alright in the world. Except no beers.
SATURDAY -VA -DC – TN
With the new hopes of the GPS, we set out fresh eyed and on a mission. We had planned out the next route. We planned to stay in DC until 9PM doing everything physically possible, and to drive 11 hrs and 23 minutes to Lynburgh, Tennessee through the night. (Money and time save – ca-ching!)
We take the subway to the mall ( a place where I had learnt from my last time in DC on my hunt for cheap Hollister). But we couldn’t find the Best Buy outside the mall, so naturally I go into the Ritz-Carlton to ask for directions to the Best-Buy, at which someone laughs behind a counter in the Hotel. I realised by the 3rd door that had been opened for me and graciously Greeted that this probably wasn’t the place that we ask for directions to the cheap electronics store – but we did it anyway.
We get the GPS, after some slow-ass service, and head to the Smithsonian. No time for Hollister this time (or indeed room in my suitcase).
We do everything touristy possible. We split up – leaving Josh with Rado & Kaka at the Space & air museum whilst Shaggy and i check out the Hirshhorn for some art fix. We buy an ice-cream on the way as the day is so nice, and clear and hot. We checked out the art. Changing collection so not much to see. As we wait for Josh and the others to meet us in the Lobby, i say, ‘ how weird – look how windy i’s just got?” as we look, to our dismay, the weather takes a crazy turn from ice-creams in the park to IS THIS A TORNADO? The metal chairs outside fly off, people run towards the doors, screaming, rain is thrashing everywhere. The water fountain is blowing everywhere else except the actual fountain. After an apocalyptic moment security tells everyone to calm down, not to crowd control but to check everyone’s bags. Oh America. Priorities first, no terrorism.
We visit all the memorial sites and Lincoln, we see the back-side of the White House and hunt out Chinese Food in Chinatown where we eat so much food that we roll back to Arlington to the Motel to set off for our 11 hours car ride to TN. WE ARE LIBERATED. THE GPS IS GOD. The road turns misty, I freak out and make a big deal about cloud formations, after all – this is my role- paranoid weather person. The night turns cold. We teach Kaka English terms such as “Blow Job”, in which her response is – ” like the wind? wind job?” We’re like children. But it’s an important lesson to learn.
SUNDAY – Lynchburgh TN – Memphis TN
We wake up in a rest area. The car smells rancid. I smell even worse. We’ve all druled on one another or the window at some point. This is the stuff that road trips are MADE OF! We become aware at some point that there is a time change. Although it took 2 hours for us to figure it out. We name the GPS ‘Teri’ her dominate stance has given her the reputation to be a bit of a butch Lesbian.
We arrive at Lynchburgh TN Jack Daniels Distillery. We get semi-naked in the car-park of the visitors centre, as you do. Brushing our teeth with Gatrade and a quick breakfast of Jarred cheese and chips. We have a dope tour guide. Kaka is disappointed once more that because Tennessee is a dry state she can’t buy any alcohol. The cards are not in her favour when it comes to alcohol on this trip.
We leave Lynchburgh for Memphis. We have no hotel or motel reserved. We’re going to be spontaneous. The 4 hour ride from here to Memphis is full of roadkill, Rado is still hungry. Until then. Peace!
MONDAY – TN – MI – LA