We had a really fun weeking during SXSW in Austin. I didnt take many pictures when I was out seeing shows, but I did walk around the first day, across the river & downtown. Here’s some photos:

bathroom photo during the first night out in Austin, haha

After a week in Austin, I took a few days to explore Texas with a friend I met at SXSW. We just kinda bopped around the small towns outside Austin & explored the scenic areas, which was a nice break from the craziness of Austin!

Enchanted Rock…somewhere in Texas…we climbed this!

view from the top of the enchanted rock

buchanan lake, TX

We stopped at a lot of small town texas bars on our way to NM and it was quite interesting.   Nat played some songs with musicians in the some of the bars we stopped in & they LOVED him, haha!  We also learned how to play shuffleboard in a biker bar & met a country singer named DEANO who gave us a copy of his new CD.

New Mexico was gorgeous!! this was somewhere near Deming, where we tried to find some hot springs but they were closed, & not real hot springs anyways (it was a resort). We did find a park called Rock City which was pretty random & cool!!

The drive through New Mexico & into Arizona was amazing, such beautiful views everywhere! Here’s a couple pics from a spot where we parked in AZ:

rest stop/scenic viewing area in arizona

After doing all this driving through the scenery, all the cities we stopped in basically sucked, like el paso, which is where i locked the keys out of the van and *luckily* a friendly & unquestioning mechanic helped us unlock it, tucson & phoenix, also where it took an hour to locate & get correct directions to a post office!! We only stopped briefly in these cities so I know I am not giving them a fair chance, but they were just so crowded and annoying to me at the time!

Anyways, we got to Phoenix in the late morning on March 25th & did not leave til about 1pm due to traffic and long lines at the post office where I had to mail something for LuAnne Vintage.  Then we made the drive up to the Grand Canyon! I think we arrived there about 5pm, and of course it was sunny all day til then, when it got cloudy & cold. Nevertheless, it was AMAZING! I took wayyyy to many photos of it. It really blew my mind! Its breathtaking and mindboggling, like you’re not even sure what you are looking at & its hard to tell the depth of all the different rocks & such.  I also had no idea you could go hiking through the canyon, which I hope to do one day if I go back there!  Here’s a few of the pics I took:

me & the canyon!

We hung out at the canyon until it was almost dark out, went for a bite to eat in the village, & then headed to VEGAS! I guess we putzed around too much before leaving though, and were kind of bummed that it was going to take over 3 hrs to get to vegas & somehow time flew by and we did not leave til almost 9pm! We wouldn’t have rushed to Vegas except for the fact that we booked a hotel on hotwire for that night, so we HAD to get there.

After about 4 hours, 35 mph construction, a police checkpoint, the hoover dam & crossing into the Pacific time zone (thank goodness we gained one hour!) we FINALLY made it into Vegas. It is quite amazing going from being in the middle of nowhere to all the sudden driving out of the hoover dam and seeing Las Vegas. We checked into our hotel around midnight and what do you know it was the most amazing hotel I will probably ever stay in in my whole life! It was Bally’s Las Vegas and it was right in the middle of the strip across from the Bellagio. We couldn’t believe it, and it was only $55/night what!!  We had an amazing view of the strip from our room and I will put a picture on here eventually ( I took photos in vegas with a disposable camera).

We basically just wanted to see every casino, so we walked around and had a drink in each of the main big ones, our hotel was Paris, then Treasure Island, Venice, maybe a few others.  We had a really good time and the next day decided to book another hotwire hotel, this time we ended up at the Stratosphere which was not as nice as Bally’s but it was cheap for a friday night and we go free admission to the top of the building which normally costs like $200 apparently!  It was still a nice hotel and we got some good drink specials downstairs in the casino there.  It is crazy how confusing they make the casinos, they definitely want you to get drunk & lost, and then spend all your money at a slot machine!

The best time I  had in Vegas was definitely at Circus Circus! Which is where Hunter S Thompson went & wrote about also i think?  It was really fun, we played some kiddie games in the arcade, saw a silly mini circus performance, wandered around & also got to see the carousel bar which is sadly no longer a bar! 😦 We also explored the Bellagio which has a cool ‘honey i shrunk the kids’ thing going on in the courtyard (photos coming soon). And we checked out the Mirage also. After 2 days in Vegas we were beat & ready to leave! It was exhausting & we barely got any sleep. You would think hotels in vegas would have late checkouts??!! We got a yummy IHOP breakfast the next morning, I bought a temporary cell phone, & then we took off for CALI!

The drive to LA was gorgeous with gorgeous weather as well.  Somewhere along the way we stopped at a cute little diner at a gas station & had the most delicious carrot cake & coffee while the sun was setting. We listened to every song about california that we could find on my ipod & it was quite a good time. Here are some photos of the cali roadside:

love this one of nat & i!

We took our time getting to LA and we arrived there around 8 or 9pm.  The next day I went to Venice Beach & layed in the sun all day. Later in the week I took Nat to Hollywood Blvd to show him the stars & then we wandered up to the Hollywood sign.

We found a really close parking spot & ended up staying here for the night & also getting to hear the encore of Paul McCartney’s concert down at the Hollywood Bowl! We sat up on the roof of the van and listened to it, it was great!

So anyways, Nat had to take off back to London on this past Friday, & I am getting myself all set up to stay in LA for a little while to make some money.  I just got a job at a restaurant in Venice & am subleasing a room in an apt right in Venice as well.  I won’t have too much exciting news for a little while but will definitely keep posting as time goes on. Casey is still making her way here with some other friends so I’m pretty bored here now.  If anyone is reading this and wants to take a vaca to California, please do & come visit me!

xoxo

D

We got to Texas a few days ago and are enjoying it a lot so far.  We had been sick & kind of stuck in a couple towns for way too long before this, so it’s exciting to be here and wander around a lot more than we have been.  Crossing the state line was quite exciting for us, especially since neither of us had ever bee to TEXA$$$.

We drove through Beaumont, TX first and then headed down to the coast and took the highway through Crystal Beach.  It was amazing how close the road is to the water, I could not believe it!

Then we took the ferry across the water to Galveston…..

Once we got over to Galveston, we parked along the seawall and took some pictures. We got lucky because it had rained the whole drive until we got into Crystal Beach, and then the sun came out and it was beautiful.

After walking around for a while, we found a coffeeshop and hung out there for a little while. For dinner, we ate some delicious fried seafood at Benno’s on the Beach. It was so good!! My first time having fried oysters and catfish. We slept at a walmart that night and then did some more exploring the next day. We saw some more of the seawall & then took photos at East Beach. It still amazes me how cars can just drive around on the beach down here, its great! We saw a lot of cars driving on the beach in East Beach.  The sand there was also sooo soft…the water was very cold though 😦

Then we went to the Strand District which is the downtown area of Galveston. We wanted to just check it out quick before we left, but ended up staying there for a few hours and also got a bite to eat.  We met an awesome old guy named ‘Captain Steve’ that told us some stories about Galveston & offered us free drinks at a karaoke bar that night, which sadly we had to pass up.  Overall we really enjoyed the strand and are considering going back there after SXSW to get jobs for a little bit.  Its such a quaint little downtown area with lots of historic buildings. Here’s some photos from downtown….

So we left Galveston around 8pm that night and drove to Corpus Christi where we stayed at a walmart for the night. Then yesterday we drove to Padre Island to find a campsite near the beach.  The state camp we are in allows camping right on the beach, but we don’t have tents, so we are camped in an area that is mainly for RVs.  It’s a nice place, everyone is really friendly, and when its not foggy you can see the water, but its so freakin windy!!! We took some photos yesterday in the fog….

There’s a few shots of our set up also 🙂 We had the chance to ride our bikes around for the first time as well!

That night we popped some popcorn on the coleman grill (fires are not allowed! bummerrr) and did some reading by flashlight & candlelight. Then today we got up kind early & drove into town to find a less windy place to lay out in the sun.  We found a cute little park right off Ocean Drive.

Alright, we’re leaving the coffee shop now to drive back to the island to sleep! We are driving north again tomorrow to find a REAL campground where we can have a fire and not deal with wind all the time! We’ll be camping for the rest of the weekend, and then driving to Austin on Monday!

Hope everyone has a good St Patty’s Day!!

-D

Ok, so i have ton more to update! I did not realize how hard it would be to blog on this trip! I’ve also been sick on & off for the past several weeks which makes it harder, and I also haven’t been doing that much so my stories are not as exciting to write about.

Anyways, I guess I will pick up where i left off…..right before we met up with my friend Emily in Hollywood, FL. The night before she flew in, we decided to check out Hollywood and ended up finding a good overnight parking spot, unlike Ft lauderdale, the meters actually stop running overnight which is always nice for us! We ended up having a good night in Hollywood, it was pretty dead everywhere & also raining but it was nice to be at quiet bars as opposed to the craziness of Miami.  The sweetest bar we went to was called “Le Tub” and it had old tubs everywhere outside as decoration. It was also RIGHT on the water, an amazing view! The bartenders were really nice old guys who told us all these old stories about how the bar first started and everything.  Then we went to a couple other bars on the boardwalk which were really fun, but again still really quiet, just locals there. It was cool though, and all the bartenders were really helpful and loved recommending other places for us to go (it seems they don’t get too many tourists around Hollywood, FL haha).

Here’s the one photo I took from the night, Casey & I in the bathroom at Le Tub hahaha

The next day we drove around, and decided to pay to go into a State Park a little bit north of Hollywood. It was a pretty nice day, we tried to lay out on the beach for a bit but it got too cloudy and windy. We spent most of the day cleaning out the van, which has to happen every couple days since its too overpacked!! We make a mess everytime we have to find something. I figured it was a good time to take photos of the inside of the van also, because it doesn’t stay this clean for very long….

I also walked around the park a bit, and took some photos:

While at the park, we met an awesome & very friendly park ranger who recommended we eat at a place called Jaxon’s a few minutes away in Dania Beach. He said they are famous across the country for their ice cream and we were like, you know what lets just spend the money and go out to eat! We were RARELY eating out anywhere on this trip, not even mcdonalds, so this was really exciting for us haha. I WISH i had a taken a photo of the food we had when we got there. Julien order the mile-long hot dog which was HUGE, i got a gigantic plate of nachos with all the toppings, and Casey got french fries with gravy. The food was a bit more expensive than we would have wanted to pay, but it was delicious. The restaurant itself was pretty tiny, but they had all these amazing vintage decorations everywhere. Like REAL vintage stuff, not the crap they decorate with at Cracker Barrel or Fridays! It was a really cute place and we ate wayyy to much food, but had to get ice cream after. It was definitely worth it & the death by chocolate ice cream was AMAZING!! We had tons of leftover food which we saved for later on that night.

Here’s a pic of Jaxon’s that I stole from Emily so you can see how awesomely decorated it is…

Emily’s flight wasn’t getting in until 11 or 12 at night so we decided to drink a little cheap wine until she got in. What you realize when you’re living out of a van, is that once it gets dark out you either need to go to sleep or start drinking usually, haha. So we ended up drinking a bottle of wine on the beach and then when Emily got in we went out to a bar for a little bit.  We had a lot of fun that night & it was really great getting to see Emily in Florida. We don’t see each other all that often anyways so its crazy how it worked out that we were able to meet up on my trip!  We ended the night eating our delicious leftovers from Jaxon’s, so perfect! Here’s a couple photos from the night & the next day, courtesy of Emily:

So the next morning we went to the beach for a little while, & then Emily’s friends came to meet up with her and head to Miami where they were staying. Casey, Julien & I then realized we had had enough of paying parking meters and dealing with the crowded cities, & decided to drive to Ocala National Forest for the Rainbow Gathering.

We had never been to a gathering, but Julien worked with a guy in New Orleans who told him all about it.  It’s basically a bunch of travelers who form an intentional community in a national forest for several weeks to a month.  Every year they have it in a different location as to not wear out the land in any one area. We had a long drive to Ocala and when we finally got there it was dark out, probably around 8 or 9pm.  We had to ask for directions at a local gas station & the people there obviously HATE the gathering folk, but they had directions to the lake hanging up on the door.  We get to the dirt road that heads to the lake and we are terrified! Its a sand road, with tons and tons of potholes, so we had to drive so slowly,  and everything in the van is falling over it was awful!  We didn’t even know if we were on the right road and had thoughts in the back of our heads that maybe the gas station lady was purposely giving out wrong directions!

It was the longest car ride ever but after about 20 min or so we saw vehicles parked on the side of the road and were welcomed to the gathering by 2 very drunk bearded men in leather jackets drinking mad dog. The told us the deal with parking and were very friendly. We were just relieved to have made it! So we continue to drive a little bit farther and come to an area of buses & rvs that are all parked in wooded areas around the driving path. We park the van and start to explore….

The first person we come in contact with is a kid named Spit who asks us something about cigarettes and we assume he needs one so one of us gives him one. We all introduce ourselves and he starts explains the basics of the gathering to us. We were parked in Bus Village, which was perfect because it was where all the people living out of their vehicles were parked.  Then Spit offers to walk around with us and show us around. We realize he is a ‘nick at nite’ which is someone at the gathering who walks around all day & night with a busket of tobacco, yelling “nick at nite satellite, you want a cigarette i got a cigarette, you got a cigarette i need a cigarette.” Its like give a penny, take a penny, but with tobacco, haha. So we walk around with him for a while and hes introducing us to people, rolling cigs for people, and telling us advice on what to do while we are there.  It was very intimidating meeting all these people who are sitting around firepits in the dirt, playing music, smoking constantly and it made me feel like i was way to clean to be there. So after walking around a bit and being in complete awe of the lifestyles i was seeing, we called it night and slept in the van.

It turns out we arrived at the gathering about a week earlier than it officially started, which is called ‘seed camp’ when all the basic camps get there and set up first.  The camps all have names for themselves and a lot of them are kitchens, and cook food all the time for everyone at the gathering.  Free food in the woods is one of the best things about this place. Not only was it free food, but usually it was really fuckin good! During our time there we ate some really good food…from soups to pizza to bbq chicken to fried candy bars.  Our van was parked near a guy named Kenny who cooked the best food right out of the back of his van. He always made the best breakfast which was potatoes, eggs, bacon, & cheese, and he always had coffee and a good fire going there as well.

We met soo many people at the gathering, you literally cannot walk 5 feet without someone talking to you. It was really interesting. A lot of the people there are trainhopping kids and they have tons of stories to tell you.  The lifestyle you get into while you are there is very laid back,and things like time & money have no significance.  Nobody pays for anything there, all the food is free, and there is a trading circle where you can go trade your goods or services.  You learn a lot about living in the woods also, like having to dig a latrine for going to the bathroom! It’s a national forest, not a campground, so there is no running water, no showers, no toilets.  You have to either drive into town to get water or wait for the ‘water buffalo’ which is a huge water container that is brought in & out by a truck during the day. Nobody showers there, unless you count swimming in the lake as a shower. I think the three of us were at a total of 3 weeks without a shower after we left the gathering!

So we lived in the woods for about a week & a half. We had thoughts of staying longer, hoping the weather would warm up, but on our last day there, Casey and I both woke up with colds so we decided to leave.  It would have been fun to stay longer, but it was always getting down to around 30 degrees at night which was not enjoyable.  I also felt like I was getting anxious, wanting to keep traveling and exploring. It was a really great experience meeting all the travelers at the gathering, and we made some new friends who we saw in New Orleans and will probably run into again in Austin  as well. Sadly I have no photos of the gathering because you aren’t really supposed to take any, and it I was too paranoid about losing it/breaking it/getting it stolen 😦

The day we left Ocala was the day before Mardi Gras, so we were in a rush to get to New Orleans quick enough to have some time to go out that night.  We drove around 10 hours or so, and got into Nola around midnight-ish. We parked on the street near the french quarter, walked around near all the crowded bars, and ended up at a locals bar that was pretty low-key, called The John. We had a really fun night, Casey & I ended up staying there all night. Sadly because we were too tired the next day, we missed the main parades on mardi gras (laaaame i know) but i had to sleep!! And again I didnt really take many pictures because carrying around a digital SLR is too annoying and worrysome for me when I’m out walking around a lot or at bars. I did take this one photo of people dressed up on the street waiting for a parade, before my phone started dying forever:

Later that day we met up with some friends from Albany who were also in town, and went to get food & drinks with them. This is when I learned that I LOVE bloody marys!! mmm so good! So that night we went out and saw all the craziness of mardi gras on bourbon st, then went to St Roch’s Tavern where a band called Mars was playing.  It was nice to get out of all the busy, overpriced crap.  The rest of our time in New Orleans was spent walking around & drinking lots of coffee.  Casey & I visited a friend in Baton Rouge for one night, then went back to New Orleans and stayed with Julien at his friend’s really fancy apartment in the business district.  We were all still sick at this point, so we just kinda hung around trying to recover and be healthy!

After about a week of that we decided that we were ready to finally get out of New Orleans, and Casey and I planned a mini trip up to Oxford, Mississippi to visit some friends we had met on poster tour a couple years ago.  Oxford is a really great town and I recommend everyone should go there and see it! Its a big college town, “Ole Miss” is the school there, but there is also a lot of really good music there also.  The downtown area is very quaint, with a nice square, but there are also strips of chain stores, wal-mart, kroger, etc which is convenient.  There are TONS of good places to eat, and this was the death of us. We went out to eat way too much in Oxford, and also went to happy hour a couple times too many, but who can resist half price sushi at happy hour?!! So after staying in Oxford a little longer than we should have and spending wayyy more money than we should have, we headed to TEXAS!

Right now we are in Galveston, TX in a coffee shop.  We drove here yesterday and it was a great drive! Casey & I were both really excited to see this state and getting over the Texas state line was the most exciting thing we have done lately! We are both starting to feel better and are trying to be healthy still before we head to Austin next week for the SXSW music festival.  It’s not warm enough to be on the beach here but I’ve been taking tons of photos and will post them soon. We might be heading down to Corpus Christ later today, where its warmer, and find a nice place to camp on the beach 🙂  YAY FOR TEXAS!

So as most of you probably know, Casey, Julien & I are traveling across the country in a van. We have been on the road for a couple weeks now and I’m sad to admit this is the first time  I have had a chance to blog! So heres what we’ve done so far…

Casey and I left Ballston Spa, NY on January 21st, 2010 and made a quick stop in a small town in PA to visit some friends, then picked up Julien in Philly.

On our drive out of Lock Haven, PA towards Philly we stopped on the side of the road to take some photos of the Pennsylvania countryside.

We spent a weekend in Philly, staying at the place where Julien was subleasing a room.  Casey and I got our first philly cheesesteaks ever and it was delicious. We passed by the famous Geno’s & Pat’s but the lines were way too long and we didnt feel like waiting in the cold for an overpriced cheesesteak, so we just got one at a little pizza shop down the street.

Then we walked around south philly a little bit & checked out the AIDS thrift store. It was a little too trendy and over priced but fun to look around in. We went to a small party on Saturday night and it gave us a chance to see some friends before embarking on our trip. We had a good time in Philly but overall it was an anxious weekend of waiting for the trip to start. Monday morning we were excited to finally get going.

Our first stop was Virginia Beach to visit my friend Melody. We stayed there for a night with her & her boyfriend Mark. Mel cooked us a delicious dinner, chicken marsala & fried zucchini along with some yummy wine. Then we watched a very silly horror movie called “Dead Alive” made by Peter Jackson in 1992. Hilariously horrible and much different than his LOTR trilogy.

After a relaxing night in VA beach, we left the next morning to ship out some vintage we sold online, and then headed down to Asheville, SC to visit our friend Zack who just moved there a few weeks ago.  We stayed with Zack and his 2 roommates, one of which being a very interesting woman named Tina. Tina is an older woman, prob around 50, who sleeps in the living room of their house. She is a very spiritual and environmentally aware person which is great. She also smokes cigarettes and weed ALL DAY! i dont know how she lives like she does…but I am glad to have been able to meet her in my life!

Also while in Asheville, walked up Spivey Mountain which was fun except we took the wrong path and missed the scenic lookout spot!

When we left asheville, we originally planned on heading to Athens, GA & then Savannah. Unfortunately the weather was going to be too cold and there was an ice storm heading for the South, so we just decided to drive all the way down to Florida. We stayed in Tidusville, FL at a Walmart and got a chance to sleep in the van for the first time :-). It was nice to be able to sleep in our own ‘place’ rather than be depending on anyone else or feel like you are intruding on someone else’s space.

The next morning we woke up fairly early and drove down the east coast of Florida, searching for warm enough weather to go to the beach. We ended up in Jupiter, FL where we found an empty, rocky beach to lay out on.  It was a little cold, and there were a lot of jellyfish on the beach, but it was still nice to just be escaping the winter weather finally.

That night we decided we might as well head into Miami. Parking was difficult, but we finally found a good spot on the street in a good area near the downtown bars. We went out to a bar called Barracuda, and met some cool people, then went to some kinda trashy college bar which was interesting…this photo sums up Miami for me…

The next day we had to wake up around 8am before the meter would start up again, and I’m surprised I was awake enough after only getting about 4 hours of sleep. We ended up driving over to Miami Beach and it was a gorgeous, hot sunny day, perfect for the beach!

I wish we could have hung out their longer, but parking was not free, so we headed to a park to hang out for the rest of the day. We made some food and Casey & I found a place to set up the camper shower for the first time.

I have a lot more to post in the coming days, i have too many photos for one post!! We are in Ft Lauderdale now, got here last night and slept at a walmart here! Its rainy so we went thrifting all morning and then have been in this coffee shop called Boomerang all afternoon.  Its a cute place but the lady was a bit rude telling me i could not bring in my water bottle!! pshhh and i also bought coffee too. wahh i think we are going to peace out soon and maybe find a bar to go to tonight. Emily is coming into Ft lauderdale tomorrow night and we are going to hang out with her, which will be fun!

-Debi

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