(Good morning! Well, there's a reason people say "save the best for last", right? Today I am featuring a post written by one of my lovely friends, Julia of the minecreations blog. Julia is one of those people that shines in all that she does-I feel lucky to count her as a friend. Be sure to spend some time at her flickr, too-this baker, knitter, photographer and all around awesome gal will win your heart. There's been such a great response to the guest bloggers that I may bring some on board as a regular feature. We shall see...for now-I hope you enjoy this fun post. Thanks, Julia!)
Hey Everyone, Julia here! I'm so psyched that Abby asked me to guest blog for her while she and James are on their big drive down to Texas. I wish them both the best down there, and I can't wait to follow along as you explore Austin and the entire Southwest, Abby!
Almost four years ago, my boyfriend Jared and I made a big drive from San Francisco (where we were living then) to Minneapolis (where we live now). I had never taken a big road trip before and was really excited to get to see some of "the middle" of this huge country we live in. Jared grew up in MN and had made the drive back and forth to San Francisco quite a few times so it was slightly less exciting for him, but we had a great time.
To start out, we cashed in a gift certificate that my old boss had given me to Harbin Hot Springs. What better way to start out a big road trip than to spend a few days at a hippie hot springs? It was perfect. We got all nice and relaxed, cooked up a bunch of travel food in the communal kitchen, and hit the road. It was mid-October and my big idea was that we would camp along the way, unfortunately it was pretty cold so even though we camped two out of the three nights, it wasn't very enjoyable.
Another big challenge we faced was that our 1983 Mercedes station wagon runs on biodiesel (though it can run on regular diesel if necessary) and we were determined to find as much biodiesel along the way as we possibly could. We had three 5-gallon jugs that we carried with us and always filled up an extra tankful in the jugs whenever we hit a gas station with biodiesel. Since we were mostly along trucking routes, there was actually a lot to be found, though most of it was just B5 (5% biodiesel and 95% regular diesel), which is the minimum required in some states. Along the way, we ate a lot of rice cakes with peanut butter and raisins, made our own coffee at the gas stations, and supplemented our snacking with bean burritos from Taco Bell (there's very little vegetarian, and even less vegan food available at those rest stops!). Since our car is so old, it doesn't have a CD player. We got an old school tape adapter for the ipod, but when the battery died we reverted to listening to my middle school mix tapes and the soundtrack to Free To Be You And Me. When we got tired of that, we read out loud to each other.
The first day after leaving the hot springs in Northern California, we headed straight for Salt Lake City, where my freshman year college roommate and her husband were living at the time. We had a few technical difficulties getting there, but we made it and it was great to see some old friends and have a nice bed to sleep in that first night. The next day we headed towards a state park in Wyoming where we set up our tent in a completely empty campground and shivered all night long.
The third day, we headed towards the Badlands. This place was incredible, seriously. I don't think I'll ever make it to the moon in my lifetime, but the Badlands is a pretty close second. There were a few other folks at the campground there, but it was so cold and dark that by the time we got there to set up the tent, we both just looked at each other and decided to sleep in the car. Since we were moving to Minneapolis, the back of the car was packed full with my stuff. So we just slept sitting up in our seats and piled on the sleeping bags. In the middle of the night, we even started up the car to heat it up a little bit! (I don't think the other campers appreciated that, oops!). In the morning, when we were driving out of the park, it was quite early and all the bison were out and about. As we were driving along the road, a pack of bison started running alongside the car. I made Jared stop the car so I could take a photo and when he did, the bison stopped running. When we started to drive, they started to run. We kept on like this for a few more minutes. It was like magic.
I'm not sure what it is that's so special about road trips, or how they've become such a central part of the experience of growing up, especially--though not only--in this country. Especially when the trip is because you are moving your home, that journey can mean so much. The journey home is the best journey of all.