Video from the trip is done! Check out some of the highlights from the trip in this video.
Huge props to my mate Jesse Nanton for going through all of the GoPro footage and composing an awesome original song to go with the video footage of this trip.
It was one hell of a trip. The grandiose plan was devised on a regular night while Mikey and I were hanging out. We decided to follow through and now have some memories that will last a lifetime. The final itinerary looks like this.
March 10: New Jersey. Cherokee, NC. Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg, TN
March 11: Knoxville, TN. Nashville, TN
March 12: Memphis, TN
March 13: New Orleans, LA
March 14: Houston, TX. Austin, TX
March 15: Austin, TX
March 16: San Antonio, TX. Roswell, NM
March 17: White Sands National Monument. Albuquerque, NM. Santa Fe, NM
March 18: Denver, CO, Lafayette, CO.
March 19: Rocky Mountain National Park
March 20: Boulder, CO. Lawrence, KS. Kansas City, MO
March 21: St Louis, MO
March 22: Louisville, KY. Magnolia, KY
March 23: Home
17 states (NJ, PA, MD, VA, TN, NC, MS, LA, TX, NM, CO, KS, MO, IL, IN, KY, WV)
A lot of time people hear of a trip like this and they think it’s impossible for them to do it because of time or money constraints. Sure getting two weeks off can be a little rough, but in half that time Mikey and I were able to make it from New Jersey all the way out to Roswell, New Mexico. And in only three days we were able to make it from Kansas City all the way back to New Jersey. You can definitely make time for an awesome adventure so don’t let that keep you cooped up.
As for the money, it didn’t end up costing a tremendous amount for what we were able to see and do. In the 14 days we slept in the car 4 times, stayed with people we knew three times, and checked out reviews online to get good deals on cheap places. Most were from $40-60 a night with only Austin and New Orleans being outside of that price. Gas is reasonable considering the cost of alternative travel options. If you don’t have a car you can score a cheap car rental price with unlimited miles. Grabbing a cooler and buying a bunch of good healthy food at the supermarket was great in many ways other than the low cost. It was fast and kept us fueled up. The hotels and motels always offered free ice to keep our stuff cool. When we went out to eat we usually went out for an awesome dinner. There’s a ton of great stuff to see in this country and a lot of it’s free or really cheap. The price break down looked something like this.
I overestimated on most things because I’m too lazy to go through all of the receipts. You could definitely take this same trip spending a ton more or a ton less money depending on what you do or don’t do. Adding some more travelers would let you chop away some of those costs as well. I’d think the price is fair for a once in a lifetime trip that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will follow up with the answer. Let me know about what adventures you have planned. Best of luck!
The original destination was Kansas City but we were tipped off that the University of Kansas located in Lawrence might be a more fun place. Either way we had a long drive through Kansas ahead of us.
Driving in Kansas is terrible. I thought seeing the flatness and the open sky would be awesome, but it was brutal. It doesn’t change. We stopped for gas and a sandwich from the cooler and saluted the West. The more east we drove the sadder it became that the trip was wrapping up.
Eventually it turned to night which I was almost happy for just so that I didn’t have to see the same monotonous background for hour after hour. Many hundreds of miles later we finally made it to Lawrence. We were pretty tired but there was some good college basketball games finishing up, so we stopped in The Sandbar to watch the ending on the big screens. It looked like everyone knew each other here and everyone seemed completely wasted so I figured it would be wise to just keep to ourselves and watch the end of the games.
A couple minutes after sitting down we set up the GoPro to grab some video footage for our video. These girls to the left started asking us questions. “Are you recording for that video?” Umm. I have no idea what you’re talking about. “No, we’re from New Jersey, road tripping all around the country. We’re just stopping in here to catch the end of the basketball game and then we’re heading to Kansas City.” I’m not asking any questions because I don’t want any trouble. Out of nowhere, Paul Bunyan decides to jump on top of the table we’re sitting at, kicking a pint glass off the table in the process and plops down in between Mikey and I and these annoying girls. “Hi. I’m Paul Bunyan. This is my girlfriend. Who are you?” Alright, bro. “I’m Joe and this is Mikey and we’re from NJ and are road tripping.” “You’re from New Jersey, huh? Where at in New Jersey?” Now I’m in the middle of nowhere, USA, and someone’s asking me where in New Jersey I’m from. I’m pretty sure there are no places in NJ that people from outside of the state are familiar with. “I’m kind of by New Brunswick, nearby Rutgers.” “Oh. I have no idea about anything in New Jersey, but my buddy from the Army lives in Newark.” At this point all of Paul’s group of drunken bros are surrounding our table. I’m not too worried about it though. Mikey and I are ninjas and can dismantle this group with ease if we have to. “That’s cool. Newark is a little rough. I’ve been mugged in Newark, but there are some cool spots there.” Go Red Bulls, I’m thinking. “Cool.” Then Paul Bunyan and his group of mini-Paul Bunyan’s head to the bar to get some more drinks. I think they have a shot of the hour thing there where the bartender spins the wheel and whatever shot it lands on is sold for a discount. Whizzzz… tick, tick, tick. It lands on Fireball. Damn it, that’s just what Paul Bunyan needs.
We get back to watching the game. Of course it goes into overtime. Typical March Madness. “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Macklemore?” Omg, girl. Go buzz off. Stop instigating. “Oh yea, I get that a lot.” Which I don’t understand anyway since my hair and Macklemore’s hair are pretty different, so is our style of clothing and basically everything. The game finishes up and Mikey and I bee-line it for the door and hop in the car.
We head into Kansas City and drive around. It’s dead. There’s loud music playing from some club but there is no one around. We drive around some more and eventually make our way to a Wal-Mart for the night. It didn’t look like the safest place to spend the night so we left and headed eastward to St. Louis for another half hour or so to find a Wal-Mart that looks a little nicer. We knock right out.
When we wake up we make the drive out to St. Louis. We look for a place to stay. At the first place we get to the guy tries to tell us the rate is higher than the rate that I’m staring at on my phone. Alright. Well see ya. We go too another place that looks really sketchy. Nope. Finally we get to a Motel 6. It’s amazing. It must be some sort of flagship Motel 6. It’s three stories with an elevator and it looks like it’s brand new. Awesome. After freshening up, we’re off to St. Louis.
St. Louis is a neat town. The Gateway Arch looks pretty awesome as you drive in. Architecture like the Gateway Arch is great. There’s no purpose or need for it but it adds character to the city and generates a lot of awesomeness. The world needs more Gateway Arches.
One of the goals for the trip was to score some good bbq. St. Louis is definitely one of the top bbq places in the country. Pappy’s Smokehouse is the place to go for some good ribs. We got there and there was a huge line that wrapped around this side hallway of the building. It ends up being around a 40 minute wait. Wow, pretty busy we thought. The guy at the door said that it was a slow day. A lot of times you have to wait hours to get your food. After tasting those ribs I probably would wait in line forever for them.
We order a rack of ribs, some brisket, sweet potato fries, and some potato salad. Everything is good but the ribs are amazing. They give you four different barbeque sauces that you can add and they are all pretty delicious. Man, those ribs were delicious. I could go for another rack just thinking about them.
One of the places that we heard was great to check out was the City Museum (thanks cuz!). You can’t really explain the place. It’s not what you think at all. It’s awesome. And you can’t really explain it. There’s an outside which is sort of like this playground for people of all ages, adults included. If you look at this picture you’ll see there’s a plane hanging in midair. You can climb up to the plane. Also in the picture you can see people climbing off the wing of the plane. They’re heading to this huge slide that circles around the outside. There’s stuff like this all over. The outside has this huge dodge ball pit that is total ruckus. The museum itself has a school bus hanging off of the edge which you can climb out onto. There are slides all over this place. It’s like you’re living a game of shoots and ladders.
The inside is just as crazy. There’s this massive 10-story cave with all these crevices and tunnels and stuff. It’s huge. You can get lost in there. At the top is another slide that goes all the way down to the bottom. There’s a skate park inside that you can run around on. Rope swings. A human sized hamster wheel. Oh yea, a bar. There are actual museum things in there like old antiques too. And an aquarium. City Museum is a wild mish mash of eccentric things. It’s architecturally brilliant. I’ve never seen a place that could be enjoyed and appreciated by such a wide age range of people.
After hanging at the City Museum we strolled around town. Eventually we decided to check out Europe Night Club for some electronic dance music. I kind of never understood how to dance to EDM. I guess I’ll just always be a hip-hop head. The place was alright. Mikey and I threw down on the dance floor as best as we could. This really creepy kid was following me around the club so that was a little annoying. Seemed like he was having a pretty weird trip. We got out of there at close and headed back to our place and grabbed some good sleep for the drive to Kentucky.
The drive to Louisville was par for the course. We scoped out a place to get some good food and ended up choosing Hammerhead’s. Kind of lame that it was on the outskirts of town in the suburbs, but just as well. Louisville isn’t the best of towns. Nothing much to do there. Dinner at Hammerhead’s was good. I went with the Pork Belly Lettuce Tomato (PBLT) and Mikey got a burger. We also grabbed truffle fries which I thought were outstanding.
After dinner we drove around Louisville looking for a place to catch some more college basketball games. We ended up near the University of Louisville before deciding we were a little tired and just wanted to head out to my sister’s house in Magnolia. When we got there we had to wait around for a little because she was moving livestock with her boyfriend which was just as good with Mikey and I. We grabbed a nap in the car until they showed up. Mikey and I went right to bed and then we caught up with my sister and her boyfriend over breakfast buffet at the Iron Skillet buffet the next morning. On the way out we grabbed some Stage Planks, which are pretty mush just gingerbread cookies with a terrible name and product packaging.
We said our goodbyes and headed off for home. The drive home was fairly uneventful. We did run into the most dangerous situation of the trip. There was someone driving in our lane going in the opposite direction. They were in the left lane, we happened to be one lane over so we were alright. It was the sort of unexpected thing that your mind almost processes too late. Swerving out of the way of that car would have been disastrous.
As we got closer to home we made plans to meet up with some of the homies to share stories. We pulled up to a gas station right on the New Jersey border and I got out to pump my own gas (something I like to do way more than having it pumped for me like is required here in NJ) and the guy jumps over to me yelling that I can’t pump my own gas. “Oh. Are we in New Jersey?” “Yes. I’ll take it from here.”
After about another hour driving we were back in town. We grabbed a victory beer and some food and met up with some of the guys and told stories about the trip. All in all it was one hell of a trip. It kicked some serious ass. Video and details from the trip will be up soon!
Went to visit my sister’s place in Kentucky. There’s not much to do in Kentucky, which can be both good and bad. It’s relaxing but if you start itching for something to do then you are out of luck. It takes 45 minutes to get to the grocery store. Coffee shops don’t exist. I couldn’t even get internet on my phone. But if you are willing to sacrifice the essentials of an east coast tech nerd then you can get some good relaxing in.
The scenery in Kentucky is repetitive. You can drive for long stretches and see the same plants and architecture repeat. You start to think you’re stuck in some repeating dream. Driving in the back country of Kentucky must be what it’s like for a computer to run through recursive code. It’s very repetitive but after it’s over you hopefully end up where you want to be.
One of the must sees in Kentucky is Mammoth Cave National Park. It provides a necessary and beautiful contrast to the never ending sea of hay, tobacco, soybean, corn, and wheat. There’s also a lot of marijuana (the number one crop in Kentucky) but that’s usually tucked away out of site out of the roads. Mammoth Cave also provides a nice way to get out of the summer heat for a little while.
As you head down the cave and feel the temperature drop you’re not really ready for the amazingness of what’s to come next. You hear how it’s the world’s longest known cave system and how it has more than 400 explored miles, but you can’t really comprehend what that means. The immensity of the cave is apparent soon after you get out of the sunlight.
As soon as you get in there, your mind starts to ask questions. How is there 400 miles of this? How did someone have the guts to explore this without any modern lighting or equipment? It was nice having a guided tour for 2 beautiful, comfortably paced, well lit miles with an expert and a nice group of tourists but it would be another thing to explore the cave with a lantern by yourself, not having a clue what was in there. Supposedly the cave system has human use going back 6,000 years when Native Americans used the cave for mummification practices.
Getting out of the cave and back into the hot air was kind of a bummer. The unexpected spooky beauty of the cave is something that you don’t want to leave. We hopped back in the car and went over to Glendale, Kentucky and walked around the town. Had to setup the tripod to score this True Kentucky shot.
The next day included a stop at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. They’re pretty certain he lived here, but you can’t really know anything for sure.
I’m glad I got to hang out with my sisters in Kentucky. It was a nice time and I was forced to relax due to there being not much to do. I don’t know if I would recommend anyone to go to Kentucky, but if you find yourself there you might be able to fall in love with that country pace or stumble upon a hidden gem like Mammoth Cave.