Off and Running (Day 1 Recap)

We started the journey, and what a journey it’s been so far. Our 5 am departure was pretty amazing, but the trip sort of began about four hours before that . . . when we started packing the car. We think we did a great job, and if you want to have the same success we did in your own car packing, here’s what you do:

Step 1-Put all of your stuff in the car.
Step 2-Look at your stuff and see how it fills the entire trunk and the entire backseat.
Step 3-Take everything out of the car and put it on the ground, then add the things you forgot on the first attempt to the pile.
Step 4-Walk away while shaking your head.

It is really awesome how generous our sponsors have been, but finding a place for all the awesome toys they sent us wasn’t easy. We ended up taking everything out the packaging and somehow managed to shoehorn it all in the car. All in all, it took about an hour and a half and got us all nice and ready to catch a couple of zzz prior to go time.

The Departure

A brief respite followed by an even briefer departure. Grateful to have been greeted by friends and loved ones. We departed with spirits high and stomachs empty. A lone tear cascaded down Rob’s cheek as he realized “I left my quesadilla on the boat.” We were off!

The Ticket

Even though he did give Matt a ticket, AZ State Trooper Jaynes was actually a really nice guy. He seemed to appreciate what we were doing and even let us take a picture with him and his cruiser. We gave him an ALS Association wristband and one of our cards, if a donation happens to come in in his name, it would probably be the greatest speeding ticket story ever.

The Grand Freaking Canyon

It’s big. Actually it’s bigger than we expected and there’s not too much we can say about it, you kind of have to see it for yourself. Then again, it’s a just a big hole in the ground, so what else can you say.


Before the trip began, the four of us sat down and discussed various daily rituals that would be mandatory during our journey. Gary suggested the most beautiful idea yet: each night we would stop whatever it was that we were doing (even if it was mid pit-stop for Rob), we would open a bottle of wine from Gilles’s personal collection, toast to the day, and take in the sunset. Together. This was a tradition we would be carrying on in honor of Gary’s father. Each night, when on his boat, Gilles and his crew would partake in this exact same ritual.

We had not prepared for the intricate planning this may involve.
The sun was setting, The PanAmerica was driving in the middle of nowhere, with plastic cups from the gas station and a warm bottle of wine in the trunk, Trent suggested pulling off the freeway and finding a way up the hill. A few minutes, no roads, and stumbling upon a dirt trail found the crew with little options. We chose to take the trail. Winding up the unlabeled “roads,” we found ourselves questioning the potential safety of what we were doing. But the sunset toast WOULD be made.

One car drove by. Rob offered a cheerful ‘hello,’ and the couple quietly drove past. Ruh roh. A second vehicle approached. The driver was much friendlier and asked what we were up to because we clearly were “not from around here.” This is how we met Donnel, a Navajo descendant with roots firmly planted in Apache, Zuni, German and Irish culture. He joined the toast, we shared a multitude of laughs, and we brought in the warm summer night together. First day nearing its end and we found ourselves making a friend we would always remember.

He offered us a parting gift as we climbed back into the car: a “petrified rock.” Being without a corkscrew, Rob was forced to skillfully open the wine bottle with a stone. Donnel figured we’d require something a bit sturdier and offered us his stone instead.
It will absolutely remain with us for the remainder of the trip. . . but we did buy a corkscrew at Target the following day since, you know, bashing open wine bottles seems a bit unnecessary.

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