Motown to Snowtown (Day 9 Update)

Breakfast . . . Not from a gas station
For the first time on the trip we awoke to a home cooked breakfast, and other than the fear that we would be making emergency bathroom stops on the next leg, we truly enjoyed it. A little behind schedule, as always, we loaded up the car and said our goodbyes. After prying Rob off of Barbara, we headed down the road with big smiles. Rob’s smile was especially big, so big that we grew suspicious. After a bit of interrogation, he reached under his shirt and presented the “souvenir” he had taken from the Powers’ home. We quickly turned the car around to return the picture of Sara’s sister, Kelly.

CPK in CHI
To say that Trent likes music is like saying Gary likes being French , or Rob likes making jokes about his “prison wallet” so when DJTront realized that Lalapalooza would be rocking Chicago on the day we were set to roll through town, he sort of started to vibrate. But after nine days of being in the car, the thought of the traffic that Lalapalooza causes in Chicago was enough to make him reconsider. We decided it would be best to avoid the city and headed towards a place that made Trent’s “excitement vibrations” turn into full fledged celebratory shaking. We were in Chicago, a city famous for its pizza, and we ate the best they had to offer, a mountain of CPK.

I hope that someone gets my [x3]
Our drive to the land of a thousand lakes included a stop at a river where we took in the sunset in our usual fashion — a race against time to find a suitable location, a scramble to find our corkscrew, a near death experience opening a wine bottle with a rock or a shoe, and a few moments of peace and reflection. On this occasion we decided to end our sunset tradition with another tradition carried over from the sailboat. We took one of our PanAmerica cards, wrote a little message on it and hurled it into the river. We then made jokes about how Gary throws like a French guy, picked up the bottle from where it lay in the bushes about 15 feet (3 meters) away , and let someone else try. This time it went farther and got a strange look from the fisherman that it landed near. We quickly left while the bottle most likely floated back to where we threw it from.

Shell Gas > Rodeo Drive
As we made our way to our friend Eric’s house in Minneapolis we stopped for gas. Eric was nice enough to welcome us to his place that he literally moved into one day before we arrived, so we thought it would be nice to bring him a little housewarming gift. Our options were seemingly limitless as long as we were open to leather apparel. Trent and Matt put their best shopping skills to work and came up with a single serving bottle of white wine and a holographic picture of some dogs (Maltese) in a lovely plastic frame. Upon arrival, we promptly deposited the wine in his empty fridge and hung the picture on the empty dining room wall. Eric was pleased.

Gary quickly became less pleased when Trent passed gas in his direction . . .from about an inch away from his face.

International House of Shenanigans (Day 8 Update)

There’s No Business Like Slow Business
In order to ensure our early departure from the Biggest of Apples, we prepacked our bags the night before, set multiple alarms for 6:45 and 7AM and contacted the concierge to make sure the car was waiting out front no later than 7:30 the following morning.

We left the hotel a little after 9 AM the next morning. Sometimes you just have to make your best friend’s girlfriend’s parents’ wait. We not-as-immediately-as-planned made a run for the border: Taco Bell. And then… Canada.

Getting Mountied in the Eh?
Canada was apparently very excited about our cause because they actually asked us to stop in at the border crossing office so we could meet more of the fine, fine Canadian officers. Either that, or Mr. Canadian crossing guard did not appreciate our cameras. At first he noticed Gary holding a GoPro and asked him to turn it off. Then a short backseat discussion ensued between Rob and Trent that pretty much went as follows:

Rob: Trent, you might want to put your phone down.

Trent: In a second. (Trent Facebook updates)

Rob: (nonchalant) Seriously, put your phone down.

Trent: (flippant) I said I will. (continues Facebooking)

Rob: He just asked you to put it away.

Trent: He asked Gary to put the GoPro away. He can’t even see me.

Rob: He is literally looking at you.

Crossing Guard: Okay. So you boys have been randomly selected for a vehicle search. Please pull up to that building over there and leave your keys in the car. Eh.

The search turned up a strawberry beer, a unicorn mask and a pack of waterproof matches, and we were then directed the vehicle search area as Rob’s cavity search was over. He quickly applied a bit of Gold Bond powder because “You never know when you’ll need finger print evidence.” In actuality, we stood around a room for 15 minutes while they paid exactly zero attention to us and then told us we were free to go.

A Significant Amount of Water
We were told that the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is supposed to be much nicer than the American side. “Supposed to” should be changed to “without a doubt” because everything in Canada looked like it came directly out of a Dr. Seuss book. The tractors had curvicles and whatsidoos and the trees smelled like vermilicious mupps.

One thing Canada managed worse than America, however, was traffic control. As we neared Niagara Falls, we quickly discovered that we weren’t going to have to park. This is because the moment you enter Niagara Falls you are sitting in the country’s largest parking lot. There was so much traffic that Rob (who had been there before) volunteered to pull the car around while the rest of us ran off to share in some memories. We took Rob up on his offer by bailing out of the car in the middle of the street and yelling “Sucker!” We later promised Rob we’d incept him into our memories when we arrived in Detroit, except we forgot that Inception is a movie and that Rob, like Dr. Seuss, is already a figment of our imaginations anyway.

Also, “the Falls” – as the Canadian hipsters say – were pretty impressive because there is a significant amount of water.

Yes, I’ll Have Fries With That
Our lightning fast waterfall stop was followed up by what may be the highlight of the trip for Gary: driving on Canadian Highways. Considering how many miles we had driven, you can imagine the hours spent stuck behind someone in the fastlane going slower than the speed limit. In Canada, it happened only twice, and both cars had Michigan plates. It’s amazing to be part of 100 miles of road where everyone uses their rearview mirror. Listen up Americans! Canadians use these fuzzy dice holders to see if someone is behind them, and if there is, they get out of the way. Incroyable! This phenomenon allowed us to make great time as did the fact that we converted the speed limit in kilometers to miles by realizing that 100 kilometers per hour equals 100 miles per hour. Since all of our digital devices were roaming, we chose to accept this as fact.

Eventually, we took a break from flying through Canada to grab some food at a local fast food chain called Harvey’s. Harvey’s should be called What the Whatting What and their slogan should be “Fine food served by THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IN CANADA WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW?!”

If this was America and Ashton Kutcher still had a career, we would have thought we were being punk’d. Then we stopped again just before crossing the border back into the US and found more insanely attractive people working at the Duty Free store coffee shop. Then it occurred to us: Canada saw our fancy car and pulled a North Korea type switcheroo hoping we’d come back to the US, shoot some hoops, and explain to the president why we shouldn’t blow them up.

Duty.
On the side of the road, literally feet from the border, all of us realized we had one final chance to do something we had dreamed of: Duty Free shopping spree! We parked and laughed for 15 minutes about the word “duty.”

Here’s how Duty Free shopping works:

Step 1) Become instantly overwhelmed by the amount of tax free, giant bottles of alcohol on sale for the lowest prices you’ve ever seen anywhere ever in the history of booze purchases and seriously consider taking up smoking because it’s so cheap, they practically pay you.

Step 2) Mentally debate whether you actually require four gallons of gin.

Step 3) Realize you absolutely require four gallons of gin.

Step 4) Rent a mule to haul the four gallons of gin out to the car followed by the five gallons of scotch because when are you going to find five gallons of scotch for forty bucks?

Step 5) High five a stranger because you’ve both participated in the glory that is Duty Free Shopping.

Step 6) Reward yourself with a smoothie for your hard work and patience. Make sure to ask for the plastic free version, though, otherwise the attractive female barista will break the first blender, pour the contents immediately into a second blender, and then reblend for desired plastic effect.

America: The Reunion Tour (Now With More Booze)
We headed back to America. Rob reapplied a bit more Gold Bond for the “security check” and Matt grumbled about the stupid American drivers. Trent still had no idea why everyone was complaining. In his mind, he was still the best driver in the car. In his heart, though, he knew otherwise. One day he’d show them. He’d show them all…

At the border, we had expected the worst. In addition to still looking exactly the same when entering Canada, we now had enough alcohol in the car to set an entire state on fire, and Trent was wearing his stupid glasses again. The border guard asked where we were from. We proudly proclaimed “Los Angeles-eles-Ohio-ngeles” and were asked about our roadtrip. After our heartfelt explanation, the guard smiled and said “I don’t think I have three friends who I could stand enough to sit in a car with for that amount of time.” He then became deadly serious as he mentioned how badly our car must smell.

Fire Pits and the Powers That Be
Before arriving at Sara’s childhood home, Trent learned that Detroit’s Robocop statue wasn’t finished and was probably the most disappointed he’d been on the trip so far. Gary was never actually planning on going there, but Gary is a dream maker. Not a dream breaker.

We pulled up to the Powers’ residence, where we were greeted by a white van adorned with a perfectly reconstructed PanAmerica logo made from electrical tape. It felt like we were home, even if just for a night. Then we met Sara’s parents, cousins, and saw pictures of Sara’s sister. And what happened then, well in Detroit they say – that the Robert’s small heart grew three sizes that day.

For the first time, we took in a sunset with family.

After amazing pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, coleslaw and beers, the remainder of the night was spent laughing and talking around a turquoise fire (no fooling! Look up “copper sulfate” packets). When it comes to dating, you don’t just date a person. You date their family. Gary was clearly dating an incredible family and it was the easiest thing in the world to see.

Rob would not be left out of this equation.

The night wore on, more bottles of wine disappeared, and Sara’s father realized it was time to get to the good stuff: a little champagne and a whole lot of gin and tonics. This must have been fuel for Rob’s proverbial fire because he was throwing out that Wild Card charm like it was three-day old bathwater. All anyone could do was laugh as Rob asked question after question about Sara’s sister, Sara’s mom, how good their respective relationships were, if her mom wanted a younger boy toy, if her father needed an apprentice, if her parents wanted a son-in-law, had they seen Son-in-Law, whether or not they think Paulie Shore would be a good father, Jury Duty was hilarious, when did the fire turn blue…

Rob finally passed out. Trent tucked him in, Matt kissed Rob good night, and Gary went to bed whenever he and Sara’s dad ran out of things to say.

We’re pretty sure they were up all night.

The Theme Song

Our music is obviously a big part of this trip for us. That is why we are so pleased to share with you, “End of Time” written specially for us by the very talented Sam Stone. Please click and listen. (right click and choose some variation of “save as” if you want to download it)

This guy is incredible. He wrote the music, he wrote the lyrics and he’s the voice on the track. He’s got a metric ton of talent, and that’s why he works with some pretty big names in the music biz. Please check all of his other work out as well:

Twitter | Youtube | Facebook

We are honored that he found our cause worthy of his efforts. Enjoy.

A Day of Rest With Jesus (Day 7 Update)

Just Sleep It Off
We awoke in the morning in New York’s Time’s Square . . . and rolled over.

We awoke in the afternoon in New York’s Time’s Square which felt amazing. We noticed that this hotel had something that we’d never seen before. The blinds actually closed all the way. Seriously, not one drop of light got through, not that we would have woken up any earlier if it had. Knowing that we didn’t have to get in the car and drive was like an emotional spa day. For the first time in over a week, we had the ability to put more than a few feet of distance between us, but surprisingly enough, we never did for more than an hour or so.

Hey Lizzie Sister What Have You Done
While sitting in the room and discussing how incredible the bathroom mirror was (a portion of it, just in front of the sink was heated so that when everything was fogged up, there was a perfectly reflective 24” circle) Trent got a call from his sister, Lizzie. She successfully stole the mirror’s thunder as it turned out that she and her boyfriend Boyd had hooked us up with some of the hardest to get tickets to the show that we most wanted to see. We were thrilled and left the room with extremely large smiles.

Hot Car, Summer in the City
Rob met some friends from Ohio, Andy and Jared, for lunch while the rest of the crew went out with Shruti, a friend from USC. Everyone enjoyed the food and the fact that they could do so at a leisurely pace and not off of their lap.

Gary followed lunch up with a haircut that somehow looked exactly like it did prior to getting a haircut, which either means it was a really good one or a total waste of $50. Trent, Rob and Matt wandered around the city and ended up in an Army Navy Surplus store where Matt found some boots. Now, one of the people we had spoken to earlier in the day mentioned that we would need to dress up for the show, while 25 other people assured us that we could wear whatever we wanted. But just the slightest thought that his current shoes would be inappropriate for the theatre gave Matt all the justification he needed to buy those boots knowing how much they would piss Gary off when it came time to pack the car the next morning. Trent bought sunglasses without the worry of upsetting Gary.

This Frog Will Change Your Life
We were all very excited to see Book of Mormon, and it did not let us down. We’d like to make jokes about it, but we’re not funny enough. The only thing we can say is that we are so grateful to Lizzie and Boyd that Rob has vowed to be their secret guardian. So if either of you hear someone creeping around in the night you should definitely call the police because it could be Rob.

Sunset
How do you take in sunset in a city that is lit up exactly the same 24 hours a day? Well, we chose to do it at midnight, in our hotel room, and with whisky. We took in the view from our room, which was quite spectacular and happened to include a billboard for our new (possibly only) favorite musical ever. The group broke up once more for an opportunity to spend a little more time with friends, take in a bit more of the city, or work on updates.

Rain on our Parade (Day 6 Update)

Ze Germans
After our latest hotel arrival yet, we began the day with our earliest hotel departure yet. To put it into perspective, just know that the first thing Matt did when he got to the room was take a shower, and his hair was still damp when we left. But that’s okay because we left the hotel knowing that we were on our most important mission yet.

We pulled up in front of Porsche North America’s headquarters and parked the PanAmerica right in front of the door, ready for our greatest battle. We donned our PanAmerica shirts and armed ourselves with business card and wristbands. The Porsche folks were clearly intimidated by us, cowering in their offices and pretending to not even know we were there. We were forced to send in our negotiation crew, which was made up of storyteller Trent and legal team/wild card Rob. Without fear they marched right up to the security desk and demanded to speak to the president. The security guard was not sure what the president of Church’s Chicken had to do with any of this as it turns out that both companies share a building. Delayed but not defeated, they spoke to someone else and captured the entire interaction on a spy cam disguised as a pen. This person asked “What’s with the spy pen?” and then gave them a phone number to call . . . a message was left.

Back in front of the building we waited until a Porsche employee finally came out to see what we were doing. Well, he actually came out because it was his lunch break, but after hearing our story he introduced us to someone else. This second person was even more interested. He was a summer intern. We gave him a wristband.

California Pizza Quickie
Back on the road and heading North once again, we mapped out our route and realized that for the first time on our journey we were going to be able to make it to a California Pizza Kitchen at an hour that restaurants are actually open. CPK sponsored our trip and gave us a significant amount of “Pizza Dough” which can be spent like cash at the restaurants. Our route to NY was taking us through Charlotte so Gary jumped online and found the location closest to the highway. As we got close, we began to notice a lot of signs for the airport, so Gary jumped back online to confirm that yes, he had routed us to a CPK that is in an airport terminal – past security.

We eventually arrived at the CPK in the South Park Mall where we enjoyed ordering a lot of things. However, as soon as they were delivered to our table we asked for to go boxes, and for once, it wasn’t just because Gary was in a rush. The reason we had to run was because just moments before, we got a phone call from Kirk “Chiseled-Jaw” Hawkins the finest reporter that WCCB Charlotte has ever seen.

15 Minutes of Fame, Followed by 5 Hours of Soggy
As it turns out, the South Park Mall was not as big of fans of Charlotte’s news stations as we were. After a quick rendezvous in the parking garage, we hightailed it to a Walgreen’s parking lot across the street because as the cameraman informed us: “Rain is a coming.”

No sooner did we arrive in the parking lot, then it began to sprinkle. The PanAmerica crew sported shorts and t-shirts and thought Kirk looked ridiculous in his full rain slicker gear… until the real rain came. He casually flipped his hood up and continued the conversation as we stood there and got wetter than a June bug in July . . . which we assume is very wet. We finished up our interview which was on air at 10pm and will eventually be online as well. The article can be seen here. (www.wccbcharlotte.com/news/top-stories/218123911.html)

As we kept driving, that’s right, we kept driving in the rain . . . wait, now I’m pissed. I know many of you will be reading this from your homes in the Los Angeles area, so let me further explain. When there’s a little drizzle on the 405, there’s no need for you to rein in the Prius or the SUV and do 40 mph in the fast lane. Seriously, cars do work in the rain, and even though you’re also a terrible driver in the dry, if the little old ladies who live in North Carolina can do 50 while their Cadillacs are practically underwater, you should be able to keep doing the speed limit or at least have the good sense to just stay home. . . and so we kept driving in the epic rainstorm and flipped through the radio stations, every single one of which was playing Michael Buble’s It’s a Beautiful Day. Okay, so it may have been only one station was playing it, because it was the first one we tried and why would we ever change the channel if they’re playing that song?

Sunset
Somewhere in the hills of Virginia, we pulled off the road for sunset. Rob directed us to a really great spot with an awesome view of the valley. As we pulled into this little cul-de-sac, we were greeted by a friendly dog and an overalled man in a pickup truck, who gave us an awkward wave and tried to avoid Rob’s advances which were thinly disguised as questions about his dog. After sizing us up, and perhaps seeing the future, he put his dog in the back of his truck and left.

We poured our wine and took in the sunset. As we walked out into the tall grass it became a somewhat somber and emotional few moments. Gary sat by himself as the rest of us began to put things back in the car and Eagle Scout Rob reminded us that we should probably check to make sure we didn’t pick up any ticks while we were out in the field. When Gary came back to join the group, Trent comforted him briefly and then broke the tension by letting him know it was time to check him for ticks. And if that wasn’t enough to pull Gary completely out of his sad place, turning around to find a completely nude Matt yelling “tick check” hopefully did.

The Polar Bear Parade
Another late night drive found Story Teller Trent pulling double duty. Perhaps he was inspired by Adderob’s performance a few nights ago, perhaps his eyes were stuck open from the 72 hours of continuously staring at computers and phones, but when everyone else was too tired to drive, Trent stepped up to the plate. When the rest of us awoke at a gas stop about an hour from Manhattan, Trent recounted what we slept through in the last 100 miles. Now remember that we call him The Story Teller for a reason, we also call him the Minister of Trentmagination. He’s truly a modern day Bard (even down to his boots) whose talking never stops unless he’s freestyle rapping, and his fiction is so great that his first name isn’t even Trent. We were aware that he had driven through fog that was thick enough to be flavored, but what we didn’t know was that within that fog were polar bears, time warps, smoke monsters and a fat guy named Harley. We listened to his story and became concerned with his immense lack of sleep. Gary took over driving from there.

Driving through the empty (by NY standards) Time’s Square was quite an experience which Gary took full advantage of by turning the army of trash trucks heading into the city at 5 am into a slalom course. We checked into the awesome room that Gary’s mom booked for us and fell asleep within seconds

A Little Detour (Day 5 Update)

A Little Detour
The original itinerary called for us to wake up in Key West and drive 24 straight hours to New York City. After our long drive the night before, we were looking forward to it about as much as we were looking forward Trent sharing another one of his “favorite” songs. It was nice to sleep in a little bit, but with the long haul looming, we woke up and started preparing to head out. Matt and Trent took bags out and began loading up the car, expecting Gary and Rob to join shortly. But they never came. No, they were sitting on the balcony, drinking strawberry beer and enjoying the lovely ocean view. This was after Trent found them sitting on the other balcony which overlooked a pretty decent garden, and let them know they were dumb because they were using the 2nd best balcony instead of the 1st. Right after Matt realized what they were doing, but just before he went into rant number 28 (It’s Too Early for Drinking/The Real Housewives are What’s Wrong with America) he realized he was standing on their hotel room’s ocean view balcony, which he was previously unaware existed.

As we sat outside, Gary proposed a little change of plans. We were a day ahead of schedule at this point, thanks to skipping the Four Corners, and the Porsche Headquarters in Atlanta would sort of split our drive to New York into two more reasonable chunks. The decision was quick and unanimous; we would drink another strawberry beer before deciding whether to go to Atlanta or New York. We did that, then we agreed to go to Atlanta.

The Southernmost Point X3
On the way out of town (but in the complete opposite direction) we made our way to the end of Key West. Matt found the southernmost point on the GPS and directed us to a beautiful beach. We took a few pictures of the car, met some new friends, stood in the water, looked at girls in bikinis, and quickly realized that we were, in fact, not at the southernmost point. We climbed back in the car and went on the hunt once again.

After getting directions from what may have been some kind of Park Ranger we made our way through the narrow streets until we saw the big mostly red marker and the long line to take a picture with it. Well, three of us saw the marker and the line. Gary had taken a phone call, and when he hung up he was quite confused as to why we were already on our way back north. After a bit of arguing, we turned around and did another drive by, but this time Gary jumped out of the car and snapped a quick picture.

The Greatest Sandwich in the World
After spending five days with Rob, Matt was beginning to have sympathy diabetes and his low blood sugar had him wearing his exceptionally cranky pants. As he complained from the back seat, Rob and Gary discussed a sign they had seen on the road the night before. The sign said simply, “Lobster Reuben.” Everyone was excited by this idea, and even the angry guy in the back was willing to wait the hour it would take to get there.

We eventually pulled off the highway and into the sand and gravel parking lot of our dreams. A toasted roll, thousand island dressing, a little sauerkraut, a little cheese and a pile of lobster, that’s the Keys Fishery Lobster Rueben. As if that wasn’t great enough, the dining area is a dock and the drinks are served by Rob’s new BF, Eric, the single friendliest man behind a bar.

Florida’s Newest Fugitive
After lunch, we continued up the highway with Trent behind the wheel. The idea of toll roads is something new to those of us that drive exclusively in Southern California, so we were about 10 feet from the toll booth when the first person realized that were in the Sun Pass only lane. After a little panic and a short discussion about what to do next, we decided we would just drive and ask about it at the next booth (which meant we would need to remember to be in the correct lane). The person we spoke to was of little help, and the phone number he gave us was equally useful. We’re not 100% sure, but we think we have 10 days to pay somewhere between $4 and $41. Hopefully we’ll figure it out soon.

Just in case Florida’s finest were on the lookout for us, The Wild Card provided fake mustaches that we quickly donned before pulling into a service center that happened to contain a Highway Patrol Office in addition to the gas station we were aiming for.

Sunset
It has been quite amazing how we’ve managed to find such beautiful and peaceful places to stop each day for our sunset toast, but of course you can’t win them all. Next to the highway and under a power line isn’t exactly what we were hoping for, but that’s where we ended up. We were thinking Gary seemed more upset by this than the rest of us because he was standing by himself off in a corner. It turned out that he was drinking the last strawberry beer and was hiding it because he didn’t want to share. . .and because he’s a jerk.

We all agreed to try harder tomorrow.

The Cat Nap Motel
As we made our way into the late, late night we realized how unnecessarily large and useless most of Florida is. The one other bright spot was our stop in Orlando for some authentic Mexican food, which we all know is really hard to come by where most of us live. We did make quite a few friends while we ate outside, thanks to the wrap on the car. Our server was especially friendly and as soon as we finished explaining our trip and letting her know that we still had about seven more hours to drive tonight, she immediately insisted that we come back to eat dinner there again tomorrow.

God only knows what the folks at the front desk must have thought Gary was up to when he checked in to the hotel just before 6 am, and then checked out three hours later. Which, by the way, was because we forgot to set an alarm and accidentally slept an hour longer than we had hoped to.

Awesome Ain’t Easy (Day 4 Update)

Day 4 consisted mostly of driving, however the time we were out of the car was well spent, if you ask us.

No White Flags!

We woke up in New Orleans and were quickly off to every diabetic’s worst nightmare, the World Famous Café Du Monde.  Unfortunately our diabetic left his insulin at the hotel, so he was forced to just sit and watch the rest of us enjoy our piles of powdered sugar, which we did.

By far, the highlight of our day was a girl. Now you might imagine that four guys stuck together in a car for four days would be thrilled to hang out with any girl, but our new friend Lauren Bowman is truly special. We love her and it has nothing to do with her looks. Well, I mean, she is really pretty, but we quickly realized that her heart is twice the size of all of ours combined.

Anyways, Lauren is part of Team Gleason and she brought us some Team Gleason shirts, took us to the Steve Gleason Rebirth Statue at the Superdome, and took pictures of The PanAmerica to share with Steve.  If you’re not familiar with him already, Steve Gleason played safety for the Saints and was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago. His charity, Team Gleason is doing amazing things and thanks to Steve’s celebrity status, they are bringing a bakery full of awareness to this disease. Lauren also has a business called Lolly Cake and Cookie Company, by the way.

She left us with a story and a hug. The story was about Steve’s wife Michel and how, in front of some very important people, she added a little flourish to one of Steve’s sayings, “Awesome Ain’t Easy.” We quickly adopted it as our own, and repeated it many times throughout the next portion of our journey.

Sunset

Rob is the man in charge of finding the perfect spot for our sunset stops. And in Florida, he did not let us down. He may have lead us down a long road, into a neighborhood, then out of that same neighborhood looking for a secluded place with a view, and it may have tacked quite a bit of time onto our eventual Key West arrival, but it sure was good. We parked the car under a huge tree covered in Spanish moss and looked out over a small lake. Matt opened the bottle, Gary poured, and Rob passed our plastic cups around.  And Trent, Trent was on high alert and did a fine job of keeping the crew safe from unseen alligators.

Adderob

We continued south with wine inflated spirits which brought on an inspired bit of in-car karaoke. But as the hours ticked by, our late (but worthwhile) exit from NOLA made for a very, very long run down to Key West.  We all took turns driving, but the sheer number of miles began to get the best of us. A quick moral boost came when we received a Facebook message from someone who looked us up after we passed her on the highway a few hours back. We did the math and determined that Gary was driving at the time.  Then we reread the message and realized it was actually complimentary and didn’t mention the fact that we blew by at break neck speeds, flashing high beams and/or inappropriate hand gestures. Now we’re not really sure who was behind the wheel.

Earlier in the day, we discussed the driving rotation and how, when we got down to the wee hours, we would shorten up the shifts and stop more often.  That’s exactly what we did. . . until Rob took over. Fueled by Sugar Free Red Bull and Adderol (yes, he has a prescription) he became a driving machine. Rob is constantly jovial, Adderob is on a mission. Adderob is the asphalt assassin. Without joking, without singing, without blinking, he defeats mile after mile. Six hours of perfectly restrained fury brought us into the awesome hotel procured for us by Las Vegas Suites somewhere around 6 am.

Alamo Survivors and Rob’s Bad Vibe (Day 3 Update)

Greatest Rest Stop on Earth

Whatever your religious beliefs may be, you’ll be glad to know that heaven does exist. Surprisingly enough, it’s in Texas.

On our way from Austin to San Antonio, we stopped at Buc-ees and it was glorious. Imagine the deli counter at the finest market you know. Now understand that this one is better for one reason and one reason only: it’s all beef jerky. How much beef jerky? Enough to empty your pockets and make your jaw hurt. In addition to beef jerky, Buc-ees sells every other important thing you will ever need to buy. Matt forced us to take a vote whether we would continue the trip or stay at Buc-ees forever. Rob and Mat voted to stay while Trent and Gary voted for continuing on.

Rob requested a recount and Gary denied it. A formal petition has been filed.

The Alamo

More than just a chapter in a history book, the Alamo turned out to be one of the stops that best fit our trip. Once inside, we were awed at not only the condition of the structure, but also by the amount of history still so visible. There was a man inside who we sincerely believe must have been one hundred and twenty-seven years young.

But for Gary the Alamo was very symbolic. At this very site, a handful of people fought a cruel enemy that was certain to defeat them. They fought valiantly, but ultimately lost the battle. Gary’s father battled a disease absolutely knowing he would be defeated. It was a battle fought selflessly and he chose to enjoy every possible moment and make the most of the time he has. Unfortunately, he, like every ALS patient, battled on knowing full well that there would be no reinforcements.

After a quick walk through the site, Gary decided to make a donation in his father’s name. We approached a volunteer, who also looked like she may have actually been alive during the battle of the Alamo, and explained what we were trying to do. She seemed somewhat confused by the whole thing, especially the method of payment. Gary filled out the donation form which included a space for credit card information.  When he handed the form over, she was happy to accept the donation, but asked where the check was. The check is in your heart kind, old lady. The check is in. Your. Heart.

Another New Friend

Speaking of good hearts… After the Alamo, we decided it was time to cut the heat and rehydrate before getting back to the driving. While exploring the very awesome Riverwalk, we quickly ditched those plans in lieu of the bar at the San Antonio Cowboy Museum.  To Trent, whiskey is liquid and liquid hydrates. We were convinced! While enjoying our fine Texan Ales, we made friends with our bartender, Justin. Granted he was the only bartender, but he still would have been our favorite. Justin proceeded to give us an amazing historical rundown of the city. We told him about The PanAmerica and he was captivated by what we were doing. In fact he was such a fan of our efforts that when we got the bill, he took care of our entire tab, and told us to “continue spreading the word for a great cause.”

Riverwalk

The Riverwalk shocked all of us. There are canals . . . in Texas.  You can ride little boats down these canals while getting a history lesson entirely unique to the area. We took plenty of pictures and Matt accidentally touched another man’s penis.

Sunset

Talk about an incredible Sunset. After driving for what felt like days, we knew that time was coming once again. A toast was going to be had and we wouldn’t rest until we found a perfect spot. It just so happened that our perfect spot was adjacent to a sugar cane field. After all of us nervously urinated into the tall, thick cane line – pretty much awaiting a wild pig or axe murderer to leap out at us – we poured our glasses, looked toward the sun, and took on what was one of the single most awe inspiring sunsets many of us had ever seen. A refinery gently breaking the bright orange skyline created a scene straight out of some major science fiction/fantasy franchise that may or may not have involved a brother and sister kissing each other. Oh, and ewoks.

The Big Easy

This is a city that Gary and Trent could have lived in for the next two weeks. Having no convenient access to a green screen, and realizing Rob and Matt could NOT survive on their own, they had to make arrangements to not grow too attached.They failed.

Haunted Hotel

Pulling up to our hotel, Rob sat in the car while the rest of us waited to be let in. Trent looked into the main hallway and let out a noise that most of us stopped making when we were six. He frolicked into the incredibly eerie main lobby and up the stairs to the check in office. If the random portraits and animal paintings didn’t make your skin crawl, then surely the narrow passages and cramped corridors would have. Did we mention that this hotel was supposedly haunted? Matt certainly wouldn’t let us forget it as he took every opportunity to remind us not to leave him alone.

Turtle Soup

New Orleans food!!! Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. There’s not much else to say other than Gary told us a heartfelt story about why he has a real connection with turtles. Unbeknownst to his mother until just now, Gary adopted a pet turtle as a child, nursed it back to health and released it back into the wild.  We immediately mocked him and Trent ordered turtle soup.

After our meal, we met up with a few friends, Amanda and Leia. They told us about a great bar we should go to that was not near any of those “touristy” hotspots along Bourbon Street. That sounded like a great idea. “Can we get there by walking through Bourbon Street?” Matt asked. After the pained looks I’m sure they give all their friends that visit, they graciously gave us directions to the bar and we proceeded to walk down what is one of the single most nausea inducing, hot garbage water smelling, floor covered in sticky and soft at the same time, god knows why streets any of us had ever walked down.

Rob Gets a Bad Vibe

For those of you who don’t know Rob, he grew up craving adventure and planning an escape route for anything.  He’s a man’s man, an activist for humanity. Humanity is his friend and there is rarely a situation that he can’t handle.

Toward the end of Bourbon Street, as we were making our way to some bonafide Pimm’s Cups, a man walked past us and commented that we looked crazy as we had no drinks in our hands. Assuming he worked for some local overcrowded Bourbon Street bar that served chalices of liquor mixed with liquor, Rob made a joke about how we didn’t need drinks because we were all on drugs. Absolutely not true, but had we been on drugs, I imagine Rob would not have handled the following situation the way he had.

The man stopped and took this as his cue to talk to us. Rob engaged the man, so the man decided to befriend us in only the way a potentially crazy and drunk person would: he serenaded via an impressive freestyle rap. We kept walking, and the man kept rapping, following us closely. Neither Gary, Trent, nor Matt felt threatened. Maybe Rob forgot what living in Los Angeles could be like because he whispered to Matt to have his knife ready and announced, “Over here. Here’s the bar we were looking for.” Trent tried to interject explaining we had a few more blocks north to go. Rob corrected him and corralled the four young men into the bar.

To paint a better scene, understand that the entrance to the bar was an open door frame. You can enter the space and still be seen doing ANYTHING. This move was the equivalent of an ostrich sticking its head in the ground as self-defense. We stood there awkwardly waiting for the man to walk away, a puppy who just wanted a friend.  While we stood, we surveyed the crowd and noticed one interesting anomaly; there was not a single woman in this bar.

But we were safe, thanks to Rob.

We made it to our bar and enjoyed wonderful drinks and conversation with old friends. They told us a few good stories, one of which began with the greatest opening line we had ever heard, “One time I accidentally bought crack.” Other stories included a seedy nudie pool and “feeding the kitty.”

A Short Lived Quest

When we finally returned to our hotel, Trent did something only Trent would do. (A brief history about Trent: Trent is the oldest of six. He’s the “test subject” of his family. He watches anything, reads anything, eats anything, and most importantly, believes everything.)

Trent pulled out his digital recorder and answered our puzzled looks with, “It’s for EVPs. Electronic Voice Phenomena. You know? Ghost voices.”  The conversation that followed went roughly like this:

Gary: Are you kidding me?

Matt: Why would you want to do that?

Trent: We’re in New Orleans, guys! This is what we told people we’d do!

Gary: It’s three in the morning.

Matt: WHY would you WANT to do that?

Trent: It’s the witching hour. I just need one person to come with me. In case things go bad.

Rob: Thiiiiiiiis is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

Gary: We have to be up in four hours to meet with the Team Gleason guys. You’re not going to wander around trying to talk to ghosts.

Matt: WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT?

Eventually the plan was scrapped for bigger and better things, but Trent is adamant he will find a ghost on this trip. And he will name it… Frank.

Elusive Internet Monster (Day 2 Update)

Sorry for the slow updates, we rarely have internet access and the energy to use it at the same time. But, Trent is doing an excellent job keeping updates flowing from the phones, so check the facebook, twitter and instagram accounts for the current info.
5 Star Accommodations
As the final minutes of day one were ticking off the clock, we pulled in to our first overnight stop. Winding through a maze of neighborhood streets, we were looking for an address when we saw a poster on a garage door with our logo and the words “Welcome The PanAmerica”. Gary’s friend Patrick, his lovely wife Anna and their dog Indie, gave us a warmer welcome than we could ever have hoped for.

Matt slept like a baby angel and awoke fresh and ready for the first shift as driver the next morning. After showers and goodbyes, we drove off into a vista of hot air balloons, quietly knowing that we just left the best accommodations we’ll probably have for the next 14 days.

Never Give Up
You may know that the slogan of The ALS Association is “Never Give Up” and that is a theme that we are keenly aware of on this journey. Yesterday, Matt received a speeding ticket in AZ, but did he give up? Well, in the stretch of road between Albuquerque and Roswell he hit triple digits, so the answer . . . NO! In his defense, the road was wide, straight and completely empty all the way to the horizon.

Irony in Roswell
Roswell New Mexico was probably one of the places that we were all strangely excited to see. Unfortunately, Roswell was not as excited to see us because we came through town on a Sunday. Ironically, the town that believes in UFOs also believes in observing the day of the lord and literally shuts down on Sunday. We found an open Target, a gas station, a Whattaburger and the road out of town.

Sunset
Rob was driving along when Trent yelled from the backseat to turn into a gravel lot he spotted at the last minute. Rob did it, and in a very Indian Jones-esque leap of faith, we went over a blind hill and off the side of the road, hoping that the drop off would be minor enough to survive and still get the car back to Porsche, because if we don’t return it (quick reminder that part of the purpose for this trip was to use every single mile that Gilles paid for and return the car at the very edge of the lease agreement. Driving it off of a cliff would probably violate the lease) Porsche really wins. We continued our tradition on the side of the highway, in what we think is called Austin Hill Country. The gravel lot was sprinkled with beer cans and malt liquor bottles, so we can only assume that we were not the first group of friends to share an especially touching moment during a sunset tradition that we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives.

Austin
We finally made it to Austin and were welcomed by Rob’s former resident Inez who graciously took us in. We then went out to meet up with Matt’s childhood friend Evan, Rob’s female equivalent/hero, Mikaela, and more than one . . . okay two French speaking amies who found us thanks to our article in French Morning Magazine. Together we and enjoy what is quite possibly the greatest food in the world, fried avocado, while Rob performed a scientific experiment. His hypothesis was that 100% of French men enjoy it when he kisses them on both cheeks. He was correct.

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.

Sunset

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.