Why this road trip? Is there anything particularly special about it? Does this journey somehow unearth mysteries previously unbeknownst to the human race? In short, yes, it does. I believe all road trips do. Yours, mine, the famous ones etc, all shed light on something uniquely human, and maybe, in part, uniquely American. But in order to make it interesting and appealing and relatable it helps to know the backstory, so here it is.
I was let go from the job that I held for over 5 years on June 12, 2015. People that worked there would joke about how they couldn’t believe I actually stayed in that position for so long. You were either supposed to move up, or get out earlier than 5 years, neither of which I did. It was easy and the money was very good. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t been lazy monitoring my “sit on the phone” metric time and time again I would probably still be there, and this story could not be told. It’s not that I wasn’t good at my job, I was very good at it, and fairly well respected even being the unusual person I am, it’s just that I couldn’t sit on the phone anymore and continue to take shit from people, end of story. I had known they were going to let me go for over a week before they officially did it, so during that time I began to plan on what the next chapter of my life would be, which if you have ever tried to do is extremely difficult seeing as I do not control the universe. But there was one thing that came to mind.
I was standing in the kitchen of my house talking to my roommate Josh, a little downtrodden, mostly out of fear of the future when two words popped into my mind: road trip. Now as a kid I was the type of person that would ride my bike as far as I could, until it got scary, or until I was almost positive I was lost, but not completely convinced. I just liked the sense of movement, the sense of freedom, the feeling that I was going to experience something new that I hadn’t before. This carried on into my driving years and into my adult life. Even though I had this sense of adventure and a little bit of fearlessness the cross-country road trip was always something that eluded me. There was always an excuse: not enough money, not enough time, no car, school, job, and on and on. Until one day I realized that there were no excuses good enough anymore, and the ones that seemed good enough were no long standing in my way. When I first mentioned the idea of a road trip in the kitchen that day I mentioned it with some wide-eyed dreamer eyes and an aw shucks posture. It was almost like a sad joke, because I knew I didn’t want to do it myself and I had no idea how I could pull it off and who I would bring with me. Then Josh mentioned that he would love to do something like that, and it went from there.
THE DAY WE LEFT
The biggest obstacle was money. Josh is a college student that works as a server to pay the bills so he’s not exactly Diamond Jim. Since it was the summer he wasn’t in school but he wanted to make sure he had a job to come back to after the trip, which would be almost a month (more on that later). I was financially stable with an infinite amount of free time on my hands so really nothing was a problem for me in terms of this journey. So, after he spoke with his employer and they said everything would be fine, we decided to try to crowd fund the trip. Initially it did not go well. The first description on the gofundme page spoke about how I had this dream about taking a road trip and blah blah blah. People were almost offended that I would ask for money to try to achieve a dream of mine with many saying they would not “pay for my vacation”. Now once I was fairly certain this trip was going to happen it began to take on epic proportions in my mind. I was going to create a multimedia art project with travelogues, photographs and short films, with the goal of having something fun and interesting to share as well as being able to showcase my abilities to gain employment in the future. Even after trying to explain that to people they still didn’t care. There were early supporters but it wasn’t the response I was hoping for, and really the money we were raising was for Josh, I just didn’t want to call him out on the gofundme, I thought that it would be rude. So I came up with a concept: people hate us and they should donate money to keep us away for as long as possible. We posted to Facebook everyday, on which we created a fan page, did Twitter, Instagram, the works. I also changed the name of the website from Road Trip Dream to Go Away Road Trip. So the title of the entire project was borne out of the necessity to market it differently. We also made some short films about people’s dislike for us as well as introduced the “John D” character as the roommate that hates us completely and never wants to see us again. Although they were poorly shot and executed we did get more of a response and raised a little more money as a result of our efforts. What can I say, people like to laugh.
The planning of the trip was very stressful since I literally had to plan out the entire thing, supplies, itinerary etc. Josh was working doubles everyday to raise his purse and I had nothing but time so I was up to the challenge. The length of the trip initially started at 17 days, but as I looked at the places we would go and planned out the route I realized that wouldn’t work. It then was extended to 21 days and eventually 25. I wanted to be gone as long as possible but I realized money would be an issue and Josh wanted to make sure he could get his job back when we got home which I assured him he would even though I had no idea, just a hunch (he did get his job back). I got the old trusty 2012 Honda Civic all tuned up to go for our journey (fantastic gas mileage), and we stocked up on perishables and non-perishables, sleeping bags, cooler, you know, the basics. We knew we would, for the most part, be living out of my car for the next month. I also screen printed about 40 t-shirts, all original designs, to sell on the road and raise money as we went along our journey (I sold one, in Austin, Texas). I arranged some places for us to stay with people I knew while we were on the east coast and in Colorado , Josh arranged a place in Detroit with relatives, and I booked a couple Airbnbs prior to the trip, but for the most part, we had decided on just winging it as we went along, which inevitably led to some interesting situations. The final itinerary went something like this: Marfa TX, Austin TX, New Orleans LA, Athens GA, Asheville NC, Richmond VA, Washington D.C., Fenwick Island DE, Lancaster PA, New York NY, Philadelphia PA, Pittsburgh PA, Detroit MI, Chicago IL, Omaha NE, Longmont CO, Canyonlands/Zion UT, Flagstaff AZ. We really did stick to the plan too, it was kind of impressive, and the meanderings we did were wonderful and added that much more to the experience. I don’t really want divulge much about the trip since that is what the rest of the website is for but I hope you enjoy it as we did. One thing that is interesting about the site is that, as you go through, you can kind of see how I was trying to find the right voice for the writing and, after the first few pages, I kind of settled into a rhythm I was happy with. Below are the early videos, the revised gofundme, and the social media links I mentioned above.