Category: USA

Eastern Seaboard Road Trip, USA

A red-eye flight from Buenos Aires to Miami brought us back into North American life literally overnight and our eastern seaboard road trip was about to begin.  As we sat at the airport in Buenos Aires, we talked about how strange that moment was — in a mere 9 hours everything was going to change.  The culture, the food, the climate, the people, the language.  Our trip was about to change fundamentally.  We wondered how it would affect us and how we would adapt, looking into the unknown future with a mixture of confusion, excitement and apprehension.

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It was more economical to fly to Miami, rent a car and drive to Jacksonville than it was to fly direct, so we made our way through the airport maze (incredibly well-marked and organized) to the car rental agency.  It only took us 45 minutes to go through customs (thanks for the welcome video, President Obama!) and arrive at the rental agency.  We fought every urge to trash our toilet paper and speak Spanish on the way out.

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After a year in South America we had our priorities in order.  First stop: WHOLE FOODS.  Pretty sure we bought four beverages (if you must know, green smoothie from the bar, kombucha, organinc americano, and coconut water).  I felt like a crazy woman walking through the aisles, my eyes wide as an owl’s, trying to take it all in.  I filled my basket with eco-friendly cleaning products, shampoo and conditioner, and essential oils with a sense of urgency, as if they were going to disappear forever.  I want to say that after so much time on the road living simply that we turned away from consumerism but it almost felt the opposite.  There were so many things we hadn’t seen in so long and we wanted them all.

Our drive through Miami took us past a ton of hotels, palm trees, speed boats on lifts, golf courses, white-faced buildings, and new BMWs.  We listened to the Spanish radio stations and cranked the air conditioning (a luxury missing from our Toyota) to beat the crushing humidity outside.  Billboards for personal injury lawyers became commonplace on the side of the highway (double-teamed with ads on the radio for the same lawyers), where palm and native pine trees cohabited peacefully.

We made a stop in Lakeland, Florida to meet our friend Mark from Overland Empire – someone we had only communicated with by e-mail up to that point.  It was great to put a face to a name, and we had a blast swapping stories and opinions about overland travel over a couple of beers at the Brew Hub.

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Somewhere between Miami and Orlando the radio stations changed from Latino to country.  Luke Bryan was playing at the Daytona Beach Speedway that weekend, which we caught a slight glance of as we drove by.  24 Hour Waffle Houses popped up on every block and gators became quite popular: Gator World, Gator Jerky, Gator Heads (available for purchase at your local Florida gas station) – you name it.  The faces changed from hispanic to African American, and the southern drawl became ubiquitous.

Jacksonville, Florida

We spent what felt like a very long two weeks in Jacksonville, waiting for the truck to be released from customs.  This was a bit frustrating because the truck had arrived on time, but it was just sitting around waiting for a wash and a box to be checked off.  We naively thought that the process would be quick and efficient since we could speak the language fluently this time, but much of our time was spent e-mailing and phoning various individuals at K-Line and at the port hoping to obtain a status update.  Most of the calls and e-mails just involved us harassing people while everything moved at the speed of sludge.  We were a bit surprised that of all of our shipping experiences, this one was the longest.

In the meantime we kept relatively busy.  The Jacksonville Jazz Fest was on so we made the trip from our Super 8 to the downtown core to check out the event.

There is nothing more fascinating than being in the middle one particular culture for a lengthy period of time, and then being transplanted into something completely different.  Lawn chairs lined the streets and crowded around stages, while the atmosphere was surprisingly mellow despite how many people were out.  An Afro Cuban Band played in one square, where listeners held Big Gulps in their hands and the smell of po boys, fried chicken and sliders filled the air.  Gorgeous and vivacious Southern women accessorized with bold gold jewellery and big sunglasses.  Pedestrians snacked on funnel cakes with sweet icing sugar dusted on top while meandering from stage to stage.  We noticed wallets in camp chair pockets, cameras out in the open and iPhones in shirt pockets and hooked on belts.  It was wonderful to listen to live music and soak up the sights for a few hours, feeling the heat and humidity on our faces and sweaty palms.

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We were informed by the Jacksonville Tourism Centre that our cheap Super 8 motel was sketchy (we couldn’t really gain any other particulars regarding why other than it was bordering the red light district and we shouldn’t go out at night), and that we should probably book something else in a different location.  Geniuses that we are, we moved to a Value Place on the highway that wasn’t much better.  In addition to working on the blog and editing photos, we spent our time walking 45 minutes in 90 degree plus heat and full humidity to the nearby fancy mall to hit the sushi restaurant, where we had the cheap lunch special and filled up our water bottles with ice water.  Then we would peruse/enjoy the magazine selection at Barnes and Noble (and air con), walk through Target, and finally enjoy the air conditioning at the nearby Publix grocery store before embarking on the gruelling and sweaty march back to our room at the Value Place.

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The people in Jacksonville were very friendly.  Everyone asked how our day was going or how we were.  One day we were walking home from the mall when it started pouring rain and a guy honked at us from across the highway, using hand signals to ask if we wanted a ride.

In terms of adjusting back to ‘normalcy,’ I can only describe it as feeling like we had been living in a cave for about a year or so.  Visiting shopping centres and stores was a fascinating experience: 1,000 different types of toothpaste or deodorant to choose from, healthy options filled the shelves, and it was amazing what you could find in a gas station market.  There were certain things we said that I was hoping nobody heard like, “WOW they have coconut water here!?” I could just picture people looking at us strangely.  Richard was like a kid in a candy store at the auto parts store.  We really felt like we could find anything we wanted.  We also noticed that almost everyone had brand new vehicles.  By the time ours was released from customs, we definitely had one of the oldest vehicles on the road.

We took the bus to JAX Beach a couple of times.  It was a great place to go for long walks!  That is, until the heat shrivelled our kidneys into raisins and we motored for some shade and cold drinks.

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We had some great food in Jacksonville.  V Pizza had some tasty salads and pizzas close to JAX Beach.

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We popped by the Riverside Arts Market under the Fuller Warren Bridge to check out the Farmer’s Market, tasty snacks and handcrafted goods.

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Hawkers is located in the 5-Points district, and had fantastic food.  We had the pad thai and wish we had gone back again.

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Finally, we received the word that Little Red was ready to be picked up.  Poor guy looked beat on and dishevelled when we arrived, and we wondered when exactly he received this “wash” that cost us $90 and delayed the whole process for about a week.  Ah, well.  C’est la vie, we were just ecstatic and overjoyed to have him back safe and sound.

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Once our truck made it out of customs it was definitely time to celebrate, so we headed to TacoLu.  There was quite a lengthy wait but it was worth it.  The tart and salty/sweet lime margaritas kept us busy while we waited for our table.  The salsas and fish tacos were delightful.

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Richard spent a day cleaning the truck in the Value Place parking lot before we were finally able to advance north to Georgia, South Carolina, and onto Virginia Beach.

Savannah, Georgia

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Charleston, South Carolina 

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Virginia Beach, Virginia 

Honestly, this is where we spent most of our time in Virginia Beach.  Yes this exact spot.  We took over the driveway at the Jamison household to gut the truck, clean it out, complete some much needed maintenance, and to add some upgrades.  All of this fun is written out in detail in the previous blog post.

We can’t thank the Jamisons enough for having us spend the week with their family!!

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North Carolina

After a seven days in Virginia Beach working on Little Red, Mallary and Chris offered to show us one of their favourite spots down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  A quick stop at the Morris Farm Market stocked up the fridge and then we hit the beach for some fun in the sun, avoided being trampled by the wild horses, and then set up camp for the weekend.

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New York, New York

Six years ago we spent a rushed three days in New York for our honeymoon.  Relaxing and romantic?  Not so much.  This time around our only goal was to wander the streets, drink some coffee, eat some bagels, and just BE in New York.

We made our way to the New York Public Library, Central Park, and Times Square.

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New Hampshire 

We drove through New Hampshire in one day, but the one stop we made was to see Rian from Papa Wolf Supply Company.  It was through the power of the Instagram that we had met Rian so it was great to finally meet in person, check out the shop, and pick up our new “Live Free or Die” shirts.

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Portland, Maine

Look who it is!  Yet another pair of internet friends that have now turned into real friends.  We had been following Nate and Sarah from The Long Way South since they started their Maine to Ushuaia road trip in their Cummins powered Dodge a couple of years ago.  They still have their truck, but have upgraded their camp life with the newly purchased Westy seen below.  It’s always fun to meet up with like-minded people who you hit it off with immediately.  We would have liked to spend some more time with these kids, but Canada Day was just a few hours away and we thought that was the perfect time to cross the border back into our home country.  See you on the other side!

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Olympic Peninsula Microadventure

“KEEP CLOSE TO NATURE’S HEART… AND BREAK CLEAR AWAY, ONCE IN AWHILE, AND CLIMB A MOUNTAIN OR SPEND A WEEK IN THE WOODS.  WASH YOUR SPIRIT CLEAN.”

-JOHN MUIR

We are constantly amazed at how little of the Pacific Northwest we’ve seen.  Lucky for us Overland the Americas and Vanderlust Americas live in Seattle and always invite us on microadventures!  This time we pointed the truck southwest to the Olympic Peninsula.  As usual, a lack of planning meant that we showed up only 10 minutes early to the Edmonds-Kingston ferry just north of Seattle.  As luck would have it we drove right past Ernesto and Taisa in their 4Runner, Sooty, pulled a quick u-turn and followed them into the ferry lineup just as it started to board.  So far so good!  Luck was on our side with timing… which made  up for the heavy rain we experienced the rest of the weekend.

After Nate was presented with his Canadian bag of ketchup chips we made our way to a free campsite near Cresent Lake with our newfound van friends Jamie and Megan leading the way to the Lyre River Campground (Lat: 48.150158, Lon: -123.8332123).

Dan from The 4×4 Podcast has talked about “The Trifecta of Misery”.  Cold.  Wet.  Hungry.  You can be two of these things, but not all three.  If you’re cold, wet, AND hungry then you’re going to be miserable.

Heeding this warning, the next morning we waited out the rain and stayed dry in the back of the truck before coffee, breakfast tacos, and route planning.  Once fully caffeinated and full of Trader Joe’s oatmeal and Jamie’s tacos we  hit the road.  We drove the backroad (W Twin Road to Natl Forest Development Road 30)  southwest towards Highway 101 and then northwest along 112 to Cape Flattery.  Cape Flattery is the most northwestern point on the contiguous United States. This is the point where the Juan de Fuca straight meets the Pacific Ocean. There is a short 20 minute hike to the coast that rewards you with amazing views. Definitely worth the eight some-odd hours of driving from Vancouver.

We’ve been using our new DeLorme InReach Explorer  to track our routes.  Here’s a screenshot we stole from our own Current Location page showing our route:

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Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm, WA

The Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm are only a few hours away from Vancouver, but we hadn’t even stepped foot in the North Cascades National Park before this past weekend.  Ernesto and Taisa from Overland the Americas invited us down to meet their friends Nate and Danielle from Vanderlust Americas and we couldn’t say no.

Months ago Ashley had posted a link to the 20 Places To Go Camping Before You Die and Ernesto had seen #3 The Sahale Arm on that post.  He suggested we hike the Sahale Arm and we agreed that an 8 hour long, 4000 vertical foot adventure would be a great way to spend our Saturday.  From the trailhead to the peak we our eyes were rewarded with epic views… we were stoked about every step of this hike, but definitely had some  Jello legs happening by the time we made it back to the trucks.  This is by far the most visually stimulating hike we’ve ever been on and highly recommend it to anybody.  Even hiking to the halfway point (Cascade Pass) is well worth it!  Now we just need to knock a few more of this places off of that list.

We enjoyed every minute of our weekend spent with like-minded people.  We skipped the small talk and went straight into the goods:  travelling, food, likes, dislikes, short-term and long-term plans, talk of “the universe”, and all-out dreams.  We can’t wait to spend more time with you guys over the coming months Ernesto, Taisa, Nate and Danielle!

|These photos were all taken with our GoPro Hero2.|DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO On our way back home we made sure to stop by Diablo Lake for a couple of photos!DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO And then we stopped at Cascade Farm Organic... because we had to try their organic ice cream!DCIM100GOPRO

For more photos make sure to check out Vanderlust Americas’ blog post:  Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, and Diablo Lake, WA


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