Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Epic Road Trip 2011: New York to Texas

A couple weeks late but here it is: the documentation of my move back to Texas...

With Taso at the wheel and my life in the back of a Budget truck.

First, a song. My song. The song that has seen me through so many moves, upheavals, life changes - a thousand different roads in the last 8 or 9 years of my life. This song plays in my mind every time I make physical or emotional transitions. It has followed me all over the country and it meant something entirely different to me when I moved to New York than it does now. If you please:

Now on with the move.
 We picked up the truck at 9am and loaded everything we both own into it. It was not easy. In fact it sucked and we required showers, a hearty meal at my favorite Brooklyn diner (whatup Toms!) and large amounts of complaining before we could start our journey. The first hour(s?) of driving through Brooklyn and Manhattan was not much better...
Driving through the city in our beast of a truck was challenging enough without the added heartbreak of saying goodbye. 

But once we made it out of New Jersey the mood began to relax. The drive through the Poconos was absolutely beautiful. I begged for a stop in Amish country (something I've always wanted to see), but was denied, so here are my beautiful pictures of us rushing past it. Picture me whining while you look at them.

I watched longingly out the window as the quaint homes, rolling hills, lakes, farms, handmade/antique shops and miles and miles of green stretched out around us. It was a peaceful, beautiful drive with my friend next to me.
Then that friend threw me out of the back of the truck in a Chik-fil-a parking lot somewhere in Maryland, exposing my bum to the world and bruising my body and pride. This story varies wildly depending on who is telling it, but I maintain that I was the victim. I made a video ranting about it that has been played on a loop by our family and friends since we got back to Texas... if you're interested. One good thing came out of that experience: that is where we got Richard, our faithful co-pilot.

Virginia gave us more beautiful landscapes and wonderfully repulsive truck stops. This one in particular was my favorite because Taso got to diss ex-roommate Sam's (hottie in the hat) rival school from her undergrad and bond with Coach Beamer over their mutual love of barbecue sauce. He also tried on several "sweet" hats and settled, of course, on the most embarrassing one.

I had my own fun visiting my long lost love, Target (the only Target in New York is in Brooklyn and does not deserve to be called Target - it is disgusting and useless and I don't feel bad saying that because it's 100% true) and my guiltiest pleasure, Starbucks (I know, I know). I also tried to photograph an old movie theater in one of the tiny towns we drove through that was nearly demolished. I had fleeting thoughts of trying to buy it and save it, but I think I have a enough projects right now.



I had no idea what to expect aside from a little knowledge of the Country Music Hall of Fame and some celebrities taking up residence there, but I was blown away. Maybe it was just the little corner of Nashville we ended up in, but it was enough for us to extend our trip by a day and face the 100 degree heat on foot just to explore it. The first place we headed was Belcourt Avenue, home of the historic Belcourt Theatre. Taso and I both knew of the Belcourt (me through my association with art house theaters and he through their sweet one-off posters that he likes to buy on the internets) and had always wanted to visit. I have enough to say about it that I'll save it for its own post, but I will say that it's inspiring what they do there and I learned a lot from visiting and talking to the people who work there. We knew the Belcourt would be awesome but what we weren't prepared for was how awesome that entire part of town is! I think all of the hippest, nicest, chillest people in the South inhabit that little section of the city. Belcourt Ave. also happens to be home to some of the best of Taso's two favorite foods: chicken strips and hot dogs. (He has been talking almost seriously about moving back there just for the chicken ever since. He actually uses the word "delicate" to describe their flavor.) Here's a little look at our favorite parts of Nashville:

(Aveda products in the hotel = happy!)
 Here I had that Iced Rosewater Mint Cuban Latte (O. MY. G.) and got to try Las Paletas. I'd seen them on the Food Network forever ago and thought about them ever since (I love popsicles and they claim to be super tasty, super fresh gourmet pops in unique flavors), but didn't remember where they were. I certainly wasn't expecting to randomly happen upon them in my new favorite city! So very exciting! Here I am enjoying the Hibiscus - YUM - before heading across the street to this awesome, overpriced-but-worth-it vintage shop where I spent money that I do not have.
 (I want to live in messy bookstore just like this one day.)
Literally the happiest day of Taso's life. Check out how cool he's playing it in the pre-meal photo. Not fooling anyone.
Perfect citrus-y salad + vegan hot dog with fried avocado slices, lettuce and a pickle spear. I am the queen of green. I understand if you envy me for getting to eat this meal.

Sadly, everything ends. After two half days of bliss it was time to head home. We had one night left that I planned to spend in Memphis enjoying some good blues and not eating because 1.) I was too stuffed from Nashville and 2.) I'm pretty sure BBQ and BBQ are the only foods they eat there. 

Memphis was kind of a let down in the end. The Gibson factory was closed and Beale street was completely booze soaked (neither of us drinks so the whole no open container law thing is just not that exciting). It was fun to walk around for a bit and soak in the city but, honestly, the music wasn't very good that night (and I love blues) and it all felt a bit tourist trap-ish. Taso did get to try on more hats so, there's that.

The last leg of the trip was peaceful and happy, if a bit tedious once we hit flatland country. We both needed showers and a change of clothes but we'd had a trip we'll never forget, we made it in one piece and we were home. Yay!


  1. I really enjoyed this! If you ever go back to Memphis, Beale St is the total tourist trap. All the "good stuff" is in Midtown (according to M and his friends).