Road Trip – We’re Delicious
HERE IT IS! As announced in The First of Many this is the first blog post of Abby’s and my month long cross country road trip! In this entry I’ll talk about what lead us to become digital nomads for a month during a global pandemic along with what our plans are for the trip in general. I’ll also talk about our recent weekend practice excursion to Chincoteague, VA. So without further ado, pack your dehydrated meals, strap on your seat-belts, apply your bug spray and prepare to read about what might be our biggest adventure of 2020!
The idea for this road trip came about partially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Abby and I have both cancelled trips this year thanks to the virus and while that is less than ideal, we are now working 100% remotely for as long as the virus is a major concern. This work situation has given us an extraordinary opportunity we may never get again; the freedom to work from anywhere in the country, far away from the confines of offices with cubicles and few windows. While the pandemic situation is still far from under control nationwide, we have developed a plan for traveling around the country that will keep us and everyone in the communities we visit safe. We will practice good social distancing, wear masks in public, sleep in our tent or vehicle instead of hotels (as often as possible anyway), and pick our groceries up from the curb in as many locations as allow it. Furthermore, in highly populated places like Yellowstone National Park where social distancing may be difficult, we’re planning to visit the most popular attractions, like Old Faithful, early in the morning or later in the evening when crowds are less prevalent. With these precautions and a healthy supply of hand sanitizer we are confident that we’re doing our part in not spreading the virus while traveling around the country.
Our plan for the trip is loose on the dates, but we have a pretty good idea of where we’re trying to go and for roughly how many days. We’re planning to start the trip by visiting Abby’s family in Ohio en route to Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. We’ll spend one or two nights there enjoying the sand and lake water before heading to South Dakota to see the bison, granite peaks, and rolling plains of Custer State Park and Badlands National Park. After that we’ll travel north to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to collect one of the final states for Abby’s 50 state collection (she’s been to 45 so far!). Next on the itinerary, after witnessing the plains and topography of the Dakotas, we’ll reverse direction to visit the likely highlight locations of our month long journey; Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park! Finally, after we’ve taken in those two awe inspiring locations, we’ll begin our trek back east with a slight detour down to Arches National Park. We acknowledge there will be difficulties getting in to some of these parks because of coronavirus restrictions, but we’re hopeful that we’ll get to see everything we’re setting out to see through deliberate planning and a little luck. Only time will tell, and we all know what happens to the best laid plans… they only get better with changes!
Now, to explain the weird title of this blog entry… Abby and I have never before been on a trip of this magnitude solo or otherwise. As such, we thought it might be a good idea to practice and try some things before we hit the road for real. To accomplish this, we took a weekend trip to Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge on the coast of Virginia with the intention of luxuriating in the sand and ocean by day and sleeping in the back of Abby’s Jeep Cherokee by night. It’s a good thing we did this practice run because it was a ROUGH night (aka type 2 fun) and we learned a ton. It turns out that 85°F temperatures do not pair well with high humidity and closed windows while you’re trying to sleep in the back of a Jeep. To make matters worse, the gas station we had chosen to sleep at was blaring music and the lights were blinding even with our makeshift trash bag window coverings. We are now determined for the big trip to ONLY sleep in the Jeep if it’s absolutely necessary. Abby is also graciously upgrading our window coverings from trash bags held up by tape to some high end, suction cup, black out curtains.
The trip down to Chincoteague was far from a bad experience despite what the previous paragraph would make you believe. Did you know that Chincoteague Island is home to a herd of wild ponies? They are fairly elusive and shy of visitors and I struck out seeing them both times I visited Assateague Island (Chincoteague’s sister island) previously. This time was different. Abby and I saw a large group of them in the marsh drinking from fresh water pools and munching on lush green grasses. These equines are not native to the barrier islands however; they are descendants of survivors of Spanish galleon ship wrecks which occurred as early as the 1600s! On the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas there were numerous shipwrecks because the main way to navigate the sand bars and coasts at night were lighthouses and stars – not the most reliable things to see in storms or fog. Chincoteague has one of those old lighthouses and it was truly spectacular to see the lamp lit up and spinning that Saturday night! It was so spectacular in fact, that we chose to do a short hike from the road to the lighthouse to get some pictures. In doing so, we discovered the other main resident of the islands… HORSE FLIES. These little blood suckers voraciously devoured Abby and I as we walked the short 1/4 mile trail to the lighthouse. We both came away with no fewer than 20 bug bites per leg so we are clearly quite delicious. If you visit Chincoteague Island at night, be sure to bring and wear a healthy layer of bug repellent!
As Abby and I gear up for our month long excursion, I have hopes for contributing to this blog from the road on a weekly basis. In future posts I’ll likely talk about the locations we’ve been, how we’re working from the road, how we’re managing to not get sick of each other living in such constrained conditions, and anything else that crosses my mind. If you have questions about anything related to our trip please feel free to comment! Until next time, stay safe on those trails!