Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Man’s Land and Leopard Pants: The Kansas Chronicles

Ever since the beginning of our road trip, people have asked whether we are taking the Northern or Southern route through the U.S. Our answer has remained the same. “We’re going straight through the middle!” we’ll proclaim, excitedly. After admitting this, we’re consistently met with mortified faces. “Oh, God,” someone will say, “That means you’ll be hitting Kansas!” “Yeah,” we say “we know.”
Just about everyone Brit or I spoke to expressed concern over us driving through Kansas. We were told we were crazy, and that Kansas would be just ‘god awful’ and a tremendous waste of time. In the face of these accusations, we feigned confidence and assurance. “Oh don’t worry about us,” we said, “we’re going to rock Kansas like nobody’s business. We’ll dominate that state like it’s going out of style! We’ll have road-side dance parties galore, and we’ll be invited in homes for pot pie dinners, and…” the list went on and on.
Naiveté and denial never reeked so badly.

What really happened
We left Boulder, Colorado at 7:30 in the morning, with the hopes of allowing plenty of daylight for our nine hour trip to Kansas City, Missouri. For the most part, everything East of Denver is flat, brown, and visibly unappealing. Everything was covered in a thick gray, forging an indiscernible line between highway and sky. We had planned on cruising upwards of 80 miles an hour, but given the icy roads and otherwise terrible road conditions, we were forced to coast at half that speed.
At some point in the afternoon, the road conditions cleared up. As we picked up speed, our moods improved and we began to get pumped for our night in Kansas City. Lady Gaga blared from the car speakers, and we laughed in the faces of those who said Kansas would be a nightmare. We laughed and laughed, until…

The Helicopter

Suddenly, Brit overheard what she thought to be a helicopter flying over us. She turned down the radio, and sure enough, we heard a loud thumping coming from somewhere nearby. “Is there a plane flying over us?” she asked. “It sounds more like a helicopter,” I replied. For the next 1 ½ minutes, we searched high and low, looking through the sunroof and passenger window for the plane overhead. It wasn’t until we hit the brakes that we realized the noise was closer than expected. The noise was not coming from a ‘copter. The noise was coming from our own car.
We pulled over to examine the potential vehicular damage. I checked the bumper, and looked under the car for C.P.D’s (car part danglers). Zip, nada, nothing. I wiped my hands clean, and was about to declare that the car was in okay condition when I caught sight of the flaccid rubber. “Shiza, Brit,” I said, “we’ve got a flat!”
To our dismay, our rear tire was demolished. It looked like it had been stabbed with a finely-sharpened instrument (pitchfork, perhaps?) and emitted an overwhelming smell of burning rubber. With no evidence of civilization in sight, we had no idea where to go.
Brit and I usually manage to keep ourselves relatively composed, but for one reason or another, we chose to handle this situation with irrational, erratic behavior. We screamed and shouted expletives towards Kansas and its peoples, and lashed out at the vehicular Gods who condemned us to such demise. After five or so minutes of manic ranting, our tantrums subsided and we called AAA.
Giving directions to the people at AAA proved to be difficult, as our only visible landmarks were a tractor trailer and billboard for an adult superstore (Turns out, these generic landmarks are found near almost every single exit throughout Kansas). Finally, after a bit more research and exploration, we learned that we were in a small town called Hays.

Welcome to Hays, Kansas. Can I take your order?
A half hour later, the AAA representative arrived. He patiently waited around while Britt unloaded her trunk (formerly known as her apartment) to locate the donut. A dozen roadside piles later, the spare tire was located, and securely placed on the Civic’s rear. We were then told to follow the tow truck to a nearby Walmart in order to purchase a new tire. As darkness neared and the snow continued to fall, we couldn’t help but declare to one another that the day had, in fact, totally sucked. Our moods were getting worse by the minute.

The Walmart experience: Consumerism Cures
As it turns out, our visit to the Walmart auto garage was just what we needed to enhance our mood. The auto mechanics said it would take a half hour to put the new tire on, and that we should stay put inside the store to hear our name called over the intercom. As unexcited as I was about scouring the Walmart racks for a half hour, I tried to put my best face forward and stay positive, as everything related to Kansas, thus far, had been miserable. Brit and I walked out of the auto garage and straight into Walmart’s neon-lit aisles. Walmart is a metropolis, and stores that claim to ‘have it all’ (fishing poles, thongs, rifles and whole-grain cereal) tend to overwhelm me.
After glancing around for a minute, my eyes caught sight of something I hadn’t expected. I looked at Brittany, and realized immediately that she was looking at the same thing. We turned back around to stare at the brightest area in the store, a gigantic One dollar clearance sign dangling directly over a rack of glimmering, animal-print spandex. Leopard, cheetah and zebra prints hung together, side by side, practically begging to be ripped off their hangers by two desperate and fashion-clueless girls.
At that moment, I knew the flat tire was the best thing to happen all day.

Oh no you didn’t…

After trying on half a dozen pair of the aforementioned spandex—and some equally noteworthy hideous/awesome costume apparel—Britt and I were ready to make moves. We strutted back to the auto garage with our heads held high, feeling good about our confident, spandex-infused swagger. The auto mechanics gave us each a nod of approval as they checked out our new gear…Britt in leopard, me in cheetah. We smiled as they tallied up our individual bills (remember, each pair of pants was ONE DOLLAR), and while the tire was a bit of a pricey fix, the sheer bliss we experienced through our clearance find made the whole hassle and experience feel justified.

The Smaps Moral
Britt and I survived the tedious, bland hellhole that is Kansas because we chose to jazz up our drawers. By choosing to impress, rather than depress, we managed to end our 14 hour journey through Kansas on a positive note. Instead of slouching through Kansas’s finish line, we skipped through it.

Money may not buy happiness, but animal-print spandex can.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

El Grand Canyon

Flagstaff and Sedona, AZ

Sedona, Arizona.

Teddy and I.

Posing near one of the many scenic viewpoints between Flagstaff and Sedona, AZ.

Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona.

Inside the "Clear Creek Trading Company" Navajo Indian store

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Paging Mr. Page

A dozen churches and one Roadway Inn later, we found ourselves in the small town of Page. Located on the border of Arizona and Utah, Page lacked what most would call ‘character.’ Brit and I had a long day of driving, and were anxious to mingle amongst some of Page’s finest to celebrate Mardi Gras Tuesday. To say we were disappointed with what we found would be an understatement. Like robots on repeat, we repeatedly circled the town of Page, desperate for the vibrant nightlife we had come to associate with modern-day Mardi Gras festivities. After about five circles, we realized that we had already found Page’s downtown (five times already). Page does a good job of disguising its urban crowd and cosmopolitan flair by ignoring these ‘fun town’ components entirely. We searched and scoured for any evidence of civilization, but our searches left us empty handed.
Now, this situation could have left us in total despair. And to be frank, there was about a ten second window in which we both felt like breaking down and balling our eyes out to the gas station attendant. However, we forced ourselves to remember the various themes and mottoes we’ve come to associate with this trip. “Feminine Adrenaline”…”Live Free or Dance”…”When in doubt, don’t pout”…etc. Such optimistic slogans leave no room for Debbie Downers, so we put our creative minds to the test and devised a Plan B for our night in Page. If Page, Arizona wouldn’t throw down for us, we would throw down for Page.
Enter: one seedy motel room, Beyonce karaoke, three dollar bottles of Californian merlot, and a video camera. Ah yes, a recipe for homemade, improvisational, female fun! We entertained ourselves until the wee hours of the night by singing in spandex, eating stale bean burritos, and pretending to microwave each others most prized technological gadgets.

A night to remember, no doubt.

What lesson can be learned from our experience in Page? If you ever find yourself stranded in the middle of Podunk America with nowhere to sleep, eat, or rock out… don’t fret. Perhaps you can remember some of the activities that kept us occupied and entertained, and try them out yourself. Good luck to you, and remember: life’s too short for Debbie Downers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Live Free or Dance!

A road trip philosophy...

For those of you who know, Brit and I like to dance…a lot. While I wouldn’t go so far to say that either of us is sexy on the dance floor, we do what we can to entertain ourselves and have a good time-with or without the music. For this reason, we have made it a point to dance as much as possible throughout the road trip. I would be lying if I didn’t claim that our initial reason for wanting to dance across the country stemmed from our desperation (and in Brit’s case, obsession) to get on the Ellen Degeneres Show. We both think Ellen is hilarious, and feel that our dancing abilities may just be the golden ticket to getting us on her show. So while it’s true that the Ellen Show often comes to mind when we find ourselves dancing, our dance parties have become an integral part of our lives.
So by now, you must be wondering. What are the necessary criteria for discovering a compatible road trip companion? Find someone who loves to sing and dance as much as you! We are a very compatible driving duo, as neither one of us is afraid to shake it (or break it) like it’s hot (or not). All I can say is thank God for decent radio stations and highway break-down lanes, as the combination of these things has proven itself to be the perfect formula for roadside dance-offs.

We've made a few short videos along the way, which feature everything from roadside dance parties to sleep-deprived laugh attacks. Take a look at our channel on youtube to view the videos to date!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What gives, California?

San Francisco:
A beautiful, eclectic city on the coast of California. We spent four days flexing our calves alongside the city’s steep hills, feasting on fresh sushi, and catching up with old friends.

Pacific Coast Highway:
The seven hour drive was filled with spectacular views of the coast, strewn with dozens of vantage points and prime photograph opportunities. We enjoyed taking our time cruising along the coast on a sunny day that turned out to be nearly as beautiful as the coast itself. Good music, good company, and some elephant sea lions thrown in for good measure, ‘twas a day to remember.

Hollywood goes Acoustic:
Before arriving in Hollywood, I was nervous that Brit’s passion for celeb-spotting would surpass the point of fun and innocent, and turn downright creepy. To be fair, though, she and I had a blast indulging in wholesome fun, while keeping celebrity fetishes to a responsible and controlled minimum. Aside from having her car broken into our first night in Los Angeles (this involved a stolen GPS, hundreds of pieces of broken glass, and the handsome cast of the L.A.P.D), we had some good times…

We had late-night acoustic jam sessions with some of her friends, covering everything from Fleetwood Mac to homemade jams about ‘girls in white pants.’ We toured the famous spots of downtown Hollywood, and took pictures with Frank Sinatra’s feet imprints at the Hollywood Walk of Fame (did you know he wore a children’s size five shoe?). We also made it out to Venice, and enjoyed eyeing some of LA’s coolest (and craziest) crowds alongside the boardwalk.

Monday, February 15, 2010

San Fran/ San Jose

Brit and I at an Irish pub in San Jose, CA.

Reuniting with my favorite lovebirds, Meera and Arjun!

K-town and Meerkat!

A visit with Meera is not complete without cappucino!

Haight/Ashbury, San Francisco

The intersection of Haight and Ashbury became famous in the early 1960’s thanks to its hippies hoodlums, and Grateful Dead associations. The remnants of the Beat generation are still seen today, as the modern-day Haight/Ashbury is lined with head shops, music stores, and cafes. Of particular excitement for us were the thrift stores (because used clothing is both trendy and cool). Everything from puppy litters to grams of cocaine are sold in this area, and it’s not uncommon to be approached by white-skinned rastas looking for ‘hugs or drugs.’ We survived our Haight/Ashbury experience unscathed, and enjoyed the eclectic vibe.

Friday, February 12, 2010


The epic Pacific Coast Highway trip took place today, featuring seven hours of amazing vistas and a handful of off-road dance parties. An example of one such dance party can be found by clicking on the below Youtube link...enjoy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A bit of the scene...

The Golden Gate Bridge is a tourist attraction not to miss! We cruised along the bridge with our eyes glued to the beautiful, rolling hills of San Francisco. With good friends and a blaring hip-hop accompaniment, this is an experience not to miss!

Tourists? Most certainly.

After stopping at a viewpoint just opposite the Bridge, we snaked our way up through the hills, climbing until we could reach the highest point possible. We chose to do this climb with the help of our Civic, but were rather impressed with San Francisco’s fittest, whom pedaled alongside our car on their road bikes. The roads were so windy and steep, I don’t know how they pull it off, but I think protein-infused calf injections may have something to do with it.

As dutiful tourists, we fulfilled our bay obligation by visiting another one of San Francisco’s notorious scenic spots, Fisherman’s Wharf. While there’s no pretending it’s an area riddled with tourist traps, it’s a lovely place to check out, especially around sunset. We poked around the many tourist shops, in search for free chocolate samples (check) and bargain, imitation Ray-Bans (check, again).

After checking out a bit of the wharf...

...I palled around with my main squeeze, Obama!

The picture itself isn’t great, but I absolutely had to include this man in the blog collection. He emerged out of his ‘houseboat’ when he heard me screaming at the seagulls to shut the (expletive) up already so I could enjoy the stillness of the ocean. He was in drunken hysterics…laughing at every interaction between me and the seagull. I never got his name, but decided to call him Peter.

So much seafood! The strip was filled with fish and chips and bowls of clam chowder. Yum-town!

Who knew that two east coast honeys would attract male suitors along their cross-country road trip? While Britt appreciates men of all shapes and sizes, she had never quite considered this ‘type.’ Pictured above is the guy who just couldn’t take no for an answer…Britt’s most relentless pursuer! He apparently didn’t take the hint when we said we were leaving soon, as he jumped on the hood of the car to proclaim his love and demand a second chance at her affection. He was really something!