The End of the Road

Roadtrip Map Alas, after seven full weeks on the road, we arrived in Woodbridge, VA, at Kristen’s parents’ house, marking the official end of our cross-country roadtrip. It was a fantastic vacation, an impromptu whirl around the contiguous states, visiting family, friends and lots of beautiful, scenic views along the way. Here are some stats to put it into perspective.

49 days 11,559 miles 25 state lines crossed $1718.65 spent on gas 19 nights sleeping in a tent 5 nights in a hotel 15 National Parks visited 1 parking ticket 0 speeding violations

The first thing we did was reunite with our two kitties who’d been under the careful care of Kristen’s family. To celebrate our homecoming as well as Carolyn’s 24th birthday, we set out to shop for some quality dinner ingredients, which was tough in this neighborhood. (We suppose beggars can't be choosers?) After failing to find humanely-raised chicken at Food Lion (boo), we walked out and drove further down the road to Harris Teeter. Stocked up for the evening, we returned eager to let loose in a kitchen! The celebratory feast consisted of grilled chicken, sweet potato and coconut milk mash, and a delicious strawberry goat cheese salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

Celebration Dinner

For dessert, Gary made a chocolate cake with rainbow chip frosting, with big “24” candles on top. Few things evoke childhood memories like rainbow chip frosting...

Carolyn is 24

It’s always bittersweet when a trip reaches its end. For us, it seemed like we’d been gone for about a week. We couldn’t have asked for a better return. And we can't wait to hit the road again, whenever that may be.

Camping near Santa Cruz

When you think of Santa Cruz, California, you think surfing and skateboarding. That’s why we were shocked to find it windy, cold and heavily forested all around the city. A testament to the woodsy-ness of the area is the State Park we chose for the night, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Driving through the dense forest was beautiful and relaxing, but we grew nervous about finding a spot. Thankfully, we landed at campsite (lucky) number 20, and the campground itself was decent as state parks go. We bought some firewood from the ranger lady, then drove a couple miles north to do some grocery shopping to prepare for the night’s dinner.

Our campsite: Kristen was bundled... it got chilly!

Our campsite: Kristen was bundled... it got chilly!

Loren whipped up a barbecue sauce marinade using whatever we had on hand: bacon fat, olive oil, tomato paste, sriracha, honey, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, Mrs. Dash, salt and pepper. It seriously tasted just like barbecue sauce. We mixed that with the chicken drumsticks, got the fire started, and threw them on the grate over the fire. For a side dish, we wrapped asparagus in aluminum foil, with some bacon fat, salt and pepper, and set the package on the coals.

By the time we’d finished all of the food, we were stuffed to the brim - it was arguably the biggest (and best) camp dinner we’d ever attempted - and getting sleepy. After a few sips of wine, it was bedtime.

The cool misty morning brightened a bit with the happy discovery of a few blackberries, which we promptly picked to have as a snack while Loren prepared our breakfast, which started the day off right: fried eggs with sriracha and sliced avocado (the fallen one we’d found on the sidewalk in LA). While sipping coffee, we were even afforded a bit of birdwatching, IDing both a Dark-eyed Junco and Acorn Woodpecker, along with the west-coast campsite usual suspect, Steller’s Jay. Then, it was time to head North.

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco