Slug Life Status Report: June 2018

I can't believe we've been in the US for over a month! Time is flying by!

We're so glad we chose to do a road trip in the US. Although we've been doing a LOT of driving, we've seen parts of the country that we never would have seen otherwise. And we can't get over how cheap gas is here!! We've spent less on gas in the month we've been driving than we would have spent filling Zev's tiny hatchback's tank twice in New Zealand...

Where we've been

We ended up spending almost two weeks in New York, getting ourselves organised for our road trip and sorting out a rental car after buying a car didn't pan out. From there, we headed to Philadelphia for a trip down memory lane for Zev, where we spent time catching up with lots of family and friends. Our next stop was Washington DC, where we explored the museums and monuments, before hitting the road properly to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina. Next we headed to Orlando (with a one night stopover in Atlanta) to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! After a very quick drive through Florida, we made it to New Orleans, where we spent two days soaking in the atmosphere. Next, we took a tiny detour to Dallas, to catch up with one of Zev's school friends, before carrying on to Big Bend National Park for a couple of days of hiking and camping. We hit up two more national parks after that, stopping in to check out Carlsbad Caverns National Park, before spending the night camping at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Travel Distances

This month, it's all been driving! So we've travelled:

  • 0 km flying, bringing our trip total to 29,760km
  • 0km by train (trip total 2,204km)
  • 6094km driving (trip total 10,321km)
  • And while we've done plenty of walking, none of it has been from place to place, so it doesn't count (trip total 95.6km)!

Highlights

  • Catching up with friends and family
    It has been so amazing getting to see (and in my case, meet!) so many friends and family during our time here. Travelling can be pretty lonely at times, even when you're surrounded by people, so it's been really nice to reconnect with familiar faces along the way.
  • Driving Blue Ridge Parkway

Even though we drove through MUCH faster than we would have liked, the stunning scenery and quiet roads made the slow going on the Blue Ridge Parkway a worthwhile detour

An absolute dream come true for a serious Harry Potter nerd!

An amazing detour to a place that we would never have known about but for two national park volunteers mentioning it to us on a hike in Big Bend National Park!

A beautiful night spent camping under the stars

Lowlights

  • Nearly not having a place to stay at Grayton State Park, Florida
    A very close call with sleeping in the car on the side of the road!
  • Bourbon Street, New Orleans
    A tacky tourist trap hell hole, filled with drunk idiots (in my humble opinion of course...)
  • Getting bitten by a snake in Big Bend National Park, Texas
    Sadly with no fun accompanying superpowers...
  • Nearly running out of gas
    An incredibly stressful experience in the middle of nowhere in Texas... We honestly thought we might end up stranded, having to call roadside assistance to bring us gas miles from anywhere!
     

Best accommodation

  • All the friends and family who have opened their homes to us!
    Everyone has been so wonderfully accommodating and welcoming, it's been incredible
  • Camping!
    We're loving the time we're spending in our trusty tent, stopping (more or less) where we like. 

Worst accommodation

  • Motel 6, Atlanta
    Actually, this place wasn't that bad - it just felt super sketchy and was really loud, and it was a rough shock to the system to have to pay over $100USD for a motel after so many months in Asia!
  • Easy 8, Phoenix
    Again, this wasn't that bad - we're struggling to find entries in the worst accommodation category! This place was perfectly adequate, but the air conditioning unit sounded like a jet engine, and when it's over 40degC outside, you NEED the air conditioning!

Best Meals

  • Double Knot, Philadelphia
    A delicious asian fusion restaurant that the Eisners took us to in Philadelphia. Of particular note was the duck bao bun
  • Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
    A dream come true. It tastes EXACTLY how you imagine
  • Jimmy J's Cafe, New Orleans
    Delicious cajun food that we stumbled upon by accident. Even the incredibly rude hostess couldn't make the food taste bad

Worst Meals

  • Too many roadside burger stops. But secretly, we love them.

Finances

Despite the fact that the US is far more expensive than where we've been travelling for the rest of our trip, we're actually doing pretty well on the bank account front! The car rental was expensive, but gas is really cheap. Accommodation is really expensive, but we've been doing a lot of camping. Eating out is more expensive, but we've been doing a lot of camp cooking. So it's kind of been evening out! The one thing we've really spent more money on since arriving here is tickets to stuff - we went to see Book of Mormon in New York, and we're going to see a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas, and we just got tickets to see Foo Fighters in Chicago at the end of the month. It's safe to say that our travel expense barometer has shifted since arriving in the US! Regardless, we're ticking along nicely with regard to leaving the US in the middle of August, when my visa expires, and we're hoping to have enough cash left to squeeze a little more out of the trip with another short trip to somewhere close by (maybe Mexico or Cuba).

Where to next?

Since leaving Guadalupe Mountains, we've made it to Las Vegas, where we're spending the 4th of July! Next, we head to the Grand Canyon, then probably Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park before I drop Zev in Missoula for a fishing trip on 14th July. From there, I'll head back down to Albuquerque by car, where the family convenes in advance of the family reunion at the end of July in Michigan!

Lots of love,
S & Z
xxx