We knew going in that the first part of the trip was going to be rough. It was an ambitious plan: leave home August 21st and be all the way down the Baja by the beginning of October. There are a lot miles in between Ravenna and Cabo, especially given our longest-way-possible route that we’d chosen. That being said, we did it, and we loved every minute of it. There were a lot of long days in the car, some unforeseen repair needs, but, more than anything, a lot of great moments. So, now that we’re comfortably settled in a (very) cheap hotel room on a rainy day in Cabo, I figured now was a good time to get everyone filled in on where we’ve been and what we’ve done.
Ravenna to Montreal
Our first day was a long one. We left our parents’ house at 10 AM and drove about 9 hours to our aunt’s house in Long Island. Our aunt “Zia" Maria is always generous enough to host us when we travel to New York and this time was no different. Her son, Kenneth had been inviting us for years to go fishing with him on his boat out in the Atlantic, so we were really glad that we could finally get on the water with him.
The seas were a little choppy, but Kenny let me drive the boat out to sea and to our fishing spot for the day. Neither of us had ever gone ocean fishing before, so it was a very cool experience. We’re both going to have to get a lot more comfortable in/around the water, as we’ll be spending a lot of time along the coast. We had a great day of fishing – probably snagged about 15 or 20 fish between us, but between the choppy seas (which Mario especially didn’t like) and running out of bait, we headed back to shore.
The next day we drove across Long Island to the Hamptons. The irony was not lost us that we were driving past some of the richest people in the world in a car that we pretty much live in.
After leaving New York we traveled to Maine and Acadia National Park. We only spent two nights there, which isn’t nearly enough. It’s an incredible place with amazing views of some of the best shore line I’ve ever seen. When we left, all we could talk about was that we need to plan a more extensive trip here in the future.
After Acadia we made our first border crossing at some Canadian outpost in the middle of nowhere. There were no other cars going in or out of Canada here, yet we were questioned for at least 5 minutes about if we had guns in the car. I showed the lady border guard my biceps and said “oh, you mean these?” She didn’t laugh.*
*portions of this story have been fabricated for dramatic effect
We spent the night at a campsite outside of Quebec City, which is a very cool place. As we walked around that night, it felt like being back in France – people strolling along a pedestrian only street, checking out shops, or stopping at an outdoor café for food and drinks. It’s a charming little section of the town and I’m really glad we stopped to see it for a few days.
After Quebec we traveled to Montreal to stay with our good friend, Tyrell, who now lives and works in the city. We did some site seeing, but more than anything, we enjoyed the comfort and peace of watching Netlflix on his couch.
We had been camping for about 5 days, with a lot of long days in the car in between, so it was nice to relax and eat some home cooked meals.
Montrael to Banff
After Montreal we put the trip into over drive and tackled the 38 hour stretch to Banff National Park in Alberta. It was a rough couple of days, but we took turns driving and stopped for gas and meals. It all seems like a blur as I think back on it, but that was a really, really long time to spend in the car. We saw some pretty cool sights along the Trans Canadian Highway, which is little more than a state route used primarily by lumber trucks.
After 3 days of driving we finally arrived at Banff. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the scenery turned out to be breath taking. It rained throughout our first night, which is quite an annoyance when you’re in a tent. But we were very happy when we woke up and saw that the mountains were now snow covered from the precipitation. We attempted to drive up to a glacier field, but the weather turned to snow and ice when we were half way there, so we headed back, hit up the hot springs and did some grocery shopping. When we came out of the store it was a nice sunny day, so we decided to give the glacier another try.
This time the weather had lifted and we could actually see all of the incredible mountains that lined the road. We stopped several time to take pictures and fly the drone so we could attempt to capture what we were seeing. Once we reached the glacier field, the terrain, landscape, and even the sounds of the shifting ice made it feel like we could have been on another planet.
Banff is, to date, the best place I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. I’ve never been anywhere with so much natural beauty. Patagonia will have a lot to live up to.
Banff to Portland
We left Banff and headed to Vancouver. The drive itself is worth mentioning. Mountain passes, winding around the Rockies, up over the clouds, and back down to the valleys below. I was gripping the steering wheel with everything I had, but it really was an awesome route.
As far as Vancouver goes, I can understand why people give it such high marks. It has phenomenal vistas, decent weather, and a great food scene. But it was harder than I thought to transition back to to city sightseeing after being at Banff. That, plus I have no money to spend on anything. We only spent several hours walking around the city and then left for Portland, where we stayed with the son of a co-worker of mine. It was very nice of him to offer to host us, as we’d never met or spoken before I called him and asked. Kurt was a really nice guy and very generous to offer up his home to two strangers. Thanks also to Bob, who vouched for me and made the whole thing possible.
Portland to Phoenix
We only spent the night in Portland and woke up early the next day to head to San Francisco. I also just want to stop here and remind everyone who has bothered to keep reading that these are long drives – 8/9/10 hour trips. We got to San Fran later in the evening and our cousin Ben was waiting for us. He had prepared a massive and delicious meal for us. We all ate and caught up with each other before hitting the hay. The following day we set out to do some sightseeing of the city. We covered the whole thing on foot. There are a lot of hills, but it was cool to finally see it and experience things like the warf and china town.
We returned home and Ben, again, had a massive and delicious meal prepared for us. I don’t know what the spices were that he used, but they scratched me right where I itched! The next day Ben and Max took us to Napa Valley to tour some wineries and get lunch. I was surprised at how brown the terrain is, given that it is known for its lush vineyards. Ben and Max explained that the drought has really impacted the environment – rolling hills that use to be green have turned to brown.
For dinner, Ben made some more traditional Iranian dishes and, of course, it was delicious. Spending time with Ben and Max and eating were definitely the highlights of the trip. We had a great time and hopefully planned a future trip together. It would have nice if our cousin Gina had been there too, but she was back in Ohio helping our uncle/her dad recover from an operation. But Ben and Max took great care of us.
Our next stop was Phoenix, where we stayed with our cousins Lindsey and Tim and their two small kids. It was great to visit and not have an agenda. We just hung out and relaxed, which was exactly what we needed after a few long weeks of camping and driving. We spent our days running errands, took a day trip out to the desert with Tim for some exploring and even spent a day baby sitting and baking while Lindsey and Tim went to a wedding. It was really a great to spend time with our cousins, relax, and get two know their kids – I’m so proud that they are raising them with a proper admiration of Star Wars.
Our next and final stop in the US was with our cousin Jamie, who lived outside of L.A. He took a day off work, so we were able to squeeze in a few days to spend on the beach in San Diego, grabbing some Handels Ice Cream, and just hanging out. We got some work done on the car, which meant we stayed longer than we planned, but that was good because it gave us the opportunity to help our friend Anthony as production assistants for day. He was filming a couple of short webisodes and needed some help. It was really cool to be a part of the production and to get a behind the scenes look at the movie business. Look for us on IMDB. We’re famous! Seriously, we’re on IMDB now!
Jamie convinced us to head back to Phoenix with him to spend some more time with him and his family. We left his place on Wednesday and decided to spend a few days at Joshua Tree National Park. It’s deep in the desert and a very cool and secluded place. Best of all is that we ended up bumping into a couple that is making the same trip as us: Ernesto and Taisa of Overland The Americas. We ended up sharing a campsite the second night and eating fajitas that Taisa made. We also woke up at 3:30 AM to take some pictures of the star-filled sky. It was great to meet them and we hope to meet up with them here and there as we each make our journey south.
We made our way back to Phoenix to stay with Lindsey and Tim again. We spent our day watching some Ohio State football and playing with the kids. Our good friend Eric is in town from Brazil, so we met up with him and some of Jamie’s friends on Saturday night for the ASU game. We spent Sunday watching football again – Lindsey brought me to the suite for the Cardinals game. It was pretty nice living that suite life again, considering I’m unemployed and basically live out of my car. I took full advantage and ate…I ate a lot.
A big thank you to Lindsey and Tim for being so nice to host us (twice)! We really enjoyed our time in Phoenix and spending time with all of them.
We were fortunate to stay with a lot of family and friends throughout the US and Canadian portions of our trip. We are very grateful for everyone's generosity and hospitality. Thank you all so much!
We’ve already been in Mexico 6 days, but more of it has been spent driving from one place to another, and not nearly as much exposure to culture. But that will come. We did get to meet back up with Taisa and Ernesto on our first night, which was really cool to see them again. We hit the road, knocking off big chunks of the Baja each day. And now we’re in Cabo. We’ve done a lot over the past month and a half. But the trip is really only now getting started. We’ll do a better job of keeping everyone updated more regularly. Writing all of this in one sitting was a major pain.