Location: Lyubcha, Bulgaria
Today marks a year now since I crossed into the Canadian border and began the portion of my roadtrip that led me to Alaska. It’s amazing how time flies, but I am grateful for all the fond memories from those 26,000 miles traveled back in the summer of 2010.
I figured I should take a moment to update this site, given that I now live in another country, and that my last post was about a fundraiser that wrapped up this past February.
Let’s start with the fundraiser – I had more success raising money for the Khanal Tok Primary School (Khanal Tok, Nepal) than I ever could have imagined. My original goal was to raise $11,000 so the school could purchase additional land, and by the time everything was over, we raised close to $14,000! I cannot say thank you enough to my friends, family, and strangers who, from different corners of the world, were willing to give to my project.
And thank you to the wonderful people at GiveForward.com for providing the means to make the fundraiser happen. Right now, GiveFoward focuses on medical fundraisers – so if you ever have a loved one facing stacks of bills from medical treatments, using GiveForward could be a great way to help them out.
I traveled back to Nepal in March to deliver the funds, and although it was a brief trip, I had a wonderful time with my friends in the village. Click here to view some pictures from that return trip where I was greeted with a lovely ceremony at the school.
This past Easter, I learned that the school had completed the purchase of the land. Once we hit the goal of the fundraiser I knew it would happen, but to hear those words from my friends in Nepal was especially meaningful. I won’t get back to Nepal until 2013 at the earliest, but I look forward to seeing all the changes that will have taken place since the success of the fundraiser.
I am now serving as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria. I have been assigned to the small mountain village of Lyubcha, and it is here I will work as a community development volunteer for the next two years. I have been here in Bulgaria now for four months, and it has been nothing short of wonderful. So needless to say there won’t be any roadtrips to speak of in the near term, but I’m glad people keep visiting this site. Browse around as much as you’d like, and maybe you’ll get some ideas of some places in Canada and the U.S. you can visit. I look forward to exploring more of North America upon my return home in 2013.
Всичко хубаво! (All the best)
Although my roadtrip ended in September, I continued traveling for another month. I met up with a friend in Hong Kong for a couple hours, spent two weeks in Nepal, and then visited Japan for 10 days before returning home to the U.S.
If you’ve followed the blog before, you’ll know the Nepal trip came about from a serendipitous meeting with a Buddhist monk while visiting Taiwan. If you’d like to read the story about that meeting you can take a look here. One morning walk back in May eventually led to visiting the home of the tallest mountain in the world, and the birthplace of Buddha. And how grateful I am for that chance run-in with Lucky Monk. Nepal is a land of superlatives, and it was an eye-opening experience seeing the country. I witnessed true poverty…a nation struggling to develop, and at the same time I met the most hospitable people in the world. I have been truly touched by my visit to Nepal, and I know I will return someday.
My trip to Nepal has positively affected me and I started a project with the aim of giving back. My project: raising money for a small Nepali village primary school. If this sounds like something worthwhile to you, please read my story and consider making a contribution on my site:
Take a look at my video slideshow below, and you might understand why I was so moved by this visit to the other side of the world.
Music credit goes to the musician Sagarmatha and his song “Sagarmatha.” (Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Mt. Everest)
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s very difficult to name the highlights of this roadtrip…I’ve done far too much, seen too many spectacular places, and met up with a great deal of friends along the way. But in an effort to capture some of the more memorable moments, I put together a couple of slideshows.
At first I was going to create one slideshow, then I realized it would be way too long with all the pictures I have (even after culling the unremarkable ones). So I created two slideshows – one showing all the people I got together with along the way, and then one showcasing some of the amazing scenes I came across in the US and Canada. After all, it was the combination of people and places that made Joesroadtrip a trip for a lifetime.
The first slideshow here is entitled “Joesroadtrip.com – The People.” All the friends and family I spent time with along the way are here. I used two songs to go along with the pictures. The first is “Alive” by Pete Yorn, and the second song “Someday” by No More Kings. Both songs have a good, positive energy that I think captures the spirit of the roadtrip.
The second slideshow is, you guessed it, called “Joesroadtrip.com – The Places.” Although I saw many amazing sights on this road, there where some places that stood out a bit more than the others, and I tried to focus on those here. The song accompanying the pictures is called “Hoppipola” by the Icelandic Band Sigur Ros. Just a great song that is fitting of an adventure, I think.
Hope you enjoy the videos. Although it took more work than I anticipated, I had a lot of fun putting these together. I feel so lucky to have experienced all of this in one summer.
All the best.
P.S. I failed to mention two people who helped me get these slideshows made. Thanks Brendan and Nichole for letting me use your Mac for who knows how many hours!
And there it is – the entire trip. I began the trip on May 30, and it ended 112 days later on September 18. Take a look at my original plan here. I was pretty close to matching that.
The traveled a total of 25,821 miles. To offer some perspective, note that the circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles. Another way to think of it is that’s almost five roundtrips from NYC to LA. I’m proud that I was able to travel that distance without A) going crazy, and B) getting sick of driving.
You might recall I put up some trip stats back when I was in the state of Washington, before heading north into Canada. Now that the roadtrip is over, I figure it’s time to see what’s different and what has stayed the same since late July.
Total miles: 25, 821
Total gas expenditures: ~$2,933
Most expensive gas (US): $4.59/gal – Big Sur, CA
Most expensive gas (Canada): USD equivalent of ~$7.60/gal – Swift River, Yukon Territory
Least expensive gas (US): $2.43 – Newport News, VA
Least expensive gas (Canada): USD equivalent of ~$3.64/gal – Calgary, Alberta
States traveled through: 39
Largest rest areas: Kansas
Nicest rest areas: Illinois/Kansas
Not-so-nice rest areas: California (takes the cake in the US), and Northern Canada (not much out there)
National Parks visited: US – 12, Canada – 2
Pulled over: 3 times. One for speeding and rolling through a stop sign. Two other times for a busted headlight.
Tickets received: 1. $100 fine courtesy a cop in Guernsey, Wyoming
Tickets received in my 2005 cross-country trip: 3 – Virginia, California, and you guessed it…Wyoming
State that has it out for me, but I still like the place nonetheless: Wyoming
Total paid in tolls: $148.15
Most expensive toll: $11 – Verrazano Bridge, NYC
Total number of oil changes: 8. In order:
– Gulfbreeze, FL
– Endwell, NY
– Mishiwaka, IN
– Midland, TX
– Hillsboro, OR
– Palmer, AK
– Westminster, CO
– Gaithersburg, MD
Total vehicle maintenance costs: $1,386.70
Largest single expenditure related to the car: $606.35 (oil change + new tires in Hillsboro, OR)
Money spent on washing the car: ~$65
Replaced windshields: 1 (fully covered by insurance, thankfully)
Replaced headlight bulbs: 3
AAA usage: 1 – battery jump
Flat tires: 0
Hotel/Motel/B&B stays: 7 (two for free – thanks Rachel and John)
Cheapest attraction/excursion: $4 – Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC
Most expensive attraction/excursion: $77.33 – Wildlife boat tour in Alaska
Planetariums visited: 1 – Morehead Planetarium at UNC Chapel Hill (check it out…it’s amazing)
Darkest sky/most stars ever seen: Big Bend National Park, TX
Hidden gem in the middle of nowhere: Cosmosphere space museum – Hutchinson, KS
Camera accessories lost: 2 (lens cap and LCD cover). No worries, purchased replacements
Ferry rides: 3 (2 in the state of Washington, 1 going from VT to NY)
Most expensive ferry: $17.50 – Lake Champlain ferry
Showers taken at truck stops: 4 (thank you, Flying J)
Close bear encounters: 1 – Anchorage, AK
Friends that would readily abandon me in a bear attack: 1 (hahah… just playing, Matt)
Website hits, to date: 17,173
Some searches that brought people to this site: monumental walley; tempereate rainforest picture long ways; joe in carlsbad texas; 69 dreams; experience in taiwan; owners name + 14 lighthouse rd campobell; how did the religions spread; unique canadian flag; alaska and mara and andrew; day 26 break up
Friends I visited with/hiked with/ate with, etc: too many to count
Friends/friends of friends/family homes I’ve stayed in: 32
And once again, the important stats are the ones listed last. Thanks to all those who helped make this such a memorable trip. Not only did you let me “couchsurf,” but the mere fact of being able to hang out and spend time with all you guys is what was important to me. And also thanks to the many who offered a place to stay, but we didn’t get the chance to link up because of timing or other logistics. I’m very grateful.
This trip was one I won’t ever forget. I got to see so many spectacular places and meet up with so many friendly people. Just like I realized after my roadtrip in 2005, I gained a further appreciation for how beautiful this country is (as is Canada), and that the people living here is what helps make it so beautiful. And like I commented back in 2005, nothing mushy happened like “finding myself” or any New Agey BS, but there’s some things I came to realize while being out on the road, and the biggest realization was how amazing it is to share these spectacular places with others. Sometimes on the trip I’d find myself in a national park, or at a lake, or staring at mountains, and I’d wish I had a friend there to share the experience with. Not that I was bummed to be there on my own, but there’s far too much beauty in this country to just enjoy it by yourself for an extended time. Many have asked me, “Would you do it again?” And I think the answer is “No.” Others have to see what I’ve been able to see, so maybe if I can show off some of these places to a friend I would go, but to enjoy them all by myself once again might be a bit too selfish. It’s a double-edged sword, though…someone would have to travel with me for an extended length of time – that might be a bit tough. Maybe we decide to meet up at key locations so everybody keeps their sanity.
Others have asked me, “What was the highlight of the trip?” I can never answer that question. There were far too many “highlights” in my book. Some just off the top of my head – seeing a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, being at the St. Louis Gateway Arch on the Fourth of July, pulling up to the “Welcome to Alaska” sign at the Canada/AK border, taking pictures of the Milky Way in Big Bend National Park, meeting my nephews in Texas and Oregon, hiking Mt. Marathon in Alaska, visiting Crater Lake for the third time in my life, hanging with my friends in Maryland, seeing Oregon Trail wagon ruts in Wyoming, hiking the Angels Landing Trail at Zion National Park, watching the first rays of the morning sun hit the US….the list goes on and on. I can never identify something as the “highlight” since I’ve experienced way too much to narrow it down. I’m pretty thrilled that’s the case. Even before I set out on this trip and was in the planning phase, I didn’t expect I’d have such vivid memories when the trip ended.
Although it’s a little sad the trip is over, I now have new adventures in the works. In less than a week I fly to Asia for a little personal trip. I’ll be visiting Nepal and hanging with Lucky Monk, and then from there I head to Japan to meet up with a friend I made during my last trip to Asia. I’ll be back in about a month, but then a few months later, in January, is my tentative leave date for my Peace Corps assignment. I’m grateful I had the chance to explore a lot of the country before I leave it for two years. I think my experience seeing miles and miles of the US will help make me a good ambassador, not to mention helping me appreciate what we have here while I work in the developing world. So one adventure is over and done with…but many more to look forward to in the coming months.
Thanks to everybody out there who followed the website. I didn’t expect so many people to be intereted in the journey, and it was a pleasure to share my time on the road with all of you. Thanks to all of those who commented and gave me suggestions of things to see…some of the best finds across the country are not the ones in books or on a map, but the ones people share with you in casual conversation.
It’s been a thrill to be on the road for the entire summer. When I left my job at the end of May, I had a strong feeling that it was the right choice, and it’s only been further confirmed here at the end of the trip. This roadtrip has been long in the works. In fact, in my old job in Bethesda, I made a rough route in GoogleMaps of what I planned to see. I printed it out and hung it in my cubicle as an ‘escape’ from the daily drudgery (lesson learned, GoogleMaps only allows about 25 or so destinations in one route). To go from that rough plan on a printout to adding 26,000 miles on my vehicle was, indeed, living a dream.
Speaking of my car, I owe much of my positive experience on the road to having a reliable vehicle that never gave me any grief, despite the fact we covered about two years’ worth of driving in just a matter of months. The only money I spent on the vehicle during this trip was for regular wear-and-tear items, in addition to regular maintenance. I was an advocate for Mazda before this trip, and I’ll remain that way for the rest of my life. This week will be my last few days with the car as I’m selling it to my sister. The Mazda6 has been great to me this past four years, and I finished my last summer with the car in style.
I feel very lucky that the roadtrip was even more successful than I imagined it could be. The stars aligned for a great experience, and I’m so very grateful I’ll have this as a memory to last me the rest of my life.
Thanks for joining me on this ride.
P.S. Stay tuned to this site over the next few days as I’ll be putting together a roadtrip slideshow to visually recap the experience.
Location: Endwell, NY (HOME)
Miles Driven: 236
Total Miles: 25,821
112 days. Wow. Originally when I set off from Atlanta the day before Memorial Day, I figured the trip would be about 90 days in total. I’m glad I had a flexible schedule and could extend it, for no roadtrip should end in haste, especially one where I’ve been lucky to see so many incredible places and meet up with so many friends.
But let’s not talk about the end too much, I still have at least one or two more posts after this to recap the trip. So now, let’s pick up where I left off, in New Jersey. The prior night was Sam’s party for successfully becoming an attorney, and I woke up at his place early to get my stuff together (and play some video games) before I hit the road one last time. Around 10AM I left Sam’s and met up with my buddy Nachiket for breakfast in Mt. Holly. Always good to see this great friend I’ve had since grad school (2006), and he’s been pretty helpful getting me prepped for the upcoming trip to Nepal. We had a good breakfast (I ate way too much) at a Cracker Barrel. By the way, their fried apples are amazing. Thanks again, Nachiket!
From there, I headed towards Philly to meet a friend I hadn’t seen since some point in 2009, I think. I made plans to meet up with Jen at a Starbucks near her home in downtown Philly. I had never been to that section of Philly; in fact, I’ve been to few places in Philly. But it turned out she lives in a very historic area. I was surprised to see the “Betsy Ross House” a block away from where I parked my car, and directly across the street from the Starbucks.
After catching up a bit, Jen and I went to walk around some of the nearby historic sites. I had only seen these places in the movie “National Treasure” before, so needless to say it was great to experience them up close.
After a good bit of walking we meandered back towards my car. Glad I got to meet up with Jen. When I return from Peace Corps, I think I’m going to hire Jen as my physics tutor if I decide to go study astronomy.
I left Philly on a course direct for home. I only had about three hours to go, total. My final arrival time was pushed back a bit, as I encountered some traffic and needed to stop for a nap. I then realized that was probably the last nap ever I’d take in the Mazda. Ahh, it’s been so comfortable for me. It wasn’t too long before I saw some signs pointing me home…
I’ve always enjoyed the drive through Pennsylvania, and it was especially nice this time as I had good weather and the leaves were starting to change on the trees.
The drive went by fairly quickly. Before I knew it, I crossed the PA/NY border and was soon in Binghamton. Only 15 minutes later I’d arrive at my home where I’ll stay through the end of the year.
And with that, I pulled into the driveway. Definitely a mix of emotions putting the car in park, but it’s certainly a comforting feeling to be home.
What a ride.
Location: Haddonfield, NJ
Miles Driven: ~150
Total Miles: ~25,356
I left Matt’s apartment around 10AM to get started with the driving for the day. I needed gas, so I had another reminder of life near DC again after paying $3.09/gallon. I used the last of my Exxon gift cards – once again, I owe a big thanks to my friends in Owego for those.
My plan for the day was to make it up to Sam’s area in NJ, but first I’d stop in Baltimore to see some people.
My first stop was to visit my buddy Jon who attends Johns Hopkins University. The timing worked out well, as I arrived a little before his afternoon class, so he showed me around the beautiful campus.
We took our turns posing for photographs, Asian-style.
It was great to walk around a college campus once again, especially one that looked so nice. Hard to believe you could have a campus looking like this right inside a big city like Baltimore.
Jon took me to the Physics and Astronomy building, and there I got a good look at the Hastings refractor, a large telescope used back in the late 1800s.
And for some perspective on how big this thing is…
And we walked to another section of the campus…
Then Jon had to get going to class, so it was time for me to head out. Great to hang out with my old officemate, and I’m excited to see where this future doctor is going to wind up in the next few years. Best of luck with your senior year, buddy.
My next stop was an area of Baltimore called Hunt Valley. There, I met up with my cousin Devin, and we realized it’s been more years than we could remember since we last saw each other…probably at least eight or so years, if not longer. He has since caught up to me in the height department.
We grabbed some bbq lunch at a local place called Andy Nelson’s. I highly recommend this to anyone in the Baltimore area. Great food. And be sure to try the cornbread.
Great time hanging with Devin…I should see my cousins more often. Good luck in B-more, man.
And with that, I was back on the road headed towards NJ. It was an easy drive (pretty much anything under 5 hours I view as “easy”). Got to Sam’s house, and a few hours later we were off to his celebratory dinner. Sam is now a full-fledged attorney (I know…hide your groans), and definitely worked his ass of to get to this point. He has earned that “esquire” suffix to his name, though I told him I’d punch him if he ever introduced himself that way.
For the celebration, we had a private room set up at the nearby Seasons 52 restaurant, and we all enjoyed a great meal with lots of good stories shared.
Rachel ordered some specialized M&Ms for the occasion. Brilliant idea:
As much as I wanted to preserve those M&Ms, I made sure to take the above photo so they would be remembered forever after I devoured my little baggie.
Just a great party. Here are some more photos from the night:
After the dinner, we headed back to Sam’s place for some dessert. I never had a Cold Stone ice cream cake before. Great call by Rachel, it was delicious.
What a great way to spend my last full day on the road, celebrating my best friend’s well-deserved achievement. Couldn’t think of anything better to do.
Tomorrow, Saturday, is it…I’ll be back home in NY Saturday afternoon.
Location: Bethesda, MD
Time really flies by when there’s a limited amount of time to catch up with friends. Here it is, Friday morning. I’ve been here since Monday afternoon and I can’t believe how quickly the week went by.
My time here was mostly dedicated to getting together with friends, though I did accomplish a few things outside of that. Staying with Matt, I was able to catch up on some laundry (last load of laundry for this trip). Also, I went to my old regular place in Gaithersburg and got my oil changed. Now that was a bit sad…I think that was oil change #7 for the trip, and definitely the last one I’ll need before I sell the car to Colleen. Crazy. As part of the oil change, this place does a standard check on the vehicle for other issues. I ended up replacing the transmission fluid, as it was due for that again, but everything else was in great shape. I’m so happy with how well the Mazda6 has performed on this trip. Over two year’s worth of driving…the near equivalent of driving the circumference of the earth (thanks for that tip, Stephen)…and no issues.
Let’s get to the photos.
On Tuesday evening, I got together with my buddy Vincent for some pizza in Arlington. Haven’t seen Vincent since I orginally moved out of the area back in January, so it was great to get together once again. Vincent is someone I can commisserate with when the Washington Wizards lose…a good friend, and we’re both hoping for some redemption this year now that we have the #1 draft pick, John Wall.
Early evening on Wednesday, I went with Matt and our friend Sean to Great Falls State Park (MD side). Although it wasn’t that far from my old home here, I’ve only been there once before, but remembered our time there fondly. We hiked the “Billy Goat Trail” which takes you across a number of boulders along the water. The hike can be a little challenging at times, as you leap from boulder to boulder, but definitely one of the more fun hikes I’ve ever been on. Below are some photos from our time there (some photos are courtesy Matt – thanks buddy).
Great hike! Last hike for this roadtrip is in the books, and it was a lot of fun out there.
That evening I headed over to my friend Christelle’s house to hang out. Thanks to Christelle for cooking up some plantains and sweet potatoes for me. Share that recipe some time, Christelle.
Thursday was a very lazy day for me. Having completed the majority of my to-dos for the week, I spent the day inside playing Starcraft II on Matt’s computer. Awesome game, by the way. I figure it’s been a while since I spent a day just playing video games, and given that it was raining outside, it worked out well. The only other thing I accomplished that afternoon was getting some laundry done, as well as doing some pull-ups on Matt’s pull-up bar. A productive day.
That night I went to my friend Bea’s house for dinner. Her husband Mike cooked up some authentic Chinese food and I had a great meal. I also got to spend time playing with Bea’s cute daughter, Haile. Thanks for a great time, Bea and Mike!
A bunch of us met up that night at a bar in Rockville and I got to see some faces I haven’t seen in a long time. Ashley (who you may recall from a prior visit to Maryland, as well as my return to Atlanta), was in town, too.
As always, I had a great time back in Maryland. Went by way too fast. This probably will be my last visit to the area for a long time, and I’m grateful I had so many friends around to visit with.
On Friday, I make my way north towards New Jersey, where a party is being held for my buddy Sam for passing the bar exam. Along the way, I’ll visit a friend and a cousin in Baltimore. This is the penultimate drive of the trip…the next drive after this one will be the drive home.