Day 35-37: Virginia Beach; Outer Banks, NC

Virginia Beach wasn't originally part of our route, but Ryan remembered that an old neighbor of his had moved there a few years ago. The beach town was a very pleasant suprize. It was reminiscent of the town Miramar in Top Gun as fighter jets screamed above our heads throughout the day. Virginia Beach, in short, is everything that Atlantic City wishes it could be (minus the casinos). The boardwalk had live entertainment on every block up the coast the Thursday night that we were there.

From Virginia Beach we headed south then back toward the coast--we just cant get enough of these beaches! We had heard about North Carolinas Outer Banks as a popular getaway for New Yorkers and the like. What they forgot to tell us was that the sand fleas will eat you alive at night! But that sleepless night was justified the next morning as we witnessed not only one of the most beautiful sunrises, but DOLPHINS! It was a brief glimpse into some kind of dreamy fantasy world (minus the mosquitos).



Outer Banks, North Carolina

this photo doesn't quite do it justice, but it's the best shot i could get of a dolphin that morning

oh that sunrise

Day 28 & 32-34: The District

When we last stopped posting on the blog, we were conveniently at the halfway point in our trip. We had made our way through New England and NYC and were headed southbound through Maryland toward Virginia. Ryan’s sister, Becca and her husband Eric were kind enough to host us for the next few days. We then flew back to Seattle for Aaron and Lacey’s wedding, and with about two days at home, we were back on a plane for Ryan’s sister’s place in Centreville, VA. And thus begins part two of this incredible journey, and what better place to start than here at our nation’s capitol?



-Obama's new home. I think those guys on the roof are getting ready to paint it black.


"Taxation Without Representation" - Washington DC's unofficial motto. Though the citizens of the District of Columbia have a representative in congress, she cannot vote. D.C.'s population is greater than Wyoming's, and their citizens pay more taxes to the federal government per-capita than any other state. I can see why they print this on all their license plates.

We're back!

GREETINGS family, friends, old co-workers, new ones, and
acquaintances from the road! As you may have noticed, it's been a while since our last post. My excuse as to why I’ve been so detached: upon my return from the trip I promised myself that I would focus on finding work, and that I would finish the blog once I found a job. The good news is that I haven’t been entirely unemployed for the four months since we got back in September. However, once I did get the job I have now, I quickly found it even harder to get back to blogging!

So, in an effort to do away with laziness once and for all, Red and I are now vowing to complete the chronicles of our trip.  You can expect a new post about every other weekday.  I'm sure you've all been chomping at the bit for this day to come!  So many questions resound in your head:  Did they make it through the south without getting shot?  How many hours did they torture the guy who stole Mark's camera?  Did the oil pan shatter after they launched the car onto the highway?  How did Ryan meet his future girlfriend in Oklahoma!?  (I mean really, does anything good come from Oklahoma?)  Who was the unexpected vagrant they picked up in Albuquerque?  And why do they call Ryan "Red" anyways?   All these questions answered, and more!!  Stay tuned for the conclusion of this legendary tale as Red and Brown go across the country - and back!


Intermission: Less than one week left.

Greetings family, friends, and fans.  Our apologies for the posting hiatus.  We've been moving pretty quickly these past few weeks, and the blog has been a struggle to keep current.  Many of the photos are hard to access, since I've resorted to storing them on an external hard-drive (after maxing out this computer's memory).  And worse, most of the photos from Texas have disappeared with yet another camera folly.

As you may remember, the Canon video camera I bought for the trip malfunctioned on day two in Idaho and was useless thereafter.  Ryan's Canon bit the dust on day 15 in Michigan after leaving it on the roof of the car.  Following along the same lines of intelligence, I placed my Nikon on the floor by our table at a restaurant in Santa Fe.  It was stolen by the time we were in Albuquerque and I realized its absence.  
To say that we've been unlucky with cameras on this trip is an understatement.  Ryan has since replaced his Canon with a duplicate.  Perhaps the manufacturer will mend the tape deck on the mini d.v. camera.  As for my Nikon, I'm just hoping that the credit agency insures the camera against theft.  

On the lighter side, we'll be home on Friday!  Even though we wont be on the road, we plan on continuing posts while we're at home.  So stay tuned to the blog and we will too!

Day 29-32: Washington to Washington

We picked Washington D.C. as our midway point in the journey for a couple of reasons. It fit our timeline to arrive in D.C. one month in, and with Ryan's sister living just outside of the district, we had no problem with where to leave our car for the quick trip home.

Yes, we flew home to Seattle for the weekend. It was well worth it:

Aaron and Lacey at their wedding in Bremerton. Photo courtesy of Alyssa M.

Our morning started early, like 2am early (Seattle time). We took off from Washington D.C. on Friday and flew into Seattle while it was still morning. It took us 27 days to get from Seattle to D.C. But it only took us 5 1/2 hours to get back. It was bizarre to get somewhere so quickly after using driving as your means of travel for a month.

We came home to our respective piles of bills and mail and, for Ryan, a fallen rock zone he calls his room. I don't blame him though. After graduating from the UW he had a flight the next day to Europe. Three weeks later he was back in Seattle, but in the same week we left for this trip in July.

On Saturday, Ryan took out his boat with some of the guys. They battled out the storm that ensued. Or should I say, they hid from it:

Dean and Nick (under the life vests to the right)

The weather turned around for the better on Sunday and made for a beautiful wedding. Congratulations Aaron and Lacey! I'm so glad we didn't miss you guys!


Day 28: Delaware & Maryland

I don't like iphones very much, but I did have fun waving Ryan's around in Delaware that night.

"The First State" Capitol Building in Dover

The road shoulders are wider in parts of Delaware for the Amish

A Maryland WWII memorial overlooking Annapolis, Chesapeake Bay, and the Naval Academy


Day 27: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, the birthplace of our great nation--and home of the best sandwich in the world!

First things first: Philly Cheesesteaks!

The Liberty Bell, which use to reside atop Independence Hall, below:

Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed here.

Above is the room where the senate met inside Congress Hall. 

We had to have just one more before leaving.

Day 26: Jersey

On the map, New Jersey looks like one big suburb, being sandwiched right between New York and Philadelphia.  And at first, it sure seemed to fit the bill.  You know it for its bad reputation: sprawling, dirty, the bad accents.  But the beaches, on the other hand, rocked!  We spent the afternoon at Ship's Bottom beach.  The weather was inviting, the sand was fine and white, and even this far up the coast, the water was warm.  

I wish that we would have ended our experience in New Jersey there, on a high note. Yet we continued on into Atlantic City.  It might look nice from the pictures, but really, its something that I'd skip next time.  I didn't think it was as tragic as most people have made it out to be, but it wasn't the "Vegas of the East Coast" either.

We wasted some time wandering up the boardwalk and around the casinos a bit before looking for a place to crash. They were charging an outrageous rate at even the dingiest of motels in the city, so we crashed at a state park off the highway bound for Pennsylvania.


Day 22-25: NEW YORK CITY!!!

Times' Square (many more pics to come...see day 20)

With NYC being the largest city in America (22 million inhabitants), we definitely had to pay it due respect with 4 days of our time. Plus, my amazing sister, Renee, lives in this wonderful city and managed to get two days off from work so that she could show us around town. I enjoyed the quality time with my sister and her boyfriend while Mark soaked up the sights and sounds of Manhattan.


I'll be breif.  Go to New York!  Its unlike anything you've ever done. And you'll like it. It's surprisingly manageable, and in Manhattan it's really safe. Go with someone who's been there before to show you around a bit. For me, the best part of NY was getting to experience what Renee and Talis (Ryan's sister who lived in Midtown Manhattan and her boyfriend who lived in East Village) enjoyed about their city.  So get in with some locals, it's not hard to: at one restaurant we went to the bartender grew up in Redmond!  Small world.  


Day 21: Portland, Maine

***Again, this post will be much better later when we get the pictures (see day 20)***

I guess I never realized how much history Boston told about the making of the USA. Yeah, everyone’s heard about the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea party, and the battle of Bunker Hill (all part of our departure from the British Empire toward independence), but it didn’t really come together until I walked around Boston to see it all for myself. Mark and I were able to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston and see where it all went down. The history we learned along the way was invaluable to me and I soaked up every bit of knowledge like a sponge. We also visited the campuses of MIT and Harvard both of which I have always wanted to see.

Around 4pm we headed up to Portland, Maine for the evening to visit friend of Mark’s and enjoy a lobster dinner. Who doesn’t get Lobster while in Maine???


What do Spain and New England have in common?  Well not much for anyone else but me, I guess.  I met our host, Adrian, in a Barcelona hostel last year.  Our travel plans coincided so that we were able to meet up again in Madrid.  A friend from his hometown in Puerto Rico and her husband both live in Madrid.  They invited him and I to join them on drive down to Grenada for an amazing visit to La Alhambra.  Adrian offered to have me stay at his place if I were ever to visit Boston, and I took him up on his offer!
Sierra and I met last October in Valencia, Spain.  We both were couchsurfing with a house of med students in the city.  She and her friend had just come from France working for a program called WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms).  Red and I met up with Sierra in her hometown of Portland, Maine for our first-ever lobster dinner!


Day 20: Green Monstah!

****So there's a bunch of great pictures that belong here.  They'll be here soon.  The thing is, I ran out of space on my laptop because of all the pictures I've taken.  Not a problem though, because I brought along an external hard drive.   However, I left the power cable in New York, so until we get into Miami (where the cords are being sent) there will be a gap of posted pictures.  Sorry folks.  -Brown****

We took the scenic routes through Vermont and New Hampshire stopping in Burlington, the Green Mountains, and Concord on our way to Boston. We had to make it to Boston by 4pm in order to catch Red Socks game that night. We made it with plenty of time and we even managed to get into the sold out game by…well, you know… We didn’t have very good seats, but Mark managed to find some unoccupied Seats right behind home plate. For the price we paid, these seats were far better than the standing room tickets we purchased. The Red Socks lost the game, and played miserably with 4 errors but we still had a great time marveling at the oldest ball park in the nation. Good ol’ Fenway Park.


Day 19: Lake Champlain, Vermont

We crossed the border late on the 29th of July. Our border crossing was uneventful except for the inquisitive questions of the Homeland Security agent. She started out with all the normal questions like: Where are you from, where have you been in Canada, who did you stay with and where are you going. In answering her questions, we told her that we were on a road trip around America for the next 2 months. When she asked who owned the car, we told her it was a rental. This prompted her to ask were we worked and how we got the time off from work. When we told her that we were both currently unemployed, she asked… “How then are you financing this trip?” I told her that we were trafficking BC Bud (a.k.a. Marijuana) from Canada. The rest is history. I thought it was a little inappropriate for her to ask us how we were paying for the trip, but none the less I answered her question politely.

We spent that night camping on Lake Champlain in Vermont underneath the bright starry night sky. Mark got some good night shots playing around with his camera.


If you look at the enlarged photo, you can see the sky spinning around the North star in the center.  The Big Dipper is in the lower left of the photo.

Lake Champlain the next morning

Day 16, 17, 18: Eh?

Oh Canada, our home and native...wait a second, what the heck are we doing in Canada?!  I know what you're thinking, Canada has no business being on an USA road trip itinerary?  I agree.  But to be honest, it was either Canada or Ohio...sorry Michelle, but the Buckeye state just didn't make the cut.  

Toronto was our first stop.  We met up with Darrel, our new found couchsurfing friend and stayed with him both of our nights there. Ironically enough the Mariners were in town both days too.  They lost their first game 3-8...not so ironic.  And the next day they beat the Bluejays 5-1, of course we were out of town and missed it.  Not really ironic, just unfortunate.  

Nonetheless our time was well spent at Niagara Falls.  A couple of people joined Red and I on the trip; an Italian and a Torontonian (Torontite? Toronton? Torontander?).  The falls are amazing, and you really need only to see them from the Canadian side.  The view is much better there.  Being curious, we of course had to see the Buffalo side of the falls in the U.S. as well. With my passport in Toronto, I was sure that they wouldn't let me cross.  My license worked both ways, surprisingly, but not without them drilling me with questions on the way back into Canada.

We thought about visiting Ottawa to see the capital on our way to Montréal. It just felt sacrilegious to see Canada's capitol before seeing my own, so we foiled the idea.  Québec was a real treat though, as soon as you cross the provincial line, everything in French.  Only French.  Makes it a bit difficult to read what construction reader boards are trying to tell us.  It really felt like we were in a foreign country (lets be honest, BC and Ontario aren't all that foreign).  

Montréal's City Hall

Montréal felt like European city, but with big American cars.  It was by far the cleanest downtown I've ever seen, and very cosmopolitan: I saw two different modeling shoots while I was walking around town (see below).  They also have this amazing network of pedestrian tunnels.  Shops, restaurants, the subway, everything is there! You can stay underground all day and never get bored.  I suppose they built it to keep everyone out of the cold.

Francis (courtesy again of hosted us while in Montréal.  Thanks again Francis, we hope to see you soon when you move out to Vancouver!


More from Michigan

In spite of Ryan's camera cracking, and the downer in Detroit, I don't want this state to seem like it was a downer for us, because it most certainly was not. I recommend to anyone planning a trip to the midwest to not just see Chicago, but to venture into the magnificent state of Michigan. We're lucky enough to have brought two cameras on the trip, so here are some photos from my Nikon of the Great Lakes State.


Ryan dreaming up some inspiration for his next project with Mackinac Bridge in sight.

The State House in Lansing

...and the endless miles of road construction throughout Michigan. 

Day 15: "Hey, where'd my camera go?"

Ryan's camera before he placed it on the roof of the car...

Ryan's camera after getting run over by a semi...

Ok, so we haven't had the best luck with cameras on this trip.  My video camera broke on day two and Ryan's camera exploded on day 15.  He left it on the roof and we drove off without thinking twice.  By the time we got to Mackinac Bridge it we noticed its absence.  We tore the car apart to try and find it but to no avail.  

Our original ambition had been to see some of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but we knew we had trace our steps to find his camera.  When we returned to the rest area, Red was scraping through the weeds to try and find it.  After a half hour of searching we gave up and took off.  But as we were coming around the corner toward the onramp to the freeway I started to see parts of the road glisten.  Sure enough, tiny pieces of glass and metal were scattered over the asphalt.  Even the memory card was sandwiched in half.  Unsalvageable.

The worst part is all the pictures we lost.  The camera is replaceable, but the photos of my grandma and I aren't.  I'm crossing my fingers that my Nikon doesn't have the same luck as its past two counterparts.


Day 13 & 14: Michigan

We're a quarter of the way through our expedition and who better to visit than my only Grandma in Grand Blanc.  She's now 94 and I wish I could show you all a picture of us.  However, that fateful day 15 marked the death of Ryan's camera, which included all the pictures of me with her, and the rest of my family in Michigan.  

Nonetheless, I was still able to spend some quality time with grandma, and my aunt, uncle and cousin that live nearby.  I'm so glad that I got to see them again, and I plan on coming back next year to make it for the family reunion!  

During one of the two days we took a day trip to see the motor city.  Detroit was about what we expected it to be: vacant.  The only busy area was the Renaissance Center; the global headquarters of General Motors.  While our visit to Motown wasn't a bad one, I'd cross off Detroit on your travel itinerary if you ever plan on visiting Michigan.  That state has so much more to offer than its largest city.  


Day 11 & 12: Chicago

We did our best to avoid the toll roads into Chicago, but still had to drive on a few turn pikes. It’s such a foreign concept for us Washingtonians to throw change at a box while driving at 60 miles per hour (our aim wasn’t perfected yet so we had to slow down a bit). Our first night in Chicago, we had to go out for a Chicago Deep Dish pizza at Giordano’s. We thought we would be macho and order the one that said it served 4 people…that was a mistake…we could barely walk home.

Our second day in Chicago started with a trip up to the top of the Sear’s Tower (our country’s tallest building at 1450 feet). Afterwards we walked all over Chicago seeing Buckingham Fountain, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue, and Navy Pier. On Navy Pier, we got interviewed by some student’s interning for CBS. We had a fun time in front of the camera, but we found it interesting that they wanted to know more about our experience on Navy Pier than our 12,000+ mile road trip. You missed out CBS!

That night we met up with Han & Erin, our hosts for the night. This was my first couch-surfing experience. They were a ton of fun to hang out with that night. They showed us around the city and took us to all the trendy places in their neighborhood. The next morning we went out to the Bongo Room and had an amazing breakfast before heading out for Indiana and Michigan. Mark had vanilla and carmel glazed, banana-nut battered pancakes and I had an amazing omelet with bacon fried hash browns.

Lost in the bean in Millennium Park: Can you find us?


Day 9 & 10: Madison, Wisconsin

We finally made it to the city of Madison, Wisconsin--and in just over a week.  To cover that much of the US in so little time is a bit freakish.  We had driven over 3500 miles by this point. Yet, once we arrived, it felt as though we had exerted so little effort to get there.  Perhaps it's due to the fact that we broke the trip up so much along the way. Or maybe its because the landscape changed so much that we never had a chance to be bored.  It was most likely due to the welcome that Robb and Jessie gave us.  Their company and hospitality gave us the refreshment we needed.  

The night we arrived, Robb and and his wife Jessie welcomed us to the city and took us to see the Dairyland Dolls face off against the Charm City Roller Girls in a flattrack roller derby.   If you've never seen one of these before I recommend it.  It's really a lot of fun! The next day they took us on a hike up above Devil's lake. Not as hellish as it sounds.  It was quite beautiful, actually.  


the roller girls

us boys on Lake Monona

Robb and Jessie above Devil's Lake

Day 8 Continued: Twin Cities

After driving through Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa, we crossed our last state line for the day and entered Minnesota just as the sun started to set. We were lucky enough to get into the capitol, St. Paul, before nightfall.

The State House in St. Paul, Minnesota

The very impressive St. Paul Cathedral

Minneapolis Skyline

That night, Ryan called up one of his sisters to ask about things to see in the Minneapolis, as she had lived there a few years prior.  She gave us some great recommendations, and per our request, she also informed us of where we'd find a safe neighborhood to park our car...with us sleeping in it that is...

We slept better than we thought we would, it being our first overnight stay in the car.  I think we attracted a little attention to ourselves in this neighborhood of mansions though.  We woke up to firefighters staring into our car probably wondering who the heck these bums are.