How Not to Prepare for a 3 Month Road Trip Around the U.S. (and consequent indefinite length world travel)

Here’s how: do what we did. SPOILER ALERT! I’m going to do essentially nothing but complain in the rest of this post. I know, I know. I realize how lucky/fortunate I/we am/are to have this opportunity, and I’m so thankful and elated for the journey to come, but this platform is part blog, part keep-in-touch and let everyone know where we are, and also part diary. So… Dear Diary, I need a bitch fest.

Moving was HORRIBLE. Note to future self: moving is like what mothers say pregnancy is like… it’s an epically painful mess, and then years go by between moves and you totally forget, and think, “hey, moving’s not so bad, I can do that again.” Except that with childbirth it’s probably an evolutionary blessing, and with moving it can only be pure psychological repression. Well, future Jenni, READ THIS before you say again “whatever, we’ll just put all our stuff in storage, and figure it out.” And when you’re husband says “just put anything you think you might need over the next few years near the front of our 20×15 shed/pile of accumulated hoarded goods,” do not just say “oh, OK” and continue to wait until the day before the mover’s arrive to begin sorting out just what one might need on a three month road trip around the US in a CONVERTIBLE with backpacking gear and attire for THREE BLACK TIE WEDDINGS (including one in which you are a bridesmaid and thus must pack a separate gown to be worn on no other occasion), followed by 5 months in Asia which includes probably a few weeks trekking in Nepal, and then oh maybe just what’d you’d need if you needed to crash in LA for 6 weeks while applying for jobs again before you figured out just where you might pick up your life again. Double ugh.

So Alan and I spent the better part of the two days between Kenny leaving (my brother in law, who stayed with us in LA for 6 weeks as he interned in LA pre-business school) and the movers coming trying to sort through our belongings, tie up essential loose ends and “pack.” We tried, really. Think we both underestimated how much prep is needed when you’re organizing for the trip of a lifetime. We got about 3 and a half hours sleep the night before the movers came, waking up at 6 to keep plugging away at the plethora of items hidden in the crevices of our 2 bedroom apartment. Mind you this is all made more difficult when you’re married to a man whose response to anything you want to donate/sell/toss is “well, that could come in handy… are you sure? Are you really sure? Should we talk about it for a half an hour first?” I kid, sort of. I love you, Alan, but you got to let the junk go.

As you should very well be able to gather (if you’ve made it this far through my bitchfest), we were so massively unprepared for this undertaking. We built in two weeks of unemployed cushion thinking we’d knock out entire to-do lists and figure everything out. Well, that two weeks turned into about three full weeks of unemployment, and while much got done, not nearly half of what we’d hoped to accomplish was tackled. To be fair, we had a third roomie that we don’t often enough get to see and so savored our time with him, as well as a few houseguests in our last week, and many many people we dearly wanted to say “goodbye” (so long for now?!) to. So there were a lot of non-productive moments. Also, there were a handful of moments of “well, we won’t have a couch, or a TV, or a home for long so… maybe we should just order delivery and watch movies and enjoy having a couch, TV and a home tonight.”

When moving day came, it took 4 movers (plus Alan and myself) over 10 hours to just pack everything up and get in the car. It was another 3 or so hours getting it all to our storage facility in Van Nuys and strategically stuffing it in our little shed. Mind you Alan oversaw this part while I began hosting our “goodbye party.” I use this term loosely because I basically provided none of the traditional things one offers their guests (chairs, glasses, food, ice cubes). No, instead, we provided them an empty apartment and party favors of their choice from our pantry, wine collection and liquor cabinets. And a LOT of wine and liquor was distributed. Thanks LA friends, I hope you think of us fondly when you get schmammy 🙂


 ::friends, checking out the loot::



::the only furniture left (picked up the next day –  along with a Weber Gas Grill and a vacuum cleaner – in less than 15 minutes on the side of our road!)::

We slept on the floor of our bedroom in our sleeping bags that last night, leaving the last of the cleanup/packing for the morning. Boy, did we underestimate again. Gareth came through as an absolute superstar lifesaver by showing up with coffee, Gjelina egg sammies, and a helping hand. He helped us drag our furniture and trash out to the street and trash bins, and even drove out with us to Van Nuys to stuff our storage facility the leftover goods which wouldn’t fit in our already cramped car. THANK YOU GARETH! We owe you guys two dinners now 😉


 ::all our belongings, crammed in a 20×15. that’s a lotta stuff::

Alrighty. Well, I’m not exactly sure yet what I want to get out of this experience, but one thing is for sure: I want to learn. In retrospect, not bad, before the journey even technically began, I learned a lesson in preparedness. Boom. Lesson one down.

Oh, and here’s a little anecdote those of you who know me may appreciate. To top off this lovely little move, once we finally left the apartment – without a proper goodbye! (totally not my style… had time allowed I would have much prepared a tear ridden, overly dramatic, goodbye house, goodbye mouse style parting) – we get in Sven, with Gareth following close behind, and literally a handful of blocks from our apartment I erupt in a scream of bloody murder as a spider criss-crosses his uninvited, trespassing little way across the dash in front of me. Alan pulled over and disposed of the little bugger, and we were on our way again. No big loss, except the 4 years of life my heart most certainly lost in the process.


::Sven and Alan, ready to leave Goshen for good::

 After we finally left Gareth at the Public Storage facility, we hit the traffic-ridden road (so long 405 – I most certainly won’t miss you!) with 8600 miles on Sven’s odometer. By way of introduction, Sven is my Volvo C70 convertible (he’s Sveeeeeedish), and our mode of transportation for the next 3 months. (I’ll also mention now that we’re joined by a stuffed toy owl called Hooty. I may explain later, I may not. I’m not entirely sure there is an explanation). By this time it was now about 2 in the afternoon, and we thanked our lucky stars we knew we shouldn’t be so ambitious as to reserve a campsite up in Big Sur. So up we drove, reminiscing about the night before, our emotions in the moment, the experience so far, what it feels like to be homeless (which is, woah, we’re homeless, that is kind of cool! Probably way less cool in worse circumstances but hey). The drive up conjured memories of wedding planning and the countless drives we made to and from Santa Barbara in that process. We got giddy passing the exit for Dos Pueblos, where our wedding was, and made our first pit stop in Montecito to use the restrooms in our favorite brunch spot where we ate LOTS of lobster benedict throughout the year pre-nuptials. Jeanine’s people, Jeanine’s. Go there. Order the lobster benedict. Thank me later.

Anyway, the drive continued on, up the PCH. There were occasional bouts of sing-alongs (the General by Dispatch came on and Alan reminisced about making his decision to move to LA when that song was playing. We decided Dispatch along the PCH is a good combo).

We stopped in Pismo beach for some takeout from the Cracked Crab. Split the fish tacos and a King Crab Po Boy (oxymoron? I never know. Alanis Morissette instilled me with a fear that I will never really comprehend what is truly ironic, thanks Alanis. I still love your angsty music. Which reminds me, I will need to do some Alanis sing alongs in the near future. Are you all thankful you’re not road tripping with me yet? P.S. total stream of consciousness, that’s what you get here in case you hadn’t noticed. Also I’ve had a lot of wine tonight.)

We camped at San Simeon State Park. Got there around when sun was setting, set up our tent, unpacked the car which was bursting at its seams (I had to sit Indian style as even the floor space under my seat was taken). A few minutes after unloading the car and pitching the tent, Alan drove the car back a few miles to the ranger station to find out whether the water was potable, and an RV pulled up to the space. A French man and his wife then popped out of said RV and proceeded to yell at me for stealing their space. I was tempted to practice my French, but it was not the time. Some background: there had been a few folding chairs left in the area, but nothing else. In hindsight, maybe we should have driven back to the ranger station before pitching our tent to find out what the deal was, but we were exhausted. Even so, I assumed since it was so late that someone maybe just thought the space was open for the night and was trying to claim it for spreading out. The thought did not occur to me that an RV might park in the tiny little spot. Any way, the super high ranger (yes, SUPER SUPER stoned.. like… biggest stoner type ranger man I may have ever encountered, and this is coming from a girl who went to high school with boys who worked at Walden pond in the summers to smoke weed and make money) partially screwed up by giving us their space, and the French couple partially screwed up by forgetting to re-check in for a space since they made separate reservations for the evening. I guess I feel like I have something to prove, but if we were in the wrong it all, I’d say we were probably the least in the wrong of all three parties. At least not in the wrong enough that the French man should have the right to yell at me, try to get me to take all my bags and tent away before Alan even came back with the car, and accuse me of STEALING for sitting in his chair for five minutes to read my book while Alan was down at the ranger station. I mean, we’re camping folks. It’s a chair. I promise my touching it for five minutes did not meaningfully diminish the value of this chair. Also, one of his 100 children that spilled out of the RV tried to steal our firewood when they eventually moved. So, snotty French sir, by your own logic, your spawn is a thief. For a lawyer, I’m pretty damn non-confrontational. So getting yelled at less than 8 hours into our trip by a man who barely spoke English? Bad start, right? All’s well that end’s well. His wife had some sense in her, and we leveled with her to get them to switch spaces since all they had to do was pack up a few chairs and drive the RV away (versus our repacking a tent and our overstuffed convertible whose contents were now strewn about a dark campsite). And the best part? We’d packed a bottle of champagne to toast our trip, so once they’d left, we started a fire, poured our Moet, and toasted “fuck the French, let’s drink their wine.” Disclaimer: I love the French, I love France. I hate that mean bitter man who unnecessarily escalated a totally fixable problem.



 ::the campsite that was fought over::

And that was day one!Image

::last sunset on our roof deck::

One thought on “How Not to Prepare for a 3 Month Road Trip Around the U.S. (and consequent indefinite length world travel)”

  1. “well, that could come in handy… are you sure? Are you really sure? Should we talk about it for a half an hour first?” is super funny. it would be a problem in a startup though:-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s