In the Last Year…

Hey Everyone,

Memorial Day weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the start of the Great American Road trip and I’m sure you’ve all been wondering, “What in the heck have those traveling Truckies been up to in the last year?”  Steph and John have both moved on to new opportunities and we asked them both to give you an update on their lives since their time with the Truckster.  Read on to find out where their at and what lies in store for your favorite traveling twosome!

From Stephanie:

Well hello, hello fearless travelers! Truckie Steph here, reporting live from the Big Apple.

truckie stephanie  with stature of liberty

Truckie Stephanie settles in in NYC

Since my days behind the wheel I’ve moved to Hoboken,NJ, and began my first ‘big girl job’ in the world of digital advertising for Neo@Ogilvy in Manhattan. Sadly, I haven’t actually driven since last summer and I must say that I miss it. At least I went out with a bang. Most people who miss driving up here can’t say they spent 3 months driving around the country before handing over their keys for good… but this girl can.

In fact, I think the next time you’ll be passing me on the highway should be my next vacation which involves a road trip to Tennessee. Being from Austin, I’m a big live music fan so I’m spoiling myself with a ticket to Bonnaroo music festival in June. I’ll be the one passing out Frisbees and beach balls next to the big green station wagon and staying in that rockin’ vacation rental from HomeAway.com…

Oh man, I wish that were true!!!!

No joke, I just had this flash back to the first time I sat in the Truckster driver’s seat. It was the lunch hour in downtown Austin and my boss and I went out for a test run. I was so nervous, so excited! I think I probably made our boss a little anxious that day, but she still let me come along for the ride of lifetime. That’s so cheesy to say, but I can’t seem to wipe the silly smile off my face right now, so it must be true.

Truckie Stephanie at Work

Hard at work at her new job with Neo@Ogilvy

Though my ‘truckie’ days might be over, that doesn’t mean a thing when It comes to the memories John and I made last summer, the frequency at which I continue to wear my Truckster shirt OR the fact that I still refuse to hold a cold beverage without a koozie in hand, preferably a blue one with our favorite family’s faces printed on it! Plus, any day I choose to relive the dream I’m so pumped we chronicled our voyage for the world to see and for me to remember. (Shout out to all the amazing travel bloggers we met along the way. I miss that life but thank goodness I get to live vicariously through your stories! Every traveler needs a blog!)

And with that, I better get back to my day job. Somebody convince that driving partner of mine to stop by for an overdue visit.  : )

Gear up friends, summer’s almost here and you know what that means: ROAD TRIP!

From John:

Hey again!

I’m writing to give you an update and prove that life does exist after Truckie retirement.  After leaving the Great American Road Trip, I packed all my belongings (1 suitcase full) and moved to Athens,GA, home of the University of Georgia.  Although I’m no longer in college and did not attend UGA, I like the town a lot because of the warm weather, my apartment complex’s pool and its colorful music scene.

Truckie John at work at Edelman PR

Truckie John now spends his days at Edelman Public Relations in Atlanta

To make sure I don’t lose my driving abilities, I currently commute to and from Atlanta where I work at Edelman Public Relations.  When I started at Edelman, I was on their Digital team but recently moved to their Crisis and Issues Management department where I work in an extremely fast-paced environment full of surprises!  I guess since the Truckster broke down so many times, I had the crisis experience that qualified me for my current job.  Soon, I plan on moving to Atlanta, but for now, I’m cruising Holiday Road every day to work.

I still talk to Adam and Steph periodically, mostly to reflect on driving through fields of grasshoppers or to dream of living in vacation homes again.  I haven’t seen the Truckster since we parted last August, but I hear it’s in great shape and ready for public appearances.  With some extra cash I have saved up from last summer, I’m investing in some wood paneling for the side of my car (a Prius).  Just kidding…or not?  

Thanks for following along with us last summer!  I hope you had as much fun as we did.  I miss the baseball games, beach houses, long drives and Truckster fans but at least we all got to experience these great memories together!


A Truckie’s Retirement

On May 30, 2010, the National Lampoon’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster departed Austin, Texas to begin an expedition around the United States…and part of Canada. Years of labor from the great Gary Schneider resurrected this iconic vehicle that symbolizes America, family vacations and a quest for happiness. Three months later, after fulfilling its duty as HomeAway.com’s mascot and goodwill ambassador, the Truckster officially broke down in a Target parking lot, but back inside Austin’s City Limits! After traveling through 2 countries, 36 states and 13,475 miles, the Truckster came to its final resting place on August 25, 2010, symbolizing the end of HomeAway’s Great American Road Trip. Along the way, we gave out almost 10,000 coozies and postcards, 5,000 beach balls and 4,000 frisbees.

The three Truckies, John, Steph and sometimes Adam, stayed in 36 of HomeAway.com’s vacation homes in 35 different cities throughout the United States and Canada. Within these homes, 27 loads of laundry were spin cycled and 215 meals (including oatmeals of every style) were consumed. Since we had plenty of time for cooking, Steph and I invented a new fish taco recipe that we may enter into the county fair next year. We kept a nice balance of trying new cuisine in different cities and preparing our own meals—a wonderful advantage of staying in a vacation home.
Since we earned the credibility to call ourselves professional travelers and bloggers, we got the chance to meet and spend some time with others in a similar position. In Virginia Beach and Washington D.C we met up with Mara Gorman, in Boston we spent two days with Kim Mance and in Seattle, Jennifer Miner hopped aboard for a few days. We also had run-ins with Keith Savage, Jessica from WhyGo Italy, Michelle Duffy and Kim and Jason just to name a few.
At no point was our metallic pea green compromised and all of our wood paneling stayed perfectly in tact. That’s fancy talk for, “The Truckster was never scratched!” I know what you’re thinking, “John, there had to have been at least ONE time when you were close to hitting something.” Well, it was pretty close when a mammoth cow was crossing the road at midnight, in the rain, on a blind turn. And then there were the times when the luggage flew off the roof on the way to…well let’s just say the luggage flew off the roof a couple times and nobody was hurt.

At the end of each day, we had the good fortune of coming home to one of HomeAway’s vacation houses and always having enough room to disappear from each other if we needed our own space (the inside of the Truckster is only about 10 square feet). We also woke up every morning and could make breakfast and coffee in the kitchen, which Steph and I could NOT do without. Any time her clothes stunk, I would direct her to the laundry room in our house, and whenever I was annoying her (I have a tendency to ramble) she could go watch TV, play some Wii or hang out in one of our many backyard pools.

We were never very far from downtown in major cities we stayed in so we always had fun going out at night. A short cab ride to popular nightspots is all you need to kickoff an evening out in any random city! Not to mention, if we had friends in town there was always enough room to house them.
What I may miss the most is telling people I drive the Family Truckster when I’m asked about my job. Or maybe it will be waking up in one city and falling asleep in another. Perhaps it will be the Truckster itself, that pea green, 18-foot box of joy! Whatever it is, I know I could probably win a Pulitzer Prize for my “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” essay!

Truckster’s Final Resting Place

Adam and I were rolling through the desert over the last few days to get the Truckster back to HomeAway.com’s headquarters in Austin, TX, wrapping up the Great American Road Trip. Despite almost hitting an elephant-sized cow and having some starter issues, things were moving pretty well…until we reached Austin.
We decided to make a pit stop at Target to get some last minute goods before pulling the Truckster in to HQ when we felt something snap. “Pull over!” I barked, “I think we blew a tire.” We coasted in to Target’s driveway (technically reaching our destination) and got out. The Truckster was slumping to the left but there was no flat tire. Not good.
After calling a few tow trucks and getting some street advice from pedestrians, we diagnosed it with a broken lower ball joint on the driver’s side tire. Here’s what ensued…

-John

Truckster goes on Safari!

New Mexico is not only the “Land of Enchantment” but also the land of critters!

To my surprise, the drive through New Mexico was not the barren desert that I had always imagined. The drive on Interstate 10 was filled with mountains, abundant grasslands, palm tree oases and for the most part it was actually raining! When it wasn’t raining, the temperatures were probably in the high 80s with incredible winds.

Mutant cannibal grasshoppers

Mutant cannibal grasshoppers

At one point, we had to pull over for some gas and came across a large colony of mutant grasshoppers! In addition to being neon blue and other exotic colors, these particular grasshoppers were monstrous in size and cannibalistic. A word of caution, the following video is a bit gross and may not be enjoyed by everyone:

Award-winning rest stop in '92!

Award-winning rest stop in '92!


We made our way down I-10 East and stumbled upon one of the best rest stops…in 1992. I’m surprised it hasn’t won any more awards in the last 18 years because the bathrooms smelled like fresh oranges and the soap tingled our nostrils with the scent of freshly baked cakes! It also had plenty of warning signs cautioning us of the rattlesnakes and wildlife in the area (safety first!). However, we weren’t warned about this extremely long walking worm and we began to wonder if any of New Mexico’s bugs were normal-sized.
Walking worm in New Mexico!

Walking worm in New Mexico!



Mexico/United States border fence

Mexico/United States border fence

Another thing you’ll only find in the southwest is the border fence. Neither Adam nor I had seen this before, but we paralleled it for a little while on Route 8 and contemplated jumping it. It looked pretty tall, which only made us more curious as to what was on the other side. We didn’t jump it, but only because we were on a time schedule.

Finally, as we approached our vacation home in Fort Davis, we saw a sign that read: “OPEN RANGE”. “No big deal,” we thought, “probably just for decoration like the ‘Welcome to Texas’ sign.” Boy were we wrong. In hindsight, the sign should have read: “CAUTION- SAFARI” because in the midst of the rain and nightfall, we came around a turn and crossing the road in front of us was the largest cow Adam or I had ever seen in our lives. Believe me, Adam lives in Texas and I’ve attended the Pennsylvania Farm Show almost every year since birth, this cow was HUGE. The rest of the drive was spent calculating the physics of a 3,000-pound object flying into our grill and how we would explain to a farmer that his freak elephant/cow is our new hood ornament.


Tomorrow, we finalize the drive to Austin and bring the Truckster home!

-John

Truckster’s Desert Trek

On Monday, John and I began the final leg of this summer’s Great American Road Trip. I flew out to San Diego over the weekend to take the reins from Steph who is headed to New York to begin her career in advertising. I’ve traded my desk chair for the Truckster’s driver’s seat to accompany John on this 1,300 mile journey back to HomeAway HQ in Austin, TX.

Sand dunes in SoCal

Sand dunes in SoCal


The trip turned out to be quite an adventure! The first day we experienced multiple border checkpoints and saw some of the most breathtaking scenery through the deserts and mountains of Southern California and Arizona.
Sandstorms---very dangerous!

Sandstorms---very dangerous!


After a long day of driving, we stopped to grab a bite to eat in our destination of Tucson and had the unfortunate occurrence of a dead Truckster. It wouldn’t start! We all know the Grisowlds had their own maintenance issues in Arizona but we promise we didn’t fly the Truckster 50 yards off a cliff!
Skiing anyone?

Skiing anyone?

With unsuccessful attempts at jump-starting the Truckster, AAA was quick to the rescue and informed us that the solenoid on the starter was malfunctioning…solendoid?…sounds like something on the space shuttle. The coolest part of this unfortunate ordeal was that John and I learned a nifty trick, how to hotwire the Truckster.

Check out this video of John demonstrating the use of our new key to the ignition, a Swiss Army knife.

Mechanics are like Truckster doctors

Mechanics are like Truckster doctors

The next day, instead of creating suspicion to everyone observing us starting the Truckster in the future, we had the solenoid replaced and were on our way to Fort Davis, TX for pit stop number two on the way home.

After that long ordeal, it was very rewarding to rest our heads in this lovely Tucson vacation rental. Huge beds and a huge TV can cure any day’s woes.

Tomorrow, we complete the journey to Austin!

-Adam

Charge on, Truckster!

Ultimate Chargers Tailgate

Ultimate Chargers Tailgate


One of our favorite things to do with the Truckster is to visit huge tailgates at stadiums! For this reason, we went to Qualcomm Stadium to the Chargers vs. Cowboys preseason game. I love tailgates because we have rockin’ coozies that say “The Griswolds Are Back” and fans of all teams need them! Tailgating is fun enough, but rolling up in the Truckster is a true game changer. I’ve never been offered so many free hotdogs, sausages and burgers in my life…

Pre-season football amazes me. It’s not the actual game or the amount of fans that show up to them (although impressive) but it’s the energy and fanfare for a game that doesn’t count for anything. At this game, they shot fireworks for every Chargers player and had a flyover. A FLYOVER! By this point in August, America is so starved for football, we fly fighter jets in celebration of pre-season—what a beautiful thing.

San Diego Auto Museum Truckster exhibit

San Diego Auto Museum Truckster exhibit


Today, we went to the San Diego Auto Museum to exhibit the Truckster. When I say we, I mean Adam and me because Steph left the tour yesterday : ( Don’t worry, it has been planned for a long time, she has a big time “job” in “New York City” starting soon so she had to leave a few days early to prepare.
Shopping for important parts

Shopping for important parts


Since Adam and I are macho guys, we looked under the Tuckster’s hood and noticed we would need a new serpentine belt for our drive across the desert.
Preparations...

Preparations...


After coolly handling the “serpentine situation,” I took Adam to In-N-Out for his first time!
Adam stares in awe...

Adam stares in awe...

Tomorrow, we begin our trek into the heat, I mean, desert.

-John

TGIF San Diego… BEACH!

Celebrity sighting! Today, John and I left our rad rental pad to go get the Truckster an oil change (she needs to be in TOP shape for next weeks’ trek home though the desert,) but we were stopped on our way out of the neighborhood. A glimmer of black metal attached to long, thin poles caught our eye. We saw it from afar. We hoped it would be true. As we approached to turn the bend we found ourselves facing our dreams come true… a camera man and a reporter!

“Ron Burgundy!” John shouted in his failed attempt to ‘play it cool.’

Camera loves Edna

The camera loves Edna

As it turns out, it wasn’t Ron, but we had an enjoyable time throwing around movie quotes from both Anchor Man (2004) and, our personal favorite, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983).

After our close-up, we continued to the local Jiffy Lube where we made friends a with mechanic who gave the Wagon Queen a make-over.

When we came to pick her up, a different mechanic came up to me and said “Miss, you should be all set. That’s yours over there, right?” He nodded in the direction of a black SUV across the lot.

“No,” I replied. “Mine’s the green one.” I nodded in the direction of the Truckster.

This exchange reminded me of shopping the used car lots with my dad for my very first car. I remember talking to a sales person after I had just been coached not to let them think I really wanted the awesome, beautiful, sleek black one we’d just passed. So when the sales woman said to me, “well what color are you looking for today?”

With a smirk on my face, because it was the LAST color I would EVER want in a car (no offense to anyone who drives one…) “I’d prefer a green one.”

Boy, how things have changed. Telling that mechanic the “green one” belonged to me today at the station was a statement of pride. These days I wear my truckie badge of honor on my sleeve for the world to see. To all green car drivers (who I probably just offended) please accept my olive branch; I LOVE driving this green station wagon. I am one of you.

oil change

Perhaps she looked a little like this back in her Lou Glutz Motors days...

Pulling out of the service station, she ran better than ever. So John and I treated our beauty to some premium gasoline and took her for a joy ride. Away to nearby Mission Beach we drove with the windows down and music loud.

We made sure the sunscreen flowed all afternoon as the three of us hung out at the beach boardwalk. And luckily, for John and Adam, the Truckster tried to shake off any residual sand (no one wants to drive for hours on end with sand sticking to the back of your legs!)

Word on the street is that Dave Matthews is playing in the area tonight. I think Dave fans would love the Truckster… I mean, I do! So fingers crossed, maybe the Metallic Pea can work her magic one last time to get us in the concert? Maybe? Or perhaps John and I will look for other amusements on what is shaping up to be a lovely southern California evening.

Regardless, today goes down as a good day in my book.

Happy Friday, see you tomorrow at the Chargers vs Cowboys pre-game tailgate in lot P1 where we’ll be hanging out with San Diego’s Rock 105.3.

“You stay classy, San Diego” –Ron Burgundy

And that’s all you’ll be hearing from me this summer.
Make me proud and get my fellow Truckies home to Austin, Truckster!
I’ll miss this, Steph

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