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

Truckster’s Tribute to Woody Wagons

Sidewalk mosaic

Sidewalk mosaic


For the second time this summer we have come across a woody wagon themed show! These are special times for us because the Truckster always sticks out sorely, yet is a crowd favorite. The car show in Encinitas was a classic example of the Truckster going above and beyond compared to the other woodies.
Woody celebrations!

Woody celebrations!


All of the woody wagons looked spectacular, were made of real wood and most had surfboards on the top (we are in California ya know). When I was going around taking pictures of the cars I thought the boards looked cool and thought, “Man, that would be neat if we had a surfboard on top of our car.” However, I got to the Truckster to take a photo and STILL, after almost 3 months of driving it, laughed out loud when I looked at our roof rack and saw a dead Aunt Edna. Some things will never get old…
Our version of a surfboard

Our version of a surfboard


Very old school surfwagon

Very old school surfwagon

Another interesting Truckster moment happened when we met a family who has been tailing us around California! They said we must have crossed paths on the Pacific Coast Highway when we were coming from San Francisco to Los Angeles. They live in Orange County, just south of LA, but didn’t get see us when we were there either. Finally, now that we’re in San Diego, they found us at the car show! Not only that, but the Dad was wearing a Wally’s World t-shirt—a true fan! Something tells me they might drive a bright red Ferrari…
We’ll be at the beaches in San Diego tomorrow, see you then!

-John

Surf's up!

Surf's up!

Truckster does the “Drive of Fame”

Preparing for The Academy!

Preparing for The Academy!

We decided to head in to Hollywood today to give tourists a chance to have a celebrity sighting. Since, I’m pretty sure most celebrities just drive up and down Hollywood Blvd. when they’re not filming, we were afraid the competition might be tough!  As you can see, we grabbed a lot of attention, probably more than Brangelina!

-John

P.S. We’re pretty sure we’ve seen about 15 celebs so far…but that could easily be “zero” because neither Steph nor I have any sort of facial recognition skills.

An Emotional Day In the Truckster

My best travel companion

My best travel companion

Saying goodbye to an old friend can be gut wrenching. However, I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. She had been through so much, yet remained by my side the whole time. It may have been the 43rd state, multiple continent shifts or the roughly 2,937,199 stairs she was battered against.

Countless beatings were incurred throughout the entire journey—but not so fast! They weren’t all from me…Frequent punches from hydraulic arms, endless jostling and bumping for hours and constantly moving in and out of cars and houses all contributed to the decaying of her exoskeleton. Or maybe it was that one time I pushed her down a flight of stairs, constructively.

The damage began with her right shoulder…what started as a tiny tear evolved into a full rip, with frayed bits of cloth as proof. Next thing you know, teeth were not lining up correctly and began falling out— almost daily. “Only a few more rides,” I told her, “just a few more.”
Soon our trip ended and, for the time being, she was laid to rest. A year later, after a phone call about a new trip, I knew I needed her more than ever. I opened up the closet and there she was, well-rested, yet still damaged. I looked straight at her— “Let’s ride.” She was game.

For the second time in 3 years we were out on the open road, just me and her, free as birds. We had a deal, she carried my things around for me and I brought her wherever I went. Like nachos and cheese, we were inseparable. Although we both thought this was a new beginning, we had really just picked up where we left off. Soon, time began to take its toll on our relationship. About a month ago I noticed some parts of her just…falling off. She’d roll into town in one form and leave in another, shedding bits and pieces along the way. Who did she think she was? I thought we had an agreement!

Then, the unthinkable happened. Last Friday, her skin sustained a blow it couldn’t recover from. I could still recognize her if I looked at her, but when I pulled the zipper around her, it was like zipping a ghost. “ZIP!” I cried, hugging her tightly, sitting on her just to keep her closed. “ZIIIIIIIIPPP SHUUUTTT!!!” I glanced down at her, none of her teeth were still attached, not even close. In fact, the “gums” holding her teeth in place had been demolished, only floss-like bits of string remained.

Keep yourself together!

Keep yourself together!

This morning, I carefully gripped her in my arms and swathed her in bungee cords for one last ride. On the way from Pismo Beach to Los Angeles we stopped at a mammoth, ritzy department store to pick up a newer, sleeker model.
“This is the one you want,” the saleswoman told me, “Very sturdy, even has a 10-year warranty and for a great price.” I wanted to look at her and say, “Can you put a price on tossing your friend down a flight of stairs? Can you give me a 10-year warranty on companionship? CAN YOU EVEN TELL ME IF THIS THING FITS IN AN OVERHEAD COMPARTMENT?!!?!” However, all that was summed up as, “I’ll take it.”

After a quick transition of items in the parking lot, I held my old pal’s arm one last time and we slowly walked to the Panda Express dumpster across the parking lot. I hoisted her up, never feeling her this light and weak before, and gently (to avoid having chow mein splash in my face) laid her to rest in the dumpster. I’ll never forget you my functional friend.

“Chap” and I have a lot of building to do. I still don’t understand some things about him, like why he has to have 4 wheels instead of the standard 2. He needed coaxing when I put all my belongings in him and didn’t even have an efficient way to handle my dirty clothes! It’s going to be a learning experience for both of us, but I know we can do it. Heck, we’re Hollywood’s newest powercouple!

Who's that new Hollywood couple?!

Who's that new Hollywood couple?!

Oakland Athletics vs Texas Rangers and driving down the California coast

*I must preclude the following story by noting that my description of the event below does not do justice to the surprising reality of what took place at the yesterday’s ballgame. I promise. It was weird in a memorable, “that was cool,” kind of way.

After a few hours of meeting the fun fans who were tailgating before the game, we made our way into the park. We waited and waited to see someone slide into home base, but the score remained 0 – 0 for a good portion of the game. Finally the Rangers scored two runs! I cheered loudly in the mostly Oakland fan filled crowd, in hopes that the boys from Texas would hold onto the lead until…

“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and join us in the seventh inning, Oakland Athletics tradition of singing ‘Take me out to the ball game,’” Boomed the announcer’s voice.

Everyone promptly rose to their feet, music began to play, and before I knew it the crowd erupted in song. The stadium filled with the voices of spectators and players alike, in a harmonious display of unified sportsmanship and group effort.

The vocal styling of each participant increased in a crescendo with “one, two, three strikes you’re out…”

And the moment it was over, everyone returned to the seated position to calmly continue viewing the game.

Never in all my experiences of attending live events, sporting or otherwise, have I ever been more shocked to see such enthusiastic collaboration of attendees. It was incredible and unexpected involvement from the otherwise stoic – aside from the occasional outburst of cheering at a good play or the rare ruckus coming from a pair of battling vuvuzelas – audience.

John and I could not help but exchange bewildered glances and attempted concealment of our chuckles. I loved it. Besides watching the Texas Rangers lose the game to an incredible finish by the Oakland Athletics, this quick rendition of the American classic was by far the most memorable moment of the day’s event.
_____________

Today was also eventful as John, the Truckster, and I made an appearance at the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California. We seemed to have created a buzz in the social networking building because by the time we’d finished eating breakfast with a new friend there, the Truckster was the talk of the office! I have to say, I feel a bit privileged. Today I saw the inner workings of a website that – at least in my world – dominates a little thing called the Internet. So cool.

The rest of the day was filled with beautiful scenery as the Truckster made it’s way down California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Here are a few shots we captured of the awe-inspiring views!

We’re in a Pismo Beach vacation rental for the night, and tomorrow we’ll continue the journey south to Los Angeles.

Night everybody, Steph

Truck-Sta-Roni Hits San Francisco!

Conquering Lombard Street

Conquering Lombard Street

Today, Steph and I decided to take advantage of the blue skies here in Northern California and do some sightseeing with the Family Truckster. First, we had to sharpen our driving skills on the famous Lombard Street which houses America’s “crookedest” street. We were nervous at first, but when the Truckster held up beautifully, gliding down the hill became a breeze.

Pier 39

Pier 39

Next, we drove by Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, which overlook the bay. These are some great spots to see when visiting the San Francisco because they offer some clear views of the bay and some of the area’s best cuisine! Also, I learned this was the place to come to if you want a career in street performing.

Alcatraz on the roof rack!

Alcatraz on the roof rack!

After leaving Fisherman’s Wharf, we found a nearby location to get some close ups of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Alcatraz is one of the nation’s most well-known prisons, and it used to house some of the most hardened criminals. Surrounded on all sides by water, it is nearly impossible to break out of. However, throughout its 29 years of housing inmates, there were 14 attempts, all of which are considered failures.

Truckster posing with Golden Gate Bridge

Truckster posing with Golden Gate Bridge

Nobody can mistake the Golden Gate, with its giant pillars shooting into the clouds. It’s quite an amazing bridge, but when it’s foggy out, you’re reminded of just how massive the deep red structure is! Something about not seeing the top of a building makes you believe it may not actually exist on this planet. While here, Steph and I felt like we were on an episode of “Full House.” We couldn’t shake the feeling so we decided to pack up and go see if we could find Danny Tanner, Uncle Jessie and the rest of the gang.

Painted ladies

Painted ladies

We decided our best shot at visiting the Tanners was to go to the Painted Ladies by Alamo Park. These houses are in the sitcom’s intro so we felt they captured the show’s essence. Although Danny Tanner didn’t come out and say hi, I’m pretty sure I saw Uncle Joey cracking jokes in the park.
Driving up and down San Francisco’s hills made me nervous, but the Truckster persistently churned ahead and handled them with ease. It made me think tomorrow we should hook the Truckster up to cables and put it on a cable car path—that would be a real San Francisco treat.

-John

On the road to San Francisco (wishing I had a flower in my hair.)

This morning we woke up to the stream behind our modern day YURT trickling and hit the road bright and early. We had a full day’s drive ahead of us. Little did we know exactly what that drive had in store for us…

[Have you seen our YURT footage... a.w.e.s.o.m.e AND I slept like a rock.]

The first AMAZING views encountered were of the Redwoods trees. From the windows of the Truckster these things look gigantic, up-close… they’re UNBELIEVABLE. Though we only got to stop for a few mere minutes, I was running around the wooded area where we’d pulled-off the road with a permanent smile of my face.

redwood

Bucket List #16: Hug a Redwood tree in Northern California.

Check.

We pulled ourselves away from the ancient society of trees as Dave Matthew’s Band played a serenade through our speakers, tempting me to “…stay, stay, stay for a while.”

Away we drove. Yet, only minutes later, we HAD to pull over again.

paul bunyan 3

It's our THIRD Paul Bunyan encounter! America must love this dude, and so do I!


…enough said.

Side note: What’s the deal with Dutch Bros. Coffee – these little coffee huts decorated with Dutch windmills made out of neon lights seem to be everywhere these days. I need some input. Worth making a stop during my next coffee craving??

We continued on our journey only to be honked at by an upset driver. After some confusion as to the nature of said honk and what might have instigated such a sound (that quite frankly insulted the Truckster’s feelings…) we figured out that our turn signal was no longer blinking. We made a quick pit stop at the next auto parts store we passed and the men got to work. JOHN fixed our blinker! Who knew there was a handy man on board?

John blinker fix

Mr. Fix-it, himself!

THEN we encountered more big trees. We DROVE the Truckster through a Redwood!!!

finally…

Onward to the land of In-and-Out Burger, Full House, the Golden Gate Bridge, and CRAZY intracity hills (that I hope the Truckster can handle)…

It’s time for BAY CITY; San Fancisco… WE HAVE ARRIVED!

Tomorrow morning the Truckster wants to see the sites of San Fran so you might see us out-and-about, gathering photos! Then, it looks like we’ll be joining the Austin favorite’s movie theater that is on a road trip of it’s own, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas are showing classic movies at the places where they were originally filmed. So tomorrow, starting around 4:30 p.m., catch the Truckster at the Alamo Drafthouse screening of “Dirty Harry” at Washington Square Park.

On Sunday we’re going to the Texas Rangers vs. the Oakland A’s baseball game. We’ll be looking for all the best tailgates and handing out loads of goodies! If you make it out to the game, look for the metallic pea and Aunt Edna gathering the crowds! (We’ll also be posting our specific locations via Twitter @homeawaytrip!)

Enjoy the weekend and see you around SF!
-steph

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