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 very Truckie bday in Southern California

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much for the big two-three this year on the birthday calendar. Mostly because I hardly know what day it is anymore… thus the fact that it was ALREADY birthday time really caught me by surprise.

But alas, the day has now come and gone, and I – for one – am all the older and wiser because of it.

How does a Truckie celebrate while on the road? you ask.

Well, It started with a surprise ‘mission.’

“Get in the car” John requested ever-so-pleasantly.

And away we went, cruising down Santa Monica Boulevard.

Destination: Cupcakes.

We soon arrived in Beverly Hills at the world’s very first cupcakery, Sprinkles. There was a line out the door, but John strutted past the sweet-toothed hopefuls and reemerged only moments later with a package that had my name on it.

My surprise was from HomeAway headquarters who had ordered me California’s finest birthday treat – 12 gourmet cupcakes that spelled out “It’s Your BDay!”

bday cupcakes

YUM!

The rest of my ‘break day/birthday’ festivites included catching up with one of my favorite people who lives just south of LA, laying on the beach, watching the sunset behind the cliffs off the California coast line and hiking through one of the ‘local trails’ (the kind that’s not for tourists – word.) and finding a light house!

hiking pic of steph

Wait, I think I found a light house...

lighthouse on Cali coast

...I did!

My day was all very memorable and fun. Thanks for all the texts, tweets, Facebook messages and wall posts, and silly phone calls wishing me a very “Happy Birthday!”

❤ (The now twenty-three-year-old) Steph

PS – We’re still enjoying the Hollywood scene these days. Check out the presents that arrived today from HomeAway headquarters in Austin!

shipment from HQ

All for me? You really shouldn't have.

Those boxes may or may not be cozies and beach balls and frisbees and more…you’ll just have to come to this evening’s Anaheim Angel’s tailgate or tomorrow’s 10th Annual Uptown Whittier Car Show to find out!!!

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

The Great “Honky Lips” Mystery: Seattle, 2010

Yesterday morning John and I woke up to find the pristine, metallic pea, beloved wood paneling of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster had been vandalized!

I GASPED in dismay. John wailed “the HORROR!” We could not believe our eyes.

Vandalized Truckster

Honky Lips.

Upon further analysis of the evidence, we realized that no harm had been done. The writing was made of cardboard wrapped in black electrical tape, which had been precisely taped letter-by-letter to form the identical formation that had been spray painted on the back siding of the Truckster last time it hit the streets of St. Louis.

The meticulous detailing and obvious effort involved in the creation of the message told us that the attack had not been malicious – but a sign of appreciation for the authenticity of our EXACT replica.

After brushing up on your Truckster trivia, watch this short video I created to see just HOW authentic this one time 1986 old Ford Station Wagon now turned 1983 Wagon Queen Family Truckster truly is:


So John and I began to narrow the suspects. The attacker must be friend, not foe since the detailing had been so precise as to ensure no harm to the Truckster. Our prime suspects were Jen, the blogger who is staying with us for the weekend in Seattle, or Shelley, the homeowner at the Shirley Marvin (where we’re staying.)

SUSPECT PROFILES:

Jennifer Miner: Travel writer and blogger. She’s a co-creator, writer and editor at The Vacation Gals, a luxury travel columnist at Suite101, and she contributes regularly to other sites such as Hybrid Mom. Watch her live interview tomorrow morning on Seattle’s FOX affiliate KCPQ channel 13 at 8:45 and follow her on Twitter @JenniferMiner.

She supports team blackberry, enjoys mac-n-cheese-n-tuna surprise, and is a mother of two.

Shelley: Homeowner of HomeAway property 300257 and manager of the extended stay hotel, the Shirley Marvin. With a bottle of complimentary wine, fresh-cut flowers, and a welcome package of coupons for the locally owned businesses only a few minutes away by foot, she had been an especially welcoming host for the Truckies and Mrs. Miner. Perhaps too nice? She EVEN set up the free screening of National Lampoon’s Vacation that played yesterday and this morning at the Columbia City Cinema (just around the corner from the rental!)

We knew one thing was for sure, she knew her movie facts… suspicious, indeed.

But since we had to get to SeaFair for the FanFest festivities, there was no time to conduct our interrogations. We cleaned up the Truckster and carried on with our day.

Later, we received a frantic call from HomeAway headquarters. “Was the Truckster VANDALIZED!? WE SAW THE PHOTO ON TWITTER…HOW’S THE WOOD PANELLING???”

Though the day was full of lively distractions, we knew we MUST get to the bottom of this. So we confronted Jen.

“Was it you?” I said firmly, giving her the most hardcore stink-eye I could muster.

She acted innocent.

“Did you write those words on the Truckster? Honky lips?”

“What? No, what are you talking about?” She questioned in return.

I had no choice but to laugh off the seriousness. The poor woman was probably telling the truth about her innocence, and I didn’t want to scare her while sporting the HomeAway attire. (Bad for the Truckie image.)

So, we concluded: Shelley. Our welcoming homeowner was actually a total prankster.

Or was she?

I had made up my mind. This morning, at the Columbia City Cinema I would confront her once and for all. But when the moment of truth was upon us, she told us it had been an honor to house the Truckster, hugged us goodbye, and wished us happy travels for the remainder of the trip… I blew it; I forgot to ask.

Moments later a couple approached us. They had just finished enjoying the free screening and came to get a few final glimpses of our movie star. The man started asking me why our replica didn’t have “Honky Lips” on the siding like the one in the movie.

“Well HomeAway.com is a family company, offering vacation rental properties to travelers. Rentals accommodations are perfect for traveling families especially because of the extra space…” I started to explain.

But he continued to question me about it.

“Have you driven through St. Louis?” he asked.
“No, our three-month road trip actually sticks to the perimeter of the country. Even though we don’t have any hubcaps… “ John started to explain.

All of a sudden it clicked. I looked at the couple, they were obviously big fans of the movie, but they were hiding something.

“Wait” I said slowly, looking the man in the eyes, “it was you, wasn’t it? You guys wrote it on our car the other night, didn’t you?”

And there before the judge (me,) he confessed.

Our mystery ghost-writers got away without punishment, gave me a CD copy of (sing these next two words…should take at least eight seconds…) “Holiday ROOOAAAADDD,” and I didn’t even get a chance to catch their names before they snuck away into the afternoon.

Watch-out Seattle, there are some true fans out on the loose, and you never know where they might strike next.

Case closed.

After a few errands around Seattle, we’ll be on the ROOOAAAADDD to Portland, OR tomorrow.

-Steph

Ready to take on Seattle with Jennifer Miner

Howdy Internet friends,

We rolled into Seattle this afternoon and just made a new friend, co-creator, writer and editor at The Vacation Gals, and luxury travel columnist at Suite101, who also contributes regularly to other sites such as Hybrid Mom…none-other-than, Mrs. Jennifer Miner. (Twitter: @JenniferMiner)

We’ve got a packed schedule this weekend and will be all over town. Keep your eyes peeled for the Truckster and watch my video of the rental to find out about additional sighting opportunities in & around Seattle…

I’ll be nice and recap:

Saturday – Truckster will be at SeaFair FanFest from 12-5 p.m. at the Seattle Center before the Torchlight Parade that evening. This will be a great opportunity to bring the family – and the camera – for your close-up with yours truly… and the Truckster!

Sunday – Come to the Columbia City Cinema for the 11 a.m. FREE showing of National Lampoon’s Vacation! See the Truckster, watch the movie – what could be better?! (If you can’t make the Sunday showing, the movie will also play – FREE – Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the Columbia City Cinema… but the Truckster won’t be around until Sunday. Plan accordingly.)

After the showing, word has it, the Truckster might be making an appearance at Alki Beach in Seattle. I suggest you follow us on Twitter for more concrete, live updates on the Truckster’s whereabouts! (Twitter: @homeawaytrip) –cough, cough–

Monday – Tune-in to FOX KCPQ Channel 13 at 8:45 a.m. to wake-up with a live interview from our travel experts, Jennifer Miner and the Truckster!

See you at SeaFair tomorrow!
-Steph

How to save money on a road trip: a HomeAway Truckie’s words of wisdom

Traveling is fun, but it can also be quite expensive.  The following tips are suggestions for how to make your wallet stop crying when the travel bug bites and you decide to hit the road:

Go the speed limit. It’s safer and a financially responsible decision to travel at the recommended speeds posted on the highway.  Think less police encounters and greater fuel efficiency.

vacation rental

Our Fairmont Chalet in Montana... woodie!

Stay in a vacation rental. By using vacation rental websites, like HomeAway.com, you can often find great deals on any number of housing accommodations in the area you’d like to visit next. You can even RENT A WHOLE HOUSE FOR HALF THE COST OF A HOTEL! And I do mean a ‘ whole house’… John and I ALWAYS have our separate rooms (and often separate bathrooms too!) and there is usually a spacious living room and a kitchen that afford us the extra space we need to spread out after spending 5-9 hours in the Truckster together. Don’t take my word for it though – just peruse the 540,000+ rental listings within the HomeAway network to find the perfect fit for you and your family.

Buy groceries. I’ve already mentioned the perks of having a kitchen just because of the space it provides in contrast to the car-cramped traveler. But there’s not need to be a fastfood-ridden traveler…having a kitchen also allows the money conscious family to make a grocery stop, so eating out all the time won’t be necessary. *Also a good idea for the healthy eater/traveler.

Always know where your next cup is coming from…COFFEE! If you’re a coffee drinker that just can’t go without the taste of caffeine early in the morning, you’ll want to ask your rental owner if they provide a coffee pot and grounds. Many of the rentals I’ve encountered this summer do have the coffee-lover’s basics in the kitchen for guests to enjoy. However, if not, you can still save a few bucks during your travels by purchasing some instant coffee like the Starbuck’s brand Via. It really isn’t that bad and you can always splurge with a gas station $0.99 cup every once in a while.

Do laundry. Save money on baggage fees if your road trip starts or ends with a flight by packing light and doing laundry while on vacation. Many vacation rentals come with an in-house washer and dryer. I know that some might say “why would I want to ruin my vacation by doing laundry” but I can personally attest to the fact that it won’t put a damper on your vacation fun if you throw in a load before dinner or bedtime. Plus, your wallet will thank you since you won’t be throwing away money on needless fees, AND you’ll be able to de-stress without hosting anxiety about having to lug around a gargantuan suitcase.

Happy Chef

Delicious, yet best in moderation

Be smart about eating out. If you are planning to eat out, I recommend the (more affordable) lunch menu, water as a beverage choice. Also, talk to your vacation rental owner, who is often a local expert, about community restaurants. These establishments tend to offer cheaper cuisine than your average chain restaurant. In addition, you’re likely to stumble upon fresh and delicious tastes that are characteristic to the area. Avoid the tourist traps!

Pack a water bottle. John and I save so much money by filling-up our bottles each morning before we head out for the day or hit the road. It’s so tempting to wander into the gas station and buy a drink when you’re stretching your legs or refueling, but if you’ve got plenty of water with you, there’s no need. Stand outside and enjoy the fresh air instead!

Find out what’s happening locally. Pick up the local newspaper and find out what events are going on during the course of your stay. Your homeowner may also have the inside scoop on activities as well. During our Truckster road trip, the Truckies have discovered a number of free attractions, summer concerts, and must-see stops that cost nothing.

Say Cheese. Skip the tacky souvenir in lieu of great photos by bringing a camera on your trip. There are all kinds of things you can do with the memories you capture with a camera or video recorder: make a movie or scrapbook or slide-show or decoupage your next coffee table with photos from your adventures. The possibilities are endless…

Mt. Rushmore Jefferson

Jefferson.

Mt. Rushmore Roosevelt

Teddy.

Mount Rushmore

Some day...John?

How’d I do? How do you save money while on the road? Leave a comment if you have any tips that might be helpful on the Great American Road Trip as we continue our journey West. We’ve already passed through Wyoming today, and tonight we’ll settle into a wooden chalet rental in Fairmont, Montana.

Wish you were here (to see these VIEWS!)

-Steph

Here is a quick home video of our Fairmont, Montana house.

Twin Cities Red Bull Flugtag with Team Griswold and the Flying Truckster

All I can write is “WOW”

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, you’ve GOT to watch this video from Saturday. We met some truly incredible people in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and guess what… they were HUGE Griswold Fans! Team Griswold, or team 20, at the Saint Paul, Minnesota Red Bull Flugtag Competition built the Family Truckster WITH WINGS! …incredible. Just watch the video, you can thank me later.

CONGRATS on taking home the well-deserved 3rd place trophy, Team Griswold!

PLUS history was made! We saw a world record for a flugtag flight broken when one fearless pilot soared a good 207 feet! You can watch that (amazing) clip here.

We just arrived in Deadwood, SD today and tomorrow, I’m hitting-up Mount Rushmore! YESSSS, I have a feeling everybody – it’s going to be a fun week!

-Steph

PS shout-out to the bdays ‘of the hour’ Sarah, Kyle and Jaime! HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the TRUCKSTER!!!