Summer Road Trip

Summer Road Trip

Four months on the road – four wheels, four legs, eight paws. And 7,000 miles later, I don’t know if we call it a summer vacation or excursion. But this wasn’t roundway – proverbially speaking, as we took off to kickstart the next step, city, probably state, and chapter of our lives together.

I spent the turn of my twenties knowing Los Angeles was the place to head for my career and after all that time it felt like home. And sometimes growth must come by leaving home. Closing in on a decade there, and Rachel from the greater county area her whole life, with remote working opening up travel options we agreed that the time, with the timing of prior commitments set to take us far and wide, that it might be better to pack up, move out and drive it. Keep in mind this includes a grumpy cat, wild puppy, and too much camera gear.

This trip is infamous among friends and family who’d heard – or seen – an armed carjacking that left me empty handed outside or Airbnb in Washington DC. Considering the duration of the whole roadtrip, it was pretty spot on for a false defeat midpoint beat. And it happened in broad daylight in a safe-looking neighborhood, with half a dozen people around us. Thankfully I’d paid for parking so many times along the way that, after seven years with Beast, my trusty blue RAV4, that I finally knew my license plate number! It was surreal enough of an occurrence, but I was even more surprised, and proud, that when it was time to report it on the 9-1-1 call and I was completely confident. I’m kidding though, I didn’t name it Beast. I was three cars into my own personal Fast & Furious career at this point and still not sure if I’ve named any of them.

So there I am in the middle of Capitol Hill, with a bunch of very nice people offering condolences. The pets were uploaded and inside already, Rachel was with a friend – everyone that mattered was safe. Hell of a thing to happen and so quickly, I felt I’d gotten off a close encounter easy. Almost relaxed. For a moment I wondered a late show gag or prank like that moment could be like… I mean really, do you know YOUR license plate number? Imagine after the call, the operator reveals it was staged. That random person standing nearby with a small dog and phone in hand is a background actor, and you just won $100 for getting the license plate right. Win or loss, the robber returns the car, reveals under the ski mask he’s Bryan Cranston, and everyone gets ice cream.

I’ve received a lot of absurd advice about what I should have done during an armed carjacking, from some well intended people, but this unharmed survivor suggests you just comply and know your license plate number. Also, don’t divulge your real name or residence to a reporter, because you’ll never know if police apprehended the wrong suspect and will notify you of their oopsie a day after you’ve been doxed on the nightly news:…/give-me-the=keys/

My real advice from this year is to travel, however possible, and spend longer than you think is needed in each destination. Our road trip was a blitz across the country, hitting some top spots and trying to arrive in time on the east coast for a wedding. In hindsight, making half the stops might have been better, though this was a year that’ll be tough to top.

Over the summer, Rachel and I… plus a cat, dog, and our full-time jobs… went on a 7,000 mile road-trip across America. Our journey was highlighted by epic vistas, a tornado, lots of animals, my proposal, pizza, fireworks, a rodeo, hot air balloon ride, my brother’s marriage in New York, and a deep state conspiracy in our nation’s capital. More on that part later, the highs of the trip and year are more fun to look back on.

I’d never left the country until this year – besides some of Canada beyond Niagara Falls – so in April it was time for the first stamp in a new passport. My previous profile pic was a selfie in the Monteverde cloud forest of Costa Rica, at the top of one of Earth’s most epic zipline courses. Sitting at a full bar in a mineral pool at the base of a volcano some days later was surreal, but soaring arms-first over a rainforest is peak touristing which can’t be recommended enough.

Back in the states a week later, our LA apartment was half packed, half already in a storage unit. Post-pandemic both of our jobs allowed us to work remote, so it seemed like the perfect time to hit the road. Well 2021 probably was, before gas went up… so the south had never been so welcoming, down to nearly $3 gallons. We pregamed the trip with a flight to Upstate New York for our first wedding of the year, at the grand Otesaga Resort Hotel, of my basically sister and co-host of the BC (before covid) podcast “Wine About Movies” Chelsie. It was awesome, old friends make some of the best times.

Back in LA – again – it was two weeks from end of lease and departure. On the final night, there was absolutely zero visibility from every window of the ridiculously overpacked RAV4 as we escaped to Arizona. The drive was done as late as possible just to avoid all potential traffic or getting jailed for basically driving a boulder with blinders on. We left for Bryce Canyon a week later, relaxed, re-packed, and with slightly more visibility.

Our pets were good roadies, or maybe we were theirs. I do not envy musicians on tour, it was brutal enough to do a different city each week on our own terms. We drove Sundays, worked all week, explored Saturdays. Four straight months of it, ending with a 10-day excursion in the desert (sans pets).

It took us two and a half years and 80,000 strangers, but we both finally caught covid and were sick the week after Labor Day. Kind of funny, since literally everyone wore masks. Leaving was our most brutal part of the trip, a 25-hour trudge back down to Arizona. The first half was the worst, traveling at four hours per mile. Does that even count as driving?

Now on Team Antibodies, we headed to Oregon. My parents recently relocated there and we overdue for a visit, as our search for a new home continued… or the next AirBnB, whichever came first. Weeks following were back in Southern California, from my favorite beach city Ventura then to the foothills of Rachel’s favorite Bernardino mountains. And another wedding.

Halloween came around and from then on, up until last night at Avatar 2, the most recent thing I’d seen in theaters was a 102-year old German expressionist film: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. And it was no mere screening, but at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA with a live organist scoring. I think the story was a little light and it could have gone beyond colonialism, but Avatar still wins since they added green people this time.

For Thanksgiving, some friends and family met up in Hawaii. It was my first time there and I loved it. Island Fever didn’t hit hard enough, so a December trip was to the Dominican Republic for another wedding. Dune buggies are a lot of fun! It was beautiful, a tropical follow-up to their traditional Nigerian ceremony earlier in the fall – also a first, what a year of those.

Second stamp added, 28 states if you count a raised freeway that veers over the Michigan state line, and lots of fun. I hope to do it all over again someday, except for facing a loaded gun. And Omaha. They have a huge zoo, where we saw the only baby elephants in America, apparently. It’s probably a fun town if you know where to go, and the gyms were massive, but we joke about that stop the most.

Along the way I shot something for work, a new “man on the street” format react series. My first interview was with someone two days out of prison, who was truly one of the nicest people I met all year. Shot a few in different cities, hoping to do more, here’s a look at Nashville:



Goodbye to a car I never named, thank you to everyone who helped make our 2022 possible, hello to a new year of safety, joy and adventure for all.

[ADD Supporting Image]

California plates at One World Trade. We had an incredible drive getting there this summer, but on the return journey back my RAV4 was stolen at gunpoint and totaled. I’d have reconsidered the detour had we known bridge fares through downtown Manhattan were $40, so this photo can only be justified by my insurance settlement. Cheers, Geico!