Friday, August 10, 2012

We've Moved!

Thanks for all of your support. Good news - we're on to new adventures! Check out our new project at:

Bonnie and Chelsea

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Pru needs a doctor. Call her a doctor. To bring her back to life."

Disappointment in Albuquerque

We realize that we still have some catching up to do regarding our visits to Mesa Verde and Santa Fe. However, there are far more pressing issues at hand. If you aren't already sitting (which begs the question, why are you interneting standing up? Oh right, smart phones. DUH), we suggest that you do so.
Prudence is in big trouble. She needs a heart transplant. If we are going to acknowledge that she is an automobile and not the human we consider her to be, one might say that she needs a new engine. How close-minded. I'll brief you on the details just so you can get an idea of the emotional rollarcoaster we've been on these past few days. 

Prudence started making funny noises as we arrived into Santa Fe late last Friday night. We’d made our first spontaneous trip change and decided to leave Mesa Verde a day early so that we could spend more time in New Mexico...ohhhhh, if we only knew. So innocent and naive we were. Chelsea conjectured that it might be the exhaust, having had experience with that in the VW Jetta she drove in high school. Exhaust?! No bigs. We could at least make it to New Orleans and have her looked at when I’d be spending a week cooling my heels at Jazz Fest. She wasn't entirely wrong. But, my, what a baby problem that was once we opened the Pandora's Box of ailments our poor Prudence was suffering from.

Prudence in her first round of surgery :[

We must give our utmost gratitude to Park Ranger Steve in Jemez Springs, NM who heard us coming to his campground from a mile away and offered to take a look at our girl. This is when the gravity of the situation started sinking in. Oil in the coolant tank? Exhaust leak? Oil spewing into the engine from God knows where? OH GOD Prudence, we take it all back! We take back every joking, disparaging remark we made about your lack of power. Please forgive us!

Steve, our Park Ranger in Shining Armor!

And this was hardly the end of it. I'll fast forward to many days, mechanics, hundreds of dollars, and smelly, broken glass-ridden budget hotels later to our current and most major diagnosis: she is only running on 3 cylinders, two of which are only at 80lbs. We've been told we need a new engine. This was not in our budget and is particularly devastating as we had her “thoroughly inspected” before leaving Los Angeles. Maybe all the mechanics there are just TV show mechanics and don't ACTUALLY know cars. Anyway, I digress.
My mom and George have shown their commitment to keeping this trip afloat by paying to ship Prudence back to Los Angeles where we will search for an engine and somebody to install it. However, this endeavor will costs thousands... AKA more than we have. 
We have been writing this blog for you all, which we hope (ok, fine, KNOW) you’re enjoying. We’re getting the sense that as we progress, people are falling in love with us, our trip, and our dear, Prudence (see what I did there? Tied in her namesake). 
We are hoping, wishing and praying that this is not the end of the road, proverbially and literally. As of now, we are planning a fundraising week for Prudence (and our trip) which is roughly slated for the end of May. We will be conducting soccer-style fundraisers, which we will diligently blog about, as well as some online treats to draw attention to our “cause.” 
All of this, of course, comes with the perspective that there are tragedies aplenty happening right now on our earth, most recently with the tornados in our own US of A in the South. We do not intend to overshadow or trivialize these causes by asking for the generosity of our friends, family, followers and fans. We are just hoping that our trip may bring some joy and light into the mix, at a time in history which seems quite dark. Unfortunately, we can’t do that on our own. 
As a sign of our commitment to make this trip bigger than our own enjoyment, we pledge to donate a minimum of 1 day per week spent on the road to volunteer for various causes across the country. Further, we will re-route our trip to include Alabama and Mississippi to assist with the relief efforts in the aftermath of the tornados. 
We realize that this is a long shot, but desperation calls for drastic measures. We hope that somebody, although preferably, many out there are willing to help 2 girls (and 1 bus - BLAM!) have the trip of a lifetime. If not through donations, then through advice and referrals for how to make this baby right again. 
If you'd like to contribute towards the repairs/our trip, please find the "Donate" button at the bottom lefthand corner of our blog. If you have something specific you'd like to finance (ie a tank of gas, a night of camping, something cray like skydiving, money towards the engine transplant, general donation, etc.), please let us know. Just send us an email along with your donation to We will do our best to shout you out appropriately! 

We promise to reward donations with postcards from the road, shout outs, tweets, and most importantly, further entertainment from the two of us. 
This is an adventure that must continue. As my Uncle Pat eloquently stated, we “must finish this trip. The world needs to know.”
We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
With hope and premature gratitude,
Bonnie, Chelsea, and Prudence

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Out of nowhere, there came a caravan. This was around a campfire light."

Finally, what you’ve all been so patiently waiting for: the conclusion to Grand Canyon, Part I...Grand Canyon, Part II!

Chelsea: Ok, ok, let’s tell them about what happened when we went to get the beer.

Bonnie: So, we get our 5 remaining PBRs and hookah and are trudging back up the dirt road to the boys’ campsite when Chelsea, as per usual, panics: “Oh my God, I don’t see the firelight anymore. Do you see the light? Oh my god, they left. They doused the fire and left.”

Chelsea: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Chillax with that! I said “WHAT IF” as in, “it would be pretty insane if they ditched out!” Realistically, it would be impossible for three boys to put out that huge fire, pack up and move sites in the 10 minutes it took us to pop a squat freshen up and grab the beers... I think.

Bonnie: Well honestly, they were probably thinking, “no way these chicks are coming back up here”. HA! We showed them. Our quest for partying and meeting boys in the woods has no end.

Chelsea: Our quest for partying and meeting boys, in general, has no end.

Bonnie: Word.

Chelsea: So, we hike up the hill, cooler in tow, and Bonnie is barking at me “not to sound so winded” behind her. Um, you try carrying the cooler instead of that light ass hookah, jerk!

Bonnie: They were mountain boys, we can’t go looking all out of shape and dainty.

Chelsea: Because they totally didn’t notice on our hike back up the Canyon the next day.

Bonnie: We were already in at that point. They were addicted.

Chelsea: Fo’ sho, fo’ sho. Anyway, the pantsless boy, Vaughn, had dressed himself for the occasion. Bummer. What kind of campfire party could this be if we’re all fully dressed?

Bonnie: Ok, to be fair, Vaughn was wearing Long Johns when we intruded on guy time. However, and thankfully, there was real pantslessness to come....and let’s just say it wasn’t on the part of these two classy ladies.

Chelsea: So just to set the stage a little bit, the spring air was crisp, the fire was roaring, the moon was so large and bright that “heading to the bathroom” was quite the public task. We were all drinking, smoking some hookah, and getting to know each other a little bit when we learned that our new friends are... wait for it... FOREST FIREFIGHTERS! Legit “we fight forest fires” was the exact description they gave us. JACKPOT!!!!!!!!! As the night went on, and the drinks flowed, more stories started to come out of the woodwork. We couldn’t help but notice that Alex seemed to be at the center of some... er... interesting scenarios.

Bonnie: Let’s just say, Alex has done quite a bit of hitchhiking, self-tattooing (his ten toes bare the phrase: R-O-A-S-T P-O-R-K-?) and experimenting with alcoholic beverages...

Chelsea: For instance, the pickle-tini, consisting of vodka and pickle juice. He also pushed a Cherry Amaretto and Orange Juice concoction. Don’t know about that myself, but you’re welcome to try it out, readers. Vaughn would also probably want us to mention the soon-to-be-infamous Buch-monkey, a mixture of beer and kambucha, which he guarantees isn’t as gross as it sounds. We promised to plug it in here... it’s gonna catch on, buddy! We got you.

Bonnie: So, for the sake of these new friendships and Alex’s privacy (not that it seems to be much of an issue for him), we’ll leave it at that. Ooooooh, we just have you all dangling by a thread, don’t we?

Chelsea: After about an hour and a half, we all ran dry of beer, but fear not, the boys still had whiskey aplenty.

Bonnie: Enter the quiet and unassuming Vaughn, who suddenly emerged as the Nip Master (get your heads out of the gutter, people. It’s not what you think). It felt like every 5 minutes he was there with a cap full of whiskey saying, “Nip?”...see?

Chelsea: He actually didn’t exactly ask. He just sort of handed it to you and said “NIP!” like the subtle instigator he was.

Bonnie: And we were unfortunately plagued with the Alex syndrome of being incapable of saying no.

Chelsea: Oh. My. God. You all know I love me some grade-A peer pressure, but it was almost TOO easy with this guy. He tried to stand at the other end of the campfire away from me, as though I’d forget he was there and let up with the hookah. However, I’d just motion him over, hand him the pipe, and he’d succumb. EVERY TIME. Ahh... the power. I should also mention that Brian needed absolutely no encouragement to drink or smoke. He was a trooper throughout the evening.

Bonnie: Yeah, I thought I had made the wise choice picking him as my sole partner, while Chelsea had to share with the other two. Wrong.

Chelsea: Yeah, good try with that. I semi-contend that the others just wanted our attention (ie begging them to smoke/drink more) but Brian knew the true way to our hearts. NO BREAKS!

Bonnie: We’ll start wrapping up this portion of the night now, but having gotten a little taste of our new friends, can anyone make a guess who the pantsless culprit was?

Chelsea: OH I CAN!!

Bonnie: I’ll trust the general deductive powers of our audience and not give it away. I think we all know.

Chelsea: Yeah, so, I suppose you could say it was getting late. It was either 3 or 4 AM. We don’t know for sure. Apparently Arizona refuses to abide by daylight savings time, so according to The Network (shout out to Verizon hayyy!) it was 4, but according to Arizona, it was only 3. In any case, hiking the Canyon the following morning was starting to seem like a pretty daunting prospect.

Bonnie: And for one from our five-some, it was. Can we all guess who bailed on the morning 6 mile hike?

Chelsea: Digressions aside, we decided to head back to Prudence to call it a night. Plenty of partying, laughing, and flirting were achieved for the evening, and if we were going to have any prayer of accomplishing what we actually came to the Canyon to do, sleep would need to happen first.

Bonnie: So we packed up and said our goodnights, with plans to join forces for an epic breakfast in the morning. As soon as we were safely out of ear-shot, Chelsea and I started giggling at the absurd turnaround our night had taken. We were pleased with our decision to end the night and looking forward to some sleep. Then we saw a rogue light traveling down The Hill. Did we forget something? Is someone (probably Brian) being a gentleman and wanting to see us safely to our campsite? We stopped. The light stopped. We moved along. The light continued its descent. Soon it was joined by a second light traveling in the same direction (right towards us). The lights met and continued toward us. We waited, fairly perplexed. We could finally make out the figures of two men: Aha! Brian and Vaughn, sleeping bags thrown over their shoulders. “We decided to take you up on your offer to snuggle.”

Chelsea: To clarify, we did offer a Prudence snuggle-fest. These boys, rugged firefighters though they may be, were sleeping on a tarp outside in the 30 degree weather. Nobody can say we don’t have hearts or help mankind. It’s the American spirit. I swear, we didn’t even notice how attractive, dirty and bearded they were!!!!!

Bonnie: To further clarify, no snuggling ended up happening. Damn, these Oregon boys are gentlemen.

Chelsea: Sadface.

Bonnie: We recovered. And rose shockingly early (to Vaughn’s dismay. He kept challenging us that if we REALLY tried, we could all fall back asleep).

Chelsea: Good try, Vaughn. I try that on the kids I nanny all the time.

Bonnie: Yup. Didn’t work. But we did make a delicious breakfast feast that I can confidently say was worth Vaughn’s early rising. It was a team effort: between our collective ingredients, we made some bang up breakfast burritos.

The chefs, Brian and Bonnie at work

The boys putting themselves to good use:
Vaughn (left) making coffee and Alex (right) entertaining us on the ukulele

Chelsea: Then it was time to head to the Canyon for some hiking. We settled on Bright Angel Trail, even though it is one of the more crowded areas of the Park. By the time we made it to the Canyon (12:00 PM), we decided the only thing more annoying than dodging tourists for the first mile on the way down the trail (these kids can’t hang) would be waiting in a long line and cramming onto one of the over-crowded shuttle buses to the other trails. Why not take advantage of what was right in front of us?

Bonnie: We cruised down three miles, which seemed like no big deal...

Chelsea: the time.

Bonnie: The four of us sat on a cliff overlooking the vista, and took in the experience. Brian regaled us with some bird-calls that echoed throughout the Canyon.

Our view from 3 miles down Bright Angel Trail


Vaughn and Brian on their perch.

Myself and Brian breaking on the cliff

Chelsea: It was pretty amazing. You can hear Bonnie’s child-like “AGAIN, AGAIN!” exclamation in this video:

Bonnie: By the time we mustered up the motivation to head back up, it was 2pm. Well planned, geniuses. Let’s save the strenuous 3-mile hike up the GRAND CANYON for the hottest time of day.

Chelsea: We won’t go too into specific numbers of breaks or anything... mostly because we lost count. But WE MADE IT!

Bonnie: Hey! We were passing people left and right. But, yes, we did take a short hiatus in our “No Breaks!” trip motto.

Chelsea: True dat. Anyway, we made it and we felt incredible afterwards. Ok, more like exhausted and haggard. But emotionally, we felt incredible. There might have been a Double Dare style high-five at the precipice!

Bonnie: And at least we didn’t have to be bullied into driving over 200 miles to Lake Meade afterwards like Brian and Vaughn. Alex suddenly the no-nonsense, taskmaster??

Chelsea: Yeah, poor boys. At least they can say they slept inside for a night.

Brian, Alex, Vaughn and their beloved wagon, Misty (who had a little girl-on-girl thing going with Prudence for awhile. We'll let you decide who was the aggressor in that relationship AHEM)

Bonnie: That’s true. I think we can say we brightened up their trip, as they did ours. And besides, even if we didn’t, are dirty Oregon firefighters really going to be reading our blog to dispute it?

Chelsea: And if you guys are, FRIEND US BITCHES! Even you, Alex, you saucy minx.

Bonnie: We’re checking out now. Be on the lookout for Mesa Verde, New Mexico, and a little musical surprise we have in the works for you all. Cheers!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Coloring the sunshine hours, they are the ladies of the Canyon."

Grand Canyon, Part I

Chelsea: We awoke and packed up early at Zion so we could make it to the Grand Canyon before sunset. That morning, we finally started slipping into a routine packing up Prudence, each claiming our own tasks, without discussing who’d do what. Being with a person who can read you without speaking certainly makes everything a lot easier and more time-efficient. Not to mention more fun. By the time we packed, cleaned up, took showers in Springdale (the nearby town) and got gas, it was about 9:30 A.M. Time to say goodbye to Zion. As I drove through the winding mountains, I tried to memorize the beautiful landscape that I will miss dearly until the day I meet it again. We crossed through Mt. Carmel Tunnel, which is an impressive 1.1 miles long (apparently in its day, in 1930, it was the longest of its kind in the USA) to get through to the other side of the park. Leaving the tunnel, we were faced with the other less-used part of Zion. It was just so insanely gorgeous, we couldn’t stop taking pictures and marveling at the sights.

Zion's "backside"

Entering the Mt. Carmel Tunnel

As a side note, I should also mention that if you’re driving through the country, and you’re intent on taking back roads or smaller highways, you should get quite comfortable with the idea of  having no radio or cell phone service. I know it can sometimes feel like there is no such thing as the “middle of nowhere” in our super-developed, sprawling nation, but trust me, there is quite a bit of undeveloped nothing out there. As refreshing as this is conceptually, it can also be never-ending, and quite frankly, a little boring. Bring CDs, tapes, or an ipod to rock out to (Shout out to the Saw Doctors, our ONLY cassette tape on hand, which has gotten more than its fair share of play on this leg of the trip! Hayyy!). Or, you know, you could connect to your surroundings, if that’s your thing. ;-)

See? Miles of Nothing!

So, we’re chugging along, and seemingly in the middle of nowhere, we came upon a small town called Kenab, Utah (which apparently is where a bunch of old movies and TV shows have been filmed). Worried we wouldn’t see another sign of civilization for hours, we stopped in for gas and lunch. We happened upon a little restaurant called Nedra’s Cafe, which promised the best Mexican cuisine around. And we were NOT disappointed. The food was glorious and plentiful, and the waitstaff was so incredibly sweet and helpful. We’d only been sitting there for a couple of minutes before one of the waitresses complimented ol’ Prudence. We talked a bit about our journey, and she shyly told us “please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you on your journey.” I mean, I keep hearing about this American politeness and eagerness to help, but I haven’t experienced it in the volume the Southwest is doling it out. Coming from NYC, I sure don’t see much of it. In our corner of the country, most people are incredibly self-consumed and only willing to help if you pin them down, ask directly for assistance, and then follow-up. Sometimes repeatedly. Because you know, nothing in New York City EVER gets done without a forced, polite follow-up.

Anyway, the waitstaff at Nedra’s brought us extra chips and their famous homemade salsa to take with us. They also just took generally great care of us and even sent Nedra herself out to check on us and talk to us about our trip. Apparently, she too has crossed the country in a Volkswagen bus, and remembered the whole ordeal fondly (duh!). We had a delicious lunch (Bonnie ordered the Philly Burger and I was all over the Southwestern Eggs Benedict, both of which were fantastic and huge!) and said farewell to our new friends. We even got a pic with Nedra in front of Prudence - check it!

Me (Chelsea), Nedra, Bonnie outside of Nedra's Cafe

The road to the Canyon was long, dry and deserted. Nothing seemed to be open or operating. We were consistently lured in with promises of post offices (Nope - good try! Their operating hours are only from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM... EVERY DAY) and roadside beef jerky (No again - apparently the woman who makes it was “too lazy to prepare it” that day. Humph!), but nothing seemed to come through for us. We decided to just plug away to the Canyon, so we could see the vista before sunset.

Jerky LIES! 

Entering the Canyonlands

Prudy chillin' in the Canyonlands

We arrived at Grand Canyon National Park at about 6:30 PM, and as we rolled in, the Park Ranger said to us, “Is that a Volkswagen Bus or a time machine?” He chuckled at his joke in a way which indicated to me that either a) he has made this crack multiple times AKA every time he sees a VW bus or b) he thought of it immediately after a bus passed once, and has been waiting to unleash that beast for ages. In any case, we threw him a little laughter, some quick flirting, and got out of there. We drove through the twenty-something miles of the park, stopping off at Yaki point to marvel at the Canyon and take some pictures. I can’t even front like we didn’t each tear up a little bit, staring off into its vast beauty. My heart swelled with so much pride for the unique splendor of my own homeland (something that, unfortunately, does not happen often enough to my Europe-loving self). We stood for awhile, just staring off, and then forced ourselves to move on to find somewhere to stay.

If you don't feel love for the USA at this moment, you can GTFO of our blog!

We ended up finding free camping in the town of Tusayan, which is right outside the Canyon. There is a loop of well-worn campsites on N. Long Jim Loop Rd, just outside the park entrance. It is safe, clean, and has fire pits and campsites already built in. We found ourselves a good little spot, and settled in. Soon, our appetites for both food and booze set in, and we collectively decided to get into town and cause trouble.

Bonnie: I'll take over from here. Just like with driving Prudence, Chelsea and I like to take turns blogging. So, upon laying eyes on the roughly quarter-mile stretch of town, we figured this was the perfect place for an impromptu pub crawl. We thought it wise to start at the far end of the "strip" and work our way closer to our campsite. Excluding fast food restraurants and budget hotels, we were left with about 5 potential hot spots. After striking out on the first 3 (which were actually all the same place), we landed at Sophie's Mexican restaurant where we enjoyed a Grand Canyon Rattlesnake lager. Unfortunately the ice cold mug it came with caused the beer to foam and spill over and took a good ten minutes to recover. A little tip: just drink it out of the bottle like a real man.

"The strip." If you look closely, you'll notice "We Cook Pasta and Pizza"

After getting a little creeped out by the vibe there, we moved on to the promising "We Cook Pizza and Pasta" restaurant in the plot next door. Upon entrance, we wished we had steered clear and preserved our enchantment with an establishment that would be so to-the-point  and frills-less in naming their restaurant. What we found instead was a crowded fast-food style "restaurant" with children all over the place. UGH. We stepped back outside and sat on the curb to contemplate our options. A few minutes of that led to the realization that we didn't really have any. Our naive little hearts lifted when we heard a voice on a microphone from inside the restaurant. We looked at each other, false hope in our eyes, and voiced our mutual thought: "Live music?!". The sound was hard to make out but we dared to believe it could be a "testing, testing, 123".  We were partly right. With another moment of hesitation we heard it more clearly: "Order number 123".

Rock bottom.

Not thrilled at the thought of retreating back to our campsite in defeat, we decided to just go inside and get a beer. Twenty minutes later, we reached the ordering counter and the nice tye-dye shirt wearing order-taker explained the different size and price options for their draft beer and I blurted out, "Pitcher. I need to get drunk." Lucky for me, Chelsea was right on board. We found a free picnic table and got to it. Our conversation lagged for a bit was our fatigue from many long days of driving set in and we wondered if we could finish the pitcher. Then that beautiful Fat Tire started working its magic. A family sat down next to us and the father made a comment on how hot the wings were. Anyone who knows Chelsea, knows her obsession with buffalo wings. For those that don't, I will provide you with a short anecdote so that you can get to know us a little better. On December 3, 2008, Chelsea's 23rd birthday and the day I left Washington, D.C. for Ethiopia, I spent most of our "Staging Day" on the phone with various Upper West Side restaurants trying to get buffalo wings sent to Chelsea's apartment for her birthday. I failed at my cause as restaurants don't like taking credit card numbers over the phone but what I did accomplish was a lasting reputation in my Peace Corps group as the girl who spent a day trying to send her best friend buffalo wings for her birthday (I succeeded 1 year later with the help of Kelly Davis - thanks again, girl!). Told you you'd understand us better.

Back to the point, Chelsea couldn't resist taking this moment of eavesdropping to ask the man about the wings. To her delight, this wonderful man not only restated how hot they were, but pushed them towards us and told us to try them ourselves. At this point in the evening, we had been eying everyone around us, trying to use Jedi mind tricks to convince them that they no longer wanted that pizza and should give it to us instead. We're on a budget, people. Don't judge. I'd like to say that this offer of wings was a result of our highly effective mind tricks but I think more realistically, this was just a very kind man. We made introductions and had some great conversation (over free wings and Fat Tire beer). Brian, Megan, and their daughter Hailey were traveling from Orange County, CA. When we asked Hailey how she liked the Canyon, she expressed some interest but informed us she preferred Avi, the nearby casino they had recently visited. How adorable. This was such a lovely family and we already felt our night had improved and were quite happy with our decision to stay.

Soon this jam-packed restaurant was nearly empty and we all decided to call it a night and let the nice people close up.  I shook Brian's hand then moved on to say my farewell to Megan and Hailey. SUddenly Brian put his hand out again for a second hand shake. This struck me as odd, but I'm not one to turn down a solid handshake. I thought he might be feeling a little sentimental and, truthfully, I was feeling a little sad to see them go myself. As our hands made contact, I detected a paper-like barrier between us. My senses proved to be right when I looked down to see some cash in my hand. WHAT?!?! I instinctively threw the money on the table and pleaded with him to take it back. Hey, we may talk up our self-imposed poverty a bit to a get a free beer or some wings, but we're not trying to get people to just give us money. Well, kinda. This wonderful man would not take no for an answer and adorably suggested that we use it for gas. Finally, I relented, so inspired by the incomparable generosity of Americans. I have to echo Chelsea's sentiments of being a Europe-lover and I have my criticisms of the US, but I have been continually amazed and heartened by the regular American folks we have met and their incredible friendliness and generosity. So, once again, Chelsea and I would like to express our sincere thanks to Brian, Megan and Hailey, not just for their amazing generosity but also for their company that April night. You are already a lasting memory in this trip. I'll hand it back to Chelsea now.

Thanks, girl. So, we returned to our campsite from our adorable little “pub crawl,” happy and buzzed but slightly defeated by the general lameness of our campground. Where are all the people? The campfires? The outdorrsy 20-something mens we had built up in our heads to be flocking these Canyon lands? As we walked down the dark path to Prudence, we noticed firelight up the hill, where few cars would likely venture.

“Party!” Bonnie exclaimed, pointing upwards.

“Uh, how do you know it’s a party? Could be a family.” I responded reasonably, not wanting to get excited after the letdown in “town.”

“At this hour? I’m hiking up.” She said, changing directions to walk towards the fire.

“Uh... what are you going to do when you get up there?” I asked, internally panicking at the impending awkwardness.

“I don’t know, but I’m going.”

Anybody would have to admit that it was a ballsy move. I certainly wouldn’t have led the expedition, as we’d been previously been confronted exclusively with families and young couples. The last thing I wanted was to be dragged into a conversation on the merits of dog co-ownership, or worse . . . a little thing I like to call “couple bragfest.” That’s where two people in a relationship feel the inexplicable need to brag about everything they’ve done together, which is always a ton of stuff, very little of which I care about. It’s a variation on my hatred for facebook status abusing couples (“making dinner with my babe, then watching the office with my babe, then cuddlefest with my babe!!!). Contrary to facebook status abusing couples, “bragfest” couples are a product of super two super ambitious people who would prefer to bike ride across the country together rather than make dinner and watch the office (consequently, they look down on facebook and especially on status-abusing couples, which is hilariously ironic). Anyway, either kind of couple is absurdly annoying, and I try to avoid these types of conversations in every way possible.

Alas, and as per usual, I digress.

I trudged behind Bonnie, being the reluctant Chuckie to her fearless Tommy (Rugrats reference anybody?!) “What are you going to say to these people!?” “You better come up with a good excuse as to why we hiked up here if these aren’t boys!” “I don’t like this idea Tommy, wahhhhhh!!!!”

As we approached the top of the hill, I fell into a giggle-fit, absurd scenarios dancing around in my head. I could see a young guy’s face perk up, as I tried to keep my ish together. But, you all know me, I can’t keep it together for all the dirty, unemployed boys in the world. As we approached, I could see three guys, about our age, sitting around the fire, trying to figure out what wild animal was about to attack them slash who the hell would randomly hike up a big ass hill to crash their campfire.

Bonnie spoke up.

“Hi, we noticed your fire and wanted to see what the deal was.”

THAT was her big excuse? Way to make us look like loser stalkers, Bonnie!!!!

“Uh, we’re just hanging out, drinking some beers.” One of them said. They looked stunned. Appalled and stunned. Clearly, they were not ready for our presence, but then who ever is?

One of the boys stood up politely and shook our hands. “I’m Brian. This is Alex and Vaughn. What are your names?”

Oh good, a guy with manners. We probably won’t get chopped up and thrown in this fire.

We chatted for a minute, until Bonnie struck again and invited the both of us to crash their party, with me chiming in half-heartedly promising to return with hookah and PBRs (this is an AMURRICAN camping trip, what do you expect us to drink? You best believe we are rocking the best beer in these United States of America, according to THE WORLD FAIR circa 1892!!!!). The boys agreed, seeming somewhat game, but mostly confused and frightened.

And we descending, excited for the turn of events, having no idea where the rest of this night could possibly take us.

...Anddd now that we've reeled you in, we're exhausted and need to leave this Starbucks before the teenage boy behind the counter weirds out on us more than he already has. Stay tuned for Part II! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Now the joy in my world is in Zion"

Leg 2: Las Vegas to Hoover Dam to Zion National Park

Departing Las Vegas was pretty uneventful until we reached the outskirts of the Hoover Dam. As we came to a total stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic we realized: "oh yeah, it's Sunday." This was my first test driving in serious traffic with a manual transmission vehicle. Nevermind a lumbering beast like Prudence. Excuse me,  a beautiful graceful creature like Prudence. She gets sensative sometimes when we tease her about her power limitations. Finally we got to a steady decline through which I could just pop her in nuetral and brake on down. However, as we steadily declined into the depths of Lake Meade Valley, one nagging question kept creeping into my head: "how the hell are we going to get back up out of here?"  

Beautiful Lake Meade

Soon we reached what we hoped was the bottom and took in the incredible sight of the Hoover Dam. We walked around, took some pictures, and dodged the hordes of tourists. Little tip for anyone visiting the dam: as you enter, you'll see a ton of parking for $7.00. Pass these lots and drive up about 50 meters, where there's tons of free parking. Worth the very short walk, unless you happen to like randomly spending money for no reason, or need closer access to the dam (handicap, stroller, etc). 

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam


Anywho, after contemplating different possible routes to get back out of the Dam and on our way to Zion National Park, we decided to attempt the giant incline going back out the way we came. To our surprise, Prudence was a total champ and handled beautifully. To congratulate her and ourselves, we decided to stop for an ice cold A&W rootbeer. I swear it had nothing to do with the "20% off hookahs" sign in the window of the smoke shop next door. But naturally, once stopped, we decided to check it out. So we entered Valley Smoke Shop #2 to meet the nicest guy you could hope for, Jesse. He helped us pick out an adorable, double-tube hookah (in green, duh) and the necessary acoutremants all for the very low price of $26. Seriously, love that guy. 

Bonnie and Jesse at Valley Smoke Shop #2

We reached Zion at sunset and it was completely breathtaking. Minor hiccup when the campground we had intended to stay at was full but we were able to find an RV park to stay for the night. Showers and wi-fi included! For real, is this what camping is these days? It did allow us to write out first blogs for you all, though, so don't hate. And our new hookah made us all the more hilarious. 

The drive into Zion

Cooking our first meal in Prudence!

Rain forecasts for Monday were a little bit concerning but by early afternoon there were still no showers and the sun came out. We went on a 5.5 mile hike through the park, seeing all 3 Emerald Pools and The Narrows, which were sadly closed due to high water levels in the Virgin River. None of the hikes were too strenuous but were truly lovely and a good workout nonetheless. 

Waterfalls that we walked under!

The Upper Emerald Pools

Bonnie on the Virgin River

"Beautiful, beautiful Zion"

We capped the night off with a local beer (Provo Girl Pilsner and Polygamy Porter...amazing!) and a campfire back at our site. 

Campfire Hookah time is the best time!

Zion Park, check! On we go to the Grand Canyon...stay tuned :) 


Monday, April 18, 2011

"We're really doing it, though, aren't we buddy?"

Leg 1: LA to Vegas
As any two responsible young women who are about to embark on a 3 month journey would do, Bonnie and I got tanked the night before we left for our big trip. We went out to Venice Beach to celebrate with fish tacos and margaritas with our best friend from high school (shout out to Kristina, hay girl hayyyy!). As you can imagine, things quickly got out of control, and we ended up spending our last night at “home” on the floor of Kristina’s apartment (she would probably prefer that I inform you that she did make us beds, but those are details which make the story seem less dramatic, and as you all know, I am all about the good story, and so therefore I’m going to sadly have to make her seem like a less gracious host than she really was. DEAL.) Anyway, at approximately 8:15 A.M., I somehow managed to wake up naturally (excitement? anxiety? mysterious consequence of a hangover that everybody has battled at one point or another?) and informed Bonnie that it was time to wake up because it's the responsible thing to do OUR TRIP IS FINALLY F-BOMBING HERE.

So much love. So much closeness. Bonnie, Chelsea, Kristina. :]

Four hours of grueling hungover packing later, and we were finally ready to get on the road. It was time to say goodbye to Bonnie’s mom, who has been a complete saint (but like a COOL saint) through all of the preparations for this trip. After a tearful goodbye, we set off. And by set off, I mean we pulled out of the driveway with Bonnie’s mother screaming “EMERGENCY BREAK!!!!!!” after us in the most adorably hilarious mom fashion. 
Famous last words. Truthfully, Saint Beth probably could have come up with a day’s worth of material to yell at us as we drove off, but she chose “EMERGENCY BREAK!!!!!!” It was so amazing, because Bonnie can’t seem remember to put down the e-break to save her existence. And come to think of it, how funny is it that it’s called an e-break? That’s totally its rapper name. I can’t believe J-Lo and K-Fed got famous for totally ripping off the emergency break’s style. Complete hogwash, fans! Anyway, I digress. We laughed our asses off at the send-off because it’s just so fitting for how endearingly flighty we can both be.
So we got on the road. Like for real. On our trip. The trip we’ve been talking about for almost a year. I’m sure it isn’t difficult to imagine the amount of girlish squealing and Katy Perry singing/awkward swaying/fist pumping which can only pass for dancing whilst in a car that has gone into merely SPEAKING about this trip, much less embarking on it. IT WAS A PARTY IN THE USA, Y’ALL. But for real. I know I use that phrasing loosely, but this time we are not only having a party IN the USA - we are having a party ACROSS THE USA. 
After a couple of hours of awesome LA traffic, we finally entered the desert on Route 15.  Truthfully, the road was pretty treacherous considering our vehicle. A steady incline might not seem like a big deal for a normal car or truck, but carting around in a nearly 30 year old bus has its drawbacks. Like trying to drive uphill, ever. She chugs, and she works hard for it, but Prudence is NOT built for climbing. Regardless, we had no choice but to just stick it out and hope for the best. 
About an hour into the desert, I started feeling like the gas pedal was not responding as well as it should have been. It felt loose, and as hard as I pressed it, Prudence could not seem to pick up any power. Anxiety started to build in my chest, as I desperately pressed down harder. We could not have been going more than 35 MPH, and even in the slow lane, we were getting glares from monstrous, lumbering vehicles who managed to whiz past. I concluded mentally that perhaps we were just the slowest car on earth, and tried to lay it to rest, when . . . the gas pedal just stopped working. 
Like, nothing. No response. 
The pathetic gas pedal lay flat on the floor, dead and disconnected. Prudence started to lose steam, unable to respond to my frantic pedal-pushing, as I panicked with every fiber in my body. I cannot even pretend like I kept my cool and held it together. I pulled off into the emergency shoulder (the e-shoulder! too soon?), and mumbled a bunch of incoherent crap about death. 
“Whoa. Slow down. What happened?” Bonnie asked, keeping a much cooler temperament than myself.
“It’s over.” I stated dramatically. So typical Chelsea. World’s ending, stop the presses!!! 
“WHAT’S over??”
“The gas pedal. It’s gone.”
“It can’t just be GONE.”
“Oh, but it can. It’s over. It’s done. It’s dead. It’s not doing anything.” Clearly, at this point, you can observe that I have abandoned all rational thought, disregarded the fact that the car was still running, and jumped ship on our entire trip.
“Let’s look at it. It can’t be dead, Chelsea.” 
In my head, I was saying “Don’t reason with me, Bonnie. I know a dead bleeping gas pedal when I see one!” but in reality, I just said “okay.” 
After polling the audience and using our lifeline, we learned that apparently in old cars, gas pedals just “snapped into place”, and aren’t like, nailed or glued or melded onto anything. Fucking excellent. Can we all just take a second to imagine this in real life? Like, it’s the early 1980’s and Volkeswagon employees are just sitting there in their factories, snapping things into place. Like they’re building a model airplane or something, not a giant machine that can kill people. No bigs. Gas pedals aren’t crucial or anything. WHY WOULD YOU NEED A GAS PEDAL WHEN YOU’RE CRUISING DOWN A MAJOR INTERSTATE? Don’t get crazy, here! Just snap that bad boy into place and get on the road. Christ. 
Anyway, we made like the early 1980’s and did just that, finally heading on our merry way. Not without me continuing the dramatics, of course, and threatening to have a panic attack every time the power seemed sketchy (which, by the way, is basically all the time because as I mentioned before, Prudence really doesn’t have much going for her on the uphill.) Bonnie didn’t feed into my dramatics, and neutralized me, as per usual. Prudence got a little ornery, because she was the poor little thing struggling on the long journey with an unattached gas pedal, while I took all the glory of the drama. But she did it. She pulled through for us. 

Driving through the desert, post-drama 

Route 15. Pretty beautiful for a pile of dirt, isn't it? 

We managed to get to Vegas safely, and have ourselves a decent evening, the details of which I won’t get too much into, because it’s not nearly as cray as I’m sure you’re all hoping it was. 
Although, we did find a hidden gem of creepiness slash non-lameness off the strip at Ellis Island Casino and Brewery, which was recommended to us by Saint Beth. Walking into this place is like walking into a 1980’s Ground Round, including the stale smoke smell, and the middle-America clientele. Their brewery is a 7-days-a-week karaoke bar, which I’m sure you can imagine was much appreciated by the both of us. And the best part? A pint of beer, of which they have several delicious varieties, is only $1.75 at the bar . Soak that in for a minute. Where, in this country, can you get a $1.75 beer besides the bodega or during some happy hour at an awkward time (who gets off work at 2:00 PM? Just call it “Grad Student Hour” people!) We thought our waitress was messing with us when she first told us the price. 
“Well, we brew it ourselves,” was her reasoning for why it was so cheap. So precious. Like she thinks that really explains anything. Where I’m from, lady, even breweries charge at least $5.00 a beer, and sometimes even more FOR THE VERY REASON that they brew on-site and we’re all supposed to be so dazzled by their craftiness that we just pay whatever the hell they charge us (Shout out to Heartland Brewery NYC - still love you, you money grubbing bastards! We know you’ve gotta make that Manhattan rent hayyy!)
Anyway, just a little tip for you kids visiting Vegas on a budget, OR just for anybody who wants to see what Vegas might have been like in the 1980‘s before it was super trendy, lame and filled with Jersey Shore cast wannabes, superclubs and pet projects of famous chefs. Do NOT visit this place if you want to be surrounded by anything hot, posh, trendy or elegant. But if you’re like us, and enjoy a nice offbeat place with some character, roughness and bizarre people watching, ch-ch-ch-check it out! 
Next stop: Zion National Park in Utah. Stay tuned!