It Turns Out Part of Road-Tripping is Playing Hundreds of Board Games

This trip had a lot of themes: visiting national parks, catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in years, seeing mountains of all sorts, and of course, seeing The West one last time before I get an apartment in the eastest part of the East Coast and settle into the bubbliest part of the liberal bubble ecology. But another theme, unexpectedly to me but quite predictably to probably anyone, is that we have played a shitton of board games. We went to actual board game cafés in Portland and Denver (of course), and found ways to play quite a few other games at various times. Below is a sampling of some of the games we’ve discovered or rediscovered on this trip.

Star Realms (Colony)

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Gameplay: Star Realms is a deck-building game with Trade ($), Combat, and Authority (health). You start with eight Scouts that give you one Trade each, two Vipers that provide one Combat, and from there you simply buy cards from the main deck, working your way up to ever more powerful Ships and Bases. You win by reducing your opponent’s Authority to 0 before they get you.

Review: This is one of the most pleasantly complicated games I have ever played. There are four factions—Trade Federation, Imperial, Blob, and Machine Cult—and before we’d had the game for three weeks, I’d written a 2,500-word essay on the strengths, weaknesses, and strategies of various factions. You can build a Blue deck that’s rich in Trade and gaining back Authority, a Red deck that tries to reduce your deck size until you’re only drawing your best cards, a Blob deck that spawns huge swarms of Blobs, or a Yellow deck that does well at just about anything. (Or combinations!)

Rebecca and I have played several dozen games so far, and bought our first expansion about two weeks after the original deck; the two combined were only about $35. The strategies you can create are so much fun, and so satisfying—there’s nothing like abusing your draw-card powers to pull 10 or 15 cards in a turn and create an unstoppable war-machine of a hand. It’s also a game that allows for great comebacks; there was a time in Yellowstone where I had Rebecca down to 2 Authority, drew two straight hands without any Combat power, and then watched in horror as she marshaled an attack for 25 that blew me right down to zero. And the diversity of cards allows for at least a dozen legitimate strategies to pursue; there’s not one clearly dominant path to pursue, and even if there was, the randomness of the main deck ensures that you won’t have access to it every game.

Verdict: I can’t recommend this game highly enough, and will happily shove it in the face of everyone who enters our Cambridge domicile.

 

Betrayal at House on the Hill

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Gameplay: Another complicated game that gets easy after a couple of repetitions. You and your fellow explorers are exploring an abandoned house, discovering new rooms with Events, Omens, Items, and effects that raise or lower your stats (Might, Speed, Knowledge, and Sanity). At some point after enough Omens have been discovered, the Haunt will begin, one of the explorers will turn traitor, and you will play out one of fifty different scenarios as the explorers and the traitor struggle for victory.

Review: I played two of the scenarios. In one, we were transported to an alien dimension and had to somehow return the house to its true dimension before the traitor, or the acid fog that was the air, killed us. In Game Two, I was the traitor, and summoned a monster called Crimson Jack to chase my erstwhile friends around the mansion; I managed to kill Rebecca, but my friend Sophia destroyed me with a mystically enhanced spear.

I didn’t like this game quite as much as Rebecca did, but it was extremely entertaining nonetheless, particularly in Game Two. The discover-it-tile-by-tile nature of the House itself ensures that you’ll never have the same geography twice, and the fifty different scenarios—all of which make different tiles vitally important—mean you’ll have to play a lot before exhausting this game. I got a really nice RPG-esque feel from it; I can’t remember if it was Rebecca or I who pointed this out, but it’s one of a couple games we’ve played that takes the infinite choices of an RPG and condenses them to a playable, DM-less, but still arresting experience.

Verdict: My heart was beating fast when I was chasing them around the mansion—I was one hundred percent into the experience. I’d absolutely like to play this again.

 

Mars 4:45

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Gameplay: Have you played Spit? Okay, good, you’ve got the basics of this game. You’re trying to build a Mars colony by assembling piles of cards. For example, an orange Rocket deck needs an orange 1, 2, and 3 before it’s complete, and then the person who completes it gets it; everyone’s throwing cards into the middle of the table, so bogarting your fellow players’ work is part of the game. The first player to assemble a complete colony wins.

Review: There’s not exactly any subtlety to this, but it has the same manic energy of the original Spit or Egyptian Rat-Screw, or Golf, or any of those games. You have to be aware of what you’ve already put down, what you still need, and what your fellow players are working on, so you can swoop in and pirate it if need. There are complicated rules regarding scoring, but that comes later—the real fun of the game is in building up your modules, managing your deck and playing hard.

Verdict: Not the kind of thing that you play 30 times in three weeks, but a quick-playing, energizing, good game.

 

Ticket to Ride

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Gameplay: You are a railroad looking to expand. Before you lies a map of the United States and Canada, with major cities connected by rail routes of one through six cars. Draw cards from a communal pile; when you get enough of the right color, use your little plastic train cars to connect your chosen cities. You get points for your routes, and you also get points for completing mission cards, like connecting Seattle and Houston (no matter how you do it). But beware—if you have incomplete goals at the end of the game, those points will be subtracted from your total!

Review: I’d played this a couple of times before we brought it out in San Antonio and then again in Portland. It’s a lovely game. Gameplay is primarily focused around the Goal cards; the U.S. version is big, but with 3-4 players, you’ll inevitably have Catan-like competitions to fill a crucial route before your competitor (thus blocking him/her off). You can still have fun without being super competitive, though, which is nice. It’s quite a feeling to scrimp and cadge and scratch out one route at a time until you finally connect the transcontinental route, L.A. to Boston or something crazy like that, which seemed like an impossible dream at the start.

Verdict: A known and welcome quantity, Ticket to Ride is joining Rebecca’s and my growing game cabinet sooner rather than later.

 

Catan: Cities & Knights

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Gameplay: Catan, except with 1) invading barbarians, 2) grain-needy knights to stop them, 3) manufactured product cards that 4) allow you to upgrade various buildings and get 5) spooky-powerful dev-cards.

Review: Despite playing dozens of games of Settlers of Catan and Seafarers of Catan, mostly in college with Sid and Tadd and Dick and The Gang, I’d somehow never played Cities & Knights. I now really want to again—I only played one game, half of which was figuring out the mechanics, and would love to play again now that I’ve gotten a better handle on it. Cities are so much more important, obviously, because only with cities can you produce the commodity cards that are the game’s real currency. Knights become actual tokens on the board who can defend you from the Robber or the entire island from the barbarians when they arrive, as long as they’re well-supplied with wheat. It’s delightfully complex, so much so that you almost lose sight of the traditional-Catan objective of accumulating victory points.

Verdict: I would happily play this again. I don’t have Settlers yet, somehow, although Rebecca or I will undoubtedly remedy this for our shared library sooner rather than later.

 

Caribbean

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Gameplay: You, greedy bastard that you are, are accumulating treasure stolen from various ports in the Caribbean. You do this by bribing pirate ships with barrels of rum to steal the treasure and bring it to your safe areas, thus earning you doubloons. But you and your fellow players are trying to bribe the same ships, so plan your strategy well and don’t get outbid! The game ends when one player accumulates a certain number of doubloons.

Review: The gameplay didn’t make sense on the box, but it promptly made sense once I started playing. The number of barrels of rum you bid is also the number of spaces you can move (pirates only work once motivated), so each player has to plan their own way of getting the most treasure back to their own safe spots in a given turn. There’s also no carryover between turns—your pirates are only loyal to you until the rum runs out—so if you plan wrong, your treasure ship can be stranded in the middle of the Caribbean, waiting for someone else to outbid you for the cargo. The head-to-head bidding element is really cool, and something I’m not used to; everyone makes their bets simultaneously before any information has been revealed, and then you call out each pirate ship to see who controls it this turn, so there’s a lovely Mexican-standoff-style feeling when everyone’s looking at each other while making their guesses.

Verdict: I don’t know that I’d buy this, but I’d certainly play it again. It’s a kind of gameplay I’m not used to, so it’s a nice palate cleanser for me between games like Catan and Star Realms.

 

Patchwork

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Gameplay: You are a quilter! You and another quilter have 10-by-10 grids which you must fill in with quilt-pieces, which are helpfully arranged in a circle around the board. A token marks the spot on the circle where you start. The key resources are buttons, which you accumulate and use as money, and time; every time you buy a quilt-piece, you move ahead a few spots on a separate board, and when your token reaches the end of the path, you can’t do anything else. Victory goes to the player with the most buttons at the end; you lose two buttons for each empty space on your grid.

Review: This is another old favorite. Rebecca and I discovered this on the same night, in fact, as we found Ticket to Ride; this was way back at Go 4 Games in Metairie, Louisiana, when we schlepped out to those game nights. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, despite playing it several times. Some pieces are extremely expensive in buttons, but take very little time; some cheap pieces propel you several spots forward along the board. The pieces are all kinds of weird shapes, so you have to fit them into your existing pattern as best you can. And some of the pieces have buttons on them, which increases your income. I haven’t yet found the right balance between space and time, accumulating buttons and filling space on the board. That’s still to come. (Rebecca, having been born with a pair of crochet hooks in her hand, is very good at this game.)

Verdict: Bought it back in Reno for $27, so, you know, it’s good! A lovely two-player game that’s now part of the library.

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The Alamo and Texas Myths

In the Extra History series about Korea’s Admiral Yi, creator James Portnow spends much of his after-hours Lies episode talking about historical narratives. During his life, Admiral Yi is presented as an unfailingly noble and honorable person who persevered despite being betrayed time and again by unscrupulous nobles. His humbleness, willingness to work hard, and steadfast righteousness against all incentives are part of what make him Korea’s national hero.

Portnow talks about how this story is part history and part myth. Admiral Yi was that person, and he did do those things. But the reason he is celebrated for them in Korea, besides the fact that he won a war against Japan essentially by himself, is that he exemplifies the Confucian tradition of the humble, hard-working public servant. His story fits into and feeds an existing Korean historical narrative that those sorts of people are the righteous and prosperous ones, and which presumably forms a key part of Korea’s national identity.

I was thinking about that when Rebecca and I visited the Alamo, located in San Antonio, Texas. I knew vaguely about the Alamo as the last stand of embattled, outnumbered Texans, but I had no idea how great an influence it has had on Texas’s conception of itself.

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The video about the Alamo’s history, the signs outside and inside the Alamo (including the church where the lastest part of the last stand was made), and various other placards and inscriptions refer to the Alamo as a shrine, and to the battle or the Alamo itself as sacred. The statue in the courtyard outside the present Alamo, in an area once enclosed by the Alamo’s walls, contains a nude godlike figure, sheltering huddled figures at his feet, and a rather messianic inscription (would put a picture, but upload problems).

 

There is a real sense in the Alamo that this was not just any battle, or even any heroic last stand; the siege and storming of the Alamo was a foundational event in Texas’s history and Texas’s idea of who a Texan is and why Texas is special. The men who died on the walls, in the courtyard, in the barracks, and in the church are presented—in the film, the inscriptions, and so on—as freedom fighters, battling against an oppressive Mexican government that sought to curtail their power. The Alamo fighters are presented as ideal Texans: free men, hard-bitten and hard-biting, who are loyal and honorable and fiercely protective of their rights.

 

 

None of which is wrong out of hand. I would love to read more about the details of the Texian/Texan rebellion, why it happened (apparently General/President Santa Anna introduced a new centralized constitution that disempowered the various Mexican states, and a whole bunch of people rebelled) and what happened in it. The details of the Mexican secession from Spain, the Mexican governments and their policy towards encouraging Americans to settle in Texas, Santa Anna’s assumption of power, and of course the battles of the war itself are all lovingly detailed. But the narrative is a little too clean and fits a little too well into the narrative I know of what Texas is. In the Alamo’s telling, the American settlers are presented as basically blameless in Texas’s war for independence; they were encouraged to settle in Texas by generous Mexican land grants and comparatively expensive American ones—so much that they soon outnumbered native Mexicans 10 to 1—then appropriately rebelled when Santa Anna threw out the old Federalist constitution and replaced it with a Centralist one that would deprive them of their rights. It’s all neat, clean and tidy. There has to be more to the story than that.

 

The lack of eyewitnesses on the Texan side, other than a few women and children and one slave, has also led to what feels like myth-making to me. There are apparently multiple, conflicting eyewitness reports of Davey Crockett’s death, with at least one saying that he died fighting valiantly in battle, and another eyewitness saying that he was captured and executed. There are several accounts of James Bowie (pronounced “buoy”)’s death, which happened in his sickbed; he shot himself, he was carried out of the room by Mexican troops and killed, he was burned to death, he was bayoneted in his bed, or (as depicted in a painting shown in the video) he emptied his pistols at Mexican troops barging into the sickroom before being shot to death. And although fort commander William Travis died unambiguously—killed on the north wall—one story holds that Joe, his slave and the only adult Texan male to survive the battle, was released by the Mexican army and then traveled back to Alabama to inform Travis’s family of his death in person (which, bullshit).

I think all of that is part of the Texas founding myth. I don’t mean myth as in something that is automatically untrue, but myth meaning the stories that tell us who we are and about the world around us, where capturing how it feels is more important than exactly what happened and when. The Alamo was a touchstone for the whole identity of the state of Texas, because of it being a Last Stand and the “I would rather die than retreat”, the honorable frontiersmen who fought for freedom and would not be moved, the leaders who died like heroes. And the modern Alamo museum continues to celebrate that historical narrative, to correlate the story of the Alamo with the feeling of “this is what it means to be a Texan”. That doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong, just that it’s something to be aware of when we look at how people tell their own histories. (It’s also cool to see a state that has such a powerful and passionate founding myth as part of their identity; Wisconsin’s story is “We traded beaver furs… and then we started mining stuff”.)

 

Regardless, the Alamo was a really cool thing to see. I often have to make an effort to imagine, when I’m at a historical site or old battleground, that the peaceful, tourist-infested buildings or hills around me were once the site of a desperate struggle, fought by real men against men. They’ve made that connection pretty easy at the Alamo, including little touches that connect the events you’re reading about to the landscape around you, like the plaque that marks the wall where Travis was shot. They also tell the full story of the Alamo, from the Spanish missionaries that built the Alamo through the battle and the 170-plus years afterwards. There are lists of the dead in the church, swords and guns and lances in the old barracks, and mock uniforms of both sides. (Whose idea was it to put the Mexican troops in uniforms with white crosshairs on their chests?!) I walked out of there wanting to know more about the Alamo, the revolution, and the whole history of that time, which is really what any museum should try to accomplish.

Downtown San Antonio is also pretty neat, with a long Riverwalk crowded with restaurants that runs right through downtown, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not, kitschy tourist shops (it feels like they looked at the Alamo and went “WE ARE GOING TO MILK THIS FOR EVERY CENT IT’S WORTH”) and some really interesting shops; Rebecca bought a tiny wall-rug charm from a Turkish shop with beautiful glass lamps, and we both got a podiatry lesson from an elderly Indian cobbler when Rebecca asked him about the thread he was sewing with. True story.

 

Finally, I’d be remiss if I forgot to mention the hospitality of Jay and Leanne, whom we stayed with, and their two spoiled-rotten beagles, Max and Lady. We somehow both forgot to take pictures of them, but they exist—trust us. Leanne fed us the kinds of things that road people just shouldn’t be able to eat (chicken parmesan meatballs, poached pears, brownies and ice cream, homemade pizza, homemade cinnamon rolls) and dispensed a flood of helpful cooking tips, recipes, cookbook recommendations, and pitches for specialized kitchen equipment. (Apparently we need a KitchenAid blender and all of its accessories.)

I decidedly did not get this post up when I said I would last time. Instead of our first night in Austin, I’m putting this up on our first night in Santa Fe, having just finished a seven-hundred-mile drive across the desert of northwest Texas and eastern New Mexico, the part of the map that just looks brown. Another post will be forthcoming about the drive itself.

Houston, Being on the Road, and SPAAACE

It took me a couple of days to figure out what to write about Houston, and what to write about the experience of being on the road. I thought I was prepared for this because I’ve done AmeriCorps; I lived in a van for 10 months with my team and lived in random places around the country. Vicksburg (MS). Anniston (AL). Atlanta. New York City. Frederick (MD). We traveled from site to site in our van, cooked and ate and slept together, and lived what I imagined to be the life of the nomad.

Turns out road trips are different. We drove across the country in NCCC, sure, but only as a means of getting from one place to the next; we still had homes, even if only for a couple of weeks. In a road trip, you don’t have that (it turns out). We skip across the country like a stone across water, never sinking in. It’s an entirely different feeling.

Also, the days are so full!

No offense to my former jobs, but time at work is not memorable, exciting time. Time at work is doing things until work-time is over. Then you go home and do some combination of cooking, eating, laundry, dishes, cat feeding, cat litter, cleaning, sorting, pressing, folding, mixing, and of course writing, which all bulges into the free time that you spend with your girlfriend or out with friends or doing something fun. For only a couple of hours a day are you doing something memorable, something exciting and new-experiential. Weekends are nice, but they’re partially spent sleeping and lazing around; if you’re like me, they’re maybe half-and-half fun experiential stuff and work/laziness.

Road trips apparently are not like that, at least the way we’ve started to do it. We had two days in Houston, staying with our overwhelmingly kind and accommodating hosts, Fritz and Michella. On our first day there, we visited the Yard of Giant President Busts, a warehouse/concert hall full of Raggedy Andy dolls that looked like the beginning of a horror movie, and a bar that seemed like a very small, very mild version of Burning Man.

On our second day… let’s see. We started the day with a wonderful breakfast cooked by Michella, and then a hot yoga class, which no one told me was a hot yoga class until right beforehand, and it turns out they really mean it. We drove from there across Houston (which is as wide as a Martian moon) to the NASA space museum, which, well…

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And then inside it’s like this.

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It’s like that scene in Toy Story where Woody and Buzz go to Pizza Planet.

Rebecca volunteered for a what-it’s-like-to-live-on-the-ISS demonstration, because of course she did…

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…and flatly refused to pee in the toilet on stage.

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The museum also had stuff like this.

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It’s hard to convey just how unnerving and how honestly mind-blowing these exhibits were in practice. The man-model up there is rotating as you see him, in a way that completely rocks your idea of what gravity is and where you purport to be standing. The whole interior of that walk-in exhibit, the Skylab mock-up, is designed so that the cabinets and handles are accessible at impossible-on-Earth angles. When you stand on the floor and look up at them, you feel as if you could just push off the floor and rise to meet them.

Also this thing HAS BEEN TO SPACE.

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As has this.

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These are actual NASA spacecraft that actually were shot atop a rocket into god damn space.

And then there’s this.

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Which we got to go inside.

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And be cute outside.

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When that ended, Fritz and Michella took us to an apparently legendary Houston taco place called Torchy’s Tacos, and then to a dance hall where the following things happened:

1) The door guy instantly called that we were not from Texas despite our cowboy hats, because “your [R’s] hat is backwards, and you’re wearing a felt hat with a scorpion on it. And anyone from Texas who wears a cowboy hat wears boots with it”. We, of course, were not.

2) There was a wooden lozenge with a bar in the center that served as a dance floor, and which Rebecca compared to a roller-skating ring, upon which we danced a lot.

3) We learned the Texas two-step and, thanks to Fritz’s friend Tyler, a whole bunch of spins that go with it—which are really fun and which we’re continuing to practice!

4) Country karaoke that included me doing Bob Dylan, and both Fritz and Rebecca showing off their vocal talent.

5) Watching really experienced couples dancing is an absolute treat. We watched older, presumably married couples swinging and twirling and two-stepping around the floor like they’d been doing it in the cradle, in perfect seamless unison—and even when they screwed up, correcting it without even noticing.

That was ONE DAY. (And the next afternoon, before leaving for San Antonio, we mountain-biked through Memorial Park.)

That day, while fun, was a healthy reminder that I need my introvert-recovery/writing/huddled-around-a-computer time. It was go, go, go, from wakeup ‘til bedtime.

Speaking of which, it’s close to 1 AM in Cibolo, TX, and I have an asleep to be. Will post San Antonio’s retrospective at some point tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, y’all.

A 4×10 Existence

Guest Post!

(And by ‘guest’, I mean ‘Rebecca’, who is in almost no sense a guest. This is her first *ever* blog post. You heard it here on Tisdel’s Tirades People of the Road, folks.

 

Today, June 1st 2017, is my 5-year Nolaversary. Five years to the day after I drove into New Orleans, I drove out. It’s the day that I no longer call New Orleans home.

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We made it about seven feet before one of the Mo’s [Andy’s note: all our dashboard cacti are named some variety of “Mo”] had an accident. (They get carsick easily.)

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My home now, at least for the next 2 1/2 months, is a 2012 Volkswagen Golf named Vivian. My co-pilot Andy and I have packed what we think we’ll need to travel 10,000 miles across the continental United States (and some of Canada). A new home awaits us in Cambridge, MA, but that’s a much later blog post.

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Moving is an interesting experience, and I’m speaking of the figurative sense of changing houses, rather than the literal moving that we are doing at the moment on Interstate 10. In moving, it’s imperative that one looks at all the things that have accumulated in the house. Things that one didn’t necessarily decide to accumulate, but that end up filling the nooks and shelves of the entire space they’re given, like a gas.

Now multiply that by two. When Andy moved into my apartment, just about 6 months ago, he had a whole apartment’s worth of stuff already. Never have I wanted to be a minimalist more than sorting through all the junk to pack, to throw out, to give away or sell, to take with us.

And it’s now been sorted and pared down into the bare minimum that will fit in the car. It still seems like a lot.

Andy and I together have a combined 53 years of life under our belts. Although we haven’t been accumulating for that long, it’s still disconcerting to see roughly 1/600th of the stuff we had before as the stuff we decided to keep with us on this journey. Perhaps we’ll be ready for that dream Tiny House after this.

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-Rebecca

Almost All the Pre-Trip Shit is FINALLY DONE

I thought I’d share with y’all what we’ve been doing for the last couple of months to get ready for this.

-Find an apartment in Boston: We hired a realtor because Boston is crazy and you need one to survive, Rebecca flew up in April with her dad to research places to live, and we eventually signed a lease on a one-bedroom in Cambridge that is worth more than some entire buildings.

-Move Out: We found a new tenant, replaced the blinds, hired an apartment-cleaner (who is coming tonight), flea-bombed the house, canceled/transferred the utilities, and cancelled the composting service.

Board Cats: This one was a bear. Short of giving them away or grinding them into sausage, we had to do something with our three cats (Oatmeal, Jax, and Quinoa). After calling about 30 cat-boarding places in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut–whose lowest price for three cats and three months was $2,250–our new tenant agreed to watch them for the summer in exchange for a month’s rent.

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Store Stuff: Rebecca’s father, who is a certified card-carrying saint, drove 1,500 miles from Boston to New Orleans in his pickup truck, hitched a U-Haul trailer to it, helped us load (and oversaw the packing of) most of our apartment, and drove it back to Philadelphia where Rebecca’s cousins unloaded and stored it for the price of pizza and cocktails.

-Get Rid of Stuff: Everything we didn’t move and didn’t plan to pack, we got rid of. Scarves, shirts, shoes, a toaster, books, blenders, chairs, bags, formal shirts, dresses, miscellany of all kinds, owl-shaped hot pads, thousands of glassware (or what seemed like it), a couch, tables, bookcases, a TV, a bedside table, several dressers… We sold as much as we could and donated the rest to charity.

-Trip Stuff: Figured out our route, made a budget, lined up friends and family with whom to stay along the route, bought a tent and other camping equipment for those times where we’ll be camping in national parks (that’s a thing), bought a National Parks Pass, enrolled in health insurance, closed a bank account, bought MORE camping equipment… this won’t be done until we’re in Boston.

And that’s all, besides the two graduate school applications, two frantic GRE studying and test-taking periods, and the frankly ridiculous amount of help we received from friends and family, in small ways and large. I just found a list of things we needed to do that I wrote back in April, huge, time-consuming tasks like the ones above, and every single well is now crossed off. Once we scrub the floor and clean out the apartment tomorrow morning, and move our backpacks into the car, we’ll be done.

The Next Ten Thousand Miles

Good God, it’s been forever since I did this. 

If you don’t know me already, my name’s Andy, I used to blog at Tisdel’s Tirades, and now I’m here. Why am I writing here? Because my girlfriend (Rebecca) and I are taking a road trip that’ll last from June 1st through the middle of August, and I wanted a fresh new place to write about the things we do and see. (Because no one’s ever made a travel blog before.)

Where are we going? Well, here:

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I wanted to live in the West after I left New Orleans. I figured that since I’d lived in the Midwest (Milwaukee, Cleveland, Wooster), the East Coast (New York, Washington D.C.), and the South (New Orleans + brief stints in MS, AL, and GA), the next logical step was to live somewhere West–somewhere with “Mountains, Gandalf!”. I figured it’d be either Denver or Portland, and then when I learned that Portland would eventually fall into the sea,  I thought okay, Denver it is. Then life happened; I decided to go to graduate school, applied, was accepted into Brandeis University, and went oh, OK, I guess Boston is next

So I thought, if I can’t live in the West, I might as well see it while I can. 

West through Houston and San Antonio and Lyndon Johnson’s Hill Country, looping through Austin, then seven hundred miles due northwest to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. West again, past Meteor Crater to the Grand Canyon, through Phoenix, and down I-10 through Joshua Tree to L.A. North through California’s national parks, through Sequoia and Sierra and Stanislaus and Kings Canyon and Yosemite, all the way to Modesto; zig northwest to Reno, northeast to Lassen Peak, and back on I-5 through Oregon and Washington, all the way over the border to Vancouver. Then southeast for 900 miles to Yellowstone National Park, cutting through parks and forests and badlands and mountains and prairie, and on through Wyoming to Denver.

From then on, it’s the homestretch. We’ll cover Kansas and Missouri and all of Illinois, up to my family in Milwaukee and northern Wisconsin, then swing around the Great Lakes; Illinois, Indiana, Ohio (Cleveland), and on to Philadelphia. From there, all that remains is to get our belongings out of storage and drive the last, paltry 300 miles to Boston. 

I’m going to try to write something every day. Not necessarily on here, but something. Everything I write about The Trip will go here, and most of the pictures I take should find their way here eventually. I’m not used to actually writing about myself on the Internet–I’m much more used to ranting about politics or football or something else that doesn’t require the writer to be involved, so this is my first foray into the kind of blogging that most ordinary Internet people do. (Because it’s me, I’ll also post whatever else I happen to write in this forum.)

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy what I post here.