Our Whuffaoke or Bust road trip is becoming more and more like an epic Top Gear adventure every day, and we are only on day 6 of 17. Whilst not everything that could have gone wrong has, we’ve had our fair share of drama and adventure.
The great thing about our proclivities thus far are that not only are fantastic for the TV Cameras (or justin.tv streams), they are not the kind of drama we actually don’t want (crashes, dismemberment, explosions, etc.)
After a successful run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas during the night we thought we could tackle the journey to Salt Lake City in a similar way. Everything was fine until we snuck through the corner of Arizona which the I-15 takes you through. Whilst the surroundings of the narrow canyons, stunning peaks, and winding river bed are breathtaking, driving through it at sunrise proved to much for Winnie and she gave out half way through. After a short wait and an attempt to dump all of her water and waster to save weight we managed to start her again and carry on with our way. It was decided that once she was started to give her as much gas as possible, all the time. No coasting. This worked great until we stopped for petrol.
We were then finally unable to restart the her at this petrol station somewhere in the middle Utah. On a sunday. We waited 10 minutes, then 20, then 30 and still, nothing. All of the local mechanics were closed and so whilst some of us tried to work out how we could get towed to Salt Lake City where we has a mechanic waiting, others, including myself, decided to see if we could set up some real car cameras, Top Gear style which we could live stream and hope that a mechanic would go to our Justin.tv stream and help us diagnose / fix remotely.
If I might say so myself, the rig whilst simple, was awesome. I taped our camera and a directional microphone to the underside of the open bonnet with Gaffer / Duck tape. Simple, but incredibly effective, apart from the fact that no mechanics on twitter came to our rescue! Because we were worried about fuel levels, the further effect of heat on the engine and, err, the environment, we plugged our RV into a wall socket in the side of the gas station for power.
We were eventually rescued by a tow truck that took us the 160 miles to Salt Lake City with us sat on the drivers bed behind the cab in temperatures exceeding 40 Celsius because, apparently, his air conditioning was broken. Great. We did make it, though not without people passing out and suffering from fairly extreme heat stroke and dehydration. It wasn’t until we were taken for dinner at The Counter that we realized how badly this had affected us. Nonetheless we were determined to make Salt Lake City a success… keep your eyes peeled for a wrap up!
Until this trip, Whuffaoke or Bust, the longest trip I had taken with friends for a very long time (read about 5 years) was just a few days. A short hop to Europe for a BarCamp or a long weekend in the states. Why? I love to travel alone. I love the freedom it gives me to be wild and do those crazy things that give me the stories I have to tell. I am at liberty to change my plans on a whim, or better still make no plans at all and just see what happens. I needn’t consult with anyone about anything. I want steak, I go to a steakhouse. I want to drive another 3 hours, I just do it.
There is also the social aspect. Meeting people when you travel alone is not only much easier, and it’s those connections that often lead to the aforementioned stories. Traveling with others gives you far too much of an excuse (which you use subconciously) to not meet new people. Some of these fleeting connections made at 4:30AM when climbing into the wrong hostel bed to be met with someone already asleep there really can be the beginnings of lifetime friendships.
On the flip side it’s a phenominal way to get to know people. Before this trip I I’d hung out with Tara a bunch of times in the last year or so, and I do count her as a friend, but it’s one thing seeing each other occasionally and spending 23 days together. Tony and Alex I had met briefly earlier this year and Karen I met for the first time a few days ago! We all shared one thing (being friends with Tara) so I knew that we would probably all get along.
The trip has been going great, and all of the complaints I might have about traveling in a group are negated by the greater goal of what we are doing, Karaokeing across America. The decisions we collectively make are simplified and guided by our goal, which removes much of the tension over decisions experienced in other group trips, even the short ones.
This was crystalized when we were in Las Vegas going out after our show. We had 4 hours to kill, and no plan. Everything fell apart. We didn’t argue or fight but we suffered an inability to make a collective decision over things like where to eat and drink, what casino to go to and so on. Why? Because we had lost that communal goal which bound our decisions. We experience this in every day life too, not just on holiday, though when away from our comfort zones this seems to be heightened.
I think I will continue to travel alone when travel itself is the goal, but where experiences like the Whuffaoke come up, I think I can make an exception
Even though we pulled into Los Angeles many many hours late we still had an amazing night. After jumping around on the roof to a few songs and getting generally quite trashed I found myself running around in the Pacific Ocean posing for photographs with a girl called Kate for quite possibly the most amazing photographer I know, Wm. Marc Salsberry! We’ve met a few times at various tech events around the US, but I never really had a chance to pose properly until tonight. It’s always been in crowded rooms or busy bars. It’s quite different when you are all but alone on a beach, in the dark!
Anyway, I’m sure you will agree, the photo is stunning, and hopefully there will be a few more to come as we took loads!
I recoreded you a video last night, but iMovie ate the audio you can still see it here if you want. It’s quite disturbing, i was drunk, ready to pass out and almost naked… maybe it’s a good thing it didn’t have audio otherwise I may have posted it last night! Anyway, off we go today!
Wow, day three already, time is just flying by. Before you know it i’ll be back in the UK!
Today, was, as the video says, wild and very long. Had a great meeting with Ziv from Eye-Fi who are sorting us out with some of their cool kit so we can auto upload photos to flickr, more on that when we’re all ready to go. Also got to check out Winne (our Winnebago) for the first time. She is stunning and I can’t wait to see her all finished and pimped out.
Anyway, Its almost 8am in London and midnight here in San Francisco, and I’m still up to see if I can get hold of Heathrow Lost Property…
Today (or yesterday - I’m just never sure with crossing all these time zones) I travelled from London to San Francisco to prepare for the most epic adventure I will have ever undertaken, The Whuffaoke or Bust Tour.
It started with a night when I didn’t even get into bed and instead packed and repacked my bag numerous times. I even photographed the progress of my final packing and turned it into a little movie!
It was all going so well, cab was on time and super comfortable. Bag drop was complete in minutes, and security wasn’t that busy either. I stopped in the terminal to buy a bite to eat and some perfume, and then headed straight to the departure lounge where I didn’t even have time to sit down before boarding started. The free champagne (most likely sparkling wine) they server in Virgin’s Premium Economy was enough of an incentive to get me on board quick so there I was drinking away without a care in the world. Take off was smooth and the inflight food wasn’t bad. Everything was perfect. Until I went to retrieve my laptop. And then it dawned on me, I never picked it up after security. D’oh.
I was surprised at my calmness. I guess there really was nothing I could do at 35,000 feet. That and the vodka with a splash of coke I had already drunk.
All this drama and Whuffaoke doesn’t start for another few days… oh dear, what can we have in store!
The stretch of Pacific Coast from a few miles north of Cambria up as far as Carmel by Sea is, quite simply, one of the best driving roads in North America. It even rivals some of the best found in Europe. The journey (over the drive) up the Pacific Coast Highway is best done in the late afternoon and evening to avoid the relativley pedestrian traffic found during the day. Nothing quite beats driving a real (read manual) convertible around winding coastal roads at speed. You don’t want to be stuck behind a convoy of RV’s or tragically stereotypical American tourists taking photos through the windows of their cars without actually stopping to take in the sight. Fourtunatley most of these people are sensible or old, or both, and wouldn’t think of starting a 100 mile drive when the sun is almost ready to set, which is, of course, when the best views are to be had.
It is not, as Jeremy Clarkson would have you believe, all about the speed, handling and cornering, but about the breathtaking beauty of the coast too. Take time to stop at the view points which are sign posted every few miles, and when you can drive down to the coast, walk out into the water and feel the full power of the Pacific as it’s waves crash against you. If you’ve timed it right, it will still be warm enough to dry off during the walk back to your car.
I recommend starting out from Cambria about 3 or 4 hours before sunset, which means you will catch the most stunning of the sun’s rays warming the rugged coast just when you hit Big Sur, the most spectacular section of the drive, and will arrive in Carmel of Monterey in time to check into your hotel for a good nights partying, or sleep, if that’s your thing.