From May to July, 2019, my best friend Amica and I went on a journey across the country that we early on dubbed a “walkabout,” per some sky hippies in Georgia. (See that adventure here.)
The world is totally different now. Our lives are totally different now. We crave the road, but can’t get back to it just yet.
So this month, we’re embarking on what I’m calling a “mockabout.” We’re taking a pretend trip across the country. Every day or so, I’m going to spread out a map, trace roads, Google weather and motels, and imagine what we’d be doing if we were out there for real. I’ll update this blog article as we go, so bookmark it and check back! I’ll also update this Google map.
And oh yeah, on this pretend trip, there’s no such thing as COVID-19.
*UPDATE* new entries will be tacked on the bottom.
Shoved off on the adventure today. We just hit the road to get out of PA. Crashing at the Red Roof Inn in Westlake Ohio. $58. Five and a half hours of just interstate, which was plenty enough. Nostalgic for our speaking gigs in New York State where we often crash at the Red Roofs. Having a quiet night in. Weather a cold low-40s and occasionally spitting.
Avoided highways hard today. Drove along the Lake Erie. Got out and sniffed a beach. Trudged through Toledo and made it to Michigan Amica’s 44th state, at last! Trudged through Detroit and off the freeways at last. Staying at the Harbor Beach Inn for $84. Mid-40s temps. In for the night. It’s dark. Want to check out the old steam engine and the lighthouse in the morning.
Still heading for the UP. Explored Harbor Beach this morning and then drove along Lake Huron all day until finding a place to stay in Alpena. We stopped and explored Tawas Point State Park. It was lighthouse day apparently! It was a pleasant day, temps in the 50s. I hope the skies stay clear so I can see that epic twinkle show in the UP. Staying at the Ramada here. Really struggling to find pet friendly motels. And the pet fees blow. So it’s $98 tonight. Boo. Tomorrow, we cross the Mackinac Bridge and are in the UP at last. Will find a bunk and probably stay a couple nights. Will be due for a no-drive day.
Wonderful drive today! Traced Lake Huron up to the Mackinac Bridge. Poked around Mill Creek State Park on the way. I love historic mills. Amica loved the smelling. Then over that marvelous (indeed a marvel) bridge and into the UP at last! It’s been seventeen years, and this place feels just as elsewhere-ly as ever. Started along Lake Michigan, spotting the pasties signs, and cut the drive short at Naubinway. Again, not happy with the rates and the pet fees, but found a charming, rustic room at the Adoba Hotel Naubinway. $80 a night plus a $25 pet fee. We’re staying two nights anyway. Need a still day, and I dig the vibe of this town. Will be checking out the bar tonight … five minutes walk. See if they have pasties and commune with the locals. Beautiful day in the high 50s today. Loving it.
What an awesome day! I got up and got a bunch of work done in the morning. Amica and I explored this little town. A walk along the lake. Temps in the mid 50s. I had to eat at Moofinfries (translate coo-fish-fries). I got battered fish and proper Canadian poutine! Then I had to hit up the pastie place. I drove by all those pastie signs all those years ago and needed to see what all the fuss was about. All wonderful food! Next we drove away from town a little to catch the spectacular twinkle show that is the UP night sky. It was just as magical as I’d remembered. Back to town now and shall end my evening popping back over to the pub to hang out with my new pals there.
Left our dear Naubinway this morning. Getting back on my car stash of non-perishables. We maybe should press west now, as my beloved Rockies are waiting, but I wanted to pop up to the Lake Superior shoreline, so we made way for Grand Marais where I joyfully explored the maritime museum (it was an easy 60s-weather day so Ammers was fine chillin’ in her giant double car bed), and then we went and played at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Our first National Park of the trip! It’s more for boats, but we caught some pretty scenes. Scored a great motel: Brentwood Motor Inn in Marquette. Classic roadside joint, $62 plus $10 pet fee. That’s more like it! Going to have a chill night and rest up to wander into Wisconsin.
I love driving across this part of the country. Giant fish, giant lumberjacks, crazy giant statue things everywhere. Just like New Zealand. I’m not trying to go to cities on this trip, but I had to see Duluth again. I loved this town so much when I did comedy here back in the early 2000s. Lodging choices not great. Bagged a Motel 6 with interior hallways, which is a pain. $85 and Amica is free. It’ll have to do. I drove her down to the lakewalk area and we had a nice stroll before we ran out of daylight. So, Wisconsin, which I love, was a blur. And we’re going to get Minnesota gone now because Montana’s calling is way louder than a whisper. Another beautiful day of mild temps.
Did some actual highway today. I wanted to hit Jamestown again. I wanted to stay in our favorite motel room from the previous adventure. I even called ahead to the Two Rivers Inn and got it arranged. $54 a night!! We’ll do two nights here. I need to get some work done, and I want to finally see the bison museum! I’ll take Amica back to the old town for a walkaround. Must get a steak from Frontier Fort Bar & Grill. All this tomorrow. Tonight is canned chicken. One big change – it’s FREEZING here! Finally got out the winter gear. Ammie will hang in the motel while I go out and about.
Well, that was a perfect day!! Got a ton of work done in the morning and made it out to the old wild west village. (I’m in the WEST!!) Did two trips. First with Amica, then took her back home so I could do more than that museum’s gift shop this time and then treat myself to a nice steak dinner, which was as delicious as I remembered. Chatted with the locals. Had good human time. Oh yeah, and the wife owner of the motel still sets up a bangin’ breakfast spread. Now a cozy evening in with my doggo, keeping warm up here in no man’s land.
Back on the road today and holy crap is it cold! I looked at cutting south into Wyoming, but it’s no better there. Got up early to make Billings by daylight. All highway and into a city. Was comforting to keep to civilization in this cold. It’s in the 20s at best. Staying at the Dude Rancher Lodge, $80 plus $7 pet fee. Not terrible. Interior hallways, but we bagged a room close to a side exit. It’s a frigid 5-minute walk to Montana Brewing Company, but it must be done. I’ve never been out in Billings, and I’ve got my boots on.
Another looooog drive day, so we’re staying here at least two nights. Made it to Whitefish. Someone mentioned this place to me once, and I looked up some photos of it. Stunning. If the weather holds out, we’re heading into Glacier National Park tomorrow. I thought getting out of the car in 100-degree heat in Big Bend National Park was bad. This…. wow. Hoteling is tough here. Pricey. $20 a night pet fees. The cool downtown joints don’t have first floor rooms, so Amica can’t do it. So it’s a Best Western just south of town. It’s really really nice, but am dropping a hair over $100 a night.
Great day! Got up early early and hit the very good hotel breakfast, skipped work, and went right for the park. Drove through downtown Whitefish on the way and hit a coffee shop with a brew to go, just for fun. Then into the park. Glacier National Park is sizeable, but not impossible to cover well via car in a day. We are fortunate the precipitation is holding off. Saw mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and my beautiful, beautiful Rocky Mountains. I was only here before in 2007, and it sure lives up to my memory of its wild, heaven scraping majesty. Stopped at a market on the way back and had a little picnic dinner in the room while pushing through some work. Checked the weather and looks all clear to make Washington tomorrow.
We’re in Washington! Amica’s 45th state! It’s very cold and rainy, but no winter precipitation so that’s a good thing. Long drive to Walla Walla. College town. I just like the name, and it got us off the interstate for the last couple hours. Crashing in a cute little motel called the Capril Motel, for $55 a night. Having a quiet night in. Seems like a cute little city, but we ain’t city folk. This is a waypoint. I’m craving Prineville.
We’re back in Prineville! I called ahead and booked our same room at the City Center Motel for three nights, still $74 a night. Got here early to check out the little museum. I love small town museums. Tonight, I’ll walk down to Crossroads for karaoke night. I wish there were a band, but that’s OK. I’ll find one soon enough.
Another great day in Prineville! Went back to that nice laundry mat and caught a brew at the same brewery where I killed time last time. Then I found the little coffee shop that’s following me on Instagram because of my Prineville posts from last year. Weather has been mild, highs in the low 50s. Not bad at all and easy to enjoy the park in.
Last day in Prineville. I’m sad to leave. Got a lot of work done then visited my new pals at the coffee shop. Caught a fancy microwave dinner at the grocery store and will enjoy popcorn and a movie in the room tonight. Chill time with my pup.
Sadly left my favorite little town this morning and made for California. Wanted a new national park to see so we went straight down for Lava Beds National Monument. Not the best terrain for Amica, but worth a look. Didn’t mean to, but ended up at another do-over town, in a do-over motel. Alturas. I was eyeballing Lassen Volcanic National Park for our next stop, and this is where the lodging is on the way. This was when I was wondering do we crawl the coast down to San Dimas or head for the mountains. I love that Pacific vista and the mountains may have dicey weather, but they drew me their way anyway. It’s cold and rainy, but we’re cozy inside a $66 room. Can’t resist grabbing at bite at the gorgeous saloon in the Hotel Niles.
Great jaunt through northern Cali today. Cold leaving Alturas this morning but warmed up into the high 50s as we went. Visited Lassen Volcanic National Park which I LOVE because it reminds me so much of Yellowstone (my favorite place in the world). Weird not visiting Yellowstone on this trip, but it’s not the thing for a little car this time of year. From there, we went right for Sacramento, where our friend Brian — whom we met in Broadus, MT during last year’s walkabout — lives. Wonderful time catching up and meeting his animals.
Beautiful day! We adventured to the beach! Point Reyes National Seashore is just north of San Fran. Temps in the 60s. Just perfect. I talked Brian into hitting a winery on the way back and we found a little place to get some seafood where we could sit outside with Ammers. She loved her day!
Another gorgeous day in the 60s. Today we just chilled at home. Spent the entire day in the yard, talking, grilling, then made a fire. It was utter peace.
Departed today and made for Yosemite. Doing another motel do-over with a cute place in Sonora, California. Brian of course yelled at me for booking a motel barely 2 hours from his house, but I really wanted to be here and also not have such a commute to Yosemite. Not super keen on the $99 a night, but when my heart is set it’s set. This evening I actually explored a bit of the town of Sonora, with its wild west mountain vibe, more than just walking Amica along the street on departure day like we did before. Got myself a nice meal in a cozy pub and talked to friendly strangers. Was a cool but not cold evening.
We went to Yosemite today!!! We were here once before, and it was well worth the stop, but it was so absolutely overrun with summer tourists we could barely move about the park. So we barely did. Today we actually got to explore and see the place, and it was a pleasant low-60s (eventually) day for it. Nature’s skyscrapers, all this landscape, and that famed waterfall hold all the magic I recall and more. Back in town, I hit up the grocery store for some supplies and treated myself to Lunchables for dinner.
Made it to Santa Clarita today. Visiting pals Daniel and Heather and their kiddos. This is the part of the trip where my taste buds are the most important. It was backyard extravaganza (temps hit the 70s!) There was steak that started sous vide and ended grilled, with a fine 2016 sonoma cab sauv. There was bourbon tasting. Angel’s Envy, then a comparison of Four Roses’ small batch and single barrel and I couldn’t choose a favorite. We smoked cigars and toasted marshmallows with kiddos Hadleigh and Devin and found planets with the telescope. Amica and I crashed in the backyard guest accommodations: they set up their tent for us so we could have at least one camp out on this near-winter adventure. A fine night of laughter and fine things.
We arrived today at my bestie’s place in San Dimas! I got there early so Brianna and Amica and I could head right out on a crazy jaunt to Joshua Tree National Park, while listening to Joshua Tree of course. We came home to wild little Benjamin and dear hubby Andrew who tended to the little guy all day while we were adventuring. We did make it home while still daylight and cozy sweater weather. I heartily scored us some Mexican take-out to go with the juice of the cacti that Brianna and I love to share. It’s so great to be back in my Cali home with my Cali fam.