Friday, June 29, 2012

Keeping a Travel Journal

Almost every time I've been overseas I've ended up keeping a travel journal of some description. Although when I use the word journal it makes me think of a word heavy "so we got up and went and had a cup of tea and a bun and walked around looking at all the roses" and this isn't what I'm really talking about. It is more a documentation of a trip using drawings, words and scraps of paper (my sister, after I pulled the newest one out last weekend looked at it and said that is a scrapbook).

I don't usually put photos in, but the last one from the UK trip has spots where I meant to put them in but never printed them off. Although I take loads of photos, I know I'll never print them out and I've never been one for photo albums either, so it is nice to still have a memento of a trip that you can refer back to that is very visual.

Because most of them have involved Scotland it was nice to look over old journals when Gareth's parents were out and remember places we ate, who ate what how much it cost. I can instantly remember things much better after reading them so it really does serve a purpose when you want to remember a trip.

I want to quickly mention The Journey is the Destination by Dan Eldon, a book I got back in 1997 when I was in Year 12. This is the travel journal to end all travel journals. The fact that he died, was good looking and an amazing artist definitely left an impression on me as a 17 year old and I kept a similar one during my exchange to Belgium the following year.

Here are my tips on what to do although please feel free to pick and choose what you want. Each time I do something different but still try to keep the whole thing consistent, so ended up trying to remember every subway journey we took, complete with maps for this trip.


The Paper. Get a decent journal. I think hardcover works best as it gives you something to work on if you don't have a flat surface. Plus it is nice to have something sturdy that will last and look good on a book shelf.

Colours. Pencils, textas or watercolour paints, whatever tickles your fancy. I like to buy my supplies when I get to the destination as it gives you a chance to check out an art supply store and maybe find things you don't normally work with.

Sticky stuff. You need some decent tape. In the past I used normal cello tape but this doesn't last (for years) or glue (but you can stick things in a flap revealing the other side). This time I got some white washi tape from Japan. Although I'm not sure how long it will last it was good because you could see through it, remove it easily if you stuck something in the wrong spot, tear it off easily and write over it. All big ticks, so let's hope it lasts.

These are the supplies I got for the trip just gone. The sketchbook was the perfect size (around A5) for my handbag and I had a little pencil case for my pens and tape.

This is from our 2010/2011 trip to the UK. I ended up buying some lovely watercolours although they were not always convenient to use. But a long afternoon in a pub was a perfect time to crack them open and draw some beer.

What to include

When I first started keeping a journal it was all about what we ate out. Now I include everything we ate along with little maps, paper goods collected at different places, people we met and places we went. I also use it as a sketchbook when I visited museums so it kind of covers all bases.

Little snippets of things from restaurants are great to stick in, but sometimes can take up loads of space. Work out how many pages you have for each day to spread everything out.

On the left are some drawings from the Museum of Natural History, on the right is our lunch at an odd bar/burger place. Sometimes documenting stuff can be tiring, especially if you want to enjoy the moment. If this is the case I'll just try to remember things and do it later on.

This is from my 2003 journal and was very messy and had few drawings. It has some errors (it should read we CAN see Ireland through the haze) but I love the fact that I included a pint tally and the songs that played in the pub in Port Patrick. Although it is visually not that great it is still lots of fun to read over.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day Six and Everything Else

Day Six: Little Rock to Oklahoma City
Day Seven: Oklahoma City to Amarillo
Day Eight: Amarillo to Albuquerque
Day Nine: Albuquerque to Flagstaff
Day Ten: Flagstaff to Las Vegas (via The Grand Canyon)
Day Thirteen: Las Vegas to Los Angeles

We are back in Australia and I got lazy and didn't blog about it every day. Over promise and under deliver. CHECK!

So rather than post one by one you're going to get a mega post last week of the holiday recap.

In Oklahoma we went to a waterpark. I've been wanting to go to one for ages (years) and consider myself a bit of a thrill seeker. I've bungee jumped off this bridge so always thought I was cool with heights. Guess what stops you from being cool with heights? Age. Add another 10 years and the fear goes up exponentially and I'm not sure if I could actually bungee jump again. There were a couple of slides that I decided I couldn't go on, they looked like one wrong move and you're dead type of slides. Steep, fast and on some occasions people seems to be some airtime. Some of the slides were up on 7 or 8 storey high constructions. One had me worried due to its rust and general thinness on the stairs. The other had Gareth feeling a little more secure, telling me wood doesn't rust. No it rots Gareth, it rots!

In Amarillo we met a woman who could have organised a meet with one Barack Obama, but alas we were not in the same town at the same time. Gareth's response to the possibility of meeting Bamy: We might need to get better outfits.

We hit Albuquerque early and drove around looking at Breaking Bad sites. This was exciting, but also creepy. Oh look it's Jesse's aunts house. How dare they built a garage, that's where the RV goes.

On the way to Flagstaff we stopped off at a few national parks, including the Petrified Forest and Walnut Canyon. The high altitude didn't get us any Brownlow Medal wins, but we did find pints of PBR for $1.50 each during happy hour. They were normally $2. Bless the cheap beer.

The Grand Canyon was interesting. Sure it was one of the best, most surreal views you will ever see and you will struggle to take it all in. Then there are the people. It isn't till you leave Australia you realise how safety conscious it is. If that hole was in Australia there would be 10 meter walls around it. We saw so many people getting very close to the edge and got a bit freaked out by it all. We wanted our secure wall, we didn't want to see people die! Then found a book in a gift shop detailing all the deaths at the canyon. It was arranged in sections for the different types of death and would have taken up half our allocated luggage weight had we purchased a copy. My morbid curiosity didn't quite beat having to offload all my clothing just to get it home.

My people highlight however was a couple we saw just as we arrived at the car park. They walked towards their car, opened the door and began baby talking and I started to get concerned they had left a baby inside. But then we saw them putting a cat into the man's backpack. They took their cat to the Grand Canyon and put it in a backpack with its head popping out. I'm only guessing so it could take in the view.

Las Vegas was something I was super excited about but found it a bit blergy. We were there on the weekend, there was a heatwave going on (44 C degrees) and our poor precious baby lungs had a hard time dealing with the indoor smoking so we felt like cranky old people tut tutting at everything. It wasn't all bad though, we did get to eat at some nice restaurants including Craft Steak, Tom Colicchio from Top Chef's place, an epic meal that beat the both of us down.

We got to LA with an extra day as we ended up skipping Fort Smith on the road trip (sorry Arkansas). We did a few dorky tourist things, took a drive along Mulholland and walked along Venice Beach. That end of holiday feeling, a mixture of sadness it is over plus a huge desire to go home coupled with the dread of a long haul flight kinda loomed over us as well. The flight home wasn't too bad in the end as we left late at night which meant we slept pretty well and arrived home again in the morning.

So that is the end. Back to work work work!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Road Trip Day Five: Memphis Tennessee to Little Rock Arkansas

Route: Memphis Tennessee to Little Rock Arkansas
Date: Sunday 9th June
Departed: 2.15 pm
Arrived: 5 pm
Stops: None
Distance: 242 km
Arguments: dunno

Today we had a lovely relaxed morning. We stayed with Taryn on and she makes the best cookies we've ever tried. We had an amazing breakfast and morning tea and hung out with her and her cute cat. Then we headed over to Mud Island (as far as I could tell it isn't a real island, but there are two bridges and a monorail to get to it, so it feels very important!). I'd read there was a civil war reenactment and I wanted to see it. Turns out there was people in costumes and old school guns going off, but no actual reenactment. What they did have was this huge model of the Mississippi River. It's worth going over just to see it and although it's a little dated, this adds to its appeal. We also went to the Metal Museum. Biggest disappointment there was that I didn't get to see the two house cats that lived there (they had a white one that apparently wasn't white anymore, I discovered their food was in the blacksmith shed and made enquiries about them). They had two exhibitions that were amazing, one by Lauren Kalman and another by Virgil England: both worth looking up.

Road Trip Day Four: Nashville to Memphis

Route: Nashville Tennessee to Memphis Tennessee
Date: Saturday 8th June
Departed: 11 am
Arrived: 4.22 pm
Stops: None
Distance: 408 km
Arguments: 1

Today we got up with big plans to attend a (wait for it...) a Star Trek convention. When I discovered it was on when we would be in Nashville I was stoked (Radiohead was also performing, hey you win some/lose some). We didn't buy tickets as we were not sure how our road trip would pan out, but we figured it wouldn't sell out. We got to the venue (epic argument and valuable lessons about driving/navigating were had) and it was a hotel that could have been used as a deep space 9 ship. Big atrium and our only thoughts, how many air cons keep this space, with a glass roof, cool?

We got to the suites and discovered a rather large line full of people dressed up. Suddenly our desire to enter went down. After waiting 1.5 hours in line at immigration in San Fran my line limit is 4 minutes. I was sad, then Gareth pointed out that all the ***stars*** were sitting at a table signing autographs and you could just walk up and see them. Two things I wanted from the convention, to see Riker, Geordie LaForge, Q and Troi and see fans dressed up. Both boxes ticked, off we went to Memphis!

We stayed in a great place in Memphis, went to a rather lovely venue called Mollie Fontaine Lounge (in an old Victorian house) and drunk pretty pink cocktails.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Road Trip Day Three - Knoxville to Nashville

Route: Knoxville Tennessee to Nashville Tennessee
Date: Friday 8th June
Departed: 1 pm
Arrived: 3 pm (CDT)
Stops: None
Distance: 297.5km
Arguments: 0

We were feeling a little delicate on this trip, lucky it was only a few hours so we could leave later in the afternoon.

The drive to Nashville was pretty eat, although I missed getting a good pic of the huge gold discoball that sits above Knoxville.

We arrived in Nashville and had a really lovely evening. A great Indian restaurant suggested by the people we stayed with, then we walked to a local park and caught the end of their sons under 10 baseball match. We also saw fireflies for the first time. The area was really lovely, huge homes with big porches, big green backyards and friendly folk who say hello when you walk past.
We are a bit slow with our updating, I'll need to get onto the next few days!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Road trip day Two: Roanoke Virginia to Knoxville Tennessee

Route: Roanoke Virginia to Knoxville Tennessee
Date: Thursday 7th June
Departed: 11 am
Arrived: 5.45 pm
Stops: Poages Mill Overlook, Rocky Knob Overlook, Fancy Gap, Marion
Distance: 492 km
Arguments: We can't remember

Today's drive took in the Blue Ridge Parkway, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. We were going to just take the interstate but Lynn at the house we stayed at suggested it. We had some amazing views, saw a deer and a beaver (but no bears - sad face).

The journey ended up being a lot longer but it was worth it for the scenery. We hit Knoxville at drinking
hour, had a swim in the pool, then headed to a bar for some drinks and stumbled home at 1am. Good times!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Road Trip Day One: DC to Roanoke VA

Route: Washington DC to Roanoke VIrginia
Date: Wednesday 6th June
Departed: 10.15am
Arrived: 4.30pm
Stops: Strasburg VA
Distance: 390 km
Arguments: 3*

We left on our trip a little apprehensive about a few things. Mainly getting lost, arguing and the phone running out of battery. We arrived with 5% left and a plan to get a car charger for tomorrow.

Strasburg, the town we stopped into for lunch was lovely, super cute and friendly. The place we planned on eating at was shut but a lovely lady Marcy called out to try Hi Neighbour across the street. Marcy also had a shop selling local artworks which we popped into after and I got some cards with cats drinking wine. Perfect!

Roanoke (we asked Marcy how to pronounce it, we had no clue, turns out the e is silent) is a lot bigger (google maps can be deceiving) than we thought. We stayed in a B and B built in the late 19th century that is rather impressive. The innkeepers suggested a restaurant down the road for dinner and after we took a stroll and saw 10 cats. I decided if I ever open a B&B it will be a cat B&B and each room will be named after a cat. Virginia is also super pretty, so lush and green. Driving through the country I have to admit the farm girl in me got excited about seeing all the barns. I hope farm girls from the US get equally excited when they see sheds in Australia.

*When we spoke about how many arguments we had we ended up having an argument. Winners!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Forrest! Forrest!

We left New York yesterday on a bus for DC. It was nice to see some landscape, farms and barns after the big smoke of New York. We had a stroll round DC before picking up our car for our epic road trip that starts today. We plan to spend the next two weeks driving to LA and we are a little scared (we run a business together but right side driving + navigation might really test things) but also looking forward to seeing the country. First stop is Virginia, a state for lovers and from the looks of things fresh country air. Gareth is looking forward to eating 'food from baskets' and I'm looking forward to learning left from right.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The things we are doing

I think our jetlag finally wore off, our feet got used to the pain and we found some amazing coffee. Today is our last day in NYC and up until now we have had great weather (okay, we got caught in the rain yesterday, but huddling under an awning with 8 other people was a fun bonding moment).

On Saturday we discovered Brooklyn Museum and after four hours we decided it was our favourite place. We went Saturday morning and pretty much had a run of the place. The building and collection are amazing. It's top of our new must see list in New York.

We then trained it over to the transit museum. Housed in an old underground station it had an interesting history of the building of the system, which is totally amazing. There was also a cat there.

We then walked over Brooklyn Brudge then trained it out to Williamsburg to check out the Artist and Flea market. It's sort of similar to Rose Street but runs from 10am-7pm. That's a long day for carny folk! Then we found a dive bar and drunk the PBR beer that seems popular in the area.

Yesterday we checked out Grand Central Station, the whispering wall (if you're shouting "is it working??" then you're doing it wrong, and the Public Library. We then went to the Upright Citizens Brigade to see Assscat 3000. Amy Poehler started it years ago and was there performing. It was very funny, very clever and the best value $10 ever.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New York New York

Here are a few more pics from New York.

I'm not sure the order they are in, but we found a cat in a deli, went to the American Museum of Natural History, walked the High Line in Chelsea, saw the Flatiron building and 30 Rock and had a cup of jo in a diner. Check out the mug.