humor, PSAs

The (Oregon) Transformation is Complete

Go Jules Go title graphic the Oregon Transformation is Complete_2OCT2019

The following entries have been recovered from the diaries of beloved blogger and former Jersey girl, Go Jules Go. Her current whereabouts are unknown. Presumably because, according to her new neighbors, “The service here sucks.”

Day 1: Arrive in Bend, Oregon. Apartment appears well-appointed, though several disturbing items were left on the counter. “Gifts,” the landlord claims. I remain suspicious.

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Day 2: Attend first social gathering under the guise of celebrating someone’s birth. I do not trust these people. Why do they look so…happy?

Day 6: Forced to attend nudist retreat. My plans to go unnoticed thwarted by bathing suit, yet how else do I protect myself amidst the steaming pools of hippie tears hot springs? Must not show nipples weakness.

Day 9: Have risen at 6am for three days straight to engage in something called “trail running.” Zero alcohol remains in my system, yet I suspect they’ve slipped something into my kombucha. I feel…well.

Day 12: Small children and classical music-listening puppies surround me. I fear I am beginning to crack.

Day 21: Ford raging river and sustain 923 bug bites. My survival skills have improved markedly.

Day 30: Discover Trivia Night’s discount beer and tots. They are on to me.

Day 37: Have begun making strange hand gestures following outdoor pursuits. The situation is becoming increasingly dire.

Day 44: Learn the art of metalsmithing from a man who would not accept compensation. What drives the human spirit in this land of zero expectation?

Day 57: The hand gestures have become second nature; I can no longer fight it.

Day 63: Have accepted that I will never know real pizza again.

Day 70: Complete something called a “10k race”… “for charity.” Would have been charitable to not force feed participants hard cider 30 seconds following this strange event.

Day 71: Witness skinny dippers in a frigid lake. Oregonians must fear clothing the way I fear I’ll never stop watching The Hills on Amazon Prime.

Day 80: Trucker hat and race “tech” shirt. Uncle Jesse no longer recognizes me.

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Day 90: Socks with sandals. All hope is lost.

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This is the last known recording from Go Jules Go. If you have any information, please contact 1-800-CRY4HLP.

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What transformations have you undergone?

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Blogging

Poop Shovels and Potatoes: My First Backpacking Adventure

Go Jules Go Title Graphic_Poop Shovels and Potatoes My first backpacking adventure_18SEP2019

“Guessing everyone will want to bring their own poop shovel,” Kristen commented.

I scanned the Excel spreadsheet. Tarps, cook stove, First Aid kit, Kula cloth, Shee-wee…

Go Jules Go Backpacking Spreadsheet PM
I am not in Kansas Jersey anymore.

Words and phrases I’d never heard filled my eyes and ears last week as I geared up for my very first backpacking trip.

“I have -literally- nothing,” I said. “But I can bring food!”

Never underestimate a project manager in the kitchen.

The group decided it was best to keep our hike short if we had full packs, and do longer day hikes once we’d set up camp. With my experience level somewhere between, “I’m still not entirely sure how to recognize poison ivy” and “I read Wild,” I was grateful for the modest expectations. Not to mention the other four women had enough outdoor prowess to vote me off the island the minute I asked who was bringing hair spray.

If there’s one thing a native New Jerseysian can tell you about moving to Oregon, it’s this:

Buckle up. No, really. Really really.

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And bring whiskey.

Back east, I was one of the more outdoorsy people I knew. Day hiking, road cycling and the occasional marathon were my jam. By moving to Bend, Oregon in June, I quickly dropped several thousand notches. I had to trade my heels for headlamps if I wanted to survive.

Jules: Before and After Oregon. (Pssst, that’s not soup in that bowl.)

Nevertheless, backpacking was on my bucket list, and I’d be damned if I was going to let poop shovels throw me off course. I wanted tents, campfires and starlit skies, and I wanted them stat.

“Oh man, we should have consulted beforehand; this is way too much food,” Kristen said as I unloaded our provisions at our campsite, three and a half hours east of Bend.

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Just because the potatoes required their own baby Bjorn…

“Don’t you worry,” I assured her. “Uncle Jesse and I can eat our weight in tubers.”

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Including tots.

We didn’t have much time to explore before nightfall, but drank in the scenery (and the whiskey) before avocado quesadillas and the full moon took center stage.

Around 9 o’clock, long before I felt any urge to sleep, we called it a night. I tried to stay perfectly still in my borrowed sleeping bag, lest the swish-swish-swish of the “certified 18 below” fabric wake my tent mate. The temperature plummeted, my teeth rattled and my bladder screamed. And what is up with this inflatable pillow? My neck was at an exact 90 degree angle; I could see my blue toes perfectly.

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Where’s your puffy, Mom?

Eventually I gave up.

ZZZZZZZZIPPPPPPPP. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered to Erin. “I have to pee.” Uncle Jesse caused a commotion trying to follow me in the dark, and after burying my toilet paper in a “carry out bag,” I put on every item of clothing I’d brought. Eventually I managed a few hours of fitful sleep.

By 9 o’clock the next morning, after some blood (and almost tear) shed, I was ready to call it quits, along with two of the other women.

Uncle Jesse, after thinking dogs twice his size liked sharing their food.

“If you’re leaving, I think I’ll go with you,” I said, trying to sound as calm as possible. Get me the f*@& out of here!!!!!! “I’m just a little cold.”

“I don’t think we can have both dogs in the car,” the getaway car driver gently explained.

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Coffee. At least there was coffee.

I decided to stick it out, and within a couple of hours, the two remaining campers and I hit the trails and all seemed right again.

In fact, when I zipped up my sleeping bag for the second, and final, night, I thought, “I could get used to this.”

It wasn’t until the next afternoon that we found out a cougar had been roaming our camp.

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Are you more of a backpacker or a back-to-Netflix-and-running-water type? Also, is a poop shovel just a regular shovel with an R.E.I. logo? Discuss.

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humor, Just For Fun, Kvetching

Take A Hike

Go Jules Go Take a Hike Title Graphic_29AUG2019

“Oh nooooo,” I moaned, slapping a hand to my forehead.

“What?” my sister, Lori, asked, her knuckles bone white against the steering wheel.

“I left my phone on top of the car!”

“Stop it,” she said as we rounded another butt-clenching hairpin turn.

I would have driven but my vision was, ah, obstructed.

At the last scenic overlook, I had been so distracted by taking pictures and picking up Uncle Jesse’s poop that I’d forgotten to take my phone off the roof, where I’d placed it as I’d loaded the dog back in the car.

Lori pulled over at the next viewpoint, and by the grace of Chipmunk Gods, my rubber phone case had had enough grip that my phone had stayed in place instead of flying into the Crater Lake National Park wilderness.

Mom. I’ve said it before. Get your s*&@ together.

“Should we check out the lodge?” Lori asked.

I nodded, my heart still racing. She and my niece were visiting me in central Oregon for the week, and we had decided to spend a day and night exploring the iconic landmark.

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Oh, you wanted to see more of the lake? Sorry. There was this chipmunk.

While they went to the bathroom near the gift shop, I inspected the Crater Lake Park brochure. The next day, I was planning to hike with Uncle Jesse while they went on a non-dog-friendly boat tour.

These trails are gonna be so great, Uncle Jesse!

I was excited to possibly tackle Union Peak, the park’s toughest hike, or at least scale Mount Scott, a 4.4-mile trek with a respectable elevation gain.

I simply cannot wait, Mom!

I flipped to the brochure’s hiking section and my stomach dropped. Of the 16 listed trails, only three were dog-friendly. Around parking lots. Less than a mile long.

Um…

“Looks like I’ll be going to Plan B,” I said to Lori when she got back to the car.

AND I can’t get high?

With an afternoon waterfall hike now out of the question, we decided to continue driving the heart attack-inducing, 33-mile Crater Lake Rim Drive before checking into our motel, 18 miles away.

The view from our motel.

Whispering Pines Motel was the sort of place where Betsy at the front desk scolds you for even suggesting she send an “e-lectronic mail” confirmation. Betsy handed us our key, attached to a giant log…

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and…

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…we were very, very glad we had packed extra wine.

Since it was nearing 5 o’clock, we decided to tackle dinner plans.

“Betsy said there’s a place with great pizza at Diamond Lake and we can sit outside with the dog,” Lori said. “She also told us we could come and pick out some movies on VHS. You really need to go look inside the main office, Jul.”

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One of the items for purchase in the main office.

When we got to the pizza place, Uncle Jesse and I manned the lone picnic table in the yard while Lori went inside to order. She soon returned looking triumphant.

“Well, their pizza sauce has meat – which is so weird,” she took a breath and shot me the we’re-from-New-Jersey-and-know-our-pizza look, “but they said they could do refried beans [for you] as the sauce instead.”

“Awesome, thanks,” I replied, my vegan-beggars-can’t-be-choosers hat firmly in place.

Ten minutes later, a large man bounded down the hill holding a giant red can.

“I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about in there!” he grumbled, beginning to read the ingredients on the can. We quickly realized he was the chef. “They’re trying to give you refried beans with lard instead of this tomato sauce. Last I checked vegans don’t eat lard.”

“Wow, good looking out!” I grinned.

I assured him that he was indeed correct and deserved to win whatever episode of Vegan Kitchen Wars I had inadvertently triggered. Forty-five minutes after my sister and niece had finished their meals, my food arrived.

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It was totally decent until the gnats arrived.

We spent the following hour surgically removing picnic table splinters from our hands…

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…and arrived back at the motel in time to enjoy some company right outside our door…

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…a refreshing shower…

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…and some of that new-fangled telly-vision.

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Ah, well. At least Uncle Jesse wasn’t holding a grudge.

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Not pictured: My giant bed. With me in it. And no doodle.

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Have any fun, roadside motel stories?

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Dating, PSAs

I’ve Hit the Shallow End

DISCLAIMER: Names have been changed because this is a very, very small town.

Go Jules Go title graphic_Ive hit the shallow end_21AUG2019

What’s that? How’s my dating life going, you ask?

Well, after the guy who yelled at me and the guy who scarred my friend for life, things started looking up. A few days ago, I attended a community event and an attractive man looked very familiar. Had he been there last month? Was he someone I might have briefly met through an acquaintance?

“Hey Carrie,” I whispered to my friend. “Who is that guy? I swear I know him. Oh my god, wait, I think he just ‘liked’ me last week on my dating app!”

What were the chances? Maybe this small town thing could work for me after all! The fact that we were at the same event meant we already had a few key things in common. Score!

Carrie, in typical Carrie fashion, smiled demurely and said between her teeth, “I’ll tell you about him later.” Her eyes widened by a fraction of an inch and I nodded conspiratorially.

I kept my distance and Carrie texted me after the night ended, including a link to a social media frenzy.

Turns out my latest prospect was suspected of first degree murder.

Go Jules Go Title Graphic Dodged a Bullet Possibly Literally_31JUL2019
Oregon is a lot bigger than New Jersey, from where I just moved. The dating options, however, ah, well, may not reflect this.

“Make sure you text all of your friends before you go on any dates!” Carrie reminded me warmly.

Thankfully, I’ve been too tied up with visiting friends and family to fraternize with Oregon’s Most Wanted.

I thought back to the prior week, when I’d invited another dating app fellow, Adam, to join me for happy hour with a few friends. He had been visiting to see if he’d like to move here, and we had all regaled him with our own Relocating Success Stories. Adam had been smart, laughed at my jokes, had had an adorable rescue dog, and looked like Darren Criss.

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For those of you who are new here, I’ve been blogging about my Darren Criss obsession infatuation totally healthy crush since 2011.

Adam had texted a few times afterwards, but I’d suspected wasn’t going to move here. Would I ever meet someone swoon-worthy who actually lived in my town? Or did I just keep upping my sidewalk chalk game with the neighbors?

This picture really doesn’t do us justice.

Then there was the Australian gentleman who bought my groceries for me this weekend when my debit card acted up. Yes, that’s a thing that happens here, because I live in Shangri-La. Unfortunately, he was my father’s age.

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And I’ve had enough therapy for one lifetime.

So what’s my next move? Well, considering I signed a year lease, it won’t involve another physical move.

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And seriously. Who the f&@* would ever leave this place?

You know what? I think I’m just gonna hold out until Darren Criss gets a divorce.

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Has your dating life ever been so rife with the criminal element? That, much like, “Are you, grooming facility, accepting new dog clients?” is a question I never thought I’d ask until I moved to central Oregon.

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Dating, humor, PSAs

I Swore I Wouldn’t Do This.

Go Jules Go I Swore I Wouldn't Do This title graphic 17JUL2019

“I love you!”

My heart skipped a beat. It was another perfect, sunny summer day in Bend, Oregon. Around every corner of my new Pacific Northwest home, I seemed to find magic.

Instant friendships…

…Google Pixel 3 camera porn…

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Gourmet vegan food

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And now this? The L bomb? The only thing missing in my life?

When I arrived in Oregon four weeks ago, I was still on the fence about dating. And not just because I publicly denounced it earlier this year.

More because of this memory. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one…okay I’ll stop now.

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Aw, but we were having so much fun!

Nevertheless, after 2+ years on the No Dating bandwagon, the temptation to peek at what was out there, 3,000 miles from the men with whom I’d repeatedly failed (please refer to links 1 to 1,373 listed above), proved too much to resist.

“All riiiiiight,” I groaned on the phone to my friend, Shawna. “I’ll try Bumble. AGAIN.”

And thus, with a trembling index finger, I downloaded a dreaded dating app on my hitherto untainted phone.

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Did I mention I love this phone? (It took this photo of Mt. Bachelor from the now-nearby Green Lakes trail.)

This time, though, I decided I’d cut right to the chase. “If you want to meet for coffee or beer sometime, let me know!” my initial messages read. (In the Bumble world, the women always make the first move.)

If the Bend, Oregon Bumble selection were an ocean filled with fish… No. I can’t even finish that metaphor. Because we are not talking “ocean.” We are talking lake. No. Still not right. Pond. Teeny, tiny pond.

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What I’m trying to say is…there weren’t a lot of fish. Hmm. Maybe I should try Plenty of Fish.

I didn’t have a lot of time to dive in because almost as soon as I got to Oregon, I was off to Boot Camp. I returned to a message from “Dave” that made me laugh. (And if there’s one thing I promised myself, were I to ever dip a toe in the treacherous dating waters again, it was: He gots to bring it with the ha-ha’s.)

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I scrolled through his photos again. F my life. I read his message again. I laughed again. OKAY FINE.

Two days later, I pulled into a brewery parking lot right on time and saw a guy leaning on the fence. That might be him

I sent a text, “Just got here!”

The guy in question looked down at his phone, so I hopped out of my car and walked over with a wide smile and outstretched hand. Something immediately felt off, but I followed him inside.

“I’m excited to try this place!” I offered.

“Yeah yeah yeah, they have some good stuff! I always get the Sweet Ass.”

I snorted, spotting a sign that read, “Sweet As! Pacific Ale.”

He talked quickly and didn’t make eye contact, but offered to buy my beer. We were well within the happy hour timeframe, so I thanked him and we took our selections outside, where there was an impressively grassy outdoor area and live music revving up.

“Yeah so you just moved here, huh? Yeah?” he said as we sat down.

I eyed him closely. Coke. It’s gotta be coke. Or is he just that nervous?! The next two hours were filled with frenetic conversation, me asking question after question. He talked about his Aunt. A lot. And a former tenant of his garage apartment.

“Wow, so the guy just left after that?!” I asked.

“Let me finish the story!” he said in a tone so scathing I put a hand to my heart.

“I’m so sorry!” I gasped, completely thrown.

“No worries,” he gulped his beer and carried on.

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Annnnd more good hair: WASTED.

When the two hour Suffer Fest was over, I pulled into my driveway, debating whether or not I should try to still salvage the night. Just then, someone came running up from the house next door, bouncing around the side of my car until she could give me a hug.

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I love you, too, Audrey.

I decided to stay right where I was.

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Any advice, or can I finally marry my dog?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Giveaway Junkie, humor, Summer is Hot, Wipe the Drool

In the Middle of the Woods…NAKED.

***Winner of my latest blog contest announced below!***

Go Jules Go title graphic In the Middle of the Woods Naked_3JUL2019

“Just past the two topless women circling the labyrinth…”

I sat in a large Adirondack chair, my chin tilted skyward. It was only 70 degrees, but the sun was determined to make an impression and I took full advantage.

“…Keep going until you hit the river, then turn left….”

I flexed my feet in the sandy grass, my calve muscles twinging.

Still with me? Okay, now keeping going until you see a yurt on your left. HI!”

I snorted, entertaining myself by imagining how I’d describe my location to friends back in New Jersey. Fleshy, human-shaped blurs passed in my peripheral vision every 10-15 seconds. Hey! Maybe my Duolingo app works off-grid…

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Me. Relaxing Taking blog notes (and selfies).

Don’t get me wrong. I know how to chill.

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See? CHILL.

But there was a lot going on here.

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By here I mean Breitenbush Hot Springs.

Never heard of it? Allow me. Breitenbush Hot Springs is a place in the middle of the Oregon woods where people go when they decide they’ve had far too much caffeine and/or clothing.

“I help coach a running and yoga retreat [there] in June! It’s right up your alley! As ‘Oregon’ as it gets! Blog fodder for days!” The Byronic Man, my oldest bloggy friend, marketed it to me late last year.

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Remember the good ol’ bloggy days?

That’s right. The Byronic Man! After eight years, we decided to meet in person for the first time under the most mundane circumstances imaginable.

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Oh. I slay me.

When the running-yoga-hot-springs-retreat topic was broached, I was prettttty sure I was calling Byronic Man’s bluff by saying, “I’m in!”

“The hot springs are ‘clothing optional,’ so we’ll be going from 0 to 60 in the getting to know you department,” he cautioned.

“Sounds like I can pack light!” I replied. “Just promise to ship my ashes back to New Jersey if there’s another cougar this year.”

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I may have had some fun with this.

It was on. I was brave now, after all. I did things like quit my job and sell all of my stuff. In fact, by the time I got to Breitenbush, I was already moved out of New Jersey and unpacked at my new apartment in Bend, Oregon – a plan that magically came together just before this intriguing hot springs retreat.

So, three days in the middle of the woods filled with nudity, shared showers, running uphill in front of strangers, and no cell service, wine or caffeine? BRING IT.

After descending a long (and I mean long) gravel driveway that gave me Maine road trip flashbacks, I checked into my Breitenbush cabin, heart in my throat. Thankfully, The Byronic Man and I had had an opportunity to meet for a beer just before the retreat, so that left only 10,327 things to worry about.

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I’m just going to say it. My hands were shaking.

The first evening kicked off with an “easy” 3-mile run.

I approached the group -ultimately 13 women and 4 men- with a big smile, hoping to make some new friends.

And you know what?

I TOTALLY DID.

I fully intended to turn this experience into a fabulous, ongoing series about how awkward and awful the whole thing was, but… it was… kinda… AWESOME. I mean, I was the only person there who wore a bathing suit, and I’m pretty sure the retreat coach has several videos of me running uphill, but… I LIKED IT. No wine or cell service in 72 hours and I’D GO BACK.

And I’m not just saying that because I lost five pounds.

I’m really sorry. I’m disappointed for both of us. But hey! I’m sure I’ll be mortified again soon!

~*~*~*~*~*~

And the winner of THE WORLD’S BEST BEER KOOZIE AND DECK OF CARDS IS…

Encounter Soul!

Her entry begins…

The minivan was packed. Travel games galore were in easy reach of our 10, 8 & 4 year old boys. My meticulously planned itinerary was a glance away as we began our 3,000 mile, 55+ hour adventure from San Diego, CA to see my sister in Seattle, WA…”

For the rest of the tale, click here!

Encounter Soul, CONGRATS! I’ll be in touch via e-mail, and soon, this will alllll be yours:

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~*~*~*~*~*~

Blogging

The Long View: My First Cross-Country Road Trip

Go Jules Go The Log View My First Cross Country Road Trip title graphic 12JUN2019

Colorado Rocky Mountain hi-igh…” I belted at the top of my lungs, cranking up the volume. Sorry, Uncle Jesse, but this has to happen.

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S’okay. I’m used to your sh*t by now, Mom.

All right, so maybe I wasn’t actually driving through Colorado, but close-a-freaking-’nuff.

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Somewheresville, Wyoming, as seen from I-80W.

“I can’t believe you’re already in Wyoming!” Jenn texted.

“My ass can,” I fired back.

After leaving my home state, New Jersey, last Friday to embark on my very first (…and last?) cross-country road trip, I was starting to feel the burn. I was also starting to feel like I was living on borrowed time, having survived three extremely questionable roadside motels and one AirBNB in a town where Uncle Jesse and I bumped the population to 750 for the night.

Elmwood, Nebraska. …Wow, you’ve never heard of it. Huh. …What? No. I didn’t say anything. …Wait’ll Kristen at the post office hears about THIS.

As part of my latest Grand Caper -which involved quitting a very stable job and selling all of my stuff- I decided to move to central Oregon because I heard they had good beer and I still wouldn’t have to pump my own gas. Unfortunately, since they haven’t perfected teleportation and don’t ship Labradoodles who only drink ice water and hide in bathrooms because they’re scared of the dark, I was forced to drive myself.

Maybe if someone around here could pull his weight…

All in all, though, I’ve hit the jackpot. Sunny weather, friendly people, working car. I hit a few snags in Cheyenne, but my Maine road trip in April prepared me for all of that and more.

Go Jules Go car stuck in mud
Maine mud or quicksand: you be the judge.

Things I’ve learned so far, having covered New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and (partially) Utah:

The (giant, giant) bugs on I-80 all have a death wish.

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I’ve been on a lot of highways, and I’ve never had to actually use the gas station squeegee until this trip. …Every time.

Some stereotypes are…well…

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Nebraska: Um… Yup. (Okay, in fairness, I did a quick pass through of Omaha and Lincoln, and both looked pretty great.)

Gary, Indiana is NOT what The Music Man will have you believe.

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Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture. Stopping my car would have been a baaaaad idea.

You can fit way more into a 4-door sedan than you might think.

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Photos of Cheyenne, Wyoming are invisible until an old-timey filter gets applied.

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Three days on the road turns me into a person who wears socks with sandals.

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And also a person who will tempt her dog to keep her company by giving him his own pillow.

The world is as big or small as you make it.

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OH MY GOD I HAVE A GREAT IDEA LET’S FACETIME GRAMMY!!!!!!!

As I hit the scan button on my radio for the thousandth time and massage my neck, the same thought I’d been having for days pops back up: Holy sh*t. I’m DOING THIS. I’m DRIVING -AND MOVING!- ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I remember all of the winding roads that led me to this moment and laugh. Jiggling my right leg and checking my odometer, I suddenly feel like I earned every mile and every view.

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