We left Manhattan on Friday, January 29th after my last day at work. Saying goodbye to everyone at work was pretty sad. I worked for a high profile family and grew really close with them over the last year since we all experienced 2020 together. Aside from mine and Keith’s parents they were really the only ones in my bubble and I in theirs. We all shed a tear or two.
We had both said goodbye to our parents earlier that week. Maaany tears were cried there as well. It’s really hard saying goodbye to people you love for extended periods of time regularly and during a pandemic it felt a million times harder. I’m sure for our parents it was difficult too, because well we’re driving to Costa Rica.
We packed up our Subaru and at 9:30 PM on a Friday night drove out of Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel and made our way to Philly. We stayed at my sister Romina’s house for the night as opposed to staying in Manhattan because we wanted to say bye to her before we left and our storage unit is right outside of Philly. We were originally going to rent a storage unit in/around NYC, but it was three times the price. So f that.
A month prior to leaving we had already moved out of our Astoria apartment and U-hauled all our belongings to Philly. We spent New Years Eve loading up a truck. SUPER FUN. It made the most sense though. It would have been way too overwhelming to finish up work, pack up our entire apartment, drive everything to storage, unload, pack for this trip and then get on the road. So we moved out of our apartment on December 31st and we lived in an Airbnb for the month of January. One step at a time.
We stopped by our storage unit the next morning, switched out our suitcases for duffel bags and camping equipment and were on our way to Asheville. BUT not before my brand new webcam and microphone that the family I worked for gave me as a going away gift got stolen out of the front seat of our car from INSIDE the storage facility. Only in Philly 🙂 Unfortunately I didn’t realize it was stolen until we were somewhere in Arkansas. I thought Keith had moved it while I was peeing, but nope.
Asheville is a 9 hour drive from Philly. We realized on our way that we had a broken tail light, so we pulled over and Keith fixed it. Then we got back on the road and driving through Virginia we got hit with a huge snowstorm. We were two hours away from Asheville in Wytheville, Virginia, but we couldn’t see five feet in front of us. The Suba was driving great, but you kinda also need to see to drive, so Wytheville became our first stop. At least it kinda rhymes with Asheville. Luckily we hadn’t booked anything in advance for Asheville just in case something like this happened, so I booked us a Marriott* for the night once we made the decision to stop.
The Next morning we were on our way to Memphis home of Elvis. It was an 8.5 hour drive, but turned into a 9.5/10 hour drive because we stopped in Knoxville, Tennessee for lunch. The drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains was beautiful and covered with snow, but once we got out of the mountains and further west the drive got pretty boring.
We checked into another Marriott* once we got to Memphis. Marriott’s* are a little pricier in terms of roadside hotels, but I’m a rewards member (thanks to all those Camp Biscos at Montage) and with COVID we figured Marriott’s* are usually the same across the board wherever you are so it seemed like a safe/clean decision.
Our last stop in the U.S. was Austin! We got up and got on the road, but not before I made Keith drive up and down Elvis Presley Boulevard and Graceland 4 or 5 times. We didn’t go in for the tour because Memphis to Austin is about a 10 hour drive, but I was still excited and played Graceland by Paul Simon over and over again for a good bit. Sorry Keith.
The most exciting part of the drive from Memphis to Austin was literally the names of the cities. My favorite was Arkadelphia and Texarkana. There’s beer in Texarkana. You can bet we listened to East Bound and Down by Jerry Reed about 50 times. We made it the theme song of the drive.
So part of the reason we were booking it through the U.S. is because it was cold, but also because the original start date for our permaculture course was February 14th. So we had to make our way down fast. Costa Rica’s land border has been closed through the pandemic and they were supposed to open it on Feb 1st, however they didn’t. We were able to reschedule our course for March 14th luckily! We didn’t find out the border wasn’t opening like it was supposed to until we got to Austin, but that’s okay because it meant we could take our time now until the border opened on March 1st. Once we arrived in Austin we stayed with one of my best friends in the world Noel. Since we weren’t on a time crunch anymore we got to hang out with her, eat tacos, go paddle boarding and enjoy the warmth of Austin for a few days. It was nice after driving 30 hours in 3 days to get there.
In Austin we also got COVID tested and then made our way to the Mexican border on February 4th.
We’ve got a loooong way to go and a short time to get theree!
*Message me if you’d like a Marriott Bonvoy referral code. I get 5/year and you get 2,000 points per stay for the first 5 nights you book. Pretty much means you’d get a free stay after 5 nights. They don’t have to be in order.