It’s been two years to the day since I arrived in Austin, TX from NJ. I listened to Horace Greeley when he said, “Go West, young man”.
As I drove across the country with my dogs and computers, I kept a travel diary with the final installment ending, “Time to head out and start getting things for the new house. Good thing I have my GPS, because I have no idea where I am, but I know it’s home.”
It’s funny how a place I’d had limited exposure to in the past would seem so right, and that’s only been reinforced over time.
So many good times have been jammed into those two years, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
But it still seems so recent that I drove away from my old house with a potent mix of butterflies in my stomach, Diet Dr. Pepper, and dog breath, in our minivan.
Here is that four day diary from two years ago.
We finished moving out of our home in Berkeley Heights, NJ yesterday, after spending more than five years there. It was a bittersweet experience to leave, but we’re off to a new, exciting, scary experience in Austin, TX.
There were so many moments in the house; the birth of my son Jack, Christmas mornings, times with family and friends, birthday parties, etc.
Also, it was here that I did much of my work on Affiliate Summit, as well as learning how to make videos and podcasts, work on a book, write thousands of blog posts, and all sorts of other stuff.
Lots of happy memories locked into those walls. But it’s time for a change.
Since it will take a bunch of days for the moving company to make it out to Austin, TX, we couldn’t just fly directly out there. Well, we could, but we wouldn’t have any furniture or anything.
So, my wife and kids are making a pitstop at her sister’s house, and I’m on a solo roadtrip with my dogs and computers.
It comes to around 1,800 miles by car, and I have to be there by Tuesday morning for the movers.
Last night, I drove the first leg, which ended up being a little more than 400 miles. I went from Berkeley Heights, NJ to Salem, VA.
Everything went well on the drive, but I made a rookie roadtrip mistake in my choice of a place to stay for the night.
I mapped out the route with a site called petswelcome.com, so I could see all of the “pet friendly” motels/hotels along the way.
Super 8. Not so super.
I was tired and wanted to get out of the car and asked myself, “how bad could it be?”. Please remind me not to ever ask myself that again!
The dogs were sniffing the room like it was a crime scene. I just hope I didn’t pick up any cooties.
Time to caffeine up and get back on the road.
States visited on day 1: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia
Another day, another stretch of highways and byways on my journey from New Jersey to Austin, TX.
I am making good time, and I think I’ll be in Austin by Sunday, so I’ll have time to get settled (stocking the fridge and doing all sorts of local stuff) before the movers get there on Tuesday morning.
Yesterday, I drove the second leg, which ended up being a little more than 500 miles. I went from Salem, VA to Birmingham, AL.
After driving for a bit, the dogs were excited to stop for some air at Smokies Park in Kodak, TN. They enjoyed a brunch of roast beef and some nice mountain views.
I saw a remarkable spot at the border of Tennessee and Alabama, and I had to stop at snap a picture. It was a gigantic fireworks place that also sold beer. I wonder how many employees there have all of their fingers?
I tend to think of different cities in terms of sports stuff I remember, and Birmingham had two things that popped in my head when I saw signs from the city on my drive: Michael Jordan played for the minor league Birmingham Barons, and there was the USFL team, the Birmingham Stallions.
Big upgrade in my place to sleep from the day before at the lowly Super 8.
States visited on day 2: Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama
The third day of my trip from New Jersey to Austin, TX was light on traffic and heavy on FM radio for country music.
I am in the home stretch and will have the shortest drive of my four days. Plus, I get to listen to pre-game and hopefully the Jets/Browns game on the radio.
I love NFL games, but don’t care for college football, so yesterday was a little much with all the games in SEC country.
Yesterday, I drove about 450 miles from Birmingham, AL to Bossier City, LA.
We took a break at a truck stop in the late morning. I’m really gaining a love for these ridiculous spots with the stores that sell all sorts of crazy stuff.
After getting the dogs fed and everything, I headed into an Arby’s at the truckstop for some lunch. I guess I never thought about it, so I was surprised to hear them calling numbers for turns to take showers.
And there was a counter on the wall, so you could keep your place in line.
As I drove into Mississippi and started seeing signs for Jackson, you’d better believe my dogs got to hear me channel Johnny and June Carter Cash singing Jackson. Matti didn’t like when I sang the June parts.
I’d say the highlight of the day was driving over the Mississippi River and looking out at the view. It’s a neat thing to drive through all of these cities and points of interest.
We made a dog stop as we entered Louisiana, and Matti was on the lookout for Ron Guidry (aka “Louisiana Lightning”).
The day wrapped up at a LaQuinta near Shreveport, LA. I was concerned when I checked in, because the put me on the backside of the building and it looked really sketchy. I’m talking like a place where they’d film the opening scene in Criminal Minds.
I was relieved this morning when I went out with the dogs at 6:30 and it turned out there were a bunch of military folks staying here.
I also felt really lazy, since they were going off to work, and I was heading back to my room to watch TV and write blog posts.
Next stop (after some pit stops): Austin, TX.
States visited on day 3: Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana
The fourth and final day of my trip – I am in Austin. I am home.
I was excited to get on the road and make my way to the Lone Star State, and to put an end to the many hours of driving with two smelly dogs.
Yesterday, I drove about 325 miles from Bossier City, LA to Austin, TX.
I was out of Louisiana pretty quick, and cut into a truck stop in Texas to gas up. It was a bit nicer looking than the spots I am used to in New Jersey.
There was an impressive food selection in this place. Granted, I’m used to having a choice of Roy Rogers, Nathan’s, and TCBY.
The core of the stop is Texas Best Smokehouse (read reviews of this truck stop on Yelp), plus they have all of the other things you see at a truck stop – souvenirs, convenience store, etc.
In the event you couldn’t find something to eat inside or didn’t want to leave the car, they had the option to order from Sonic while pumping your gas.
I spent most of the remainder of the drive trying to find the Jets/Browns pre-game and game on the radio, but never did get it.
So, I had to settle for the Texans/Jaguars game, which wasn’t so bad, since I have Maurice Jones-Drew in fantasy football, and he had a big day.
And I had to continually refresh my Blackberry to stay on top of the Jets big OT win.
I arrived in Austin in the mid-afternoon, and checked in with my dogs to a hotel for a couple nights, as I wait for my family and the movers to get here.
States visited on day 4: Louisiana and Texas