I did not know what fried chicken was until I gave Ms. P’s Electric Cock a taste.
I grew up in the sticks of Connecticut, in a little town called Cornwall Bridge, with no more than 1500 people. A town mostly made up of artists and farmers, we were constantly eating fresh veggies and organic foods. I had to travel far and wide, if I wanted to sink my teeth into some succulent grease-saturated burger, or crispy frialator chicken. But, trust me, I still ventured out there, into the great beyond, for my fried chicken.
After searching for that tasty, crunchy cut of fried chicken, I had decided that Rip’s Tavern, located in Ladd, IL, was my personal favorite. Well, I sadly retracted that statement in October, when I stumbled upon a red food truck and luminous Chicken sign on Rainey Street in Austin, TX. Rip’s was put to shame that day.
I took one bite of that zesty chicken, and my tastebuds were zapped with flavor. The golden crusted outside layer was the perfect amount of crunch, and not too thick like most places. It was more of a breading coated on the chicken, verses a thick batter consuming the flavor of the delicious white meat. Oh, it was truly perfection.
Aside from the culinarily crafted chicken, the mac n’ cheese was mind blowing. We chose the truffle mac n’ cheese, and boy was it mouthwatering. Not too creamy, but whipped up in the perfect amount of gooey cheese, the noodles were wonderfully cooked, crispy in the corners, with a layer of breadcrumbs on top. It was quite the combo, crazy good chicken paired with some amazing mac n’ cheese. If fried chicken is what you crave, then you absolutely have to give Ms. P’s Electric Cock a chance.
I guess all the more you need to know is, when it comes to food, Texas does it right.
*If you want to check out some more of Ms. P’s click here
*Follow us on Instagram to see more awesome picture @meandering.martians
We had just left Illinois, and we were on the road to Denver, CO. Everything was going great, no leaking, no more shattered windows, and no more overheating. We were on our merry way to Denver, and that was the set plan, until we were about two hours outside the pot-friendly city.
Nearing one of our most anticipated stops, Denver, we abruptly changed the route. Kayleen came up with a new plan: Go to the Promise of the Real concert in Huntsville, Utah, then party on Willie Nelson’s tour bus with the band. She had previously met a few of the band members, so we had an in! This trip we were just winging it, so that seemed like a pretty good plan to us.
We changed the route; instead of shortly arriving in Denver, we were now in for the long haul. Huntsville was about nine and a half hours further, and we had to drive through the entire southern part of Wyoming.
Although we’d have to drive a little further, it didn’t seem like much more, in the grand scheme of things. We were ready to go, excited to see Wyoming, and pumped to listen to Promise of the Real in Utah!
A few hours later, we were not so excited. I should have listened to my brother, Cian, when he texted me, “Wyoming is a flyover state.” If only I trusted Cian’s eighteen year old wisdom.
The southern part of Wyoming is pretty desolate, offering little more than high winds and tumbleweeds. Gas stations are scattered few and far between, which left us running on empty a couple of times. Aside from the gas scares, we were golden, well, so we thought.
The winds started to pick up, and the camper seemed to be struggling. It began overheating again, and this time it was not going to stop. Anticipating the worst, we pulled over at the Continental Divide in Wyoming, to get some coverage from the treacherous winds.
Taking the exit, we made it down the ramp, then slowed down, pulling closer to the stop sign off the exit. Slowing down, the camper stalled and quit.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, fucking mother fucker,” were the exact words that flooded out of my mouth in the moment. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere, about two thousand miles away from home.
Kayleen hopped out of the camper, immediately addressing the issue. She lifted the hood up, and began probing the engine. Brad and I don’t know shit about cars, but we tried to help, offering any skills that might suffice.
After about 20 minutes, to our disbelief, Kayleen got that damn camper started again. Hooray!
We were back on the road, but the initial breakdown turned into a reoccurring pattern, which continued until we arrived in Eden, Utah.
Eden, is a beautiful little country town, filled with wonderful people, located near the Snowbasin Resort in Huntsville. You may have heard of the Snowbasin before, where the skiing/snowboarding games were held in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Well, this lovely little place was going to be our home for the next couple of days because the camper refused to start this time.
Broken down, in a Wells Fargo parking lot, right next to a Maverick gas station, we were pissed, and now going to miss the concert we drove all the way here for.
After spending all day working on the thing, with no luck, we saw a silver lining. A wonderful local, working in the Maverick station, came to us asking if we needed any assistance, kindly offering to take us up the mountain to the Snowbasin concert. We took him up on his offer, leaving the camper with all of our stuff in the Wells Fargo parking lot.
The concert was just fine and dandy, a breath of fresh air in the midst of this shit show, but we were quickly dragged back down to reality at the end of the concert.
Excitedly anticipating meeting up with the members of Promise of the Real, we waited around the venue while everyone else rushed to exit the parking lot. About fifteen minutes went by and we asked Kayleen, “when are we going to meet up with them?” She said soon, so we waited patiently. The time passed slowly as the sun set, and the night grew colder. Everyone was leaving, and we were still there. Thirty minutes went by, the lights were turned off, it had started raining, and we were still there. The people working the event began exiting the venue, and we were still there.
Alright, enough of this bullshit. We had clearly been stood up, and I was not going to wait around for these assholes any longer. Brad called a taxi, which we had to wait another forty minutes for, and we couldn’t have been any happier the moment it arrived.
It brought us back to Wells Fargo, and we all sat there, pissed off and cold, waiting to see what tomorrow would bring us. This was the farthest thing from fun, and I had had it. Groggy, I got up to go to bed, and that’s when I heard that drip, drip, drip. . . The water was flooding in again, and I wished I hadn’t turned back to see. All that fucking waterproofing we had done in Illinois was clearly pointless. That was the final straw.
We flew home the next afternoon, grabbed the red rocket (my Chevy Sonic), and drove to Denver the morning after that.
Okay, so we know we never explained how we went from the Tangerine Travelers to the Meandering Martians, and why we’ve been MIA for so long, so here it comes…
Rolling into Mendota, IL all the way from Cornwall Bridge, CT, we knew we were going to be staying a few days, but it seemed a bit longer than anticipated with the problems we kept running into. Alright, let me just give you the low-down on what went down:
We leave CT, everything is running pretty smoothly, and we end up stopping about midway through PA, to sleep for a bit.
Brad and I get up around 4am and take-off with Sugar and Kayleen still snoozin’ in the back. We drove till we needed gas.
Stepping out of the car, I put my hand on the hood and it felt like a hot iron. We kept our eye on the thermometer as we kept going, but later realized we forgot to put the overdrive on. Dumb asses.
So…after realizing our idiotic ways, we were back on the road, but not for long until it started pouring. “This will be a good test to see if the camper is waterproof,” Kayleen exclaimed. I was caught a little off-guard, expecting the truck we were traveling 3,000 miles in to be waterproof before we began the trip.
The floodgates opened, and we quickly found out that our roof was, in fact, not so waterproof after all. Rain was coming down hard in the camper now. Kayleen at the wheel, yelled back, “well, I guess we don’t need a shower anymore,” while Brad and I held up towels. We cleared the puddles, but no, it didn’t stop there. We had a couple more hours of showers, until we stopped for waterproofing materials (thanks Flex Seal!), and let the rain pass.
On our way again, we were soon at my family’s home in Mendota, where we worked on the camper for the rest of the week.
As if we didn’t have enough problems, the first day working on it, I went to roll up the passenger side window and it shattered all over me. Quite disheartened, and covered in glass, I was about to say, fuck it, but Brad kept me cool, so I got up on that camper and waterproofed the shit out of it.
While in Mendota, we were able to get it all painted with that fresh tangerine coat, and spruce up the inside as well. Handy-woman, Kayleen, was also able to get the solar panel, inverter, and refrigerator all hooked-up. I’d say, it was coming along quite nicely!
Thinking it was smooth sailing from there, we began to cruise to Colorado, praying that the waterproofing would hold up. The camper was getting a lot of thumbs up, and everything seemed okay…for now. Little did we know, that was just the beginning of our troubles.That camper was a ticking time bomb.
Check out are unreal photos & Follow us on Instagram @meandering.martians
Finally, we made it to Bigfoot’s lair, Olympic National Park. It was easy to understand how this notorious giant had hidden all these years within the dense forest and behind the hanging moss. It was beautiful, and mysterious within the dripping, spongy, emerald forest.
We traveled through the inland, up from Seattle, passing through Port Angeles by the sea, then headed into the national park from there. Driving through the mountains, we headed toward Hurricane Ridge, buried a little deeper in the park.
Standing on the edge of a mountain near the Ridge, we looked out into the bay, where we could faintly see Vancouver Island through the haze. We had just spent this past spring break on Vancouver Island, in Parksville, and wished we had time to travel back on this trip. Although, Olympic was extremely reminiscent of our time spent on Vancouver Island, and the days spent trekking through the lush Cathedral Grove. Both temperate rainforests, the land is thick with tall cedars draped in cobwebs of lichen and moss. Ferns are scattered underneath the canopy of needles, growing on top of the fallen giants. These fallen giants, the older trees that have since crashed, provide a great source of nutrients for the younger trees and ferns sprouting up.
We had to travel further into the forest, all the way to the Hoh Rainforest, to see the true brilliance of these brightly colored young trees growing out of the saturated moss. Walking through the Hall of Mosses, it was difficult to capture all of its beauty on film. The colors were surreal, bright, vibrant, and out of this world.
Leaving the Hoh Rainforest, we traveled further south, toward the coast, setting out to see the sunset at Ruby Beach.
The coast was filled with trees, and various other souvenirs, washed ashore from Japan.
Climbing over the washed up logs, we passed through the obstacle course to
make it to shore.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by millions of smoothly round stones, and the icy chill of the pacific waters.
We had made it from the Atlantic, all the way to the Pacific Coast. How many people can actually say they have driven from coast to coast, and actually took the time to experience our beautiful country outside of their comfort zone? Not many.
We couldn’t have been more proud of ourselves, and couldn’t have arrived at Ruby Beach at a more perfect time, as the sun was setting in the west. Watching the colors change from bright blue to streaky pink; they were now a blood orange color that fade into the dark blue backdrop. The ruby sun set, and the colors faded to black.
My feet crunched over the covered ground beneath me. Peering down, I saw the trail of crushed twigs and leaves scattered throughout. I had forgotten I was inside, lost in this fantastic world of fantasy.
My wide eyes whizzed around the room, taking in all of the creatures that I had read about as a kid. The Princess Bride’s gown glistened in the glass case next to Inigo Montoya’s silver sword. Robin Hood’s tales of robbing the rich echoed throughout the halls. Everything appeared enraptured by Tinkerbell’s fairy dust. What more could a 5 year old at heart ask for? Oh, but there was more…
Brad grabbed my hand and I saw it: the slender cane, drenched in the deepest black, holding up Saruman’s stone that gleamed in the light. He had used the staff to destroy almost all of Middle Earth. Legend. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you’d understand, and if you’re not, don’t bother reading the rest of this blog because it’s about to get way nerdier.
I glanced over at Brad, who looked like he was about to break into the case and start flailing Saruman’s staff around. Seriously though, I didn’t think he was going to be able to control himself. What a nerd, right?
Well, we better get the hell out of this room before one of us goes bonkers. Also, we were on a time limit. I forgot to mention that. This fantasy land was about to close in an hour, and there was so much more to see. We had rushed here, just before closing time. And where is here, you ask? The Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum nestled underneath the Seattle Space Needle. This is not just your regular museum; it is the perfect culmination of pop-culture, featuring exhibits on Nintendo, music, horror, sci-fi, and more. Thank you, Paul Allen, for creating the most magical museum in all the land. And, big thanks to the guy in the tie-dye shirt at Three Sisters Café in Pike Place, Seattle, for encouraging us to venture to this stellar museum in the first place.
Anyway, we continued through the museum, stepping through the wormhole a little further with each room. I felt like little Alice, lost in Wonderland, waiting for Absalom to come blow smoke in my eyes, riddling words of wisdom that would dance around my dome.
Walking the halls, horror stories came to life. Meandering Martians, gremlins, human butchers, predators, terminators, and everything terrifying glared down at us from their glass cases. I had to remind myself that they weren’t real, or at least they were in captivity now.
Scurrying away from the scary stuff, we hustled to the hall of music, featuring
Washington’s own Jimi Hendrix & Nirvana. In heaven, we read everything about the local rock n’ rollers, listening to their tunes, and excitedly turning to each other in wonder. We couldn’t contain our excitement, burying our minds in their music, until the security guards came to tell us EMP was coming to a close. Bummed, we begrudgingly left the exhibit, but stayed in their gift shop until forced to leave. We didn’t want the fantasy to end, so from there, we trekked further into Washington, toward Olympic National Park, the ominous home of Bigfoot. Would we find the mysterious Squatch? I don’t know, but we were willing to find out. And on we went, to find Bigfoot’s den.
We heard it rustling in the trees to the right of us, and before I could even look, it was already staring at us with its big brown eyes. I tensed up; every muscle in my body was tightening, preparing for the worst. I was searching her face, wondering what her next move was going to be. She didn’t move, just froze, gazing intently at my eyes, trying to figure out if we were a threat to her. Her massive silhouette terrified me, and I remembered what all of the signs said, walk slowly and do not stare into their eyes, so I quickly looked away, nudging Brad to keep walking.
Hiking these trails, you see signs scattered throughout, “Bear Frequenting Area,” along with warnings for various other species of wildlife, but it’s the bears that they tell you to be most cautious about. I had been begging to see a bear, but I did not want the encounter to be this close. Cautious, we inched foreword, unsure of what type of creature was lurking behind those trees.
At first glance, looking at this big girl, I thought she was a Grizzly, come down through the trail to get some water at the glacier lake. Her fur was thick brown, exactly matching my notion of a Grizzly’s fur. But, with a closer look, I remembered the coloring of the Grizzly and cub we had seen the previous day through a stranger’s telescope, and it didn’t match-up. The bears’ coloring was a lighter brown than this creature, and the cub almost fully blonde. The critter we were faced with now, using the trees as camouflage, was a rich, chestnut brown coloring. It couldn’t be a Grizzly.
My eyes adjusted after the initial shock of seeing this mammoth of an animal, and focusing on her face, I realized she was moose, eating leaves off the trees. I relaxed a little, but this big girl watching my every move still terrified me. Although moose are herbivores, they are still massive creatures that could stomp you into the ground in a second if they wanted to. Especially during mating season, a male moose will do anything in his power to destroy you if you’re between him and his female.
Brad heard another noise, and I feared it was the male. We just kept walking, very slowly and carefully, and they left us alone. But just when we thought our wildlife encounters were done for the day, a big mule deer stepped in our path. We knew, hiking the Grinnell Glacier trail, we’d see some wildlife, but they are literally right there on the trail with you. It was awesome!
Before our encounter with the moose, we bumped into a big horn sheep too. They are way bigger than you’d imagine, purely muscle, with huge horns, curling underneath their ears, giving them their name.
We were definitely in critter country now. But the critters weren’t the only cool aspect of Glacier; the breathtaking landscapes were the real reason we ventured up north after
Yellowstone. And we were spot on. Ten times more breathtaking than Yellowstone, Glacier is filled with icy blue lakes and rivers, naturally fed by the gigantic glaciers that are scattered throughout the park. The running waters were identical to the crystal lakes I had seen a few years back in Interlaken, Switzerland. Even the Many Glacier Hotel we stayed at was modeled after a Swiss Alpine lodge. Fittingly, they named the main lodge the Interlaken Lounge.
The view from our bedroom was breathtaking. I honestly do not think that it is possible to
have a bad view at Glacier. As I said, it is an amazing landscape, that captures you in awe, and hiking up to the glaciers is even more magnificent. Magnificent, that is the perfect word to describe these wondrous glaciers. It is sad to think that, due to global climate change, these glaciers are expected to be completely depleted by 2030. They have already gravely decreased in number; down from the original 150 glaciers in the park during the late 1800’s, now only 25 remain. The glaciers are the main water source that make up those icy blue rivers and lakes, so when they are gone, the ecosystem will be devastated, leaving all of the wondrous wildlife struggling to survive.
Environmental education is necessary if we want to prevent this devastation from happening. It all begins with education, and
then change can take place. Visiting all of these parks and forests has given us knowledge that we were without before; vital knowledge about our world that people need to grasp to fully understand this impending climate change problem. Without education, our world will never change, and it will be over before we even get the chance to see all its beauty. We need to work together to educate one another and make this change possible.
We encourage everyone to visit these amazing parks, not only for the adventure of it, but for all of the awesome experiences and wisdom you gain along the way. Thank you Glacier, for sharing all of your magnificence with us.
Next up: Washington! Check out the SlideShow below for more beautiful images of Glacier!!
St. Louis is in the rear view, and after some serious rainstorms cut our nighttime driving short, we had a long road that still lay between Denver and us. Just a few hours over the boarder into Kansas we had about 10 hours of driving before we got to Denver and more importantly, a shower.
Very eager to get to Denver, we had been on the road for three days at that point, and aside from the few hours we spent bopping around St. Louis, the majority of the time was spent in the car. We were definitely looking forward to stretching our legs out on a nice soft bed to sleep and taking a nice warm shower (Did I mention that already? God this trip has made me appreciate showering). Luckily for us, thanks to Bronwen’s lifelong friend, Chloe, we had a beautiful apartment right in Denver, to do just that.
Although our stop in Denver was only a few days, it was definitely highlighted by our stroll down Larimer Street. Larimer Square is a very popular area in Denver, full of restaurants, shopping, and even home to some sports arenas. But, when we walked out of the bustling square to the fringe of the downtown area we found a treasure of beautiful street art and more distinctive craft breweries than we could count.
Ratio was one can’t miss brewery that we ventured into. Awesome place, that had some awesome beer, and played some awesome tunes.
After enjoying some city living for a few night,s we wandered to the backcountry for some camping in the Rockies at Golden Gate Canyon Park; about 30 miles outside of Boulder, Colorado.
Our first night of camping was textbook. Got the tent set-up in 10 minutes. Got the fire going without a hiccup. Roasted meats and mallows over an open flame all night.
Everything was going perfect . . . until we went to sleep.
Being up in the mountains meant that the weather was extreme and the wildlife was plentiful. There were signs and reminders everywhere about the dangers of the wild animals. Mountain lions, elk, and bears, oh my. But aside from my shitty jokes, there was just enough signage to make you a little paranoid of animals coming and eating you in the middle of the night. So that, paired with the whipping winds that mother nature brought was enough to have Bronwen waking us both up every time she heard the noise of our tent rustling.
We found out in the morning that the big scary noise was just some extra rope swaying into the tent with the big gusts of wind. We slept much better the next night.
Despite our lack of sleep, we dedicated the entirety of the next day to hiking. Two different trails totaling just about 10 miles, and we got a perfect day for it. The hikes were highlighted by a close encounter with a baby moose and the scenic views of the Rockies from Panorama Point. The views were rewarding but the altitude is real. We were definitely not adjusted to it, huffing and puffing more than usual on these ones.
Before we left the Boulder area we decided to see what downtown Boulder had to offer and explored the vivacious Pearl Street. Full of diverse restaurants, street performers, and neat little knick knack shops, Pearl Street definitely lived up to the standards that Larimer Street set. Shout out to Ryan for all of the awesome tips.
Next stop: Yellowstone, and yet another 10 hour stretch of driving.
P.S. On the way out of Colorado we stopped at this little town called Estes Park, right at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a cool little village town that has a vintage feel to it. Stephen King was supposedly inspired by this place when he wrote The Shining, and we also almost died via hot sauce. It was cool.
The confined space, creaking, and the fact that it looked like it hadn’t been touched since the 70’s terrified me. I despised elevators, and being trapped in this tiny shit box did not help my anxiety. I was buggin’ a little, having flashbacks from when I got stuck in the high school elevator. Needless to say, I was not enjoying going 650 ft up in the air in this elevator to the top of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch.
The guy riding up with us did not exactly soothe my uneasiness. Earlier, we found out he was a fellow New Englander, and he admiringly called us Massachusetts. It was funny at first, but then what started as a “quick-buddy,” turned into a creepy old man, who wouldn’t leave us alone. You could say he gave us a bit of a lure-kids-back-to-his-car-with-candy vibe. I thought, “Wow, we have shit luck. Now, we’re about to be on the news as the two kids who we’re murdered at the famous Gateway Arch. The two idiots who epically failed at their road trip.” What a lovely thought.
Well, the doors opened just in time. We scurried away from that guy real quick. Now we
could relax a little. The view from the top was unreal, on one side the Mississippi river roared through the city, and on the other the lights from Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, glistened in the evening light.
After gazing out of the windows for a while, we were pretty damn hanrgy [(han-gre) adjective 1. When you’re so hungry that you become angry, frustrated or both.] Time to head to our first Man vs. Food stop on the list, the Crown Candy Kitchen.
Established in 1913, it appeared unchanged, with traditions, such as the one featured on Man vs. Food. The competitor, Adam Richman, was challenged to consume 5, 24oz. malted milkshakes in 30 minutes. We were of course going to get a milkshake, but prior to that, we had our eyes set on something else. We had done our research beforehand, and knew exactly what we wanted. The waitress took our order, and before long, she was back. That day, we sunk our teeth into the most perfectly crafted BLT ever created by man. The near pound of crisply cooked bacon just melted in your mouth, it was even giving Tom Cail (our friend Johnny’s dad, the master of bacon) a run for his money.
In the words of Adam Richman, that behemoth of a sandwich was my bitch today. Well, Brad might have helped, but I tried! And, after, we managed to choke down the tastiest milkshakes I’ve ever laid my eyes on: chocolate, banana, malted shakes. Amazing. I’d say it could be the single best milkshake I’ve ever had in my entire life, and I worked at an ice cream shop.
Well, that’s about it, we scooted after the shakes. Thanks for the good times St. Louis, now onto Denver.
Sitting here, getting pumped for the trip, Brad is laying out all of our photo gear! We just picked up a fixed 24 mm Canon camera lens at Hunts, and just a few days ago, his new GoPro Hero 4 Silver came in the mail. His passion for photography is getting me more and more excited, inspiring me to be a better photographer myself. We can’t wait to document all of the early-morning sunrises, fantastic views, and other spontaneous stops along the way. Get stoked to see the country through our eyes.
Travel, adventure, food, photography, the outdoors, and much more are all rolled up into one with the Meandering Martians! Follow us, Brad & Bronwen, as we explore the US in our little Red Rocket, the Chevy Sonic. Traveling across the country, we hope to see as much as possible, which works out perfectly, considering we don’t have a set end-date for the trip. Our first stop will be the Gateway to the West, stopping in St. Louis to ride up in the Arch, our first National Landmark stop. Cities are not our only destination while we cruise the country; National Parks outweigh the cities for sure. We excitedly await for this adventure of a lifetime! Documenting every stop is important to us, and we are stoked that we get to share it with you! Stay tuned, the adventures begin August 22nd, when Bron & Brad take-off!