Coast to Coast Road Trip Home

Patriot Steve in his favorite place in the world, camping on the Shenandoah River. See Tattoo on his side that praises the uphill flowing river. I’m in his shadow in the famous aqua zebra jacket probably trying to find my wallet and dignity.

When my best friend since childhood could not commit to a cross country voyage due to a final round interview, I had a male model  (think cooler than Ben Stiller in Zoolander) and good friend on deck for my San Diego to Maryland journey.  My dad said he would do the trip with me part deux (he helped moved me there during the fall of 2010), but basically wanted to launch 3,000 miles back home fast and furiously.  “One way flights are cheap, so find a friend, preferably, a guy, who can handle car issues just in case something happens.”

I knew just the man, I thought.   I anxiously dialed Steve, envisioning him answering his indestructible non-smart cell phone in plaid shorts, sans shirt, charcoal Chuck Taylors, maniac yet, masculine facial scruff and brazen “Mount Airy”  pec tattoo to tow.  A month before, while visiting home for Thanksgiving, bonfire-front, marshmellow stuffed, and Natty drowned, I confessed to studly Steve I had been mentally Mortal Combatting home vs. back east and if the time came, would he interested in driving with me.  “Oh, this road trip could be gold.  Keep me posted on how the war ends, Roenick.”

December 8th at Hotel Del Coronado, after romantically iceskating beachfront with Lauren, I saw this black and white decor piece in their gift shop that spoke to me so much that day. I edited it a bit, but say these three words a lot still.

At age 20, he joined the full-time ranks of the Girls and Boys Club of America, serving as  a mentor, role model, and hell, probably even a crush for kids across the county.  “Mr. Steve” the giddy girls and guys chant as he bounces into school classrooms and cafeterias alike.

Steve-Local celeb (Frederick Bachelor), esteemed philanthropist, and great friend with his lil kids.

So, I proposed my serious question to Steve over our shotty cell phones, 3,000 miles away and 3 weeks after I originally asked him at our usual hangout house over the Turkey holiday. “I do have a hectic schedule, but I might be able to pull this off since I have a week in advance. Plus this is a once and a lifetime opportunity.  Let me figure this stuff out and I will give you a definite answer tomorrow, Roenick.”

Steve’s affirmative answer came the next morning with a rush of excitement similar to hearing the wonderful news that Arrested Development was coming out with another season on Netflix.  “All I ask is that we stop as many Goodwills as possible.

This guy scored himself a brand new wardrobe and some great gifts for his loved ones at that mecca of good stuff Goodwill in Tenn.

I mean I can imagine the South has some pretty great, no-where-else-like-it kind-of-stuff.”  Are you kidding me?  Easy peezy request.   I was swallowing this guy’s week up until Christmas Day in moving my life back to the four-seasons climate and he just wanted to be a glutton of Goodwills?  Be still my hometown heart. Inside, I thanked the Lord for great friends  and my deep appreciate for inexpensive retail.

My last sunset. An unforgettable and favorite PB December 17th sunset (I’m the hooded being on the right)

Once I texted Steve a reminder text to check in for his flight, I took off to wave goodbye to the Pacific waves one last time that Saturday night.  It was my last sunset on the west coast as a California resident and I wanted to celebrate it solo style.  That collection of hues and rays scored the gold medal in  my favorite San Diego sunsets I’ve ever experienced.  It was highlighter pink, my favorite color of the neon rainbow.

Nothing silences my ever-wandering mind like a California sunset. 12/17/11 photo

I can still smell the solace that sunset session gave me and it is 3 seasons later as I write this.  I stood on the Pacific Beach pier, teeming with locals and vacationers alike, for a solid hour in silence, soaking in the comfort that coast had given me at some pivotal periods of my life. California was the answer to my questions at one time, but then I answered that pang.  That hour set of the melodic surf was the crescendo to the finale of my California Tour concert.  I was so in tune with myself, with nature, with life, that I almost wanted to cry, but I was not feeling downtrodden one bit; there weren’t any  tears to stifle back.  Since October, I learned “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” by one of my favorites bands of all-time, Coldplay (Mia and I went to our first Coldplay in July and I’m a lifer).  I knew I did not need a good cry like some girls need sporadically (it happens dudes…not often, but it does).  I was gracefully slacklining serenity and just wanted to honor that inner peace in silence.  I can still taste the reassurance that sunset seasoned up my taste buds.  God painted that sunset just for me that night, knowing the internal wrestling I had done within myself the last few months.

Steve, Steph and I just finished packing my car, so we walked a block to the Tower 23.

My life story at age 24 fit in my HONDA CRV for 3,000 miles

The next day, Steve flew in to San Diego a day before our our descent down (actually it’s flat and across…) on Route 40.  I was tied up with last-minute packing in the morning and an all day affair of that epic Ravens Chargers game in the afternoon/evening, so Steve gallivanted around town with one of our best friends Steph and her husband, Mike, showing Steve his first views of Californaaay.  Steve scored some buys at two Goodwills in Pacific Beach, blocks from my house, toured La Jolla, watched the sunset from Shore Club (one of SD’s finest dives with a sick oceanfront view) and imbibed brews while playing games at Steph’s bayfront home, just how Steve envisioned a great full day in San Diego.

My car was packed up the day before with Steph, Mike and Steve’s help. By some miracle, all my crap fit into my Honda CRV (the C%RVix or Crave as some calls it). So at 8 a.m. Monday morning, we were off.

Steve the wet bandit in Nevada.  Note Shore Club glove, his drinking glove, which he still loves and wears today.

We bro’ed out at times with intermixing of  talk surrounding movies, sports (CAPS, Fantasy, NBA), our friends, our futures, our recent relationships, our families, our fears.  We occupied the silence with my favorite Road Trip game,

Thought of you, Beall!

The Alphabet Game (basically Categories rattled off through the 26 letters).

Sedona, AZ

The Grand Canyon

Wagon Wheel exit off Rte 40

Steve and I marveled at the scape of Sedona,  we jaw-dropped (and I Tebow’ed) at the Great Canyon

Tebowing in the Grand Canyon Dec ’11

and all along, we pelted the lyrics to Pandora’s finest.  We jumped out of our seats over exit 7 on Route 40 being called “Wagon Wheel” (town in Arkansas  as it’s our Shenandoah River camping trip’s anthem song.  As we drove into Amarillo  Texas, we cackled at the joke of “is EVERYTHING bigger in Texas?”  Together, Steve and I shared shock over snow on the ground in states such as New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.  We discussed the pros and cons of Albuquerque after we saw it. We noted the monotonousness of Oklahoma City. We smelled the Barbecue and river run in Memphis.

Neyland Stadium at the Univ. of Tennessee! The Vols Football stadium holds 105,000 people.

We knocked out a a windshield tour of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and  I wined over the wonder a new bridge being built over the Tennessee River (I got a thing for bridges…).

A bridge in Knoxville, Tennessee

A bridge in Knoxville, Tennessee

Craving deadlines, loving high stress, sucking in no sleep- is the recipe I usually follow in my Top Chef kitchen of life.  Sometimes, unfortunately, my daily intake of Women’s One Dailies do not act as God’s perfect pill of health. Eventually, the duress, malnourishment and insomnia coalesces into sickness.  Of course that is what happened the week of my road trip. During a  decent amount of the voyage, I overdosed on Robitussin and was out like a light during a fair amount of the drives.  All I could was to sit (drool while sleeping) in the CRV, be silent (had nearly no voice) and be sick.  I apologized profusely to Steve for having being cursed with the plague. Poor guy had to share close quarters in the car and hotel rooms with sickly me. I just kept saying I better get my energy better for Nashville, which Praise sweet baby Jesus, I did.  Steve was such a man that even when I offered to drive throughout the week, he wouldn’t let me (or he feared my driving?…).  He looked so legit driving one-handed with that Shore Club (PB bar) wet bandit glove on.  I learned miscellaneous sports facts from Steve and Dan Patrick that week during my no-voice Tuesday.

Steve’s wet bandit in downtown Memphis. Notice my rosary, blessed by the Pope at the Vatican Jan 2008 with Aly, guiding us safely through the lean streets.

Before between Memphis and Knoxville, we raveled in two whole days of country music magic in Nashville.

Gaylord Hotel in Nashville. One of the 8 Atriums that mega hotel has.

Boots on Broadway in Nash

We spun around Gaylord (the largest of Gaylord Hotels hosting 7 Atriums , Vanderbilt, Belmont University, the Ryman Auditorium (the original Grand Ole Opry), Bridgestone Arena (where the Predators play hockey), and LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans.

LP Field aka Titans stadium. Notice the flooding.

Tootsies menu

We dined at Tootsie’s for lunch one day (Willie Nelson couldn’t make it that day…), we shopped for Christmas presents at the boutique Broadway stores and Steve  purchased himself a brand new wardrobe practically at the Goodwill Nashville.  A constant long running joke was that despite the car being stuffed to the brim and borderline uncomfortable up til Nashville, at least we drove safely with Steve behind the wheel.  But if anyone were to rear end us, we would die at the hand of the arts (my paintings) and our Christmas presents purchased for our families.  After the Nashville shopping sprees, we kept saying if this tough drive does not kill us, then the recent addition contents of the car just might murder us: 4-foot umbrellas disguised as ninja swords, photo frames, life sized stuffed animals, new shoes, bags of vintage apparel, 5 ceramic mugs and a partridge in a pear tree constantly poking at our heads or on our laps during the drive, especially when the brakes were moderately touched.  The sword umbrellas really did have the capability to slice my head off in one false move from a bumper hugger.  But, cowboy it up-it was all part of the experience and I secretly loved every minute of it despite my complaints.

After a few nights in hotels (Gallup, NM and small desolate town in Oklahoma we cannot remember), we wanted to see a city from a local’s eye.

Broadway Boot County baby

Thankfully, at the Ravens Chargers game days before, my San Diegan girlfriend Ginny (a proud Vol) set us up to stay with her college bff Mike,

Mike, Steve and I on our Tour de NashVegas Honky Tonks. We went to The End, The Stage, Broadway Brewhouse, Legends and we arent sure the other 1 or 2, but who cares. Honky tonk!

who showed us southern hospitality by opening up his home (letting us two stranger dangers crash), mind (full of info), and liver (honky tonk!) to us during our 3 day stay. Our last night, the three of us took Tennessee by storm by bar hopping on Broadway to a few amazing honk tonks in NashVegas.  The next morning, even hungover as Hades, Steve still honorably took the wheel because he is a Chevy-like a rock.

During that Christmas break, Steve drove me all 2,896 miles across America.

We saw a basement concert at The End, where this sign hangs, near Vandy. A lot of greats got started here performing before the big leagues.

Katie, Aly, Raha and I at a club in the meat packing district near the Gansevoort Hotel

NYE 2011 with Aly, Colleen and Rach

I walked into my parents house on Christmas Eve, celebrated the holiday with my family for two days, then left for Manhattan on December 27th for my annual Upper East Side stay with a great group of college friends. Couple days later, I was soaking up the Atlantic salt water in Ocean City, Md, with of college dorm mates for the New Year- officially concluding my Coast to Coast trip. I went from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, peppered in Manhattan’s Hudson River in a week.

NY Hudson River from Raha’s Upper East Side apartment

If you zoom out, I shimmied from the San Francisco Bay (Coast cruise with Katie the week before) to the Chesapeake Bay in 2 weeks.

I remember when I finally got home from Ocean City, it was January 1st, 2012, at 4 p.m., and I had not unpacked a thing. In that month, I re-learned God was a script writer and an artist.  I was welcomed home by a majestic

January 1, 2012 4:00 p.m. rainbow in my development, welcoming me home for good.

rainbow over my neighborhood, Sun Valley Farms, when there had not been a drop of rain to account for that week.  What a way to polish off 2011, another rad year for the books.  Tired as F, but happier than ever is how I started 2012, one of my favorite years of life so far, if not my favorite. Despite being exhausted from a month of packing, travelling and well, partying, I thanked the Lord for keeping my safe and for that 7-colored high five in the sky before I collapsed into a much need, 15 hour straight slumber starting at 4:05 pm New Years Day.

About jroenick

I was born and raised in Westminster, Md. I attended the University of Maryland and met some of the greatest people to hit this Earth. Last fall 2010, I moved to city to be reunited with my lover, the city of San Diego. This blog is centered around my San Diegan life with strong hues of my Maryland roots, along with written trapses of past experiences, current perspectives, and my anything but opaque future. It's plethora of my travels, takes, triala and tribulations including social media resources, real life adventures I've had with family and friends, and thought provoking reflections will be written my moi and read by my loved. Thanks for delving into my appreciative life.
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5 Responses to Coast to Coast Road Trip Home

  1. Kelly Frazier says:

    I have to say when I started reading your blog you made me dream of California but thank you for making the east coast sound just as wonderful considering I will be stuck here for a while lol Love your blog 🙂

    • jroenick says:

      Aw! Thanks, Kelly! I tell it how it is- East coast is just as wonderful I’ve learned from my bicoastal experiences. Thanks a lot for reading and loving!!

  2. Cheryl Neiman says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey. And now you are home. But you know the west coast is only a flight away, so you can feel reassured that any time you feel the need to drop in, you can. And yes, God is the script writer and artist. Luvu C

    • jroenick says:

      I know. Ive been sizing up flights for an SF, LA, and SD jaunts for April 2013 around Coachella! Still always more to see and great people to visit (like your killer kids!)!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I didn’t realize you had finally written this! You need to keep us in the email loop when these go out! Michael and I laughed and loved this blog, maybe cause we were in it 🙂 JK thanks for sharing!!

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