Guillaume and I met five years ago while modeling in Barcelona. One of the perks of modeling is that you get the chance to travel, if you want to, so moving around was something we just sort of did; it was never really a big deal. We had made a lot of friends and explored some amazing places. However, let's be real, it's not the most fulfilling or long-lived of careers.
Our Manhattan Life
Most recently we lived in Manhattan, which at a year and a half became a much longer stint than we had anticipated. While we still dabbled in modeling when the money was right, in New York we studied diligently with some really top people and started referring to ourselves as “actors”.
We started booking some good commercials and low-budget films but we're beach kids at heart. And the time came when we had to decide to leave or maybe forever hold our peace. The idea of the Hollywood dream. leftover hippie vibrations, sunshine and fish tacos was too much for us to bear. So once again, we packed up . . . and this time we headed west, to Los Angeles, to further our acting careers, and have an epic road trip on the way.
Good-Bye, New York
We left East Hampton with our car packed to the brim with all the things coming with us to L.A., including our dog Yogi . . . who is not a thing but decided to disguise himself as one, just in case we thought of leaving without him.
Yogi ready to go
We headed West and had a less then epic start as we ended up sleeping in our car in a bank parking lot in Salem, NY because - despite our previous notion - we were not yet brave enough to set up a tent alone in the dark woods.
We passed through some really adorable little towns around Ithaca the next morning. Within just a few hours we started to find ourselves in small-town America, which was very exotic to "Mr. Frenchman" (my nickname for Guillaume). The next night we camped in the middle of an RV park/ Campground on Lake Erie (PA) with all sorts of 'professional campers.' They had tents for their Harleys that were bigger than our tent . . . and portable flamingos! . . . but were friendly enough to offer us some Keystone Lights. Lake Erie was beautiful and we were totally amused with illusion of being next to the ocean.
The next day we arrived in Chicago where I had friends. And that meant real showers! What an awesome city at the end of August. We went to an outdoor concert and ate deep dish pizza, just like 30's mafiosos.
From here on out the open road was all we had planned and the road certainly did get open.
The open road
It's a good thing Guillaume had fun in Chicago, because - little did he know - his luck was about to take a turn for the worst. It's not always a good thing to be my boyfriend, ha ha.
The Yogi Incident
On a hike in Wisconsin, I convince Guillaume that Yogi was 'pure instincts' and would be fine for a little off-the leash time. A few minutes later he goes lunging head first down a steep, densely forested, hill in hot pursuit of a . . . badger? raccoon? fox? Gui dives into the bushes after him. We call fruitlessly for ten minutes before I go check for him back at camp.
Thirty minutes later I return to find the two of them attached by leash covered with mud and stickers and sopping wet. Guillaume is clearly flushed with testosterone as if he just emerged from the Vietnam jungle. Apparently the recovery mission was intense.
In Minnesota we happened upon the South Eastern Blue Grass Association festival, or SEMBA as the locals like to call it. That was wild! Little old ladies playing banjos like rockstars, we were so impressed. We also stopped in the middle of miles upon miles of prairie fields, to see Jeffers Petroglyphs, and were transported back 7000 years with these poetic ancient etchings.
Deep in America
We soon started passing lot's of roadhouses and giant billboards advertizing things like "worlds smallest church" and "worlds largest tap shoes". The best though was when we saw a sign for "the worlds only corn palace", clearly we had to make a detour.
The famous Corn Palace
We entered South Dakota which officially meant we were a Long Way from Home. I discovered a positive correlation between the distance from the East Coast and the amount of beef jerky in the gas stations. Next came perhaps our favorite stop of the whole journey, the Badlands. This moon-like landscape was better than any Hollywood set I could have imagined. We camped in a secluded little campground in the center of them and were lulled to sleep by coyote howls.
Rocks, Guns & Cowboys
The next day we headed to the Black Hills National Forest for copious amounts of wild life viewing and scenic drives, like "Needles Highway" and - let's not forget - Mount Rushmore. The best part of the day, though, was a gun show staring "Big Dave", 7'2'', and other fabulous gun-twirling men in the ole west town of Keystone. They sang soon-to-be-famous songs like "John Wayne is still the king", complete with a slideshow of John Wayne photos. We loved it so much we bought a signed poster.
Wilderness Has its Quirks
In Wyoming, the towns dwindled in size but increased in character. We stopped at a gas station where the cashier, smoking a cigarette, told us they didn’t take credit cards. It was all very OMG, in the best possible way. The street names were either something like Dead Horse Creek or Fast Indian Hill . We squinted into the sun and did our best to ride the Jetta like a cowboy.
The entrance to Yellowstone felt a bit like a Disneyland entrance. We smiled broadly when they handed us pamphlets on how to act casual when you see a Grizzly, which - much to our disappointment - we never got the chance to do. Yellowstone is mother nature on steroids: everything is grand, the rivers, the mountains, the canyons, the geysers . . . just like Jurassic Park, minus the dinosaurs.
Buffalo Roamin' in Yellowstone
South from Yellowstone we drove through the "Grand Tetons" which, much to Guillaume's amusement, means "Big Nipples" in French. We both loved them.
After Yogi got skunked at Bear Lake in Utah, we had to give him the old tomato juice treatment in our motel bathtub. Although we were having fun Yogi was horrified... until he realized that the awkward substance being massaged into his fur was kinda tasty.
Utah was a blast. Gorgeous with a totally different 'vibe' every couple of hours. We did a random little motel in this town called Spring City: it was across from a Walmart and a cemetery with tractors parked in the parking lot. We then cruised on down south via scenic highway 24 and 12.
We stopped at a little cafe called "El Diablo" and it turned out they had the best food in the world. The waitress recommended this campground called "Calves Creek" which was supremely gorgeous and set a new precedent for us. The campground was nestled in the middle of baked red canyon walls with a little stream running through. We went on a 3 hour desert hike that ended at this wonderful 70 foot waterfall oasis.
In Utah we also drove through Zion National Park and camped in "The Coral Pink Sand Dunes". We loved waking up to all the tracks of the night critters in the sand.
We left Utah and cruised through a bit of Arizona, marveling at the variety of landscapes we had been through over the last ten days. We drove through desert with those giant cactus with two upward bending arms that I had thought only existed in cartoons.
Alas, we arrived in that shimmering mirage which is Las Vegas. After our epic nature journey we didn't have the guts to do any real touristy things, we just walked around and were handed tons of cards with naked women on them.
On our last night we planned to sleep in the Death Valley Desert but night fell early and mosquitoes were so abundant that at the last minute we stopped at wildly flashy casino town called Primm. I think part of it was so we had an excuse to roadtrip the west end again. We spread out in a clean (relatively) bed and thought about our new life in Los Angeles.