Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Today Mitch and I reached the final destination, Los Angeles California!. Or at least I did, tomorrow Mitch will likely be flying north to Portland, Oregon to live with his father and do comedy in the gem of the Northwest. Either way, the road trip has ended. We have traveled over 3,000 miles in two days, seen two of the natural wonders of the world, seen what I would consider some of the most amazing man-made wonders of the world, and put one little 1997 Honda Civic through more in one week then its makers ever planned for.

Last night we stayed at the Monte Carlo on the Las Vegas strip which was a step above the motels that we had been getting accustomed to on our trip. The trick was to visit the Nevada tourist welcome center the moment you cross the border and see what hotels are having deals that night and not having a set idea of where you want to stay. As far as gambling I had fun. I was able to find a low-stakes Poker table and spent the better part of 5 hours there. One thing I've learned about my gambling is that I get far too greedy and don't have the common sense to walk away from a game. Earlier I had played slots and was up 40 dollars but ended up leaving only 5 up, and I was up at least 80 dollars on the table and left 40 dollars poorer. That said, I had a great time just sitting at the table and talking to the other gamblers, plus the drinks were free which is always a plus. If I could give any recommendation about Vegas it would be that you can't go and not be willing to lose at least a little bit of money. It is not a city for those on a budget unless you simply want to chill by the pool and people watch.

Today we left in the morning to finish the final leg of our journey through the great American wilderness to Los Angeles. Remember when I said that Texas and Arizona were desolate? Forget what I said because the road from Vegas to LA has got to be one of the most miserable stretches of road on this Earth. When you see a sign that literally gives you directions to Death Valley and then an exit for Zzyzx road (I'm not kidding) you get to question the wisdom of building a city for gambling in the middle of no where. Did I mention that the temperature in this desert was 115 degrees today?

Anyway we got into LA and for one thing there is just no way to appreciate how vast this city is unless you are first entering. It took us the better part of 45 minutes between getting on our first LA freeway and getting to the front door of my apartment in Studio City. My landlady Dara is very nice and very helpful, I feel like this will wind up being a very good fit for me, for at least the first couple months until I make a decision further into my future.

It just so happened that Mitch and I arrived in time to rush down to Hollywood and sign up for the weekly open mic at the Improv theater. For those unfamiliar with the comedy world, the Improv is one of the three major comedy clubs in LA, if not the country (the other two being the Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory). This club has seen every major comedian of the past 40 years on that stage and every week they let 20 people try a 3 minute routine, and every week 50 people show up which they have to whittle down the numbers. Mitch and I were both lucky enough to have our names get drawn. So within 2 hours of arriving in LA we both got to try out our routines at the best theater in town. It was an awesome experience. Then we got stuck in traffic coming back into the Valley. Ah LA.

So that pretty much ends the road trip section of the blog. I'm putting up some pictures to Facebook in the next few days and I think I remember having a Flickr account which I'll try to find and put some pictures up. Some readers are using the blog as a way to keep in touch, so I'll still be updating somewhat frequently with updates and ongoing work in comedy (hopefully). I'm having an audition with the Groundlings improv group on Thursday which I'll certainly be letting you all know about. I'll do what I can to make sure that the blog doesn't become boring now that the scenery isn't changing as frequently. Please everyone stay in touch, it means a lot to me and really makes my day.

Happy Trails!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Grand Canyon and Vegas!

Alright where to start. First of all, if you have means to visit the Grand Canyon, do it! It's impossible to describe and pictures do not do it justice. The colors, the shape, the rock formations, everything takes your breath away and makes you wonder how something so amazing can exist at all. I would also recommend camping out at the canyon if you can. There's a few campgrounds throughout the national park that take reservations but Mitch and I were lucky enough to camp at Desert Sands campground. It only has 50 spots and it's first come first served so you need to get there a little early, no reservations! It's worth the stress though, you're only a 5 minute walk from the canyon. Mitch and I got to stay there and watch the sunset and then stuck around to watch the stars come out and lightning from a distant thunderstorm. It was surreal. I almost didn't notice the partying Swedes in their tent across the way. A word on camping in Arizona; the sun comes up at 5:30 in the morning.Ya. It's crippling when you've spent all night on the hard packed desert sand. I also got to indulge my inner hipster by reading Catcher in the Rye on the canyon walls, so there's that. Pictures upcoming hopefully. Also, if you have the choice, drive Rt. 180 from Flagstaff up to the canyon, it goes through mountains that reminded me of Colorado and it was a nice change of pace from the constant Arizona desert.

Arizona's not bad to drive through but it does get a little old, and it's hotter than hell. Today in particular we drove through a stretch of desert that went on forever and was completely straight and flat, think the movie Tremors with Kevin Bacon. Funny story, a few days ago we drove past a group of bikers with Norwegian flags in Texas. Today we stopped at a Texaco on the way into Nevada and who else was there but the Norwegians! I think we're making better time.

Anyway we drove up to Vegas today and went over the Hoover Dam, which was cool I guess, but way too crowded. Their building a bridge which I'm sure will help some but there were just too many rubberneckers to make the experience any fun. Another funny story about Europeans on the road; we stopped to take one or two pictures and the car next to us was the partying Swedes. Odd.

Anyway, Mitch and I are now in Vegas. We managed to get a good deal to stay at the Monte Carlo. It's pretty insane in this city, I haven't done much walking around but I can imagine that it gets pretty nuts at night. I'm looking forward to it, not to mention the opportunity to redeem myself after the mean Cowboy incident. Tomorrow is LA and then hopefully a job. We will see.

Happy Trails!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Texas, New Mexico, and Soccer

Today Mitch and I licked the wounds inflicted on us by the mean cowboy and continued west. Our road (I-40) took us out of Oklahoma and into the Texas panhandle which is flat. I mean flatter than a frigin pancake. By far the most desolate sight we've seen so far on the trip was looking out from the highway and seeing one lone barn probably 3 miles away as the road stretched forever onward. Weird being from New Hampshire and not being able to see a single tree on the horizon. This isn't to say that Texas is ugly. I found it to be pretty peaceful, in-fact the past two days have been fairly pleasant drives discounting eastern Oklahoma, which apparently is in a competition with northern Maine to see which will make you want to kill yourself faster. One weird thing about Texas though, the welcome center is 100 miles into the state. I'm not joking. When you cross the border there's a big sign that says, "Texas state welcome and rest area, 97 miles." What the hell is that?!

We stopped in Amarillo and we're immediately sorry. I can't understand how a city allows the ugliest portions of itself to border the highway and then hide all the nice things deeper in. This was the case with Tulsa, Oklahoma too. Plant trees, put up sound barriers something, anything to block the countless McDonalds and crappy Motels.

I don't want to talk about the USA soccer game we stopped in Amarillo to watch, though I will say that the Texas Fireside Bar and Grill is an awesome place to watch a sport.

It was then onto New Mexico which has to be one of the most beautiful places in the entire country. The views are amazing and unlike anything you will see on the East Coast. The one problem with these views is that you won't have many other things to look at. There is absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing for 99% of New Mexico's highways to distract you. What's worse is that the small towns that you will pass seem like they only exist to sell gasoline. There's maybe two houses and three gas stations for every town in New Mexico. Albuquerque on the other hand is absolutely beautiful. Let me say this, if you are for whatever reason passing through New Mexico westbound on Interstate 40, try to enter Albuquerque at sunset. You pass through a mountain valley and can see the sunset over mountains to the west of the city as you drive through. It's amazing. Though I will say this, unless you are stopping in the city to rest, driving in the desert at night is not easy. There are absolutely no lights on the highway and the darkness seems to swallow up your own headlights. If you find yourself in this situation I suggest you do what I did and cruise the AM radio channels and find a good call-in show for conspiracy theories (did you know the government is irradiating our food supply? It's true!).

Anyway, tomorrow Mitch and I are off for the Grand Canyon which I've heard is beyond belief. Then the next day is Vegas where I hope to have better luck than I did yesterday, and then it's LA!

Happy Trails!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Mean old cowboys and Indian casinos. Oklahoma!

Greetings all. Today Mitch and I left James behind at Fort Leonard Wood with a heavy heart. We had a lot of fun getting to see what life is like in the Army and I know James appreciate the visit. On the way out of Missouri we met my friend Dave from London in Springfield for some awesome cashew chicken and then moved on to Oklahoma.

A few words on Oklahoma. They decided to split up I-44 and I-40 into smaller parkways, which means that they collect a toll on every single one. Not only that, but they take those tolls to make the nicest welcome centers you can imagine..with dirt parking lots. It's bizarre. Then the state is incredibly boring to drive through, it's a bit like Missouri but instead of constantly seeing cities or billboards that at least divert your attention the best Oklahoma can do is Tulsa, which is a pit. Mitch and I theorized that the reason Oklahoma is so religious is because of the trust that heaven will at least be better than frigin Oklahoma.

Anyway, we stopped 60 miles from the Texas border in a town called Clinton and are staying at an Econo Lodge with train tracks running through the parking lot and cows in the backyard. It's bizarre. Mitch and I decided to treat ourself and went to a local Indian casino called the Lucky Star Casino which had just about every stereotype you could possibly imagine milling around. I can't explain it all, but suffice it to say that the movies have got it 100% right. Mitch and I went into a game of Texas Hold-Em with a $50 buy-in. And then he sat down. An old man with a cowboy hat who apparently worked in construction. He spent 200 bucks to buy in and decided to destroy us both. Mitch went out first. I won one hand and was playing even. I then got dealt a king and ace and decided to really play. Another guy opened the bet at $25 and me and cowboy joined in. By the end of the betting I was all in and the pot was a little over $100 bucks. The flop comes up ace, 8, and 6 and I'm like, "Sweet! Here's the hotel room for the night and the next day's gas money for both of us. But wait, mean cowboy has a pair of 8's. Jeff busts out. What a crock. That cowboy sure was mean.

Happy Trails!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fort Leonard Wood and PFC Hart

Yesterday Mitch and I arrived at Fort Leonard Wood in the middle of Missouri to visit a friend of ours who is stationed there in the army. First off, if you've never been to an army base, it is nothing like you imagine in the movies. There are no lines of soldiers constantly running everywhere, there are no jeeps or humvees around, and there are Pizza Huts, Burger Kings, and other signs of "civilization" everywhere. Our friend even lives in his own apartment with a kitchen, washer/dryer, his own room with a double bed, and only one roommate! It's a pretty sweet gig, as long as you don't mind waking up before dawn to do push-ups and dealing with the knowledge that at any point you could be sent to war. Pluses and minuses.

Yesterday was the first time that I saw what I had been expecting and wanting to see since we left, flat and boring farmland, which there was plenty of in southern Illinois. We then got to visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and was pleasantly surprised how pretty the interior of Missouri is. Obviously a different world than I'm used to in New Hampshire though. In New Hampshire it's expected that if you need something you can't find with a 5 minute drive, it will only take you an extra few miles of driving to get it. In Missouri, if you can't find what you're looking for in your area you can expect at least an hour long drive to a decent sized city that hopefully has what you're looking for. It gives you an appreciation for what it means when people say "Main Street America," where Main Street is literally your first and only stop for essentials.

Anyway, tomorrow we head further on and we're planning on stopping in Springfield to visit a friend of mine who graduate from Drury University who I met in London a year ago. After that it's on to Oklahoma and the great expanse of nothing in the great American Southwest. Hopefully the Civic won't crap out 70 miles from civilization and leave us stranded but I'm hoping that the repair work done a week ago will get the warhorse through the desert.

Oh and a word on the World Cup. If anyone can watch the USA game against Algeria and not become a fan of soccer instantly then they are beyond help and obviously a commie. We really don't have a timeframe on this drive but I made it very clear to Mitch that no matter what happens, I will be finding a place to watch every single game that the USA plays from now until they're eliminated, which hopefully won't be for another week at least. Hopefully the US can escape any bullcrap penalty shots given to Ghana, unlike the World Cup 4 years ago in Germany when they were victims of yet more questionable calls by the referee. But I digress.

Happy Trails!

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From exciting and awesome to meh.

Greetings from Terre Haute, Indiana! Last night Mitch and I spent the night at the wonderful Red Carpet Motel in Niagara Falls, which I do not recommend. The price was right but the motel was not, and the continental breakfast amounted to a few coffee machines and some powdered donuts from an Irving. Regardless I was so glad that we decided to go that extra bit further to stay in Niagara Falls, I'd been in High School but seeing the falls was a great way to start a long day of driving. Besides, how many people can say that they've been to Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon in the same week? Sadists, that's who.

The driving was actually very easy today, and aside from getting into Columbus right around rush hour, we were able to make good time. One hilarious side note, if you have the means to visit Ripley, New York I highly recommend it. Ripley is at the western tip of upstate and is a world that time forgot. I think it was the laundromat/auto repair combi and the fact that the moment we stepped out of the car the air raid siren went off. Apparently it was to announce the arrival of a massive freight train but Mitch and I both thought the Soviets were invading. Otherwise the driving was fine, if you have the means Ohio is worth the drive. The highways are good and there are a lot of things to see. And for the record, if you're buying 10 billboards in a row to advertise your RV business at the Indiana border, try to have an acceptable last name (I'm looking at you, Tom Raper).

I've posted a map on the side of the blog to show everyone our path cross-country. Tomorrow the plan is to make it to Fort Leonard Wood and visit our friend James who's in the army where we'll be staying until Friday and then it's on to the Grand Canyon. At that point Mitch and I will have memorized the words of Lady Gaga's "Allihandro" and will be pros on Rush's weekly talking points.

Happy Trails!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Niagra Falls!

End of day one, synopsis? Upstate New York is as desolate a place as you'll find anywhere in this country. One thing that struck me was how few and far the exits were. Now mind you, I-90 is just about the only east-west road for most of upstate, but there were some towns we passed that were at least 15 miles from the nearest onramp/offramp. So my question is, how does that encourage anyone to go anywhere but home? I have nothing against people who stay in, but some towns are just isolated which to me would get oppressive.

Anyway, the driving was easy and we were originally shooting to stop in Buffalo, but after looking at the prices of motels Niagara Falls was cheaper by far and since it was only 15 miles away it made more sense, it also means we can swing by the falls tomorrow morning to take a look. I've already been but I figure that there are only so many times you'll see Niagara Falls and I'd be remiss to miss (see what I did there?) the opportunity. Tomorrow the plan is to get as far as possible on the way to St. Louis, the likely place is somewhere in Indiana past Cincinnati. Give Mitch or I a ring on our cells if you are fortunate enough to have the number. Happy trails!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Setting out!

Well today is the big day. Roughly around 10ish I'll be leaving Bow NH for a long while and heading out on the open road in search of fame and fortune. I'll be driving with another UNH improv alum Mitch and hopefully we'll have lots of adventures and excitement along the way. Some stops that we're already planning: Worcester for Parker and Amy, Fort Leonard Wood Missouri for PFC Hart, Grand Canyon, and Vegas. That's all tentative, we don't mind if we get side tracked on the way, I'd like to see if we could catch a Reds game for instance, and I'm certainly going to find a nice soccer bar on Wednesday morning to watch the US run through Algeria like crap through a goose (movie reference!).

If anyone's got any recommendations for places to stop on the way place let us know! This is particularly pertinent for the stretch from Oklahoma to Arizona, where both Mitch and I are complete outsiders and have no idea what to go see. So just leave a comment at the bottom of the blog with suggestions, or find me on Facebook if you happen to already know me. I'll try to update as often as I can, but no promises that it will be every single night, we may be camping out some nights and obviously will have no internet.

Happy Trails!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The move

Why does one guy worrying about student loans drive cross-country to a place he's never visited, with no job waiting for him, with no guarantee that he will have any success whatsoever? It may sound cliche and it may sound like wishful thinking, but it's for comedy. I was bit by the comedy bug and now's the time to take a chance.

Four summers ago I was 18 years old and starting at the University of New Hampshire in the fall. I was loud, obnoxious even, but basically focused on friends and schoolwork. As I worked to find my niche at school I saw a poster for Improv Anonymous, "UNH's one and only improv comedy troupe" (ya, that was our introduction). With no prior improv experience (though I'd had a background in theater from middle through high school) I auditioned. Obviously I made the cut and for four years I saw the troupe grow in maturity and professionalism. When I started the first thing I was struck by was how close the other members were with each other. They seemed so comfortable being onstage and going places that would make most people quake with fear.

One of the great things about Improv Anonymous was how much emphasis was placed with getting new members up to speed. Every time we finished a round of auditions the whole group would go back to basics, effectively relearning everything we thought we knew. The group was very open with constructive criticism, which seems to be the difference between a serious group and a group doing improv as a hobby. The great thing about this process was that it brought the veterans down to the level of the new members, accelerating an already easy process of becoming new friends. Improv is much easier when you not only trust the person you're with but you want to see them get laughs as well.

Improv was a great thing for an 18 year old freshman to be introduced to. In a purely social sense, it was great to make so many friends. Improv did wonders for my confidence as well, I had always been a very expressive person but I found improv to be my outlet, making hundreds laugh every week is a powerful experience, and you can't help but feel good about yourself when you've felt that roar. It calmed me down from an obnoxious teenager to someone who had found what they were truly good at.

When it came time to graduate I went through the same panic moments everyone with a new liberal arts degree does, what in the world was I supposed to do with my life? My roommate (another member of the troupe) laughingly suggested that we move to LA to do comedy. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how good an idea it was. I was finishing what I thought was a pretty successful run with a college troupe and realized that if I was ever to translate that experience into a lifestyle the time was now. So on Monday, June 21 I am picking my life into a 1997 Honda Civic and heading out on the road to move cross-country on an adventure that right now has no ending. I hope I'm not disappointed but I think I am making this trip for the right reasons. I am incredibly lucky to have this opportunity and also to have such understanding parents who will let me potentially burn through all of my savings to be happy. New Hampshire is great but when it comes to comedic opportunities it comes up a little short. NH will always be my home but I'm willing to take a risk to be happy. I'm sure I won't regret the opportunity.