2 Brothers, 1 vision... 0 sight

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We got up fairly early this morning, knowing that we had a bit of a trek ahead of us. Knowing full well that the next few days were going to be hard driving days, we decided that we were going to try and make it at least into California by the end of the day.

We had originally planned on seeing Clear Lake and/or Crater Lake while we in Oregon, but we opted to bypass them. Especially since we had discovered these wonderful, beautiful creeks and rivers along the way so far.

Before we got on the road, we made a quick pit stop to gas up and get caffeinated. We kept forgetting stuff each time we would go in and out of the place multiple times. Jim, the cashier at the Plaid Pantry, finally got curious and asked us what we were doing. Tod told him about our trip and told him to come here and check it out. Hey Jim!

We hopped on the road finally and the crew told us that they had a bit of a surprise for us. We were to head down the highway and take exit 55, as we got closer we had to make another gas and bathroom break. We pulled over to this isolated old time gas station to fill up. I asked the attendant , who was pumping our gas for us because Oregon pumps your gas for you, where the bathrooms were. He said around back, and I walked around the corner to find two Port-O-Lets. Classy. Now, I have used porta-poties before but the new experience for me in this one was the splash back. There is nothing quite as nausea inducing as that. (For kindness’ sake, I will not go into further detail)

We got to exit 55 and began to head southwest, Tod and I figured out where they were going to be taking us; to the coastal Redwood Forest in Jedediah Smith State Park. We drove the windy roads into California, watching the trees get taller and taller. Now Tod and I have been to the redwoods before, when we were younger, but there is still that sense of wonder and awe when you are in the presence of these mighty trees. What stories they could tell if they were like the Ents from the Lord of the Rings books.

We found this one Redwood that had been gutted out by fire, not sure if by natural or manmade causes. If there was a storm that had suddenly come up, we could have taken refuge inside of it, all of us. One way or another nature always helps us.

We drove down a bit further to see if there were any trails that we could hike around on, but there weren’t any readily available, and it was starting to get dark. The crew decided to camp out there and get some footage before we lost these trees and forest of the northern part of America, while Tod and I would trek on a bit and find a hotel for the night. Camping is great, but again setting up a tent in the dark is not something Tod or I like doing n a regular basis.

So we hopped on the 101 and headed south towards Eureka, CA, hoping to find a quick way back to the 5, which would be faster and safer to travel on. As the trees started to thin out and we were exiting a section of the Park, we saw the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. It was so beautiful to be up as high as we were. In the distance, we saw clouds, but it look like mountains on the horizon. The crew had given us a Hero Cam to chronicle anything we might see along the way. We decided to film the sunset and some night driving as we hunted down a place stay.

As the night overtook us and we found our selves on the somewhat small, winding through the forest, road, we were extremely thankful to have the GPS with us. We found a cut through from the 101 to the 5 near McKinleyville, CA, taking us back through Jed Smith State Park towards Redding CA.

One of the really neat things as we were taking this small highway through the woods, was these little towns that would pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. We actually had to make a pee stop, and we were stretching our legs, a guy stopped to make sure we were all right. When we told him why we had stopped, he told us that there was a town right around the bend. Sure enough, there was.

Tod and I started singing old TV theme songs to keep us occupied, and then I fished out his iPod adapter and played some real music for a change. You see, we can’t play mainstream music while they’re recording because we don’t have permission to use it in the film. One of the songs that came on was Rainbow Connection, from the Muppets. We ended p listening to it twice, before letting random take over again. There is something about this song that really speaks to me. The line, “Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me,” gets me all choked up. Not sure why, but my first thought on it is that I am searching for something in my life, and when I find it, I will be a better man. We’re all searching for something in life, I guess.

We came out of the woods around Weaverville, CA and started hunting for a hotel. We couldn’t find any near where we were so we decided to keep on heading towards Redding, where we would be able to find a real hotel to stay in. Plus, it was only 40 more miles down the road and was right on I-5.

We ended up driving about 550 miles today and were on the road for about 13 hours including small stops in Redwood. We got to Redding and stopped at the first hotel we could find, and crashed out hard.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

We decided to repack the car before we set back off on the road, to help clear out some space inside. I was happy to do this, because our little car top carrier was looking a bit under used.

Freshly packed, and fueled by leftover pizza, we headed off to Mount St Helens. We stopped off at the visitor center and got the rundown of the Mountain.

Complete sidebar, but it happened as we were going up to Mount St Helens. As many of you are probably aware, when on road trips, guys will use cups to got to the bathroom in, so they don’t have to stop the car, or they are in between places to go. Tod had to go to the bathroom, and Tod drinks a lot of water and diet soda throughout the drive, I mean a LOT. And Tod likes to take the morning driving shift. So Tod goes to the bathroom in the cup, and basically fills up a 44 oz cup. Not even sure how he can have that much pee in his body, but he somehow does. As he is putting the top back on the cup, he hits a bump in the road, and spills his own pee all over his pants. It looked like he had wet himself. Luckily his pants and undies were the only victims.

So we got to the visitor center and Tod went off to change his pants, and then we went to see the mountain. It was an overcast morning, so we couldn’t really see the mountain, but it was still awe-inspiring.

We programmed Voodoo Doughnut in Portland into our GPS, and headed southerly. It was really weird coming into a fairly bog city after being out in the open country for the last 7 days or so. And both Tod and I get a little freaked out when we are driving in big cities, especially ones we’ve never been t before.

We arrived at the downtown Portland area, and found Voodoo Doughnut, with a decent line out there door. All those TV shows have done wonders for their business. The line didn’t take too long, and we picket up a Voodoo Dozen plus a Maple Bacon Bar and a Voodoo Doll. The Maple Bacon Bar was delicious! If you ever have the chance, eat one of these. It kind of blows minds.

We had been talking to the crew and they told us that they were going to meet us at 4 pm, but had not yet given us the address, so we decided to drive around Portland a bit. We came across a Blockbuster Video. Now Tod and I love movies, as many of you know. We both find buying movies and looking for movies to be a bit therapeutic. So we decided, since it was not yet time to meet the crew, that we would check out and see if there were any movies that we needed to add to our collection. We spent at least a half an hour looking through their 5 for $20 previously viewed DVD table. Tod and I have worked in many move stores over our lives, probably twenty years combined, and going in there was like coming home. It's our safe place. We ended up finding some new movies were wanted to have as well as some older classics that we couldn't pass up on.

We got a text from the crew giving us an address to meet them at, and that they had a couple of surprises for us. Both Tod and I were a it apprehensive after the fireworks debacle, but we went down to meet them. We arrived at a parking lot to find a guy standing next to a ’66 Mercedes Benz, holding up a sign with our names. Steve, we found out, was to be our tour guide around Portland and the Benz was our ride.

Steve took us up Mount Tabor, the only dormant volcano in a metropolitan area, to see Mount Hood, a beautiful snow capped mountain far off in the distance from Portland. But what a sight it was, seeing this behemoth jutting up into the sky from the horizon. Absolutely breathtaking.. Steve then took us through Portland and gave us a historical tour that many people will never get to have. He talked about the tunnels, that still run the length and breadth of Portland, that sailors were often Shanghaied through. And talked to us about the railroads and Chinese Paydays, which were not pleasant to hear about.

As the sun began to set over Portland, Steve told us that we had another surprise in store for us, and we had to head off to get to our appointment. We drove around in this little suburban residential area, and stopped outside of a house with sparkling lights lining the porch.

Steve wouldn’t budge on what the appointment was for, and the only clue we had was a sign outside of the house that said ‘Common Ground.’ Many things went through our heads as to what this may be, from the many conversations that the crew had been having with us over the last couple of weeks, but we would never have guessed what was in store for us.

We walked through a glass door and were struck by the sounds of birds chirping and babbling brooks playing over the PA in what turned out to be the waiting room for Common Ground Wellness Center. Galina, the woman running the center, introduced herself to us and told us what we were going to be doing: a float. We were going to be put in a sensory deprivation chamber! The idea behind this was we have been bombarded with all sorts of new sights and sounds over the last seventeen days, and they wanted to remove all external stimuli from us and allow us to turn our vision inward.

She explained what was going to happen – we were to be placed into a tank filled with water and 800 pounds of Epsom Salts, which would make us completely buoyant, and we would just float in the space for a half an hour. Deprived of all of our senses, the two halves of our brains would begin talking to one another. She said that the experience is different for everyone.

There was only one tank at this center, so Tod went first, while waiting Steve and I were able to just sit and talk, which I realized I hadn’t really been able to do a lot of on this trip, free from Tod. We have been spending almost every minute together, and I know that we both sometimes hold back from speaking completely freely to keep from pushing each other’s buttons, which family can do very easily.

I was concerned about the float, because, as I explained to Steve, I am a fairly internal guy already. I think through so much, and when I am done, I think through it again. My fear was that if placed in the tank, it would just amplify what I already do naturally.

Before I knew it, it was my turn in the tank. Galina explained that I was to shower, to get all of my sweat, product etc off my body before getting in the tanks, and then strip down completely and get in, and there would be a signal when my time was up.

I won’t go into detail about what Td or I experienced while we were in the sensory deprivation chamber, you’ll have to wait for the movie to find out. But just know, it will be worth the wait. : - )

After we finished at the wellness center, Steve took us to a pub to grab some dinner at the Horse Brass Pub, a British Pub, with the good eats; scotch eggs, fish and chips, bangers and mash. Yum!

After dinner we headed over to Adam’s friends house, Rachel, Casket and Skwerl, to crash for the night.

Thursday, September 23rd

We decided to the give the crew a day off from us so they could recoup a bit. So we split up after we left Rockwall Cellars. Diana had put some fruits in our room for us to have for breakfast, including some pluots: some freakish hybrid of plums and apricots, born in a mad scientists laboratory (pronounced la-BORE-a-tore-ee). She told us about the fruit stand where she had got them, and said we had to stop by and pick up some fruits for the road.

We found Delap Orchards Fruit Stand just a few miles outside of Omak as we were heading down the highways. We stocked up on a bunch of good fruit for the road, Honey Crisp Apples, Italian prunes, Elephant Eyes, Pluots, and more that I have no idea what they are, other than delicious.

While we were on the road, Tod and I played the Movie Game, which is a great way to pass the time and test your movie trivia knowledge. Simply put, Tod would name a movie, and then I would have to name an actor that was in it, and then Tod would have to name another movie that also had that particular actor in it, then I would name another actor who was in the new movie, etc., etc. It is a great distraction, so much so that we almost ran out of gas. Luckily we found a gas station before we sCREWed.

As we neared the Oregon border, it began to get a bit overcast and the rain started, but nothing too bad, just a light rainstorm. A little carwash action for free. And it was pretty needed too, this car is getting pretty bug spattered.

After we crossed the Columbia River and officially entered Oregon, we decided to pull off the highway on the road to Mount St Helens and bed for the night, and do some laundry. We found this motel near the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, OR. It was a cool little RV ad Motel place, with movies you could rent from the main office, which made me think that could be something I could do one day, open a little motel or something and rent out the massive movie collection I have. Because brick ad mortar movie stores are basically dead. We grabbed this quality film, called The Black Hole, starring Kristy Swanson and Judd Nelson, about a Large Halidron Collider incident gone wrong. Wonderfully horrible, Tod and I laughed throughout the entire thing, perfect movie for MST3King.

We also grabbed diner at the Pacific Crest Pub in town, they had great smoked salmon and a pizza they called Pizza of the Gods. Really good pizzas, If you get a chance, check it out.

After a good meal, a good laugh, and a couple calls home to catch up with loved ones, we hit the bed.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wednesday, September 22nd

We woke up this morning to our Great Aunt Lina making us a breakfast scramble to keep us full and happy on the road. We said our goodbyes and set off from Glacier National Park. We were informed that the pass to GNP was closed so we weren’t going to be able to see it this time. (We have to have something for the sequel, right?)

We stopped in Hungry Horse, MT, to gas up for the day, and as we made it 15 miles or so down the road, Tod noticed that the crew’s cartop carrier was flapping in the wind. We pulled over to see what was the deal. It turned out that they had not fully zipped and secured the carrier and they lost two of their sleeping bags along the road.

After inspecting and securing the carrier, we set back off to head towards Omak, WA, where we were to attend a Wine Down Wednesday at the Rockwall Cellars Winery, only to find out that Montana likes to do it’s major road work around lunchtime on Wednesdays. We were stopped at a temporary stoplight for 15 or 20 minutes while a pilot car lead the oncoming traffic down a path between all of the road construction vehicles before taking our line of cars back through it. It was pretty neat to be riding next to all of these huge Tonka trucks from our childhood.

But that’s not all, after we got down the road from that, we ran into a road line painting vehicle. We saw signs that said road painting next 16 miles, and the vehicle had a sign on it that said no passing while they are painting the road. And there was no other road to detour on so we would have been stuck behind them for the entire way, if not for the crew. They switched places with us to film the painting, and then they just passed the painting vehicles. At which point the guy on the back of the vehicle just waved us all around.

After that we had a couple of road works issues, but nne as bad as those, ad we were making good time. We stopped off in Alta ID, to fill up and grab some food. And then the crew took off ahead of us to get to Omak and set up the cameras for when we arrived.

We got to Rockwall Cellars around 7:15, and were greeted by the crew and Diana and Doug, who owned and ran the winery. They had made us a great home cooked meal and had put together a small little get together of friends and music for us. It was great to have something like this to arrive at.

After the event, Doug took us back into the Barrel Room and allowed us to taste some wine straight from the barrels. I’m not a wine guy, especially with reds, because they just smell like the stuff I used to use to color my Easter eggs with when I was a kid, but I really liked the Malbec. Aggressive fruit flavors mixed with the American oak from the barrel. This was a great experience for me because I knew nothing about wine, and felt like I was given a great tutorial into wine and winemaking.

Diana then took us to her home and we crashed hard from a long day of driving.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

With only a 4.5 hour drive ahead of us today to get to Glacier National Park, we were pretty laid back about the drive today.

We gassed and sodaed up and hit the road. Along the way, we found this cool little town called Anaconda, Montana. Where we stopped to chat up the locals and get some footage on an old train that is a landmark for them. It was a really neat little stop.

We got back on the road for a couple of hours, and ended up randomly making a gas a bathroom break at a place called Rock Creek Lodge in Clinton, MT. We found out that this pace is pretty famous because of the annual Testy Festival. Yep, Rocky Mountain Oysters, Bull Balls. And we had some. When in Rome, right?

While we were enjoying our Fried Ferdinand Makers, we talked to a couple of locals, Ed and Chantal. They were great people who were really interested in our story and talked to us about life and everything for a couple of hours. It turned out that Ed lived right behind the Lodge in a camper and trapped rabbits around the area, and Chantal was a House Mother at a Strip Club in nearby Missoula. Her job was to, “make sure the dancers weren’t outside smoking when they were supposed to be onstage, weren’t sleeping with the patrons, and weren’t doing Meth.” Her words.

Chantal told us about a creek and swinging bridge about 12 miles south of the Lodge, so we decided to go and check it out. Chantal told us not to get scared when the road turned to dirt. She was a hoot. We came upn a bridge that looked like it came right out of Indiana and the Temple of Doom. It was pretty awesome. On a whim, after we had finished filming, I walked down to the creek and stripped down and jumped in. It wasn’t planned or anything, I just felt the urge. It was a great feeling, the creek rushing passed your body as you struggled to stay in the same spot. but afterward, I felt cold for like an hour.

Tod and I had a real moment as we talked about how this trip is a different journey for both of us, internally for one, and externally for the other. It was a good moment between the two of us.

We got back on the road, and back into cell phone reception, and headed up to Glacier. It was a 4 hour drive to get there, but it was great to see our grandfather and his lady, and our great aunt. We talked about the trip so far over a hot bowl of stew that they had made for us.

Feeling beat from the day we headed to bed soon after to prep for a bit of a long drive day.

Monday, September 20th

Vanessa and K.C. had a delicious local breakfast made for us when we woke this morning: eggs, bacon, artisan bread, and milk. You have got to try raw milk!

We hopped into the cars after showering and finishing up laundry ad heading out for Yellowstone, by way of Driggs, ID. You see, I needed to pick up some Almond Butter for sandwiches. I ran out a few days ago and have been scouring every supermarket we came by to see if they had any. Most of the northeast and Midwest doesn’t.

Vanessa and K.C. told us about the this cool drive-in called The Spud, complete with anthropomorphic potato mascot, so we had to stop by there. It was cool to see a still working drive-in theater. Maybe we’ll screen our movie there when we get it finished.

We made it to the west entrance of Yellowstone and went in to see Old Faithful. As we were heading through the park, we came across another bunch of cars pulled off to the side of the road. There was a family of elk just resting by the water. It was really beautiful to see these creatures just relaxing and ignoring us.

As we neared Old Faithful, we came upon a field of geysers, with steam just venting into the sky. It looked like a wall of steam. It was neat to see this whole field full of steam.

We got to Old Faithful and it was pretty cool. We had just missed an eruption, so we chose not to stay longer and wait for the next one, because it was already getting late..

We were originally going to stay in Lewistown, Montana, with our Uncle Gene, but he got called back from retirement for a few weeks and he would be able to house us, so we decided to trip up towards Glacier National Park and call it a night in a hotel somewhere.

The crew had a bit of another gas scare tonight. When we left Yellowstone, they said that they had a quarter tank and didn’t want to fill up near the park because it was more pricey, and when we got on the highway, it ended up being 70+ miles before the next gas station, but we made it to Ennis, MT to a gas station in time.

We decided to keep on going to Whitehall, MT to crash for the night. You’d think Super 8 Motels are cheap, right? Nope.

Sunday, September 19th

Tod and I woke up to messages from the crew. Not only had they run out of gas, but also they had gotten their van trapped in gravel, and had to get a tow truck to come and get them out and to the nearest gas station. When all that was over and done with, it was late and they decided to sleep in the van and meet up with us in the morning.

In the morning light, Dayton was a really small but cool town. They had a bar there called Crazy Woman Saloon. And I was all like, “what other kind of woman is there?” OH! Dayton was this patchwork of quirky storefronts and businesses. I definitely recommend seeing it.

As we headed west towards Yellowstone, we were told to take the 14 through Big Horn National Forest. It was a windy road through the mountains, but the views were spectacular. There were scenic stops along the road with placards that talked about what you were seeing, like the Beef Trail; a thin trail in the mountains where cattlemen lead their stock from one side of the mountain to the other in order to trade. Sadly, despite my best efforts, we didn’t see any Big Horns.

We passed through Cody, WY and gassed up; Tod and I have become like parents now with the crew, “Do you need gas? We can stop if you need to.” Cody is a pretty cool town, like a big city, country-style. I would love to get a duster and some cowboy boots and tromp around in Cody for a week or so.

We got to Yellowstone, and Tod had to jump into the crew van, because both he and I have the Disability Access Pass that gets us in National Parks for free, but we can’t just say, “They’re with us.” So, we pulled through and I was looking for a place to pull over. We had no cell reception and the walkies were dead, so I was waiting for them to signal me to pull over. They finally flashed me, and I pulled over to right where a grizzly bear was lazing about in a meadow. We hopped out and the crew started filming it while Tod and I just sat and watched it.

We decided to do Teton National Park first and then come back tomorrow and do Yellowstone, so we hopped back on the road and head down that way. While we were headed down there we came upon a bunch of cars stopped in the road. As we were passing them, we saw why. There was a Bison just walking along the road. It was so cool to see a Bison like 5 feet away me, just walking along, doing his thing. We hopped out again and got some footage. Adam, our sound guy, got a little too close, and the Bison started to charge, right in font of the SUV. We thought he was going to ram the car, but he went back to his walk after Adam moved away.

We got into Grand Teton and found this great lake with an amazing view of the mountains, Jackson Lake. We decided to go swimming in the lake, in sight of these majestic peaks. We may or may not have been naked when we did it.

After drying off and warming up, the water was very cold, and tending to our bruised feet and toes, not a sand beach, we headed to our place to stay for the night, Victor, Idaho. Friends of the crew had offered to put us up for the night at the cabin. Vanessa and K.C. are production people from LA that have known and worked with our crew before, and they took us out to eat at this great restaurant called the Knotty Pine in Victor. Good food, if you’re ever in Victor, check it out.

Tired and a little sun baked, we headed back to their cabin and crashed out pretty hard.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday, September 18th

We woke up extra early this morning, 6:30 am, so we could get a morning breakfast shoot at the restaurant in the KOA. Just a simple set up of us chatting about what we had already done and what we had really enjoyed so far.

Then we headed over to Mount Rushmore, but as we noticed, the fog and mist from last night had not lifted. It was a rainy and fogy day this morning, but we trucked on. We made it to Rushmore and set up some shots at the monument, even though we couldn't see it. We shot the scenes and when we wrapped the fog lifted briefly and Tod and I could see most of Washington and part of Jefferson, and then the fog rolled right back in. As we were setting up the shots, we chatted up a gaggle of Aussie's who were traveling the US just like us. They were making a lot of the same stops as us. We gave them some of our cards and maybe we'll run into them on the road.

We made a stop at Spearfish SD to hit up the Super WalMart, not because we support WalMart, but because it is cheap. We needed some some fresh fruit and food.

We then went off towards one of Tod's and my dream spots, Devil's Tower. We made good time only to find out that we couldn't shoot in the actual monument. So we walked around and looked at this beautiful piece of nature. We even saw someone climbing the Tower. And one of the coolest things was Prairie Dog Town, a patch of the monument area that is just packed full of Prairie Dogs. When we first got to the monument, a Park Ranger came to us and told us that anything we shoot from off the land is totally cool, but no footage from on it could be used, and then he told us of a private residence right n the edge of the monument that we could go to and shoot the monument, without any issues.

After we got done with the shot, Tod and I hit the road to make up some miles before it got dark and left the crew behind to capture the sunset at Devil's Tower. We finally stooped in a little town called Dayton WY for the night at this little mom and pop motel called Foothills Mote and Campground. It is like a little starter cabin for newlyweds. Totes adorbs.

AND we just got a call from the crew. They ran out of gas as they were heading to meet us and are stuck on the side of Highway 90 about 100 miles from where we are. AAA is on the way.

WAHOO! Fun times. :)

Friday, September 17th

After last night’s shenanigans, we ended up getting up a bit later then we had expected, so we got on the road a bit late, headed off towards Mount Rushmore.

We had been discussing taking more scenic routes and feeling free to detour whenever we felt like it to find great places like Canistota, so while I was driving, I saw signs for 1880 Town. In need of gas and a bathroom, I got us there. We ended up taking a tour of this Western ghost town, where parts of Dances with Wolves was filmed, and which now houses many of the props from the film.
Right next to the town is a 50’s Train Diner, where we decided to pop into and grab a quick bite. It was not what we were expecting, but not bad.

We got back on the road and headed towards the Badlands and Rushmore. We were able to get our Disability Access passes at the Badlands to allow us free access to the National Parks. The Badlands were absolutely amazing. Truly beautiful and frightening. I could imagine getting lost in them, at night, and plummeting to my death from some quick drop off. I definitely want to go back there and spend a week camping out and exploring this wonderful area. With a sighted person, so that I don’t die. Who’s in?!

As we left the Badlands and headed towards Rushmore, we noticed it started to get darker really quickly. We didn’t think much of it because the monument is lit up at night until 8, but as we got closer and closer, a fog rolled in on the area. We decided that we would get to our campsite and then catch Rushmore in the morning as we head off towards Cody, WY.

I had reserved a Kozy Kabin at the KOA near Mt. Rushmore several weeks ago, so we headed off to find it. We spent about an hour trying to actually find the campgrounds. Our newly acquired GPS has a tendency to tell us to take roads that don’t exist. We got a bit lost and were driving along this mountain road, passing groups of deer grazing near the road. And the fog was getting thicker. We were concerned that this road was not leading to any kind of campsite or completely away from civilization. We were beginning to get really worried that we were in a very bad situation after about 20 minutes of driving on this less than safe road, when we saw a lighted sign. It was like coming out of a very dark tunnel, and as we neared it I could make out what it said, “Holiday Inn Express.” We had taken the long way around to get to the town of Hill City, where our KOA was.

It still took us a bit to get through Hill City to the KOA, but when we did, we fund it wasn’t your normal KOA; it was a resort KOA. There was like a little town that was just KOA. Restaurant, convenience store, coffee shop, pizza place. It was super cool. And our Kabin! We got there to find a dorm room sized cabin with just enough room to fit the five of us in it and five beds to sleep in.

We grabbed dinner at the Ponderosa right on the property, owned by a guy named Justin!, and then we hit the hay for Rushmore in the morning.

Thursday, September 16th

We got on the road towards Mitchell, SD and Corn Palace.

We had to make a couple of stops to get some equipment for the crew. Their car top carrier had somehow gotten ripped and everything in it had gotten soaked. They spent a fair amount of last night drying their stuff in the tiny laundry facility at the hotel we stayed in. But we found a store where they could exchange the carrier and we set off along the road again.

We were making good time and needed to make a gas and bathroom break, so we pulled off of highway 90 and got a bit lost trying to find the elusive gas station promised us by the road sign. We ended up stumbling into the little town called Canistota, SD, population 600+. The crew found a local diner and got us permission to shot in there, so we were able to sit down with two of the town’s unofficial historians, Wendell and Orville. They were great old timers who filled us in on the history of Canistota, which was named Cameron before, but because of the railroads, they upped and moved the town 1.5 miles.

Tod also hopped into the local newspaper and told them our story, so keep an eye out for something in the Canistota paper about us!

We ended up getting to Mitchell and Corn Palace at 6 pm, to find Corn Palace closes at 5pm. Ryan near of a campground nearby so we decided to bed down for the night and try to catch it first thing in the morning.

After we set up camp, in the dark, and had some dinner, beans and franks and chicken soup, we were told of a surprise for us. The crew had picked up some fireworks earlier in the travels and had us go into a field and set them off.

Both Tod and I were skeptical, but felt it couldn’t be too bad. We headed out into the field, which had already been set up by the crew for fire safety. It was really cool to see the fireworks from up close. What we didn’t realize was that it was after midnight on a Thursday. Needless to say, there were angry, mostly naked truckers and town police involved, but once we explained the situation and apologized profusely, all was well with the world, and we headed off to bed for another day on the road.

We also had our first mishap on the road, Tod ran over a rat while we were driving on the highway.

Wednesday, September 15th

We met up with Beth and her parents, Dave ad Patty, at their condo in Northfield. We sat and talked to both Beth and her father for several hours about the trip, CHM, and how a mother has to deal with children afflicted by it. It was a wonderful moment to spend time with such wonderfully giving people. They welcomed us into their homes and told us about their lives and how they have dealt with CHM.

Dave has only 1 or 2 percent left of his vision, and can really only see shadows and light, outlines of people. It was great to meet a man who has already gone through what might face us and see that he had retained a lot of his sense of humor. Their family was a religious family as well, so it was nice to see that, again, even in the face of adversity, they still retained their faith in God.

After we said our goodbyes, Tod and I, and the crew, grabbed some lunch at J. Grundy’s Reub N’ Steins. Really good food! We had to have a quick production meeting because of the inclement weather heading our way. We decided it would be best if we stayed in town one more night, and then headed for Mitchell, SD, and Corn Palace in the morning.

Tuesday, September 14th

We headed out from Chicago pretty early, even though we spent a few hours after the show having drinks and fun with my old friends, heading to Northfield, Minnesota. Cory MacDonald, from the Choroideremia Research Foundation, had put us in contact with Beth Foss, who is the current VP of the CRF, and is a carrier of CHM. She has two sons who are also affected by CHM. She told us that her father also suffers from CHM and she wanted us to be able to sit down with him and talk, but it would have to be tomorrow morning, you know early birds and all.

We made pretty good time on the road, for a 7 hour drive, making it to Northfield around 6pm. We decided to check into a hotel for the night, since it was Tod’s birthday today, and I took him out to dinner.

It was a very unusual thing, to celebrate his birthday with him, because neither of us have been with each other for our birthdays in a very long time, and it was just the two of us celebrating, the crew was running behind us a bit, catching some footage on the road.

It was nice to just be the two of us, and we walked around this two-college town. Northfield is a pretty cool place, a mix of college town and suburbia. I could see myself living in a town like this.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monday, September 13th

We woke this morning to the smells of bacon, coffee, and pancakes wafting through the Maurus household. Deena was playing the gracious housemother and was making sure that we started our day off right.

I hopped upstairs to jump in the shower before we hit the road, and walked back downstairs afterward to pack up all of my gear. As I finished packing I started towards the kitchen, I saw Ryan, our DP, just watching me. I hadn't notched him the entire time I was moving around in the living room. I think it was a bit surreal for him to realize exactly how blind both Tod and I really are.

After our breakfast and goodbyes, we started on the road towards Chicago, where we would be having a fundraiser to help with the trip. All my improv people that I knew there were involved in making this event happen.

The trip wasn't too long, we had a moment with our newly purchased GPS where it told us we were going to get to Chicago an hour earlier before the older directions said. I got really excited about the possibility that we were going to taking a new route until I realized we would be crossing over a time zone and that was why we would be getting in an hour earlier. We laughed and laughed. No we didn't.

We got into Chicago around 7pm and headed over to Chemically Imbalanced Comedy Theater to prep for the show at 8. It was really great to see all my friends there that could make it out for the show, many of whom I hadn't seen in five years or more. It was a great night filled with laughter and love. The outpouring of support from both the groups that volunteered to play and the audience that came was tremendous. Blood Sport, an improv troupe that my friend Ashley had roped in for the show, did a good three man show. There was a scene that involved a post game locker room scene involving people who had extreme high five celebrations. Claymore, an indie team formed from my old college improv troupe, Erasable Inc., put on a fantastically group minded show involving a quartet of ken who met weekly to shave their entire bodies. The Late 90's, a Harold team from iO, did a BAT, which is a Harold format completely in the dark, kind of like those old time radio shows. Pity Date did an Armando, and asked me to be the Monologist for it. Reset List did a completely improvised rock show for us, including assign their equipment on stage. And finally, EJ Scott, my new friend Clayton, and I did shooting the Shit, a monoscene where we attempted to plan a robbery of the very bar we were drinking in.

After the show, we headed over to Tencat for some drinks and hangout time. It was awesome to get to jut hang with old friends that I bad not seen for so long. When we finished up, we headed over to Katie and Ashley's place, which is right near Wrigley Field, to crash for the night before another long drive day.

The night was wonderful and we raised some more much needed funds, and we got in and out in the allotted time. I want to say a very big thank to Chemically Imbalanced Comedy, Danielle Solof, Anne Blackburn, Dan MacAvoy, and all the troupes that made the night unforgettable. I have so much love for you all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sunday, September 12th

We woke up to the smells of coffee and pastries from Tim Hortons brought in by Ray, Ryan's dad.

Brian's mom stopped by with a car full of supplies for us all. Everything under the sun. So fully stocked up on victuals, we hopped back on the road to Dryden, Michigan.

We had a long drive to get to Dryden. There was talk of cutting through Canada, which would have reduced the drive by three or more hours, but we decided against because getting through customs with an SUV packed to the gills with camping gear and so forth.

We got to Dryden, to the family we would be staying with, the Maurus's, who have three sons who suffer from CHM. Deena is the matriarch of the family and was the person who I had been talking to about staying with for the last few months. We got to know more about Deena as a we were getting close, and we called her on the phone to check in. She made some jokes about us running late and she had to send the marching band home. So we knew we were going to have some fun with them.

We arrived to a very warm welcome. The Maurus's had some friends over to welcome us with a barbecue; burgers and brats, home made salsa, cold drinks, and peach pie made fresh the next town over, Romeo.

We met the family, Chris and Deena, and the kids, Zach, and twins, Ian and Evan. All three sons have found a calling for music in heavy metal. They told us that they got their calling for heavy metal and guitar from playing Guitar Hero.

After dinner, we headed down to the basement, which has been set up as a recording studio. Chris is a musician as well, and so Chris and the boys grabbed their instruments and jammed for us. These kids have only been practicing their instruments for 2 years but they are already really good musicians. It was loud and amazing.

The Maurus's were amazing hosts and there house was a welcome stop along this trip.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday, September 11th

Today was a short drive day bit chock full of adventures.

We left the Petrillo's place and headed into downtown Rochester for our first roadtrip interview. We made it to WXXI minutes prior to the time for out meeting with Ruth, who is part of the Rochester Radio Reading Service. We sat down for an hour with Ruth and talked about our trip, CHM, and the trials and tribulations of going blond in the 21st century. After we wrapped the interview, Ruth gave us the nickel tour of the studio.

Afterward, we hopped in the car and headed for Niagara Falls. Now I have been to the Falls before, but only on the Canadian side, and Tod has neve seen them before, so it was.a new experience for both of us. The American side is a lot more touristy than the Canadian side, but it was still absolute breathtaking. We went not the observation deck and were literally out above the water. Super cool and a bit scary. We then got our tickets for the Maid of the Mist. Now obviously the crew can't bring their expensive cameras out on the Maid because we knew we were going to get soaked, so they gave us some waterproof Hero cams to document our trip into the Falls. It was awesome and I can't wait to see the footage because I literally couldn't see once the mist started happening.

Thoroghly soaked after the Maid, we dried off a bit and hopped into the car and headed for worth of Buffalo, to a place called Griffis Sculpture Park in East Otto, NY. This place is an unknown treasure. Acres of land with sculptures all over it, many of which you can interact with. We found these giant met mushrooms and we were climbing them and Tod slipped and cracked his shin and had a wicked hematoma. Luckily a new friend, Becky, was an EMT, and she had an ice pack for him to help with the swelling. I definitely plan to bring more friends up here from DC when I get chance.

As the sun set over the Sculpture Park skyline, we headed to where we would be staying for the night, family friends of the crew, where we found a gathering of friends and food awaiting us. It was a great night of fellowship with this wonderful group of people, and we got to meet our DP's father, Ray, who brought over homemade jambalaya. It was filled with laughter and fire rood and fun.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

NY Daily News Article

We were interviewed for the NY Daily News on Tuesday, while we were at the Creek for our send off fundraiser. I got a call from Dave, the reporter, yesterday, who informed me that the article would be in the Sunday edition, tomorrow, September 12th, on the cover of the Queens section.

This is awesome news! And they might be extending the interview into a potential magazine article. (fingers crossed)

Friday, September 10th

Bit of long drive day. We started off from Murder Motel, and the crew had decided to exchange the really bad rechargeable batteries for some kill the planets versions, simply because the rechargeables would not hold a charge for more than a couple hours.

While the crew was trying to explain how they came into these batteries and why they should get a refund. I hopped into the Subway next door to try and get some WiFi and upload some pictures to the Driving Bind page. For some reason, we have not been able to upload to the Driving Blind page from our iPhones. In a rush, uploaded everything from my iPhone, leaving many duplicates on the DB Facebook page.

We hit the road, finally, and headed off for Rochester. Adam, our sound man extraordinaire, contacted an old family friend, and told him that we wee going to be in Rochester, and they told us that we had to stay with them for the night. We got into Ogden, right outside of Rochester, around 7:30, and were greeted by Mario. Who ended up being such a great guy. A renaissance man, Mario, Marie and Mike, the Petrillo's, welcome us with open arms. We walked into a kitchen filled with smells of an amazing dinner awaiting us. They had pulled out all the stops for us; brie, pickled eggplant, roasted garlic, corn on the cob.

After 4 days on the road, this meal was a blessing. Fresh veggies, new foods to try and family to fellowship with, what more could we ask for.

The crew set up the cameras to film the dinner and we talked with Mario, Mike and Marie about the trip and our eyes and life and what we are trying to do with our lives. It was a great night fill with great food and friends.

They then sent us to our separate rooms to sleep and dream our happy dreams of full tummies and warm beds.

Thursday, September 9th

Our first night under the stars was great, even though we only got four hours of sleep. The camping we got donated was amazing. I slept like a baby.

We woke to find the crew's tent empty, and some strange men just sleeping out on the ground one lot over. Apparently, Brian and Ryan had recorded a time lapse of the sky that night and couldn't leave the camera, so they just slept out with it.

After a small breakfast, we headed back to Raymondskill Falls to hike the trail and see this hidden gem. As we wandered the trail we began to hear the ruming of the water, and I started to get giddy like a kid. We round this section of the trail and BOOM, there it was. Three different scions of the Falls, which is only four feet shorter than Niagara Falls. We looked around and the stripped down and jumped into the water. It was freezing cold, but it felt great.

We got out, dried off, and walked around the upper falls, when we were spotted by two Park Rangers, Chris and Jeff. At first we thought we were in trouble, but they ended up being great guys and told them about the film an they were so warm and welcoming.

We said our goodbyes and headed off to Hamden/New Haven, Connecticut, to visit with Tod's friend from high school, Dawn.

After we got done at Dawn's, we headed off to hunt down some lodging for the night. We ended up staying a at a pretty seedy hotel. We even were given the handicapped room, and we didn't even tell them we were limited sight. We called it Murder Motel..

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 8th

Today was a welcome light day. We travelled to Pennsylvania to hunt down the famed Raymondskill Falls. We finally found it around 5 that night, so we were running out of daylight, and we decided to camp out and check out the Falls in the morning.

We found a campsite near the Falls, and we pulled in right at dusk. And while the crew ran off to get firewood, Tod and I attempted to put up our tent in the dark. Only to realize that our car was so full that we couldn't get to our flashlights. So we had to pull out a majority of our stuff to get to the flashlights.

Once we got the flashlights set up, we started going through all the gear we got for the trip, finding so much great stuff for our campouts. The tent went up pretty easily, once we had lights. And then we got a nice campfire going and enjoyed our night under the stars.

And we could not have made any of this possible with out the help of Sherri Quaid, Ed Velasco, and Rebecca Trent, for getting such wonderful camping gear and necessities. Thank you so very much for helping us out with this.

Tuesday, September 7th - Part 2

The fundraiser at the Creek and the Cave was AMAZING! They raised over a grand to help us on our travels.

We were running late to get to NY and we arrived just in time to get the show started. I laughed so hard watching my friends make fun of me. And there was a great intro video created by a stand up comedian who has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease in the same family as Choroideremia. The video was great! We are going to be using this video at all of our fundraisers on the road.

There was standup, improv, karaoke, and a silent auction. Things from a punch in the stomach to name your own item on the menu.

The feeling at the fundraiser was like getting a big hug and a kiss from someone you have none forever and haven't seen for years. it was like coming home after a long day at work to find your loved ones had prepared your favorite meal. I can not say thank you enough to all the people who made this event possible.

From the bottom of our hearts,thank you all so much.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 1 is a go

We got off to a slow start today; we had to get some footage from the car and of the car as we were leaving the area. But it was really cool to have the cameras attached to the hood of the car as we drove around. Safely. :)

Mike is having a great time! (He's our ride-along extra from our DC fundraiser) We'll be posting pics of him on the blog and facebook as we can.

The Cape May/Lewes Ferry was totally cool. We got called up to the bridge; they called our name over the PA system. We got to meet the captain and pilot and they told us about the Ferry and what their daily routine is like.

We also met/made our first Backseat Blind Driver, Chris. When we got to the Ferry, we ended up separated from the camera van by a Hummer. Tod offered up some of our T-shirts if the family would switch places with the van. This all happened while I had run in to use the restroom. So, I walk out to see a kid wearing a shirt of ours. I thought we had some fans already there for us. It was really cool, I was looking around like I was on some hidden camera show, waiting for Alan Funt to pop out!

Chris, or Chris's family, if you read this, please send us a copy of the picture so we can post it on the blog!

What a great first day, and there's still more to come! Also, this is the first post made completely by iPhone, so please forgive any massive errors.

Monday, September 6, 2010

1 Day to Go!

We are all finally in one city, getting ready for the big day tomorrow.

Brian, Ryan and Adam are in Alexandria and DB headquarters, and Tod and I will be meeting up with them in a few hours to do some shots and officially meet everybody and talk film.

John, our host for the evening, will be serving lamb. nom nom nom.

This is it, no turning back now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

You like Warren Zevon?

Cause I'm an excitable boy!

I just spent the last few hours finding and reserving campsights for places where we don't lodging for the trip. Mostly with KOA, the WalMart of American campgrounds, but we have a slew of intriguing spots to sleep and see all that this country has to offer!

New York Fundraiser

Our first day on the road looks to be pretty exciting, falling in line the first days of history; school, in a new town/apartment.

We'll be riding Ferry, driving through Jersey, and having our first road fundraiser at The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City.

There'll be Stand Up, Improv, Karaoke, Services Auctioned, Beer, Flautas, Snogging, and so much more!

Check out the invite. Hope to see you there!

Four Days to Go

No turning back now, not that there ever was.

Tod and I have been talking every day about what is going on with the trip. He's down in Georgia right now with the folks, and will be heading up here to DC probably on Sunday.

Brian and Ryan will be flying into Florida today or tomorrow to pick up the equipment truck and start the trek up to DC as well.

Hopefully we will have all day on Monday to hang out and discuss logistics of the trip and shoot before we leave on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chicago Fundraiser Update

On Monday, September 13th, at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy.

We’ll have two halves of the show, and you can opt to get a ticket for one show ($7) or both shows ($10).

First Set 8pm –
Blood Sport
Claymore

Late 90s

~ Intermission ~

Second Set 9:45pm
Pity Date
Reset List
EJ and the Purvs - A mash up of the Purvis brothers and fellow Choroideremia sufferer and improviser EJ Scott.