The following post details the Global Goulets’ journey from March 31 – April 6:
The Night Before – Oh, we’re going on a road trip for the next many months? You’d hardly know based on our level of preparedness and packedness. It was about 5pm on the eve of our departure from New York when we finally acquired the ever-elusive car registration from the Connecticut DMV. When that golden ticket landed in our grasp, we looked at one another and agreed, “we’re leaving tomorrow.” It was Tuesday and we had to make it to Austin, Texas, almost 2,000 miles away, by happy hour on Friday to meet our awesome Thunderbird Energy Bar partners. The meeting had long been set for that time and date, so all we could do was try to stay true. Let the marathon begin!
By about 10pm, none of us had even begun packing up our backpacks. Needing to get up at 5:30am to get a jump start on launch day, the twilight of that night was a bum rush to collect our clothes, camping gear, and any other trinkets we could recall as essential from the Mongol Rally travels only a few months prior. Backpacks stuffed to the brim, the brief rest on Rally to World’s End Eve was restless and jitter-filled.
All of that… in one bag? And it’s 2am and I need to wake up at 5am? It’s Rally time
With Mongolia behind him, Brian looks ahead to our next Rally to the End of the World
Day 1 – Turtlenecks? Check. Aviators? Check. Ok, uniform complete. We met up in Manhattan before rush hour and haphazardly shoved our various belongings into our yet-to-be-named Xterra. With the back window view entirely obstructed and a final cream cheese and lox New York bagel breakfast courtesy of Andy Mess, there was nothing left to do but bust down I-95. We’d determined the day’s destination to be Durham, NC, home of future Duke grad and doctor Sean Fischaaa. Cruising down the highway, the spirit of rallying immediately seized our souls.
Bags packed! Goodbye NYC! We hardly knew yee (psych, we know yee very well)
In classic fashion, the 8-hour drive took 11 hours, but we made it to Durham before darkness had enveloped all remaining daylight. Right on cue, Dr. Fischer whistled down the street in his clever little Moped. “Goulet!” he bellowed. “Goulet!” we reciprocated.
Some fried chicken and waffles provided the sustenance to Sean’s captivating analysis of Durham’s “up and coming” status. A short walk back to his Bachelor’s pad brought us to some unprecedented sleeping accommodations (couches and blow up mattresses) compared to our typical rallying arrangement (sleeping pads, floors or our car).
Dr. Fischa knows Durham, but Alex knows how to make silly gestures with his hands
Day 2 – It was Thursday morning and we still had about 1,200 miles to go before Austin, so this day would be entirely dedicated to driving. We thanked our inaugural host and pushed on. Hours ticked away, while accents got thicker, the weather warmer, and speed limits higher. We dove into the deep end of the Bible Belt and were experiencing the first significant cultural shift of our journey. “Hey!” one guy seemed to shout at us when we cut him in line at a mini mart. “Go ahead and join your friend in line, no need to be shy,” he smiled. A few hours later the lady at Subway kindly insisted we try the Balsamic Vinaigrette on our sandwiches. “It’s good,” she implored, in her wonderful Mississippi twang. Clearly we were not in NYC anymore. That night, we set up our tent in Vicksburg, in a grassy plot that perhaps sat across the way from a penitentiary.
A long drive through the deep south and the upcoming journey ahead is cause to stop… and breathe
This Ticla Mojave tent is the tits
Day 3 – Still 8 hours from Austin and that 5:30 deadline creeping up on us, we woke up while the sun still slumbered and jumped on the interstate. Roads as flat as pancakes, we roared along at elite rally speeds. By the time we hit freedom-loving Texas, the limit topped out at 80mph, so naturally we pushed it to 90. A gas pitstop led us to a wonderful lady serving terrific beef jerky (we all just survived our samples of Ghost Chili jerky). A pecan pie stop led us to debate whether it’s pronounced “pee-can” or “pehcahn.” Jury ruled pehcahn. We each practiced our Texan accents. Yeee hawww!! On to Austin!
See if you can catch the grammatical miscue in this sign!
Naturally, we were 20 minutes late to meet with Mike and Ben from Thunderbird, but we had a great time celebrating the thirst for travel and cheersing to never-ending exploration of the unknown. Before it was all said and done, Mike hooked us up with two massive boxes of Thunderbird bars (which, the way we’re flying through them, may not be enough!) to keep us far away from seeking Snickers snacks that we so desperately relied on while navigating through Central Asia.
The Thunderbird team are our heroes. Mike, seen here, hooked us up with enough bars to save us from snacking on chips along our trip
A couple beers warming up our bellies and spirits alike, we rendezvoused with our Austin hosts, Eddie “Mr.” Mathis and Mustachio’d Steve. The last time the Goulets hung out with Eddie was back in glorious Wurzburg, Germany on Day 3 of the Mongol Rally, so the relocation to Austin allowed us to see Eddie in his truest element. Eric and Eddie reminisced Brooklyn times past, while the whole gang enjoyed the pleasant weather and an outdoor BBQ. Fully prepared to spend the weekend in the Weird City, we checked out the Austin bar scene and were pleasantly surprised to find drinks were about a third the price of their Manhattan counterparts.
Day 4-5 …and 6 – The long weekend, which accidentally extended well into Tuesday, was made up of a delicate balance between Rally errands and Austin exploration. Among the boring tasks were buying and self-installing (go us!) new motors and regulators for our non-functional back door windows, replacing our nasty rusted spare tire, a trip to Walmart, two trips to Home Depot, and three trips to REI.
Brian looks up with a smile as he tinkers with the window regulator and motor… a day later, he successfully installs a new one that actually works!
On the bright side, Eddie and Steve led us on a priceless tour of of the tastes of Austin straight from some knowledgeable locals who know the town best. On Saturday morning, we awoke to the aroma of the boys’ soon-to-be world famous Bolos. For lunch, we drove 45 miles outside the city to Lockheart, where we enjoyed delectable, authentic Smitty’s BBQ without waiting in line, an all-around superior experience to the three hour wait that plagues famous Franklin’s. To help us digest, our hosts drove us to their secret hiking spot, which started at a cliff overhanging a breathtaking plush green forest and ended at the bottom of a river’s basin, where we all sat and stereotypically contemplated life with our feet submerged in the refreshing mini rapids. At weekend’s waning, Eddie invited us into band practice, where we captured the garage band beginnings of an absolutely electric sound. No doubt, it’s only a matter of time until the Voluptuous Neighbors are a household name… oh, and now you can find them on Spotify!
You say Franklin’s, we say Smitty’s
Alex is a deep, deep thinker. He thinks so deep.
After hearing these boys jam out, we could only count the days until their stuff is available on iTunes (and now it is!)
On Monday, the highlight of our day was our visit to Eddie’s classroom, where we saw him don his Mr. Mathis persona and treat us like semi celebrities. Mr. Mathis has decided to have his class follow our journey and turn it into an educational endeavor for his fourth graders, a project you can read about in an upcoming post. For dinner, Eddie and Steve whipped us up a final home cooked Salmon burger dinner, solidifying their status as greatest host to the Goulets in the history of mankind.
We had an absolute blast getting to know Mr. Mathis’s class and can’t wait to keep in touch
Next up: Mexico!