Monday, August 12, 2013


We officially made it home safe and sound! Having spent 56 days on the road and 160 hours in a car and having crossed 25 states and 9,000 miles, we are unbelievably excited to be home so that we can kick our feet up and do absolutely nothing. Who knew travelling would be so exhausting?

Over the course of our travels, we discovered some cities we absolutely loved (Seattle and Austin for Claire, San Francisco and Nashville for Theresa), hiked some amazing trails (Yosemite hands down), met the nicest people, saw the most unique and amazing places and events, and have created enough memories to last a lifetime. For anyone thinking about roadtripping across the states, DO IT! It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and an amazing way to see the country.

A HUGE shout out to everyone who helped make this trip possible--to everyone who loaned us gear, gave us destination advice, helped setup informational interviews, met us along the way, showed us around cities, welcomed us home, and followed this blog--THANK YOU. We truly could not have completed this trip without your support! We want to give a special thanks to everyone who let us crash on their couches, floors, and RV’s – you know who you are. We cannot thank you enough for all the hospitality and if any of you ever find yourselves in Chicago or Bloomington, IN, we would be honored to return the favor. The biggest shout-out  goes to our parents who were crazy enough to not only allow their 20something daughters to travel across the country but also gave us their car for the summer and most importantly supported us throughout this entire journey. Thanks Mom and Dad! 

This blog is only a snapshot of our travel adventures--our eight weeks on the road left us with more stories, memories, and photos that we can explain here. We are more than happy to share our stories, insights, lessons, and advice with anyone considering a cross-country trip. Also keep an eye out on Facebook as we upload more exciting photos and videos from our travels.  

As we both transition back into our daily routines, we will surely keep lessons we have learned from this trip close to heart. Flexibility, patience, the kindness of strangers, and the ability to persevere through moments of insecurity are just some of the takeaways from this trip (along with a nice tan – or sunburn for Claire). After experiencing the arts and nonprofit sectors across the country, we are both more passionate and invigorated than ever before to embark on our respective career paths, where ever that may be! And most importantly, understanding and appreciating the infinite value of friends and family is a lesson that will never be forgotten! 

Thanks for following our travels! Go forth and do awesome things!

Harbert, MI: The comfort of (nearly) home

After driving 10 hours through the flat and continuous farm land of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, we arrived in Harbert, MI, our final stop, to our own welcoming party made up of family and friends. After answering every question and sharing countless stories, for the first time in 2 months, we went to sleep in a bed of our own. It was wonderful.

Also for the first time this trip, we no longer had to plan a single moment of our days. We simply had to show up places when we were told and occasionally offer our opinions on different activities. Since we have been coming to Michigan are entire lives, the vacation is filled with traditions - the outlet mall, beach volleyball, Monopoly, bonfires, and sitting pretty on the beach. What a perfect last night on our cross-country adventures!

It's great to be with family and friends!

Longo v. Longo volleyball
Cousins galore

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Washington, DC: A fitting end

It is very fitting that our trip is reaching it’s end where our country began. Washington D.C is one of the few cities that both of us had visited prior to this trip - Theresa spent a semester of her junior year interning and studying and Claire came to visit - so it was nice having a basic understanding and familiarity with the city. Theresa’s friend Polly was nice enough to host us all three nights – THANKS!

Because Theresa spent a semester here just last year, we were able to have a nice mix of touristy and more local activities. We sat and listened to a drum circle on Sunday – a tradition that has been going on for 40 years rain or shine. We spent time moseying around Theresa’s old stomping ground and even had the chance to pop by her old apartment. We toured the national monuments at night which offered a different perspective on these iconic pieces of history. And of course, we stopped by 1600 Pennsylvania to say hello to the Obama Family. 

Hanging out at Theresa's former apartment
Drum circle in Meridian Park
Another fav of Theresa's--the Embassy of Senegal!

World War II Memorial alongside the Washington Monument

'Sup Obamas

We also were lucky enough to spend time catching up with old friends. Theresa reconnected with IU friends who have made the leap to real world and we reunited with our Montclair neighbor Katie. Thanks for an excellent time in the land of politics and mimosas!

Appomattox, VA: feeling like the deep south

We busted out the tent and camping supplies one last time in Holliday Lake State Park in Virginia. Arriving pretty late at night, we had to drive down some pretty creepy roads to find our lovely little campsite and after using up the last of our camping food (soup, pasta and baked beans) for a jumbled but delicious dinner, we tucked in for the night. After our last camping breakfast of mushy and mainly bland oatmeal, we decided to take advantage of the park’s beach and enjoyed some time swimming and people watching.

 While on the road, we saw signs for the Museum of the Confederacy, and of course we just had to check it out. Being good ol’ yankees, we felt like we were breaking some sort of moral code, but curioustiy did kill the cat, so in we went. We saw Confederate army uniforms, flags, love letters and more. Overall, it was an interesting and informative pit stop, however, we were excited to get back on the road and drive north to our Union bretheren.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Nashville, TN: A country good time

Despite being exhausted of traveling at this point, we absolutely LOVED Nashville. The three days there flew by as we toured the city and explored the nightlife. We spent our days downtown Nashville on Broadway listening to live music and day drinking, finding the cultural components such as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Centennial Park Parthenon, eating filling our tummys at some of the excellent food joints and coffeeshops, and meeting with some of Nashville’s leaders in theater and social entrepreneurship. Our evenings were also spent with live music, either from respectable country/rock bands or our not-as-respectable ramblings during karaoke one night.

An obvious stop

Street art is always a plus

 Being tourists on Broadway

We miss you Maladras!

 Live music all night, every night!

IU alums take on Nashville!

More live music, of course
Nashville Sounds game--check out their scoreboard in back--it's in the shape of a guitar!

An evening of shameless karaoke

Between all the young professionals in Nashville and the fact that we stayed right in between Vanderbilt and Belmont Colleges—we felt right at home in this city! We also literally felt closer to home when we started seeing more and more Illinois and Indiana license plates. We finally made it back to the Midwestish.

Thanks so much to Theresa’s friend Kate for hosting us and to our longtime family-friend Danny (and his amazing friends) for showing us around the city. We can’t wait to come back—maybe for good!

New Orleans, LA: No Mardi Gras but a whole lotta jazz

After a lovely time in Texas, we trekked down to New Orleans for a night to experience the famous nightlife of the city. During our short 16 hour trip, we managed to squeeze in a fair amount of what the historic city has to offer. Theresa enjoyed authentic Gumbo - which looks a whole lot like baby food according to Claire - and said it lived up to the hype. We then worked our way over to Bourbon Street - a street famous for live music and a whole lot of drinking. New Orleans (or NOLA for the locals) is one of the only cities where drinking on the street is allowed - so of course we had to partake and yes we bought the unnecessarily large souvenir cup because when in NOLA....
Hanging out in the French Quarter
Gumbo! Nommm

The city is truly filled to the brim with live music and after a lot of wandering about, we finally decided on this 10 member jazz group. They were awesome! Rather than take a taxi back to our hotel, we splurged and took a bicycle taxi. It is just like a grown up bicycle burlee, all the fun but none of the work. 

Whata band!
Haha still can't believe we look one of the bike taxis
Before leaving town, we made a quick stop to Cafe Du Monte to have their world famous beignets - which are essentially smaller funnel cakes. They were delicious (albeit very messy) - thanks Shuman family for the recommendation! Although our time in NOLA was super short, we had a lovely time and hope to be able to visit it in the future!! 

Katy, TX: Houston, we have a problem

Post-Austin, we headed East to Katy, Texas where Claire’s friend Rae resides. This was true Texas suburbia with big highways, big developments, and big houses. We were eager to try out our newly aquired two-stepping skills at the local Midnight Rodeo where we danced the right away. We REALLY must get cowboy boots next time!

The main attraction was NASA in Houston, a short drive away. We spent the day learning about the space race, lunar landings, and the International Space Station (ISS)--where currently 2 Americans live. Did you know the ISS moves at a speed of 17,500 mph! And that astronauts are currently doing experients in space about how micro-gravity affects cell reproduction, combustion efficiency, and the creation of alloys! It was fascinating and we walked away with a whole new appreciation for space travel. We were so inspired that we spent the evening watching The Right Stuff, a movie about the first astronauts in the 1950s and 1960s.  And it’s all we talked about for days. We have lots of fun facts, feel free to ask us about!

Space shuttle!

The old Mission Control from the 1960s

Trolly-riding around the Space Center

Turns out space shuttles are pretty huge

Real live astronauts?? We wish!

Thanks so much to Rae and the Shuman family for hosting us in Katy!