I was just about to share my latest travel plans here among the inter-webs, along with some more of my candid-- and more often then not, blurry-- photographs that you say you like so much (just pretend for me). So go ahead, take off your shoes and get comfortable. Play some soft classical in the background. Burn one down if thats your thing, and if not, well, do whatever it is that you do. You get the idea…
As you may or may not already know, my decision to hit the road after graduating art school was synonymous with my dream to someday write a great american novel. Whatever that means. What you probably didn't know though, was that my reasoning was two-fold.
Because I went to High School in the suburbs of Milwaukee, and then went directly to college in the city afterwords, I found myself in a uniquely new life situation upon graduating. For the first time in my young life, I actually had control over my living situation. This is why my immediate inclination upon graduating was to avoid the midwest winter at all costs. It also explains some of my earliest endeavors painfully hitchhiking through Florida, as well as the gem of a card I've had up my sleeve for damn near two years now...
The gem I speak of, is none other then the Southern Texas Coast, which is our current general direction.
Running from the Southern coastal city of Corpus Christie, all the way down to the Mexican border, is a vast stretch of barrier reefs broadly known as the Padre Islands. Of course, closer investigation quickly reveals that the various stretches of islands have different names and unique features, but for my immediate purposes, one outstanding attribute unites this enormous sprawl of beaches. Three words my friends. Three simple, delightful, freedom-loving words: FREE BEACH CAMPING.
As it turns out, the Texas Coast is uniquely preserved by a policy declaring that most Texas beaches remain public land, and therefore, cannot be sold as private property. Because of this beautiful intervention by land management officials, the South Padre Islands remain the largest undeveloped barrier reef in the United States. Thank you Texas, for hitting this one out of the park! After a few months of 80 hour work weeks in North Dakota- I think its about time to go live on a beach for a while and work on my art and writing.
Those of you who've kept up with me since my earlier travels know that I nearly made my way down to the Padres after one of my earlier couch surfing stints through Austin. It never ended up happening (which was probably for the best considering what I had for "gear") but ever since I looked into it, I've been slyly holding this card for a much needed winter escape. Why is now the perfect time? Context my friends. Context is everything…
"The Broader Picture"
I absolutely love my life, the characters, the adventures, and all the remarkable experiences I've had therein. The fact is though, that I need to start writing this book in the near future. I've written TONS, and documented everything in just about every imaginable medium, but as I realized in my first year of traveling, I need to be within sight of the "end" before I can properly start from the "beginning." What this means, essentially, is that I need to be seeing a great deal of America in the next year. I've covered a lot of ground in the past few years, but the N.E. has remained mostly untouched in my travels. I certainly can't write a book about the United States when I haven't even spent any time in New York City!
What it comes down to then, is that I have some time to kill before I drag my journey through the NE. Why? Well, because as I have already prefaced with some conviction-- I'm just not a fan of the cold. This is why I'm headed for the Southern Gulf Coast of Texas!
"The New Crew"
When I first began this crazy nomadic study, I was naive enough to expect my traveling partners to be the same old crew, through and through. Three years later, I can tell you with more then a few chuckles that this is not at all the case. Throughout a fond mess of trials, tribulations, destinations, fallouts, and excruciating circumstances, I've learned that whatever my goals may be-- they are unique to me. People have come and gone, and I no longer see it as something to be fickle about. Everyone has their own journey, after all, and who should better understand that then me?
So with that notion in mind, I will take this quick moment to introduce my current crew of freelance travelers. It doesn't matter if they are momentary vagabonds caught in the freeze-frame during the kicks, or tried and true champions of the unknown-- they're both in it for the ride, and in the end, thats all I'm really positive they'll get out of it!
CHASTAINE TALLON, a.k.a. "Chassy," "Chass," or "C- Word"
Chassy is the tough yet tender gal who survived one of the hardest, most rewarding stints I've had so far. Myself, Chassy, and The Great B.O., traveled 6 passengers deep from Milwaukee to San Francisco, and then lived in our Buick Le Sabre while spending the summer traveling up the Pacific Northwest Coast. We ran out of money in Portland, so I got a job cooking while we spent the summer living in the back yards of people who are now some of my best friends. I've been prolonging much of a detailed account of this time so far, because it was too meaningful to be spit out in blog form for your immediate entertainment. Rest assured, nobody and nothing will be forgotten about this memorable time of my travels.
Anyhow, Chassy has the wits of a bullfighter, the heart of a saint, and a mean enough right hook to keep my antics in order. She's had my heart since I've known her, and I'm a lucky man to have her joining me out on the open road.
AARON STASIC, a.k.a. "Staz," "A.J."
Staz is probably my oldest friend in the world. We've been out exploring life, getting into trouble, and making a ruckus since we were neighbors at seven years old! We've always spent our time together dreaming and contemplating various forms of world domination, and now, it appears that we might finally be in the right time and place to bring such a reality to fruition. If not, we can at least keep exploring life, getting into trouble, and creating a general ruckus, right?
Staz went with me on my first family vacation throughout the states, where we sat crammed into the hot back-seat trying to figure out how to read a map. Many years later, we would embark on both of our first college-aged road trips to florida, where we sat as driver and navigator together putting those map reading skills to the test on the open road as young adults. Now, finally, for the next installment of our lives as travelers (and surely not the last), Staz will join me out on the open road as we make for the beaches of the Texas coast.
I'm absolutely elated to have his company for however long he joins me...
Before I make my departure, I'll leave you with some photographs of one of my last nights in Milwaukee, and some of the great friends who made it out to say good-bye to me. Thanks to everyone who made it out!
Stay tuned for the details of my adventure down to Texas, my time there, and whatever else I get around to sharing.
Until We Meet Again…
Joseph R. Reeves