Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to Plan a Cross-Continental Adventure pt. 5

So you know where you are going, where you are sleeping, how you are traveling, your budget yada yada yada, now it is time to really get cracking. By this time you should have only a few more months until your grande adventure! However, that can be very good or very bad...depending on how many of the following questions you can answer "yes" to.

1. Have you applied for your passport?
2. Have you booked your plane ticket?
3. Have you contacted your cell phone company to find out about international rates/suspending your line while you are away?
4. Do you have your foreign currency/traveler's cheques/credit card ready to go? (Make sure that if you are taking a credit card you inform your bank that you will be using it internationally so they don't freeze your account!)
5. Have you started packing?

I made a helpful little packing list- please keep in mind this is for longterm trips..if you are planning a shorter trip adjust the quantities. Also, I doubt that this has everything on it that you will want to bring, but sometimes it's easier to have a list in front of you to help with the basics! If you would like a copy of this packing list please email and I will send you the file (mostly because I cannot figure out how to upload a .pdf to blogger!)
If you are able to say "yes" to all of the questions above, sit tight! Otherwise, get started on those five things, and then we can get you going on some good stuff!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Sponsor!

Time for a shameless plug, one and all, because I am itching with good news! Clif Bar has agreed to sponsor our trip! They will be providing us with a substantial amount of product to keep us energized and for us to hand out to others along the way! We are more than excited to have such an incredible company on board. I mentioned their 2-mile program last entry, but you can read more about what they do for the community on their website.

We are truly thankful for this sponsorship, and all of our other sponsorships we have acquired thus far! It is so great to see that so many companies support our ambitions!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Steady Climb

We truly are fast approaching take off. "The Plan" has really evolved from an unrealistic dream to a tangible reality which is both unbelievably exciting and absolutely terrifying at the same time. To think that almost a year ago this was a plan to hike the E1 from Germany to Italy and has now morphed into a a journey beyond imagination. We will be covering 3,000+ miles in 6 months. It's still just a number in my head- I cannot wrap my mind around it as a reality.

Jake and I have been doing an exorbitant of biking for two people who haven't biked in a decade each. We have had our bikes for two weeks and are already up to casual 20 mile rides on a bi-daily basis not to mention our random rides around Portland. I'm also currently participating in the Clif Bar 2-mile Challenge (and you should too!). You basically replace any car ride you would take within a 2-mile radius with a bicycle ride and log your miles. Your miles turn into points towards a $100,000 to one of three charities. I will be able to add a lot of miles since I literally don't have a car...but it's a great thing for those of you looking to help a good cause, get healthy, and challenge yourself.

Today I went to Boston to potentially become involved in a sleep study which would net me about $2300 for 3 weeks of tests and 9 days in a lab. I was totally onboard until I saw two words; "rectal" and "sensor." Call me a big old pansy, but I'm sorry, if you are going to ask me to 1) insert a sensor into my buttocks...not just my buttocks, but literally my exit door... 2) remove said sensor whenever I shower or need to evacuate bowels and reinsert and 3) do this for 9 days straight while already will need to be paying me FAR more than two grand. However, the finding out about the sensor part was right in the middle of riding 20 miles around Boston when I only needed to go 5 and being screamed at by an evil, evil Amtrak man for someone else not doing their job. Needless to say, I am not a huge fan of Boston. PLUS I came home to a raging thunderstorm and multiple tornado warnings.

Dear Mother Nature,
I understand that you are upset with us due to all of the styrofoam, landfills, emissions and that pesky "BP" situation in the Gulf. You have every right to reign thunder and lightening upon us as it is well deserved. BUT QUIT WITH THE TORNADOES! It's MAINE for crying out loud! I would sincerely appreciate it if you stuck to your usual bag of tricks and kept the tornadoes for Dorothy.

All the Best,

Anyways, I do have intriguing things to talk about, I swear. For example the Mango Ice Cream Wedding Cake I made a few weeks ago, however that will have to wait until the groom sends me the pictures. Of the cake, I mean. Also coming up soon with be my plea for donations, so stay tuned! You don't wanna miss the groveling!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Check it out guys! The girl from Maine has never peeled shrimp!"

I started culinary school the December following my high school graduation. Having spent most of my life trying to be a grown-up, and having been told throughout high school that I would be nothing with a college degree, I was more than excited. I was accepted to the only school, my first choice, that I applied to and had spent my entire senior year applying for scholarships to pay half of my first year's tuition.

I had a really rough time of it. Not because I couldn't hack it in the kitchen, not because I wasn't good enough, but because I was young, easily pissed off, and my stress release was to cry. Yes, I was that girl who would cry on the line- not because I was hurt or upset, but because I would get seriously, seriously pissed. Marco Pierre White pissed- however, instead of throwing plates of cheese at the wall, I would cry it off, keep my head down, and finish service. At the time, it was very much a love/hate relationship- but whenever I look back on it I do not regret it for a minute. Even though I couldn't afford to finish my degree, I would never, ever take back that year for anything. I made some of the best friends I will ever have at that school. I learned life lessons, the things in the culinary world that make my heart pound and the things that send me fuming. I got the chance to work side by side and learn from some of the best chefs I will ever know.

One of my most embarrassing moments was in our cooking theory class when I was asked to peel and devein shrimp. I knew the day would come when I would be asked to work with shellfish- I mean no one really knew how to scale, filet, or skin a whole fish, but I was pretty sure everyone knew how to peel shrimp but me. Rather than do it wrong and look like an idiot, I decided to ask. And still look like an idiot. My block-mates got a kick out of it- the girl from Maine who had never eaten shrimp. I'm just glad we weren't breaking down lobsters! Can you imagine?! Telling them I had never eaten a lobster before would have been the end of me. Mind you, I have tasted lobster before, just had never eaten one.

Well, this is the memory I had when I ate my first lobster roll at Dry Dock on Commercial Street in Portland, ME. I started my day with the strangest craving for seafood and it would not go away. Having given up on trying to find crab cakes (really, Portland, no crab cakes anywhere??) I decided to settle for some coconut shrimp and really made the plunge by ordering a lobster roll. Dear. Lord. Where has my mind been? How have I never enjoyed this delicious sea-cockroach before?

Luckily before leaving the shitheap of Maine, I have realized that I truly am a Mainer. I cannot imagine a recreational life without L.L.Bean, I honestly don't know a fruit that is tastier than a fresh blueberry, whoopie pies are the perfect ratio of cake to frosting, hot dogs are not the same without the red dye, Moxie is always best flat & warm, and damn...sea-cockroaches FTW. Yessuh.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to Plan a Cross-Continental Adventure pt. 4

Once you know your rough itinerary it’s time to figure out the mode of transportation. A lot of people (myself included until recently) do not know how much is actually available to them in terms of transportation which is why I am very eager to write this post.

As of now, you have probably been told of one mode of transport: The Eurail. Yes, this is a great method that is very simple, but it is not your only option. *disclaimer: I am in no way trash talking the Eurail system (except for the "fuck no" part)- simply offering advice on other means of transportation.* These options will rely heavily on your “travel style” so I have made a nifty system to simplify the options for you. Keep in mind you can always double dip or cross over- I ain’t boxin’ you in!



Travel Style Best Suited



Wine & Diner, The WWOOFer, The Backpacker

Car Rental


Wine & Diner



The Hiker, The Hostel Hopper, The Backpacker, The WWOOFer



The Hiker, The WWOOFer, The Hostel Hopper

Small Vehicle Purchase


The Backpacker, Wine & Diner

Eurail: Yes, they have flexible plans. Yes, you can get almost anywhere by train. Is it suitable for a long-term traveler? FUCK. NO. This plan is ideal if you are traveling for about a month in the same country or a few neighboring ones…but seriously it is a rip off if you are traveling for an extended period of time (3 months+). Trains are expensive, and are run by the government so they are the most highly advertised form of transportation. The Plus Sides: They are beautiful trains 9 times out of 10, and you are very comfortable, and you get where you need to be fast. It’s a pretty great place to sleep if you need one, and if you’re only traveling for vacation purposes or for limited time, it’s a simple option. The Down Sides: Yes, you get a great window view, but you don’t get to see the journey the same way. Even if you are in a car at least you can stop and take pictures. Everything is whirling by you at very fast speeds. The “unlimited” plan is not even close to being unlimited, and you could be spending thousands of dollars if you use it as your primary transportation.

Car Rental: Pretty much the only style this suites is the vacationer who has a big budget. The Plus Sides: You are pretty much in control of your whole trip. You can leave on your own terms, decide where to go, and when to stop. Down Sides: Can be costly, and in a foreign land parking can get rather expensive and confusing.

Hiking: Literally the cheapest form of travel. You have maximum control over where you are going and the route you plan to take. The Plus Sides: Allows you to physically experience every moment of your journey, keeps you in shape, saves money for activities and food stuffs, and gives you the ultimate in bragging rights Down Sides: rain, sleet, snow, blistering heat, physical exhaustion, and sore muscles are quite possibly in your future.

Bicycling: Basically the faster form of hiking. While you spend a little more in gear, you save time, your back, and can carry more. The Plus Sides: bike racks and saddle bags make it much easier to carry items without killing your body. Bragging rights are also a major plus. Resources like make it possible to literally create maps of your exact route. Down Sides: weather, flat tires (although very fixable), thievery

Small Vehicle Purchase: This method is a little more difficult, but very very possible. In the end, this option winds up being way cheaper than taking the train and could possibly be worth the hoops you will need to jump through. Basically, you can purchase a used vehicle or scooter and sell it when you are ready to leave. For more specific details on this process, send me an email. The Plus Sides: ultimate freedom in travel, temporary investment that can be resold later. Down Sides: gas money, insurance, hoops to jump through, parking, breakdowns

Supplementing your transportation choices

In order to get the ideal transportation for you, it is possible that you will have to supplement your transportation with other options.

Bus/Coach: The bus system is much more limited than the trains, but is also significantly cheaper. If you are hiking/biking and fear going through mountainous areas, the bus is a great way to stay warm while you avoid the tricky areas. Also a great resource if you don’t have the money to continue with the trains.

Ferries: Great way to cut corners in travel. If you are short on time and have the option to, ferries are a great way to get from point a to point b for minimal moneys. If you don’t mind staying on the deck, you could save $50 or more. For example, we won’t have the time to go through southern France so we are taking a ferry straight from Italy to Spain. Much cheaper than the rail, and faster than a bus.

Metro: For inner city travel, you’d be crazy not to use the rail. Biking will save you some money, but sometimes you will need to use the metro to avoid highways or busy streets. Prices vary, but this can help you out a lot if you’re in a time crunch.

Whatever method you choose, take note of the costs. Always plan for the little accidents and add them to your budget. Research forums and get advice on methods that others have tried. If you have any questions about these methods of travel or have something you’d like to add, please feel free to comment or send me an email at

Monday, July 12, 2010

Evanger's Dog Food

Zoey got her first sponsorship! Evanger's Dog & Cat Food! More information about products and health benefits of switching to Evanger's can be found on their website. Portlanders, you can find Evanger's Dog & Cat Food at Fetch on Commercial Street. For other readers, check out the Store Locator to find out the closest place you can purchase Evanger's products.