Well… The last week has been a blur, but I did it! My apologies that I did not provide updates along the trip… Things were pretty hectic and after all the driving, my mind just wasn’t up to the task of writing. So, to make up for it, I’m detailing the trip, with photographic evidence that I’m not just holed up somewhere in Portland for someone to find (like some twisted ‘Where’s Waldo?’)
To start, we begin just before the trip happened.
Friday was the day I was originally planning on leaving, but a few things came up that kept that from happening. First: I had a joint Birthday/Going Away party with whoever I could get together on such short notice (thanks again Kyle for helping get things together!!!!!!!!!!)
We started at Ground Kontrol, a arcade/nerd bar in Downtown Portland that was home to one of my favorite games, Gauntlet Dark Legacy. I got together with a few friends and we had a couple drinks and played some games. (To those who missed it, take note… You missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime. Watching my play Dance Dance Revolution in 5 inch heels…. It was a sight to behold.) Then, after Ground Kontrol, a different group of us went to Voicebox where we rented a private karaoke booth for 3 hours and sang our hearts out! We were having so much fun that we extended from the original 2 hours because there was a queue of a bunch of songs that we still wanted to sing. It was a blast, and a perfect send off.
Then, Saturday night I went with a couple friends down to Salem, Oregon for a Drag Show at Shotski’s Woodfire Eats to see Kameron Michaels perform… And it was amazing! I had so much fun with my friends, and even got to catch up with a friend I used to work with who had moved to the Salem area a few years back.
It was a late night, but so worth it.
We were up early the next morning to get back to Portland in time for Tommy to get to fencing class, and I was itching to hit the road… But I couldn’t leave without seeing my friends Isaac and Jesse, I hadn’t really had the change to spend time with them in the final weeks, and so we sat for a couple hours before I left and had coffee, catching up and talking about the trip. After that I loaded up on gas, counted my blessings, and hit the road.
The trip to St. Louis was long…… and I mean LLLLLLOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGG. I went from Portland (11:30am, Sunday) to St. Louis (3am, Tuesday.) It was pretty challenging, and in that time I had 7 bottles of water, 4 Monsters, 2 5 Hour Energy, and like 6 cups of coffee. I was pretty much a jittery mess when I finally showed up on my friends doorstep… Which also probably had to do with the collective 2 hours of sleep I’d gotten in that time (over the course of 3 naps, totaling a break of 6 hours… Not counting bathroom, food, and gas breaks.) Once I got on the road, I was itching to get to Tampa, so the timeline of my trip was condensed pretty significantly. I got to St. Louis Tuesday morning and spent until Thursday morning with my good friends from high school. We got to catch up, see some of St. Louis, and celebrate my friend Gemma’s birthday by seeing the fireworks on the 4th downtown by the arch.
It was great to see them, and spend some time just relaxing, talking, screwing around on our phones, and grabbing food at a couple places around town. It was sad to say goodbye, but necessary. From St. Louis I headed to New Orleans to soak up some sun and beautiful architecture. I was sad to only spend one night there… But the Essence festival was going on (learned this after the fact,) and so I was only able to snag a hotel room for one night. But I had such a great time. I wandered around the French Quarter, checked out Bourbon St., and got to take in some of the beautiful houses in the Garden District. I can’t wait to go back (and hope to do so for Mardi Gras this coming year.)
After New Orleans, it was time to make the final trek to Tampa… Only 10 hours to go, and it seemed impossibly long. After driving 40 hours, another 10 seemed like more than I really cared to attempt… But I plugged away. Leaving early afternoon on Friday from New Orleans, I powered through with a few stops as possible and made it to Tampa at midnight. I was thrilled, but the reality still hadn’t set in…
After unpacking my car, my friend Aaron and I spent the night smoking, drinking, and playing video games… We were up until 5am (and I still woke up at 8am… Blech…) The weekend was pretty chill, and on Monday I branched out from the apartment to see what Tampa had to offer.
My initial findings were… Interesting. I spent awhile downtown and wasn’t impressed at first. I found it was mostly a business hub, filled with towering buildings that housed financial corporations, business centers, and the like… But I did find the Riverwalk, which was cute, and also the Arts District which had a few museusm, a Performing Arts center, and a Library(!!!!!). After that I finally made my way to Ybor City, which I’d seen on a transit map, and was more pleasantly surprised. It’s a cute section of town that has a lot of older brick architecture, all sorts of shops, bars, and things to do. I grabbed a bite to eat at Hamburger Mary’s (which I’d heard about, and was amused to have stumbled across it just in time to finally sit down after nine miles of wandering and get some food and a drink.) From there I hopped the trolley back downtown to pick up my car and head to the apartment. So far the verdict on Tampa is still out… But there’s hope. I’ve got a Nerd Meetup for games and drinks on Wednesday, and plans to meet someone for coffee on Saturday (my sad gay ass wasn’t able to stay off Scruff for more than a few days from when I got into Tampa… But oh well. His name is Anthony, and he’s a big Doctor Who and The Magicians fan!)
I will do my best to keep things up to date as I explore more of Tampa and get settled in here… With things like a gym schedule and a job. I’m excited for the next few months, and so proud of what I’ve accomplished… As well as extremely grateful to my friend Aaron for opening his home to me. Being roommates with him is going to be one big nerdy trip, haha.
One Sunburnt and Sassy Transplant