I’m sitting in a grungy hotel room somewhere in Montgomery, Alabama because my car isn’t ready yet. The carpet resembles a shade of 1970’s puke green. The couch, hard as a rock, is a mismatched hunter green. The walls are a shade of yellow similar to dried piss. The entire room feels grimy.
How I got to this filthy hotel room is one hell of a story. On Monday, February 22nd Robbie Farlow of Sidequest Fitness and I began one of the most harrowing journey’s this world has ever known. If Homer were around, he would write about it as a sequel to The Odyssey.
Unfortunately Homer isn’t around, so I’m going to do my best to channel him.
Robbie and I were destined for Austin, the capitol of the greatest country in the world, Texas, to meet with our mentor, John Romaniello, and a group of other stand up gentlemen. It was to be a bro down of epic proportions.
We decided to drive for a couple of reasons:
- I’m from Texas and I have quite a few friends in Austin. We wanted to get in early, and I wanted a car to zip around and see my people.
- Road trips are one of the ultimate bro bonding experiences. When you have the opportunity to bond with a fellow bro, you do it.
On Monday evening Robbie and I met up and crushed an epic chest and back workout, followed by Chipotle. Broing out was in full effect.
We had toyed with the idea of leaving Monday night and driving all through the night, so we would be in Austin early Tuesday morning. After agreeing that driving through the middle of the night is what real men do, and after pounding about 300mg of caffeine at 9pm, I was on board.
10:07pm EST. Take off from my apartment like the Millennium Flacon jumping into hyperspace.
We’re fucking pumped about this journey. We know that in Austin there is to be 5 days worth of mouth-watering bbq, drinking with good friends, fantastic breakfast tacos, training at a world-class facility, and next level brain gainz pertaining to business.
As I’m doing my best Han Solo impression, with Chewie (Robbie), co-piloting our own version of the Millennium Falcon down the highway all I can think about is how bad I want to get to Austin. We’re riding ultra light beams straight towards a life-altering weekend. Something about the entire trip just feels fucking magical.
12:13am EST. Car starts doing strange lurching, then dies.
Fuck. This isn’t good news. My car is dead on the side of Interstate 65, about 30 miles outside of Montgomery, Alabama. I consult the all-knowing Oracle, my dad, and inquire about what actions I should take.
After some extremely scientific diagnostic work that mostly involved guessing and Googling, we figure I can sputter into Montgomery and park at an auto shop. In the morning they’ll use their magic car wands and be able to tell me what’s going on.
Sputtering along we go.
30 miles may not feel like all that far on the Interstate, but when you can’t go faster than 40mph, it feels like you’re watching the sands of time dip slowly through the hourglass. Especially when you’re worried your car is going to explode into a colossal ball of flames at any given moment.
1:36am CST. Park in an O’Reilly Auto Parts parking lot.
At this point Robbie and I are absolutely beat, and we’re concerned about the car situation; concerned, but strangely calm. We figure they’ll tell us in the morning why the check engine light is on and what’s going on, we’ll fix the issue and be on our merry way.
O’Reilly opens at 7am, and we want to be there right when that bad boy opens so we can hit the road. We make the executive decision to try and sleep in the car. This is what bros do, and Robbie and I are quickly proving that we are two world class bros.
7am CST. The magic wand and blue balls.
We’ve both been up for about 30 minutes. All in all we may have gotten an hour and a half of sleep. Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s hard to sleep in a car, okay?
O’Reilly opens up, and the diagnostic test begins.
After getting a reading, it seems like it’s a simple fix. Even better, there’s a shop right next door that can take care of it for us. So we sputter next door and the auto shop gets to work. They’re confident they can have us out in 2 hours.
Things are looking up, baby. It was only a minor speed bump.
2 hours later, things are back down. Way down. The initial diagnosis was right, but there are also more problems, more problems that are going to cost $500 dollars. This sucks exceptionally hard because $500 buys a lot of breakfast tacos.
I tell the car whisperer’s to work their magic, and we head to a McDonald’s to work, get coffee, and eat their hash browns that are obviously sprinkled with crack, because they’re addicting.
12:22pm CST. The call comes in.
The second diagnosis wasn’t completely right. I need to buy a new computer for my car. Buying a computer for your car isn’t near as fun as buying a personal computer, just fyi.
Even worse, this auto shop can’t install a computer. After a fair bit of Googling and haggling I find a place that can install one, and will install a product I supply, which is a big deal since new computers can run anywhere from $800-1,000 big ones. I had tried to trade my stash of dragon eggs, but they weren’t interested. Their loss.
So, we sputter on down the road to the new shop. We set up delivery for the part I order, and we’re in business.
All during this ordeal everyone in Montgomery was exceptionally nice. Old men were offering us rides to McDonald’s and you could tell they really felt bad for us. It was a reminder that there really is nothing better than good old southern hospitality.
They also kept warning us about a major storm they were preparing for. There were already tornado watches going on, which only made Robbie want to get the hell out of Montgomery as fast as possible.
2:13pm CST. At the airport to rent a car.
After nine hours of haggling and searching, we’re finally in the car. Definite speed bump, but we’re both surprisingly optimistic about the whole thing. It’s a funny little mishap, and it’s going to cost me some money. That’s not the end of the world though.
We pick up a brand new white Nissan Versa, and ensure that we get unlimited mileage.
Off to Austin we go.
We stop at a Wal-Mart in Mississippi to get supplies. I get a jumbo bag of beef jerky and eat it all and wash it down with two Monster energy drinks. I can hear colors and see sounds.
6:01pm CST. Louisiana state border.
Louisiana. We’re getting close. I can feel it. We’re back to riding the ultra light beams. But the weather is starting to get bad and the sky is full of light beams, just not the cool ultra kind. The lightning kind. This must be the weather all of Montgomery kept talking about.
6:35pm CST. Apparently the great flood is making a comeback.
The rain is coming down in sheets. Robbie is driving and the sky is an angry yellow. We can’t see more than a few hundred yards in front of us, and I’m constantly checking the radar on my phone. We’re in the middle of the maroon part.
At the next exit we figured now is probably the best time to stop and wait what is surely the second coming of the great flood out. It’s not getting any better, and we can just hang out at the gas station for a while.
By the way, gas stations in Louisiana are a great place to hang out during the middle of a massive storm because they sell liquor. In case things get crazy you can always get drunk.
We walk into the gas station and it’s clear we’re not the only people with the idea to get as far away from driving rain and as close to the liquor as possible. We’re hanging out with about ten other people.
Within a few minutes the gas station cashier gets a call from her family. She doesn’t sound too happy.
There’s a tornado on the ground just a couple of miles up the road, and it’s bearing down on our little gas station hideout. The nerve of that fucking tornado. I was not opposed to walking outside and kicking it square in the balls. After everything we had already been through it had decided it wanted to come barking up the wrong tree.
I grew up in North Texas, at the southern end of tornado alley. I’m used to massive thunderstorms and tornado warnings, and a part of me even enjoys them. Except for whenever I’m in the middle of Louisiana and I’ve already dealt with a myriad of car troubles.
Having a wee bit of experience with tornado warnings I start searching out the places to hide. Turns out you don’t really notice how much glass is in a gas station until you’re trying to find places that doesn’t have any.
I finally find a nice little broom closet, stay close by, and start playing the waiting game. I think about picking up a bottle of bourbon. Just in case.
7:08pm CST. The tornado took a turn.
The tornado must’ve heard we were there and didn’t want to get fucked with, because it took a turn to the north and missed us completely. I silently commend the tornado for making a smart move that might’ve saved it’s life.
We then hit the road and make the jump to hyperspace.
By this point Robbie and I are both absolutely beat. We’ve been traveling for nearly 24 hours, spent just over 12 hours in Montgomery, Alabama and driven into a major thunderstorm.
But, Austin awaits us. Shining off in the distance like ancient Ithaca must have to Jason.
We went barreling down the highway in our Nissan Versa. Determined to make up time and to get back to the motherland as soon as possible.
9:30pm CST. We make it Texas.
Texas. Where the people are superior, the hair is bigger, and life is better. It feels so good to be back home. My heart is immediately happier and also about to beat out of my chest thanks to the clinically unsafe amount of caffeine I’ve ingested.
We immediately start playing country music. I decide to start us off with George Strait, and we both begin singing back up to King George as he tries to sell us some ocean front property in Arizona.
12:30am CST. Texas is huge.
It’s really starting to dawn on Robbie just how massive Texas is. Austin is in central Texas, and we’ve still got about another hour to go. I’m at the wheel, determined to get us there as fast as possible. Speed limits don’t apply to us anymore, and the universe agrees. We see zero cops.
1:12am CST. I got rice cooking in the microwave.
We’re randomly shuffling through one of my country music playlists on Spotify when the Travis Tritt classic “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” starts playing.
We immediately start laughing, because this is obviously a sign. A sign that no matter how shitty things may have been during this journey, it really is a great day to be alive. We’re in Texas, and we’re almost home.
Despite this exhausting journey, we’re alive.
1:35am CST. Dog cuddles.
We finally make it to my friend Rob’s house. We’re worn from the road, and probably resemble zombies. Luckily zombies are in right now, so the look is in vogue.
We walk into Rob’s and greeted immediately by his dog. Once again, the universe is really shining down on us. It’s hard to be angry when you cuddle with a dog.
Do it for the story.
Roman and I are in complete agreement that you should always do it for the story. All told Robbie and I spent over 24 hours traveling. That’s about 11 hours longer than that journey should have taken. And every single second of it was worth it.
In Austin there lay a purpose. A goal. A dream. We were going to party with some of our best friends, learn from a mentor who has become a friend, and become apart of stories that will never see the light of the Internet.
That journey at times felt like a trip through hell. But once we finally made it, it felt like all that stress was washed away. We were able to let loose and laugh with everyone about how shitty our trip had been. The entire thing became comical.
Therein lies the lesson for all of us. Sometimes shit sucks. Sometimes it sucks exceptionally hard. It can feel like the entire world is conspiring against you to cock block you from seeing your dreams become a reality.
The only thing you can do in those moments is keep pushing. We had Austin dead in our crosshairs, and car troubles or a bitch ass tornado wasn’t going to stop us.
I’m not sure what’s sitting in your way, but keep pushing. Even if it means you have to spend two nights in Montgomery, Alabama. One of which is spent in a car, and one of which is spent in a hotel that resembles a crack den.