The Paleo Road Trip: Across the Country Caveman Style

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The “Amy Mobile” loaded for the journey.

(To the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies )  ”Let me tell ya’ a story bout’ a gal named Amy…  A paleo dietitian barely keepin’ herself fed.  One day she decided to do what she felt was best  - so she loaded up the G6 and headed down southwest.  Texas that is – Austin bound… ”

Okay, I’ll spare you from enduring more of my lyric writing talent and make this story a short one.  This past weekend I spent 16 hours driving myself and all of my worldly possessions from my former home in South Dakota (also known as “map dot“) to my new home in Austin, TX.  (yeah, I know – culture shock and HOLY traffic!!)  As many of you paleo people know – traveling and keeping the food ‘clean’ can be ROUGH!  But never fear – it can be done without a fast food french fries and copious amounts of caffeine.  Now, contrary to what you may be thinking it wasn’t all sunshine and roses and there may be some things that are going to set off the “militant paleo“, but all in all I’m calling my trip a success. I thought it might be helpful to some of you other ‘road warriors’ to see how I ‘dodged’ a celiac emergency and the dreaded food hangover all while driving 1000 miles in two days.

Let’s start from the beginning.  I pulled out of my parent’s driveway at about 9:30 am Thursday morning. This allowed me to eat a worthy breakfast and blast through a few last emails before I took off.  I will admit that I started the day with a cup of coffee – the caffeinated kind, and took another cup for the road. (I do however “take my coffee weak and my men strong”…)  I packed a cooler with 2 dozen hard-boiled eggs, a 2#bag of baby carrots, a pint of grape tomatoes, some raw cauliflower, and sliced red pepper before I left.  I also brought along some apples, oranges, a couple cans of sardines, and wild caught salmon; a bag of coconut chips and more jerky than I care to remember (my jaw will never be the same).  My journey had me out of South Dakota and into Nebraska within the first 30 minutes of the drive – progress…  Nebraska – as expected, was about as exciting as watching paint dry (maybe a little less).  At my first gas stop in metro-York, NE; I emptied my bladder, filled my gas tank, picked up a liter of cold water and ate a can of sardines, some veggies and an apple.

FOUND: Next to the Slurpee Machine somewhere in Nebraska (It’s probably still there…)

Nebraska came and went and soon I had crossed into Kansas (more paint drying excitement). In an effort to make it to Wichita before dark I didn’t stop so my snacks were Evolve Foods jerky, coconut chips and some more vegetables.  Being a former endurance athlete – I pushed past Wichita and didn’t stop until I had crossed into Oklahoma.  I put the brakes on in the booming town of Blackwell where my lodging choices consisted of the Blackwell Inn, an EconoLodge or a Best Western.  I chose the Best Western and opted for the king sized bed (I like my space).  My room came with a refrigerator and a microwave – very convenient…  I took stock of what I still had in my ‘food stash’ and things were looking pretty good.  My dinner options as far as restaurants/grocery stores/etc on the other hand were less than impressive.  There was a Braum’s (which luckily, I was completely unfamiliar with and had no idea they specialized in ice cream…), a couple gas stations, a Subway, and of course – the token McDonald’s…  I went with the Subway – risky since I am celiac, but it was my best option to get some veggies and avoid a lot of other shady ingredients posing as food.  I made sure to let the “Sandwich Artist” on duty know about my dietary ‘issues’.  He happily washed his hands and changed his gloves.  I ordered a veggie salad (no meat because it is very likely that the processed stuff going on there contains gluten and/or other questionable items).  I opted for the spinach and added tomatoes, peppers, olives, cucumbers, avocado,  red onion and yes, (militant paleo folks this piece of information is **CENSORED**) I indulged in some provolone (and am still alive to talk about it).  I happened to have olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the “Amy mobile” (my car) to use as dressing and back in my room I cracked open a can of salmon, peeled three eggs and had me a damn fine meal.  I finished off the evening with an orange and some coconut flakes and put myself to bed at about 8:30 (yes, I am both sad and lame).

I wish I could say that I had a great night of sleep – BUT – it just happened to be the perfect night for the fire alarm to malfunction (I kid you not).  At about 12:30am me and all of the other guests at the Blackwell Best Western were rudely awakened by the blare of the fire alarm.  Upon further investigation – there was no fire and we all went back to bed.  At about 1:05am the aforementioned fire alarm decided it wasn’t done being heard yet…  Yes, that’s right folks, we did it again…  Still no fire.  The rest of the night was quiet and we all woke up alive and uncooked.  I decided my legs needed to move a little before I settled into the driver’s seat, so I went for about a 4 mile run in scenic Blackwell, showered and headed down to check out the “Free Breakfast” offerings (also known as “Daybreak Diabetes”).  HOLY CARB!  See below for the details…

Breakfast Scene #1 – The ‘Kid’s Section’

Breakfast Scene #2: It’s not the nuts I’m worried about…

Breakfast Scene #3: The Final Blow…

Breakfast Scene #4: But at least they had this…

Seeing as the Best Western breakfast was less than the “Best”, I grabbed a couple of oranges and opted to eat in my room.  I went with three hard boiled eggs some carrots, grape tomatoes, and an orange.  I grabbed a cup of coffee and hit the road.  The plan was to push through to Austin today.  I quickly made it across the state line and into Texas (unfortunately, Texas is freaking HUGE and I still had a LONG way to go).  I made it about 300 miles snacking on jerky and finishing up what was left of my veggies.  I stopped in a VERY small town, which will remain nameless to protect the innocent…  The ‘fences’ on the gas station windows did not instill confidence in my decision to stop here – but nature called and I needed gas.

Unnamed Gas Station with “Fenced Windows” somewhere in Texas

I quickly took care of business grabbed a bottle of water and made a break for it.  The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful – and I pulled into Kyle, TX (this is where I’m calling home for now), at around 6:00pm Saturday night.  My friends Keith and Michelle met me at a great little Mexican restaurant (because I got lost trying to find their house…) and we ate.  I had a great salad with grilled shrimp, lots of avocado and salsa – a totally paleo choice.  I rode the last three miles home with Keith (to prevent further ‘getting lost’ – I am not geographically gifted) and slept like a rock on Saturday night.  I’ve now been here for three days and have happily traded my winter coat for shorts.  Life is good and a new adventure is beginning!

I hope the story of my journey and how I ate on my cross country voyage was both helpful and somewhat entertaining.  Here’s a few take home tips to help you on your next Paleo car trip:

  • Be prepared!  Take a cooler with healthy snacks and ‘in a pinch’ meal options.
  • Do the BEST that you can.  Sure, Subway isn’t optimal – but you can make it work.  There is no need to resort to Super-Value Meals and convenience store Sodas and Snickers.  These types of high carb, high sugar foods will do nothing for your alertness, energy, body or health.
  • Don’t stop at gas stations with ‘fences’ on the windows. (Self-explanatory)
  • Stay hydrated.  This doesn’t mean a caffeine convoy – water is your friend!
  • Move your body – take walking/movement breaks when you need them and definitely when you stop for gas or to use the bathroom.  Sitting for hours on end is a pain in the @ss…
  • Don’t stay in hotels with malfunctioning fire alarms (NOTE: they do not offer discounts for your inconvenience – I asked…)
  • STOP driving when you are tired!  Don’t ‘push through if your eyelids are getting heavy.  Rest is important, especially when you’re on the road.
  • Most importantly – wear your seat belt, drive safe and enjoy the journey!
Life is Highway – Make your ride a smooth one!

 

 

 

 

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  1. David
    December 6, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Welcome to Austin! It’s great to have you.

  2. Exceptionally Brash
    December 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Welcome home! Wow, those bagels needed a better sign, “Contains Wheat”. Traveling used to me so much more difficult when I had to eat every hour just like Dr. Oz.

  3. jenella
    December 6, 2012 at 8:11 am

    hey! Welcome to Austin!
    There’s a few of us Primal/Paleo folks here & a couple of MovNat groups on Meet Up!
    And yes, I love our shorts weather!

  4. Marisa H
    December 6, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I just got back from a 6 day roadtrip and can add some more tips. In addition to canned tuna, sardines, dried fruit and fresh vegetables, I picked up bananas at gas stations and ate them with my container of coconut oil, or just ate spoonsfuls of that. No cooler needed!

  5. Barb, RHN
    December 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    “Daybreak Diabetes”…. LOL! Have to file that one away with “Country Croak”…

  6. Barb, RHN
    December 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Something else that I have successfully used for travel is what low carbers refer to as “fat bombs”. These are usually a little delicacy made from such ingredients as coconut oil, butter, dark chocolate and/or almond butter. I’m still trying to get some metabolic issues under control, so fruit is not a part of my diet right now. In light of that, these energy dense little bites are great for traveling.

  7. Mary
    December 7, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I am heading to Haiti in January, and have been a bit concerned about the food choices while traveling. Taking canned tuna, dried fruits and nuts, but am restricted from taking fresh fruits and veggies. I would welcome any other ideas. (Only there 10 days)

  8. Mary
    December 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Welcome to Texas! Whenever you get a chance, visit Yonder Way Farm in Fayetteville, Texas. You aren’t that far away. It’s where many of us in Houston buy our pastured eggs, pastured pork, and grassfed beef. And, he delivers raw milk from Stryk Jersey Farm in Schulenburg! http://www.yonderwayfarm.com Great barbeque in the area of Texas you are in, as well!

  9. Chris
    December 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Amy,
    Thank you for sharing. I’ve enjoyed all your previous posts on Robb’s blog.
    Austin will give you a larger local audience and a very healthy focused community that will appreciate your expertise. Congratulations on making the move.
    I wasn’t born in Texas either, but I got here as fast as I could.
    Best to you,
    Chris

  10. Jeff
    December 8, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Should have stopped in Pauls Valley OK. I’d have fed you some great grass fed beef.

    • Amy Kubal
      December 8, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Well damn! If I ever drive back to SD to see my parents instead of flying – I’m so there!! :)

  11. Heather
    December 9, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Hi your story of Blackwell was very funny to me as I live down the road from there and before I we offically moved here my husband “lived” in the BestWestern. His company rents a huge block of rooms there by the year. If you ever have to stop there again the mexican restaurant by the hotel is actually every good and my husband always said that he would be afraid to take his very celiac wife there. I completely understand the paleo food struggle and really loved your post.

    • Amy Kubal
      December 9, 2012 at 7:49 am

      Thanks Heather! “Next time” the Mexican restaurant it is! Maybe we can meet-up there!

  12. Alexandra
    December 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Best of luck on the new chapter in your life…. Austin is a music town, check out Eliza Gilkyson when you have a chance but watch out for all those single, charming, and totally broke musicians!

  13. chicagogreg
    December 14, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Thanks for sharing, Amy! Just did a major road-trip myself (SoCal to Chicago) but was not as prepared as you. A lot of fast food, but avoided as much grains & dairy as I could, so it wasn’t too bad. Hard boiled eggs and cans of tuna would have been a nice accompaniment on the road! I’ll have to keep that in mind for future road trips.

  14. Erin
    December 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I have always LOVED balsamic vinegar, but a ciliac friend of mine told me i shouldn’t eat it any more (since discovering a host of gluten issues myself, just minus the hyper-allergic reaction) because it is made from barley. Is that true?

    **crossing fingers** give me hope!!

    • Amy Kubal
      December 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Balsamic vinegar is most commonly made from cooked grape musk. I do fine with it!

  15. Brentt
    December 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Very entertaining story. I personally would like to see someone expound on it though. I’m a truck driver who lives in a truck 24/7 for 6 weeks at a time. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to stay eating on any healthy plan for more than 2-3 days. Without conveniences like a refigerator or stove, it makes the task seem impossible. Also, space is very limited so there isn’t a “pantry sized” storage location. I’ve failed at eating properly and losing weight repeatedly for years now due to my somewhat unique situation. Any worhtwhile thoughts on this challenge?

  16. Erok
    February 11, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Congratulations on getting out of BonHomme County! I grew up in Tyndall, and couldn’t wait to leave – made several attempts before succeeding, giving me many road trip stories of my own. Hard-boiled eggs for the win!

    • Amy Kubal
      February 11, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Dude – I hear ya! After I graduated from high school (Scotland) the only reason I go back is to see my family.

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