The Paleo Road Trip: Across the Country Caveman Style
(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.
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…
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.
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!