I've been everywhere, man

I just got back from a last minute trip across the ENTIRE country. Literally, I drove from Washington, DC to Tuscon, Arizona in 4 days. Why, when law school is in full swing and I have two other big trips coming up? Well, it seems I have become a travel magnet, and cannot help but attract random far-fetched trips from every direction.

In this case, my little brother (well, he's not really little anymore) had signed up for this outdoor wilderness survival program in Arizona. It looks really rad! The students go spelunking and mountain climbing and learn first aid and all sorts of badass outdoorsy stuff. Plus they get college credit! So my bro had planned to drive across the country to get there by himself, and long story short, I got roped in to doing it at the last minute since its sort of a scary drive. And luckily, I'll take any excuse to get out of dodge. ;) Another lucky thing was that my brother is also vegetarian and doesn't eat cheese- so I knew he would be up for some vegan restaurant exploring.

So we set off from DC in a fully-stocked truck: my Mom had whipped up brownies, cookies, hummus sandwiches, and other treats that should have lasted days (but of course, disappeared pretty rapidly.) All in all we took a tried and true trek through US-40 (historic Route 66). Some food-related highlights:

*Homemade pasta and perfect spicy tomato sauce in Nashville, Tennesee. We somehow managed to avoid BBQ!

*Texas toast, jam and coffee in Memphis for breakfast. Fuel to vamp in front of the King's house and, quote, "get the fuck out of Memphis."
*Cheeseless pizza off 40 in Oklahoma... with Arnold Palmers! (1/2 sweet tea, 1/2 lemonade)

*An awesome vegan Indian feast at Gopurumi in Oklahoma city (corner of 23rd st. NW ad Meridian). Huge potato-filled dosas (pictured), Bhaigan Bharta and of course, a giant Taj Mahal beer to wash it all down.
-Vegetable fajitas with mountains of guacamole in Roswell, NM... and no extra-terrestrial contact (at least, that we can remember...)
*Fabulous selection of salads, mexican food, and sandwiches (no cheese, please!) at the Eclectic Cafe (off Tanque Verde drive) in Tuscon, our final destination.

All this, and the most amazing scenery in every direction. The West is wild, man! I had no idea! Check it out!

Cow country in Oklahoma

Gorgeous scenery outside Las Cruces, New Mexico

Wide open range near Amarillo, Texas

And now, for the sad part. While driving through Texas to NM, we started to smell something horrible. In the middle of nowhere, all of sudden, we could see about a mile of cows, all crowded within feet of eachother. They were so overcrowded and within sight of their final destination: a huge, dirty factory. UGH. We wanted to blow it up- and of course, we passed like 4 more before leaving Texas. I mentioned this to a classmate today who was from TX. She said, "You see? how could I not eat meat growing up in an environment like that?" EXCUSE ME? How could you possibly see that and not be utterly horrified at how cruel and disgusting it is? Its one thing when you are not aware of the origin of your food, or are completely disconnected from the absent referent, but when you see a factory farm like that you can't help but be intimately familiar with the whole horrible process.

It was especially sad in contrast to the cows we saw in Oklahoma- hanging out, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, just taking in the sunshine and wandering in huge beautiful fields. (Here's one!)

Now, I'm nowhere near backsliding from vegetarianism, but even for me this experience was an eye-opener and MORE than solidifed my already confident views: in the words of Herbivore, factory farms are MEAN and NASTY.

PS- We listened to Bright Eyes non-freaking-stop the entire trip, at my brother's insistence, and actually I do think that Cassadega and Wide Awake are excellent fits for Southwestern expeditions. :)

PSS- I have been meaning to post exhaustive travel diaries from my May travels... and I will when I can get the print photos to upload correctly. Better late than on time! Wait, that's not how that saying goes...


VeganCowGirl said...

Looks like a great trip - and it is always the unplanned ones that go down so well! How cool is your mom to make treats for you guys!!! Can't wait to read about more excursions.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

I'm not alone! Yay for your brother - a fellow cheese eschewing vegetarian - woot!

Those cow "farms" are really sad. We don't have cow farms like THAT (or the idyllic Oklahoma pastures either), but we do have what I refer to as "prison camps" for pigs and turkeys all over the place. It is HORRIBLE, for the animals, for the environment, for the workers and folks who live near these things.

I really can't relate to your friend from Texas. Seeing (and smelling) one of these places makes me want to have nothing to do with meat, not want to eat it. To each his own I suppose...

Great pictures by the way.

selina said...

wow awesome trip!

we have quite a few farms here in amish country but they are the farms with cute little cows naturally wondering around farms. and although i know what altimately happens to them its nice to see them out just being cows.

what kind of trip was that? sounds like something my brother would like.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Wow, it sounds like an amazing trip!

T said...

Selina- The program that my brother did is called "NOLS" and they have a couple different kinds with different focuses. (One up north, I believe, too!)

He gets college credit for it, and so far based on his phone calls I would definitely recommend it someone who has the means and love for the outdoors!

Thanks for the comments guys!