About Us

The Open Road Project exists to spread kindness and meet the needs of strangers. We travel in a 1979 GMC Vanguard named Lily. These are our stories.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Fred from the Bank of America

This is Fred.

Shortly after we barrelled into downotwn DC, we met Fred. He was the first person to receive a handful of chocolates as we were taking laps around the downtown, enjoying the sights.  While stopped at a red light outside his post at the Bank of America, we struck up a conversation about Lily.  Fred was happy to provide us with suggestions for Lily's look, such as “Y’all gotta rim it up! Put some 24's on this thing!”  I guess it’s safe to say we liked Fred from the beginning.  After our little encounter with the Secret Service, we came back to Fred who was laughing as we approached. He saw the hot pursuit and pull over go down, and asked us what we did to deserve the encounter.  This was also our first experience of how closely connected all levels of security are in Washington.  We continued to talk with Fred and soon realized he was a true Washington local and would be able to give us some great insight and where to eat and what to do.  Over the next two days Fred was our expert on everything and more importantly someone we just wanted to hang out with and get to know.  He provided us with quotes that kept us laughing as well as candid facts, like how we were on the radar of security while walking around the nation’s capital.  He helped put a face to the city and remind us of the difference between simply rolling through as a tourist and intentionally getting to know people and let them help shape your experience there.

Home is where you park it,
The Boys

Friday, May 10, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Every time we hit the road, we meet amazing people, create amazing memories and learn some important life lessons. After we got home on Saturday night, we lit a huge fire on Lake Ontario and talked about our trip. The highs and the lows always provide good perspective for us going forward. We also talk about things that we are thankful for and during this trip there are a few things we remember in particular.

We are thankful for no mechanical failures.
We are thankful for the incredible timing that created to an amazing adventure.

In the four trips that Lily has embarked on since we have owned her, this is the first one that didn't involve an encounter with a mechanic. Transmissions, alternators, brake cylinders and push rods are just a few of the many things that we have had to replace over the two years we have been tripping. Usually, our trips to the mechanic end up being significant parts of our trips, but thankfully, Lily decided to co-operate this time around.

Timing is always an interesting to think about when we live on the road. Every day is a link in the chain that becomes our adventure. All of our group decisions contribute to this chain, so it is always interesting to look back at how we all shaped the experience with our different leadership styles and decision making processes. If we wouldn't have left Philly on Friday night, we wouldn't have made it to Scranton, but if we had stayed an extra afternoon in Pittsburgh, we never would have been able to meet up with Janice and her family. This isn't a revolutionary way of thinking, all of life moves like this, but it is always great to be able to isolate a week and reflect on how things came about.

We did a lot in a week. We visited three major American cities and stopped in a bunch of others. We met some amazing people and made some great memories. We were able to lend a helping hand when the opportunities arose and made a lot of people smile with our RV antics. Our friendships are stronger and we learned a lot about community.

All in all, The Open Road Project D.C. was a great success. Now it's time to plan our next adventure.

Home is where you park it,
The Boys

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Scranton: The Electric City

As our time in Philly came to an end, we recognized that Scranton was the perfect distance away to park overnight and head home in the morning. Myself (Tyrone), and Jer both being pretty huge fans of The Office, were excited by the novelty of the stop. The plan was to get there in the evening, grab some grub at Poor Richards (a pub frequently mentioned in the show) and head out in the morning. We pictured a quaint little town where Michael Scott roamed free and the smell of freshly printed paper was in the air. This however, was not the case.

After pulling into Scranton off the freeway, it was easy to see that this was not unlike some of the other cities we had visited. What was once a hub of industrial activity was left abandoned and rusted. We arrived at the address of Poor Richards, only we saw a sign for South Side Bowl. Slightly confused we entered and found the pub tucked away in a corner. After taking a seat and being clearly identified as outsiders by looks from those seated around us, we decided to leave feeling discouraged that Scranton might not be all it promised. They used a different set on the show...

Still feeling hungry we headed on over to the local McDonald's where the parking lot looked like a scene out of a Fast and Furious movie. It was littered with souped up cars. Were talking neon underglow, rims, big ol' sub-woofers; you name it, they had it. We were informed that the Scranton Car Club is a pretty big deal and meets there every Friday night. Needless to say, Enns Battery & Tire could make a killing in a place like this. Now here is where our tale takes a turn for the better. In this McD's we happen to pick up that days issue of the Scranton Times and saw a title stating that tomorrow was the much-anticipated Office Wrap Up Party. We read on. In fact, Saturday was a day packed with activities to celebrate the upcoming series finale of the show that helped put Scranton back on the map. Now this was more like it. We researched and found out tickets were sold out, but when has something like that stopped us? We decided we would investigate in the morning and went to bed after a few games of intense euchre.

The beautiful Saturday sun helped us get up and moving to start the day. We knew that the morning activities were taking place at the University of Scranton, so that was our destination. We started exploring the campus and stumbled upon the remnants of the Bloggers Breakfast. An event organizer told us to wait in the back of the line and there might be some tickets left for the next panel event, which was not exactly what we wanted to hear. However, we walked away with some authentic Dunder Mifflin paper supplies and a little voice in our heads telling us we had to get tickets.

We continued to walk around until we found a group of student volunteers, and after telling them our story, they helped round up a few extra volunteer tickets for us. Little did we know we hit the jack pot as these were also VIP tickets. So for the next hour we were all smiles as we listened to the writers and producers of the show talk about their favourite moments over the years. After this was over, we were informed that the cast would shortly parade down main street and that would be our shot to meet them. In between we grabbed some delicious lunch at an Irish Pub to celebrate Tim’s 21st birthday. A couple items on the house for the occasion later, we headed back out to the streets to join the crowds in anticipation.

Now since The Open Road Project began in 2011, there has been a guestbook to help record all of the interesting people we meet along the way. Armed with this is hand, we stood by as the parade started to come our way. First came David Wallace and I was able to go up have him sign our guestbook. From there the floodgates opened. Darryl. Erin. Creed. Meredith. Cast members kept rolling and we kept getting signatures. We were just having a grand ol' time, laughing at our impeccable timing. As some of the more popular characters such as Jim, Pam and Dwight rolled through, the crowds quickly turned to mobs and we took to sitting back and enjoying as wild fans. After the parade was over we hopped back into Lily thinking about how lucky we were to be here in Scranton, PA for this one day, and how the sketchy town that greeted us was in the far back of our minds, now replaced by experiences that seem to only happen on the open road.

We left that afternoon to begin our long haul back home, smiling.

Home is where you park it,
The Boys.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Tim here. Our time in the City of Brotherly Love was one serious adventure. We began our second day in the city rather slowly, as we waited to hear back from a few contacts that we had made. After walking around for a while we decided it was time to settle on a place that we believed would be the home of Philadelphia’s finest Philly Cheese Steak. Naturally, we wanted to enjoy a true Philly Cheese Steak. A Philly Cheese Steak that people from Philly loved, and not necessarily from a place where hundreds of tourists walking along South Street frequented. As we chatted with locals, we were told about few fine establishments, but a particularly strong recommendations landed at "Ishkabibble's" and let me say we were not disappointed.

After chowing down, we split off into 2’s to meet some people to and spread a little bit of love.  Zach and I walked around for a while and ended up meeting a homeless guy named Robert, who was looking lunch around 3 (the first food he would have eaten all day). We offered to take him out for something to eat and a drink and naturally got chatting. In 1999, he was caught in a drive by shooting and had to have his leg amputated. He has been homeless for the last three years along with his daughter and grandson. He talked quickly about the struggles of finding work and the conditions of the shelter he stays at during the nights. We then prayed with him and wished him the best.

Jer and Tyrone had a great time chatting with a social venture in the apparel industry and with some folks who were tending to a community garden in the city.

Thankful for the sunny days
After we met back up, we went to a record store on South Street and were skimming through the hoards of albums, trying to find a few gems. Tyrone struck gold and finally found his holy grail, Neil Young’s Harvest, at a pretty fine price too. We got talking with the record store owner about his shop, the ups of the early and mid 90’s where business was fantastic and about tough times for him after the digital revolution. Eventually we began talking about the game “bigger and better”. Now if you aren’t familiar with the game, it’s all about trading what you have to someone else for something of bigger or better value. What we had to offer was a box of matches, not much sure, but something. The store owner wanted to give us something he had that possibly was valuable but he wasn’t sure. It was an antique Pittsburgh Pirates pin in a little box that a past customer left and never came back to get. The exchange was made and so the game began.

After we visited Love Park and chatted with some people with a neat organization that helps homeless people called One Step Away, we passed a little pizza shop that seemed quite welcoming. An old man named Ed was sitting eating some za, and let us know that he had been eating at "The best pizzeria in Philly for 40 years!" Well, one thing led to another and we found ourselves eating pizza with Ed and listening to his stories of being in the navy, traveling the world, becoming and architect, running a bank and ultimately turning an old abandoned Episcopal Church into an apartment building. At 80 Ed was unbelievably sharp and loved to crack jokes. He continually reminded us that life was too short to not be able to laugh and joke around. We continually heard Ed say the phrase “Don’t be nervous!” whether it be to us, the cop he talked to at the counter when he paid or when he said goodbye to the grand daughter of the original pizza shop owner. We laughed it off and soon realized that it was a phrase that he tried to live his life by. After a while of talking he asked us if we would want to come see the apartment building he put together. He welcomed us into his personal apartment to show us around and show us some pictures of what the building looked like when he first saw it. He was an incredible guy who was nothing short of humble. Before we left we asked Ed if he would be interested in our “Bigger or Better” game which he said he didn’t want to take anything from us but wanted to give us a gift. From a shelf he grabbed a little miniature replica ship that was put in a little glass block. We asked what the story was behind it and Ed said he wouldn’t tell us and that we should make up a new story for it. After Ed gave us his business card, we shook his hand and promised to visit him again if we were ever in Philadelphia or Washington again. As we said goodbye, Ed reminded us one last time to “not be nervous” and he bid us safe travels.

With some great Old Man wisdom ringing in our ears, we headed back to Lily. Next stop: Scranton Pennsylvania, the home of the beloved TV show, The Office.

Home is where you park it,
Tim and The Boys

Sunday, May 5, 2013

D.C. Pt II

Our second day in D.C. brought with it a number of free museums. We spent most of our day at the Smithsonians, with the Natural History and Air & Space museums being among our favorites. We were disappointed to find out that White House tours had been cancelled for the time being, due to budget cuts. Perhaps that was an excuse to keep us out... Regardless, we had a great day. Another highlight was eating at a famous D.C. food truck. The Fojol Bros and their delicious butter chicken treated us right. Here are some pictures.

Tyrone grabbing life by the horns at the Natural History Museum


Aviation is A.O.K!
Once we were done with the museums, we headed northeast to a town called Columbia. A friend of my mothers lives there, and she took us all out for a steak dinner! We ate with Janice and three of her five kids, Allison, Michael and Ashley. I had not seen any of these folks since they visited us in Ontario when I was younger, so it was great to catch up. That night we slept at Ashley's house, thankful for showers and free WiFi. We rested our heads that night, realizing that we had just conquered D.C., while narrowly escaping the Secret Service. Accomplishing what we had set out to do was a good feeling. Everything after this point could be considered bonus. Oh, and bonus did we get.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The City of Brotherly Love

We made it to Philly yesterday afternoon. After we strolled around, we grabbed some lunch and decided that we may as well catch a Phillies game. More detailed posts to come (to catch up from DC) but in the meantime, here are a few pics.

We couldn't believe the deals!
Somehow, we ended up pretty close...

Thursday, May 2, 2013


We woke up in Rockville, ready to take on The Capital. As we drove in, we were surprised by how far along spring was. The greenery on each side of the George Washington Memorial Highway was just exquisite.

We crossed the river and D.C. was upon us. Naturally, we drove around all of the historic sites to get a feel for the city. We may have also been blasting our Vuvuzela horn contraption, honking our horn, waving incessantly and tossing chocolate bars to pedestrians, taxis and security guards alike. I'm sure it was quite a spectacle.

The reason I'm sure it was a spectacle may be because within 20-30 minutes of this madness, we noticed three white vehicles in our rear view mirror. Secret Service. Once we had pulled over, we recognized that we weren't dealing with regular police officers. These were Obama's bros.

The nice thing about us is that we never have anything to hide. Our blog is plastered all over our RV, Lily, so it's easy to tell our story. Although we thought they were going to ask us to quit disturbing the peace with our honking, the reason for our being stopped was due to our broken tail light and slight bumping of a curb as we turned a corner. After the officers realized that we weren't impaired, we had a nice chat about the best sights to see in D.C. and where to park. Sometimes I wonder what these people think about us.

After parking, we mapped out a route to walk and got to it. Before we got to any of the sights, we noticed some young men packing up a large events tent from a recent function. We stopped to give them a hand and ended up learning some cool stuff about the students who were working to pay their way through school.

On our drive in, we tossed some chocolate to someone who would become our new friend and give us the inside scoop on everything D.C.. His name was Fred and he is the security guard and the Bank Of America right beside the White House.  Quickly, we realized that this guy knew D.C. so anytime we would need direction, we would come to him.

We saw the White House, the Washington Monument and hung out with our pal Lincoln. It was an interesting and educational day to say the least. As we toured, we handed out snacks and Love Dollars to people we would meet.

All in all, it was a great day. We were able to see some sights, meet some people and lend a hand. We decided we would spend one more day in the D.C. in order to see some of the Smithsonian museums.

Thanks for reading!

Home is where you park it,
The Boys

Spreading the love... dollars

As we toured the numerous free museums in DC, we left a trail of love for our fellow patrons.