The Poet and the Scientist: Burning Like Yellow Roman Candles All the Way to Boston

Ashley (the poet) and Marine (the scientist) met at A-Camp, fell in love and set off into the sunset – on a budget. These shoestring-travel enthusiasts are hitting every major city between Boston and Los Angeles on a country-wide tour and staying with as many Autostraddlers as they can find. Ashley just released a book of poems and is promoting it on the road, while Marine is keeping things organized and on budget. This is their journey.

We have a packed house at The Center in Long Beach on Friday night. The walls are lined with a new installation of religious pop art, and my book reading is about to start. It’s part show, part bon voyage party. We leave on Monday morning and I can hardly believe so many friends have come out to see us off. We conclude the show, and a group of us heads to the local gay bar a few blocks up. A friend buys me a Jameson and Coke. I’m in a world of disbelief and anticipation. There are still two shifts left to finish at work, a backpack that isn’t packed, laundry to be done, and a blog to start writing.



Ashley’s Bar
Photo copyright Anthony Hercules

It’s now Sunday night at 11:20pm and I’m freaking out about whether I have enough underwear packed while Marine is dozing off to our 3rd installment of Orange is the New Black. Tomorrow we’re getting on a plane at 6 am and flying from Los Angeles, California to Boston, Massachusetts and not returning until Thanksgiving. It’s quite possibly the craziest thing we’ve ever done.


Photo Copyright Jaha Zainabu

I’m Ashley Catharine, or “The Poet.” I’m 23, I work as a grocery store clerk, and I have a degree in fashion design that I hardly use. I published a book of poetry back in May, and am now hitting the open road to sell it.


It is now 11:40pm and I am worried I’ll hardly get a nap in before the alarm goes off at 3:30am. I feel like a kid on Christmas, except more like a large kid the night before a profound life-altering voyage. I asked my girlfriend to be a part of this journey with me (it’s the closest we’ve come to U-Hauling). She and I have never embarked on such an adventure before, and thus, will be documenting it! We’ve agreed that any and all shoestring travel knowledge gained on the course of this mission will be shared with our beloved Autostraddle community.

Hello Straddlers, I’m Marine aka “The Scientist.” I’m the left side brain of this operation, and have been handling some behind-the-scenes details, like the budget. I’ve always wanted to do an extensive backpacking tour (whether alone or with someone, was up in the air), and luckily all the stars aligned for us. I’m going on this tour while waiting to hear back from pharmacy schools to get my doctorate. I graduated from UC Irvine in 2012 and have been saving for a trip like this one since then. This trip will combine Ashley’s passion for poetry with my passion for traveling.

I’ve broken down our budget and packing list so you can follow along, or plan your own trip. I’ll be including helpful tips and organizational ideas in our upcoming posts.

Budget copy


packing list image

Packing List

Ashley: Tomorrow we wake up before the dawn, try to keep our eyes open while my dad drives us to the airport, and pray we find enough Autostraddlers to stay with in the coming weeks. We’re still looking for housing in:

-Richmond, VA (9/15-9/18)
-Chicago, IL (9/29-10/02)
-New Orleans (10/8-10/13)
-Austin, TX (10/14-10/19)

If you have a couch or a spare square of floor to offer up please email me here: Ashley [at] [dot] com. If we’re coming to your city, leave us a comment! We’d love to have an impromptu Autostraddle meet up. Also, share your crazy travel stories and tips with us, we’re gonna need them!

the year of the mermaid book tour dates

Book Tour Dates!

It’s now 12:15am. I recheck my bag to ensure I have everything I need. Marine has fallen asleep, and I am too wound up to focus. If I try, I can still squeeze 3 hours of sleep into this night. Something tells me it won’t come very easy.

Ashley Catharine writes poems, obviously. She was a member of the 2011 LA slam team, has a degree in fashion design, works on keeping her room clean and is addicted to diet coke. She’s performed at Inkslam (2011, 2012, 2013), the National Poetry Slam (2011, 2013), The Women of the World Poetry Slam (2013) and the Costco employee break room. Catharine has been featured on TVOne’s “Verses and Flow” and in the documentary “Damn Wonderful”. She just released her first book of poetry, “The Year of the Mermaid.” For more information about her, visit

Follow Ashley on twitter!

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Ashley Catharine

I'm a poet/designer/crazy person who loves Jameson, writing, coffee and family.

Ashley has written 15 articles for us.


  1. Damn, you guys are cool. I can’t offer anything but my best wishes, though Ashley’s book is definitely going on my wish list. Good luck!

  2. Unfortunately such exciting things coming to Richmond never seem to correspond to the few weeks a year that I’m home from college. I wish I could help you guys on the housing front, but asking my parents to host two awesome seeming lesbians I met online isn’t really how I’d planned to come out to them haha. Best of luck though and enjoy your time in the RVA!

  3. Good luck! I just did six weeks on the road for The Queerituality Project ( Tips/thoughts:
    – Dates (the fruit) are the best snack food. Compact, lightweight, and help you get & stay full. Also: tasty. Pick some up when you can! Also: rice cakes.
    – In Philadelphia, Reading Terminal Market has a juice stand. Cash only. Their juice helped keep me from complete exhaustion.
    – Carve out some time to be silent! Writing/speaking is what I do… by the end of the trip, I’d done so much of it that I could barely speak.
    – My best “talk with strangers” question is, “What is your favorite vegetable?”

    I’m based out of Boston. I can’t host, but holler at queeritualityproject [at] gmail [dot] com if you’d like to get some tea.

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