Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stumped

It’s been several weeks since I committed to blogging more, and I have yet to be inspired. There are small things that happen at work or when I’m with friends but nothing sensational or funny. Maybe I should start taking notes as things happen. I’ll keep trying.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Big Scary Leap

I feel if I write about anything other than traveling, it has to be interesting, and funny, and concise, and meaningful. And all that pressure I place on myself has kept me from writing or blogging just to write. But I want to start trying it more. It’s like a muscle that I want to start stretching and conditioning so that maybe I can use it for better purposes.

I’m not sure where to start or what to write about. When I have a trip to describe, or a topic which I have researched, it is pretty easy for me to flow and often I have to edit down. But writing to write is incredibly intimidating because I don’t consider myself particularly creative. Fiction is out of the question.

So what does that leave me? Insights about life—Ha! I’m 24. Reflections about my beliefs or feelings—this isn’t a diary. I think I want to blog like I’m telling a friend about something that happened or someone I observed during my day. Working in customer service I encounter a large variety of interesting people and I think I might have a knack for describing their uniqueness.

I’ll give it a shot and I hope you find it interesting, funny, concise, and how about entertaining instead of meaningful? Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Grand Finale



I last left you after Nashville, Tennessee, and I was headed oddly to Nashville, North Carolina so we could visit Chris’s Grandmother and Uncle. We were in, through, and out of North Carolina in about 9 hours, but I felt like I got to experience a few quintessential aspects of the south: humidity and BBQ. One of the side effects of humidity that I experienced firsthand was the abundance of mosquitoes. In the amount of time that it took me to walk from the driveway to the door of Chris’s Grandmother’s (less than 90 seconds), I received four mosquito bites. And unfortunately I am the kind of person whose bites turn into giant welts that itch non-stop for at least 3 days. However, the quality of the food we had at dinner was definitely worth it. Chris’s Uncle picked up dinner for us at Doug Saul’s BBQ and Seafood, and I was relieved when he brought only BBQ. The traditional southern meal included fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, hushpuppies, pulled pork, and boiled potatoes. As you can imagine, North Carolina was worth the stop.


That night we decided to continue into Virginia so in the morning we would be closer to Washington D.C. We were in D.C., checked in, and on the train platform by 2pm and headed towards the National Mall. It was overcast and a bit rainy, but definitely still shorts weather, and the mall was captivating as always. We had just enough time to walk through both the Air and Space Museum, and the Museum of Natural History.

My final destination, Pennsylvania was the next stop but not the end of the trip. I brought my truck home, emptied it out and spent Friday night in Newtown before we headed north to Boston. Chris’s flight was leaving on Tuesday but we had a full agenda for the weekend. After spending about 3 stressful hours online back in D.C., I decided that the easiest way to plan hotel accommodations was night by night based on the location of our activities. I get why it’s called “The Walking City” once you are actually IN the city, but they should include a footnote “Only if you can afford to pay $500 a night for a hotel”. Anyway… Saturday night we had dinner with one of Chris’s old friends and then he took us out for drinks in Salem, which strangely was less creepy at night. The only witch references I noticed were a bronze statue of Samantha from Bewitched, and a lady who was not in a costume but still looked just like a witch. Sunday morning we were up early and headed to Foxborough to attend the home opener of the New England Patriots. They beat the San Diego Chargers, which made my first ever NFL game a very fun experience. It didn’t hurt that we also had amazing seats, thanks to Chris. Monday morning we were again headed to a new neighborhood to watch the Red Sox. I assumed when we bought tickets in the lodge section at Fenway that we would be on the second level, but our seats were only about 20 yards from the field because the stadium is so small. The Red Sox lost, and have quite a bit since then, but the weather was great. Although I was exhausted and ready to be home, Boston was another successful stop and fun way to end my adventure.


My favorite part of the trip: experiencing all the different landscapes and cultures.

My least favorite part of the trip: driving in Connecticut (and I grew up on So Cal freeways!).

The truck did an amazing job taking me from Depoe Bay to Newtown, almost exactly 4700 miles. I drove my Mom’s car to Boston and back, making the entire trip 5100 miles.

It’s been a week since I’ve been home and I’m just now starting to feel truly settled. Between all the laundry and the boxes I emptied I felt like I was drowning in clutter. Fortunately I was able to take my time and now I can focus on job hunting. Wish me luck!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

So, where am I?

Sorry for the delay. I made it to Pennsylvania on Friday, but I only stayed there overnight. Now I am in Boston for a long weekend. I will be back home on Wednesday and will write about the rest of my trip then. It's been a tiring couple of weeks and I am ready to be home.

As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Texas and More!

I'm reluctant to support any assumptions y’all might have about Texas… but this was my brief experience.

Small Town Pride: Once we got into more populated areas the first thing I noticed was the water towers. All the small towns have a giant water tower visible from the highway with their name, and sometimes their claim to fame painted on it.

High School Football: It’s a HUGE DEAL. Friday night it was starting to get late and we decided to stop somewhere for dinner. We noticed a town coming up that seemed to have food and services, so we took the exit. However, when we started driving around everything was empty and closed. Sure enough a few blocks farther was a stadium with the stands and surrounding parking completely full. I’m not sure if they were going to re-open after the game, but we didn’t wait to find out.

Pickup Trucks: They dominate the roads and except for work trucks, they are all super clean and shiny. And chances are somewhere on each truck there is a sticker or decal reading “Don’t Mess With Texas” or an equivalent.

Farms: Whether there is actually a farm off every exit or not, the roads and byways in Texas are all labeled FM. Until I talked to a local I didn’t realize this stands for Farm-to-Market. While there may not be huge dairy farms everywhere, there seem to be lots of farm animals around. The other night while I was moving my truck into the driveway, I could hear cows and chickens mooing and clucking not too far away. And I was in a suburb.

Super: Super Walmarts, super churches, super sized meat, super hot, super dry, you name it. They don’t mess around in Texas!


It was nice to get off the road for a few days in Texas and spend time with Chris’s family. His niece Sarah couldn’t have been happier and I could tell everyone enjoyed their time together. Southern hospitality is another thing about Texas that is definitely true.

We left Texas on Monday morning and made the short drive to Little Rock, Arkansas to spend the night and watch Monday Night Football. Now we are just east of Knoxville, Tennessee. I originally planned to stay in Nashville, but the hotel prices were too high and quite a few of them were two night minimums. But we at least drove through and I got to see downtown and take some pictures. This first one is the Mississippi River.

The best part of the day was visiting Graceland! I’ve always been an Elvis fan and going to his ranch and seeing all his awards was a really cool experience. I didn’t realize that he is buried there too, which caught me a little off guard. But it was a beautiful place, and I’m very glad I took the time to see it. Next stop Raleigh, North Carolina and then maybe Washington D.C. before Pennsylvania.

Friday, September 9, 2011

VIVA LAS VEGAS (And Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas)

Well I stayed within budget so I’d say Vegas was a success! Of course as I drove east towards on Monday, it kept getting hotter and hotter. By the time I got to Excalibur it was at least 100 degrees and it was around 6pm. Monday night Chris and I walked up and down the strip and exploring a few of the casinos in our area. We also accepted an offer to tour a timeshare and receive free David Copperfield tickets plus $50. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn about timeshares but did not enjoy spending 4 hours of valuable pool time indoors being pressured into buying real estate. But we got the tickets and had fun at the free show on Tuesday night. Wednesday I got in some serious pool time and then we had dinner and caught the Knights of the Round Table show at Excalibur, where we were staying. Unfortunately, I think the fact that I was traveling and in the process of this move affected my energy and desire to do more in Las Vegas. So NEXT TIME I’ll have to do it as just a vacation, and not a stop on a cross-country drive.

Our next leg on Thursday was 600 miles and had lots of stops, but it was beautiful. After getting into Arizona, we drove through Flagstaff, Sedona, Phoenix, and then stopped in Tucson for dinner. Once it started getting dark near Tucson, we got to watch a really cool thunderstorm in the distance. We stayed overnight in a town called Willcox, in south eastern Arizona. Formerly I would have made fun of how “small-town” this place was, but I am moving from Depoe Bay so I have no room to talk.

Today was probably our longest straight day of driving at 12 ½ hours. What made it even stranger was going from Arizona, which doesn’t observe daylight savings time, through New Mexico, which is on Mountain time, and then ending in Texas, which is on Central time. For a short time in the afternoon, each hour of driving was two hours of time added to the clock. The most notable part of the drive was the section of I-10 by El Paso and Juarez. On one side of the freeway are your standard businesses and city housing structures, and on the other side are dirt hillsides covered in make-shift houses in Mexico. And even starting in New Mexico, most of the patrol cars on the road were not highway patrol, but border patrol.

Tomorrow we have a short drive to Chris’s parents’ and sister’s town of Justin, Texas. And you’ll be hearing from me again early next week. Sorry for my brevity on the last few days, especially Vegas. I’m committed to journaling regularly so I have more to write about next time.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hometown Love

When I first got to Redlands, it wasn’t quite as hot as Visalia was but I still wanted to jump in a pool right away. Luckily one of my friends was not working on Friday, so I got to spend some time cooling off.

I forgot how much I missed a skyline full of palm trees. While a lot of things have changed in Redlands, some things have stayed just the same. I have had such an amazing time visiting with some of my closest friends, seeing their new houses, and catching up on each others’ lives. It’s incredibly refreshing to be around people who know me well and can just pick up where we left off.

It has been a hard contrast of feelings for me here. I’ve been SO happy to spend quality time with my dear friends, but SO sad that this is my last stop on the West Coast. Today I’ll be driving east, and not knowing when I’ll be back is making this visit feel so final. At least it’s been a good one.