Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turning Leaf.

Yeah. You totally thought this post was about new beginnings.

It's about wine.

I drank a lot of it.

Turning Leaf that is.

Furniture shopping sucks.

But I ran this morning. 3.5 miles.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yes. (Again. For Real.)

Somewhere between duct taped shower curtains (yes. for real.) and $3.oo wine (yes. again.) I took a quick trip to Big Sur, California. And had a few moments that made me remember, yet again, why we packed up our lives, drove for 5 days, and put a lot of faith in our dreams.

Mom was in the new home state for a work-thingy and I jumped on the opportunity to pick her up at the airport to spend some quality time. Tarragon Pea Soup was consumed. Garden shops were browsed. Afternoon tea was had. Overwhelming gratitude took over.

(Then I realized I DID have a camera with a functional SD card, despite all odds...)

I made the 45 minute drive to Big Sur from Monterey, not really looking for anything in particular.

And I found Me.

In a place so beautiful it's almost painful, it was a gift to just sit on the rails of a random vehicle pull-off and watch the surf hit the ragged coastline.

Take photos and write in a journal.

Just Be.

I was struck, again, by a sense of endless possibilities and hope. Of "Future is as Future Does" to quote (yes. again.) Mason Jennings, and I drove back home, hit with the same sensation I get after a particularly kick-booty Savasana.

(Until I realized that the mega-produce stand in Moss Hill was open at 9:30 pm. And selling organic baby heirloom tomatoes for $1.50/carton. And avocados 3 for $1. And organic seedless grapes for $0.79/lb. Then the drive ground to a halt to allow for mass produce purchase totaling $6.00.)

For those of you wondering what the hell we were thinking, moving to California in the middle of the worst economy in more than 20 years? (Aside from organic produce and hilariously emo self-portraits) I leave you with this:

That's what I thought.

Friday, August 27, 2010

California! (but first... Nevada...)

We are officially Californians!! We signed the lease on our apartment yesterday and are currently sprawled on the floor, laptops smoking and Craigslist servers overloading while we look for furniture.

(Tried to post yesterday, but Days Inn internet wasn't having any of it... SO...)

We drove in to California through the Tahoe National Forest, and it was with some happy tears and an open window that I blasted Mason Jennings and crossed the state line, surrounded by craggy rocks and pine trees.

We spent a few hours in Reno before finishing the drive, pretty much sick of driving, and too intrigued after the events of the previous evening to just 'up and leave'.

So we sat on the banks of the Truckee River Whitewater Park, soaking up sun, listening to the water and unashamedly laughing at the crazies. SO pretty, but quite possibly the Weirdest. Town. Ever. Threats and heckling from crazy local river-dwellers (garnered by well-meaning smiles, no less) were outstripped by the scenery.

BUT, a fun town, and it was really nice to take a break before finishing the last leg of the trip.

and we are here!

Awoke yesterday morning at 5:00 am to banging on the hotel room door, a wonderful Days Inn employee informing us that a trucker was about to have our U-Haul towed because (despite 8 other semi trucks exiting the premises) he couldn't get out of the parking lot. An uneventful day henceforth was welcome, to say the least...

Especially after washing the breakfast smoothie blender in the shower for the last week...

it was so wonderful to sign the lease on our new place!

Mr. and Mrs. J are home!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Almost There!

Ok. Made it through Wyoming unscathed. And Utah. And most of Nevada!

We're in Reno, today, taking it easy and trying to process exactly what DID happen last night...

But first!

We slept just outside Salt Lake City, then pushed on past (Hi, Justen!) through the great Salt Flats, broken up only by this freaky statue thing.

The rumble strips are the only reason I did not drive off the road wondering whether I was seeing things. Poorly disguised cell tower? Freakish salt-induced vegetation? Salt-Flat and Heat Induced Delusional art? Apparently C was the correct answer.*

OK. Back to last night.

Pulled into Reno to find somewhere to rest our weary heads. Upon finding out that Motel 8 was $97.96 per night, we opted for the Western Village Inn and Casino for $40 per night.

Inwardly groaning at the smell of stale cigarette smoke and lost hope oozing from the casino, we entered the seedy hotel across the street and took the elevator to the 3rd floor. Expecting the worst, we opened the door to huge suite with memory foam bedding and a 42" flat screen TV. A quick text update later, the sister observed, "Irony is a b*tch."

Free drink tickets and discount restaurant coupons in hand, we headed out. Because who can refuse a place that has pregnant women, the elderly and Joe Dirt all exiting the same black-mirrored doors!? (Ok. We were hungry too. But curious.)

There was no preparing us for what rounded the corner as we locked the hotel room door behind us.

6 nuns. In habits. Dragging roll-aboard suitcases.

I was incapacitated with a case of the giggles and nearly peed my pants making it to the elevator without laughing out loud. Strippers I would have expected in this casino, conveniently located 20 feet from the TA Truck Stop. A drunken trailer park couple, even. But NUNS?

After dinner, we won $1.72 at the penny slots. Enough to cover the tip for our free drinks.

It was a good night.

Onward and homeward tomorrow! Although I don't know if I will have any more stories that beat the nuns...

*Side note: I am the only person in the State of Nevada (perhaps the greater Southwest) who will only eat at McDonalds when armed with a pull-top can of Black Beans. When I whipped said canout of my purse at lunch yesterday and dumped 1/2 on my chicken-less salad, B just shook his head, continuing on into a rare burger/fry/sundae euphoria.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

South Dakota, Part II (and wyoming...)


Day 3 of Driving Stats:

States Completed: Wyoming
Miles Driven: approximately 700 mi
Hours Driven: 10 hrs
Average Speed: 56.2 mph
Meltdowns: 1

Today was long. Just long. However, I am living Fievel Goes West.

Best part of the day: Greeeeen Riverrrrrr is apparently a real place! (Keep reading for a recap of the Badlands, but all I could think yesterday was, "I'm lost. Alllll alone. In a million acre catbox.")

One more quick thing... HUGE thank you to Meg and Misty! The Visa Gift Card bought me 23.5 hours of road trip sanity in the form of Stephanie Meyer's The Host on CD.

Rewind one day...

South Dakota never ceases to amaze.

Ever asked the question, "Where the Heck is Wall Drug" ?? No?? Me neither. But apparently, it's in Wall, South Dakota.

Biggest, most elaborate Tourist Trap to which I have yet to fall prey. To use B's words, "After all those billboards, this had better be everything I'm thinking it's not."

This bulldog sitting outside, longingly looking at the fudge shop might have been my favorite part.

After a quick lunch of carrots and peanut butter eaten in the car... we drove the Badlands Scenic Loop. It was eerily beautiful in a desolate way, shoving jagged rocks against waving prairie grass and into impossibly blue skies.

I felt very Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the prairie just outside DeSmet, SD.

And B took the 'shot of the day' out of the car window while singing 'America the Beautiful.' "For amber waves of graaaaaaain...."

Mount Rushmore was serene and stately, something that stood out to us after miles of fake "Old West" roads and billboards hawking Reptile Gardens and Mystery Caves.

We are really hoping to come back and do some camping in the Black Hills as we loved it here. We were sort of sad to leave!

On to Wyoming ! (see top of the post as lack of WiFi has caused a bit of a back up...)

Monday, August 23, 2010

South Dakota, Part I

Rather than taking off Saturday morning, we spent the day at Grandma's, napping and catching up.

SO. Driving Day 2 stats for Sunday:

States Completed: Wisconsin, Minnesota and part of South Dakota
Miles Driven: 711 mi
Hours Driven: 12.3 hrs
Average Speed: 52.4 mph

(Thanks to high winds toward the Badlands, we drove the trailer at a mind blowing 45 miles per hour for the last 50 miles to Wall, South Dakota. Clearly, this thrilled me.)

Highlights from Day 2:

Tiny people statues worshiping a giant cow head... Farm Country, SD

Corn Palace... Mitchell, SD

Yes. That is a segway. Made of corn. ... Mitchell, SD

B found the world's largest popcorn ball, a rootbeer milkshake (no. not a float. a milkshake, which apparently is proof that there is a god... and he is shaped like a cow head and worshiped by tiny people...) and corn-on-the-cob on a stick. The Corn Palace was declared as success based on concessions alone.

We're hitting up the World Famous Wall Drug (note: there is a sign for Wall Drug at 355 miles from the exit... not much to advertise in SD farm land, apparently) and the Badlands, then heading to Mount Rushmore. Back with photos!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Made it to Madison!

Ain't he got a cute tush? I stared at it all day yesterday!

Day 1 Stats:

States Completed: Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois
Miles Driven: 878 mi
Hours Driven: 16.2 hrs
Average Speed: 56.3 mph


Shout out to Amy and the McWhirters!
(It was too dark to take a picture of the Milwaukee exit... hi, Lara and Mike!)

One Hundred, Eleven Thousand, One Hundred Eleven Miles!

We actually left on Thursday night at about 9 pm and got a few hours under our belt ...

Good Bye 2610!

From the balcony - the Patent Office is under his armpit on the right

Sionara 2610!

The U-Haul that is too big because the van was too small and U-Haul apparently doesn't sell trailers that somewhere between "take your tea set" and "move your elephant"

We're holed up at Grandma Strong's right now, trying to catch up after such a long day yesterday. The raging head cold I so conveniently caught 4 days ago is finally subsiding... but we didn't make it to Madison until 1:15 this morning, so we're moving a bit slow. We should hit the road again before this afternoon. Next big milestone: Denver!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

a quick look inside my head.

recent steam of consciousness.
has been edited for inappropriate language.

I can't believe i caught Brian's god d*ned cold. am dying.

where the hell am I going to put all this decor sh*t?

seriously? with the sneezing and the snot?

did I pack the neti pot?

where the hell am I going to put all this bedroom sh*t?


ugh. with the coughing again.

where the hell am I going to put all this office sh*t?

*insert nap*

why is Brian in here? I'm napping, d*n it!


huh! made a killer, healthy meal out of next to nothing. am a domestic goddess.

now... to make frozen banana rolled in melted unsweetened bakers chocolate and walnuts for gourmet/sugarless dessert.

where the hell am I going to put all this kitchen sh*t?


and where the hell am i going to put all this SH*T!?

Monday, August 16, 2010

i'll look back on this and laaaaugh...

injuries: 3
illnesses: 1
migraines: 0
breakdowns: 1/2

injuries: 0
illnesses: 1
migraines: 1
breakdowns 0

Despite the creeping (hacking, coughing nasty) crud contracted courtesy of US Airways and a passenger near you, we are both packing like fools. All in all, it's going pretty well, and spirits were lifted by a wonderful dinner at the Fish Market with some wonderful friends last night.

Thank You!

Must eat. Must pack. Must get the heck out of this disaster and get on the road. But first!

A quick photo montage of the chaos:

Seriously. We can't rent a cargo van to drive cross-country? SERIOUSLY!?

Makeshift desk as we have no furniture left

Packing up the fish sauce... and Curious George... and the Old Bay. We eat adventurously.

Buried in boxes.

Lots of love to all our friends and family! We'll be in CA soon and expect to see your smiling faces come visit us!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

let go.

you know that spot at the top of the very first drop on a roller coaster?

the one where your heart is pounding and you're white knuckling the safety harness because you KNOW something crazy awesome is coming?

that amazing rush of anticipation that comes with the slowing "chik...chik....chik...chik........chick..............chick" of the track that's pulling you toward the top?

that's it. with boxes strewn, chaos slowing taking over, wine glass half gone and apron tied on from one great 'last supper' from this barbaric galley kitchen. that's it. that's the feeling.

let go of the harness. ignore the warning signs and let your hands and arms outside the r. we're jumping off.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

grab your nikes...

Got up this morning feeling chipper (despite all odds... $3.33 for a bottle of wine!? Again. I LOVE California!) and took myself out for a run. Did about 3.5 miles down The Alameda in Santa Clara in the sunshine and 70 degrees, feeling truly blessed and wondering if they even allow treadmills in this state.

Feeling fabulous, I showered, chowed my Greek Yogurt and an apple, and dried my hair/put on some make up. Ta da!!

At which point, B awoke from his slumber and announced, "Let's go for a hike!"

My thoughts:

"Seriously?! Oh my poor legs ... "

"Damn it. I just dried my hair."

"Damn it. Damn it. My fave sports bra is soaked in sweat."

"Oh look! My fave running top is clean."

"And I DO have a ponytail holder that isn't totally shot!"

*insert 2.6 minutes on Google*

"What the hell, B!? Aren't you ready to go yet!? I found this awesome trail!"

So we hiked.

Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve : sunny, breezy and hella full of hills.

I have no idea how far we actually hiked as we did pieces of 2 or 3 trails, but at one point, we could see all the way to San Fransisco from the top of our mountain.

Dirty. Sweaty. Sun-Drenched. Amazement.

2 hours of hard labor behind us (plus my morning run, my pride insists I add) we hit up Trader Joes for some Salads for lunch and frozen Channa Masala for dinner.

God bless Joe and his healthy, cheap prepared foods cornucopia of goodness. And Days Inn for a fridge so cold it doubles as a freezer.

A nap. A great convo with mama.
A book. *le sigh*

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Despite the coldest summer they have had in a decade or so... Monterey treated us well! We spent yesterday morning walking/hiking along the peninsula coast, stopping to watch the waves and take pictures. (Yes, there is a jacket tied around my waist. No, I don't want to talk about it.)

A beautiful break in the clouds yielded this odd patch of blue sky and blue water. Not sure if it was a taunt or just a sign that we should keep walking... but it was pretty amazing.

After a fabulous lunch = sweet ass Mediterranean vegetarian platter at a funky "International Restaurant" (there were flags on the menu in case you didn't couldn't identify Russia, Mexico or America in typeface), we rolled our falafel loving selves to a little coffee shop for a little WiFi/non-motel couch R&R.

Sufficiently caffeinated, bookworm-ed and tech-ed... we drove down to Carmel-By-The-Sea. We were a little late to do a tour of the mission, but got some beautiful photos from the outside.

Then we hit up downtown Carmel. SO. PRETTY. (As were the vintage Ferrari, Bentley and Maserati cars driving around. After the tour-de-auto-chic... we decided that the Boxter is the VW Bug of the Porsche world.)

Had it not been for B, I would have given myself a real quick caffeine-induced heart attack at the plethora of adorable coffee shops (seriously. I wanted a cappucino at every one, just so I could sit in their little gardens!) ... (and seriously!? with the adorable otter!?)

It was a truly beautiful little town and I can't wait to come back and visit again.

Hit up Santa Cruz this morning to check it out as it will be the nearest beach, but they proved severely lacking in the sunshine, WiFi and public bathrooms departments, so B declared it a miss for the day. We're back in Santa Clara, chilling and plotting our next move. Back to D.C. on Friday (at 6 am. dag.) and we'll pack up from there!

A quick side note: Thank you all for your beautiful and kind words both in the comments section and on Facebook. We miss you already and can't wait for you to come visit us in what we are so excited to call our new home!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm gonna stay away from LA...

We came to a rather unexpected consensus yesterday that Brian and I almost prefer Northern California Beaches to Southern California beaches... they don't require sunburns, crowds or that awkward, self-deprecating bikini-clad comparison thing that all girls do at beaches (don't deny it...) and are, instead, just a place of raw beauty. The kind of place you can curl up with a book and a cup of tea and just feel at ease, even when it's foggy and cool.

Case in point: Monterey, California

Probably one of the most beautiful places I've ever been... and the sun was only out for 2 hours of our trip.

(Those are kelp forests behind us)

While I've been struggling a bit with the string of hotel rooms and lack of routine (and resulting lack of room in my fave CK jeans...) this is shaping up to be a truly amazing time in our lives together.

get it? lover points?

It is such a fun feeling to be a 'newlywed' with a new home to pack up and move into, and to have the freedom to stop and buy $1/lb cherries at a road side stand just because we feel like it. (Then eat the whole pound because "we're on vacation!" See also: lack of room in CK jeans.) Or follow Angela (our GPS) through unsafely fast left hand turns into small-town Thai restaurants because B is suddenly starving.

I am so excited to move our new life together here. I am constantly struck by the thought that this is our home now. And I feel so blessed by it.

We're off to do some hiking and beach-dwelling! It's still cloudy and cool today... good thing we brought cozy hoodies and a couple of great books.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gonna pack a box of books ...

and my beloved guitar into the back of my truck....and try my luck in California!

Attitude: adjusted courtesy of long-distance love from an amazing friend.

After a day of flailing around, alternating between crying and nagging (cute, right?) - it was time to get back into a routine.

Set my alarm, went for a run, hit up Mecca (Whole Foods) for flowers and real food, and had a proper breakfast consisting of produce. Am a new person! With Gerber Daisies (yes, in my water bottle)!

Two hours later: we found it. 1 bedroom with a loft and a patio. End unit with TONS of windows. 5 minute drive from Downtown Mountain View. Checked out a few more places to be sure that the uber friendly leasing agent hadn't just bewitched us... and we're signing a lease tomorrow!

We celebrated by going for a hike in what might be the most beautiful place we've ever seen.

Brian struck a pose

And we took photos and then some...

Looking for some advice: Where should we vacation now that we've found a home!? Monterey? Big Sur? Santa Cruz? Comment away and help us out!

More adventures to come!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Team Amy Needs Your Help!

Want more adventure?

More snakes, rashes and yoga poses than you can shake a stick bug at?

Team Amy Needs You!! Visit http://amyvswild.blogspot.com and follow Amy as she kicks Honduras' ass... and by proxy the other volunteers at Guarama who are in a heated battle for Google followers.

A great add to any GoogleReader!!! (Plus, she likes Pomegranate Michelob Ultra, and that makes her followable in MY book.)

Coffee x 2... or 3

No photos of our goings on because, quite frankly, they're not pretty.

Me and the Mr. holed up in a low-to-middle-end hotel room, hunched over our laptops, cruising Craigslist like a couple of teenagers on Main Street USA. Only, instead of daddy's convertible, we're driving a rented Ford Focus.

Highlights of yesterday:

  • Flying in to San Fran instead of San Jose in exchange for $500 in vouchers
  • L & L Hawaiian Plate Lunch (!)
  • Replacing the best $10 I've ever spent (and then broken)

I leave you with one photo from our last night in Phoenix

Thank you, Aunt Linda!