Gorgeous Sedona

Friday, May 31, 2013

We're getting settled here in California and I've been so sick that I don't have much to share other than to say we've been apartment hunting and getting aquainted with the area. But what I haven't shared are more photos from our trip over!

Sedona, Arizona is, in my opinion, the most beautiful little town in our country and it deserves a post of its own.

To get there you leave the flatter, more barren desert in the Flagstaff area and start down the hill into the canyon that Sedona sits in the bottom of. Winding roads take you down into the pines and you begin to notice the iron-rich clay that the area is known for rising up around you.

Adorable little cabins and campsites sit tucked in between the trees and alongside Oak Creek. A famous rock that people use as a sliding board into the creek has even earned this little area the honor of being a state park. The cute little town itself is full of shops, hotels, and restaurants and has a lot of Native American touches. In fact, the Native Americans used to and continue to consider Sedona a spiritual place due to the vortexes found dotted throughout the area.

I wish Dan and I could have spent some more time here, and we really should have considering the traffic/accident situation we found ourselves in just an hour down the road. But we took our time and took a detour to hike up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross for a great view. We may just have to make a road trip for a camping weekend there at some point while we're living in California!

Get Your Kicks

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Route 66 is pretty cool. Although, I do admit, I wouldn't want to drive on it for any extended amount of time, especially when the (sort-of) nicely-paved and multi-laned route 40 is only feet away as a second option. But getting off to see some of the old mid-western towns along 66's route is worth the detour. Especially when the roadside is dotted with some of the most bizarre attractions in this country. I know there is much more to see along the 2,451 mile stretch of Route 66, but we just partook in the stretch of it through the Texas panhandle.

The first thing we came across was worth exiting and backtracking for, and I hadn't even seen mention of it on a map anywhere. I'm 99.9% sure this little oddity had nothing to do with the classic 66 of the past, but someone had taken it upon themselves to create a monument to peace, anti-war sentiments, and a memorial of sorts right up against the road. I'm pretty sure that the person who created this crazy sight even intends to be buried there; his tomb"stone" is already set up and waiting for his death date.

Next we were entering the city of Amarillo. We drove through the old strip of remaining businesses on 66 through town and then set off to find the one thing I was determined to see: Cadillac Ranch. We got all turned around and then finally figured out how to get over to it. There were two entire school buses of teenagers there painting, which is welcomed and was even encouraged by the lady at the Texas visitors center; she circled the Home Depot on the map for us for spray paint haha.

Our final attraction was the Route 66 midpoint in Adrian, Texas, which is only about 50 miles west of Amarillo. We were told by the same visitor's center lady that if we did any one thing while we were in Texas it should be that we stop and have a slice of pie at the Midpoint Cafe. So we did! I had an ice cold tea, grilled cheese, and a huge slice of chocolate creme pie. Dan had cherry. Heaven.

Hello From Beautiful San Diego!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We're here! Actually, we've been here since yesterday around 3pm. And truthfully, we should have been here Saturday night, but that's a long story.

We took off from Oklahoma early Friday morning and I was so excited to finally hit the Texas line. Route 66 meets 40 just west of Oklahoma City, but the crazy touristy Route 66 stuff really starts in Texas. We saw all sorts of crazy things through that short stretch in the panhandle and were quickly crossing the New Mexico state line.

Texas changed from plains to desert pretty quickly after Amarillo and New Mexico looked pretty much the same all the way across. But anyone who has never been in the American Southwest might be surprised at just how many different types of desert there really are. Texas and New Mexico change it up from area to area, but Arizona and California deserts seem to be the most diverse. The scenery can change from flat, brushy desert to red clay and pines in less than half an hour, followed by rolling hills spotted with cacti, then to sandy dunes, then to mountains of boulders. There are even random desert towns that seem to be dedicated to growing palm trees and other lush, green crops in the middle of all of the dust. Who would imagine how many different terrains can be seen within a six hour stretch? Arizona remains my pick for most gorgeous state in the US.

Although, our experience with Arizona this time around was far less than satisfactory. It started wonderfully; I "stood on the corner" in Winslow, where we had spent the previous night, we visited a meteor crater outside of town, and we hopped off the highway for a slow drive through the gorgeous town of Sedona (America's most beautiful place, in my opinion) before heading back towards I-17 South to get on our way to Cali. We were making great time; I even emailed Dan's grandma and told her we'd make it that night. After all, we were only six hours from San Diego. And then we popped over a hill to find that the next mile of traffic we could see ahead of us was at a standstill.

We sat there for two hours before our inching forward put us over the next hill, where the next half-mile of traffic was disappearing behind a hill and not coming out on the other side. Twitter #hashtags told us that a fatal accident had killed two people earlier that morning and that everyone was being turned around and sent back north. Our only option was to head 90 miles back to the 40 and go over to LA and then down; this would have added 2.5 hours to our trip. And I hated to complain about such a silly thing when people had died, but I was starting to feel sick and we were losing time. Half an hour north of the accident we found out the interstate had reopened so we turned back around and followed the slow mass of traffic the last 60 miles to Phoenix. By then I was breaking into a fever and starting to feel miserable. We stopped and got a hotel and I was in bed shivering by 7pm. I did not have a fun night.

The idea of getting in a car Saturday morning literally brought me to tears. I felt awful and I was so far from home, so I had a mini panic attack and my first bout of homesickness right there at 6am in a hotel in middle of nowhere Arizona.

By the time we finally made it here, after a gorgeous drive by the way, I was feeling much better. I'm still not in great shape, coughing all over everything and downing my new antibiotics in bed all day, but we're here and I'm relieved about that. I sure hope I get to feeling better soon because we're heading north to Orange County tomorrow and we'll start our apartment hunting on Wednesday.

I have so many photos from out trip. I promise to share more when I'm able to sort them out!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

I am currently curled up in a chair in our hotel room on night number two of our cross-country road trip to California! We are in a little town called Elk City, Oklahoma, just a little over 1,225 miles from home. We had to stop here because it was the last chance unless we did another 200 miles to Amarillo and Dan had already driven for 14 hours today. We left Nashville this morning at 6:15am, just barely over 800 miles ago. I offered to drive several times but he was content in the driver's seat.

Us in our super heavy packed car. Like, don't open the trunk or something might fall out and kill you, and don't lay the seat back because it's impossible. Have I mentioned that we are only bringing what would fit in our car? We sold or packed away everything else. This is it. We are nuts.

We drove over 400 miles yesterday and stopped for our first night with Jared in Nashville. We went out to eat, he drove us through downtown, and then we were down for the count. I was never more comfortable on a couch in my life. It was great seeing one last familiar face before we hit the road again, and who better than one of Dan's closest friends?

But I have to admit... this drive has been SO BORING! It might be because both Dan and I have made this same drive before. (Just not together... but I don't remember much from that drive over. I must have been sleeping through most of it?) But the Virginia mountains turned into the Tennessee mountains and those mountains turned into hills which turned into Arkansas hills and then Arkansas plains... you get the drift. The landscape changed from Interstate 40 with thick trees on both sides in the mountains to Interstate 40 with thick trees on both sides in the flat-lands. Eventually, nearing Oklahoma City, things started to flatten out and thin out, and by the time we passed Okla City it was all flat and fields for miles... which is pretty and different, but it's just been super boring.

We've shuffled the iPod, we've scanned the radio, we've written down different states license plates (35 states so far, most of which were before Nashville!), and we even got so bored we started counting roadkill... and I'm not even joking.

The roadkill? Armadillos! (Like 32 so far, to be exact.) First off, who even knew there were armadillos in Tennessee!? I didn't! I've only ever seen an armadillo in San Antonio, so you can imagine my surprise when they started appearing roadside just on the other side of Nashville. How are they in Tennessee, and does that mean they could be in Virginia? ARE they in Virginia and I just never knew? Or do the Blue Ridge Mountains cause such a divide that they haven't made it over yet? Questions! Dan just blankly responded that they walked to Tennessee... I mean...

So other than our brief stay with Jared we haven't stopped to see anything on our route other than rest stop bathrooms. But I'm sure that the landscapes that we'll encounter from here on out will be so foreign to us that we'll be much more in awe. Arizona is my favorite state in the US and we'll start seeing desert tomorrow, so I know the second half of this trip will be more entertaining. We've also come parallel to Route 66 so we can make a few detours and pit stops tomorrow to see some kitschy Route 66 things along the way.

We're hoping to make it to Flagstaff tomorrow, if not a little further. Our last day should be a short one and we're going to head on into San Diego to visit with Dan's family for a few days before we start apartment hunting in Orange County.

We're Moving to California Tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This is kind of unreal. Our bags are packed. We've said goodbye to family and friends. This is really happening!

I say tomorrow, but it's really "later today." It's 1:30am... how am I supposed to sleep, really!?

It first hit me during my brother's wedding reception this past weekend.  I was saying goodbye to my cousins when my nine year-old little Amy registered the fact that she wouldn't be seeing me again for a long time. Big tears started rolling down her cheeks... then mine, then my cousin Steph's, then my aunt Gwen's, then Mom's... explaining our separation to her was so heartbreaking.

Nathan and Vanessa took off through cheering friends and family to their car as I chased after them. "Wait! Are you guys GONE gone right now!? I won't see you again!" They shouted, "Yep! Bye!" and hopped in the car and took off for their flight to Jamaica. I see where I stand. ha!

Saying by to Mom and Dad wasn't as hard as I imagined it would be. Mom is already plotting to visit.

We said goodbye to Dan's grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousins last night (Monday night) during a family meal. We had one last Tuesdays at Tom's with the Good Times Crew tonight and I was sad the whole way home thinking of our life without our best friends. I'm so relieved that our friend Chelsea will be joining us in July.

Our first stop will be tomorrow in Nashville; Dan's best friend Jared has offered us a place to crash for our first night on the road and I'm glad that we don't have to go so far our first day.

Here goes nothing!