Daniel's Birthday Weekend

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dan turned 28 today and we spent the weekend celebrating exactly how he likes to enjoy his birthdays... quietly. :)

We drove down towards Huntington Beach Friday night and called in a pizza order on the way. We also called our new friends James, Laura, and their kids and told them we were headed to their part of town. We sat down on the boardwalk and shared a large pizza and cupcakes I'd made earlier in the day and then walked around in the sand a bit. It was a wonderful, spontaneous night!

Saturday we got up and drove down to San Diego to stay with Grandma and Bill. After dinner with them we headed to his uncle's and hung out with his family until the early hours of the morning. Dan finally understands the eeriness that comes from a pack of coyotes howling... there was an entire pack just on the other side of Pete's fence just howling away, and I can't even explain that sound unless you've heard it yourself. All of the hair on your body stands straight up. Ahhh! That's what you get when you live out in the wilderness, especially the desert!

We spent Sunday afternoon watching Life of Pi... amazing movie, by the way! I haven't read the book, but Di is bringing it to me next time she visits so I can do this thing backwards haha. For dinner the entire family headed to Studio Diner, which is an old diner that was built beside a movie studio just so the staff/actors/everyone working would have somewhere to eat 24 hours a day. The food was so good!

And I'm the worst at carrying any camera other than my phone with me lately... and even then I haven't been taking pictures with my phone. I guess I'm just too busy enjoying myself to think about it! I looked at Dan earlier and went, "I don't have any pictures of you on your birthday!!" So I made him look up and smile at me, in the kitchen haha... such a great birthday photo!

A Laguna Beach Date Night

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dan and I were pretty lazy this weekend. We were invited to one of his co-workers' house on Friday evening for pizza and cider with himself, his wife, and their two adorable daughters. (We are making friends! Yay!) So we slept in pretty late on Saturday morning and woke up with no plans whatsoever. I suggested an afternoon on the beach and soon we had made plans for a date night picnic in Laguna.

Amazingly, and I can't get over this, we are only 12 miles to the closest beach (Newport) and only 15 miles through the canyon to the adorable little surf town of Laguna Beach. Made pretty famous by one of those many OC-based TV shows, it's now pretty overrun with tourists compared to ten years ago, according to our friends here. But after our afternoon there back in February, and still slightly unfamiliar with Newport Beach or Huntington Beach closer to us, we decided to fight the traffic for a late evening in the sand there.

We found parking, ordered take-out from Johnny Rocket's, and set out to find a little spot to spread out our towels. Neither of us could stop saying with amazement, "Can you believe we pretty much live here!? That we can just come and have a cheeseburger and milkshake on the beach anytime we want!?" I can't get over it! There are no words to describe this crazy feeling. WE LIVE AT THE BEACH, basically. 12 miles... twenty minutes... dude! What a date night!

I'm kind of in love with Orange County. Not gonna lie!

California Life So Far

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I had a short but insightful conversation with the cashier at Target yesterday that got me thinking, 1) this is my life, that I'm having insightful conversations with unnamed Target employees, and 2) there are so many things that are different now that I'm living here on the west coast. He asked me if I was doing anything special with my day or if it was "just... another day," which is bordering on no longer being "small talk" if you ask me, but I'm friendly. I answered that it was kind of just another day, that we just moved here and I was just shopping for a few things we needed around the apartment. (towels, broom, hangers...) He curiously asked where we moved from and when I said Virginia he goes, "Woah... so I bet the drivers out here are way different, huh?" And he didn't mean that as in the drivers were awesome here, to which I disagreed. "I love it," I answered, and he looked at me like I was crazy. That's the difference; he thinks the drivers are terrible and crazy... I see it as people actually know where they're going and get there with the quickness and common sense, versus Virginia drivers who seem to have no idea what is going on, where they are going, or how to use acceleration lanes properly. This got me thinking, what else is different between VA & CA?

I think it goes without saying that the weather is awesome out here. All I've heard and seen on Facebook from friends is that it has rained nearly non-stop since we left. They've also had another wonderful derecho that knocked the power out and several trees over. Here? The worst weather we have is our daily morning "June Gloom," an apparent annual foggy weather phenom that happens here as the temp of the air and water start matching up in the summer. By 11am it has all burned off and the sunny, cloudless skies lead to another beautiful, humidity-free, 74˚ day. I haven't seen rain since we passed through Oklahoma. And while I'm sure the southerner in me will start to have a dry-air-induced panic attack and start craving a rainy day at some point, I don't miss it yet.

I've developed a green thumb. Sort of... I mean, if you count plants that barely need water and are nearly impossible to kill. All of the women in my family love plants; they all garden and love their flowers. I tried my hand at planting a few bulbs at our townhome in Salem, but that unfortunately only resulted in some wilted tulips and a "garden" full of knee-height grass. Here, where I can keep my windows open 24 hours a day, I've planted three different pots of succulents and proudly displayed them on the tiny amount of furniture we own. I bought plants before I've even bought a bed frame or coffee table. Let's see how this plays out.

Vitamin D & H20. I get a lot of these here and I know I will continue to do so! Before we moved we were hermits... indoor creatures. I felt awkward about having our blinds open for the entire neighborhood to look in on us (as if they would have... crazy...) and outdoor activities were few based on several factors: Dan's allergies, the rain, the intense humidity, the freezing cold... All kinds of things kept us indoors, although we had lots of friends who avoided excuses, unlike us. We're the worst. Anyway, here the weather is great, Dan isn't allergic to anything, humidity isn't crushing (it's non-existent), I keep my windows open all day long, and I've been spending ample time laying in the sun by (and swimming in) the pool. There is also the beach, tons of hiking, a lot of flat ground to cover while biking, paddle-boarding that I'm dying to try, kayaking, surfing... you name it. There are a lot of outdoor activities I'm anxious to get out and try my hand at, and every day seems like a perfect day to try them. I have tan lines for the first time in probably three years and I even went out and bought a cute new bikini from VS, which I feel very confident and comfortable in, which is a huge game changer for me!

I'm sure I could go on and on about the differences here, but theses were at the top of my list. It's weird to think that there could be so many changes between the east and west coasts, but it's like a whole different world over here.

A Day in LA (Traffic)

Monday, June 17, 2013

On Saturday morning I harassed Daniel until he got out of bed and agreed to go to Los Angeles. I had been once before when I was about 18 but he had never been. We hopped on the 5 and excitedly began the 34 mile trek to Hollywood... and it took 90 minutes. We laughed and began immediately comparing this adventure to our times in New York. "The subway would have had us there much faster!" and "New York doesn't have razor-wire trying to keep citizens off the freeway!"

Why does LA have so much freaking razor-wire around the freeway!? Is it to keep the citizens safe so they don't accidentally wander into ten lanes of chaotic traffic? Or is it to keep those sitting on the barely-moving freeway in their cars safe from the citizens who might hop the fence? Really not sure that I want to know.

Anyway, we finally made it around downtown and onto Hollywood Boulevard. Because if we were going to play tourist in LA we were gonna do it right! We walked over the stars on the walk of fame, stood in celebrities' footsteps in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and went to the top floor of a shopping mall for a semi-decent view of the Hollywood sign.

We had strawberry and nutella crepes at a little outdoor dining place in the mall and shopped a bit on the street before heading to the car for the second half of our day.

We intended to hit the road for the small distance to Santa Monica and to park and wander around there for a while, but traffic had other plans. We actually ended up leaving our route and driving up and down residential streets in Beverly Hills for a little while. As much as I hate to be that typical tourist, I wished we had maybe taken one of those "Homes of the Stars" bus tours; at least then we would have known if we were passing the mansion of someone famous. Either way, the homes were huge, gorgeous, and unbelievable. I have a hard time imagining that some of the "smaller" ones belonged to anyone too famous; they weren't quite private enough, if that makes much sense. The further back off the main road you went the more private, hidden, and larger the homes became. We did find the address to the Playboy Mansion on my phone... why in the world, I will never know... but we found it, or at least the gate to it. (It was the only thing recognizable on the website we could find while also navigating and dealing with traffic.) We couldn't see anything except the extremely tall wall they had built up around it and a ton of shrubbery. I don't blame them though. If I was extremely rich and for some reason chose to waste my money on a mansion live in that area, I would hide my house from curious eyes too.

When we finally made it to Santa Monica we ended up stuck in traffic and in construction (and beside a mall, on a Saturday afternoon...) We couldn't get into any parking garages so we just gave up and headed home. It took us another two hours to navigate out of that mess and get back home, but we've promised we'll go back and do a day in Santa Monica another time. Preferably on like... a Tuesday morning, in November haha.

Our First Week

Thursday, June 13, 2013

We've been in California now for 18 days and in our new apartment for one week. Remember how we packed pretty much nothing? Well now we have pretty much nothing, and a lot of space to fill.

Our apartment is a double master with lots of mirrors, sliding doors, and natural light. I made my first Vine video to show it off but my friend Diana says it's too fast and it kind of makes me sick to watch it now haha. So far we've bought a bunch of kitchen stuff, a shelving unit for the living room, a mattress (bed to come soon!) and a table/desk for Dan to set up his workspace on. We still need a dresser, but until then all of my t-shirts are in the floor. I Skyped with my mom and Amy and that little 9-year-old scolded me for having a messy room.

Life here hasn't been incredibly exciting for me yet; I take Dan to work, shop for things for the apartment, put together Ikea furniture, clean, cook, pick him up from work, and watch a lot of Hulu. I haven't found a job or met anyone yet either, so things are kind of slow going. That will change, though. I just have to give it time.

Settling In - An Update!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

We've been in California for over a week now and I've only felt like getting out of bed for about half of that time. We stayed with Dan's grandma for two days and then headed up here to our new home county of Orange to stay with Dan's friend Austin and his girlfriend Lindsey. The first few days were miserable, forcing myself to go out and apartment hunt while Dan was still free even though neither of us had slept in days; my persistent cough kept us up for quite a few nights.

Since I've felt better we've explored some, visiting Huntington Beach, Corona del Mar, and shamefully, our first ever trip to an Ikea. We've been cooking, going out to eat with Austin and Lindsey, and spending lots of time hanging out on the couch with their two dogs. And I've only taken two three pictures the whole time.

We found the perfect apartment and get the keys tomorrow morning! It's just north of Irvine in a little town called Tustin, which feels much more like home to me than any other overly-commercial part of Orange County. It's also affordable and in our price range, a very important factor considering how much rent goes up the closer you get to the beach or how much more dumpy the ones closer to the beach become if you stay at this price level. Austin says we'd be "paying for the beach" any closer and he is right, because you're surely not paying for a nice apartment. Our apartment is perfect for the impending arrival of Chelsea, too.

Some great things about California so far? No bugs. No humidity. We have all of the doors and windows open all day and night. Fresh fruits and veggies of every kind in the grocery stores, and lots of organic options. I can be at the beach in 20 minutes and I won't sweat to death while I'm there. My hair isn't frizzy at all. There are wild parrots that wake us up squawking every morning. I'M NOT EVEN JOKING! LA is only about a half hour drive. Every band that ever was will stop here, in LA, or in San Diego while on tour. (This is a huge deal to me!)

The Road Ahead

Monday, June 3, 2013

1: Oklahoma; 2 - 3: Texas; 4: New Mexico; 5 - 7: Arizona; 8 - 9: California