One Year Ago Today

Monday, May 26, 2014

My mind was blown last week when Dan mentioned to me that it had been one year since we pulled out of his parents' driveway and "got really lost on our way to the grocery store." After a moment I got it... May 22, 2013 was the day we started our cross-country trek towards California. Today, May 26th, marks one year since we arrived and started our new lives on the West Coast. How did that year pass so quickly!?

It's amazing to me that it has been one whole year. I have so many thoughts about our last year here that I couldn't even begin to go over it all in one post. It has definitely been a year of growth, discovery, and self-reflection. I've dealt with the deep pangs of homesickness, learned a lot about myself (both good and bad), and developed a truly deep appreciation for my roots. I didn't think I could love or miss home more than I did before we came here; I was so wrong.

Of course I couldn't celebrate our one year anniversary of living here without going back to my old blog and reading all of my posts from our trip across. And of course I can't help but to share a few of those old memories here, too.

"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."

This is us in the car, just pulling out of town. I really appreciate the caption, which I copied from the original post from that day. Below are a few of my favorite photos from our trip across the states.

Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When
Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When
Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When
Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When
Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When
Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When
Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When
Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When

Looking Back: Our move across the country from Virginia to California | Em Then Now When I love watching the landscape change throughout our photos. I'm also so grateful for where we are in life right now, and so grateful for this entire experience. It truly has been an amazing year.

Wildfires

Friday, May 16, 2014

I must have been dreaming. I sat up immediately and begin to smell the air, alternating between breathing into my pillow and deeply inhaling the air in our room, searching for the smell of smoke again. I eventually got up and slid open the window just a crack, enough to smell test the air outside. Resolved it was just a dream, I went back to sleep, but not a very deep sleep. I blame watching the news last night.

I have not had to deal with this kind of threat before. Living on the ever-humid East Coast, the threat of a spark igniting your entire community is nearly nonexistent. Even though the fires in Northern San Diego county are over 30 miles away, I can't help but to be paranoid that we could also suddenly be evacuated here at any moment. This wouldn't be from the San Diego fires of course, but all it takes is a single spark, a cigarette butt thrown from the window of a passing car. The Santa Ana winds we've been having lately don't help either; everything is so, so dry. The 104˚ temperature is another culprit. So while I'm clearly out of harm's way at this moment, the threat is ever looming, and very scary to think about.

There have been wildfires around us several times in the year that we have lived here. The Colby Fire in Los Angeles County a few months ago was close enough that we could see the smoke darken the sky. Many times I have made a mental list in my head of the things I would grab on my way out of the door if we were ever to receive a notice to evacuate. This reminds me of "The Burning House," a blog dedicated to photograph submissions of what people would prioritize if they could grab things on the way out of their burning home.

What would I grab if I only had an hour to pack a few things?

What if I only had 30 minutes?

What if I only had 5?

Inspired by "The Burning House" and with previous preparation in mind, I gathered together the few things I would make sure to grab from our apartment if a situation ever arose that required us to leave quickly.


Other than a couple of photos of myself with my grandmother when I was a child, this is all that I would grab. (I would have included the photos in this but they are currently packed away.)

  • Keys
  • Wallet
  • Cell Phone
  • My Grandmother's Ring
  • Prescription Glasses
  • SD Card & Reader
  • Nikon
  • External Hard Drive
  • Michael Kors bag
  • Macbook Pro
  • Folder of Important Documents (birth certificates, car title, etc)

It's interesting to think about what things would be most important to you in a moment of panic. I'm actually quite pleased with the fact that I don't have too many material possessions that I would be devastated to lose. Photos can be reprinted and "things" can be re-bought. What would you take with you?

A Laguna Afternoon

Monday, May 12, 2014

Aliso Creek Beach, just south of the main strip of Laguna Beach, in Orange County, California | Em Then Now When

Living here we are less than 20 miles from three major OC beaches, each with their own character. When I want to shop around, walk the pier, and be in the midst of the surf and board culture I head to Huntington Beach. When I'm up for a more quiet setting or a drink on the boardwalk I think of Newport Beach. And when I'm in the mood for an artsy town and picturesque, rocky beaches I think of Laguna Beach.

Every once in a while we'll head down through the canyon and go for a walk on Aliso Beach, my favorite little strip of beach in South Laguna. While our idea to picnic on the beach there yesterday afternoon was ruined by the wind (we ate our takeout burgers in the car,) a little time wandering around there was a great way to get out of the apartment for a little while and soak in some sun.

Aliso Creek Beach, just south of the main strip of Laguna Beach, in Orange County, California | Em Then Now When
Aliso Creek Beach, just south of the main strip of Laguna Beach, in Orange County, California | Em Then Now When
Aliso Creek Beach, just south of the main strip of Laguna Beach, in Orange County, California | Em Then Now When

A Day in Joshua Tree National Park

Sunday, May 4, 2014

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When

We are so lucky to live within a day's drive of so many amazing places. One night this past week I randomly brought up that we should take a day trip out to Joshua Tree National Park this weekend. We woke up on Saturday morning and decided we should definitely do it!

Joshua Tree is only about 115 miles from home, which could mean anything from 90 minutes to three hours in SoCal traffic. Luckily we had a short trip there and back this weekend.

Pappy & Harriet's Pioneer Palace in Pioneertown | An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When
Our first stop was Pappy & Harriet's, a popular restaurant and music venue located in Pioneertown, a small western town built in the 40's as a movie set. As if the history and novelty of this small oasis in the desert wasn't enough, their BBQ and iced tea makes me feel like I'm back in the South. (PS, Dan and Chelsea look extremely happy to be there, right?)

Pappy & Harriet's Pioneer Palace in Pioneertown | An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When
After an amazing lunch we headed to the park. Chelsea and I made a similar trip this past fall when my friend Diana came to visit, but it was Dan's first time visiting. The frequent changes in scenery and landscape there are truly incredible. And who can resist hiking, climbing, and jumping around on those rocks!? Minus the threat of rattlesnakes and/or falling to your death, running around on the different trails and finding your way up the piles of boulders is a really fun way to spend your day.

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When



A drive down Keys View Road in the park will bring you to a viewpoint overlooking the Coachella Valley, standing at 5,185 feet above sea level compared to Palm Springs, sitting below at only 150 feet above sea level. You can see all the way to the Salton Sea, and apparently when it's less hazy you can also see mountains in Mexico. You can also see the San Andreas fault line, just hanging out down below. I never really thought about a fault line as something you can see unless something catastrophic had happened (canyons, cliffs, etc,) but the effects of moving plates can clearly be seen here. Let's chalk that up to me being from the East Coast where we don't have many visible fault lines. (You can see the fault line in a photo below; it's the large, dark, horizontal line half-way through the valley.)

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When
It really was a super quick trip, but I'd say it was a great way to spend our Saturday. I hope we can go back and camp there some time in the future; preferably when it's not so hot!

An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When
An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When
An afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park, California | Em Then Now When