The long and winding road….

It’s been a long trip home. Jess, Hol and I left San Diego at about 1PM in the afternoon on Tuesday and Jessica and I arrived in San Antonio at like 11AM on Wednesday. That’s about a day of just driving. We took I-8 to I-10 the whole way. Somewhere in there we dropped Hol off, Casa Grande, AZ I think. I did the long driving. I drove from Tucson to San Antonio from about 8PM to 11AM (with an hour and a half break for sanity purposes). One of the reasons Jess and I did this was because everyone said we couldn’t. So hear me now family: if you doubt us we will just work harder to prove you wrong. It’s strange how much spite has motivated actions in my life.

When I was a kid, I had a GameBoy. I don’t remember exactly which game it was, Zelda I think, but there was a game where when you looked at the map of your journey, it would be just a shaded block if you hadn’t been there yet (or unlocked it). If you had been there it would be a more detailed map. My entire geographical life has felt like this map: I know there is a place under that shaded square but I can’t really imagine what it unless I’ve actually been there and made sense of it on my own. This trip has filled in most of the Pacific Coast for me except I had already been to LA so that wasn’t a new square.

Everyone keeps asking me the same things: Did you have fun? Yes of course. I had a blast. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I learned a lot about the world around me and about myself. This trip was exactly what I needed. I feel an overwhelming sense of clarity. Jessica and I are closer for it too. Are you glad I’m home? Yes. All good things must come to an end so that we can appreciate them. It is nice to sleep in my own bed again with my cat, Brodie. I get to go back to work on Friday and next week and I get to search for another job. Did you and Jessica fight? Well we had one outburst on the way to San Diego but I’m not a morning person and wasn’t feeling well and feel bad about it. Everything worked out for the best though. Things were said that needed to be said. Were you glad that Hol came? I wouldn’t change our trip. Having a third did liven things up and I did enjoy his company. Hol is family but that being said he and I know how to provoke each other. At times it got tense but I’m glad it all happened. What was my favorite place? I have to say that I think the Redwoods touched me the most. The beauty of it all consumed me. It was a place where pictures didn’t do it justice. Not only was it visually beautiful but the sounds and smells are something I haven’t found elsewhere. All of Northern California is amazing. Napa Valley was super beautiful and fun to visit. My favorite city might have been Seattle but mostly because I got to see and hang out with Michelle. I feel like I could easily live in Portland. I could see how San Diego is the happiest city in America (there was some survey somewhere that said San Diego, Austin, and I think some place random like Ashville are the cities where the people are the most content). So basically all of it was my favorite.

In my high school we were constantly told to Reflect. Our senior moto was even “reflect this!” After every big project or paper or test or trip, we were given the assignment of writing a reflection of how we felt about said project, paper, test or trip. As high schoolers we constantly rolled our eyes at this but I’m glad we did it. Those reflections are artifacts of how I felt about whatever in that specific time. That’s how I feel about this blog. As I was writing it, I groaned and just wanted to get through it but now, I’m glad I have it to look at and remember. This trip helped remind me how loved I am and how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends. Thank you.

Thanks to all who read this and kept up with my journey. My brother, Andy, got a little annoyed with Jessica and I because he thought we were bragging on our blog. I hope no one thinks that is what we were doing because that is the furthest from it. We just wanted to connect with everyone and embrace the technology given to us. I stayed up late writing every night just so my friends and family got know what we were going through. I couldn’t bring much back from my trip other than a smile and an empty wallet but I did manage to send out some postcards while I was traveling. To those of you who got a postcard or two or eight, please return the favor when you got out in the world. I have a wonderful collection of postcards and would like to continue it.

I feel like it’s been such a long trip but in retrospect it has just been two weeks. Jessica and Dad leave tomorrow to head up the East Coast back to Boston. I’ll be here reading her blog, traveling with her. I hope you do the same.

Thanks again all.

Lions, Tigers, and TURTLES, Oh My!

Yesterday was our last full day on the west coast. Where did the time go. We arrived in San Diego in the early afternoon and headed straight to the San Diego Zoo. It was everything I heard it would be. The funny thing is, I’ve only really been to the San Antonio Zoo and of course now the San Diego Zoo so my zoo standards are probably pretty high since both are acclaimed. (I have been to the Austin “Zoo” which is actually an animal sanctuary so I’m not counting it) I think all zoos should be big like the San Antonio and San Diego zoos. It wasn’t very crowed and the weather was perfect. We did spend a good 15-30 minutes watching the polar bear get her toy stuck under a rock and then try to get it out. Jessica has the moral was that if you keep trying at something you will eventually succeed. I’m not sure if that was an accurate moral to take from the situation since the bear kept using the same method and failing, but whatever. When I go to a zoo I want to see cats. The tigers were disappointing because they were sleeping but we got to watch the lions eat. We spent a lot of time with the monkeys. Hol now wants a monkey as a bet.

After the zoo we headed towards a beach. Since Dad had suggested that we go to La Jolla that is where we went. It was a beautiful beach. The water wasn’t even that cold but we didn’t suit up and go swim. We watched the surfer boys succeed and fail and then walked along the beach. Jessica finally got her pacific west coast sunset. We even ate our dinner at the Ale House which had a rooftop view of the ocean sunset. Our evening was still open. Our waitress suggested that we go to this bar, Miller’s, that races turtles at night. This was a no brainer, we were going to go a bar and watch people race turtles. It was really cool but we had caught the last race of the night. It was kind of a fratty frat frat-kind of bar after the turtle race was over but Jess and Hol were pretty satisfied with the mason jars of beer they served.

Today we are headed home. We are dropping off Hol in Phoenix and then headed to Los Cruces. We have a lot of driving today, at least I’ve done it before and I know it’s going to be super pretty. I’m a little sad it’s almost all over but I might also be a little relieved too.

LA LA Land

Today we got into LA and did the LA thing, which mostly consists of not moving in traffic on the freeways. We drove in from Santa Barbara taking the 101 into town. I took Jessica and Hol to Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theater and we looked at all the stars and such. A man dressed up as Elvis cursed me and said that something bad was going to happen to me because I accidentally took a picture of him and didn’t pay him. We walked around the area but then headed to Studio City to meet up with my film friends, Garrett Rowe and Brett Roach. We mostly sat around Garrett’s apartment discussing food before we finally left and went to Jerry’s Deli, apparently it’s pretty famous. I called up Chris and Mariel who just moved to LA to meet us for some food. The food was pretty good but slow moving. We then headed to the beach taking the scenic route there through the hills and Mulholland Drive. I love Garrett because he’s super informative. It was like having our own person tour guide. I’d like to think that Garrett is the most west coast person I know, even though he’s not the stereotype.

When we finally made it to Santa Monica (the drive seemed to never end) we ended up checking out the pier and walking along the water. It was a relaxing walk along the beach. The Pacific Ocean is beautiful and we were lucking enough to have had a nice day outside. As my blood sugar dropped I suggested soft serve. We all sat under the pier, looking at the bubbles, listening to the people and crashing waves, eating our soft serve. After much walking and debate we somehow thought it would be a good idea to watch the sunset from the Observatory at the top of Griffith park so we headed back across town to check that out. We didn’t make it to the top to see the sunset but it was still one hell of a view. The park and the Observatory is a perfect place to bring a date. There was so much to do. I didn’t give ourselves enough time to fully explore the facilities.

The whole day took longer than we had expected. Our lodging plans for the night consisted of staying in Anaheim with high school buddy, Lucas. Anaheim is about 30-45 minutes away from where we were hanging out so we bolted towards Lucas, so not to keep him waiting too long. When we finally got there, we were starving. Lucas and his roommates, Jeff and Analiese took us to Downtown Disney in hopes of food and drinks. HOWEVER everything was closing which annoying on many levels. I really felt like I was walking in hell, which was Disneyland. I was just so weak and hungry. Jessica, Hol and I couldn’t stop laughing and acting like idiots. The delirium of the malnutrition must have set in.We ended up at Denny’s and then their local dive bar. A drunk man even gave me his jacket for no good reason.

All and all it was a good day, a good long day.

Tomorrow San Diego and the San Diego Zoo! One of Jessica’s goals for this trip was to see a Pacific Coast beach sunset so tomorrow will be that day, weather permitting.

On the road again

I’ve gotten to the point in the trip where I am losing my sense of reality. I wake up in the middle of the night not knowing where I am or where I’m going. That’s probably normal when I actually am in a different place every night. Whenever I’m still I feel like I’m still moving. Whenever I’m moving I want nothing more than to be running around. I feel like may never get home and I might not care. I’m not even sure where home is anymore. It’s funny how a place or city can mold someone’s personality. Maybe I’m made for a life of no anchoring commitments. I do love to drive. Nothing is better than the open road and some good tunes.

We left Oakland today around noon (Hol had some things to do this morning) and headed down I-5 towards Los Angeles. Hol is traveling with Jess and I and getting dropped off in Phoenix on Tuesday. Since we had several options of where we were going to stay when we got into the LA area we didn’t really know where to head, other than South. Good thing we had a long time to think about it. I drove the long stretch of the trip today. It was a clear day but it got cloudy about half way through. The scenery was interesting. It was super hilly, almost cartoony, and dry. After about 4 hours the car energy changed so I opted to chill the backseat instead of the driver’s. We ended up making a decision to stay with Hol’s and my friend, Nick Bailey, in Santa Barbara. We got to drive past the Pacific Ocean during sunset which was amazing. One thing I haven’t mentioned in these posts is that the sky at night is wonderful. There are so many stars out here (I know I know there are the same amount of stars), it’s quite wonderful.

Tomorrow we’re spending the day in LA and sleeping at our friend, Lucas’s, place in Anaheim. Monday we are going to San Diego – Tuesday Arizona – Wednesday Texas.

No internet in San Fran

Jessica and I got into the Bay Area yesterday after another day in the wine country. We met up with Hol in Oakland and he has been nice enough to take care of us. However, Hol doesn’t have internet 🙁 We went to this great pizza place for food and drinks and I can’t remember what it was called. Oakland seems like the chill blue collar version of San Francisco.

Jess and I wandered the city today and we are currently in the Mission with Beto Juarez, an old high school friend. Thankfully Beto has internet 🙂 We went to this place that apparently has “Best Burrito” in the country, El Metate. San Francisco is nice enough. I’m a little overwhelmed by the whole city. I felt at home in the Haight-Ashbury area but Jessica keeps making fun of me for feeling that way. If you don’t know about the area then you won’t get this. I never got to see the damn Golden Gate bridge but hopefully we can check it out on our way out of town.

Okay there are a bunch of people here and I’m being lame by writing in the blog.

Tomorrow – Southern California, LA and Hol is coming with us!

Rules of the Road

I’ve been making this mental list for the last week and I wanted to get it down.

Sarah’s Do’s and Don’ts of a Road Trip:

DO have a plan but DON’T freak out if it changes. DO your homework and know what you want to see but also be flexible.

DO go places you didn’t plan to go. Take chances. It’s especially fun when you see big signs for stupid attractions and then actually go check them out.

DO talk to locals just DON’T be a dumbass about it. DON’T tell people exactly where are you going or give every detail of your trip. It’s important to talk to people and see what is going on in the area – where are the hot spots etc.

DO take every opportunity to learn about an area. Visitor centers help if you don’t have a travel book.

DO pee every time you get a chance. Seriously it sucks having to have to pee and not have a good place to go. When you are driving through windy mountain roads, you can’t always pull over.

DO eat local food. Check out farmers’ markets. Try not to eat (or shop really) at places you could access in your home town.

DO drive quick and efficiently. Remind yourself that your car has nothing to prove. Yes truck drivers suck and people that drive BMWs are going to cut you off but just keep going.

DO plan ahead for lodging, be that calling friends ahead of time or making a reservation at a motel.

DO keep a sweater or hoodie handy just in case of colder weather.

DO have fun. DON’T be lame.

anyone have any other suggestions or things to add?

wine wine everywhere, let’s all have a drink

Today Jess and I took the journey down to see all that California had to offer as far as wine. The drive was a little stressful on my part because Jessica is a nervous driver especially on small windy roads on mountains. I was the one clutching to the door for dear life today. But we made it to some vineyards/wineries alive.

Napa Valley is beautiful. It’s better than I had imagined. We went to a couple of different wineries, tried a bunch of wine and had a lot of great food. I even ate a grape off a vine. The people were so nice. The wine was great. We had such a good time, we’re going back in the morning and early afternoon to check out more vineyards and wineries.

After all the wine we drank today and the great food, I’m really sleepy.

Trees of Mystery

Today I noticed that in the last three days, I’ve been in three different states and two different countries. It’s pretty frickin’ awesome. Jessica and I left Portland this morning and headed down I-5 to check out the California Redwoods. The weather was pleasant enough, blue skies and warm. Jessica drove the whole way down. I played with the radio and read my book, Cloud-Hidden Whereabouts Unknown by Alan Watts (by the way, the perfect book for this road trip) and then ended up dosing off for a bit. I woke up to beauty all around me. The landscape changed before our eyes; the beautiful lush Portland mountains and hills became a more open, dry plains and farms. The mountains felt like they came closer toward us and the trees grew taller the more south we went.

Hours of hours on the road we finally made it to Crescent City after taking the 199 to 101. The strange thing is, once we got there, there was this mysterious cold fog that appeared out of nowhere. We got some food at the local geriatric diner (Denny’s) and then headed to check out the giant trees that California has to offer. It was my turn to drive so I came up with a system for Jessica to communicate her nervousness to me without annoying me. It’s the def con countdown system, a 1-5 count, 1 being fine and 5 being pull over and let me drive. She only said 2 once. Everything we saw was gorgeous. It was crazy because we would go from thick fog to beautiful sunlight cutting through the trees. The times we could see the ocean were always covered with the fog. I felt like we pulled over every 100 feet so we could take pictures. There were a lot of cute little places within the park. One attraction was for the Trees of Mystery. When we were in the thick of the park we were in owe. Words and pictures won’t be able to describe it and give it justice. I felt like I was in a fairy tale or a dream (especially with the sporadic fog). It was so amazing. Jess and I did some hiking and I got to pee in the forest. I wish we could have planned our time better and spend much more time in the Redwoods. Jessica calls our trip a Tapas bar of different flavors – only getting wonderful little samples of places.

So the plan was to drive into Eureka and get a place to stay but funny story: All the hotels in a 2 hour area are booked because it was move in week at the local university. We ended up traveling more south to Scotia and are staying at this awesome boutique hotel. It’s really nice. Jess is taking a bath right now.

Tomorrow we are off to Napa Valley to drink some wine.

Portland’s Burnside

I should probably be sleeping instead of writing on here but I thought I would at least check in. Jessica and I arrived in Portland, OR today. Portland is beautiful but the people, atmosphere and culture feels a lot like Austin. I felt pretty at home here. (They had a Buffalo Exchange!) Mostly I began to miss my bike and wished I could be biking along side the locals through the Portland hills.

We spend over an hour in Powell’s Books. Jessica was in heaven because it’s the largest new and used book store in the country. We checked out the Washington Park, Rose Garden and smelled the roses. It took forever but we finally found the legendary black roses only to realize that they are actually red but a dark red. We spent the rest of our day in the Burnside-Pearl district of the downtown Portland area, people watching and stopping into random shops. It’s a pretty hip area. We did our thing. We ate some great Thai food at Thai Orchid.

We did see some local live music, Steve James (blues/folk/country), Eilen Jewel (folk/country) and then The Octopus Project (electronic).

uhhh I’m getting tired. We have a 7 hour drive to The Redwoods – uhg. Sorry this is a waste of a post. *insert some insightful thought here*
Just know that I love love love Portland and can easily imagine myself living here.
Hopefully Jessica’s blog can fill in my blanks

On Par

Jessica and I headed to Canada today to check out Vancouver. It was a pretty easy drive from Seattle. This was the first actual “road” part of my part of the road trip. Jessica let me take us out of town all the way over the border. The scenery was amazing. There were actually purple mountains (majesty) off in the distance. I got to drive through mountains and big beautiful trees. Jessica was nervous with me and my loose mouth at the Canadian border. While we waited in the car line, she quizzed me on what to say. We made it through all right but I didn’t get a stamp in my new passport. I even asked at the border but the lady didn’t seem to care. Canada didn’t seem to be such a different place.

When we got in Vancouver, we parked near the bay. The funniest thing happened: right as we parked next to a meter, a man came up to us and gave us money for the meter, knowing we were from America (I guess by the license plate). Isn’t that amazing? He just gave us $2 in Canadian money. I don’t think that would happen in America or if it did it would be super rare. I’m still in owe of the Canadian generosity we encountered. We walked along the water and then took a small ferry across the water to Granville Island. We were a little nervous because we still had American money in our pockets but we got on anyways. When we told the man about the American money “will you take it” he said something about “par“. I was confused so I pulled the money back. Then the man next to me explained it, taking the money on par was not counting the exchange rate so they would take it dollar for dollar meaning we would lose on the deal. We didn’t care so we gave him the money.

Granville Island is just a big market place tourist/date spot. It’s similar to Pike Place in Seattle but not as cool. I dunno. Jess decided to get some Canadian money and we learned that there are coins in Canada called a Loonie (a one dollar coin) and a Toonie (a coin worth two dollars). This made so much more sense because the man that gave us money for parking something about Loonies and Toonies. We walked around and then went to get a bite at a restaurant called The SandBar. The thing about Canadian restaurants is that they don’t have outside patio seating in front of the restaurant, but instead they have rooftop patio seating which is awesome. We had a beautiful view. We played little games with each other trying to pick out the “real” Canadians or make character traits for Canadians. The food was great but the portions were too big. We stuffed ourselves at lunch so spent the next couple hours walking it off in the market. We saw a street performer doing magic. We took the ferry back over and checked out the downtown area. There was a count down to the Olympics near the library.

Overall Canada was nice and surprisingly clean. It wasn’t On Par with America though but maybe. It just seemed to be too perfect like some sort of planed utopia and I like a little dirt in my urban city. I will say that the Canadians seemed a lot more culturally accepting for example, there was a French radio station and I think an Indian station. Seattle was more my speed. We left Canada but got stuck at border patrol for what seemed like hours.  By the way the welcome to America sign is ridiculous (see pic). I have to say that the color of the skies here are different than Texas. Washington and British Colombian sunsets seem to have this pastel pink-purple-blue pallet while Texas has a lot more orange-red-yellows, and even blueish greens. It was interesting to watch a different kind of sunset.

Tomorrow we’re off to Portland, OR. I’ll be a little sad to leave Michelle and Ed but I’m excited to move on with the trip. I’m really appreciative of their hospitality. Even as I write this, Michelle is doing my laundry for me, well sort of. I need to probably go upstairs and do some reading about Portland. Jess and I are thinking about finding some live music tomorrow. Apparently there’s a lot to do in Portland. I’m pretty stoked.

Don’t forget to check Jessica’s side of the trip