Thursday, March 31, 2011


It's finally done!! I've updated the full story of our cross-country trip!! One missing piece that will soon fall into place: photos! I'll go back in and post in/link in some photos next week (cuz I'll finally have access to the photos next week), and they will all be on my Flickr page, which (PS) does not have any photos on it yet. :)

And now that I've gotten all that on there, I feel like I can keep it more current now. Don't ask. It's how my semi-OCD/writer brain works. I didn't want every day stuff intermingled with trip stuff, I wanted all the trip stuff in there first, I just couldn't make myself sit and do it all in one sweep.

Next round of postings? Bahamas trip!!!  Just to give you photos to look at while you anxiously await my actual trip pix... pix from the website of the suite we'll be staying in...and the view. :)

Road Trip Diary: Sunday, February 6th

Sunday was our journey through the 'heartland' of California. We passed cows, sheep, vineyards, orange groves, you name it. What was so funny was, once we got to Sacramento and checked into our room, we rode around Fair Oaks to find my library and see the neighborhood before we went into downtown/midtown for dinner. And thinking 'we're in the city now...' we were flabbergasted to have to stop in the road in Fair Oaks Village to let chickens, a rooster or two, and a peacock go by. HILARIOUS! And, of course, Brooke had us cracking up making jokes about having chicken for dinner, fresh from the road. "Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and in the road there’s chickens. Mommy ain’t got no money so it’s chicken fingers again...Gonna sacrifice it right here on the coffee table..."

Anyway, once we regained our composure and sufficiently roamed in Fair Oaks (found the library!), we found our way into the downtown/midtown area and drove around a bit, trying to decide where to have dinner. Thinking we'd found a local place, we had dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. Turns out it's a chain on this side of the country, but the location we went in sits beside railroad tracks and used to be a train depot, so it is super rad on the inside -- even has an old car inside that you can eat in! I actually wondered if it had been a church at one time. Not the be-all end-all Italian food, but decent. I liked it as much for the atmosphere as I did for the food!

The rest of the night was fairly random. Rode around seeing what we could see, bought some junk food at Wally World, and some eat-and-run breakfast food for Mom and Brooke to have the next morning en route to the airport (they had to be there at 5:30 AM..before the continental breakfast opened in the hotel).

Though this continues into the next day... it was odd dropping them off at the airport that morning, but it didn't really hit me, didn't really begin to settle in until I checked out of the hotel at noon and all of a sudden it was like "Okay, the road trip ohmygoshI'mmovingtoCalifornia part is over...I live here now."  Fortunately, one of my soon-to-be colleagues 'took me in' and let me stay in her guest room while I looked for a place. Whodathunk...I found my apartment on my second day of looking. Moved my clothes into the guest room at Jami's Monday afternoon, moved it out and into my own place Friday afternoon. Craziness!

The only time the stress of all I had been through, and was still going through, in the process of a total-life-upheaval, hit me Monday night and I had a self-contained mini-meltdown. The good thing is, I've fought anxiety enough that I could still manage to step outside myself and know "This is why this is happening...this too shall pass...give it a few days, get my own place, start my job, begin to re-establish a normal life, and all will be well with the world." The good thing about having had numerous anxiety attacks -- you have enough of them, you recognize them for what they are and can teach yourself to maintain sanity somewhere in the back of your mind while the physiological effects of the anxiety work their way through you!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Road Trip Diary: Saturday, February 5th

Saturday we hit two iconic Route 66 stops -- the Wigwam Village, though it is not currently operating, so we didn't get to go in one; and the Jackrabbit Trading Post, where we did take turns getting our picture made sitting on the giant jackrabbit! Barring another souvenir/post card stop, we fairly well pushed through to get to Santa Clarita (north of LA) because Saturday was the longest leg of the trip (800 miles in a day!).

We got the giggles along the way because Brooke was determined to see real tumbleweeds while we drove across Arizona, and the longer she went without having seen one, the more she fussed about being out in the desert and not seeing tumbleweeds. Maybe you had to be there, but it was funny!  (PS: I swear, someone moved the western boundary of AZ as we drove, because we damn near never got into California...)

As we approached the state line, the sun was going down, and the sunset was absolutely amazing. (Once the keeper of the trip photos decides to share them with the group, I'll link the word 'sunset' to those photos!) A note to those of you who may someday follow the same path and take I-40 westbound, should you follow this from AZ into California, do yourself a favor, and stop for gas before you leave AZ. Not terribly far from the state line, there is a random sign that warns you that the next exit is the last chance to stop for 55 miles. And *POOF* out of nowhere, you are zooming past that exit.

And they are not kidding. There's no U-turn options, no exits without gas stations should you have car trouble, nothing. Something happens, all you can do is pull over or keep going straight. And the one gas station you finally reach out in BFE, California...insane price gouge. Be warned.

Anyway...once we reached civilization (Barstow), we stopped at a Bob's Big Boy for dinner, burgers and fries, of course. Back on the road, we still had another 140 miles to go. At about 9:00 PM. Lawd. But we FINALLY arrived at the Hyatt in Santa Clarita (swankadoo), though even that was not without a temporary scare.

We pulled up to see teenagers swarming around the place, all decked out in (what appeared to be) prom garb, and were briefly horrified at the idea that we would be in a room on a hall with a bunch of half-crazed, hormonal teenagers. Whether we had already been assigned a room, I don't know. But I asked the girl at the front desk, if it was possible, to please be put as far from them as possible, and we ended up in the far back corner of the top floor, where we slept in blessed peace and quiet. However it came to be, we were thrilled because we were too tired and probably would have been tossed out for kicking some teenage butts had they kept us up! :) 

Road Trip Diary: Friday, February 4th

Glad to have made it through that horrible driving experience, we were also glad to wake up and find, once we were on the road, that it was literally behind us: no more icy roads! Day Two took us through the rest of Oklahoma, across the Texas panhandle, and into Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not without its adventures, though. :)

We stopped at a 'Cherokee Trading Post' and loaded up on souvenirs and postcards, took pictures with a giant statue of an Indian chief, as well as a few pix of live buffalo, and continued on. For those who've seen the movie Cars, we stopped in Shamrock, TX at the 'U Drop Inn' which was the inspiration for Ramone's! Not much else to see in Shamrock, so we were on our merry way. 

We had gotten as far as McLean, where we stopped off to take pictures of the first-ever Phillips 66 Station, and when Mom went to grab her phone to take some shots, only then did she realize she did not have it. Fortunately, some honest soul had found it back in Shamrock (we're thinking it was laid on the car as we were getting back in and slid off when we drove away). The man who answered the phone said he would take it to a cashier at the McDonald's, so back to Shamrock we went. (And, yes, he had turned the phone over to the cashier as promised...crisis averted!)

Headed west once again, we stopped for a second time in McLean and had lunch at the Red River Steakhouse and were not disappointed! Great food, cute place, and in the back room (overflow dining room and also where they have live music) there was an old covered wagon. If only they'd let us get in it...

Our major stop for the day was in Amarillo. All three of us wanted a pair of 'authentic' cowgirl boots, and if buying them in Texas doesn't qualify, what does? Took a while to make our choices, but after trying on several each, we found what we wanted -- Mom's are red!! From there, we set off in search of the Cadillac Ranch.

Nevermind that it was dark by the time we found it, and that the cars are out in the middle of a huge unlit field. We had a local guy tell us about how to find them, and with his directions, my headlights (and illegal parking), and a fair amount of squatting and squinting, trying to see any sign of them in the tiny bits of leftover sunlight...we found them! The field they are in was all rutted and pocked, and did not make for easy walking in what was, by the time we found them, complete darkness, so the three of us locked arms and walked across until we were standing in front of them. Pictures were taken in the dark, so we only saw them in small flashes (literally) when the camera snapped. But we found them, dangit!!

At that point, we still had another 300 miles to go...makes me tired just thinking about we got on the road and with the exception of a pit stop at the Russell's Travel Center (including a quick walk through in their Classic Car Museum, located inside!), we made our way about half-way across New Mexico.

We arrived at the Hyatt in Albuquerque only to be told they had overbooked (despite our reservation) and as such, they would be putting us up at the Staybridge Suites next door. On their dime. Sold!! The room at the Hyatt was a two-bed room..SS only had single king units available. So we told them to give us two rooms, and take it up with the Hyatt. And they did! A free night's stay when you're moving across the country is a welcome thing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Road Trip Diary: Thursday, February 3rd

Before 'really' getting on the road, we had driven up to Tunica, MS and stayed at a casino hotel there (they charge a lot less and are just as nice as any other standard issue hotel). We didn't get in until late Wednesday night, and knowing that Thursday was our shortest drive distance-wise, we opted to sleep in later than originally planned, as well as going to have breakfast in the buffet area and even did a little gambling! (Mom, Brooke, and me sitting around the Roulette table...good times!) 

As it got to be about noon, I started commenting that maybe we should get on the road. One of the men at the table asked where we were headed and I told him our ultimate goal was California, but for the day, we just needed to get to Oklahoma City. This guy was a truck driver of sorts, and said he was staying an extra night in Tunica because "You can't get to OKC. The roads are too bad."  

 We didn't really have a choice. I don't think we would have attempted driving if the blizzard were still happening, but we had to take a shot at driving through its aftermath. So knowing we might have an uphill battle, we hit the road. Getting through Arkansas was a piece of cake, and en route we saw signs for 'Toad Suck, AR' -- they say you learn something new every day! Somewhere just west of the AR/OK state line, and somewhere around 6:00 we estimated we would arrive at our hotel in OKC around 8:00. This was shortly before Brooke found herself driving an average of 25 MPH because the Interstate was covered in snow and ice. And not smooth ice rink ice. Bumpy patchy potholey ice. For the first 50 or so miles, we were convinced we'd drive out of it, we must have just been in a really podunk county that didn't have the proper resources.

We realized this estimation was wrong when we hit the Oklahoma County line (of which OKC is, of course, the county seat). From the time we began our 25 MPH trek until we were finally on non-iced roads: just shy of 6 hours. We checked in at the hotel just before midnight, four hours later than normal driving conditions would have permitted.