Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day 7- Vegas to Los Angeles

"Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown." --George Shinn

I wish there was more to write about for this last stop. But, this turned out to be the most uneventful of days. In fact, we didn't take hardly any pics-- none worth posting, anyway.

We got out of Vegas at a crawl. It ended up taking us more than 5.5 hours to get to Los Angeles. We did have to stop for gas-- which, by the way, was $3.99 a gallon. I saw it coming, but that didn't make it hurt any less. By the time we arrived, Maverick had to take a bathroom break and we were starving.

We hopped back in the car and made our way to Santa Monica. I adore that area and I thought, "if Tim had one night in Cali, where would he like to be?" This is it. It's such a laid-back environment. We rolled over to a little, quirky restaurant called "The Novel Cafe." The place was littered with local, humorous art that provided plenty of entertainment while we waited for our food.

Tim got the craziest El Paso burger that was topped with cheese and turkey chili-- it was ridiculous. I, on the other hand, ended up with a BBQ chicken quesadilla and a side salad. Sounds generic, but it was wonderful. The place was so cool that I almost asked them if they were hiring. I figure, if I can't find a job soon, maybe I'll just look for a place where there are cool people in a fun atmosphere. Maybe I need a break from the rat race...

After dinner, we walked around Santa Monica, then drove around the typical places: Venice, Marina Del Rey, Sunset, Hollywood, etc. It was fun just to get our bearings and get acquainted with the area a little better. Now I have a LITTLE better idea of some cool areas to live.

Well, Tim gets on a flight tomorrow at noon, heading back East. From there, I'm on my own. I have plans to go to the Sprint store to trash my Blackberry, make an appointment to get my hair did, wash my car (it's atrocious), and begin life. Tuesday marks the beginning of the job hunt and getting re-acquainted with wonderful friends out here that I have missed so much.

However, I do already feel the slight homesickness coming on. I'm missin' on my friends and family back East and FULLY expect many of them to be crashing my couch in the near future. That is....once I get a place....and a couch. I also plan to pop back to VB for a hot second in August. You can't get rid of me that easily!

So, any prayers and well wishes/thoughts are greatly appreciated. But, this is not the end of the "blog road." Though I will not be blogging every day, which I'm sure would get annoying, I will surely keep everyone updated as my world continues to turn. :)

I love each of you- please, please keep in touch as to what is happening with you in this wild, wild world.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day 6- The Canyon to Vegas Baby! Happy Independence Day!

Whew! What a whirlwind today was! In leaving Kingman, AZ, we rushed our way to Vegas. We knew we were tired and were going to need a nap before seeing the town in the evening. Seeing that the Navigation said we were only 2 hours away, we (meaning my brother) got a little excited.

As a result, we had yet another encounter with the Po-Po. He was creeping behind the tumbleweed and clocked Timbo at 87 in a 65. One might think that his situation would look much like mine from yesterday....not so much. Officer Cortez was pleasant to encounter and, yes, my brother, GOT OFF WITH A WARNING! How does that happen? I fumed for the next hour.

The road went down to two lanes and we were lucky to reach 60 mph. We were puzzled as to why all of the cars were piling up until we rounded the bend and found, the Hoover Dam! You can't help but be in awe of that place.

The rest of the drive was a breeze until we hit Las Vegas Blvd. --The Blvd + the 4th of July = madness. It probably took us more than 45 minutes to drive a few miles. But, as Tim kept saying to me-- "it's just kind of overwhelming...sensory overload." He already wanted to come back for a week instead of a day. Because he was so pumped and I was exhausted, I asked him to make the dinner and casino plans. He said, "this isn't a 'get in trouble' trip; it's a 'get acquainted so I can take full advantage later' trip."

Unsurprisingly, we ended up at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Tim has become a fan of the show 'Rehab,' so this was understood. Plus, they have a stellar Mexican place called The Pink Taco. ;) Tim had fish tacos and I had beans/rice and the BEST chicken skewers I've EVER had. They sported a chipotle rub and a tamarind glaze. Heaven. I wanted to get a tank top with the restaurant name on it, but I had to be honest-- I would never wear it in public.

So, we went to the casino! We played the slots for fun and then rolled over to the Blackjack table. I only played $50 worth, since I'm quite the novice. However, my bro played $100 and was out in half the time. I was quite proud of myself. More luck came as I went back to the slots later in the evening. I put $20 in and said I would play until it was gone. 2 hours later, I finally had to cash the last $35 out-- I was exhausted. But, the valet got a nice tip and we went back to the hotel happy.

My brother and I fully realized our differences today. It's not that one of us is lucky-- we're just lucky in different ways. The day he gets let go from a huge speeding ticket is the same day that he blows through cash in the casino. I get a huge speeding ticket on my birthday; next day I spend so much time on $20 that I get "tired" of gambling. This proves to me, yet again, that God has an incredible sense of humor. Can't wait to see what the future holds.

Tomorrow, we make our way to my friend Martha's house. She, her son Jesse, and her pup have graciously opened their home to me and my pup. I am eternally grateful. I'm nervous about the job hunt, but she has always encouraged me and offered the fail-safe safety net. Her generosity blows me away. After dropping most of my stuff, Tim, Mav and I will head into LA to make sure that we get Tim on his flight back East on Monday morning. Then, the daunting job hunt begins!

"I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today."
--William Allen White

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 5- Albuquerque to Grand Canyon-- Celebrating 30!

Hi guys-- Before I even start this blog...I can't believe that I'm already in the Pacific time zone. It's 745 here and I'm exhausted!

Today was a "rain rain go away" -type day. We started off in Albuquerque and were actually kind of sad to leave. Stopping at Starbucks on Central Ave. for a breakfast sandwich and big 'ol cup of joe, we bid good-bye to New Mexico.

We gave Maverick his "scooby snacks" and made our way into the misty, early morning rain to Arizona. Tim drove and dodged rain clouds for few hours while I was on the phone, trying to get my Blackberry fixed. Still no help, so I'm going to feel a little out of touch for the next couple of days. Maybe that's a good thing every once in a while.

The good news: it's my 30th birthday and we were right in line to hit the Grand Canyon. I've never had the privilege of visiting this Great Wonder, so despite the rain, I was pumped! So pumped, that I got pulled by the 5-0 going a "little" faster than I should. Tickets in AZ, not so much fun, but I wasn't going to let it dampen my day!

By the way, I keep forgetting my "playlist" for the day, so here's a combination of yesterday and today:

"Tangled Up in Blue" and "Hurricane" - Bob Dylan
Vs. Album- Pearl Jam
"Angel"- Aerosmith
"Leave This Town" - Bill Mozingo
"Come Monday" - Jimmy Buffett
"Dead and Gone" and "Live Your Life"- T.I.
"You're all I Need"- Method Man
"Let Me Ride" - Dr. Dre

Upon arrival at the "entrance" to the Grand Canyon, we realized that a two-lane road would have to lead us another 45 minutes to the South Rim. A bit of a buzz kill after a 7.5 hour drive. But, it was worth it.

As I sat on the natural ledge, I contemplated my last 30 years of life. In sitting at the edge of a canyon thousands of years in the making, I realized, more importantly, I should be thinking more about my next 30 years. While Tim climbed and hiked around, I sat with Mav and we solved the world's problems. I took inventory of my hopes and dreams and concluded: my next 30 years are going to be unbelievably great! I can only expect ups and downs, successes and failures, love and loss-- much like my first 30, but with a better head on my shoulders.

Hopefully, it will include:
1) a new line of work, marriage & children (seeing the same for my brother and friends)
2) growing ever closer to God and having that relationship manifest itself in my daily life as love and grace for everyone
3) watching my Mom FINALLY retire and travel cross-country with my Dad and Aunt Ann
4) seeing my friends turn into parents and watching their children grow, and
5) spending some great quality time with my loved ones.

Don't wanna waste another moment. It goes too fast.

By the time we took in every glorious sight and got back in the car, all of us were exhausted. Mav even started falling asleep sitting up (see photo- coming soon). None of us were in great shape, so the arrival in Kingman, AZ at our hotel was a huge relief. My birthday dinner: Domino's pizza and breadsticks, using the carton as a plate. To top it all off, we saw a crazy double rainbow on the way back: HERE'S TO NEW BEGINNINGS!

And so I write, watching reruns of Scrubs and That 70's Show.

I do need to give a shout out to my wonderful friends that I didn't get to see on the trip :(. Liz- wish we could have made it to Austin- next time for sure. Mel- we were so close! Josh- you're right, my choice was regrettable--Denver is definitely on the agenda very soon!

Tomorrow, we make the last stop before Palm Springs: LAS VEGAS for the 4th! How awesome is that? Amazing how things work out.

I'll probably hit the pillow pretty early tonight--but gaining a few hours is great! We will be early to rise, making a quick 3-hour puddle jump to Vegas. As our friend Jason says, "Put it all on Black!"


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day Four- Tulsa to Albuquerque- not as boring as I thought

Alright. Here we are at the completion of Day Four. The initerary: Leave Tulsa, OK and arrive in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Google Maps says 9.5 hours. GPS says 11.5. Not exactly the news you want to receive first thing in the morning.
So, we left Tulsa with a coffee and granola bars in hand. First stop: Pet Smart. We finally decided to get Mavi a sedative. The poor boy has been re-named Shaky McShakerton. He pants and shakes anytime the speedometer rises above 75 mph. Now, if any of you have traveled in OK or NM, the speed limit looks more like 75 mph. As far as I'm concerned, my translation is that the avg. speed should be between 85 and 95 mph. Legit, right?

We got him these little treats and a pheromone charm to put on his collar. Good news: he stopped shaking. Bad news: He still panted so much that it sounded like a helicopter was landing on my head. Funny news: my puppy was stoned. It's not often that you see Mav stumbling around the car with his eyes almost shut, asking people to pet him. Hillluuuurrrious.

Making the way to Albuquerque was
exhausting: one straight, long road after another. And every hour or so, we'd hit some nasty construction that would take us down to one lane in the middle of the desert-- no bueno.

Speaking of "no bueno," I don't know a lick of Spanish. And, the farther West I go, the more Espanol I see, read and hear. I think I need to buckle down and purchase Rosetta Stone. Yup, I was THAT girl that took French in High School. Dumb decision on my part. My goal is to learn something more than "¿Dónde está el baño?" (yes, I stole the spelling from the Internet translator) in the next month. Notice, I'm not setting a high standard.

But I we arrive in Albuquerque. This time we successfully smuggled Mav in to a ballin' suite. The view of downtown was gorgeous and overlooked the stadium where the Isotopes play...Manny anyone? Mavi was a sleepy guy, so we left him in pursuit of a Mex-o-can place to get some grub. It's only appropriate we do so. But, what we found was astounding. Without even trying, we found the coolest downtown/midtown section that was SUPER fantastic.

It was so eclectic. I've never seen so many hookah shops, tattoo parlors, cool eateries and comic book stores (aweeesshhhooommmeee!)! If I had the time, I could definitely spend a couple of days here and love it. Every person walking up and down the street looks different, unlike a lot of VB. So, maybe refreshing is the way to describe it.

Tomorrow is going to be a great day. Destination: The Grand Canyon! Perfect place for me to celebrate my 30th year of life. Most of you guys know that I don't like celebrating my birthday b/c I get embarassed about it. I used to do the same thing every year-- go to a Tides game with my family, eat at Hits in the Park, exchange gifts with my Mom (her bday is the 1st-- wish her a belated one if you see her) and pretend like the fireworks on the 3rd of July are really for MY birthday, not Independence Day. Needless to say, visiting the Grand Canyon is a perfect idea for my birthday, except I wish my very closest friends and family were here, too.

Hopefully, I'll have some better pics tomorrow. Today was a road trip day, so....well...these are about as good as it gets.

Love you guys--


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 3: Memphis to Tulsa- crossed the Great Mississip!

Good Evening Friends- We are now on Central Time, so it's actually only 1045 pm as I write. Today was pretty exhausting, but only because we weren't exactly pumped about the next destination: Tulsa. Not that there's anything WRONG with Tulsa; it just doesn't have the same flair as our previous destinations.

Nashville, as we all know, is Music City USA. It's super clean (sterile almost) and has a fun cowboy, Southern hospitality feel. In fact, for a music lova like me, it's paradise.

Memphis has a very different vibe, but one I love just as much. It's a little grimy, a little ghetto, extremely soulful and slow as molasses. But Memphis knows exactly who she is and is proud of herself. You can almost hear "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" resonating from the walls of the city. The epitome of authenticity... and as Tim says...."DUDE! We got a tattoo in Memphis--how sick is that?"

We woke up in Memphis today, got breakfast at the Comfort Inn (along with a high school basketball team full of gargantuans) and made our way downtown. The goal was Beale Street. We found a sweet FREE parking spot, grabbed the doggie and walked. We stopped by the Gibson Museum, Fed Ex Forum (props to the Grizzlies--that arena is awesome), the historic Peabody Hotel, and of course, Beale Street.

Fed Ex is incredible, but we had to leave quickly. Maverick was getting dive-bombed by a mockingbird--guess her babies were close by. Can't say I blame her. So, we rolled up by the Peabody and what do we see? The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Score!

Moving on to Beale Street (pedestrians only), we saw the sign that said "No Animals." Tim said "screw it, I'll carry him." SO-- Mavi got to experience Beale Street and, to my surprise, all of the business owners were excited to see him. Plenty came up to talk to us and pet him. My dog is the coolest.

On our way out of town, we decided to experience our own little rite of passage. We stopped at a park and each of us dipped our feet in the Mighty Mississippi River. It was epic to understand that where we stood was where "Huck Finn" was born, Jeff Buckley died and where so much American History was made. Monumental moment.

After that, we got back behind the wheel and drove 7.5 hours to Tulsa, OK. My brother was less than excited about Tulsa-- he calls it "Vanilla" and says, "I already live in Norfolk, Va. I don't need to see another city just like it." That pretty much sums it up.

Since I forgot yesterday, here's a sample of what was pumping through the speakers today (a little more country, very apropos we think):
"God's Gonna Cut Ya Down" and
"Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Johnny Cash
"Something about a Woman" - Jake Owen
"Smoke Rings in the Dark" - Gary Allan
"I'm Not Ready to Make Nice" - Dixie Chicks
"Would You Know" and
"The Therapy" - Fools & Horses (my shout-out to Baltimore peeps)
"Family Tradition" and "Country Boy Can Survive" - Hank Williams, Jr.
"Amarillo Sky" - Jason Aldean
"Troubadour" - George Strait

Downtown was dead when we arrived in Tulsa around 8pm, but we stumbled upon a cool Midtown area and ended up eating at Jason's Deli. Cool thing about that, though, is that it is right across the street from one of my favorite Italian joints, Mary's. We didn't get to eat there, but I snapped a quick pic, so I can remember to return there one day for their Chicken Parm.

We rolled over to the Wal-Mart to pick up some beer and wine and guess what? Tulsa is ridiculous-- there was no wine! AND- the wine aisle only had Bartles & James and Boone's Farm. ha ha ha!

Alright, enough blabbing on my part-- tomorrow is a long day. We plan to see if we can find some sleep meds for Mavi and make the 10 hour trip to.....wait for it....wait for it....Albuquerque, New Mexico. This will be our last long leg of the trip, so pray that we all make it

1) in one piece,
2) without killing one another and
3) with our wits about us.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nashville to Memphis-- Quest for Ink

Day 2- Complete!

We woke up today in the beautiful city of Nashville. There's no where like it in the world. I've always said, if Tennessee wasn't landlocked, I'd be there. But, this water baby can't survive without a coast.

First thing in the morning, I took Mav out for a nice stroll...his favorite place to do his "business" was in front of the crazy huge courthouse. Business people walked purposefully into work, while I stood there with a bag of poop in my hand. Ah, the joys of being a dog parent, unemployed in the middle of downtown NashVegas.

Tim and I went to breakfast in the lobby (free!) and ate our weight in all types of breakfast food. After all, we had to store up some energy for a busy day. We checked out of the hotel and hit the streets, loving every minute of the cowboy-infused culture of Music Row. This is where the good stuff happens!

Ms. Kristi Finigan (for those who don't know-- she's my "replacement" back home at Gold Key) had referred me to a cool tattoo parlor in Nashville called Black 13. Unfortunately, we couldn't get an appointment in time, so we hit the road. Since Memphis was only 3.5 hours away, we thought we could make it there for a relaxed dinner.

Upon arrival, we decided to cancel the non-pet-friendly hotel and opt for a Comfort Suites. They love them some Maverick! When we got in the room, I realized that I have finally perfected my power nap. Gimme a solid 20 mins and I'll be raring to go for the rest of the evening.

We got up, I bbm'd (blackberry message'd) Kristi to see if she knew any tatt spots in Memphis. She replied with "Underground Art." So, we went! We waited forever, but it was worth it (see pictures)! It was my 30th birthday present to myself (July 3rd!) and Tim said that if I did it, he had to, so he didn't look like a wuss. We decided to both get our family initials on the back of our right leg. Higher on the calf for him, low and by the ankle for me (a little more feminine, I think :)).

We were wicked excited and proceeded to talk to the folks in the studio about the awesomeness of 90's rock. I wanted to take my mind off things, so I multi-tasked by chatting and playing e-Scrabble with one of the other tattoo artists. I almost called this blog post "Make Yo Mama Proud" because:
1) that's the name of the website for the parlor and
2) we were pretty sure Mom would hyperventilate when she
found out what we did and my Dad would proceed to laugh incessantly at her reaction.

So, we rounded out the day with Taco Bell and came back to the room exhausted. And so I sit, ready for another day
of this self-professed epic road trip.

Tomorrow's agenda: 7.5 hours to Tulsa, OKLAHOMA! When we get there, we just want to chill and go see Transformers 2, but who knows what shenanigans we'll get into next.

Miss you guys! Keep in touch!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Nashvegas-- The land of hotels with only one entrance...

Well folks, we made the 12 hour trek to Nashville, step one of many on our trip across the country.

We started off in a typical manner-- me nagging Tim about being late/slow/taking his time. And, for those of you who know him, that doesn't go over well, but I just can't help myself. So, we finally got on the road around 830 a.m., stopping at Wawa for breakfast.

For awhile, the trip was uneventful...blah blah I-64, blah blah I-295. But then, cool thing happened that just made my day: pulled up behind Mr. Brett Brownell, who was on his way to a very important meeting in DC. So, we rolled up beside him, smiled, waved, called each other on the phone. Maverick gave him a high-five for encouragement through the window and we continued the drive. Funny thing-- we had just passed our exit at that point and had to turn around. Amazing how God knows when both sets of people just need a little "pick me up" to make it through a tough day. :)

We then get back on track and begin our quest to find a license plate for each US state: Geeky, I know, but you gotta do whatever you can to help the time pass. For the next 8 hours, we gabbed, listened to music, complained about bad drivers, etc. Mr. Maverick was in an adjustment phase, perpetually shaking like a leaf for the first 10 hours. We think that he swears we were giving him away. He was thinking that I just got him a new collar to "pretty him up" and we were gonna drop him in the middle of farmland to fend for himself. After 10 hours, I guess he figured we would have done it already, so he calmed down and enjoyed the ride.

Sample of what was pumping through the speakers:
"The River"- The Boss
"Rise" (Into the Wild Soundtrack)- Eddie Vedder
"Freedom"- George Michael
"Dig"- Incubus
"Hallelujah"- Jeff Buckley
"Say Hey (I Love You)"- Michael Franti
"You Are The Best Thing"- Ray LaMontagne
"Come Let Go"- Xavier Rudd

And so we arrive in Nashville-- on fumes. We went on a mission for a gas station and the hotel. In scoping out the hotel prior to checking in, we realized that there would be no separate entrance to smuggle Maverick in. For all that know him, he never barks and is no trouble, so we figured we might be able to "forego" the pet fee. We got creative. Decided to park across the street in overnight parking to avoid the valet, put him in Tim's backpack and roll up. Little did we know the hang-ups that would shortly ensue.
1) Front desk inspects everyone going through the lobby
2) The valet stand is the only way to enter the hotel
3) it's blazing hot outside at 8pm and
4) I have a squirmy dog that hates his mom for trying to put him in a backpack.

So, we bail and I call the front desk begging for mercy. The manager is sympathetic (you'll understand why in a moment) and offered us (2) comp. breakfast tickets and comp. internet--which I am writing you from now.

So, here are the expenses:
$39 room (great deal!)
FREE breakfast
FREE Internet
$6 fake overnight parking garage (ching)
$22 valet charge (after finding out about the doggie) (ching)
$30 room service (ick)
$75 non-refundable pet fee (ching ching ching)

Starting the first leg of the trip $100 over budget= priceless lesson that I'm not very smart and that honesty is always the best policy.

Day one: complete. Tomorrow, we are going to attempt to walk around Nashville a little and then make our way to Memphis, TN. Wish us luck. We're gonna need it.

“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.” - Kurt Vonnegut