Saturday, August 24, 2013

Our last weekend traveling

Here we are in Charleston, West Virginia.  We drove through the rest of Tennessee and all of Kentucky yesterday.  While we were in Kentucky, we stopped at the Buffalo Trace Distillery for a tour and a bourbon tasting (yes, this was Bill's stop, lol)  It was actually kinda nice.  The grounds are gorgeous and I was definitely getting tipsy off the smell of "college" in the air, lol.  We had our tasting and our mini tour from Art, our bourbon expert, who was awesome.  He changed my world and introduced me to the deliciousness that is Bourbon Cream and Root Beer <3

Last night we explored Charleston, which is a cute little town (and another state capitol).  We ate at the Charleston Brewing Company, where I enjoyed a couple of cold Moonbeams (their Summer brew).  Our hotel is right on the water, which is kinda nice.  We might do some more exploring today and then it's off to Washington, which is our last major stop before New York.  I can't believe that this is all really coming to an end.  I mean, it's gonna be nice not living in hotels, but this has been such an incredible journey, I can't imagine not waking up in a new town every day.

Till next time!      

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hello from Music City!

Some quick updates as we are getting ready to leave Nashville and head back into the Eastern Time Zone...

* As we left Texas, we thought it was appropriate to shoot guns, so we found a shooting range and did just that.  It was... interesting, lol.  It was the first time for both of us, and I am still 100% for more gun control, but I'm not gonna lie, it was intense.  Good times...

* On our way to Tennessee, while still in Texas, we got pulled over for the first time on Interstate 30! We were driving 9 miles over the speed limit and we were messing with Texas, so we got pulled over and got a warning.  Wouldn't be a complete road trip without it happening at least once, lol.

* In Memphis, we headed to Beale Street and listened to some live music and ate catfish.  It was pretty lively for a Tuesday night.

* The next day we headed to Graceland.  I gotta admit, I really enjoyed Graceland more than I thought I would and I have a much bigger appreciation for Elvis now!  Been listening to his station on Pandora ever since and I really wanna see some of his movies.

* After Graceland we drove to Nashville, where we are right now, and again, I was a little hesitant at first because I'm not a big country music fan, but it's been a lot of fun.  We went bar hopping downtown and listened to some really great live music at every place we stopped at.  Yesterday, we checked out the Parthanon and State Capitol.  Every Thursday they also have live music outside in Public Square Park and we tried chicken and waffles for the first time, drank beer, and listened to a free Michael Franti and Spearhead concert!  The whole concert was fun, but his encore tied in perfectly with our whole trip <3

Till next time...  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Texas

We are getting ready to leave Texas, and just like I considered dipping my feet in the Pacific Ocean was the unofficial half-way point on our trip, to me leaving Texas symbolizes that we are really on our way home, even though we still have six more days on the road.

* After leaving Carlsbad Caverns, I really want to get back into rock climbing again.  It really made me miss it.

* Even though it is sad that this journey is coming to an end, one thing I am looking forward to when we get back to New York is that it will almost be ready for pumpkin lattes and my favorite time of year - Fall =)

* In Austin we visited Zilker Gardens, ate at Hopdoddy Burger Bar which was so worth it, and toured the Texas State Capitol (which got me even more excited for Washington DC).  At dusk we checked out the largest urban bat colony in North America which live under the Congress Avenue Bridge aka Bat Bridge.  Supposedly between 750,000 - 1.5 million bats live there and come out at night, and although it kinda felt like we were waiting for Old Faithful once again, it was a pretty awesome sight and worth doing, especially since we didn't stay to see the Carlsbad bats come out at night.  Austin was a lot of fun and I would have loved to stay and explore more than we did.  Definitely made it into my top five favorite places on this road trip.

*   Yesterday we explored Dallas instead of Houston.  We were originally supposed to go from Austin to Houston to Memphis, but a bunch of people said Houston wasn't really anything special and in the end, going to Dallas instead is going to make today's drive much shorter.  Dallas was OK.  Unfortunately, after we explored the Historic District and where JFK got shot (there are actually Xs on the ground to show the exact locations) a lot of museums and things were closing (plus apparently a lot of restaurants and businesses are closed on Mondays), so it wasn't that exciting.  We did eat BBQ at Lockhart Smokehouse, which was delicious and made friends with our bartender when we went out for beers near out hotel afterwards.

Till next time...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Here we go again...

Leaving Austin and heading for Dallas instead of Houston.  Can't believe we are on week four of this adventure!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

You don't mess with Texas...

Hello from Texas!  Here are my random thoughts and feelings since my last post...

* Somewhere between the Grand Canyon and Colorado we stopped to look at the stars and it was just awe-inspiring.  Nothing makes you feel as tiny (in a good way) as gazing up into a night sky with no city lights around you.  Absolutely gorgeous <3

*  After the Grand Canyon, we stopped at the Four Corners, which is something I have wanted to do since my 6th grade social studies teacher told us about it, and we got to stand in four states at once.  We walked through Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico in about 30 seconds, which was cool.  Other than that, there really isn't much else to do there, lol, but I'm happy I got to check that off my bucket list.  

* After Four Corners, we drove to Santa Fe, which I had no idea was such an arts-y town.  We walked down Canyon Road and took tons of pictures.  And I had a local seasonal beer, which wasn't half bad (I usually stick to drinks I know, so for yay for being bold, lol)

* After Santa Fe, we checked out White Sands National Monument, on the suggestion of one of Bill's friends on Facebook. OMG, it was a whole other world!  In the middle of the desert, just miles of white sand dunes for as far as you can see.  It was so worth the stop!  It's like playing in snow, lol.  So much fun!  I highly recommend if you are ever in New Mexico!

* On our way from White Sands to Carlsbad, we hit basically a 4 hour lightening storm as we drove through the mountains at night.  Bill was ecstatic.  I was scared for my life.  Looking back now, it was kinda cool, but as we were driving through it, not so much, lol.  It didn't help that we saw at least two different things on fire as we were driving, which we assumed were from the lightening.

* The next day we went 170 feet into the Earth and explored Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which was another totally awesome experience.  We were too late for a Ranger group tour, so we explored it ourselves.  So much fun!  It's not the deepest cavern in the world, but they say it is the prettiest and it really was!  Another must do if you are ever in the area!

* After Carlsbad we drove into Texas.  There was no state sign on the road we were on, so we will have to do that on our way out of Texas tomorrow.  We explored San Antonio yesterday and it was clear that the perfect weather of San Diego was no more.  It was hot and humid!  We did the San Antonio River Walk and remembered the Alamo.  We had Tex Mex for lunch (where I tried another local beer - go me!) even got some famous  San Antonio flavored ice.  Not a bad visit.  Oh yeah, and Texans sure are proud of their state flag because it is everywhere, lol.

* And today we are in Austin, which is just an hour away from San Antonio.  We checked out the night life on 6th Street last night and it is crazy!  There are so many bars - all with live music - packed into five blocks (and pop up pizza places because nothing beats a slice of pizza after a night of drinking <3) and we did some bar hopping.  It gets so crazy that they just end up closing the streets, lol.  Definitely a fun time!

* Today we got our free Texas-shaped waffles at our hotel and are getting ready to explore Austin.  I can't believe that tomorrow we begin week 4 of our road trip!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Heading back East...

Here are some quick updates as we get ready to leave Santa Fe...

* I think I said this before, but this country has so much land!  It's one thing seeing it on a map, but its insane when driving through and all you see is mountains, and hills, and farms, and grass, and rocks, and dirt, and cities... and all you can see is land!  It's unbelievable!

* There have been a few times on this trip, when I am just get the strong feeling that this whole experience will make me a better person.  I think a part of it has to do with me getting some perspective of other places and just seeing what is out there.  It's a good feeling =)  I don't regret anything from this trip at all =)

* Vegas was fun.  We stayed at the Luxor Hotel and checked out some of the different casinos on the Strip.  We had a nice dinner at Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill in Caesars and I only lost $100 at Roulette, so overall not a bad stay, lol.

So after we left Vegas on what is referred to as "Route 66" right be exit 123, we broke down.  Our car engine just died.  We were fine, but sadly, the car we started this road trip with will not be the car we end it with.  We called Budget from the side of the road and within an hour and a half they sent a tow truck and our new Jeep.  It's similar to our first car, but not the same.  We drove about 5,300 miles from New York to Las Vegas with that Jeep.  So here we are continuing our journey...

* I am both beyond excited and already slightly overwhelmed to scrapbook this whole trip, lol.

* Because we broke down, we ended up getting to the Grand Canyon just in time for sunset (which was gorgeous).  There are just no words to describe it.  It's just breathtaking.  Everyone should have that experience and check it out for themselves at least once in their lifetime.  You will not regret it!  (and that says a lot coming from a city girl)

Monday, August 12, 2013

I am in love...

Within 5 minutes of being in San Diego I fell in love!  We started our day at Mission Beach and it was just perfect... the beaches are gorgeous, the weather was heavenly, my first drink of the day was a California Colada... life was good <3  There is no other way to describe it!  For someone who is a born and bred New Yorker and is fairly certain I could never live anywhere else, San Diego definitely gives New York a run for it's money.  While walking on the boardwalk and beach, I couldn't think of one legitimate reason to ever leave... not one!  Later that day we checked out Balboa Park and then the Saturday night nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter, which is insane!  I am telling you, everyone should visit San Diego!  Go, right now!  You will not regret it one bit!

We loved San Diego so much that we even extended our stay.  We were supposed to leave yesterday morning, but stayed an extra day so we could check out Coronado, Harbor and Shelter Islands and Point Loma, and Sunset Cliff.  Even though the clouds started rolling in during sunset, it was still lovely just sitting, watching, and enjoying life.

I am telling you, San Diego is amazing and it will forever have a place in my heart <3  I will definitely be back one day!  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hello Pacific Ocean!

As we get ready to begin week 3 of this awesome cross country adventure, here are some thoughts since my last post:

* Biking in San Francisco is no joke.  We biked over 20 miles from Fisherman's Wharf over the Golden Gate Bridge, into Sausalito, Mill Valley, and Tiburon.  It was intense at times and I definitely wanted to die, but it was worth it.  On the ferry ride back I rewarded myself with a cup of wine =)  Later that night we got seafood at R & G Lounge.  Oh yeah, and we also got to ride a cable car back to our hotel.  We weren't sure if we would be able to at first because it was so late, but turns out they run even that late, so yay us!  Overall the weather in San Francisco was cloudy, chilly, and misty (we had to have some gloomy weather at some point on this trip).  Oh yeah, and how could I forget our dream hotel, The Oasis, lol (inside joke).

* After San Francisco we drove to Los Angeles and Hollywood.  We did all the tourst-y things like checked out Grauman's Chinese Theater and Hollywood Blvd.  I took a picture of Art Carney's Star!  Hollywood reminded me of Times Square a lot, which wasn't a bad thing.  I could see myself going back to LA for a longer visit in the future.

* One thing I am for sure learning about myself from this trip is that I am much happier in cities than outdoors.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind doing outdoors-y things, but I think I am much more of a city girl than a country gal.

* I can't believe that half our trip has already gone by =(  Everyday just goes by faster and faster =(  I know we still have two weeks to go, but it seems like we just got started.  One thing I am also kinda regretting is how little time we are spending in each city.  I mean for the most part we are spending a night at each place and it's nice that we are seeing as much as we are, but I would love to stay at some places longer.  

* So we have been using to get our hotels on the road and in the beginning it was awesome (seriously our hotel in Chicago was a dream and we got it super cheap) but it had been going downhill since (just being a pain in the butt getting great deals) but that all changed Friday night when we got out room for San Diego.  We got a great deal at a decent place, you have no idea my relief!

*  Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier were fun in Los Angeles.  Another good reason to go back for a longer stay in the future.  Putting my feet into the Pacific Ocean in LA really signified the half-way point of this trip, even though time-wise we weren't there yet.  It was very symbolic to me to do that and say that I had made it from the East Coast to the West Coast.  I'll never forget it.

* On our nighttime drive from LA to San Diego down Route 101/ Interstate 5 we pulled over at one point and just looked up at the stars.  It was crazy because we were right by the water and between two cities, so the stars were really clear and it was nice just to be able to see them and compare them to my Sky Guide app.  

* And then we got to San Diego and I fell in love...

(to be continued...)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

More super quick updates

Unfortunately I haven't been as diligent updating this throughout my trip as I would like, but I'll take that as a good sign because it means that we are exploring a lot and there isn't much time.  So here are some more quick updates:

* When we crossed Bighorn National Forest, we hit an insane amount fog and even some frost (on the first day of August) and then at one point we opened the car window and it smelled like Christmas trees!  It was definitely unusual.

* As we got closer to Cody, Wyoming, I was just awe-stuck (again) about just how big this country is and it just made me think about some of what I consider "big problems" back home, are really not that serious.  We weren't driving through anything famous or doing anything special, but it was a real humbling experience.

*  Yellowstone is HUGE!  We were there probably 9 or 10 hours and we didn't even come close to seeing everything.  Bill loved it and wants to go back.  I thought it was ok.  We saw bears, deer, mountains, hot springs, and Old Faithful...

* Montana has a lot of animals.

* As we approached the end of our first week of traveling (and the West Coast) I realized that this trip is going by way too fast =(

* Seattle has a lot of hills, which was unexpected.  And ferry boats (but I already knew that thanks to Grey's Anatomy)

* As we get ready to leave Portland, Oregon, Bill requested that I put this in as well... apparently I am a crab when I am hungry (true story).  He also thinks it is weird that I think ice cream is an acceptable dinner (ommm hello?  I am an adult, so yes, it is).  We have survived 8 days on the road together so far... if that's not love, I don't know what is, lol

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Quick updates as we head to the West Coast...

I haven't really had time to do a long post  but I didn't wanna go too long between posts so here are some quick updates/ observations, hopefully to be elaborated on later...

* There is so much land in this country!  It is mind-blowing!

* Hill City, South Dakota kinda reminded me of upstate New York.

* Mount Rushmore was awesome.  As we were driving there, we were wondering if we were gonna see it before we got to the museum and sure enough as we were driving we look to the right and there it was.  I really enjoyed Mt. Rushmore and he Crazy Horse Memorial.  I love the history and the just the sheer idea that human beings made this in a mountain!  Awesome experience.

*  As we left South Dakota we hit some nasty rain in Wyoming.  It was crazy be a use there was just so much land and we could see the clear sky and where the clouds were.  Bill was excited to see lightning and of course I was praying to not drive into a tornado, lol.  Luckily we survived and made it to Cody, Wyoming in one piece.  

I have more updates, but typing this on my iPhone as we drive on Route 90 is getting annoying, so they'll have to wait.  Till next time...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Minneapolis and Iowa

I wanted to write a quick post before we get breakfast and head out to explore Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument today...

Tuesday night we explored downtown Minneapolis and hung out in the Mall of America for a bit and saw Target Field and I enjoyed some cider at two local bars (see Foursquare for details).  The Mall of America at first seems like just another mall a la Roosevelt Field or Queens Center except for one tiny detail... in the center of the mall is Nickelodeon Universe with over 25 rides and attractions.  In the Mall!  So of course Bill had a field day riding around, while I enjoyed taking pictures of him and playing with the features of my Nikon 5100.  After the Mall of America, we explored downtown Minneapolis and I must say it is a big city like New York with one big difference, at night, it is a ghost town.  Granted it was after 10pm on a Tuesday night, but still, it was kinda eerie walking around all the buildings and being the only people for blocks.  Oh and also, we noticed there were lots and lots of Target signs all over and later found out that Target was founded in Minneapolis so, fun little fact.

Yesterday, we left Minnesota and headed for South Dakota.  We briefly ventured into Iowa so that we could take a pic by the welcome sign and were surrounded by lots and lots of corn.  The weather was gorgeous, and here we were between these massive corn fields and it was just so quiet!  Aside from the random car or truck that would pass by infrequently, it was silent.  Very surreal.

Bill just got out of the shower, so I'm gonna end it here so we can get going.  Till next time...