Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Great Adventure - Day 6

Today was Disney Land day!  We got up, enjoyed our free Best Western breakfasts, made some sandwiches from the food in our cooler and headed out.  We got to the park by about 11am.

After we parked, I left my "big girl camera" in the car as I kept having images of it flying off a roller coaster in my head.  I was pretty happy with my decision all day until it got dark and the lights came on.  Disney Land at night is a glorious sight, and then there was much complaining about being stuck with Nick's iPhone as my only camera.  They are "okay", but boy are they grainy:

My feet started giving out by around hour 5, so we took it pretty easy for the rest of the day.  We grabbed our lunches from the locker and sat in town square for a while.  (I am so proud of us that we didn't cave and buy any over-priced junk food whatsoever!).  Nick gave me a couple piggy-backs until a security officer told us they were not allowed because they didn't want any injuries.  Say what?  Piggy-backs not allowed in Disney Land.  Okkayyy...  We waited until he was gone and I moped around a bunch because I couldn't walk very well at that point, and I didn't want to break the rules (even if they're dumb).  We were planning on leaving soon, so renting a wheel chair at that point didn't seem worth it.

Nick convinced me to go on just a couple more rides so we could leave on a high note, and by the end of the night we just ignored the stupid rule because not wrecking my foot for another 6 months was a little more important to me than the piggy-back rule.  So I sat on everything in sight while waiting in the line, and when there was nothing to sit on other than the ground, I climbed up on Nick's back.  I'm glad we pushed through because the last ride was the very, very best one.

We left just before 9pm so that we could grab dinner at Red Lobster as I've been craving that for about 4.5 years since the last time we were in California for our honeymoon and had it!  There are no pictures  because it didn't last long enough on my plate and besides, my big girl camera was still in the car.

And tomorrow begins Day 7 where we head out into the desert towards the Grand Canyon!  Or, I guess technically "today" since it's almost 1am!

The Great Adventure - Day 5

Our fifth day involved a leisurely late start due to how far we traveled the previous night.  We woke up just a few hours north of San Francisco.  The day was grey and overcast, but we didn't mind as we were just in the car for most of it.

Our window was a little bug splattered by this point as you can see in the pic below:

Once we got into San Fran, we navigated ourselves down to the southern part to meet up with an online photography friend of mine.  She texted me to meet her at her work at "MTV" and gave an address.  Nick and I both commented that it was super cool that she worked for MTV, not realizing it stood for Mountain View.  I hadn't really given much thought or inquired what she did outside of photography.

As we pulled into the parking lot of the given address, I texted her that we could not find the MTV studio, but it sure felt like we were in Google headquarters.  (Nick was completely geeking out at all the cool things we kept passing the entire time.  Lots of cars driving around with no one behind the wheel, etc.).  She texted me back, "This IS Google headquarters, lol!"  Well, it turns out she is an engineer working at Google on the driver-less car!  Super cool.  She gave us a little tour of the Google Campus and hooked us up with some awesome free lunch.

We realized that we were still pretty far from Anaheim, so we said our goodbyes and climbed back in the car.  Apparently the terrain was super boring (says Nick because for the first time on our trip, I fell asleep for a few hours that afternoon and woke up to this gorgeous sky about 1.5 hours outside of L.A.).

If the previous day's sleeping fiasco wasn't enough excitement for the week, it gets better.  We pulled into our Motel 6 reservation, and I happened to glance down at the pop-up on google maps stating it as 1 star out of 5.  This was a little concerning since we had previous researched it as being 3 stars out of 5.  We weren't going for stellar - just affordable, but the 1 star had us worried.  Before entering the lobby we did a little more digging and found out online that this particular motel had numerous bed bug cases, and some recently.  I don't know if any of you reading know what bed bugs are or how horrific they are to get rid of once they find their way into your belongings, but I'll just tell you, they're really, really bad.  We isolate people in the hospital if they have them.  In fact, lots of bed bugs are becoming immune to sprays and almost impossible to get rid of.  We quickly called the hotel reservation site to cancel, not caring if we lost all our money.  After about 20 minutes with them on the phone, they actually gave us all our money back!  Even though we canceled at 9:30pm at night while literally sitting in the motel parking lot.

This brought us to our second night with no where to sleep.  Since Best Western saved us the previous night, we decided to stick with them and quickly found another one to stay in for our two nights in L.A. for only about $30 more than the bed-bug motel, and again - free breakfasts every morning.  Oh, they also wanted to know (again) if the last room they had with a king-sized bed would be okay.  Yes, please!

Lastly, this is a pretty, random palm tree I decided to take a picture of while Nick was arranging our accommodations in the lobby and then trying to help the staff member with their computer issue, and I got bored in the car.

Next up - Disney Land!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Great Adventure - Day 4

We woke up around 8:30 this morning, but were loathe to leave our massive fortress of blankets and venture into the cold morning air and wet grass.  We finally managed it, and I was delighted to find out the camp ground bathrooms had electrical outlets so I could deal with the tangle of natural curl meets sleeping in a hoodie meets morning dew.  My bed head was super special this morning.  No, you don't get a picture.  We were on the road by late morning and heading further down the coast to warmer weather:

We stopped for lunch on a small hill overlooking the ocean.  We pulled buns, sandwich meats, and berries out of the cooler in the back and settled down on a blanket:

Our entire day was filled with gorgeous views.  This shot was taken from the car window where we had pulled over to quickly attach the Go-Pro to the side of our car since Nick has been taking video while I take photos:

We read that there was a tree you could drive through, so we made sure we found it.  We paid our $5 at the little booth and have to admit that it was a little anti-climatic when we finally saw it.  The car in front of us BARELY made it through:

We, on the other hand, had no troubles whatsoever in our new little car:

We took a few photos and climbed back in the car to find another campsite for the night.  We passed one not 10 minutes prior, but we both didn't want to have to go "backwards" on our journey.  So we left the gorgeous redwood forest (and the probably equally gorgeous campsite), to grab "the next one".  (PS - I have no idea why Blogger is making the below photo look so washed out, but I digress....)

Well, let me tell you.  There is no "next one".  Hour after hour and not a single tenting campsite appeared.  Apparently that was the LAST state park before San Francisco.  We debated back and forth on what to do, following one dead lead after another.  Internet on our phone would come and go with every turn in the road leaving us mostly to our own devices.  We finally decided we would just drive for a couple more hours and see what came up.  Maybe we would find one.  Maybe we would sleep in our car (a daunting thought if you remember how full our car is).  Maybe we would get a super cheap motel.  We turned our novel-on-tape back on and headed further South.

After a few hours, we pulled up beside a Best Western and Nick popped in to see how much a room was.  After he managed to talk them down $30 from their original price (a combination of their offering, us being BCAA members and agreeing to sign up for some rewards program), we opened our room to find a number of things.  1.  They gave us a king-sized bed instead of two doubles.  2.  It has a mini fridge, safe, coffee maker, etc.  3.  There's an ice machine in the hall (score for our cooler tomorrow).  4.  It has TWO outdoor pools and TWO outdoor hot-tubs.  (We went swimming before we even made dinner).  5.  We're far enough South that we can go swimming in outdoor pools and not freeze.  6.  It comes with free pancake and waffle breakfasts.  7.  Wifi!

So here we are, flopped all over this beautifully large bed with chlorine in our hair on a warm, California night.  I'm almost done blogging and catching up on the internet world, and Nick is reading away beside me.  I think it's just about time for bed!  However, since we drove so. much. further. South for so many hours looking for a campsite, we have only about a 7-hour drive left between us and Anaheim tomorrow, so we may just stay up late and take it easy tomorrow morning.  Either way, good-night world!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Great Adventure Day 3

Yesterday morning was our last time to spend with the Lazenby's, who are completely awesome.  They gave us a great place to crash after a full day of touring Portland and then fed us some of the best waffles we have ever had before we hit the road again.  This was our cozy little den at their place:

Before leaving Portland for the Ocean Highway, we hit up Costco and absolutely PACKED our car:

It seemed like the sun came out just for us the day before because the rain quickly returned once we were back on the highway.  We toured West to take the scenic route along the ocean instead of taking the more direct freeway South.  We were not disappointed with the views despite the gloomy weather!

We had a car full of snacks and continued our story on tape all along the Coast.

We decided to have a short driving day and make up the difference later, so after about 5 hours in the car, we pulled off to set up camp.  We looked for a State Park on our very intermittent google maps and found a perfect spot for the night.

We don't do sleeping bags....

1 air mattress, 2 sheets, 1 fleece, 1 fake feather down, 1 real feather down, 1 comforter, and 4 pillows:

Some of our experiments we picked up at Costco:

Nick managed to make a fire for us to attempt roasting some vegetables (since most of what we ate came pre-packaged from the store):

They turned out REALLY good:

We let the fire burn down, packed up our food, and hit the sack early.  I think we were asleep before 10pm despite the chill creeping in through our many, many blankets.

We woke up the next morning, slightly damp from all the dew, packed up and headed out on another adventure, which I'll blog about in approximately... 20 minutes :)  (Got to maximize the internet while I have it!).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Great Adventure - Days 1 & 2

I know a few people have asked me to blog about our massive road trip adventure while we are on it, and I'll do my best!  We are staying with some awesome people tonight (friends of friends) and are using their wifi.  We also bought an American SIM card for Nick's phone this afternoon so that we have text, talk and data while we travel (under an American number) so I might be able to do some uploading from the car from time to time as well.

We left afterwork yesterday and got to the boarder by about 5pm.  Unfortunately, the website I was looking at was incorrect and we were stuck in a 1-2 hour wait.  We pulled out some pillows and our books on tape and settled in nice and snug while the rain pounded down outside.  I thought it was pretty awesome that almost every iconic symbol on the "Welcome" sign was one we planned on seeing!

We were greeted by the most cheerful border guard I have ever met who even went out of his way to make small talk with us.  We crossed with no problems and grabbed some quick Subway and filled up with cheap gas.  Unfortunately, we still had a good half-day's drive down to Portland, so with full stomachs and our story playing through the speakers, we were off.  (We also were smart and brought along some empty milk jugs to fill with water and juice mix.  It seems like a great idea until I tried to spoon the mixture in and dumped sugar all over our new car only 4 hours into the trip!

We continued South in the dreary weather.  As we went I pulled out a book and started reading something to Nick, when he suddenly said, "the sky is getting cool".  I looked up and he was right.  The entire world was orange and glowing.  It got brighter and brighter and we couldn't figure out why.  We realized that after the torrential down pour, the sun must be breaking through in some sort of amazing sunset.

Suddenly we broke out of the trees and were met with rolling fields covered in mist with literally, I mean LITERALLY, the most gorgeous sunset I have EVER seen.  I took a picture, but I promise you it no where NEAR does it justice.  The camera just couldn't capture the blues and the yellows and oranges the same way.  Or the massive rainbow opposite us.  It was still absolutely POURING outside as we looked for a place to pull off the highway and quickly grabbed our coats and cameras.  This is exactly what I wanted this road trip to be about.  I wanted it to be about having an adventure, experiencing the world together, and taking TIME.  I remember actually thinking to myself the previous week - "I want to take the time to sit and capture all the sunsets that pass me by as I run from one job to the next, week after week".  How amazing that our very first night we were met with this!  (The subway bag came in handy as I punched a hole through the bottom of it and slipped my camera inside after realizing how dangerously soaked it was getting along with me).

We piled back in the car and it took a good couple hours to dry out after that.  You can't tell because I cleaned it up a bit, but the photo above had quit a few rain drops all over it from my lens getting soaked.

Nick drove on and on into the night, right through Seattle, continuing towards Portland:

We were pretty exhausted when we finally arrived at our destination just after 11:30pm.  My friend Tara hooked us up with some wonderful friends of hers who let us stay with them that night and are doing so again tonight.  We're meeting so many cool people.  We even had a lady from the online photography 365 group I run drive up to Portland and have dinner with us today so we would meet in real life.  I have to say, Portland folk are pretty darn hospitable and friendly.

Okay, back to this morning.  We woke up not-so-early after such a late night, but were ready to play tourist.  We were greeted by a beautiful sunny day that didn't even require us to wear our coats.  I took about 20 minutes this morning to stretch and do my exercises and, while my footwear is still tacky, my feet seem to be holding up so far.  We'll see how they do as the trip goes on.

We met up with the lady we're staying with downtown and grabbed some Starbucks (courtesy of a very thoughtful piano family I teach that gave me a $40 Starbucks card just for our trip).  We walked over and explored the famous Powell's books.  Nick was in his glory and is curled up with a book beside me as I blog right now.

Next we walked down to the also famous "Voodoo Doughnut" shop.  I really didn't want one, but we couldn't pass up seeing what was causing people to literally line up for almost half the block!

Nick picked out one of the "tamer" flavours and went with Oreo.

Next we drove across town, picked up a few things, and spotted a lovely park.  We, of course, had a car full of snacks and blankets, so we loaded up and went to lay in the sun for a bit.  We hot-spotted our computer (with the new data plan we picked up for our time in the States), and booked our hotels in LA for next week since we had some time to do a bit of deal shopping.

Then we met up with a photography online friend for dinner, and later met our hosts at a little pub that had the walls lined with books and games.  We played a few rounds of Munchkins and then headed back to the house to relax (and blog, obviously!).

And now it's almost 1:00 in the morning again (for the second night in a row) and everyone is heading to bed, so I think I'll do the same!  Good night!

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