Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 2 - Elko, Nevada to Cheyenne, Wyoming

Before I start with our adventures, I need to say the following:

I am very grateful that Jason and I fall into the “normal” relationship category. I cannot imagine driving through Utah and more so Wyoming if we were considered different. I cannot think of Wyoming without immediately thinking of Matthew Sheppard and Laramie. I know there are many more things Wyoming has going for it, but he will always be the one it didn’t. I learned today that Wyoming is still one of the last states that still does not have a hate-crime law.

Jason and I are very, very lucky that we can walk into any gas station, restaurant, hotel, etc and not even be looked at twice. We talked in the car today about our friends and family who have had to make this drive and not felt safe. And to you all, I am so sorry that it had to be that way. I sincerely hope that the world continues to change so you no longer have to avoid places like Wyoming because you fear for your safety.

And now onto the lighter topics!

After a night of somewhat refreshing sleep, we were ready to face day 2 of driving. Because of our decision to stick to shorter than 12 hour drives, we made the decision to aim for Cheyenne, WY – a 10 hour, 10 minute drive from Elko. So, after booking a hotel on hotwire trying to avoid having to search for places once we arrived, we were ready to go.

I checked the weather outside. TWENTY EIGHT DEGREES. My heart (and the rest of my body) is not ready for the cold temps yet.

Because I have been an overweight girl for most of my adult life, and living in San Francisco, I never really knew what being cold felt like. I mean sure, we have our mornings where it was foggy and the rare moments of scraping ice off windshields once in a blue moon, but for the most part you could get away with the trusty Northface Fleece. However, after dropping 75lbs, being cold is a whole new ball game to me. What used to feel cool and nice is now freezing to me. I was the flip-flop queen. Now half the time I am wearing my Ugg boots because my feet are too cold. So, this all being said, 28 degrees now feels like it might as well be -28 degrees.

I was tasked with warming up the car while Jason checked out of the Quality Inn. Warming up the car? Another new thing I guess I have to learn. After finding the ONLY starbucks we saw today, we headed out in the direction of Wyoming.

Luckily, Elko was not too far from the Nevada/Utah border, so we made it to Utah in about an hour. 

Immediately after crossing into Utah, we came across the Bonneville Salt Flats. When Jason first drove out to San Francisco, he hit Utah at night, and therefore wasn’t able to see the full effect of the flats. So, of course we stopped and checked them out.

I can’t say the Utah scenery was that much different from that of Nevada. Both are pretty much void of life. The difference is in Utah there weren’t any plants for a while because of the salt in the soil.

Our plan was to stop for lunch in Salt Lake City. I had the bright idea of  stopping for lunch at a local brewery called Squatters Pub and Brewery. We had tried one of their beers last winter in Vegas, and were pleased that they had a location in SLC. So, we stopped, ate lunch, grabbed a beer each for later and drove past Temple Square and the state capital. We didn’t take too many photos here, as we were more in a hurry to get back on the road because Cheyenne was another 6.5 hours to go…

Utah had some more up the hill, down the hills then into Wyoming!

Basically – Nevada, Utah and Wyoming are all pretty similar when it comes to the views from the freeway. Vast areas of nothing, then up a hill, down the hill, then more nothing. It’s very straight and the sky seems endless.

Here’s where I have to do a PSA for Wyoming. The skies are seriously remarkable. As the sun set during the course of the day, the light was absolutely gorgeous.

We had another entertaining day of sing-a-longs (and by we, I mean me). I wonder if Jason knew the extent of my lyrical knowledge when he asked me to marry him. If he didn’t before yesterday, he sure does now.

The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons were the fitting soundtrack for today’s drive, along with a failed attempt at a Halloween Party playlist on Pandora. All I wanted was Thriller and Monster Mash and all I got was Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack songs. Maybe tomorrow will fare better.

Until next time! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 1 - Albany to Elko, Nevada

We wanted to make sure that the day would start off as normal as possible. The goal was to wake up when we woke up, finish packing up the car then head on out. 

Doing this meant that we would most likely be getting a later start and we would have to start looking at realistic drive times for the day - mostly so we weren't driving in the pitch black desert trying to find a place to stay. So, we decided that Elko, Nevada would be a good distance away (8 hours) and a safe first place to spend the night.

The problem we found was that some of the hotels were completely booked, while others were listing their rooms at San Francisco prices. We figured that it being a smaller town, we would take our chances with what we could find when we in arrived in Elko.

I will be the first person to admit that I suck at goodbyes. I am the person that tries to sneak out of parties, bars, get togethers, etc without saying goodbye to people. Unfortunately, when moving across the country, there is no sneaking out the back door. The reality of the move had set in. Everything was packed, it was time to go. After holding it (mostly) together for the past few days of goodbyes, knowing it was the last time I'd walk out of the front door of home set in and I of course became the hot-mess, ugly crier I was trying to avoid. 

Once I was able to regain composure (and I won't mention how long it took), the excitement finally began to set in! We were on our way to the midwest! Mid-Sandy! 

The drive took us through the Sierras and Truckee, where the changing of the leaves was gorgeous against the early snow that they got a week ago - when we were originally supposed to leave . The contrast of the yellow of the leaves against the white of the snow was magnificent. I tried to capture it, but Jason was being a speed-demon and this was the best shot I could get...

After we made it through the Sierras, we were in Nevada. We stopped for lunch at in-n-out in Sparks, which is right outside of Reno. We wanted one last burger before we left the land of the golden arrow. 

Nevada was pretty much like this......

For four hours. And most likely another four tomorrow. You seriously aren't missing much by not making this drive. Unless you like dirt. 

We made it through the drive torturing Jason with my knowledge of Spice Girl songs thanks to Pandora. We've also now learned that he is not a Britney Spears fan. 

We arrived in Elko at about 6:00 pm. After being told that the Best Western was $150 a night (WHAT??) we found out the secret to the completely booked hotels and ridiculously priced hotel rooms - Elko is a gold mining town. Monday through Friday, the hotels are mostly full with miners searching for riches. Not only is it a gold mining town, but apparently Elko is close to THE MAJOR gold mines in Nevada. Which means there are lots of miner men wandering the streets and hotels of Elko. We were also told the prices of hotel rooms in Elko are dirt cheap on the weekends, so if you want to fulfill your lifelong dream of visiting this amazing town, come on the weekend.

Tomorrow we aim for Cheyenne, Wyoming. It's about a 10 hour drive and allows us some time to explore the salt flats in Utah.

Hopefully I will get some better pictures tomorrow. 

Moving Day

Where have the last three years gone?

It's moving day. I've been up since six. I woke up with that excited feeling like the morning you are taking the trip to Disneyland, of even Christmas. Then I remembered.

This is the day I start my 2,290 mile drive away from my family and friends. That is the hardest part about this move. I know that part of change is having to leave things behind, but it's hard when the things you are leaving behind are people you love so dearly. 

There is almost a surreal feeling to today. I think a big part of it is because we have been talking about and putting off this move for so long, that part of me doesn't really believe it's happening today. The moving truck is all packed up and locked up, waiting for the driver to come pick it up and start hauling our stuff towards the Midwest. I figure at this point I have to move, because all my stuff will be sitting there in a truck waiting for me... and I've paid for it already...

Our last day in California was full of errands and packing. I started the day with a long walk with my mom yesterday. It was nice to get one last long walk in with her. The weather here has been ridiculously beautiful, so I got to have one last 70 degree day before plunging myself straight into winter. Then came the packing, the errand running and then the rosary for my grandpa. I feel bad leaving at the same time my dad is saying goodbye to his dad, but it's time. 

The San Francisco Giants' won the 2012 World Series last night. I can not think of a more perfect way to have my time in San Francisco end. Actually - an Oakland A's/ San Francisco Giants' World Series would have been more perfect, but hey, I will take what I can get. And now, I get to leave the city before the victory parade happens on Wednesday. 

Our goal today is to make it to either Salt Lake City or Elko, Nevada. It all just depends on what time we finally hit the road.

Wish us luck! 

The Beginning

Once upon a time there was a little girl born in the big city of San Francisco. A place so magical that people come from every place in the world to catch a glimpse of its Golden Gate and, as Tony Bennett says, “ride a cable car halfway to the stars”.

But one day, like in all stories, that little girl grew into a big girl and fell in love. And suddenly, the happy ever after story began to change. The ride off into the sunset scene no longer included the Sunset (District), the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street in 65 degree weather, even in the month of February. No, the little girl from San Francisco fell in love and agreed to marry a man who hailed from another part of the world, this far away state called Michigan. And after three years of discussions, agreed to move to Chicago, Illinois.

And this is where our story begins…

Five years ago, while working at the Container Store, I met Jason. This blog isn’t so much about our love story (though I would be more than happy to share it with anyone who would care to listen….) as it is about this City Girl’s decision to pack her life into boxes, onto a truck and eastward to the great unknown… THE MIDWEST.

I have lived in San Francisco my entire life. I grew up here. My friends are here. My family is here. My job (though I can’t say I’ve loved every day of it) is here. Moving over 2,000 miles away from what has been, until now, my entire life scares the S-H-I-T out of me. But here we are. The Friday before the big day (which is Monday). The truck has arrived, ready for us to load up everything we have deemed important enough to carry with us, and move me away from everything I know.

Don’t get me wrong. I am beyond myself excited to move to Chicago. This is something that I have been talking about doing, wanting to do, dreaming about doing since the first time we talked about it. Just now that the day has come, the bittersweet feelings have started to sink in.

This California girl has never lived through a Midwestern winter. This will be a brand new, eye
opening experience for someone that is used to 60 degrees year round, summer to winter and back, minus the two weeks of Indian Summer we usually get here every September. Let’s just say I have begun to stock up on sweaters, jackets, scarves and face masks.

I am going to miss my friends. I am going to sorely miss my family. Leaving is the hard part, but I have to  just keep reminding myself of our journey and the life ahead of us waiting there in Chicago.