Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oahu, Hawaii a.k.a. my new place of residence

As I mentioned before, this blog is behind, so I'm going to try and catch you up on the last two weeks...

On March 15th in the wee hours we very awkwardly got all our luggage downstairs to wait for the airport shuttle.  Poor airport shuttle driver who had to lift our maletas (for my non Spanish speakers that means suitcase) that were more than 60lbs each.  Then we awkwardly got our maletas to the check in counter.  I was slightly nervous because I was taking my handgun and I was worried that I was going to have a hard time...but, my preplanning (and my dad's help!) made it go smoothly.  Security went quickly, and then we were in the sterile area!  Because of my extensive knowledge of airports and airlines, I always like to get there extra early to account for any issues getting to the gate.  But it all went smoothly and we had a while to wait.  When we were finally in the air I couldn't sleep of course, left over habit from my previous job, so I read some of the Hawaiian Air magazine, read my Steven Tyler book, and played games on my iPhone to pass the time.  And then suddenly we were landing.  Just off the plane we were greeted by our lei's I set up beforehand, and a woman from Robert's Hawaii (a big company here!) that led us to baggage claim to meet the other woman that would help us with our bag and take us to our van driver.  As surreal as it was to actually be here, the "holy shit we're here moment" didn't exactly hit me.  I was thrilled, however, that we were going to have a home for 11 whole days!!!  For the past 2 weeks we had no idea where we'd be sleeping on any given night, so 11 nights of a stable bed was heaven!

Our extended stay was in a pretty great location in Waikiki, close enough to everything but far enough to get away from the throngs of tourists, who of course annoy us now that we're "locals"!  ha!  It's hard to describe each day one by one, but I can say that we hit the ground running.  Within the first 3 days of being on the island we had already been to the bank to set up accounts, applied to a ton of jobs, viewed 3 different apartments, and ridden the bus who knows how many times!  This is paradise, and while we did enjoy the beauty of it, this is our lives, and we weren't willing to just sit back and pretend that it was a vacation.  We needed to set ourselves up!  But, we did have some good times along the way...

1st night out
St Patrick's Day
1st pool day

And we also had some great food! Including probably the best best brunch I ever had at the cutest little place called the Cream Pot!
almost too pretty to eat!

1st drink

not like what you get back home
Cream Pot!
We moved into our apartment on the 26th.  The one thing about this place that is the opposite of what we originally wanted was that it's on the ground floor.  But, we both fell in love with it the moment we walked in...mostly due to the hardwood floors!  And the last 5 days have been incredibly long, as we had to do sooooo much!  Cleaning, food shopping, etc.  And we were still waiting for the packages my parents had mailed us to come in (which have to date all arrived except for one which I have no doubt will arrive soon).  So while we had a home, we had to make a makeshift bed for a couple days, and we couldn't cook real food yet.  But we weren't complaining...we have a home!  For me this is all completely new.  I came from living at home with my folks.  Yup, I'm 27 and was still at home.  For a few reasons...1. because my job called for me to be away more days than I was home, 2. because it was financially smarter, I could work on paying my student loans, and help my parents financially at the same time which was a huge blessing, and 3. simply put, because I probably could've lived with my parents for the rest of my life.  I am blessed with amazing parents, that fortunately never made me feel like I couldn't wait to move out.  But, while this is all new to me, one of my worries was right on.  Not having a job made it difficult for us to get the apartment we really wanted.  However, as always, my parents came through when I told them we would probably get approved with a guarantor.  I hated the idea, but knew my parents wouldn't hesitate.  My parents are the most giving people I know.  Growing up our house was always the house our friends wanted to go to because our parents would basically adopt our best friends.  They're the kind of parents that don't just think about their own kids...whether it's food, drinks, blankets, etc. if our best friends were with us, or we were out with them, what they got for us they also got for them.  I love the generosity of my parents, although sometimes I wish they wouldn't do so much, because more often than not, in my experience, people just don't realize and appreciate how much they did and do.  But, they came through again.  I have full intentions of changing the name on the lease asap though, which is part of the reason we only signed for 6 months.  I would never take advantage of my parents, which kind've surprised our realtor which made me think, are people my age usually that screwed up!?!  But anyhoot, None of what I have done could I have done without my parents, and there's no way for me to ever express my gratitude adequately.  I talk to them in some way, whether through text, the phone, or Facetime, everyday.  And I'm not ashamed to admit that it's what keeps me sane.  As much as I hate talking on the phone, and video chatting, when it's with my parents, I look forward to it.

But enough emotional stuff!!  I should mention also, that I exhausted my annual leave from my previous position, and was technically still an employee until the 24th.   A few days before that, my boss called me (right on cue since I was getting ready to call him) to make sure that I hadn't changed my mind, and I wasn't on my way back.  It was a sobering feeling...knowing that the time for me to officially not be an employee there had come.  I can't say enough how much I enjoyed the guys I worked with, and how I'll always look back on my almost 4 years there fondly.  But, I am not the type to throw in the towel so quickly, so I knew when I put in for the leave that I wouldn't be back, and so the time would come for me to no longer have access to anything that went with the job...and so it did.

My "holy shit we really did it" moment came when I was in a cab  (literally called "The Cab", just like the bus here is literally called "The Bus") the day we moved in on my way to pick up my car.  Looking out the window, just me and the cab driver in the van, I couldn't believe that I was actually here.  When you go through the planning of such a life changing event it can start to seem like it's never actually going to happen...and then it does.  I've probably experienced every emotion you can feel in the last month.  And while everything has been coming together nicely, I'm sure the road ahead will be equipped with some speed bumps and pot holes, but that's ok, because I never thought it would be easy, I just knew it would be worth it.  Along with my blood family, I also should mention how very thankful I am for my other family, my friends who have supported me and rooted for me always.  Oh, and my car is safe and sound...yay!  I missed my baby.

And the adventure continues...are you with me???

Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


So here we are, at last, our final stop.  I should mention, if I haven't already, that this blog is behind by about 2 weeks.  My hope was that I'd be able to write at each stop, but a travelers life isn't always planned, and it was hard to write when I didn't always have wifi...and of course, some nights and days were busier than others.  But, it doesn't really matter that it's late...just matters that I'm writing now.  Anyhoot, our last stop, completely from one side of the country to the other...Los Angeles.  I should mention I have been to L.A. before and I've never been impressed by it.  But, Jas had never been, and I had never done the major tourist attraction stuff, so, we did.  I still wasn't impressed, but, at least I can say I've been there.

We found a combo deal so we could go to both the Guinness World of Records Museum and the Hollywood Wax Museum, so we did that.  What we found in both was that L.A. does not care for it's museum half as well as the museums we saw along the way, or the museums back home for that matter.  As a matter of fact it seems like L.A. doesn't care to take care of much.  The highways were horrible...potholes everywhere.  I just really don't get why people get so excited to go to this city.  I mean I get that there's the whole celebrity appeal, and I'm not saying I wouldn't like to see a certain celebrity or two...but, I'm just uninterested in taking tours of celebrity houses or hotspots, and these were the things people were trying to shove down our faces everywhere.  But, that's not to say that I didn't have fun with what we had...we made the best of it, as you can see in these pics:

And I will say I was looking forward to seeing certain celebrities stars on the Walk of Fame, and stepping in their shoe print and putting my hands in their hand print.  Those who know me know of my love, or some may call it a slight obsession, with Johnny Depp.  I wouldn't leave till I saw his star...

Here's a few more stars I thought worthy of a picture:
James Dean

Judy Garland
Michael Jackson

Dr. Seuss
Frank Sinatra
Tito Puente

And a few more who's feet I stepped into.  The first picture I simply couldn't resist.  My love of books, but more specifically my love of the Harry Potter series jumped for joy at it.

Dame Helen Mirren

Will Smith

Clearly this post is mostly pictures because I don't have many great things to say for L.A.  But that's just my personal opinion.  Maybe one day I'll see the awesomeness that so many others see.  We did find this random little place on Hollywood Blvd. that had a delicious taco, rice and black beans combo.    
L.A. was more about getting stuff done.  We had 3 days there and then we were getting on a plane.  So reality was hitting us hard.  No harder than when I took my car to the dealership to get it serviced and ended up paying the equivalent of maybe an arm, or leg, or both (that's probably an exaggeration)...and having to leave it there for hours and get a loaner.  Up side...I got to drive a Prius for a couple hours, was relatively minor.  It can always be worse, so while I wasn't thrilled about having to put out the money, I wasn't upset...I was thankful, because I have so much to be thankful for.  And then I had to drop my car off to be shipped.  It was hard for me to leave without her.  But, thankfully, to help my mind from focusing on that, my awesometastic cousin came to pick us up from the port, and we got to do lunch and catch up.  So, my favorite part of L.A. was that my cousin was close enough to see.  I must say it was nice to see a family member the day before hopping on a plan that would take me very, very far from my family back home.

And this adventure ends...but another one begins...

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Canyon sure is Grand

Well, as most folks would probably agree with, you can't really do a cross country trip and not have been to the Grand Canyon.  I mean, maybe if you took the completely northern route it would be an excuse, but since we didn't, we felt pretty obligated to make a visit to the grandest of canyons.  And after staying at a pretty cute hotel after our Four Corners visit, and some much needed rest...and of course all the driving, we made it.

At this time of year only the southern rim of the canyon is open.  When we read that in our research before the trip I must admit I was slightly disappointed...I make it to the Grand Canyon and only the southern rim is open!  How dare they?!  But, after being there a bit, that disappointment faded as I realized I wasn't missing out really...

I mean this place is the way that a mouse must look up at an elephant and gasp at it's size type of huge.  They weren't kidding when they named this thing grand.

But as big as it is, it still elicits calming feelings, like the universe is not so subtly reminding you that your an incredibly minuscule dot in this painting of life.  It's good to be humbled by the grandeur of nature sometimes...people tend to take themselves too seriously, and believe they are too important - Mother Nature has a way of setting you straight.

After a couple hours we were exhausted.  I can't imagine seeing the entire canyon, both north and south rims.  It was really just so tiring.  We'd drive from one spot to the next, get out, walk around...jump back in the car and do it again.  It sounds like no big deal since you have to drive part of it, but it's really not as simple as it sounds.    While it's up to 18 miles wide, driving it takes much longer since you have to make a big circle around all those miles.  I should mention also that I'm pretty sure at mostly every stop we made, we were in areas we weren't necessarily supposed to be.  But it wouldn't be right if we stayed in only the areas set aside...there's always more interesting places to see where you're not supposed to be!

Who knows how many hours we spent at the canyon, but when we left we were starved. But on the way to finding something to eat we fell across Bedrock!  So of course we had to stop! There was a little campground and diner there, which we didn't eat at but we couldn't pass up the photo opp.  Enjoy!

After our Bedrock photo shoot we were back on the road looking for food!  We finally found a little gem of a place.  As if the food wasn't good enough, they also had orange and cream soda, and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my love for that!  If I haven't mentioned it before, those little hole in the wall places...those are the ones we love stopping at.  You find amazing food in the most unassuming places.  And we've definitely had some great food during this trip (the kind that makes your mouth water just thinking of it!), which is great, cause we both LOVE food.  People think smaller girls don't eat, but I like to explain to people that there's a fat girl living inside of me.  And, I've never been big on eating things that are actually good for you, like veggies, and salads.  I only recently learned to eat a caesar salad...and don't you dare tell me that it's the most unhealthy salad you can have!  Baby steps.  Anyhoot, the caesar salad at the little place we found was ridiculously good...or maybe we were just ridiculously starving, but still, yum!

If you don't believe me when I say how much I love a meal...this is how my face looks:

And the adventure continues...

Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Four Corners, USA!

Have you been in four places at once??...I have!
And clearly, by the look on my face, you can see how excited I was!  I mean, how often do you have the opportunity to be in four places, four states, at once?  In the United States there is only one opportunity for that, and that is right where I stood in this pic.  Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona all meet in this one spot.  This landmark is managed by the Navajo Nation, so all along the monument you can find little stands where you can purchase so many beautifully handmade items.  I got a lovely little dream catcher necklace (I have a thing for dream catchers) and Jas got a pretty awesome bracelet.

So what do people do at the monument....well, pretty much stand there waiting for their turn to take any number of pretty ridiculous pictures!  One family had two little girls, and the one girl, the older girl, was shy and didn't want to be embarrassed...the younger one though, she was all about being the center of attention!  She didn't care one iota about being embarrassed...when do we lose that feeling?  When do we become so self-conscious and concerned with how other people view us?  Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we start to care too much about others opinions, and not enough about our own.  But I one pose this little girl did was a back when Jas dared me to do the same, even though I was being a copycat...I couldn't resist.

The other awesome part of the monument was the fry bread you could buy on your way out...YUM!  Frybread is a Native American food that tastes similar to funnel cake, but so much better.

In case I didn't mention it previously, the drive through the Colorado Rockies, to Four Corners, and from Four Corners to our next stop, was at times steep, with tons of twists and turns, and very remote.  Sometimes it took forever to get to a bathroom...and, we did go a little crazy in the car, have our own concerts etc.  So is the life of a traveler!

And the adventure continues...
Stay tuned...