Getaway to Santa Fe

While we were still in Texas, we still had no idea where we were staying when we arrived in Santa Fe on Friday, October 28. We had intended to camp but after seeing light snow in the forecast for the desert, we decided to look for a hotel. We hit up Groupon Getaways to see if any Santa Fe hotels were listed and, lo and behold, an amazing deal was found.  The Lodge at Santa Fe was listed as a $112 deal (from $232) for a deluxe suite room and included a bottle of red or white wine, museum passes and restaurant coupons.  Luckily, they had availability for Friday night and we booked it immediately. 

The city of Santa Fe appeared as if a desert mirage. One minute we were driving through the canyon passes, surrounded by boulders, sand and cacti, and the next we were seeing stucco buildings and homes built into the hills as if they were floating above the tree line.

The Lodge was located on a small hill close to the Sangre de Cristo mountains, where the setting sun often shines a brilliant blood-red as it sinks below the mountain line. Our room was comfortable and beautifully decorated with authentic Southwestern decor, and with a bottle of Merlot and some light music on the balcony in the late afternoon sun, we felt right at home.

Before dinner, we drove 2 miles to the Santa Fe Plaza, an area packed with shops, art galleries and restaurants. In a bead & jewelry shop, Ritual Adornments, Austin and I made memento bracelets from wooden and plastic skull beads, each hand carved or painted.

After the Plaza, we went back and ate enormous helpings of Mexican food from the hotel restaurant and, leaving in food comas, walked to our room and fell asleep by 8:30 p.m.

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Arkansas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Amarillo, Santa Fe…Lots of Driving

THE MOST INTERESTING THING IN ARKANSAS - HAY STUCK IN THE WINDSHIELD

Wednesday was our longest driving day yet with a total of 12 hours on the road. This included multiple gas stops in Memphis, West Memphis (which is actually in Arkansas) and dinner in Texarkana (I thought this was a made-up name, but it turns out it’s a real place). Arkansas was very, very rural. Driving past the endless acreage of cattle pastures, corn and cotton fields and undeveloped flat land made us feel very small and very lonely.

SKY STREAK IN TEXAS

We found strange comfort upon entering Texarkana’s highly-developed highway stops, with brand new hotels and chain restaurants.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the local Outback and continued on down Rt. 30 to Dallas, Tx, then on to Fort Worth. We arrived sometime after 11pm and needless to say we were beat. We weren’t sure what to expect upon arriving at Tara’s apartment, which was in this huge, old building, but the place was incredible. It was one of 47 unique loft-style apartments that had been reconstructed in an old Catholic convent. It featured much of the original interior of the building – Tara had a part of the original elevator shaft on one side of the loft near the air duct. Of course, we were so content on relaxing outside of a car on Thursday that we didn’t snap any photos of the building.

DRIVING INTO TEXARKANA

During the late afternoon, we drove 30 minutes into downtown Dallas, picked up some turkey and grilled apple sandwiches at a local market, and on the way back to Fort Worth, stopped at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium to pick up a hat for our friend, Mr. Andy Redfearn.

Later Thursday night, we went to downtown Fort Worth with Tara and her boyfriend Eddie to watch the Rangers/Cardinals game at a local sports bar that had more TVs than employees. The food was great, the fans were loud and we witnessed an epic, albeit, brief, fight between several guys and one seriously angry girl who took a glass beer mug in both hands and smashed it against one guy’s head. We left in the sixth inning, and were glad we did since the Rangers lost and we did not want to be anywhere near those fans at the end of that game.

We crashed on Tara’s couch again to wake up at 3:30 a.m. and begin the drive to Santa Fe.

SUNRISE ON OCTOBER 28, 2011

With the sunrise at our backs and the vast and changing New Mexico landscape that left us speechless, we realized just how close we were to the end of our vacation week, and how close we were to finding our place in the Hollywood firmament.

NEW MEXICO

CLOUD COVER DRIVING INTO SANTA FE

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You’re The Only Ten I See

UNION SQUARE, KNOXVILLE, TN

Oh, Tennessee. We didn’t stay very long in Knoxville or Nashville, but we would love to come back to explore.  Knoxville was our lunch stop and we grabbed some tacos at a burrito and margarita bar and then took a quick stroll through the square.  The town had a lot of historic buildings combined with modern strips like Union Square and a nearby shady park.  It reminded me so much of downtown Providence, R.I., especially with the mixed amount of business professionals on their lunch break and college students working on laptops outside of coffee shops.

What topped off our brief visit to Knoxville was seeing Elton John perform with his guitar-playing owner. He certainly was dressed for the occasion.

We had originally planned on camping in Memphis, but instead decided to stay in Nashville at a hotel in downtown, which turned out to be a fantastic decision.

BRIDGESTONE ARENA

The happenin’ street in Nashville is Broadway.  It’s a small strip but it’s packed with bars and BBQ joints. The Predators hockey team had a game at Bridgestone Arena, so the street was busier than normal for a Tuesday night.

The City of Music did not disappoint. Almost every bar had a rockin’ band that filled the street with country and bluegrass music.  We ate pulled pork sandwiches at a double-decker bar called Rippy’s with a sweet outdoor patio strung with white lights.

After dinner, we ducked in to one of the bars to hear an amazing bluegrass band play for a few songs.  I’m not a big fan of country music or “twangy”-sounding songs, but I was enthralled by the sounds of this band and the energy they had as they rocked out to the bar folks’ requests.

THE SILVER THREADS PLAYING IN NASHVILLE, TN

All in all, Tennessee was definitely worth seeing, if only for a short while.  At least we know where to stay and where to go if we come back for another visit!

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Camp Night

Yesterday, we headed southwest from Virginia to North Carolina.  We had booked a $20 campsite at Lake Norman State Park, about 40 miles north of Charlotte, and after a solid seven hours of driving, we were ready to make camp.

DRIVING TO NORTH CAROLINA

We headed off I-40 into the long and lonely back roads of Troutman, NC in the direction of Lake Norman.  I thought it was pretty creepy but wanted to make the best of our camp night. We agreed that we we wanted an early night since we were hoping to be on the road by 6:00 a.m. to get an early start on the drive to Tennessee.

When I had booked the reservation last week, I was told that the campground entrance gate closed at 8:00 p.m., so all campers had to be in the park at that time in order to camp the night of their reservation. What they weren’t so clear about was that the entrance is also the exit, which means that at 8 o’clock on the dot, the park ranger literally locks the entrance gate until 8:00 a.m. the next day.  Needless to say, this stifled our morning driving plans. And if I had a heart attack, I’d likely have to wait it out until morning. Nevertheless, we got to our site, bought three bundles of firewood and settled in for the night.

By the time we found our site, it was completely dark, so Austin and I set up the tent with a headlamp and a flashlight.  Then we moved on to starting a camp fire, which turned into a thirty-minute ordeal of blowing on quick-dying embers and getting excited every time a small flame appeared.  We gave up after we realized the wood wasn’t completely dry and the air was so still that it was probably killing any chance of a fire.

Then the real fun started.

We crawled into the tent after combating hundreds of Daddy Long Leg spiders just waiting until our tent flap opened up so they could race inside and torture me.  I even had a minor panic attack after one got in, but thankfully Austin doesn’t have any irrational fears so that fun only lasted a few minutes.

Once we turned off the lantern, I could hear Austin start to breathe deeply, falling into a peaceful sleep.  On the other side, I lay with my eyes wide open, jumping at every sound I heard (which was EVERYTHING).  There was no breeze so the tiniest leaf or acorn falling from the trees landed on the ground with a loud CRACK.  So many things were falling, that it started to sound like footsteps all around the campsite.  At least a dozen times during the night, I was convinced that an axe murderer had crept into our camp and was circling our tent waiting to kill me.

Around 12:45 a.m., we heard loud police or fire sirens, probably a good distance from the park grounds but loud enough to sound like the forest was on fire.  Then the cracking noises of the leaves began to sound like fire, and I thought for sure we were all goners because the park ranger locked us in for the night.  Shortly after the sirens died away, Austin woke up and told me he couldn’t sleep either and then we both heard what we’re almost positive was a speedboat racing back and forth across the lake.

LEAVING CAMP ON TUESDAY MORNING

The restless sleep, coupled with some crazy-ass dreams, left me wide-awake at 7:00 a.m. ready to hit the road.  So we packed up and left the park at quarter after 8, happy to know that a hotel was in our future for tonight.

THE FIRE THAT NEVER WAS

We just arrived in Nashville, the City of Music, and are about to do some exploring and eating. Updates to follow.

Peace & Love.

A&K

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Driving Down the East Coast

This morning, we had hoped to leave Massachusetts by 8:00 a.m.

This was 8:30 a.m.: 

And this was 9:42 a.m.:

BYE!

But we don’t mind that we started later than planned.  We had a tremendous weekend with our family and, as Austin said, our friends, who are family.  We left with a lot of love in our hearts to carry with us to our new home.

We couldn’t drive through Stamford, CT without stopping briefly to see our good friend Annie, who had laid out a delicious spread of bagels and Danish to hold us over until lunch.  We couldn’t have asked for more.

We were SO happy that we bumped our trip up one day, and decided to leave on a Sunday.  We hit essentially no traffic, and despite multiple restroom stops, we made it to Virginia in great time.

After enjoying a decadent meal and great conversation with Aunt Mary Beth and cousins Jen and Nadia, we are officially in food comas and are calling it a night, just before the stroke of 10 o’clock.

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Goodbye for now

It’s more than official: I’m leaving the absolute BEST Place to Work.

Delicious going-away cupcakes courtesy of Miss Shannon Campbell

 

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Our trip

SUNDAY, October 23, 2011 – Depart Massachusetts and head for Austin’s cousin’s place in Virginia.

MONDAY, October 24, 2011 – Drive from Virginia to a campground near Charlotte, North Carolina. From here we’ll start heading West via I-40.

TUESDAY, October 25, 2011 – Leave Charlotte, NC and begin our trek through Tennessee. Food/sightseeing stops in Knoxville and Nashville.  We’ll stay at the Elvis Presley RV & Park Campground in Memphis (SUPER excited about this!)

WEDNESDAY, October 26, 2011 – We’ll drive almost 8 hours from Memphis, TN to arrive in Dallas, TX, where we’ll be staying with my friend Tara.

THURSDAY, October 27, 2011 – After leaving Dallas, we’ll head up to Santa Fe, NM, where we’ll be camping again in one of the state parks.

FRIDAY, October 28, 2011 – We’ll continue heading northwest toward the Grand Canyon, where we’ll camp for two whole nights! We’re going to do some serious hiking, maybe take a guided tour and take in the beauty that is this enormous crack in the Earth’s surface.

SATURDAY, October 29, 2011 – Exploring the Grand Canyon.

SUNDAY, October 30, 2011 – VEGAS, the place where it all began. We are staying at the Bellagio (I’m going to watch those fountains all day and night!) and we promise our parents that we A. won’t lose all our money, and B. won’t create any Hangover-esque memories (or lack thereof).

MONDAY, October 31, 2011 – We land in Hollywood, CA for Halloween night (funny how that worked out, right?) We heard something about Santa Monica Boulevard shutting down this night for the thousands upon thousands of people to come out and celebrate. We better think of good costumes!

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One week

We are at the one-week mark.  Seven days from today, we head out on our road trip to reach the other coast.  We are excited, nervous, anxious, eager, sad and happy all at once.  We are saying our see-you-soons to all of our family and friends and mentally preparing to tip our hats to New England, drinking in every last sight, smell and sound to be fresh in our memories until we return.

We’ve come so far in just one short year.  It’s difficult to think back to ten months ago, sitting in our Warren apartment, discussing potential departure dates and calculating our projected savings.  We frequently altered our plan slightly, implementing small changes after realizing that we didn’t need so much stuff and that dragging a trailer carrying our furniture across the country just didn’t make sense.  We thought about making sure we reached our savings goal of $10,000, and how that goal coincided nicely with leaving just as autumn was setting in, and before the snow dumped on the East Coast.

We’re here.  We’re finally on our way to something new and exciting and terrifying all at once.  We keep saying that we can’t wait until it begins, but our journey has already begun. It started the day we decided to make the move to California.

We have the support of countless family members and close friends and we can’t thank everyone enough for their encouragement, advice and love. We hope this blog will allow you to follow our journey closely, and to inspire you to follow your own.

One love,
A&K

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We’ll Be Back Before You Know It

We’ve left California, but only briefly.  Our first visit was incredible and reassuring and, if it’s possible, has made us even more excited to move there.  Now the real countdown begins, the three-week ticker, until our road trip that will lead us back to our new home.

During our five-day vacation, we spent a good amount of time calling the numbers of various Craigslist ads for apartments and relying heavily on our iPhone to navigate us to each new place.  We saw nearly ten apartments, all of which were decent and had potential. No decisions were made, but we found comfort in knowing what was out there and figuring out which neighborhoods would suit our new lifestyles best.

Hollywood is the area we’ve decided on. We want to be in the heart of it all and Hollywood can give that to us.  We’ll be spoiled if we find work close by, but even if we don’t, the commute to pretty much anywhere in the Greater Los Angeles area will not be as treacherous and exhausting as it may seem.

For now, we are happy with the notion that we’ve chosen well.  There will most certainly be ups and downs, particularly in the first few months of adjustment, but we are excited to be a part of such an eclectic and fast-paced culture, where you see something different and eye-catching on every corner and no one is complacent.  Everyone seems to be going after something different, and we feel welcomed to do the same.

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We’re There, Man

We’ve landed. Hollywood is almost exactly as I’ve imagined.  Big and flashy, billboards everywhere you turn, tall palm trees lining almost every major street, and an unnecessary number of cosmetic surgery offices.

That’s only Hollywood.  We’ve also seen some beautiful and quiet residential streets with well-kept homes and neatly trimmed front yards, and we’ve traveled the length of Santa Monica Boulevard to feel the dip in the air temperature as we stretch closer and closer to the ocean.

I’m honestly relieved when I ask Austin what he thinks about this area, and he answers that he’s looking for a more peaceful place to call home.  I still can’t get rid of these butterflies in my stomach.  Maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s being completely out of my comfort zone, and feeling tired from a long morning of travel. I’m so happy to be here, experiencing all of this, but at the same time, I feel on edge, and it doesn’t help when I start thinking about the tasks that lay ahead: finding a place to live and finding steady employment.

I’m ready to work hard and struggle and sacrifice to find something I love to do.  I’m willing to put forth the effort to reap the reward.  That willingness doesn’t make it any less easy. And as much as I’ve been looking forward to this move, I still can’t escape feeling tiny against a huge backdrop, and feeling like maybe I don’t know what I got myself into.

I keep reminding myself though, that I felt something similar my first day of college.  A mere five years ago, I was feeling small and meek and nervous about a huge transition in my life.  But I made it through, with flying colors. I managed and made it work and got past those feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.  I made friends, I excelled and felt happy and learned so much.  I just need to keep reminding myself that now, I’m not only older and wiser, but I have my best friend here by my side.  Austin may not feel as nervous as I do, but that’s why I love him, because he is different than me.  I know that he’ll comfort me when I need it, and I’ll do the same for him, and we will both treasure this new experience together.

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