Monday, July 8, 2013

The 3,000 Miles: Day 6

We've finally made it to Los Angeles! Technically, we made it in on Saturday, but it's been a busy couple of days.

Joe drove the whole way from Wilcox to Los Angeles and again, we traveled through sixty-five million different sights.

We saw craggily rocks and high peaked mountains, but also: orange tree farms and a windmill farm! I know that California is very pro green energy, but it was startling how big and expansive the windmill farms were.

(Some of the windmills)

On the way out of Arizona, we stopped at a rest stop that had trees with green trunks! There was also a sign saying to stay on the path because there were poisonous snakes and insects around. I also saw a lizard dude. hahaha

(Green trunks!)

We got Joe a U-Haul so he could load his stuff and her sister's stuff to his apartment out here.

Ali and I returned to her place and began searching for a new apartment. The going for that has been rough, lots of places are charging a huge amount for deposit and then don't include anything!

But Ali's place has a pool and hot tub, which we've been taking advantage of while we can :)

We've also taken in a stray. Her name is Haley and she's a 22 yr old Second Core Member as well. 

I've only been here two days, but LA seems quieter than I was expecting. Maybe once I settle in and begin exploring and celebrity stalking, it will be more exciting. 

But on a whole, the trip was amazing and  one of the best moments of my life. We literally left a forest of greens and saw different ocean vastness and a crushing blankness only provided by sprawling deserts. 

The colors alone were worth the gas and hotel costs. Blue skies battle sea water for prettiest calming view. Dark mountain tops guarding over us told stories in greens and browns. The bright yellow sun shone on dusty reds.

It sounds cliche, but this trip was a once in a lifetime event and something everyone should have the chance to try.

(Some of the Marge Simpson cacti that are in every western movie ever made)

(Mountain guards)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The 3,000 Miles: Day 5

Volcanoes are the only natural disaster I have yet to survive thanks to yesterday's trip. As we were traveling through the barren desert to Wilcox, Arizona the car was hit by a "dust devil" or a mini dust storm.

(This one didn't hit us, but one of his brothers did. In New Mexico.)

Getting out of Texas and into New Mexico and Arizona was filled with cliche Texan things. We saw crumbling abandoned gas stations, coyotes (dead), wide sandy plains, oil drilling machines and cacti. Not the Marge Simpson kind, but little grounders.

(It's even flowering!)

The landscape changed dramatically too. We left urban San Antonio to mountains and cliff faces. Only to drive through deserts. Then back into the urban area of El Paso which gave way to New Mexico's nothingness deserts. 

I drove us into New Mexico and we had to stop and verify that we were American citizens. As a Mass liberal whose argued against The Fence, it was weird to be stopped. To be that close to the problem; giving new value to arguments.

The desert of New Mexico was beautiful in the only way Nature's harshness can be. The traffic was minimal, which only added to the sense of empty such large spaces provide.

In the far distance, mountains loomed, always watching but never reachable. The weather was so intense that he saw heat lightening, which is caused by extreme temperatures and high particle (like dust) count in the air. 

We stopped for food and Ali brought us to the hotel. There, after 12 hours of driving and two times changes (from Central to Mountain to Pacific), we hit the pool.

It was fantastic to just submerge myself in cool water as it was hot as balls the whole day. I'm certain I have a tan/burn on the nape of my neck.

After 30 minutes of swimming and relaxing, we walked across the street to a sit-down style Pizza Hut. We got pasta dishes and some booze from the gas station next door. 

Back in the room, we played drinking card games: Up The River, Golf, Drinking Old Maid and Blackjack. For Old Maid, the seven was the Old Maid for the first couple of games - it was creepily funny.

In Blackjack, Ali cheated somehow because she kept getting 21. Even though it was 9 p.m. Arizona time, for us it was 11 p.m. and we decided to go to sleep.

Climbing into my own bed, I snugged down to sleep through my buzz.

(A new friend, found at a Texan rest stop)

(These mountains aren't rocky, they're Davis! #jokes!)

(Cliff side in Texas somewhere on I-10. The rock is blue!)

The 3,000 miles: Day 4

Leaving New Orleans was hard. Not only was the city amazing, but we were also hungover and 6 a.m. is super early.

Ali and I got up and shambled about, packing like a zombie would. What I mean by that is that we'd mumble and creak our bones while pushing a shirt into a bag.

Joe, who was shit-faced last night, was the hardest to get up. He slept on the far left of his bed, and as Ali and I shook him, he'd roll away. He eventually rolled himself into a blanket burrito on the far right side.

But at 7 a.m. we were able to get on the road and headed to San Antonio. The first hour or so was traveling over waterways and while we didn't really get to see the bayou, it was great to see some of the famous swamp.

Once we were in Texas, it was just one long strip of highway. Five hundred and eighty-five miles on I-10. Somewhere among those miles, the radio was only able to pick up one station: bluesy country. 

I was driving (made it through Huston in one piece!) at this point and it began clear to me that this section of the trip was going to be the worst part. Flanked by wide open plains, we had left the area of sights behind us. It was rough.

But we made it to the city. I gave Joe and Ali the Vincent Warning before exiting the highway. 

When we reached the house, we had 4th of July BBQ, did laundry and discovered that Vincent had turned into a crazy dog man. hahhaha, he has four dogs!

Barbara was civil, which was expected. While Ali and Joe slept, I visited with my grandma. She told me stories from when she and my grandfather lived in Cali. and I told her about how Mass people. 

(Grandma and I)

But eventually, sleep's siren was to hard to ignore and I crashed.

Compared to the other days, this one was more relaxed and less eventful but nothing could replace seeing my grandma for the first time since my grandfather's funeral four years ago. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The 3,000 Miles: Day 3

Day three was a first for me: the man I was sharing a bed with woke up screaming. 

Since each hotel is going to have two beds, and there are three of us and three hotels, we decided that each hotel someone would sleep alone. The other two would share.

Ali was the first to claim a bed, so Joe and I shared the other (Joe claimed the single for New Orleans and I get the single for Arizona!). 

During the middle of the night, Joe was whimpering and mumbling in his sleep, so I turned over to see if he was okay. Apparently, he was having a nightmare that the front desk clerk was murdering us and my movement surprised a shriek out of him.

I, still being sleepy, said eff this and went back to sleep. Five hours later, we hit the road. If Day 2's keyword was rain, then Day 3's driving could easily be called sunny.

The closer we got to New Orleans, the clearer the skies. The road also became a straight line contrasted to the curvy mountain roads of the Mid-Atlantic.

On the way we saw mist covered mountains, large lakes and rolling oceans. Here is my view from the back seat:

hahaha! With Joe doing 90% of the driving and Ali acting as Navigator, I've been in the backseat nook, which I like, but it prevents me from taking decent photos of some of the more amazing road sights. 

I did get to see them, just didn't get a photo.

The hotel in New Orleans was really nice. Gold coated faucet handles, a little courtyard with a fountain for three rooms to share, nice flower wallpaper that matched heavy silver curtains. The lobby had a chandelier.

Video to come.

But New Orleans! The nightlife is like nothing else. Roads were closed off to cars so that people can walk freely, you can have alcohol out in the open (as long as it's in a nonbreakable container), loud music and the heavy scent of food battle for attention. It's definitely something to experience.

We started our night with a stop in a bar, of course. I ordered a Long Island Iced Tea, but it was subpar. But since we weren't staying at the bar, I was able to carry it and drink slowly to the next place, a little southern pub. The food was warm (as in spicy), but it was delicious and worked with my glass of red wine.

At this point, I'm drunk. I'm drunk until the next morning.

After the pub, we headed to another bar (catch the pattern here?), where Ali and Joe got a Hand Grenade, "New Orleans' Most Powerful Drink." Loads of sugar, and alcohol for only $8 with refills at any of the Tropical Isle's spots. Some bars have little to-go sections just for this drink.

(The Hand Grenade)

After downing one, both Ali and Joe we're drunk (or close to it). We hit another bar, this one had a live band (Lov Sexy), that mostly covered songs from the 70's. Remember that I was drunk, so of course I danced.

When I was dirty dancing with an older woman (mid-forties), she took a dollar out and trailed it down my chest before shoving it into the waistband of my pants. At the time, I laughed it off and moved back to my friends.

Now I'm thinking, that I came pretty close to being something like a stripper. Another job I can check off my to do list.

I did use that woman's dollar to buy a tube shot, that didn't taste like alcohol so I'm sure it wasn't too bad.

We stayed in that bar for at least an hour drinking and dirty dancing. Joe "cut a rug" extremely well (he's got rhythm), and the bar started chanting, "Go white boy! Go white boy!"

It was hilarious. Once we started getting tired, we headed to another bar - with Joe saying he wanted to go to a strip club. Of course, once Ali and I starting walking into a strip club, Joe kept walking down the street.

We ended up in another bar with live music, but this time it was trailer park dudes singing 90's rock songs. I didn't like this bar as much, so I left and explored the area a little. Ten minutes later, I met up with Ali and Joe and we decided to split. 

Joe wanted to stay on the street, Ali wanted to go back to the hotel for a bit and I wanted to see the non-party side of New Orleans. I dropped Ali off before waking to a nearby park with light statues. 

However, I was still drunk and I didn't want to get lost so I turned back shortly. Ali called on my way back, wanting a hot dog, so I nabbed one for her and one for me.

Joe was back and clearly smashed when I returned. He tried to sit on the corner of the bed, only to fall to the floor. When we laughed, he decided to show us up by doing a rolling-flip thing that would have been impressive if only he didn't crumble forward two seconds after landing.

Ali and I laughed again (how could we not?). Joe stood up and declared that he was showering. I lied down to sleep, listening to the rushing water. The last thing I remember thinking was, I'll give Joe thirty minutes before I check on him fearing he might drown.

I fell asleep before the water stopped. (Spoiler alert: Joe did not drown. He's just slightly hungover.)

The 3,000 Miles: Day 2

The plan was to wake at 7 a.m. and leave Maryland at 8, 9 at the latest. But sleep's comforting hold kept us in bed until 9:15 a.m. 

We knew we were going to be a little late for Tennessee so we packed leisurely, determined to reorganize the back. My friend and her brood had to leave for work, so I left the present I brought for her on a dinning room chair and we locked the door. Maryland was beautiful and it was fantastic to see my friend. 

The traffic was much better than leaving New England, but the weather was depressing. It rained off and on, with a large portion of the 220 miles through Virginia and Tennessee were soaking.

(Some clouds forewarning intense rain)

It got so bad at one point that Joe, who did most of the driving, had to slow down to 15 mph and lean forward just to see the car in front of us. It was scary in the sense that an accident was a very real possibility.

I slept on and off for the ride to Knotsville, Tennessee. But I do remember seeing a lot of cows (Holy cows!) and open land. Some of the water towers were painted to reflect the town/county - apples, rainbows, music notes to name a few. And mountains flanking us on all sides.

Somewhere in those 220 miles it was decided that 90's music would be the road trip's soundtrack with Tracy Chapman's classics "Fast Car" and "Give Me A Reason" as the theme.

When we reached the hotel, it was decided that we wanted a warm meal curtsey of Quiznos. I got a small tuna and a small chicken bacon ranch flatbread for  $6. It was tasty and hit the spot.

After a little debating, we decided to forgo the pool in favor of showering and sleeping. The warm water was perfect to wash away two days of driving and much needed to relax everyone. 

Settling into bed, we watched "Teen Titans Go!" and "Jonny Test," shows promising poorly animated dreams. Cuddled in bed, I fell asleep by 9:45.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The 3000 Miles: Day 1

I write this as Joe speeds down the highway and Ali whole-heartedly sings with her "Songs of the 90's" playlist.

We are on a highway in Virgina for another 200 miles before the GPS will grant us the next direction. But this post is about yesterday's grand adventures, not today's sleepy ride.

Monday at 5 a.m. I hurried downstairs to the car. Ali is coming sometime between 7 and 8 and my mother, aunt, sister and cousin wanted to have one last breakfast at The Red Rooster, our favorite in town diner.

We drive the two streets to the Rooster to find that they're closed for holiday. Without stopping my mother drives is to Blue Moon, the breakfast joint downtown. They under renovations. We drive up the street to Paramount; the overcrowded Paramount.

We stop and try to think of other diners in our small city. The fifty's themed place jumps to mind and we coast towards it. The place doesn't open until 8. 

In a last ditch effort, we head to Gabby's across town; it's already 5:45 - we don't have much time. Gabby's is also closed for the holiday. It's decided that Dunkins will be my last breakfast in MA.

My mom turns the car around only to have my aunt see a sign proclaiming "2 eggs and toast for $3," on a building no one has had eaten in before.

We hesitantly enter and take seats near the door. The waitress greeted us with a smile and was very tentative to our needs. My omelet was delicious and I could tell the rest of the table found the same to be true for their meals.

We left with my mother and cousin discussing returning in a few days. At home, I said my final goodbye to my kitties and brought my stuff down to the curb to wait for Ali.

When Ali arrived, we loaded her tiny Hyundai Sonata to the brim with luggage and food; the only spot in the back a little nook. But we headed to Maryland ready for a road trip.

Everything was smooth as Ali drove out of town. Our first highway was Route 2 West and before thinking, I asked, "Why are taking West?" hahaha!

It wasn't until Conn. that we hit weather issues. There was a tornado and flash flood warning for our route. New York was easier, surprisingly smooth traffic but the New Jersay turn pike had been a huge delay. There was an overturned car blocking two (out of three) lanes. 

At this time, Joe was driving and later commented that it took three hours to drive six miles. 

We reached Maryland at 8:15 p.m. when our original arrival time was 4:00 p.m. But in Maryland we were able to stay with a friend I hadn't seen for two years. She had a bird's best, with baby chicks, right outside her front door. Her fiancée joined us for a late dinner of spicy chicken and salad. Quickly followed by shots of tequila.

Four shots in and I was drunk! The little party (comprised of myself, Ali, Joe, my friend, her fiancée, his sister and one of their friends) was loud with laughter and bonding. My friend and I sat on the couch and watched one episode of The Office before I passed out.

My friend and I

The chicks. They were adorably ugly.