Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All Good Things...

“Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts.”

 It’s officially been over two months since Bree & I got back from our Incredible Journey. Somehow, the acclimation back to “real” life has made the adjustment period fly by. Not that we’re completely adjusted, just that the time period seems to have gone very fasssttt. 

Our trip ended along the Fort Bragg coast of Northern California, sleeping in the “Navigator,” (our dependable car) overlooking the bluffs down to the clear & cold Pacific Ocean. It seemed like a proper testament that we’d officially made it coast-to-coast. A sleepless, cold testament- but one just the same. Have to say, for as little sleep we got- it was still really nice listening to the crashing waves and looking at the stars to bring our Summer adventure to a close. It was an amazing Summer full of so much beauty, different landscapes, National Parks, cities, architecture, family, friends, quality time together, hiking, camping, eating, drinking, etc. etc. 

So here we are, back in the beautiful Bay Area of California and the realm of everyday stresses. As easy as it is to adjust to NOT working- it’s much less fun getting used to the jobs/money/bills side of life again. As Joe Biden would say, it’s a bunch of malarkey.
In the meantime, the brainstorming has already begun for the next adventure (France, anyone?). Because what better way to get over an adventure, then to get under another one- or something like that.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

#13 - Educational Field Trip!

Shannon and I in front of the Nation's Capitol
Before Shannon and I started this trip we took a U.S. History class together to brush up on our knowledge of historical landmarks and events.  As we all know, this country’s history started long before the European settlements, rich with Native American culture, but most of the recorded history that we learn about in school started in 1492.  As we moved east across the country the historical sites became more prevalent and dated further back – visiting Washington DC and Boston were two places where the historical juices were flowing strong!  

John Hancock's signature on the Declaration Of Independence
We spent a full two days hitting the pavement in each of these cities, visiting museums and some of the places where our nation’s foundation as a democratic country were put into place.

As an American citizen there was something that felt almost as if it were a “right of passage” to see things like the Constitution and Bill of Rights  - to see the actual parchment written on by hand, with ink quill pens, in that beautiful old calligraphy.  To see the signatures of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, to name a few of the 56 signers (John Hancock’s being the prettiest), was about as close to that era as you could get.  

The White House!
Also, seeing the White House (where our favorite President currently resides), and the beautiful vegetable garden that Michelle had planted, was a pretty cool thing – even if it was 250 degrees outside.  We walked the National Mall and saw the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument the Nation’s Capitol (where we walked through the Library of Congress and saw first editions of some of the most influential books in American history), and the Museum of American History.

Lincoln Memorial
Library of Congress
In Boston we followed the Freedom Trail where we saw the site of the Boston Massacre as well as the Old State House - the oldest surviving public building in Boston, where on July 18, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was read to the people for the first time.  

The Balcony where Thomas Craft
(one of the Sons Of Liberty) read to the
people the Declaration of Independence
atone o'clockon July 18, 1776.
The Old State House dwarfed by modern Boston
Harvard University
Cheers bar!
We tried to soak up some “smarts” by walking through the Harvard University campus, founded in 1636 and attended by Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, John Adams, Henry David Thoreau, Barack Obama, and yes… Natalie Portman, to name a few. We had a beer at the bar from “Cheers”.  

We saw a classic old Irish folk band playing in the corner of a cute little pub (and had a pint of Guinness).  We saw Fenway Park, and ate amazing east coast seafood in a tiny restaurant down a small side street.  We took a boat ride with our private water taxi driver/friend Alex, and saw the city lights from the waterway.  We took it in!

All in all, it was a very educational and inspiring field trip – one that included good food, a pint or two and some sore footsies! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

#12- Somewhere Over The Rainbow

I heart you San Fran

There are many ups and downs to living on the road. Home currently being what one day we may call our car, then another our tent, or on other days a friends house. What do we want to do today? With no ties to schedules, time, or the humdrum of work, with only the weather being a major determiner of where the day may lead us, this is a major up to our current living conditions. Despite the beauty of all that, being away from our actual “home”, which for 9+ years we’ve considered the Bay Area, and also the community and loved ones we have in Nevada City where we grew up, has been looming larger on us as each day goes by.

There is nothing, anywhere, like the Yuba River

Downtown NC

            It’s funny, the concept of home. For so long, when people would ask me where home was, the automatic answer was always Nevada City, even though at this point I’d been living in the Bay Area for a number of years. Maybe it took building strong enough ties to people, or the city itself, or just finding my personal niche amongst what was once a foreign place to me, but suddenly it felt right to call the Bay Area home. The thing is, I think the concept of home isn’t necessarily where you may be physically living at any given time, it has more to do with that obsolete place that you feel the most connected and drawn to (although, in a perfect world these two collide). When I was younger, that place was always wherever I lived with my Mom. While we moved around to a few different houses in Nevada City when I was a kid, I remember each one providing that feeling of sanctity, with my Mom being the common denominator. As I grew older and out of the house, it took a while to shake that life-long home is where my Mom is thread (which I think no matter how old I get, will always be there to a degree), and find a home of my very own.

Our lovely living room

Our breakfast nook
At this point and age, I am finding myself transfixed all over again with the problem of finding that place to call “home,” in that I’m torn. Choosing between that place that Bree and I have grown connected to and love, or that place that in our hearts has always felt like home, is frickin’ hard. One of the things we wanted to get from being out on the road for a few months was a sense of clarity in this debate, but it’s not coming as easily as we hoped. I do know one thing, that as much as my Mom provided that sanctity for me as a kid, I now find that wherever I am living with Breelyn, gives it a feeling of home in itself. Which is huge. It’s just finding that sense of community, aesthetic beauty and built in activities we love (the ultimate home trinity) to complete the home picture. Any advice? 

Love our kitchen
Baby Baxter on our bed...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#11- Wil-ming-ton!

4-pack posse reunited!
Making our way to the east coast town of Wilmington, North Carolina, to what would mark the official spot where we had now traveled from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean on our journey, was a pretty exciting day. Not just because we would now have covered opposite ends of the US ocean spectrum on our trip, but also because it would begin an exploration of the east coast, while at the same time reuniting the 4-pack posse (a term of endearment coined in reference to Amanda, Chris, Bree & I back in the days of neighborliness).

Team Banana!
Arriving at their lovely abode on Wolcott Ave., we didn’t have much of a plan for the next few weeks (other than the upcoming epic hike on the Appalachian).  Pretty much spend some time, have some laughs, eat some yummy food, spend more time, laugh some more, repeat –while also playing it by ear what other places we would break away some days to check out. It was a lovely live in the moment kind of plan. Only those moments turned to days, then weeks, and eventually close to a month of time we spent being pseudo-roommates with Amanda & Chris and exploring the southeastern coast area. It was awesome.

Sunset on the riverwalk

One of the most memorable excursions we did in this time frame was taking a girls road trip to Charleston for a night. It’s about 3 hours south from Wilmington in South Carolina- and one of the most historic, fun places we’ve explored. The city itself was captured in the Civil War, so many of the buildings are hundreds of years old. Walking around, you get a real sense of that history, with lots of statues & plaques commemorating its past. Unfortunately, due to the insanely hot, humid weather, our walking around was limited to a nighttime affair. So that evening while cruising the streets, we were led by the sound of gypsy-style jazz coming down a stairway. Naturally we decided to investigate. Arriving at the top of the steps, it felt a bit eerie and off-putting, with men looking strangely at us- but then we were led to a doorway that opened to this low-lit, secret room- a speakeasy! Full of candlelight, warm-dark wood, and bottles of homemade bitters lining the bar- we truly felt as though we had traveled back in time. The bartender was a true professional, who made all of us super suave concoctions. I had a mixed cocktail that was lavender/rosemary infused vodka, with mint, champagne, blackberries, lime, and a bit of pepper speckled on top. Yum. Sounds crazy, but it was the best cocktail I’ve ever had. After enjoying our adult beverages, we made our way back onto the street and headed to dinner. Mmm, dinner. The place where we went, Amen Street, ended up being one of, if not the, best dinners we’ve had on this trip. Everything was amazing. Literally the best filet mignon & oysters Bree or I has ever had (we decided to splurge), and this creamed corn dish that was perfectly cheesy, buttery and warm. At this point, we were loving Charleston! 

But this wasn’t even the end. Looking up, we saw what looked like could be a fun rooftop bar, with white lights hanging and the weather perfectly balmy at this point. So up we went. And we didn’t come down until closing. Lets just say what was going to be 5 minutes of dancing, ended up being a complete dance-a-thon. Good stuff. Another place we hope to come back to one day. Preferably in the spring.

Don't be coy Roxy!

In addition to our getaway to Charleston, our time in Wilmington (and surrounding areas) was also spent kayaking in swamps and waterways (no sightings of alligators), hiking/camping in the rain, drinking beer and partaking in the “bicycle rodeo” at Tour de Fat (New Belgium Brewery’s traveling fun-fest), a number of chill nights at “home” (aka: Amanda & Chris’s house), going out in downtown Wilmington for comedy or Beatles cover bands, steamed oyster parties, playing with Roxy (their playful, easy to love dog), beach days, riding bikes all over, staring in awe at men’s muscles on the big screen, etc. etc. A lot of fun activities packed into the time we had in this section of the country. It’s amazing how quickly a month can go by. On a final note- I will say that having people you love, that you can spend huge chunks of time with, with such similar activity interests- but that happen to live on the opposite side of the country, is horseshit. Just sayin’. Love you guys, thanks for letting us move in for a bit. J

Bicycle Rodeo!

Lightlash, Garbage & TBD! (trail names)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

#10- Southeast Delights

Fireflies (lightning bugs)  in a jar! 
As Bree & I are making our way through the Midwest, looking out at the amber waves of grain (miles and miles of corn)- we got to talking. At this point, we’ve covered 29 states, close to 10,000 miles, and seen a whole bunch in-between. From purple mountain majesties to spacious skies and from sea to shining sea, we’ve had an amazing time taking in this beautiful country. As every day takes us closer and closer to home, and further away (physically at least...) from the experiences and people we’ve had along the way, there are a few things we are going to miss in the Southeast region (outside of our friends/family we’ve been blessed to spend time with, of course). 

First and foremost, lightning bugs. Something about them just seems so magical and happy. Kind of like that feeling you get when you see a dolphin jumping out of the water. Or a shooting star. They are nature’s nocturnal faeries, and we were graced by their presence all the way up through West Virginia. Love you lightning bugs, keep on shining!

Only found in high-end establishments
Another magical treat, that sadly we can’t seem to find anywhere anymore, are glorious, mouth-watering boiled peanuts! They are a 7-11/gas-station delicacy, found only in the Southeast. There’s nothing like fishing through a crock-pot of hot spicy broth to find a cups worth of perfectly soft, boiled peanuts. Mmm-mmm-good.

Something else that us Northern California girls loved about the East Coast was the ability to actually swim in the ocean. The temperatures are perfect to just jump right in and frolic about in the waves, without getting hypothermia. So nice. Bree & I have both always been more partial to fresh water swimming (as anyone who grew up near the Yuba River would understand), but we had a great time in the sand ‘n surf of North & South Carolina, even if my eyes were stinging half the time from the salt. Totally worth it.

Shackleford Banks Island, North Carolina

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Those are definitely the top things we shall miss from our time in the Southeast…but some other honorable mentions are: east coast oysters, chick-a-filet, sweet tea (even though it’s sickeningly sweet. Half sweet/half unsweetened is the way to go), southern terms of hospitality (sweetheart, darlin’, thank ya’ kindly, etc.) and hush puppies. Peace out Southeast, see y’all next time.

Hush-puppies & sweet-tea! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#9- A Mountain Gem

Thirsty Monk!
I’m going to take you back here for a moment- in the words of Ahmad “back in the days when I was young, I’m not a kid anymore, but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again.” Okay, maybe not that far…but back about a month and a half ago to our time in Asheville, North Carolina. In the grand scheme of our trip, I would feel amiss to go on writing blogs, without including one on this lovely town.

Slurping some oysters down

We first arrived in Asheville fresh from Kentucky via the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is an epically scenic road that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. At this point, we had been camping out, kayaking, hiking, etc. for a big chunk of time- so the thought of not only getting to visit with Elsa, but also having a hot shower and a bed to sleep on sounded a-m-a-z-i-n-g! Which it was.

The streets are alive with the sounds of music!
Asheville is a vibrant mountain town thriving with arts, music, outdoor adventures, tasty food, and lots of yummy craft breweries- not to mention some good people. For the week we were here we ate, drank, laughed and slurped our way through the town (slurping in the form of raw oysters, mmm. Sorry west coast, but east coast definitely ones up us here). We made it our own personal educational field trip to visit a number of small craft breweries, to which Asheville is an epicenter, and try an assortment of beers. I’m talking coconut/chocolate porter, jalapeno pale ale, oyster stout, red-headed step-monk (Thirsty Monk’s American Amber/Red Ale), etc. Beer lover’s paradise. We cruised around the River Arts District (which will soon be the site for Sierra Nevada Breweries Eastern expansion), where the streets are lined with different artists working studios. One night we did a haunted LaZoom comedy bus tour, which is a strange and interesting way to get some history (did you know that Asheville is considered the San Francisco of the East? No wonder we fell in love with it!), as well as a few laughs. We even went to Lake Lure, where one of the best movies of all time, Dirty Dancing, was filmed! By the end of our week here, Asheville had catapulted to the top of our list of dream locations to live. At the very least, we both look forward to when we can return.

Dinner party with Chris & Annette!