Friday, December 31, 2010

A Year Ago Today...December 31st

After a nights sleep Carl and I awoke to a glistening white Albuquerque, NM. Thankfully, we had our handy dandy car ice scrapper in the backseat and cleaned the car off in a matter of minutes. The lobby was packed for the free continental breakfast and everyone was talking about I-40. One of the employee's reported that I-40 had been shut down due to a large accident that took place overnight and he reported that it would take 3-4 hours to get through it.  Most other patrons took  him at his word and started looking into alternate routes. Carl and I did not want to drive 150+ miles off our original would take us 3-4 hours to either detour around it or drive through it in traffic, so  what was the difference? After a quick breakfast at the neighboring McDonald we hit the road. (We went to McDonald's because when we went to fix coffee in the hotel lobby the cream curdled in coffee and grossed us out)

As you can see below, the roads were clear. If there had been an accident it had been cleared long before we hit the road that day.

The strange thing is that there were patches of road that still had snow when we passed the New Mexico/ Arizona border. Blame it on the altitude changes. 

We had to stop for gas at one snow covered rest stop and it was a little nerve racking trying  to maneuver on ice covered parking lots. But the strangest thing happened at the rest stop...Carl and I both got a little electric shock when trying to open the door to the store. I first went to go grab the handle and my hand got a little shock and spasmed. Carl didn't know what happened and I said, "It shocked me". Of course I tried the door handle again and the same thing happened but the spasm was worse and Carl saw my hand contort in an odd manner. So then he  tried it and also got shocked. We finally used our jacket to pull open the door so we could tinkle. Bizarre. 

About 20 miles outside of Winslow, Arizona Carl and I headed off the main road for a stop at the Meteor Crater. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves and then I'll throw my 2 cents in.  

It is really hard to explain how enormous this Meteor Crater really is. Even standing on the edge it can be hard to tell. But to give a little perspective, I've highlighted the next photo. At the center of this crater is a metal chain link fence (highlighted in red). There is a cardboard cut out of a 6' tall man leaning on the fence (highlighted in yellow). You can not see either the fence or the man when standing at the top of the craters have to look through one of those telescope/ viewfinder things to see it. Also down in the bottom of the crater are various car parts, a cannon, ladders, and a hole in which they dug into the crater to explore, and a bunch of other debris. 

We had a good time stretching our legs and taking in the sights from atop the crater. It was really windy and chilly up there but well worth the views. After an  hour we hit the  road again. 

Carl drove for a little bit on Day 4 which means I got a little camera happy in the passengers seat...particularly when the sun started to set. 

We celebrated the end of Day 4 and New Year's Eve by staying in Kingman, Arizona at a historic Route 66 Hotel. All the rooms had names of famous people that had once stayed there. We stayed in the room where Clarence Harvey use to stay. We had a great dinner and watched the NY City ball drop on TV several times that night. The time changes started to get confusing and we kind of forgot what time zone we were currently in. 

We had made such great time driving the first 4 days that we had only a couple hundred miles left to go. Join me tomorrow as I share the final day of our cross country journey!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year Ago Today...December 30th

We were up bright and early on Day 3 and ready to hit the road. We were a little nervous that the snow from the night before had closed I-40, but thankfully the storm wasn't too bad.

The following video was shot by Carl the morning of Day 3. I will caution you that he swears in the video but it's funny. Also, please notice the severe ADD my husband is suffering from.

I am pretty sure that the following picture was taken just before leaving Oklahoma. I had seen these on TV and movies, but was really awe struck to see them in person especially with the morning fog. Kind of eerie.

By mid-morning we crossed into Texas. 

Carl and I were making great time and enjoying our time together. Prior to this trip, we couldn't remember the last time we'd spent so much alone time together (other than our honeymoon). I had been working 2 jobs in Pennsylvania while Carl attended school full time. After he graduated he spent some time working and we rarely saw each other for more than an hour a day.  We didn't even get on each others nerves.... except when Carl suggested we stop at an I-Hop for lunch and I passed the exit ramp and refused  to turn around. Oops!

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Welcome to New Mexico state sign was located at a rest stop and that we were able to get out and actually get our picture in front of it. I wish that all the state signs had been like this.

It was at this rest stop that we heard that there was a HUGE snow storm headed our way. The attendant said that it was going to hit Albuquerque, NM within a few we got back on the road to try to make it to our destination before it hit. 

There were only  a few things that we really wanted to stop and see on our trip across the country. Thankfully,  we had made such good time that we took a detour off I-40 and onto Historic Route 66 to snap a few photo's at lunch time. 

Shortly after getting back onto I-40 something changed  in the sky. It is so flat out there that we could see for miles ahead of us. What we saw was a wall of gray. We thought it was a rain storm but boy were we wrong! Carl also shot this video and again he let's a few curse words fly. You may not be able to tell how bad it really is from the video but we are driving at about 5 miles per hour and we are driving in the tracks left by the 18-wheeler ahead of us. Also note that most of this road is at a down hill angle. All of the exit and on ramps are covered in snow and there was no where to go but straight. 

Thankfully we were 9 miles from our destination when we hit the storm. Our exit happened to be the only  clear ramp during that 9 mile stretch and it looked like everyone was getting off at it. We pulled into the first hotel off the ramp and thankfully they still had rooms available. 

Note that as we headed West we stayed at increasingly cheaper and cheaper hotels. Our room  this night cost a grand total of $35! It was pretty gross and I refused to shower in the icky bathroom...I didn't even want to sit on the icky toilet but there wasn't much I could do about it.  However, Carl and I both got the best nights sleep in that bed for some reason and felt very revived the next morning.  

We walked down the street to a KFC and grabbed a bite to eat. When we got back to the hotel the snow was really coming down and the people were talking about I-40 being shut down. When we went to get our clothes and things from the car we realized that one of the space bags that we had packed had "exploded" and expanded making it very difficult to fit in the car. Did I mention that our car was so packed full of stuff that we couldn't see out the rear view mirror? 

Carl did drive for a portion of Day 3 and we managed to cover 560 miles and were well ahead of schedule. We had been averaging about 9-10 hours of driving each day and we still felt pretty good. 

Come back tomorrow for another edition of A Year Ago Today to see if we make it out of the snow!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Year Ago Today...December 29th

Our second day started with a little Johnny Cash and Elvis on the radio as we headed thru Memphis, TN. Again, we wished we had time to stop and sight see but we were trying to stay as close to schedule as possible. These are the only pictures of Memphis that we were able to get. Notice that I am driving again.

This is us crossing the Mississippi River.  

Our second state sign as we cross into Arkansas. 

And before we knew it we had driven almost 900 miles and crossed into Oklahoma. 

Although we hadn't planned on staying in any particular cities, we had a rough idea of where we wanted to end up at the end of each day. Our goal for Day 2 had been to stay in the area of Sallisaw, OK but as we approached our destination we felt like we could go a little we drove an additional 160 miles. We made it to the east side of Oklahoma City but were forced to stop for the night when a snow storm started hindering our drive. We were pretty tired and hungry by that time and found a nice little hotel right off the interstate. We walked from our hotel to Denny's and enjoyed a nice hot meal before tucking ourselves in for the night. 

Carl drove for a few hours on Day 2 and I managed to keep my nerves in check while riding in the passengers seat. We managed to be ahead of schedule at the end of Day 2 and had covered a little over 1,000 miles. It helped of  course that as we were driving we had to set our clocks back and "gained" an hour. 

Join me tomorrow for the next leg of our journey A Year Ago Today as we head Westward to California. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Year Ago Today...December 28th

At 8:00 AM on Monday, December 28th Carl and I finished packing our "must have" items and hugged our family good-bye one last time before heading West. The U-haul we drove from PA to NC was unloaded at his mom's house and our belongings were going to be shipped once we got settled in CA. 

Our first day took us across the North Carolina/ Tennessee border. We were going to take I-40 the entire trip, but a landslide in the TN mountains made us detour onto some very curvy roads.

We had planned on getting a picture of every state sign that we passed, but we were worried that because we had detoured onto country roads that we would miss our very first sign. However, as we rounded a curve we saw it...our first "Welcome to..." sign. It came up so quick that we actually missed the chance to get the camera out. But since we really wanted to capture it we took a few minutes to turn around and go back to get the picture.

We made plans to meet up with our friends Brain and Heather who lived in Sevierville, TN. We got to their house in the early afternoon to grab lunch together. As usual, there is no such thing  as a quick visit with friends and we got back on the road later than we had anticipated. 

We drove thru Knoxville, TN during rush hour traffic which was not fun. Not only was there bumper to bumper traffic but the sun was also setting right in front of us which was blinding. Thankfully, once the sun had set and rush hour ended the drive was quite pleasant. 

We would have loved to  have been able to stop and visit Nashville but we were getting tired and wanted to make it to the other side of the city to find a hotel room.

Our drive by Nashville at night. 

The end of our first day found us in Dickson, Tennessee. We splurged on our hotel room the first night and spent $130. This is the hotel room in which I walked into a wall in the middle of the night trying to get back to bed from the bathroom. I had a bruise on my forehead the next morning but thankfully no headache. 

I drove 100% of the time on Day 1 and only had one minor anxiety attack during rush hour which would be considered a good day for me. 

Join me tomorrow for Day 2 of our Westward journey. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2400 Miles Apart

How do you celebrate Christmas when you're 2400 miles away from family?

This is how...

The magic of technology. 

We actually had a great connection for once and were able to video chat for an hour and a half uninterrupted despite the fact that there were over 12 million people also using Skype at the same time. 

This is my brother giving my crap for never returning his calls. 

These next photo's were taken using the "Snapshot" feature of Skype so they are blurry, but you get the point. 

That is Little Man opening his Christmas present from Carl and I. He really liked it. The girls also liked their gifts including a box full of mini Hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works. Apparently they trade them at school and it's "cool". 

Our friends Steven and Taylor came over to our place on Christmas.  We all went to see Meet the Little Fockers and the theater was packed. I was worried that it was going to be one of those movies that you'd seen all the funny stuff in the preview's on TV, but it was hilarious. 

We then returned home and played with Steven and Taylor's dogs. One is a pug and the other is a Boston Terrier...needless to say Carl and I really want a dog now. We watched Back to the Future while cooking and eating dinner and then finished the evening by watching the end of The Wizard of Oz and eating pie. It was our first Christmas together away from home and we made the most of it. And of course, this was the first year since 1947 that Charlotte, NC had a white Christmas and we  missed it. Maybe next year. 

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas too!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Year Ago Today...Christmas Edition

A Year Ago Today Carl and I celebrated Christmas Eve with my family at my mom's house in Concord, NC.

This is Carl after a few pre-game Jack-n-Coke's. 

My brother Wesley and cousin Mitchell also par-took in the pre-game drinking. 

Once everyone munched and drank we opened up gifts which I apparently didn't take any pictures of. Then we settled down for a very humbling game of Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? I don't really remember who won...but I'm pretty sure we felt like losers after answering many of those elementary school questions wrong!

Here's a good group shot (thank you camera timer) of my brother Wesley, me, Carl, my uncle Kevin, my aunt Bobbi, my cousin Mitchell, and my mom. 

Carl and I stayed overnight at my mom's and treated ourselves to warm Orange Cinnamon Rolls and coffee in the morning before heading to Carl's brothers house for Christmas with the kids. 

Carl's brother has 3 kids, 2 girls and a boy. This means that there are plenty of toys to go around on Christmas morning and we often find ourselves "testing" the toys for the kids (a.k.a-playing with them until we need a nap). While Carl's brother tested out a remote control helicopter, Carl, the kids, and myself tested out the toy guns.

Christmas wouldn't be complete without another group photo-again, thank you camera timer. 
On the left: Carl's dad Les, his wife Hilary, Sister-in-Law Lennie, Carl's brother Craig, the 3 kiddo's, me, Carl, and  my mom. 

After a fun filled day we headed back to Gill's house, that's Carl's mom. 

The paper hats came courtesy of our Christmas Crackers. 

It's really a holiday treat when the boys do the dishes. Gill doesn't have a dish washer either, but a little brotherly love gets them clean. (Notice Craig is holding a butter knife to Carl)

The kiddo's relax and watch a movie as they patiently wait for the next round of gifts. 

Little man cuddles up with my mom and brother and then "lap  hops"...

I hope Carl and I can have a child as cute as his nephew. (No, I am not pregnant)

And our Christmas ends when little man finally falls asleep on his mom. 

This post was a pleasure to write and brought back a lot of memories, I hope you enjoyed reading. This Christmas will be a little different considering we are 2,400 miles away but thanks to technology and Skype we will be opening gifts and playing games with each other this year too. 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

His & Her Dinner #8- Husband Edition

Today I'm bringing you a special edition of His & Her Diner because my husband cooked! There are 2 things that my husband likes to be in charge of cooking. #1-Gravy and #2 Pancakes. And last night he opted for Pancakes. 

And so the process begins...

I am pretty sure this is the first time in 8+ years I've seen him use my  electric mixer on food rather than make-up stuff. 

He had to mix 2 separate batches of batter.  One plain and one with chocolate chips. He was going to try to avoid this by just sprinkling the chocolate chips on my pancakes but that just wouldn't do. Do you know how many times I've had to make things in separate containers because of his  picky palate?

I'll let this picture speak for itself...
Nah, I'll speak for it. He "cleaned" the mixers off by sticking it under the water and turning it on. Notice that it's still plugged into the wall! 

But he did serve me my Chocolate Chip pancakes while I was snuggled up with a pillow and blanket on the couch. 

He finally got to eat too...but not before I snapped a photo of him enjoying his sugar and lemon pancakes.

And there you have it folks, His & Her Diner the Husband Edition

One of our New Year's resolutions is to cook at home more so keep an eye out for future editions!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Because I love him...

Because my husband loves me and helped me make a giant dreidel I thought I would make him gingerbread cookies. He's begging me to make some for weeks,but I've  been so busy I haven't been in a  Betty Crocker mood lately. But tonight I felt festive.

I made the mix, cut them out, baked them, made colored frosting, an melted chocolate because that's what husband wanted. We then sat down together at the table to decorate. Carl managed to break 2 and eat several others before they made it to the decorating process.

I'm not sure how to describe our different cookie decorating styles so I will just show you.

My style: neat and clean

His style: messy and phallic

Enough said.