Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crash into Me

Yesterday, Matt and I were talking about the delicateness of life after a 25 year old woman found her husband unresponsive.  This morning, we shared our craziest concepts of life. Mine: the subjectiveness of time. His: the finality. So what was running through my primed mind as I crashed into the median going 70mph? First, I thought about how upset Matt was going to be. Second, I thought about how I needed to survive.

A few months ago I was distraught after a minor fender bender with no damage ruined my day.  Today I sit moments after a major accident on a freeway with our mode of transportation across the country counting my blessings for the following:

1. The car I was driving had brand new tires. With the previous set of tires, I would have flipped over.

2. The car behind me, which happened to be filled with retired police officers, pulled over to calm my nervous and facilitate the technical matters.

3. Bottles of glass cans smashed all over the car, but none touched me.

4. The cars in the other lanes were aware enough to avoid my fishtailing car.

5. I have a very understanding boyfriend.

Yes. Getting in a crash the night before leaving on a month long road trip sucks. The damage to the car which isn't even mine and the headache of insurance companies after is a pain. But maybe it serves as a reminder that despite all the excitement and extensive planning of the minute details, safety should be the top priority and everything else will fall into place.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Three Diets

            The road trip is a month away, so I've placed myself on 3 "Diets" in order to maximize my hopefully not-so-once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The first is a "Dave Diet." Warning: This diet may offend some readers.  Matt has SO MUCH TO SAY almost EVERY DAY about how this Dave Matthews Concert is considered his "Mecca" and will surely be one of the top experiences of his life.  I, on the other hand, felt like the GRAVEDIGGER had begun digging my grave after I asked Matt who Dave was only AFTER he he had book the 3 day concert and camping.  Camping, grilling, and outdoors was enough for me to say yes to. Of course, I eventually recognized a few of the main stream songs but had not associated with DMB. But because I want my plane ride home from Chicago to Davis on September 19th to be filled with no regrets, I don't want to miss out on the experience of singing my heart out, dancing, and appreciating the magnitude of Dave. So: my Dave Diet consists of morning, afternoon, and night filled with playlists and playlists of DMB on repeat.

And hey, I'm beginning to recognize songs and appreciate his music! FUNNY THE WAY IT IS, huh?

The second diet is a money diet. Weekly rituals such as Thursday Night Mojito Night and Wingstop (at least twice a week) are being replaced with homemade meals. If the opportunity presents itself on the trip to do something like river rafting in the Grand Tetons (which we have scheduled time for), I want to have the funds to do so.

The last diet is your average diet: everyone wants to look their best on vacation . Matt has convinced me sugar is the devil- so we decided to stick to the Paleo (no sugar/carb) diet as much as we can. Here's some pictures of the first meals of Paleo:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Catching Up On Travel: Las Vegas and Zion National Park

Because the cross-country road trip adventures don't commence for another month, I thought I would update on a few (of the many) trips concocted in the crazy mind of Matt.  I'll start off with a bang on (the most recent and most unbelievable) trip that could have only been planned by a planning master and only been taken by a few brave souls holding on for dear life.

I met Matt's idea to take advantage of the 4th of July weekend (combined with a few days off work) and turn it into a 5 day road trip to Las Vegas, NV and Zion National Park in Utah with disbelief.  I thought I would humor him for a bit and let him spin his wheels trying to find people willing to take this on knowing full well it was highly unlikely to come to fruition.

Lo-and-behold, much to my amazement, he managed to pull together a group of 6, and after work on Wednesday, 2 cars packed to the brim were off. After a brief stop in Tehachapi for a night, we arrived in Vegas the afternoon of the 4th.  The 9 hours of driving was obviously taking a toll:

If only we knew that carrying our bags through 118 degree desert heat and waiting in the check-in line at Planet Hollywood would have amounted to a once-in-a-lifetime room upgrade to a suite, the amount of complaints from me would have been significantly fewer.  Due to the scarcity of rooms and the late booking by us, a $117 standard room booked on Priceline landed us Planet Hollywood's $600+ per night "Forrest Gump Suite." The double-doored, end-of-the-hallway, double-locked entrance that led to a suite complete with actual Forrest Gump memorabilia (uniforms, hats, and the actual box of chocolates signed by Tom Hanks) made the mini-bar, flat screen TVs, jacuzzi tub, and master bathroom and bedroom appear to be just nice added touches. 

The luxuries of the suite made it difficult to leave the room, even for a 21-year old first timer in Vegas.  After some gambling (we broke even), some overpriced pizza, and a relaxing nap in the jacuzzi for Claudia, we were off to Club Surrender.

Unlucky for me, however, my early-to-sleep boyfriend decided that despite being put on a guest list, the hour long wait at the club at 11pm was not going to happen. This was the culmination of all my excitement and preparation for the night.  A not-so-typical Vegas experience, but a very typical experience of Matt .  (Keep reading to find out why I'm not mad)

Zion National Park was 2 and a half hours away from Vegas.  We camped for the night and woke up at 5am to take down camp and catch our ($35) shuttle to the trailhead (an hour and a half away).  My very nervous mom's biggest fear was getting lost (an almost impossible feat in the Zion Narrows, all you have to do is follow the river).  My biggest concern, however, was this:

Yes. Due to the overwhelming number of visitors and the small confinement of the Narrows, Park Management provides you with bags to take care of business. They aren't so bad.  They are double-lined and have kitty litter-like rocks inside.  The problem was designating a person (Nathan was the winner) to carry the trash bag through the overnight hike as the trail is pack-in, pack-out.  Basically you take everything you need with you and bring everything you used back out.

Matt had reserved a spot multiple months before the trip because they book within a day of availibility release.  Here is us at the start of our trip:

The trail was beautiful.  8 miles the first day, with a break overnight in a private campsite on the river.  We had a break to cook food, filter water, and swim in a nearby swimming hole.

The 2nd day was only 6 miles total, but was through extreme narrows with no high ground.  Hiking with your pack on your back through waist high running water in between hundred foot tall walls 10 feet apart was an amazing experience.  Even with the walking sticks we each carried to stabilize ourselves, I lost my footing multiple times which resulted in some bruises.  I would have taken much more time and enjoyed the sights had it not started to rain and thunderstorm (typical of Zion in the summer) and the threat of flash flood caused me to start running in fear to the exit.  Even so, we managed to stop a few times at a swimming hole and waterfall for lunch.

We finished faster than expected so decided to head back to Vegas for a round 2 (and partly so Matt could make it up to me for falling asleep in Round 1).  No special suite this time.  $30 standard rooms (that included a $10 credit for Wings and 2 free drinks) at Hooters turned out to pay for itself once we made $50 at the $3 Blackjack tables.  The 9-hour drive home on Monday was uneventful and filled with sporatic naps, dreams of the weekend that just took place, and wishes that we could turn around and go back forever.

And finally to end on 3 good notes.  Matt managed to stay awake for my first club experience at XS. The sunset as we drove from Zion to Vegas. And Nathan managing to make it out alive (with the help of my deodorant spray) and was very happy to dispose of the trash.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blogging is Easy?

They said blogging was an easy way to keep track of my journeys and keep my friends and family (especially my very worried mom) informed of my shenanigans.  So why am I sitting here thoughtless for 30 minutes just trying to produce a sentence or two? It's so hard to put into words feelings and emotions for others to see without feeling vain or egotistical.

However, seeing as though the point of my travels is to explore my limits and push myself past comfort zones, the best place to start is pushing myself through a blog. Keeping in mind my goal of remembering my experiences for a lifetime and advice from blog post extraordinaire Danea Horn, here goes nothing!

It all started with an idea to turn a trip to the Gorge in George, Washington (to see Dave Matthews band) and an unrelated, separate trip to Milwaukee, WI(my boyfriend's hometown) into a month long adventure across the country passing through historical cities and beautiful National Parks that I had only dreamed of visiting and up until now only had the opportunity to appreciate their majesty through the teachings in my Geology of National Parks Class. As of now, our itinerary includes (but is ever-changing as we discover even more places to visit along the way): 6 National Parks, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Milwaukee, numerous lakes and lakeside campgrounds, a few baseball stadiums (a must for me), breweries and a Dave Matthews Groupie pilgrimage for a 3 day concert at the Gorge (a must for Matthew Caley). You can follow his blog by clicking on his name: it might be better suited for those looking for in depth information on the breweries we visit along the way.

This is by far the craziest thing I have ever done and will be far from the last (Italy is already booked for December). I was tired of coming up with excuse after excuse of why I couldn't do something I've always wanted to do. Excuses eventually run out, you realize they are all trivial when compared to your goals, and you finally realize you are the only thing holding you back.  I'm already pushed outside of my comfort zone! 1. One month? In a car? Who knows how long it will be before I get a shower let alone the worry of keeping my hair straight! 2. The obvious toll this trip will take on my bank account. The sacrifice of knowing the temporary hit in my account balance is being replaced with life long memories requires patience. Not one of my best traits.

So until we embark on this wild adventure, departure date August 23rd, I have loads of packing to do and the image of this plastered in my mind: