Saturday, September 22, 2007

Coast -2- Coast Road Trip 2007

I had so much fun. I can’t get enough of traveling and meeting new people. People like hearing my stories. I have a log of everything we did, but I didn't keep a journal. I am going to try to write out some of the out stuff here.

Tuesday, August 21- Wednesday, August 22:

I drove down to San Luis Obispo and stayed with the Hokits. I had to get my Hepatitis A shot from the Cal Poly health center, which cost me 30 bucks. They are killing me with all of these fees and medicines. I hung out with the Hokits and mostly ate with them and watched baseball. After I got my Hepatitis A shot I hung out with Michael, who as it turns out works at Mo's. I wish I could visit because I love their sweet potato fries. We went to Mondeo because he didn't want to go into work when he didn't have to. I can understand that, but dang I was hoping for some sweet potato fries. They are delicious!

We walked down to the bank and hob. I went to visit Juice at Mountain Air, but he wasn't there. I did see Josh though. I emailed him the picture of the marathon. There was a couch place across the street from Mountain Air and I thought it would be a good idea to try it out... so we did. It ended up being quite comfortable so we just hung out on the couches on the sidewalk for a while. While we were there... someone text messaged me ... "are you sitting outside on a couch?" I didn't know who it was so I asked and it turns out Julie had passed by us in a car and saw us sitting on the couches. It was pretty funny, but maybe you had to be there.

We had stopped at Longs too, so I finally got to sign the golf ball from our graduation tradition that we're starting - going mini golfing for 2.50 at Boomers in Santa Maria. I still wonder what happened to all those pictures Blair took from the time we went to Warren. Oh well, we know we went.

Thursday, August 23:

I had to wait for Melissa to get done with lab and school stuff so I was packed and ready to go just in case she got done early. We went to Costco once she got out around 4:30pm and bought Cheese-Its, Wheat Thins, Dried Pineapples, Prunes, Kashi cereal, and Granola Bars. Also, we got gas. Then we headed down 101 to hit Pismo Beach to take pictures at the Pacific Ocean. We tried out the jumping pictures and swung on the swings. I lost my bow and had to go back and look for it, and then I stepped in gum... barefoot. Awesome. Weird random things always happen to me.

We hopped back onto 101 and we were on our way! This is real. I remember thinking we had a long, long way to go and we were only getting 230 miles out of the way. We got to Pasadena and Mark came out to meet us. Melissa was like, "is that your friend or some random creepy guy?" or something like that. Mark hugged me and picked me up at the same time. I think he's been working out, ha ha. I wish I could hang out with him more. He's so cool. Josh and Mark P. said hi and stayed on the couch while we went out to get some food. We stopped at LO Times - Lougie Ortega's (I'm not sure about spelling). I got a mahi mahi fish taco and then we went down to the yogurt place. I forget what it is called but their Oatmeal Cookie yogurt was amazing! I just tried some of Mark's. We saw city hall and I wanted to go look at it so I asked Mark to stop. He thought it was a church, but it turns out it was just Pasadena's city hall and Pasadena is also the home of Jackie Robinson. It was a perfect start to our baseball road trip we were about to embark upon.

We didn't get back to Mark, Mark and Josh's until almost midnight and both Mark and Josh had gone to sleep. I was kind of disappointed because I haven't talked to Josh in a long time. Mark slept downstairs on his old bed and we slept on his gianormous, fluffy bed.

Friday, August 24:

In the morning I woke up and packed my stuff. Josh and Mark were up as well since it was a work day. Mark told me to put our stuff in the car and run out the garage because the door needed to be locked. So, we had some cereal, I washed the utensils while Melissa took a shower and then we packed up and ran out the garage.

We drove out toward Ontario where Mark and Josh used to live 3 weeks prior. We stopped for gas and then rolled on toward Arizona. Unfortunately, the a/c didn't work, but I guess 35mpg was all right. I wonder how much gas we actually saved by not having a radio or a/c. I wanted to see Joshua Tree but we decided we should just get going. We stopped in Surprise, Arizona where Melissa's cousin lived to cool off and take a break from driving. Then we met up with her cousin, cousin's boyfriend at the game. Melissa hung out with her brother's best friend for awhile across from the stadium at a bar called Sliders, but I wanted to watch the first inning to the last, so I went inside and got a free t-shirt from the D'backs. It was a good game.

Apparently in Arizona they have everyone and their mom move there because it's cheap. It was 110 degrees in Phoenix though, I don't think I could stand that forever. It was cooler inside the covered park and they didn't open the top because it was so hot outside. It was 10 dollars for parking in a gated lot. I got the tickets off ticket marketplace at they were $17.60 for two so that was nice. They were originally 22-dollar tickets (each) and we got a good view of the field from where we were. The Cubs and Diamondbacks fans were loud and the sound system was amazing. They would start chanting "Lets Go ..." for their team and all I could make out was "blahhhh" so I decided to say "Let's Go Oakland" just to add to the randomness of it all. The Cubs beat the D'backs but the D'backs starting pitcher Owings hit a homerun in his first at bat. His batting average was .288 at that point which is pretty good for a pitcher!

While at the game Melissa's cousin's (Ashley's) boyfriend told us about Tent City. For people who get caught drunk driving, they send them to Tent City for a month ... they stay in Tent City for an entire month... basically in the desert in a tent. They can't work, they can't really do anything, but apparently it's an effective way to get people not to drive while intoxicated. We thought that was a brilliant idea and they should implement it across the country. People should have to pay for a plane ticket to the desert in Arizona and lose a month's pay while they stay in Tent City for a month. Maybe then people would learn drunk driving is stupid.

We got outside and hit the road again, this time headed toward the Grand Canyon. I was really tired so I only made it from Phoenix to Flagstaff. Melissa wanted to go to a hotel and even though I really didn't want to spend money on one, I agreed to go look for one. So we went around and the three we tried and all the others around were completely full! We didn't understand what the heck was going on in random-small-town Flagstaff, Arizona. We saw a bunch of RVs and U-Hauls in the Wal-Mart parking lot across from one of the hotels so we slept in the parking lot between an RV and a U-Haul that night.

Saturday, August 25:

When we woke up, getting a better night’s sleep in the car than in Pasadena on Mark’s fluffy bed pleasantly surprised us. We were afraid to open the door for fear of the Arizona heat... but when we did open the door, it was cool outside and very nice! So we got up stretched and went to a gas station for gas and the bathroom to wash up a little bit.

We got back on the road toward the south rim of the Grand Canyon again and made it there... but it cost 25 dollars to get in! We asked the lady if they had day passes... which they didn't. She was not amused. 25 dollars gave us a 7-day pass, but we were only going to be there for an hour or two. So we went up to the canyon, took tons of pictures... jumping pictures even though Melissa didn't think it was the best idea, I thought it was brilliant. Then we went to ask directions to get to the 4-corners... and we had to go back into the Grand Canyon area so we went back and along the way they were doing controlled burning so we waited... I pee'd in the trees at the Grand Canyon because I had to go and I couldn't wait an hour or more to get out.

We had an escort to take us through the burning area and of course being tourists... we had the windows rolled down and took a bunch of pictures of the fires on either side of the road. Melissa's bag was open... so her clothes and towel smelled wonderfully of campfire icky ness. I was taking pictures while driving, which I'm sure was a super safe, brilliant idea. I seem to be full of them.

We passed the Painted Desert, but none of my pictures could do it justice. I drove around 80mph toward the 4 corners and we got there much later in the afternoon than we had hoped. Around 4pm rather than 2. We paid the 3 dollars to go see the slab and took pictures. I of course jumped and lay down with a limb in each state.

So, now I'd been to Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. We took timer pictures by the signs "Welcome to 4 Corners monument" and "Welcome to Colorful Colorado." Then we bought gas at the first gas station (it turned out to be Ute Mountain) and I asked Melissa to drive because I was getting tired. I had already driven half way down California and all the way up Arizona in the past few days.

We headed up toward Boulder, which is REALLY far from the southwest corner of Colorado. I don't know if I'd attempt that again. I had been drifting off every now and then while we were driving there. The Rockies looked pretty majestic at night. It was really cold when we passed through them. I had to get out my sleeping bag and get inside it because I was freezing. We stopped for gas on the way there in Fairplay, CO and the pump was weird, it wouldn't pump gas into my car, it kept stopping, so we switched pumps and the next one worked fine. I was really tired so I didn't really know what was going on. It's a good thing they do credit card purchases pretty much everywhere and leave their pumps on 24 hours.

We finally got to Iris' at 2AM! Fortunately it was a Saturday night so Iris was still awake. I still think it's weird that Arizona doesn't do daylight savings time because it'd be too much effort... so we lost an hour on our longest day of driving from Flagstaff, AZ to Boulder, CO.

Sunday, August 26:

We woke up and I had been looking at tickets for the Rockies game the night before, but they have a bunch of 4 dollar seats out in “The Rock Pile” in the outfield, so we figured we could just get a bunch of those.

Iris went to church that morning. So, Melissa and I rode down to the outside mall by the bike path near Boulder Creek. Boulder is SO nice! We went to Central Park in Boulder. The tire on the folding bike I was riding was flat so I didn’t really like riding that much but it was beautiful. All of these in shape Boulder people kept passing me and I felt slow, I wanted to tell them... I have a flat tire! I can actually ride! but they were zooming past us.

Iris came to pick us up and we folded the folding bike and put the other bike on top in the back of her car, the wheel of the bike was in my face in the back seat. We stopped by the mountains and hiked up a little bit, mostly took tons of pictures and then had to run back down and head back so we could go to the Rockies game.

We met up with Pogue at a Noodle place or something in Boulder and then all drove to Denver to leave Laz (my car is named Lazarus) at Tony’s place. We hopped in Pogue’s car and Iris in hers and went to the game. Parking was only 5 dollars and we got our tickets from a scalper for 15 dollars for 4 of them, cheaper than Rock Pile status.

The game was a good one, Rockies vs. Washington Nationals. The Rockies dominated 14 to 5 or something. The view was amazing. I was so excited. You could see the Rockies from the top and they had a purple row of chairs in the 3rd deck that signified the “Mile High” point – the point at which you were exactly one mile above sea level. They’re all about the mile high city in Denver. Everything is “Mile High” this and mile high that.

Iris left early because she had some prior obligations but Ash, Melissa and I stayed until the end and went down to the bottom. We had missed the first inning, but fortunately, none of the good stuff happened until we got there. We saw another home team home run, which was awesome.

After the game we went to see the Denver Nuggets stadium and Denver Broncos. I was going to climb onto one of the horses… but the metal burned my skin when I touched it. I figured that would be a bad idea. We had to run down from a parking lot up the street from the stadium because there was some event going on or something and the parking lot was closed. It was a very nice stadium though.

We went back to Tony’s house and hung out there while we waited for Ashley Larson to get done with work and come into Denver. Then we all headed out to dinner at a Thai restaurant. It turns out that Jeff Garcia had moved to Boulder as well, so he met up with us after we ate dinner and Pogue dropped us off back at Tony’s. She was tired from staying up late to play Apples to Apples until 3 or 4 in the morning. So, Tony, Melissa, Larson, Jeff and I hopped into Tony’s car to get gelato and hang out. It was kind of nice that everyone else drove so we didn’t have to.

At the gelato place, I tried so many combinations before finally making my decision. I can’t remember what I got because I tried so many of them. I was a big fan of the key lime and blueberry though which is was Melissa got. The guy at the gelato place was really nice and gave me a demo of his CD. I was excited.

One of Larson's friends came to hang out with all of us and we walked around downtown Denver and sat and talked. We finally went back to Tony’s and went to sleep after all of that.

Monday, August 27:

We woke up and after Larson went for a run, she came to pick us up and take us to Red Rock. It was beautiful! The amphitheatre was huge. (She was tempting me to come move to Boulder after I'm done in Virginia, it'd be so amazing to live there. I think I might be able to live there even though there is no ocean.) At Red Rock there were people running the rows and up and down. I really doubt I’d ever want to run at the time they were running, maybe early in the morning or in the afternoon, but not at 12 noon! That’s just ridiculous! We climbed on some of the rocks and took pictures really quickly because you’re not supposed to. Then Larson dropped us back off at Tony’s. We had packed our stuff prior to going to Red Rock so we hopped back in the car got some gas in Denver and set out for Wichita. There were crazy cops that scared me in Colorado, they put their siren on and pulled our right behind me, but ended up pulling over the guy behind me instead. There were tons of semis on the road and they drove fast! Probably about 80-90mph, which seems so dangerous to me.

There was one semi that honked at us when we passed and then kept trying to get in front of us so I ended up speeding away at 95mph because it was a pair of creepy guys in the cab. I think they were just looking out for California girls.

I saw a sign that said “point of interest” so I figured we should go… so we did. We kept going on even though the sign said one mile… but we didn’t really see much interesting. Melissa told me the story about children of the corn, which freaked me out so we locked the doors and rolled the windows up some. We took pictures of the sunflower fields, which could have been a point of interest if they weren’t all saggy from being so heavy with sunflower seeds.

On our way back we saw the sign “point of interest 1 mile” it had been off to the side. So, we decided to go. Turns out it was amazing! The Wonder Tower in Genoa, Colorado is a place to be! The little man was one of the cutest things ever. I love him. It was only 1 dollar to go up to the tower and the 22 rooms of things he had. He had the funniest little jokes like “a stool sample” was a small stool in a film canister. He had the most random things too. People were weird back in the day. There were all kinds of animal penis bones and stuff. If he wasn’t a cute old man I might have thought he was a pervert. He had collected 24 thousand or so arrowheads and made them into really cool pictures. You could see SIX states from the top of the tower: Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. It was pretty awesome. I didn’t know that you could do that anywhere.

We went up to the top of the tower went to all of the rooms and met some very nice people from Alabama who told us a few places we should visit when we went to Tennessee and Alabama. We didn’t think we’d be there long, but we ended up staying almost 2 hours. It was a wonder-filled experience! I recommend it to anyone.

We continued to Kansas and got there and went to a tourist information center. I looked through a brochure and saw big stuff was in Kansas. I saw a mini model of Buffalo Bill and a buffalo and I pointed to it and asked the people at the desk “where are the big ones of those?” Melissa laughed at me and the lady gave us a map and told us where to go. I asked if there was any other big stuff and we were told there was a giant Van Gough painting so we decided to go there too. We went to the giant painting and it was of the sunflowers, of course since Kansas is the sunflower state. Then we went to the Buffalo Bill statue and it was in Oakley where the world’s largest prairie dog resided. I wanted to see the world’s largest prairie dog, but it was almost 7pm! I didn’t want to wake it up, so we got gas and left. I mean, it would probably be sleeping at 7pm right? (Later when we reached Mark's we looked up the world's largest prairie dog, and it turns out it's some big paper mache looking thing and not even real. I was so mad! That's false advertisement... and we could have seen it ... paper mache animals don't sleep!)

We kept on driving toward Wichita and I went to pass a car and they got behind me and flashed their high beams in my window and sped off. How rude can people be in Kansas? Don’t drive slowly if you’re going to be mad when people pass you right?

We got to Mark’s and his roommate is never there so we took over his side of the room. There are TONS of beetles and bugs in Kansas! Gross! I got bitten up and it was not super exciting. My legs were all swollen and red.

Tuesday, August 28:

We woke up and Mark showed us around campus a little bit. We got free Wichita State shirts… they were ugly and scary. I would never wear it. I should have given it to Laura. Oh well. I took millions of pictures and Mark used his campus dollars to buy us lunch. We stopped by the Indian statue that supposedly is something big in Wichita and took pictures on the bridge. Then we went back to the baseball stadium at WSU and took pictures there under the “passage way.”

We dropped Mark off for a meeting with a dorm person and got gas, came back and picked him up and then I drove to Kansas City, Missouri for the Royals game. They were playing the Detroit Tigers. The tolls were outrageous! I paid 6.50 on the way there and 2.50 on the way back. I was shocked! I mean, really, 9 dollars for tolls? Crazy. We paid 8 dollars for parking too. Luckily when we got there, a man was giving away a free ticket so I took that and went in. Melissa and Mark were waiting for her cousin outside and I went in. They were giving away free shirts. I got a Travis Buck Medium shirt and went down to the 100 sections where the free ticket was. They were okay seats, but I wanted to sit in another spot, so I sat down in section 107 in the first seats in the second partition. I was talking to some guys from there and they said they always sit in different seats at Royals games. There were no scalpers there… because they couldn’t make money off of selling Royals tickets. I thought that was pretty funny.

I ended up sitting by myself for 3 or 4 innings before Melissa, Mark and her cousin Kevin came down. They had been sitting up in the top and couldn’t find each other. The game was a good one. We saw another home team home run and the fountains were pretty sweet in the outfield. The mascot was a lion with a crown built into his head. We got a picture with him and it was hilarious because after Mark took the picture, the lion looked like he was thanking God for getting to have his picture taken with two girls.

After the game we walked across the way to the Kansas City Chiefs stadium. Unfortunately it was really dark so pictures didn’t turn out that well, but oh well. I drove back to Wichita while Mark and Melissa were semi-sleeping because it's not too comfortable to sleep in my car,especially with our tons of stuff in it. It was a long drive, I thought I was going to fall asleep while driving, but luckily we made it and went to bed. There was a big bug on the floor so both Melissa and I slept on Mark’s roommate’s bed. It was smaller than a twin bed but some how we managed.

Wednesday, August 29:

In the morning we woke up around 7am and packed all of our stuff. We went to eat breakfast with Mark in the dining hall. The food was good and we got to make our own waffles! Yay! I miss that from the dorm days at Lighthouse for breakfast.

I drove down into Oklahoma City so we could see the Oklahoma City Memorial. Then Melissa drove down to Dallas to see the JFK Memorial stuff. A little man gave us a “tour” of the JFK stuff. There was a group of people who made a living that way. It was interesting to learn more about the conspiracy theories behind JFK’s assassination. I tend not to get too caught up in things like that though. I believe that there are conspiracies like that and I am sure that was one. I always think about the fact that people around the world are dying every second… but nobody really remembers them as they go through their daily lives. It’s really sad. I wish I could do something about it, but I digress.

We went from Dallas to Arlington, Texas and followed the signs to the ballpark parking. We saw one that said $15 right next to one that said $12 to park. We asked the girl what the difference between the two parking lots was and she said, “well, ours is two dollars more, but you can park behind the trees over there.” So we said, “uhh right, we'll go there” and went to the next lot. We were wondering if there was closer parking and apparently there was but the guy at the next parking lot was hating women that day and was frustrated with us when we asked about parking. He muttered about how complicated girls were when we were driving off. The next guy we saw when going out of the parking lot was apathetic about life. We drove over to a restaurant parking lot and reorganized all of our stuff. There were some cops in the lot, otherwise we may have considered parking there for the game. They were looking at us and pointing at us as if we were dumb enough to park there and let them ticket or tow us. We drove off and parked in a lot just across the bridge from the ballpark, much closer than the trees and the other lot for $12 as well. The lady directing traffic was really rude and let everyone else go before us even though we got there at the stop sign first. I think she was just angry because she had a mullet. I’d probably be mad at the world if I had a mullet too.

We got out of the car and went over the bridge to the park and bought our tickets, which happened to cost about the same as the parking. We walked around the stadium and eventually up to our seats. They have some pretty sweet baseballs at the top and you can see the Six Flags theme park from the top of the stadium. There was the cutest little usher helping us and walking around at the top. We took a picture with him and moved sections over. I asked a man to take a picture for me and he took a picture of himself. Then he laughed and took a picture of me.

The game was kind of boring so we decided to see if any of the players were cute... one guy came on the screen and Melissa asked me "what do you think of him?" and I said, "he looks really... interesting." Interesting is a good word. I use it under circumstances just like that all the time. I got it from my sister. She used to say that all the time, I don't know if it's the same reason as me, but hey it works right?

We didn’t get a picture with the mascot at the Rangers stadium. However, I am looking forward to going to Chicago. There was a really cute White Sox fan (the Rangers were playing the White Sox) there when we moved down to the second row of thee bleachers because nobody was there. It was kind of pathetic how few people were there.

I was going to go over to talk to the guy and Melissa was kind of shocked and I got nervous. I never really think of it as that big of a deal because it’s just talking to them, it’s not like it’s a big thing just because they’re cute. So I chickened out and didn’t, but man, next year, Chicago here I come.

We were so tired from driving the whole morning and then the game went into the 12th inning and we were just wishing someone would win. I was still hoping the White Sox would win, because I really don’t like other teams in the AL West.

They finally finished and then we set off toward Houston, Texas. We ended up sleeping in another parking lot in Corsicana, Texas. It was a Russell Stover’s Candy parking lot. In the middle of the night we heard the loud engine of a truck roar and park next to us, but there was nobody getting out of the car. We thought it may be security to come tell us to leave, but no one ever came and the parking lot filled up again.

Thursday, August 30:

We woke up in the morning; it wasn’t as great waking up in sticky Texas as it had been in Arizona. We went to a gas station, filled up the gas, washed up and got back on the freeway. When we were getting on, there was a huge puddle that the cop in front of us slowed down to drive through and then we were back on the big road and on our way to Houston to watch the Astros. Jackie was coming to the game with us, or so we thought, so we got to Houston, paid $15 for parking and $40 for 3 tickets. You can’t bring food into the stadium! Not even water bottles. You can go in and out as long as you scan your ticket in and out, but that’s still pretty ridiculous.

We walked around, took some pictures and sat down in the bottom. We never went to our actual purchased seats here either. I enjoyed sitting in the bottom. It was the Astros verses the Cardinals, which was cool because we would be going up to St. Louis next to watch the Cardinals play the Reds at home.

The Rangers had ruined our streak of home-team homers, but the Astros didn’t disappoint. When the Astros hit a homer at Minute Maid Park, the train in the outfield rolls forward and the lights flash. It was a good game even though Jax didn’t get there until the 8th inning.

We took some pictures at the bottom and then went out to Jackie’s car since it was closer than ours. We took more pictures outside on the big balls outside the stadium. Some guys from Jersey invited us to lunch but we went to Beaumont instead of sticking around in Houston. When we got back to my car I almost had a heart attack. I think my heart skipped a beat because my trunk was open part way. I jumped out of the car freaking out and to my surprise and amazement… nothing was gone. Everything was still in my trunk exactly as I left it and everything in my car. I was shocked. There were so many people passing by and we were gone a really long time in a big city. God was really watching out for me on this trip. Lazarus must be a transformer.

It took about an hour and a half to get to Beaumont from the stadium and then we chilled in Jax’s hotel room until Pat arrived and we went to dinner at an amazing seafood restaurant. My salmon was amazing. Jax paid for our dinner, which was really sweet of her. She's flippin' awesome. We went out to a bar in Texas where old people play pool and dance. It was pretty hick, something out of an old movie perhaps. I guess it is real when they show those scenes. We were playing pool and a guy who was 36 or something put his quarter down and played with us. I was told in Texas that pool was like sex. It was pretty hilarious. I was kind of shocked that he was telling me all this stuff about how I needed to “feel it” and “go with it” and all that… but I guess it’s Texas; they are definitely a different breed out there.

I did clear half of our balls in one turn, which was pretty good. The guy was just giving us a chance before the end. It turns out he was actually an amateur pool player and he used to weigh 280 pounds 6 months earlier… but he lost all the weight at his new job and was down to 180 or something like that. I don’t know why he was telling us his whole life story but it was pretty interesting.

We danced a little bit and then went back to Jax’s and slept. Jax and Melissa shared a queen-sized bed and I slept on the other one. My awesome mosquito bites keep me moving at night. I think they were getting bigger at this point.

Friday, August 31:

Jax went to work so when we woke up, it was just us. We packed all of our stuff and set out for Melissa’s uncle’s place near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Pat had warned us about the bugs… they were TERRIBLE! I could barely see out of the windshield because I had killed so many “love bugs” on the way to the tourist information stop. We saw a sign that said no swimming because there were crocodiles… no joke, they really have big crocodiles apparently.

Then we stopped at a gas station and cleaned the windshield and got gas. On the way to her uncles… it was a huge down pour of rain on us and I couldn’t really see out of the front … even though all the bugs had been cleaned off. Once we got there, the weather lightened up a little and her Uncle Fred and his wife Gloria took us to an all you can eat restaurant for dinner. It was good, kind of like Hometown Buffet. I had 3 plates and a bunch of dessert. Everyone else ate much less than me, but that's normal.

Afterwards we went back and Melissa and Uncle Fred went to go talk to one of his neighbors while Gloria and I put witch hazel and anti itch stuff on all of my numerous gianormous bug bites from Kansas. (Did I mention that I hate Kansas?) We got back on the road and stopped at the capital. It was pretty sweet. The names of every state and when they became a part of the United States were on the steps of up to the doors. Afterward, we headed toward Jackson, Mississippi to our first couch surfing experience.

We visited the Mississippi tourist welcome center, but it was really dark by the time we got there so we couldn’t take good pictures. We kept on going and arrived there around 9:30pm. Rob was our host and he took us to a neighbor’s house where they had wine and good conversation. It was fun to meet Rob’s friends. We went to Bill and Liz’s house and two others were there: Elizabeth and her husband, but sadly I forget his name and it's only been 3 weeks.

Then we went back to Rob’s house to go to sleep. We each got our own room and a bathroom for just the two of us to share. It was amazing. We decided we loved couchsurfing.

Saturday, September 1:

We got up and Rob was out running. We had Kashi cereal, which we bought from Costco in California and I ate that with orange juice because I forgot to tell Rob I was lactose intolerant. It wasn't that great, orange juice is not meant to be eaten with cereal. Rob did his masters of divinity at Duke so he was a big Duke fan, he had a banner in the bathroom and a mug and all sorts of random Duke stuff.

Rob took us out to the capital building of Mississippi. I saw this big old bell… of course I decided to ring it and it was LOUD! I was a little scared. I tried to quiet it down, but it wouldn’t and I guess it didn’t matter because I didn’t get in trouble or anything. The people who were there were taking pictures as well I think they thought it was funny because they were laughing.

I jumped around and did the usual climbing. I think Rob thought I was weird. We went over to the park and walked a little bit down the Jackson historical walk. It was very interesting. Mississippi was the 2nd state to secede from the union and the eagle on top was facing away from Washington, D.C. in blatant defiance. They also changed their state flag to have the confederate flag in the corner. It was interesting to get the history behind the capital, I’m glad Rob took us. He also took us to Mill Saps where Bill was a professor and showed us his church because he is a Methodist pastor in Jackson.

We said our farewells and headed out to Graceland. We got up there and paid 6 dollars to park and then the tours of Elvis’ house were $25 a head! So, we made up our own tour of the gift shops from all of the different parts of the tourist attractions. We were taking pictures and being dorks in the shops… until we found out we were supposed to take pictures. Then we were stealthier about it. Ha ha. It was pretty funny. I did tons of jumping around outside of Elvis’ museums. We went over to Heartbreak hotel of course. Since we weren’t paying for anything we figured we would walk in like we owned the place to see the heart shaped pool. We took pictures outside and were trying to get an ariel shot when we came across the “Burnin’ Love Suite” which we thought was hilarious.

We went back to the car quite pleased with our Graceland tour and massive amount of pictures. Then we left Tennessee, took pictures in the corner of Arkansas and headed back to Missouri. We didn’t have a place to stay in St. Louis so I was texting people and calling them to see if they knew anyone there. It turns out that one of Kevin #1's friends since elementary school was going to school in a little town north of St. Louis. So, we went out there, got a little confused, but not too bad and almost squished because the lane ended suddenly and Melissa got confused. We decided big cities were not for us.

We got to Liz’ school and went back to her place to drop off our stuff and then went out for a little bit to a wine bar. I was shocked people could smoke indoors in public places and got light headed and felt sick. I think my asthma was kicking in. I had to get up and leave and sit outside on a bench down the street to try to clear my head but it wasn’t working so well. The moon was really cool that night though so I spent a while looking at that and trying to get a picture before Melissa and Liz came back outside to head back to Liz’ place.

Sunday, September 2:

We got up, packed up all our stuff and went back to her school. We took pictures at Hogwarts (one of the buildings on her campus looked like Harry Potter’s school) and then Melissa and I said farewell and headed toward the subway. When we got there, I realized I had forgotten my A’s hat. I didn’t plan on coming back to Busch Stadium anytime soon so I ran back to the car about half mile and back to the subway station with 30 seconds to spare. I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever run in flip-flops. I didn’t think I would make it, but fortunately I did.

We took the subway over to the stadium to buy our tickets, only standing room was left. Those were 13-dollars a pop and then we went to go to the Arch. We were planning on going up. We got there and I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculous signs. They said things like “Arch this way. Ooh, ahh, gee!” We got to the booth and I was going to buy a ticket to go up but the wait was 5 hours already and we had a baseball game to go to! It was $10 to go up anyway and we just walked over took a bunch of pictures from the outside and then went back to the stadium because I saw that they had free ice cream of some sort on Sunday.

We went in and got free popsicles and signed up for free stuff (I got a blanket, Melissa got a shirt) at a booth and I did a little “tango” dancing with the people there in the kids zone. It was fun. We got a picture with Fred Bird, the Cardinals mascot and I got a picture with the penguin from the popsicle brand too! I was stoaked, he had a Christmas/where’s Waldo hat on kind of like Poof, but not really.

We were in the standing room section and I totally fell asleep in the box behind the yellow line while waiting for the game to start. I was so disappointed that there was no batting practice, but at least there was a good reason. There was a walk for kids to walk around the field who had muscle dystrophy I believe. So that was cool.

The sun was getting hot and large people were sitting in front of me so I was sad, but there was a cute lemonade guy who kept passing us at least. He had the greatest eyes. A man was walking past us asking if we wanted a pair of tickets in the shade. It was like Jesus coming to us and giving us shade. It was awesome. They were $33 seats behind home plate. So we went up and sat there. It was nice and cool up in the shade and we had chairs. Not to disappoint, Ankiel hit a home run for the Cardinals so we had another home team home run. I was stoaked. The only team that had let us down so far was the Rangers.

We left after the game on the metro and went back to the car, I was hoping I didn’t get a ticket, so thankfully we didn’t since it was Sunday. We set out for Nashville, Tennessee. We drove into Illinois because that’s the way the road went. We stopped in Metropolis and took pictures with the giant superman statue. It was pretty exciting. Then we went through Kentucky and took pictures at the tourist information center.

We finally got to Tennessee but had no place to stay so we passed through Nashville and stopped some where on the way to Alabama and slept in a S’honeys parking lot. Apparently it’s not S-Honeys like I thought it was. It is Shoneys. I don’t know what that means, but oh well.

We thought it would be better than sleeping in the Best Western parking lot because there were less lights and less people walking around. Luckily we were still safe, thanks to the big G-O-D I say.

Monday, September 3:

So, we woke up, re-organized, went to a gas station near by to fill up (we were in Franklin, TN) and cleaned up. We hit the road and headed to Alabama. We got there and the welcome center had a huge rocket, big stuff! We were pretty stoaked. We took pictures and went down to Birmingham, Alabama but decided not to stop. We were on our way to our second couch surfing adventure. The guy who we were going to stay with was a Cal Poly graduate two years older than us. It was a pretty exciting, rare find. We stopped in Talladega, Alabama by the racetrack and got ice cream. We had to get ice cream earlier in Mississippi and Texas for breakfast because it was good. In Mississippi they have drive-thru Baskin Robbins, but that was no good for me because their chocolate blasts have coffee in them, so I had to turn around and go back in to get a chocolate shake. Melissa drank the blast because she likes coffee but I almost puked when I tried it.

After stopping, we continued to Atlanta and for some reason Melissa was driving into another big city. I need to not get tired by the time we go into a big city, my bad! I probably wouldn't do much better. We don't like big cities. I think I mentioned that earlier. There is way too much traffic and craziness going on (well, if you have to drive, they all need really good public transportation like New York). We got to AK’s place and just hung out and rested for awhile. It was nice to just breathe and not be driving.

We discussed ways to get to the game, public transportation and all that and went to sleep.

Tuesday, September 4:

The only plan we had for the day was to go to the game. We got up, went out to the car and noticed that there was a tow away time between 5-9pm. We thought that was ridiculous and decided to just drive to the game instead of taking public transportation. I got a little confused on the way there but we found it and got parking for $10 and our tickets for $4 each. We were there 3 and a half hours before game time. The gates wouldn’t open for another hour so we took tons of pictures with all the retired numbers and statues in front of Turner Field on 755 Hank Aaron drive.

It was great, there was live music being played while we waited for the gates to open and we were some of the first people inside. We got a picture with the mascot “Homer” and he played a huge drum. We made signs because they had big signs and markers for fans to make. I wrote “California to Atlanta – Go Braves!” with a tomahawk on it. And another one saying, “we live for baseball!” with a tomahawk on it. We got on the biggest jumbo-tron I had ever seen in my life with our awesome signs. It was pretty much amazing.

We finally made it to batting practice! Of course we were there hours early, but it was great. We got to see the Braves at batting practice too. Yates, #33, threw me a ball and I was so excited! It was my first MLB ball I had caught myself and it took me from California to Atlanta to get it. I brought my glove across the country and with me to almost every ballpark and I finally got a batting practice ball in Atlanta, Georgia from the Braves. We were there so early that we got to see the Phillies do batting practice as well. I got another ball for Melissa and we were happy campers. The guys were jerks though, they were making fun of the guy who threw me the ball because I was an Asian girl and he was Asian. People are so dumb, I was really mad.

The game was good and I spoke with a guy whom I thought was cute from a distance, but when I talked to him, he was just all right. He was from Dallas, Georgia and was in the military stationed in Fort Worth, Texas. He was at the game with his dad which was cute. His last name was Kensly (spelling is questionable), which was a tip off that he was in the military (he introduced himself by his last name) when he asked for my name. I felt better after just talking to him because I had wussed out in Texas and didn’t talk to the Chicago guy.

The game was okay, Chipper Jones did hit a home run, so we did have a home team home run, but the Phillies won, which was disappointing.

Afterwards, I realized I didn’t have my keys even though I looked through everything and I freaked out. We went down to the lost and found and they weren’t there either. So, we went out to the car and when we got there I was again… shocked. In Atlanta, Georgia of all places, my car keys were sitting on the hood of my car. No one had opened my car or taken anything. I thanked God a hundred times over for watching out for us. It was literally amazing.

We went back to AK’s and watched Happy Feet. Then we went to bed.

Wednesday, September 5:

We woke up and packed our stuff and rolled out. We had to get to South Carolina and then up to North Carolina in the same day. We were planning on going to Myrtle Beach because it’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast. So, we drove out and went to Columbia, South Carolina. We went to visit the capital building and it was pretty sweet. There were 6 stars on the south side of the building where cannon balls had hit the building during the Civil War. I find stuff like that so interesting! I need to e-mail Uncle Bob and Auntie Brenda.

After we looked around the capital (luckily the spot I found to park in had a half hour on the meter so we didn’t have to pay), we set out for Myrtle Beach. It was hard to figure out where to stop for beach access, but eventually we did and it was worth it. It was so cool to see the sun not set over the ocean. That’s the way I’ve seen it my whole life and it seemed so backwards. It was beautiful, just like everyone had said and the Atlantic Ocean has warm water. The sand was so nice and smooth. I took a bunch of jumping pictures and timer pictures. It was great.

Then we set out for UNC where Laura goes to school. We took all these small roads to get there, it was a little confusing but we finally made it to the big highway and felt safe again. We got there and didn’t really know what to do about parking so we ended up moving the car at 1 or 2am, I can’t remember but I know I was really tired from driving from Atlanta up to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It was 6 dollars to park for the day, so since it was already the next day it worked out well. We got back to the dorm and slept on an air mattress in Laura’s dorm on the floor.

Thursday, September 6:

We woke up and Laura had to go to class, so we took the Duke-UNC bus out to Duke and had our own mini tour of Duke. It was pretty fun sitting on the bench. I was narrating for the people as they passed by. The homies who stopped in the middle of the field really wanted tater tots, I know it. We walked around and took more pictures before remembering the botanical gardens. We were almost there… when I fell into a hole. Not just a hole in the ground, but one of those holes that is covered by a concrete cover, like an electrical hole or a water hole that is covered. Usually people don’t fall in those! I guess I’m special, because both my legs fell in! I was scraped up to my knees on both legs and the skin on my right big toe was ripped off. It’s a good thing I was ninja turtle toeing it that day because it may have been worse than just the top few layers of toe skin being ripped off.

We walked around the botanical gardens and my toe was really hurting the whole time! We went back to the bus so we could get back to UNC and meet Laura for lunch. We were going to get free shirts but unfortunately didn’t sign up the first time during the rush of lunch. I was very disappointed. We did get free food in the awesome cafeteria because Laura used her meal plan to swipe us in. She wasn’t happy about the Duke bookstore picture, but we did go to the UNC bookstore and take pictures in UNC stuff too! I ate a lot in the cafeteria there. I even took three bananas to eat later. It reminded me of the Lighthouse too, but better. They had really good pineapple smoothies.

We then went to the bookstore and were looking for a sweatshirt for Melissa’s brother and were walking around to the store on the street that had UNC stuff for sale, they didn’t have it so we walked back to the bookstore and then waited for Laura to finish class. We walked over to the baseball and football fields and got to the amazingly huge UNC basketball stadium. Michael Jordan played college ball inside! Luckily a custodian was walking by and let us look inside, we were so lucky, God was so good to us on this trip!

It was HUGE! I was so impressed and jealous all at the same time. I wish I went to a big sports school. Maybe for my masters I will and I will get all into the sports teams. At Poly I went to a few games, mostly baseball but that was only because there was no pro-team to go to.

We walked back to the dorm and then packed up our stuff, put it in the car and headed toward our final destination. Virginia here we come!

We arrived in Virginia quickly and took pictures at the sign at the welcome center but headed onward instead of going inside the center. I figured I would be living here so I wouldn’t really be a tourist after awhile. When we saw Petersburg, we stopped at Virginia State University where I would be going and took some jumping pictures there. I should probably rep my school, but I am way to lazy to go to the bookstore after class. I always get tired by the time class is over.

Then we headed on toward Midlothian where I would be living for the next 8 months. I wasn’t sure what to expect. One of Laura’s friends was from Virginia (Mike) and he was familiar with Midlothian and he had never heard of Port Ridge Terrace… so I emailed Kelly again to make sure that I had the address correct. Luckily I found out I didn’t and it was actually Court Ridge Terrace. So, I wrote down the directions and we got there and had dinner – chicken, green beans and bread. It was good. I was excited. I love food.

I organized all my stuff that we had just taken out of the car and piled in the room. I hate being disorganized, so it was god to get that out of the way. Melissa slept on a cot in my room and I slept on the bed that one of the families in the church had provided.

Friday, September 7:

We woke up late and had decided to head out to Baltimore to watch an Orioles game. We didn’t even know who they were playing. It took a good 3 and a half hours to get there because of all the D.C. traffic. We parked in a far lot for $8 but it was neat to see where the Baltimore Ravens play too. I saw more Red Sox gear than Orioles and it turned out that the Orioles were playing the Red Sox, which I was super excited about. We had made it to Camden Yards, Babe Ruth’s dream.

We had to wait for the ticket office to open, but we were there early too. It didn’t open until an hour and a half before the game, but they still had student tickets left. So, we got the student discount tickets for 6-bucks each and went in. They have a side street attached to the park and you have to have your ticket before you can go into the side street. They have all kinds of stuff there. We got more free stuff. I am not signing up for credit cards before, but I got a Braves, Orioles, and Cardinals blanket before I found out signing up for credit cards ruins your credit. Good thing I didn’t sign up for the Texas Rangers one! I don’t even like them! That was a pretty funny moment too. The guy was probably shocked I was so honest. I guess a lot of people are, but I can’t help it, honesty is something built into me! (I said something along the lines of, "actually, can I get my paper back, I don't even like the Rangers, I would never wear the shirt anyway and I really don't like those weird backpacks." I didn't say it to be funny, but looking back, it's pretty dang funny. He gave me my paper back.)

We walked around the park and I was hoping to get a ball but I was carrying so much stuff. At least we got to see the Red Sox batting practice. It was pretty awesome, they hit so many homers. We got a picture with the Oriole’s mascot, we didn’t even know it’s name, but oh well! Then we went up to our seats.

Once there I scanned the crowd and there were no guys I found attractive which was disappointing. Some people sat behind us, and I guess the people were with a girl who was a self proclaimed “baseball expert” and they were from another country and needed to have everything be explained to them. They didn’t even come until the 2nd inning, who does that? Melissa had to go to the bathroom and the girl was explaining and I quietly packed all of my stuff away and impatiently waited for Melissa to return so we could leave!

Once she got back we moved to the next section and sat in front of some kids who looked like they were in high school. We settled into our seats and to my utter dismay, they were super dramatic and bragging about their party experience. Wow, as cool as they were, we decided to move again to the section no one was in. We sat by ourselves in peace in the empty section for 5 innings. It was glorious. There was a fight on the field because the pitcher almost hit the batter. I was so excited I don’t even remember who the batter was anymore. I was yelling “fight, fight, fight, fight!” Both benches cleared and both dugouts! It was awesome! The people in the dugouts had to run across the whole field because they were in the outfield and I was laughing so hard. I got a video of these little ant guys running across the field.

We took more pictures and the game was pretty good. It was weird because the fans were yelling “Yankees suck!” even though there were no Yankees to be seen. I don’t like when people do that. It’s strange. If they are there, okay whatever, but if they aren’t even there, what the heck are you doing. There were more Red Sox fans there than Orioles fans.

I think I got a bigger kick out of the players fighting and pushing each other around because I’m from Oakland, but also because before the game started there was a thing on the jumbo-tron thanking Oriole’s fans for being the most well mannered or something. It made it that much funnier to me when the players were about to duke it out.

The Red Sox won and there was no home team home run, so that was sad. We walked out and I wanted to get a picture with the statue of Babe Ruth. So we went that way and took more pictures and walked back to the car.

When we got back to the car we sat in traffic behind a car that had a UCLA sticker on it. I was really tempted to hop out of the car and ask where they were from. We got back on 95 South and headed back to Richmond. We were really hungry and Melissa’s plane didn’t leave until 6AM so we went to an IHOP and had some food there. I got a funnel cake special. It was funnel cake with strawberries, hash browns, and scrambled eggs. I think there was milk in the eggs because my stomach was hurting really bad and I had some awesome diarrhea that I had to stop at a gas station to relieve myself of.

After stopping to use the restroom, we continued to the Richmond Airport, which isn’t really much of an International Airport once you’ve been to big ones like SFO and LAX. I dropped her off by Delta, which would take her back to Oakland so she could watch the Giants play the Dodgers.

I drove back to Midlothian even though I was really, really tired from the past two weeks and it was already 3:30am when I dropped her off. I got back to the house and was so relieved to just sleep… but the door was locked. Kelly had given me the key to unlock the bottom, but not the dead bolt on top. So I just went back and put down my back seats since I had no more stuff in my trunk and fell asleep in it like the old days. I was so beat it didn’t even make a difference if I was in my bed or not. I used the free blanket from the Orioles game for a pillow and I keep a blanket I got free from Citi bank in my trunk so I was good to go. Around 6:30 Kelly knocked on my window and let me in the house apologizing profusely, but I really didn’t mind. I went up stairs to my room and was sad, but a little relieved I didn’t have to drive anymore for a while.

My road trip had finally come to an end, but my adventures were just beginning.

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