Quick Road Tripping

I know I’ve been a bit silent on my blog recently and I apologize. These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, as I’m sure many of you can relate to as we enter 2018.

2018?!

How the hell did that happen? Wasn’t it just 1995? But I digress… Over the past four days, I traveled to Northern California to see my sister and her six-month old baby and then to one of my oldest and dearest friends, who is in a nearby city and also happens to have a six-month old baby.

I was in baby heaven.

But before anyone asks, here’s my response to why we decided to not have children.

This past weekend was fantastic. Hanging with little babies full of love is not a bad way to spend a long weekend, that’s for sure. And I was able to see a dear friend of mine who I don’t get to see anywhere near as often as I’d like.

Though this road-trip of mine (solitary btw, which I recommend for everyone, married or not!) was short and sweet, I did make some observations along the way that I would love to share with you, my readers, as I have in the past :)

Also, happy new year to you all!

Some observations from a short road trip from Southern California to Northern and back again…

  • get your gas where it’s cheap. Prices at gas stations can fluctuate several dollars within miles of each other.
  • bring a car trash bag. it will make your life easier.
  • ignore your phone. people will text and call but do your own thing when on the road. it’s freeing and a great time to be in your head…
  • san francisco drivers are no joke. they get the job done and take no prisoners. los angeles drivers either wait for, what my brother calls, “the golden invitation” for lane changes and such, thinking they own the road, or they cut your off and then brake. I am a Los Angeleno but SF has us here. The drivers there need and want to drive. Here, everyone drives whether they want to or not.
  • be careful of “Economy” car rentals. Though my car did what it had to, it had no key fob to open doors (I used a key, what?!), no arm rest, side mirrors adjustable only by hand (yup, it’s still a thing!) and the most annoying beep if you didn’t immediately put your seatbelt on.
  • sing out loud to your heart’s desire. it’s cathartic
  • And I may have said this before but it’s worth repeating. It’s incredibly easy to drive over 90mph. My advice- keep your eyes on the speedometer unless you want to fork over hundreds of dollars to the state.

 

#roadtripping

Road Tripping Day 14

The past two weeks have been some of the most amazing days of my life. Traveling the east coast with my husband as we visited close family and friends allowed me time to explore the great outdoors, see cities and states I hadn’t before and learn about love, life, myself and my relationships on a deeper level.

And I’d like to extend a big thank you to all who have come along for the ride with us.

If I had to say what I learned most from the trip, it would be how much I love my husband.

The universe gave me a chance to see how important the commitment I made to this man is to me and I have a new-found excitement for getting to be with him everyday, for all the days we are given.

I also learned a few overall lessons and made some observations that I thought I’d share with you for the last of my Road Tripping posts…

  • Bug spray is something now at the top of my packing list when traveling. Especially to the east coast.
  • Tim Horton’s is very popular on that same east coast. (FYI, it’s a coffee place for those like myself who didn’t know.)
  • Nissan Versas are a great rental. Smooth ride. Excellent mileage. Comfortable. (And no, I’m not getting paid by them…)
  • Subway fast food restaurants are everywhere. Literally everywhere.
  • Do not put on mascara while the car is moving.
  • Overpacking is a waste. I learn more about it each time I travel. Biggest takeaway – Ask myself if I really will wear/use/read it. If I hesitate, don’t bring it.
  • Priceline is my favorite travel website.
  • Heated hotel pools are also a favorite of mine.
  • My hair hates humidity, but I was prepared this time. I came armed with serum and a straightener.
  • Lyft is a Godsend.
  • Sometimes, Denny’s can in fact hit the spot.
  • Each state has different rules for speeding. Some take it insanely serious. Others, almost invite it. My advice – pay attention and act accordingly, unless you want to waste your money and time.
  • Rain is very different on the Atlantic/Pacific coasts. Atlantic is unpredictable, wild, warm, odd and part of life. Pacific is periodic, wet, cold and quite seasonal.
  • I love to collect things and my bottle cap, seashell and magnet collections grew rapidly over the past fourteen days.
  • I missed my bed, getting the mail and family the most while I was gone.

I am already looking forward to another trip. Stay tuned, as I hope you’ll join me then as well.

Cheers!

#roadtripping

Road Tripping Day 13

The last destination on our east coast road trip was Toronto, Canada.

On the two-hour drive to get there from Buffalo, my husband and I reflected on the wonderful trip we’d just experienced over the past twelve days.

And a big thank you to all who have come along for the ride. It’s been fun going through it with readers and participants :)

Toronto is not entirely new to me. Growing up in Buffalo, Canada wasn’t really another country. It was the city next door. It was Niagara Falls. (Yes, the Canadian side gives the best views. BUT the Buffalo side gives a great sight of the rapids, unlike anything other. And it’s still America, so you don’t have to deal with going through the border. (It’s the getting back through the American side that has become a pain in the ass. I felt like I was being interrogated, but I digress…)

We live in a different world from the days of my childhood when my dad would pay fifty cents and go in and out of Canada with little effort. Terrorism is suspect though and America does not mess around. TSA even took the jar of Georgia peach jam I got for my mother. Sad… I felt invaded when they went through my whole bag and undid the great packing job I had strategized over but don’t get me started.

Toronto was fun and the view from the C & N building was no joke. 181 floors up. And there was a lightning storm happening while we strolled around as our ears popped. My husband was bummed a bit that the outer walkway was closed but to be honest, I was fine with staying behind the glass. (Please excuse the rain drops on the shot above; I tried my best.)

It was a wonderful way to close our two-week road trip, which started in Central Florida and ended in Toronto, Canada.

Tomorrow will be my last post for my road tripping series. Stay tuned as I list observations from the trip as a whole….

#roadtripping

 

 

 

 

 

Road Tripping Day 11 & 12

I don’t want this feeling to end. I wish I could wrap it up and keep it in a little box so whenever I want it back, I could have it in a moment’s notice.

La Familia.

Growing up in a Sicilian household, the importance of family was instilled in me from the day I was born. I learned early on to have respect for one’s family and culture. To this day, my mother makes sauce on Sundays and speaks Sicilian to her parents. And yes, I too now make this sauce but no, not every Sunday. Many of those days, I’m at my folks.

The reason for the silence on my blog the past two days is that I literally did not have one moment to formulate my thoughts because I filled every second with family while in my birth town of Buffalo, NY. I was so blown away by the amount of love and respect and joy that swirled around me in the past forty-eight hours that I didn’t want to mess with it one bit (which I believed I’d have to do to write this post.)

In some ways, my Aunt J has always felt like a second mother. This says a lot because I am not truly comfortable with most people. But the relationship we formed when I was 0 – 10 stuck and despite great distance, I feel at home with her. Her children, my first cousins have been everything to me. Best friends. Family. A godson. And being back with them this weekend made it seem like no time or distance had passed between us. Talks were deep and beautiful and funny and wine-filled and lovely and special and so many more adjectives but I’ll stop…

In short, it was magical. And I didn’t want the feeling to end.

It was a ride and I’m already sad to be off but here’s a sneak peek of it:

The long way there. Hehe but we made it! Smiles, love, warmth, family, childhood. Grandparents. Love. Remembering the past while mixing it with the future. Intro’s to my husband. Tons of intros! Beautiful children, like the one’s we once were. Family. Love. Party time! Hands moving. Mouths going. Good times had by all. Smiles on a ninety-six year old. Family. Love. Niagara Falls! Majestic. Good food. Laughs. Pictures. Water. Lots and lots of water. Wings and pizza. Final dinner. Great times! Laughs galore. Family. Love. Tour of old hood. Husband. My love. My life. Late night chats. Early morning chats. Family. Love.

Till tomorrow…

#roadtripping

Road Tripping Day 10

Leaving D.C. & Maryland behind, we headed back on the road with a destination of Buffalo, New York – the place of my birth and early years. I will always have a special spot for this city but what’s really the best, is I still have a ton of family here and I couldn’t be more excited to spend the weekend with them all.

We arrived at the home of my aunt a little later than planned because we opted to take the scenic route through the back streets of Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

The view was utterly amazing. Green foliage was everywhere and the trees were as plentiful as they come. The weather turned a little colder as we drove through what was called the Pennsylvania Wilds. Driving through the Allegheny National Forest was a real treat and provided us with stunning landscapes and views.

And along with this beautiful scenery came some observations…

  • Southern hospitality does not extend beyond the Virginias and damn, I missed it. D.C. was were I found most people to be down right rude and impatient. One local told me tourist pedestrians are known to be “speed bumps” – and I witnessed  the truth of that. Pedestrians are moderately tolerated but word of advice, do not cross when you see an oncoming car. (I thought my Lyft driver was going to seriously run over a clueless jaywalker right there in front of the Capitol Building.
  • Gas prices jumped drastically between Maryland to Pennsylvania.
  • Dollar stores are everywhere. Literally, everywhere.
  • Road kill is sad, no matter how you look at it.
  • It’s often worth it to take the long way.
  • The leaves are just starting to change colors and the beauty of this event is magical. I wish we had it more in Southern California…
  • Taxidermy is a big business in the Pennsylvania forests.

Till tomorrow….

#roadtripping

Road Tripping Days 8 & 9

Washington D.C.

Such a strange character.

It’s a state but not really. It’s a city, kinda. It’s the nation’s capitol. We, tay-paying citizens, give taxes for it’s existence and there are ample museums and monuments around to learn from for many days to come.

History is everywhere in D.C. and yet, it isn’t.

It’s like modernity meets the past and both sides are trying to cling on for dear life….

I see the change in administration affects the local government workers in the area more than anyone. It’s interesting to see partisan politics at work. As an idealist, I wished it was based on fact rather than what party was in power but Washington locals soon put me in my place, essentially telling me that’s the perfection that will never exist.

But I still toured D.C. as though I was an idealist in my twenties. I went to the Capital Building and visited Thomas Massie’s office (Kentucky Rep, and closest to Ron Paul in ideology as we can get.) I saw the White House, Capitol Hill, most of the Smithsonian museums, Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, not to mention their modern art garden and Veteran’s Memorial.

I loved every moment and soaked up as much history, along with reality, as possible.

That said, I couldn’t help but remember my days of being a reader for major Hollywood production companies.

Most of the books I read had a lot to do with espionage and the CIA/FBI and were murder thrillers. Seriously, I probably read upwards of 300+ in the ten years of doing that job. Needless to say, my dreams were epic at that time…. and scary as shit, but I digress.

As a reader, I got to learn a lot about terrorism and intelligence operations within the government branches. My knowledge on law enforcement of our Nation grew quite a bit during this time and it’s always stuck with me.

And what better time for it to surface than when visiting the Nation’s capitol for the first time?

So…..

When my husband and I first arrived in D.C. in the later hours of the morning, we decided to stop in a Starbuck’s to get caffeinated before heading on into the National Mall. (Look it up. Not a shopping mall like comes to mind….haha)

Once inside, I realized I had to go to pee for the tenth time that morning (road trips kill my bladder!) and after learning the code, I made my way into the one-person bathroom.

I squatted down, far from the seat as it’s a public bathroom, and proceeded to go while I glanced around.

My eyes stopped on the baby changing station. The main bed part had been pulled down rather than secured in its wall mount. As my first instinct was to fix it, I glanced at it first and noticed a nondescript suitcase under the bed part.

All the stories I’ve read over the past ten years flashed in my head and I stopped. Though I wanted to tell the attendant about it, I couldn’t help but notice that it seemed as though someone wanted to hide it.

So I kept my mouth shut. Those are the disposable characters in the books. The one who can identify the suitcase but have little meaning otherwise….

Yeah… No thank you. Not gonna be that person.

Till tomorrow….

#roadtripping

Road Tripping Day 7

Today we left the Carolinas and made our way north to the Maryland/Washington DC area. My husband was born and raised in Baltimore and I have always wanted to see our nation’s capital so lucky for us, they’re very close to one another.

But getting there from the North/South Carolina border took us a good eight hours, with only a few stops. Traffic near the D.C. area can rival what one sees in L.A., though their freeways are not seven lanes, on both sides…

Thankfully, my love let me be the passenger so I could soak it all up without having to keep my eyes on the road (though I did try to be a second pair for him when the rain came down.)

I stared out the car window for many hours today, and with the help of some Apple music streaming, I thoroughly enjoyed the greenery that sped past as I made some more observations along the way, which I thought I’d share with you now, along with some lessons learned as well:

  • found out what a beltway is today (we don’t have them in California, right?) For those who don’t know, like yours truly, it’s a circular highway in an urban area.
  • Virginia means business when it comes to speeding. There are cops right along the freeway and every few miles, one will see a sign detailing the state’s strict speeding rules (and yet, their typical speed limit is 70mph… Catch up Los Angeles!)
  • Apple maps is hands down superior over Google Maps (though my husband would argue otherwise, hehe…)
  • Humidity can make a day of 65* feel twenty degrees warmer, no joke.
  • Rest stops aren’t as scary as I’ve made them out to be in my head. Or is that just the ones on the east coast?
  • I pee quite a bit more than I did as twenty-something, and what better time to realize that when in a car for eight hours. (TMI?)
  • Bug bites come in all shapes and sizes and they suck. Period. And I can’t stop SCRATCHING!!
  • As strange as it is, I literally cannot pronounce the word “Potomac”, not for the life of me.

 

Till tomorrow…

#roadtripping

Road Tripping Day 6

Today was a lazy day hanging out in the Carolinas.

My husband and I explored the local areas and soaked up the culture of both North and South, being by the border to both.

As someone who doesn’t like to be inactive, lazy days are not typically something I enjoy. But while on vacation, my husband helped show me how relaxing can be just being in the moment and enjoying one’s surroundings. He even marveled at my ability to let him drive slowly (normally, I get nauseous and tell him to step on it.)

Being in the moment enabled me to talk to the locals in a deeper way than I normally do. I talked to a young waitress fresh to the area and learned she was there to help her dad care for her grandfather. I bought a used book from a community thrift store where the sweet old lady behind the register chatted with those around her and smiled warmly as she wished me a good day in such a genuine manner. I smiled at passersby and thought about how little I take the time to just stroll without thinking about my to-do list.

I literally took the time to smell the roses today and made a point to vow to myself to continue this when I return home.

See, I loathe laziness but by definition it implies lack of effort. Being in the moment, however, is not a lack of effort. In fact, it’s the opposite as one needs to focus on what is in front of them if they are to be in the moment.

I realized today that being lazy is not synonymous with being in the moment and for some reason, I make that wrong association.

This all means getting out of one’s head. Not an easy thing for me to do but I’m trying and this trip (and my patient husband) is helping to show me how.

Till tomorrow….

#roadtripping

 

Road Tripping Day 5

For day 5, we decided to head out to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for a fun day in the Atlantic Ocean. We’re staying in North Carolina with my husband’s biological mother (he was adopted but has since found his birth mother and she is one of the coolest women I’ve ever met!) and the drive to Myrtle isn’t too long.

Once there, I couldn’t believe how different the Atlantic and the Pacific coastlines are from each other. Truly different.

The big difference was how WARM the water was. Anyone who has been to the Pacific Ocean can tell you that on a good day, you don’t freeze your ass off when putting your feet in. The Atlantic felt like a natural spa.

Then, the lifeguard stands. The one’s along the Pacific are towers complete with direct lines to the Coast Guard. The Atlantic. Well… look above for the picture. It’s a chair, that looks like it should be at a pool.

There is no roar of the waves since they are small and little and make you want to jump right in. Unfortunately, the rip tide was in full swing so we couldn’t go too far out (or the lifeguard would blow his whistle!)

And then the seashells! They’re everywhere and I collect them so I was a bit in heaven. Scooping some up for my own collection and the one my nephew keeps, I ended with nearly a bag of interesting looking shells and rocks that one doesn’t find easily on the west coast.

The wind offered a warm breeze as my husband and I strolled along the little boardwalk there and at that moment, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. It was a little slice of heaven.

In the end, I found the Atlantic coast to be more like a kitty cat compared to the lion that is the Pacific coast.

Till tomorrow….

 

#roadtripping

Road Tripping Day 4

Today, we headed out on the open road, leaving Central Florida behind as we made our way toward North Carolina.

Stopping in Savannah, Georgia, for lunch, we ordered some local fried fish and grilled shrimp. Absolutely delicious! And the pralines were to die for. I can’t say we fit right in though….

As we walked down a waterfront street in the historic district,  a twenty-something girl, who was outside on the cobblestone selling tours, called out to us, “Woah there, we don’t walk that fast here in Savannah.”

As I turned around to see if she was smiling, I saw she wasn’t. My husband called out, “We haven’t eaten. We’re hungry!”

She returned with, “Well, I guess that makes it a little okay” and cracked a smile.

Observation – things move slowly in Savannah and the people, even slower.

I dig it though. Different strokes for different folks. And perhaps I do walk a bit too fast… something to ponder….

But before I leave you tonight, allow me to let you in on a few other observations I made while out on the open road today:

  • a sign along a freeway in South Carolina read: “Speeding ticket $200 AND 30 days in jail”    (italics are my own)
  • gas was approx $2.15 at different gas stations for over a hundred miles (in LA, they fluctuate by dollars within a few miles of each other)
  • a dead deer in the middle of the street is a very sad sight indeed
  • sparkling water is not a convenience store staple at all convenience stores
  • there is an actual real store called “Park and Blow”

 

Till tomorrow…

#roadtripping