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Driving Cross-Country

Posted Jul 10 2014 5:44pm

We made it.

After 5 days of driving, 3000 miles, a decent amount of friend and family time, and two dinosaur museum sightings (we didn’t stop at either, BOO) Brendan and I made it from New Jersey to Los Angeles.

Friends keep asking me what I think about LA. Honestly, I can’t say I love it yet…but I think that’s normal. I’ve moved a lot in my life and I’ve never loved a place right away.

Moving is hard.

Finding your way around a brand new place is hard.

When you know that new place is your future indefinitely, it feels so much harder to love it. I know I have to figure out a whole new routine and make lots of mistakes in the process. In a bigger city that definitely takes some time. And at this point, I’m still stuck in my last “chapter”. It’s so hard to leave it behind and start a new one.

Still, my future may have been, in a way, decided for me, but I have the control to continue along positively. I have to make the choice to stay happy instead of dwelling on the past. As I always say when it comes to running, triathlon, or whatever fitness endeavor I’ve taken on: I have the ability to choose how I react to something. But with triathlon, it seems easier because it’s temporary. If a course is tough, it will end. If I get a flat tire, within minutes I’ll figure it out and move forward.

With a life change?

It feels permanent, which is the most scary. Whether we stay here for a year or, well, forever, it’s scary to leave your life as you know it behind. No one here knows me. I feel like my identity has been lost in a way. And even if we go back to NJ in a year, I know it won’t be the same. And I hate that. But hey, maybe it will be BETTER. I keep reminding myself that I’ve done this before. I picked up and moved to New York not knowing a single person. I complained about the east coast and how different it is from the midwest. And now look at me, whining about leaving. I’m lucky that this time, I have my wonderful fiancé with me. We kept talking about how immigrants years ago used to leave their homes and get on a boat to come to the US, knowing they would NEVER go back. And how so many people would travel by foot across the country. Can you even imagine? Reminds me how lucky I am.

So now, all I can do is continue trying to accept this new life that’s been handed to me.

But, let’s back up to some of the fun stuff. We just drove like a million miles across the United States. The US is BIG. If you want to see the whole trip in photos and learn all about our cross country drive, I can help you with that. If you want an abbreviated version, it’s on Instagram . (There’s a hashtag for that: #burgersgowest.)

NORTH ROUTE OR SOUTH ROUTE?

NORTH ROUTE OR SOUTH ROUTE?

We took the…uhhh…middle…route?

We left on Thursday afternoon, July 3rd. We planned our route based on friends and family and otherwise just fun, interesting places. We drove through NJ and PA – 7 hours to Akron, Ohio.

Here's PA for you.

Here’s PA for you.

In Akron, our friends Scott and Emily made us chocolate peanut butter shakes. And dinner. And breakfast.

At our first stop in Ohio, our friends Scott and Emily made us dinner, shakes, cinnamon rolls, and egg sandwiches, and sent us away with a bag full of treats and water bottles. Amazing.

Amazing.

On the 4th of July, my absolute favorite holiday, we headed on a 6-ish hour drive to Chicago:

Ohio, Indiana. Both pretty much looked like this.

Ohio, Indiana. Both pretty much looked like this.

Chicago, you're pretty.

Chicago, you’re pretty.

12 hours in, we still love each other...

Taking a little boat ride in Chicago.

If you know my fiancé, you know we found a Dave Matthews Band concert along the way!

If you know my fiancé, you know we found a Dave Matthews Band concert to see along the way. We were lucky enough to get backstage seats!

We were lucky enough to get backstage seats!

The next morning, we had a short 4-hour drive from downtown Chicago to Iowa City to see my lovely parents.

We did some celebrating...

We did some celebrating…

And lots of food!

And ate lots of delicious, home-cooked food. Thanks Mom & Dad!

A few of my friends were coincidentally in town so we were able to visit with them. IC had their fireworks that night and we watched them from our porch. I kept taking deep breaths to fill my lungs with Iowa air. It smells so fresh and clean and I just love it so much. I felt so at home. (Because I was, duh.) The view from my parents’ porch is amazing and I never wanted to leave that spot.

We also went on a walk over the river. Poor little Wyatt was scared.

We also went on a walk over the river. Poor little Wyatt was scared.

On the 6th of July, after too little time at home, we continued along through the rest of Iowa and Nebraska on our way to Denver. (I feel like I’m writing a journal circa Oregon Trail.) This was the fourth and longest day (about 13 hours) and it felt SO long.

I loved the scenery in Iowa, but I'm biased.

THE PLAINS. I love the scenery in Iowa, but I’m biased. Nebraska bored me.

I was so sick of sitting and tried to do some kind of mini workout at rest stops.

I was so sick of sitting and tried to do some kind of mini workout at rest stops.

We only had 12 hours (including sleep) in Denver, but walked around a bit - very cute!

We only had 12 hours (including sleep) in Denver, but walked around a bit looking for a place to eat- very cute!

The next day was another long one – about 12 hours from Denver to Las Vegas. But it was the most gorgeous drive ever.

Through Colorado:

And then we saw the mountains. And I got REALLY happy.

We saw the mountains. And I got REALLY happy.

Brendan was pretty excited too.

Brendan was pretty excited too.

Pretty much all of our photos were shot through a car window. But I'd like to think I did a pretty good job. #patontheback

Pretty much all of our scenery photos were shot through a car window. But I’d like to think I did a pretty good job. #patontheback

We were a little concerned Brendan’s 11-year-old car wasn’t going to make it up the mountains, but miraculously it did. AND THEN…we got to Utah. I’ve never been there before and had no idea what to expect.

This is probably the most incredibly awe-inspiring place I've ever stood in my life.

This is probably the most incredibly awe-inspiring place I’ve ever stood in my life.

You can’t tell in the picture, but we’re on the edge of a canyon that goes waayyyyy down. Seeing the mountains and the canyons is absolutely incredible. I immediately texted Jen  (because she often writes about her love for mountains) telling her how amazing the views were and how I am now obsessed with mountains as well. We agreed that seeing them makes you feel so grounded (and small!) Being the girl from the plains that I am, I’m totally in awe. Still, the pictures really don’t capture the feeling of being surrounded by all this gorgeous scenery – you MUST go! I’m certain I would never have seen this if we weren’t driving cross-country (pretty sure I’d never book a flight and then drive to middle-of-nowhere Utah) so I feel extremely blessed to have seen this.

So naturally I did a yoga pose there.

So naturally I did a yoga pose there. My form is probably terrible. I have no idea.

More rocks.

More (pretty) rocks.

Going through Utah, we saw a sign saying “no services for 120 miles”. That’s no food, no gas, no humans. Nothing. It was gorgeous but we were starving. And we were pretty much out of water, which is dumb because if our car broke down in the heat, we’d be screwed. Oops. We stopped at the first place we saw, 120 miles later: Subway. I’ve never been so happy to see a Subway. (Did you know they have avocado now?! But don’t be deceived by the photos they plaster everywhere – it’s not actually cut up avocado, its like a spread. Boo.)

We had a quick-ish drive through Arizona…

Ehh I'm preeeeetty sure this photo is from Arizona. They all kind of look the same now.

Ehh I’m preeeeetty sure this photo is from Arizona. They all kind of look the same now.

…and since we were picking up hours left and right (okay, just three) we arrived in Nevada around 7PM PST. Even though it was 10PM at home we did a little exploring in Las Vegas, where we spent the night. 

Just a little ominous on our arrival.

Just a little ominous on our arrival. But, rainbow!

I played my first blackjack game and won $70. I feel pretty accomplished now.

I played my first blackjack game and won $70. I feel pretty accomplished now.

(Is anyone still reading?) 

We woke up to a flat tire onnnn…what day was this…Tuesday? I have no idea what day is what anymore.

AAA fixed it in like 5 seconds. No big deal.

AAA fixed it in like 5 seconds. No big deal.

AND THEN…we were driving our last 4-ish hours to Los Angeles.

They waved us through. I guess we don't look suspicious.

They waved us through. I guess we don’t look suspicious. And yes, I took pictures of EV-ER-Y-THING.

These are "Joshua Trees". I think.

These are “Joshua Trees”. I think. At least that’s what Wikipedia told me.

This is pretty much what driving through California looks like.

This is pretty much what driving through California looks like.

AND THEN WE MADE IT. About 3,000 miles later. We still love each other, just FYI.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica. I guess it’s alright.

We’re staying in a hotel for now and frantically searching for an apartment. I’ll be back in NY/NJ on Saturday for another month, but we gotta get B a place to live ASAP!

Have you ever driven cross country? Moved to a brand new place? Do you live in LA and want to be my friend!?

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