The Trip

Hiya, dear friends and family! In my very first moments of privacy in over a week, I finally have some time to start a blog, like I’ve been promising.

H’ok, soh, here’s an overview of the trip, along with little tidbits I have learned along the way:

Day One: Ran a little behind getting out of Richmond. Space in the trunk of the car was an issue that took more time than expected. I was lugging around a suitcase, a duffel bag full of breakables (thanks Becky for an awesome addition to my tea pot collection!) , a book bag full of various kitty items, my laptop bag, and my makeup kaboodle. Not a real kaboodle from the early 90’s, Heaven’s no. A vintage, hard travel case from the 60’s that I found at a thrift store some years ago. Because, y’know, I’m just classy like that.

I learn: Fitting 3 people + 1 cat’s belongings into a Honda Civic takes an act of God to achieve.

This could've been me.

Anyway, I decided to bring my road bike with me to California as well. My dad so graciously purchased it for me on my 21st birthday, and I wasn’t about to part from it. Much thanks to Courtney Klein, a bike rack landed in my lap free of charge. Sweet. So after loading, unloading and shifting articles around in the trunk like an obnoxious game of luggage-style Tetris, we had to get the bike rack/bike onto the trunk. This took an exceedingly long amount of time. It’s one of those things where, if you have even the tiniest amount of doubt creeping around in your stomach about something, you have to re-do or re-set or re-whatever it until you finally feel satisfied and your insatiable gut calms to a low gurgle. It became a formidable task every time we needed to get something from out of the trunk.

Instilling into my mother the fear that the bike might fly off into following traffic up to speeds of 80 mph on the highway resulted in the loading and unloading of the rack and the bike as the most time consuming and frustrating operation of the entire trip. As it is now, the bike successfully made it clear across the country, and I feel an obligation to ride it as often as the opportunity arises, being that I spent so much damn time with it. If I didn’t have a relationship with my bike in Richmond, I certainly do now.  After all is said and done, I can finally say eat it, bike. You’re the epitome of a terrible girlfriend: heavy, cold, awkward, uncompromising, high-maintenance, and if you get too loose, it’s a bad, bad thing.

Boogeyman, my cat, had no idea what was happening. He immediately peed, pooped, and barfed all within the first hour of the trip. He did great the rest of the way, however. Go little buddy!

The Littlest Prince

We drove clear into Tennessee and stayed in Ripley the first night. My dad was out of town on a business trip unfortunately, so I didn’t get to see him. Audrey and I stayed at his house and spent time with Elizabeth, my step-mom. (a side note: I am overjoyed to say that my step-mom is 10 weeks pregnant. I am going to be a big sister come the end of January!) After raiding the fridge and watching some television, we zonked out. We were pooped.

Day Two: We drove through Arkansas. My Korean great-Uncle Tom lives in Little Rock. We spent some time with him, and ate at a restaurant called Wasabi. It’s a Japanese food restaurant … owned by Koreans (say what?). My great-Uncle is 80 and owns a store called Mr. Cool, where he sells wigs, suits, hair extensions, hats, hideous shoes, apparel and accessories “for black people,” as he jokes.  When I was younger, I used to call him Scary Uncle, because he scared the shit out of me. I would run away and hide behind my mother’s legs, poking my head out occasionally to see if he was still there. But Scary Uncle isn’t so scary anymore. He’s still sharp as a tack, and pretty amazing all around. Gomapsahamnidah, Uncle!

We drove on to Oklahoma and stopped in OKC. I learned that Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma all look exactly the same when driving through them consecutively. I call the ho hum trinity  “Oklarkansee.” We got in around 7 p.m. and ate at a typical sports bar nearby called Louie’s. (Sticky Bomb #1) Then Audrey and I took a dip in the hotel pool. We stayed at a HoJo, so you can imagine how luxurious the pool was.

Day Three: Santa Fe! Drove through Texas (I think I posted a picture on Facebook of the vast nothingness that is Texas) and ended up in Santa Fe in the early evening. And it’s true what they say about Texas: everything is bigger. And by everything, I mean everyone.

I absolutely loved Santa Fe. Audrey did too. We got settled in the hotel, then walked around town for a little bit. We ate at Del Charro, a quaint restaurant with a lovely outdoor section where vines hung overhead as a means of shade. I noticed everyone with metal shakers on almost every table, so I just had to get whatever it was. Turns out you can get a full shaker of Hornitos Resposado margarita for $6. It fills up a glass probably three times. (Cheers to day drinking!) Mom had a stuffed Poblano, and Audrey and I had chicken tostadas. Really, really good.

Del Charro! Quaint and delish.

Santa Fe has beautiful architecture. The town was made up of modernized pueblos and a plaza. We passed by an alley that had a ton of intricately hand-carved wooden doors stacked upon each other behind an iron gate. The sun was pretty brutal. Gorgeous flowers were everywhere. Every restaurant or building had its doors and windows open.

After eating, we sort of just browsed through the shops. We drank a beer at the Atomic Grill, which serves over 100 choices of beers. Turns out our waiter used to live in Richmond some years ago! We talked with him for a bit, and asked about the local music scene and if he could point us in the right direction of a good bar. He told us about this place down the street called the Matador. Well done, sir.

The Matador is a basement bar. In fact, it’s pretty hard to find. Audrey and I got a little lost, but after walking past it a couple of times, we went downstairs and surveyed the scene. They were playing Crybaby on a flat screen above the bar. The lighting was so dim, you could barely see. Girls with tattoos. Guys with skinny jeans and weird haircuts. PBR. Posters of past shows at the Black Cat in DC. We had found the Empire of Santa Fe.

Day Four: The next morning, we went back to the plaza (Sticky Bomb #2) to check out more shops and the native hand-made jewelry market underneath the Palace of the Governors. Halfway through our browsing, I realized Boogeyman was loose in the hotel room and we hadn’t put the “Do Not Disturb”  sign on the door, so of course, you know me, I rushed back to the hotel. I was worried they were going to clean our room and leave the door propped open with the cart. It turns out the maid was two doors down from ours and headed in our direction. Phew!

The Governor's Palace

Got back on the road and hit up the Petrified Forest. It was really beautiful, and full of rich red clay and lots of earthy scenery. Uh, but I actually didn’t see a single piece of petrified anything. We also came across an attraction that was a little bit out of our way, but we decided to stop off and see some meteor crater along the way to Flagstaff. First off, it was way the heck in the middle of no where, and second, when we got there, the attraction was surrounded by brick walls. It turns out they were charging $15 to see it. Ahem. $15. To see a hole. In the ground. Yeah, no. We passed on that one. This space nerd didn’t get her fix.

The Petrified Forest

The Petrified Forest

We got into Flagstaff, AZ and met up with my aunt Sophia and my grandma! They had planned a trip to the Grand Canyon the exact same time that we were due to pass by there. How serendipitous! They were staying in a hotel across the street from us, so we met up and ate Korean food in their hotel room. We were staying at a dump nearby, but at least they had washing machines. Homegirl was runnin’ out of clean undies.

From our hotel, we could see the current forest fires of Coconino County. Some 14,000 acres have been charred and hundred of residents were forced to evacuate their homes as a result of some loser who forgot to stomp out his camp fire coals. And the award for biggest winner goes to…

(you can read more about the fires here.)

Day Five: THE GRAND CANYON! Mind = blown. Or as Roberto puts it, “speech -.”  In my mind, and in pictures, movies, etc, I had just imagined this really flat ledge that dropped off into some huge crack in the earth. And I imagined everything to be… a red mucky clay color. I can’t really explain how amazing and ubiquitous the scene is. I mean. You go there, and you look at it. Then you look at it some more. And you move around a few miles, and it’s still there. Then you buy something from the 20 gift shops they have littered around. It really was a sight though. My step-mom said she took a tour of the canyon in a helicopter for a mere $90 once. I’m so doing that.

We drove around to a few of the lookout points, and ended up stopping by El Tovar for a bite. Life seems pretty amazing when you’re overlooking the Grand Canyon with a 20 oz. pint of Fat Tire in your hands.

We parted ways with Arizona and headed for the California border. I couldn’t tell you what happened between the Grand Canyon and California. Lots of lush mountain terrain and pretty skies? Sounds good.

…and then! Dun dun DUN! We finally crossed into California land. Audrey and I did a little jig in the car. Well, she sort of just wiggled, since she was driving. I, on the other hand, emitted some strange high-pitched noises and probably a fist pump or two.

West Sayeeeed Baby

We stayed the night in Needles, CA. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, interesting about Needles. We stayed in a Traveler’s Inn for $47.  Our room was conveniently located right by the pool. The tiny, kidney bean-shaped pool. I grabbed my laptop, and we headed for the water. I think all three of us were still feeding off of the California excitement, because we had a blast that night. We listened to the Morning Benders and splashed around like little kids. (Sticky Bomb #3) Oh, it was also 102 degrees at 9pm. Mom and Audrey got some beers and kicked it in the hotel room while I passed out on the bed from my leftover Korean food coma. Snooze!

Day Six: We drove through the Joshua Tree and stopped off at a few spots. Yucca heaven! There were so many fun and interesting looking plants and flowers to touch and smell. Teddy Bear Cholla (pronounced “choy-yuh”), Saltbush, Creosote bush, and my favorite, the Ocotillo plant (pronounced “oak-oh-tee-yo”).

Stabby Stab Stab

We played on the Marble rocks, which were formed over 100 million years ago as a result of the cooling of magma and erosion from groundwater. I wish we had had more time to rock climb, but we had to head on out to Los Angeles. Plus, my mom warned me that rattlesnakes love hiding underneath rocks and in between the cracks.

In L.A., we stayed at New Seoul Hotel, located in the heart of Koreatown. Koreatown is awesome, and I’d love to spend more time there. It’s located perfectly in the outskirts of L.A., without having to actually live in the city. The hotel had Burberry slippers in the closet, a faucet that I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to turn on, a paper band around the toilet seat as proof that it had been “sterilized,” a couple of odd ball characteristics, and a restaurant in the lobby that my mom was dying to eat at.

Audrey met up with her friend who lives about 6 blocks from the hotel, and I got in touch with my old roommate, Brie! I figured mom needed some alone time to relax, watch political shows, and chow down on her doenjang jiggae. Plus, I hadn’t seen Brie in years and was elated to have the opportunity to catch up with her. I drove to Santa Monica (did a pretty good job on the highway, if I do say so myself) and met up with her and an old friend, Ben Hirsch. We walked down to the beach to catch the sunset, then ate at this incredible restaurant called Father’s Office. Naturally, it was crowded as hell, and the beers were overpriced. But hey, it’s L.A.

We bar hopped a little bit, and returned to Ben’s apartment not too far after midnight.

I learn: In the short amount of time that I spent in Los Angeles, I saw very pretty people. Also, all the apartments and hotels have Toto toilets, which are the creme de la creme of porcelain poopy pots. And the bathrooms in California smell like peaches. I unfortunately also learned that parking tickets in CA are really, really expensive.

Day Seven: I failed to mention until now that in order to get to your hotel room at New Seoul, you had to walk right past the concierge, no way around it. So I had to smuggle Boogeyman in, in quite a creatively unsuspicious fashion that looked like I was just holding a ton of pillows and blankets under my arm. After we bailed him out of the hotel and finally got the bike on the trunk that morning(you would think we would have figured out a method by now), we headed to Santa Cruz.

Stopped off in Santa Barbara first. LOVE IT. I would seriously consider moving there. We immediately were drawn to an Indian bazaar out on the street that had bags, tapestries, textiles, skirts, pants, shoes, incense, scarves, you name it, we got it. And of course, the whole place smelled like Nag Champa.

After spending too much money there, we tortured ourselves just a little bit more by running into an amazing thrift store. Or was it vintage? Either way, it was the motherland of worn paper-thin t-shirts, hats, dresses and sunglasses. Audrey got herself a fedora (that looks smashing by the way) and I got a pair of vintage black clubmasters like these:

We got lost in Santa Cruz. Our hotel was on Beach Street, the main street along the boardwalk. We ended up circling the block a few times in search of the hotel and parking. Once we got settled into the room, Audrey and I checked out the boardwalk along the Monterey Bay. Located right next to the water, it is California’s oldest amusement park (constructed in 1907). Holy tourist hell. Arcade games, funnel cakes, roller coasters, roasted corn, chowder bowls, Dance Dance Revolution, no smoking, churros, cotton candy, caramel apples, and Dippin’ Dots.

Dippin’ Dots. Their slogan is “The ice cream of the future.” Now, I have a problem with this. Dippin’ Dots has been around since I was in middle school. That’s at least 15 years. What and when is this “future” that they talk about? In actuality, Dippin’ Dots was invented in 1987. So in 1987, people thought the “future” was going to be all about tiny flash frozen balls of  ice cream/yogurt mix. It’s ridiculous. Get a new slogan.

“Dippin’ Dots: The ice cream you used to eat because you thought it was cool. When you were 12.”

Audrey and I took a ride in the sky ride and got hit on by some 13 year olds. It was the first time we had gotten any attention from the opposite sex in 6 days. We got a good laugh off of that one.

I ate an overpriced chowder bowl, and Audrey wandered off to get some food. Mom and I met up and rode on the Giant Dipper, the 6th oldest roller coaster in the U.S. It was wooden and creakity and fantastic. I’m realizing the older I get, the more fun I have on roller coasters. I appreciate them more now. Mom and I screamed the whole way down.

Santa Cruz was so much fun, all in all. It was a pretty busy hot spot, but I can kind of see why people go there and blow gobs of money.

Day Eight: Homeward bound! Stopped in the heart of San Francisco, Haight and Ashbury. Fell in love with the city all over again, especially its thrift and vintage stores. I have wanted to live in San Francisco ever since I was 15. I am so happy to say that I’ve finally made it out west. I love, love, love San Fransisco. It just feels right to me. It feels homey, and new, and scary, and trustworthy, all at the same time. I will live there one day soon. Sigh. ❤

And now, we’re HERE! I’m finishing up this initial blog at the end of Day 2 on the farm. So far, we’re just taking it all in and exploring our options. Both Audrey and I have big “To Do” lists, so I imagine we both will keep busy for some time to come. We washed the horses yesterday, and we’ll do the dogs tomorrow. My mom and step-dad have cultured a great little garden out back. We have a ton of projects around the house and garden to get started on, and I’ll follow up with progress and pictures!

Tomorrow morning calls for multi-grain toast, goat cheese, spicy yellow bell pepper jelly, and fresh spearmint tea.

Always do what you are afraid to do,

-Roren


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