Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Finally Home :)

We left Cedar pretty early on a Sunday morning so that we could be back in time to go to church with our families.  I almost cried as we pulled into Fountain Green.  I know 4 months isn't that long to be gone, but I just love home so much and was so excited to be there.  I dropped Brittany off at her house then drove down the street to my house.  I hadn't even stopped my car in the driveway before my mom came out the door to give me a hug.  It was nice to know they were excited to see me too.  

That was the week of Thanksgiving, so over the holiday I got to see a lot of family members and everyone was so excited to hear about my adventures and see pictures and everything.  

*So that is the end of all that.  It's appropriate that I finish up now because it was 2 years ago this week that I loaded up my car and headed out there.  That was such a fun time in my life that I will never forget.  I learned so my about our country and about myself, and I'm really grateful for that experience.  For those of you that have actually read all of these, I hope you enjoyed them.  I know it was so long ago, but I still had to update so that I wouldn't forget anything in the years to come.  I'm actually surprised by how much I do still remember.  But now I can finally start posting about stuff that is going on currently in my life (which isn't much).  So thanks everyone for bearing with me while I got caught up.*

Trip home day 6-7. Almost home!

After we gassed up in Amarillo and almost got blown away.... pretty sure a tornado was coming or something because I have never experienced wind like that.... we headed out on the longest leg of our trip.  We were going all the way to Vegas, a 13 hour drive.  Vegas is a little further west than home, but we wanted to stop in St. George and Cedar City to see friends and family before going to Fountain Green.  Since Vegas has cheap places to stay and it's always fun there, we just decided to stop there for the night then head into Utah.  We drove from Texas through New Mexico and Arizona.  Holy moly, that was the most boring/not very pretty drive.  I know there are parts of those states that have really nice things to see, but our route did not have ANY!  We were so glad to get to Vegas.  Seriously, New Mexico would probably be the last state I would ever want to live in!

While driving in Texas we got pulled over.  Apparently it's illegal to just drive in the left lane of the freeway unless you are passing someone.  Is that a law in Utah too?  I don't know, but there was probably only 2 or 3 other cars within a mile of us, so I didn't see why it was a big deal.  I guess having out of state license plates makes you more of a target for getting pulled over too.  No ticket luckily.... the cop could tell that we genuinely didn't know we were doing anything wrong.

This long drive was great for us to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Part 1 of the last movie was coming out in a few days and we were going to go see it in Cedar City with my sister and my cousins, so we wanted to read the book again before seeing the movie.  We borrowed the book from our friend Cortney in Virginia, with the promise that I would ship it back to her once we got home.  The previous days of travel, we probably got halfway through the book, but in this last day, since there was not much to look at, we finished the whole second half.    We finished the last chapter right as we pulled into Vegas.  It worked out pretty nicely.  Our throats were a little sore from reading out loud for 4 days though.

We got to our hotel at around 7:30 and all we did was watch TV until 8, then go to sleep.... I know, we were such party animals in Vegas. lol.  But it was a long day and we were super tired.  The next day we just walked up and down the strip and the only thing we really wanted to do was see the Bellagio fountains.  That's my favorite part of Vegas.  We got to the fountains around 12:30 thinking that there was a show every 15 minutes like usual.  We waited forever and nothing happened!  We kept thinking, "Okay they're going to start at 1", "okay, they're going to start at 1:30..."  Finally at 2:00 there was an announcement that the first performance would be at 2:30.  We waited at those fountains for 2 hours!  But it was worth it (almost) because the first performance is a double show.  They do the fountain show for the National Anthem, plus the regular show, so we got to see 2 songs.  It felt good to just chill and relax though after long driving days.

We left Vegas in the afternoon and arrived in St. George to stay with my sister for the night.  It was so good to see a family member.  The next day we went to Cedar City and stayed the night there.  I got to see old roommates and friends from SUU, and we saw the Harry Potter movie with my cousins.  We were almost home, and couldn't wait to get to Fountain Green the next day!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trip home day 5

We left Arkansas and drove through Oklahoma.  For once, Brittany drove!  It was a miracle.  Brittany has this problem that as soon as we get into the car, she falls asleep.  So the fact that she drove 6 or 7 of the 9 hours was great :)  I slept through most of Oklahoma (It's not super exciting) until we got to Checota, which is the hometown of Carrie Underwood.  I love Carrie Underwood and she has a whole song about Checota, so we had to stop there.  If you listen to the lyrics she talks about places in the town.  It was way cool to see the "Sonic and the grocery store" and all the places from the song.  I had my camera ready in case she was home visiting her family and just happened to be at the store at the same time we went in to get lunch. haha.  I knew it was unlikely, but I can still dream right?

We continued into Texas and stopped in Amarillo for the night.  I actually really liked Amarillo.  We found a cute western store that we went in and tried on boots and hats, and then we ate dinner at Texas Roadhouse.... in Texas!  whoa!  ;)  The sunset was so amazing and I thought of the song "Amarillo Sky" by Jason Aldean.

Trip home Day 3-4

Days 1 and 2 were both spent in North Carolina.  After leaving NC we drove through South Carolina and Georgia.  We got to Atlanta around midnight so we couldn't really stop to do anything, so we just drove around a little.  It was a little scary to be there that late.  There were quite a few homeless people all over the city.  We did get a picture of the Coca-Cola factory.

We continued to drive through the night, stopping at a church in Birmingham, Alabama for a quick nap.  As morning came, we passed Tupelo, Mississippi which is the hometown of Elvis Presley (love him!)

We kept driving through Northern Mississippi and upward to Memphis, Tennesee.  I was really excited to go to Memphis for some reason.  I really wanted to see Graceland, and I've just heard it's a cool city.  All over the eastern states there are Waffle Houses so Britt and I definitely wanted to eat at one of those before our trip was over.  We got to Memphis at around 8 in the morning, so we just typed in 'Waffle House' in the GPS and went to the closest one.  Now I hope no one is offended by this, but we were the only white people in the whole restaurant.  When we walked in the doors, everyone was staring at us like, "what are these girls doing in here?"  We ate our breakfast, which wasn't anything special, but it was pretty good, then we went to the motel we were planning on staying at.  All I can say is thank goodness we didn't pre-pay for that place because it was SCARY!  We got out of there in a flash.  We drove around a little trying to find another place that was in our budget, but everything else seemed even worse!  Since it was still early in the day and we weren't super tired, we just decided that we would keep driving a little and stop in Little Rock, Arkansas for the night.

First we had to see Elvis country though  :)  I love Elvis and we really wanted to see Graceland, but admission to the house was about $35 dollars each, plus $10 for parking, so we didn't quite think it was worth it.  We tried to drive around and see if we could just see the outside of the house, but it's so surrounded by trees that you can't see anything.  We found some cool gift shops to get some souvenirs though before heading west to Little Rock for the night.

Not much to say about Arkansas, except that there are lots of Wal-Marts. haha.  Wal-Mart started in Arkansas, so they are all over the place.  It was a nice, safe place to stay.  When we got to Little Rock, I called my mom and she had talked to a friend at work who went on his mission to Memphis.  When she told him that we were in Memphis, the first thing he said was, "tell them to get out". haha.  I'm sure it's not all bad and there are very nice places that we didn't get to experience, but we were glad to be a little closer to home anyway.  Instead of a 12 hour drive to Amarillo it was 9, so that was nice.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

One Tree Hill fans... Be very jealous! :)

So, it's not exactly on the way to Utah, but I just couldn't leave the east coast without seeing where One Tree Hill is filmed, in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Anyone that knows me, knows that's one of my favorite shows, and I was not about to be that close to Wilmington and not take the opportunity to go there.  Since we knew we were taking a southern route home, we planned it so we would head straight south from Shenandoah to Wilmington, then start heading east through South Carolina and Georgia.  So it wasn't completely out of the way. haha.  

Can I just say that I love North Carolina?  Not just Wilmington, which was beautiful, but the whole state.  We passed through Durham, where Duke University is, and the capitol city of Raleigh.  North Carolina is definitely a place that I could spend a lot of time in.... and probably even live in.  But like I said, Wilmington was such a pretty town.  It lies on the Cape Fear River and is just a few miles away from the ocean.  There are so many old houses and churches and other buildings, and our visit there turned into much more than we expected.

We checked into the hotel on Friday evening and decided to order some pizza and map out our game plan for Saturday.  We ordered Papa John's online and right when we clicked the "order" button, the internet cut out.  So we tried ordering again and 20 minutes later our pizza arrived.  Well, a few minutes after that, there was another knock at the door and another pizza.  Apparently, the first order did go through so we had pizza for quite a few meals. lol. 

I found a website where a super-fan of One Tree Hill had compiled all the addresses of filming locations for the show.  All the exterior shots are filmed at actual houses (that people really live in) and other buildings, so we wrote down all the addresses and on Saturday we drove to them all.  I kept hoping that we would run into one of the actors somewhere.  I took my camera everywhere with me, just in case we came across someone at Wal-Mart or a gas station or something.  Seriously, I would just die if I could meet James Lafferty.  We never had any luck with that, but I did run my first ever red light because I was paying more attention to the sidewalks instead of the road.  No other cars were even around, so no one was hurt.  Luckily there were no cops around either.

Lucas's house

Peyton's House

Brooke's House


Tree Hill High School.  Not really....haha.  It's actually Cape Fear Community College.

We walked up and down the river walk to find this exact table.  

Clothes Over Bro's/Karen's Cafe  :)

We saw all these way cool places and I really wanted to see the river court, but there was a tri-athlon going on in Wilmington that day and the finish line was in the same park as the court, so they wouldn't let us drive our car over there.  We had to drive to the other side of the river and park our car, then ride a ferry over.  But because of the inconvenience for all the tourists and people involved with the race, the Battleship North Carolina was letting people on for free.  It's an actual battleship used in WWII, and now sits in the Cape Fear River.  They let people on to walk through the ship and we were glad we were able to do that (especially for free!)  My grandpa was in the navy and experienced ship-life, so it was cool to see some of the things he got to experience.

It doesn't look super huge, but it was actually really big!

Because of the tri-athlon, there were so many people at the river court.  So we just decided to come back the next day.  We got to meet some cool people though who had husbands/brothers/etc. running in the race. People came from all over the country to participate.  The swimming part of the tri-athlon is in the ocean and part of the running is along the beach, so it sounded pretty cool.  Not that I would ever do it.  : \

The next day was Sunday and we found a church to go to in the morning.  Everyone was so nice and welcoming.  I love that about the church.... you feel loved anywhere you go.  After church we got some tacos at Taco Bell and took them to the river court to eat.  That's right.  I ate lunch on the river court  :)  I'm glad we went when there were no people so that we could just spend time and not worry about the crowds.  So many of my favorite One Tree Hill moments are on the river court.  I seriously almost cried when we got there.... almost. haha.

People thought we were a little crazy for going that far out of our way to stop in Wilmington.  Well, when we were at the river court another group of girls showed up that were from Australia.  Now I don't seem so crazy, do I?  lol.  Even if I am a little overly crazy about the show, I'm glad I got to see "Tree Hill".  

Heading Home

The end of our season at Shenandoah came to an end.  We packed up our stuff into the car and headed back to Utah.  It was a little bittersweet because we loved it there.  We had so much fun and were able to meet so many great people, but we were excited to get home and see our families.  We started our trip home the 2nd week in November and we planned it out to be home 2 days before Thanksgiving.

The car was stuffed full!

Goodbye Loft Mountain :(

Sadie and I drove to Virginia on I-70 pretty much the whole way, which goes across mostly middle states.  Since it was getting late in the year and little cold, Britt and I decided it would be fun to take a more Southern route on the way home.  I wanted to see states that I hadn't seen yet, and we didn't want to run into any snow storms.

There was one place we wanted to see before we got out of the state of Virginia (well, way more than one, but we just didn't have time for them all.)  This spot was right on the way, so we were excited we would get to see it.  

Appomattox was the place where the Robert E. Lee surrendered the Civil War.  I know I've said it before, but I love actually being able to see the places that these great historical moments took place at.  It's amazing to me that I saw the actual desk where Robert E. Lee sat and signed the papers that said the Union had won the war.

Appomattox Courthouse, which is where I always thought the surrender took place, but it actually happened inside this house (below), the Wilmer McLean house, which is just down the street from the courthouse.

It was a quick stop, but it was so cool to see such an important place in our country's history.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lost Debit Card = Not Good!

As I explained in the last post, I lost my debit card in DC.  It was nowhere to be found.  Normally in that situation, one would just cancel the card and order a new one.  Well, it was wasn't that easy in this situation. I called the card company and they said a new one could be made and sent to me in 17 days.  The problem was, we were leaving in a week so that wasn't an option.  I love Zion's Bank, but there aren't any outside of Utah (and maybe Idaho), and especially none in Virginia, so I didn't have the option of just going to the bank and withdrawing money.  I had to have my money though, because we had to pay for hotels, gas, and food on the way home.  It was quite the predicament.  So after a long series of phone calls to Visa, Zions Bank, and Western Union, it was arranged for me to have money from my own account wired to me in Virginia and I could pick it up at a Western Union.  It kinda sucked to have to be carrying around that much cash and not being able to use a card, but I was grateful that I was able to get it taken care of and wasn't money-less.

I experienced a small miracle in this situation though.  At the end of the season we went out to dinner with all our friends at Loft Mountain and with the managers over the whole park.  Throughout the season we were able to earn "bucks" by doing certain things, like excellent customer service and promoting park events.  At the end of the season they put everyone's "bucks" into a drawing for a $50, $75 and $100 gift card to Wal-Mart.  I usually don't win stuff like this, so I wasn't expecting anything.  They drew out the $50 and it wasn't me.  Then they drew out the $75 and it wasn't me, so I knew that I had no chance.  If I was going to get anything it probably would have been one of those, so I didn't get my hopes up.  But guess what!?  When they drew out the $100.... It wasn't me.  No, just kidding!  Of course it was me, or why else would I be telling this story? haha.  It was a great blessing to have that extra money on the way home.  Every meal pretty much consisted of Wal-Mart food, whether it was from the deli or something we could just eat cold, but I wasn't complaining!  I was glad to have that.  I even had a little extra when we got back to Utah and I think I bought myself some shoes. haha. 

These are all of our comrades from Loft Mountain.  We were quite the random group, but we had so much fun!

Left:  Wayne-He was the manager at Loft.  He's a local Virginian.
Middle and Right:  Rick and Tut- Not to be confused with Rut and Tuk, the moose from Brother Bear. haha.  He is retired army and school teacher and she is a retired librarian.  They are from Southern Alabama. 

Andrew and Wayne.
Andrew was also a local.  He was a little creepy sometimes.

Me, Britt, and Leah.
Leah was my roommate until Brittany got there.  She is seriously so cool!  She's from Buffalo, New York.  We had a good time with her :)

The guy on the left is John.  He is originally from Canada, but works every year at Shenandoah and spends his winters in Florida.  He was great.  Quite a character.

Left: Karen-From Boston.  She was the assistant manager.  Oh, the stories I could tell about her.  Let's just say that she wasn't the most well like person.  There were days that I really did enjoy her, but one day she told me my hair looked like his and I never fully recovered. haha.

Right: Louise-Sweetest lady ever.  She is from Missouri and we just loved her.  She turned 75 during our season but she is still so fiery and awesome!  I want to be like her when I'm 75.

As you can see, it was a pretty diverse group of people, but that's what made it so fun.  Through our traveling and interactions with these guys, we were exposed to some new cultures from all across the country.  I would love to go back and do it again.... maybe next summer  :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

3rd trip to DC

The end of our season at Shenandoah was drawing near and there was one last place we HAD to go before we headed back home.  I had already been there twice, but I could probably spend years in DC and never get sick of it.  I really love that city, and we couldn't leave without Brittany seeing it!  This was a budget trip because we knew that we were going to have to pay for gas and hotels to get home and we wanted to spend as little as possible.  It's easy to do in DC though, because almost everything is free  :)

Instead of getting a hotel, which are pretty expensive in DC, we decided to just get a camping spot at a state park in Maryland and sleep in the car.  It was only $15 a night (we stayed for 2 nights) and it was only a few blocks away from a Metro station, so we just rode that into the city.  Even though it definitely wasn't as comfortable or warm as a hotel room, I think it was a pretty good idea.  Saved us lots of $$.

The picture is blurry, but this was our hotel room for a couple nights.  * Side note--You see that quilt?  That king-size denim quilt that I spent hours cutting up old jeans and sewing?  Well, it's now missing!  I can see loosing an earring or a $20 bill, but how do you lose a quilt?  It's a mystery.  I'm so sad :(  I'm almost positive that it made it back to Utah, but when I went to go use it again it was gone.  Weird, I know!

We spent time in a lot of the museums.  We planned to go on the weekend that we did because there was an Elvis exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery and I really wanted to see it.  I love Elvis!  So I got to see some of the museums that I had already been in, but we also went to ones that I hadn't.  Brittany is an artist, so we spent a few hours walking through all the art museums.  I like looking at pretty paintings and sculptures, but some of the "art", I just don't get.  haha.  It was still great to see though.  

We tried to get tickets to go up the elevator in the Washington Monument but it was out of service or something.  Every time I have been there was something wrong and I wasn't able to do that :(  Some other things that I saw this trip that I hadn't seen before were the Korean War monument and Ford's theater where President Lincoln was shot.

We went to Arlington Cemetery.  It was absolutely perfect with the fall leaves and amazing weather.

We were in DC the first week of November and it was a perfect time to go.  There were not as many people and we weren't ready to die from the heat.  We both just had little jackets and it was perfect.  If you ever go there, I would suggest going in October or November.  Next time I go, I would love to be there in the springtime with all the cherry blossoms blooming.  Ahh!  That would be so incredible.

While we were eating at a cute little cafe, Brittany and I were saying that we should go to a movie.  We didn't want to be out late but we weren't ready to go back to the car yet.  It's not like we could watch TV or something.  The cook overheard us mention going to a movie and he said, "The theater down the street is only 20 bucks."  We were in shock!!  He was saying that $20 was a cheap movie ticket!  I sure do love Utah movie prices.  Needless to say, we did NOT go to that theater.  We found one out in Maryland near the campground that was only $9.  We were the only people in the whole theater until right before the movie started.  Then these 2 ladies walked in.  And out of ALL the seats in the theater, they sat RIGHT NEXT TO US!!  Oh my gosh.... I was so annoyed.  We went out to get a drink and came back in and sat in different seats.  Seriously.... who does that?!

Overall the trip was so great, but we had one little dilemma.  And when I say little, I mean giant!  I remember using my debit card at the movie theater and then I never saw it again.  We looked all around the campground, all around the car, and went back to the theater to see if it was there.  It hadn't been used so I didn't think it was stolen, so we decided to just go back to Virginia and clean out the car.  We were sure that we would find it when we got everything out, but no such luck.  More on that in the next post.

We got a good shot of the temple on our way back.  The drive home was a little sad because we knew it would be our last adventure before we started our drive back to Utah.  But everything we did and everywhere we got to go was so amazing!  

Almost Done!

I have just a few more posts left to finish up my time back East..... bear with me :)  Can't wait to get it all done and be able to remember it all forever!

Next up:  last trip to Washington D.C.

Harper's Ferry & Gettysburg

The great thing about being in Virginia, or anywhere back East for that matter, is that there is history wherever you go.  The whole state of Virginia is just covered with Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields.  There were 8 presidents born in Virginia, and even the houses and churches and cemeteries are all historical. Brittany and I loved visiting all these places.  We were able to go on a day trip to Harper's Ferry and then to Gettysburg.

If you look at a map you can see a spot where Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia meet.  That's where the town of Harper's Ferry is at.  I had heard of it before and knew a little about it, but not a lot.  So here's a bit of history.  Harper's Ferry is the site of John Brown's raid on slavery.  John Brown was an abolitionist and picked Harper's Ferry as his place to start raids and protests against slavery.  He and 20 men invaded the town and captured their arsenal.  But after most of those men were killed or wounded, John Brown was captured, convicted of treason and hanged.  The raid made the country pay more attention to how awful slavery was, which eventually started the civil war.

Because of the location of Harper's Ferry, it was caught right in the middle of the Civil War.  The town is right where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet, and also had key rail lines running through it.  Throughout the course of the war, Harper's Ferry went back and forth 8 times being controlled by Union and then Confederate troops.

So now that we've had a history lesson.... here's some pictures.

There's lots of cute shops along the streets in the old buildings.

The leaves were amazing!

After Harper's Ferry we headed on up to Gettysburg.  We saw a cute little apple stand and just had to stop. We bought some delicious apples and asked the guy where the battlefield was.  He said, "You're standing on it."  Holy moly, did I get the chills!  Gettysburg was definitely one of the places I was most excited to go.  I really like Civil War history and this was one of the biggest/most important battles.  We got a map and drove around for a little while.  When I think of a battlefield, I usually think of a literal field.  Like one of the fields at my grandpa's farm.  Some battlefields are small like that, but Gettysburg is so big!  The fighting was really spread out.  I also imagine the battles in an open area which wasn't really the case at Gettysburg either.  There's so many trees and only a few open areas.  We found a lookout tower, so we climbs the steps-it was probably about 10 stories high-and just looked out over the whole area.  I felt a mixture of emotions.... It was so peaceful to look out over the scenery, but imagining what happened there was a little unsettling.  I couldn't even imagine being a soldier in those hot uniforms in July.  8,000 soldiers were killed, 50,000 were wounded, and about 5,000 were missing (in case you were wondering).  The battle was in the middle of a town.  People lived there and this was happening in their back yards.  It's pretty crazy to think about.  We saw the Gettysburg cemetery and the site where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address.

President Lincoln was awesome :)

Views from the lookout tower

Memorial for the units that fought at Gettysburg

Little Round Top

Houses like these were used as hospitals

The site of the Gettysburg Address

The Cemetery

Sunset at Gettysburg.... so amazing!