Category Archives: honeymoon

City of Destiny

We spent some time in Tacoma this weekend in an effort to escape the mountain of chores that pile up in a garden this time of year. Oh, I planted peas and watered the seedlings and turned the compost, but no one felt like building or shoveling. So, Tacoma: Procrastination via staycation.

We missed the movie we wanted to see at the Grand Cinema by just a few minutes, and the bakery we wanted to visit was closed due to the Sundayness. Tacoma thwarted our best intentions, but we had a little antique shopping and walking around downtown exploring alleys and taking photos of our own shadows.

Before I moved here, I didn’t know much about Tacoma. Maybe they had a big dome or something? What does anyone even know about Tacoma? It has an Aroma, I think? But I’ve grown to appreciate Tacoma as the most sizable city the shortest distance from Olympia. Just in case you need to see big old buildings to feel like the whole world isn’t a small town, which I occasionally need.

Krista loved this old, uninhabitable building on Broadway. I loved the Araucaria araucana (Monkey Puzzle) next to the building. Those plants are native to Chile, but they are all over the PNW.

In Pittsburgh, part of what I loved about the city was the way that decay and neglect led to recolonization of concrete by hardy little plants, “weeds” and mosses. Tacoma has some lovely west coast examples of this phenomenon. Can you tell I got a haircut and lopped off 4 inches of hair? No? Really?

But it’s officially spring! The equinox has passed, and the sun is coming out!


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Day 1: 490 miles

After spending the entire day before we left cleaning and getting rid of stuff, and spraining Krista’s wrist, we woke up early the next morning to do a walk-through with Jess’ soon-to-be-former landlord. We headed to our favorite coffee shop in Pittsburgh, Tazza d’oro. Ironically, they serve coffee from a company from Olympia, WA.      

We will miss your enthusiasm, Steelers fans.

We will miss your enthusiasm, Steeler fans.

Our drive on the first day was out of Pennsylvania, through West Virginia, and a quick trip through Virginia before reaching the home of Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN. Here are our West Virginia pictures!

The back of the car is very full. We bought that apple cookie jar at an antique store just after reaching WV.

A full car + a new apple shaped cookie jar.

A bridge in Weston, WV.

A bridge in Weston, WV.

Be sure to click on the link below to see the rest of the pictures!

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Home at last.

Count yourself lucky to be seeing our view from the car as we pulled into Olympia just after nine tonight and not the image I really wanted to post. I have been threatening to photograph the bug carnage on the front bumper of the car, but it is way too dark and I think Jess might not let me get away with it anyway. It is possible that thousands of little creatures committed bug suicide on our trip around the country, and I’m not even counting them when I say that in the last ten days (and 4,131 miles) I saw more roadkill than the sum total of all roadkill I’ve encountered during the rest of my life. This trip included a skunk that was flattened Looney Tunes style on the road, like a little skunk pancake. Somehow I doubt he peeled himself up off the road after we passed by. Anyway, here we are, at home and in bed with cats curled at our feet and sand between our toes, trying to import hundreds of photos. Please start mentally preparing now for the photo onslaught. 

I keep thinking that I can’t believe that ten days ago we were in Pittsburgh and eight days ago we were in Memphis and six days ago we were standing on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. You probably won’t believe it either because the photos of us at the Grand Canyon look like someone pulled down a phony backdrop and took our picture in front of it.

I’ve never lived out of a car before and didn’t know what to expect from life on the road. It is a different lifestyle, to say the least, and we were really loving it until about the middle of today when it suddenly hit us that we were almost home. Yesterday we were remarking that we never wanted our trip to end and today we actually veered off our planned course for the first time the entire trip to get home a little faster. We did manage to fit in beaches, a light house, sand dunes, and a failed attempt at seeing some sea lions before heading east to Eugene, OR, stopping in Portland for vegetarian Chinese, Voodoo donuts and Stumptown coffee.

Just so you don’t feel deprived, here are some photos of the sand dunes in Florence, OR. Jess had never been in the state of Oregon, much less seen a sand dune, before today.

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Good morning?

Greetings from Coos Bay, OR on the very last day of our honeymoon. Yesterday our minds were blown as we drove along the Avenue of the Giants in the redwood forest and up the coast of California and Oregon. We have seen so many different terrains across the country, and I was set to be least impressed by the one on my coast. Of course that didn’t work out at all. I wish a photo could show you everything we saw from our view in the trusty little Honda Civic that has carried us almost 4,000 miles. It made a terrible noise when we parked last night. Wish us luck.

Somewhere in the middle of California yesterday we realized that while we were in the Golden State our marriage was recognized and legit, at least until November.

My alarm went off at 5:45 am to tell me it is my last day off from work. First of all, it is not my last day off work and second-of-all, why did I set my alarm to tell me that at such a horrifying hour? It may be the best thing that ever happened since I consulted the tide tables and found out we were about to sleep through low tide. I managed to get Jess out of bed and we’re making coffee and off to try to see some sea anemones or something before we drive a little further up the coast, east to Portland, and then north to our destination of Olympia, WA.

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San Francisco, CA

We started the day in Palm Springs, and drove a few miles to Cabazon, where the dinosaurs and restaurant from PeeWee’s Big Adventure are located. Krista said she has always wanted to go there, and hey, it was a little out of the way (like a few hours of driving through the Mojave Desert!) but you have to see things you always wanted to see if you are driving across the country, right?

We toured the dinos – which have recently been turned into the centerpieces of a Creationist Museum, where evidence is presented to refute the lies of Darwin – dinosaurs do not come from birds, just look at them. Humans & dinos DID live at the same time – what do you think dragons are?! Dinos are not extinct. Just check out the Loch Ness monster! Duh!

It was enlightening, to say the least. I would really like to say more about it, but the woman who was staffing the museum got upset that we were taking too many photos of the creationist placards, and asked us if we were going to write bad stuff about them on the internet. Since I told her I wasn’t planning on it, I won’t. I don’t have bad things to say, but the truth – it’s scary. My only comment is that I hope that touring school groups have the good sense to skip this field trip, even if they do have robotic dinosaurs you can ride.

Can’t stop the Velosa-dance party!

Fortunately, the Wheel Inn is staffed by some nice ladies, who were so sweet to us & more than made up for the crazies running the creationist museum and robotic gift shop. We bought some souvenirs and ate some lunch – they even have veggie burgers ! The waitress said “Tell ’em Large Marge sent ya!” in her best Large Marge voice when we asked about the movie! It was amazing!!!

Krista drove through Los Angeles, which was a huge relief since LA makes me insane! We didn’t even stop at all, and we missed bad traffic, despite my previous experiences in LA traffic. We drove across California and saw a lot of things like big hills, small hills, vineyards, orchards, etc. Krista’s mom told me stories on the phone about how Krista cried as a small child when she was locked in a cell at Alcatraz. I don’t think we’re going to have time to go to Alcatraz and repeat the experience, unfortunately. We arrived in San Francisco, finally! The bridge we drove in on (not the golden gate, but some other bridge) was so gigantic and I was stuck behind a very slow truck. It was really hard to merge fast enough into another lane. We have parked the car and it’s unlikely we will move it again until we leave the city.

Tonight and tomorrow, we are staying in a hostel down by Fisherman’s Wharf. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge from our window, and Alcatraz is visible with a short walk. Krista’s friend totally hooked us up with a sweet free private room, suitable for a honeymoonin’ couple. Tomorrow we plan to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the SF MOMA – many of these paintings haven’t been seen in the US for decades, and who knows when/if they will be back. We’re going to enjoy the vegan restaurants around town, since the home-cooked vegan food my mom packed us has run out, and we’ll enjoy the company of some friends. I can’t believe we’re here in SF already! Time flies! It is really really pretty here, even though we just walked around the Wharf late at night and then came home.

Special Note to my Mom – Alcatraz has an awfully nice lighthouse, maybe you should visit it.

So far, we have traveled about 3,180 miles & still going strong. Thanks for reading!

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Palm Springs, CA

Good morning from beautiful Palm Springs, CA. We drove in late last night after dark, and didn’t even realize we rode into a time travel vortex from the 1990s. Oh yes, our fancy Hyatt Regency hotel looks like it was the set for the 1990 hit, Pretty Woman.

More importantly, yesterday was our big big day at the Grand Canyon!! DANG!, that is some kind of natural wonder! Our minds were sufficiently blown by the majesty. Once again, we took 100000 photos but we haven’t uploaded any of them yet. Here are a few quick cell phone shots to tide you over.

Here’s a shot of our shadows holding hands at Grandview Overlook.

Here we are, being newlyweds, at the Grandview Overlook.

We also saw a meteorite crater yesterday (50,000 years old! DANG!) and the Little Colorado River Gorge, which was our “training canyon” to “warm us up” for the majesty of the real big thing. Our theme yesterday was obviously GIANT HOLES IN THE GROUND. We tried to see the Sunset Crater but just plain ran out of time. We watched the sunset over the Western Arizona mountains. Today we’re driving north through California, from Palm Springs to the Bay Area, and we have a few exciting stops planned along the way.

We miss you so much, but I can’t believe we are more than halfway through this trip. I never want it to end! Even though I’m tired of the 3 outfits I have, I am really enjoying living in my car with Krista.

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We made it safely to Holbrook, AZ. between the Petrified National Forest (we didn’t see this due to the limited visibility in the pitch black night) and the Grand Canyon. Today was a pretty magical day. We covered about 800 miles today, one of our longest driving days, but we had such a great time! So far we have traveled appx. 2,192 miles and visited PA, WV, VA, TN, AR, OK, TX, NM, and AZ. Yes, 9 states in 5 days!

We had a great time in Oklahoma visiting my parents & brother, the dogs and horses. I got to show Krista the sno-cone stand in my hometown, where we got shaved ice in the flavors of Purple Rain & Silver Fox. We visited my old high school & middle school & the public library where I read way too many books as a child. It was remodeled recently, and looks amazing! I wish I could have gone inside, but they are closed on Sundays. It was especially nice to spend some time with my folks, and for them to meet Krista! My mom made us so much vegan food! It was like an all-day vegan feast, starting with vegan pancakes for brunch, and delicious stuffed butternut squash for dinner. Also, she made blueberry muffins, brownies, and tomato/basil pasta salad for the road — what a lifesaver to have easy, delicious accessible vegan food when two hungry newlyweds are crossing the meat-loving Southwest. Thanks, mom! We already miss my family so much, thankfully they are visiting in a few weeks so we don’t have to miss them for long. Krista even got to see all the baby pictures she’s been waiting for, including a baby Jessica wearing a “Where’s the Beef?” t-shirt.

Socks was especially sweet to me. I’m sure he missed me a lot.

Krista said, “Please don’t let them kill me!” when the horses ganged up on her.

My father & the special little lady in his life.

We left early this morning, and drove all the way across Oklahoma & watched it turn into the high plains of the West Texas panhandle. We stopped at a museum in McLean, TX that was half Route66 museum, and half “Devil’s Rope” (aka barbed wire) museum. Yes, we went to a barbed wire museum, and it was pretty awesome actually. We tried to go to an antique mall in McLean, but our plans were foiled by their hours – we were also blocked from visiting an antique mall in Clinton, OK too! Why can’t the antique malls be open on Mondays? We did, however, see the first Phillips 66 retail outlet in Texas – so cute!

We continued on to Amarillo, heading south on HW27 to see the Huge Pair of Legs and the Cadillac Ranch, both art projects from Texas millionaire artist, Stanley Marsh 3. I had such a fantastic time at both of these spots, and Krista took some amazing pictures! We stopped at Walmart – we don’t usually stop there but we were ill-prepared and there was nowhere else around to shop – to buy spray paint, and added our own “JUST MARRIED” graffiti to the Cadillac Ranch. It was more fun than I could have imagined, high up on the list of recommended sites.

We crossed into New Mexico, and were speechless for mile after mile as we just stared at the endless, completely flat landscape. We stopped at Tucumcari Mountain to take some more photos. We drove towards Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains at sunset. It was impossible to take a picture that did this sunset any kind of justice, but it was without question the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life. Previously, the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen was from the top of a Mayan temple in Tikal, Guatemala, so my standards are pretty high!

We drove in the dark for a lot of hours, missing most of western New Mexico much to our great sadness & dismay. However, we want to go to the Grand Canyon early in the morning, so we needed to make it across the Arizona state line, which we did! We’re staying in Holbrook, AZ tonight, and hope to leave for the big hole in the ground early early early! Then we’re driving southwest to Palm Springs, where we’ll stay the night tomorrow.

OH! I am so tired. I promise to write more about all the weird stuff we’ve been up to, and some time after we get home we will update with tons of photos & more stories! xoxoxo

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Yesterday was amazing! We woke up in Memphis & realized our hotel was right next to the mighty silvery pyramid of Memphis. We had coffee at the Bluff City Coffee, and walked around downtown Memphis to see the Civil Rights Museum, which has memorialized the exact site where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. We didn’t have time to go into the museum, but seeing the death site was a very moving experience.

We headed across town to Graceland, the house where Elvis Lives. It was super touristy, with lots and lots of lines and one kazillion shops – Buy Elvis’s photos here. Buy Elvis Teddy Bears Here. Buy Elvis in the Movies Here. Buy an Elvis T Shirt Here. And a Milk Shake. The tour was a self-guided audio tour, and I will admit fully that I enjoyed it more than I thought I possibly could. The Jungle Room? Holy macaroni, it was amazing! The stuff from Lisa Marie’s nursery was really cool, too. I feel like Graceland does a good job of making Elvis seem like a real, whole person beyond the American icon.

We ate a late lunch at R.P. Trax and savored the BBQ tofu before we head into the most boring stretch of the drive – out of Memphis, through Arkansas (boring and flat) and through half of Oklahoma. Fortunately it was dark for much of the drive so we didn’t have to stare at the boring, boring boringness of Arkansas. We did have a delightful experience in a Phillips 66 Kountry Xpress, where the whole town was gathered to watch a band cover songs like “Earth Angel,” and got soda from the machine with flavor shots – cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper? Yes please! We also stopped for some Sonic: America’s Drive-In. I, personally, loved Sonic growing up in the southern parts of our nation, but Krista had never had it. The Java Chiller with a Sonic Boom (translation: blended coffee milkshake with an extra espresso shot) was surprisingly not too sweet, and pretty tasty.

Krista drove the home stretch into Oklahoma, Native America, and then I finished up the dark dark drive on the two-lane “highways” until we arrived at my parent’s house (Krista’s IN LAWS cause, hey, we’re married) around 1:30am, and fell asleep for many hours. Now, we are planning out our day. We’re resting here for a day, and then we’re going West!

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Tennessee Mountain Home

Our fourth state so far, we have really fallen in love with Tennessee. The rolling Smoky Mountains are sweet, and a few of the tress are changing colors, like bright freckles against the old green mountains. We listened to pretty much entirely Dolly Parton & old bluegrass music yesterday. We woke up early in Pigeon Forge, TN. We ate “lighty” breakfasts at the Old Mill Restaurant, which were super-carb breakfasts that came with grits, biscuits, muffins, homefried potatoes, AND french toast! Carb coma! We drank plenty of coffee & headed to Dollywood.

Dollywood was everything you might imagine it would be. There is an amazing museum there of Dolly’s life, the Chasing Rainbows Museum, with tons of old pictures & costumes & stories. It was definitely my favorite part. We the Waltzin’ Swinger so many times, got wet on the river raftin’ ride, and Krista won a plush Scooby Doo for me with her incredible Skee-Ball skills. The park was very very commercialized and over-produced — not a big surprise, but fascinating to see anyway. We bought several Dolly for President in ’08 bumper stickers. We have a ton of pictures.

We drove to Gatlinburg to see the Salt and Pepper Museum — the only one in the world, with over 20,000 s&p shakers on display. It was really extraordinary – we were both amazed by the collection. It is inspiring to see someone who loves something so much go to such measures to maintain her collection. Andrea Ludden delivered the same verbatim speech to us that she gave everyone else who came in while we were there – “Very good artists have worked on the pieces. Look for the creativity. And they are part of history.” I asked her what her favorite was and she acted like I had just punched her, “No favorites, there are too many.” That woman has spent too much time there because she was *salty* but the merit of the collection redeemed the experience for us.

Driving across Tennessee, we saw a gigantic SUV with a big McCain-Palin sticker on the back! I told Congress, “thanks but no thanks.”

We drove into the Central time zone, which is an experience Krista has never done, and we watched our cell phones reset themselves. We gained an hour! I forgot about that feature of driving west. It didn’t make us any less tired, but it did make our hotel arrival an hour earlier. We wanted to stop various places in the middle of TN, but we just didn’t have enough time.

We stopped in Nashville at a gigantic Whole Foods to refill our personal, bodily gas tanks. The car was getting 41mpg, but our stomaches were empty. We had delicious salad and fruit and a gigantic iced latte, and then got back on the road. That was all that we saw of Nashville. It was, uh, beautiful. At night. In the dark. In the whole foods-yoga studio-plaza shopping kind of way.

In Memphis, we literally got off I-40W and drove 1 block to our hotel, where we promptly fell into a king-sized bed (much much bigger than a queen!) and didn’t even watch the huge flat-panel television.

Today, Elvis awaits. Also, we don’t have anything planned in the way of small roadside attractions between here and Oklahoma, so if you know of anything within a few miles of I-40, please feel free to call our cell phones & give us directions so we can stop. Thanks!

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Oh! I forgot

I have been talking in this funny (to me) Sarah Palin voice, especially repeating, “I Told Congress Thanks but No Thanks on That Bridge to Nowhere!” I think it is hilarious, but Krista may tire of it pretty quickly. So I may or may not be at liberty to perform my impersonation when I see you.

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