On January 1st, 2010 I embarked on an adventure! I packed up my life in Los Angeles, packed up poor Hannah Honda until she was about to burst & drove across countless states to start my new life with The Sweet Lovin' Man in Chicago.
Saying good bye to LA was hard. I have so many beautiful friends & family that I love dearly in LA. It's been my home for eight years. I can't recall the outrageous amount of cheap wine or dinner parties or game nights or most importantly the deep rich belly laughs- the stuff of life- that I've gotten to enjoy in LA. Sharing the stage with some of the most brilliant, electric, fun loving performers and getting to call these people my friends, MY BLESSINGS has been such a gift. We all finish each other's sentences with a punchline followed by a better story. YOU ARE ALL TRULY BEAUTIFUL!!! YOU GUYS ARE THE SH*T!!!! *HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGS!!!!*
On my last night, my wonderful, loving Ipod took me up on Mulholland to say goodbye to LA as she did eight years before when I first arrived to say hello. I hadn't been up there in years. It felt horrible to hug my best friend and tell her how much I loved her and missed her and how badly I believed in her. It felt so strange. And yet, looking at the city below me, it was so right for me. This wasn't my city anymore and I could feel it. Even though painful in some ways, I knew I was making the right decision.
So thank you, LOS ANGELES!!! Every single part of you... Thank for being an amazing, horrible, cruel, wonderfully exciting, adventurous coming-of-age city to me for eight years. I've learned so much from you and I take EVERY bit of it as a blessing.
Okay, except maybe Washington Mutual.
With that, I awoke on the first ready to take in EVERYTHING. Once I finally packed the remaining demon boxes (or didn't), I couldn't wait to get on the road.
I have hardly traveled. Growing up my parents were always worried about the car or the other people on the road. "Be careful of the wet leaves, Amanda!!" And yet so many of my friends went to Europe or back packed across the country.
The Sweet Lovin' Man has been practically everywhere! He grew up traveling. It's just what you did. And that's what I hear from friends living in Germany-- or again, my 'crazy Aunt Mic' who doesn't NOT travel. Needless to say, I have a TON of living to catch up on. And even driving cross country as fast as I could was like blood to a vampire. I. NEEDED. MORE.
SO HERE WE GO!!! I was on the road by 10am. This is me, first starting out. Ipod & I didn't get home til 3ish from Mulholland so needless to say, I look slimy & puffy.
Who said I traveled alone? This is Big Toe, my fierce and loyal companion! He kept me safe & ate all my leftovers.
I really wanted to go Route 66 but because so much of it has disappeared, I thought that wasn't in my best interest for this trip. So I stopped where I could and breathed in as much history and energy as possible!
This was the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Needles, California. Occasionally when you get off an exit, you'll find a lot of the gas stations, etc. on Route 66. I got very excited about all that.
This made me think of my friends Jennifer Love Heater & Nannypants. They like to knit. I am a dork.
I went from California to Holbrook, AZ, staying at the Travelodge Holbrook. The family that ran it was super nice. The place was clean & I felt safe. AND COLD. Yippee! I awoke the next morning & Big Toe had stolen my muffin. It's a good thing he's cute!
The next morning, I got up early & got to watch the sun rise over the Arizona desert. It was soooo beautiful. These pictures are LAME.
After the sun came up, you could see the snow covered desert tufts. Sooo pretty. And the train was so 'old western' to me, I took a picture. While driving. Yes, indeed I did, officer!
By the way, once you get to Flagstaff? Arizona RULES. It was absolutely gorgeous & I'm totally bummed it was dark out when I drove through it. So many missed picture opportunites but I'm got them seared into my memory like an ahi tuna!
I'm pretty sure that this is New Mexico. The snow on the desert was just beautiful. It was so peaceful and I enjoyed every minute of it. And that round circle in the sky is the moon of Endor.
Soooo much beauty in this country of ours. Of course these pictures don't do any of this justice. But what a gift it was to drive across country & watch each state show off!
This was in Gallup, New Mexico. Obviously there is a TON of Indian history & culture in New Mexico. Again, I was just fascinated. I wanted to stay at all of these places for days and learn & learn & learn.
I think this was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip & these pictures are horrid. The sedonas in NM are bright red and perfect and gorgeous. Everything was snow-capped and delicious. And I LOVED the train as it drove by all of the Indian shops.
And the road construction? Heavenly!
Cline's Corners in New Mexico.
They promised this:
But the fudge was $1000 a pound or something. And you had to get at least 1/2 a pound. I folded. Big Toe didn't need that much sugar. Amarillo, Texas was a flat, ginormous snoozefest. Big Toe & I sang A LOT to keep ourselves company.
We then moved on to Oklahoma.
This church boasted the biggest cross in the country.
I also hope it is the church with the greatest amount of love.
That night I stopped in Oklahoma City. The next day, the real adventure began. Another beautiful sunrise!
But I should have known.
There's always something a-foot at the Circle K.
Snow & ice storms in Missouri did not a 'checked the weather ahead of time' happy Mandi make!
The third day there are no pictures.
I went off the grid like Jack Bauer.
My goal: To get to St. Louis in one piece. My tires: two all-seasons in the front & two Cali tires in the back were pretty pathetic. I was beginning to slip on patches of ice on bridges & underpasses.
Around 4:30pm I stopped in Springfield for snow tires.
A) Springfield isn't nearly as big as I thought.
B) Nobody's open at 4:30pm on a Sunday.
Hmmm... 'Should I stay or should I go now?'
I carefully weighed my options. And due to the SLM's Facebook status (thanks, honey), everyone knew the weather was bad & people were calling & my mom knew I had stopped for snow tires & was beginning to worry.
I ventured out & decided I would try to make it to Rolla. (Holla!) It's about an hour & a half outside of Springfield & it's a college town. I was hoping there would be more options. The roads actually started off okay after I stopped in Springfield. I think the trucks had done a good job dropping sand on the roads. About an hour into it, however, it all changed. It got dark & I could actually see the patches of ice on HILLS and homie wasn't playin' that. So whiteknuckled Big Toe, myself & Hannah Honda stopped in Fort Leonard. It was just too dangerous to go further. I believe in adventure not stupidity.
I got off the exit & there were no hotels to be found. Huh?
I went down a sidewinding road (in the snow mind you after the world's longest day) and finally saw what I thought was a hotel. I got down the hill to their entrance & it's not. Who knows WHAT it was but two ladies were coming out. I half got out of the car & asked them for directions. They pointed. I took off.
Four or five miles in the opposite direction, they told me, I'd have better luck.
So I stayed here:
It was a ginormous room & just me.
I always feel guilty.
Big Toe didn't mind.
I LOVED the hotel I stayed in. It had twinkly lights on when I arrived the night before and the front desk looked like something from out of movie. I assumed a guy with a raccoon cap probably own the building. It just looked super warm & inviting and yet had this out in the middle of nowhere feel to it. It was a blessing & one of my favorite parts of the trip!
When I went to call all 800 people who had left messages, I realized my phone was nowhere to be found. The last time I used it, I had texted my sister from a gas station in my car. It HAD to be in my car. It HAD to.
The hotel had no long distance from my room, not even collect (I kid you not) so I had absolutely no way of contacting anyone... like MY PARANOID MOTHER. I really didn't want to go back out in the snow in search of a freakin' telephone booth. Fiiiinally, the very nice lady at the front desk let me use their personal phone & I told my mom to call the SLM & to tell him to keep calling my phone- blah, blah, blah. HAD to be in my car. It HAD to, HAD to.
IT HAD TO!!!!
In that span of time I found about 20,000 minutes worth of calling cards I've been carrying in my purse since high school. Because Aunt Gail gave them to me when I was a freshman & said, "Keep these with you always because you never know."
YOU NEVER KNOW.
In this cell phone age? Who thought I'd be using a freaking calling card from 15 years ago??? That Aunt Gail, man... she always knows what's going on!!
So I was able to call the SLM & my sister & everyone. No one was worried, etc. BUT WHERE THE HE-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-HELL WAS MY PHONE!!!???
The Sweet Lovin' Man must have called at least a hundred times so finally we decide, it HAS to be where I asked those ladies for directions or it's dead in my car.
I go BACK OUT into the SNOW & go back down the sidewindy road, go down the hill to the entrance, walk over to where I was at 10pm at night... And wouldn't you know, there was my phone STILL WORKING IN FOUR INCHES OF SNOW.
AT&T, every now & then... you're somethin' special.
THEN... I tried to get back up the hill to get out. Much to my dismay, a layer of ice was now under this four inches of snow & my attempts to go up the hill ended up with me even farther down it. It certainly made me wish I had an iphone so I could google things like this.
I was seriously concerned but maintained my Jack Bauer level of cool and knew all would be right with the world. Because even in the worst of circumstances, it's really going to be okay. And when I talk about adventure and less worry, that's what I mean. Why freak out? Why panic? Why be fearful of the unknown? There were houses. Worst case scenario I sit in the parking lot of Mobil all night with my car on. I wasn't going to freeze to death or anything.
Anyway, long story short... (haha)... I see in the distance that this parking lot connects to another parking lots whose entrance is level with the road, so I went out that. Case solved. Phone in pocket. Phone in pocket? Yes, phone in pocket. Go back to hotel, get WARM & have my first experience with Jersey Shore. HUUUAH. I'd rather drive in ice.
The next morning I woke up & it was all blue skies & absolutely gorgeous! The scary sidewindy road didn't look nearly as sidewindy and kind of reminded me of a more upbeat Gloversville.
Here is where I stayed. It just so happened to be ON ROUTE 66. :) :) :)
A diner was connected to it which was HEAVEN. I had some eggs & bacon & listened to the 'locals' and watched the weathered waitress. It was PERFECT. "More coffee, hon? Where ya from?" PERFECT, PERFECT, PERFECT. I will travel more often. I loved that place.
I then headed out for Chicago. I had lots of road to kill and made really good time. I even stopped to get my nails done because at that point I felt like a sasquatch.
Illinois was brutally cold-- as could be expected. Open plains & lots of wind. Very boring.
But then I reached CHICAGO!!!!!
And took the worst pictures humanly possible on my way in!! BUT WHO CARES CAUSE IT'S CHICAGO!!!! :) :) :) :) :)
CAN'T YOU JUST SEE THE GLAMOUR!!?? ;)
I'm pretty sure you're taking in all that Chicago has to offer!
Just look at that skyline!!! ;)
Ah, a red light, much better. Soooo, soooo pretty, isn't it? :)
And this is Michigan Avenue.
I was SUPER HAPPY to be there. I was SUPER PSYCHED to see the SLM who has been so wonderfully loving & amazing to me. And I'm thrilled for my new life in Chicago!!
Thanks everyone for taking this adventure with me. It was really one of the best times of my life! I can't way, can't wait to do it again!!! :)
Love & taxi cabs,