Winter 2014 Roadtrip

Welcome back! Now that we are back home and finally all rested up, I thought you might enjoy hearing about our cross country adventure:

Now, we weighed all our options as far as how to go about getting from Portland, OR to Fort Smith, Arkansas. For just J and I, tickets to fly would be $1200 and that wouldn’t include boarding for our pup. It was near impossible to have the pup fly since he doesn’t do well in crates and there was no direct flight to the nearest airport. We looked into taking the train, which would be super awesome, but they don’t allow pets. In the end, taking the train would take around 4 days and would cost more than flying. If you’ve seen the John Candy and Steve Martin movie than you know what the next transportation option was: driving! I absolutely love roadtrips, even if there aren’t any stops.  We calculated cost of gas, renting a car(since our grandma Subaru would never make it), food, and hotels. In the end, the excitement of the trip was too good to pass up and we were certain we would be saving money as opposed to flying and putting our pup through a ton of unnecessary stress.

For our rental car, our cheapest option was to go through Hertz (age restrictions were waived with J’s USAA membership). We opted for a midsize SUV crossing our fingers it wouldn’t be red or a jeep. As fate would have it, it was both of those things, as well as not being properly cleaned (let’s just say, I have the receipt and all the details of the last person who rented the car). Since we got the car Friday evening and were leaving early Saturday morning, we didn’t pay the stains much mind. We spent all of Friday cleaning and packing (I prefer to come home to a deeply cleaned house). I may have gone overboard since J maybe got 4hours of sleep and I maybe got 2. Yikes. Aw to be young – we made it through our first day of driving (12.5hours not including bathroom breaks). We packed up any perishable food for the trip so as to cut down on wasted food and price of food on the road. Day 1’s meals were pre-made sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and 2 coffee stops.

coffee break and a selfie; Me driving as we say farewell to rainy Oregon and hello to more-rain-California
We were more than exhausted once we got to our first hotel in Bakersfield, CA. The excitement of the trip was keeping me up so I ended up watching an incredibly interesting show called “Arab Labor”. Yes, it is in Hebrew and yes, it is incredibly racist. At the same time, it was like the Israeli version of Everybody Loves Raymond. Finally crashed at 10pm to catch some zzzz’s before our 6am wakeup. We stayed at La Quinta’s the entire way: they were some of the cheapest hotels, they allowed pets without an additional fee, they had continental breakfast, and it was a hotel we were familiar with. It should be noted that we left at 4am in the morning for our first day of driving which was entirely unnecessary. If we ever make the drive again, will not be getting up so early – 6am would have been just fine.

Day two of driving was possibly our favorite day. I was the first to drive since I had done so little the day before. We passed through some incredibly beautiful rolling fog as we left California and enjoyed the change in scenery as we began making our way into the desert. If you read up on my family’s roadtrip from 2 years ago, you know that we followed a similar path. This roadtrip and the previous one finally crossed paths as we entered into Arizona and stopped at In’n’Out. We had stopped in Needles, CA (which is right on the border) just an hour earlier so we didn’t feel much need to spend any time stretching – we grabbed some grub and were back on the road.

Our only planned stopped was at the Grand Canyon, which was one of the only things J wanted to drive out and see that my family had seen on our trip. I thought it was spectacular so I had no problem gazing in to the canyon once more.

Oh yeah, and one more thing:
Yup, we got engaged at the Grand Canyon. Jealous yet?! Now, a week before leaving for Arkansas I did a lot of thinking. J and I have been together for a while and no little date is going to be big enough to sum up all that time together. I realized I had been putting way too much pressure on J, even knowing that we both wanted to make that step. Additionally, if you know my story, I have been engaged before. It was a terribly unhealthy relationship and when the other guy proposed, I felt powerless. Even though it was done just how I would have wanted it, I felt very stuck. Even though I wanted to say “yes” to J, I felt that our time together allowed for me to say that I wanted to be apart of the decision. We planned the stop together, I showed him the ring I wanted, and he got to deciding what to say (it still had to be sweet after all). When we got to the Grand Canyon, we were both nervously excited. I’m a bit of a sentimental crier but J’s words were just so incredibly wonderful, I surprised myself with tears. The best part? When he got down on one knee (something I had dreamed of since we first started dating in high school), instead of saying the 4 words out loud, he signed them! (as in American Sign Language). I was confused with the first sign since it caught me off guard but when I realized what he was doing… I don’t think I have ever smiled so big. I said “yes”.

We spent quite a bit of unplanned time walking around the Canyon ridge and didn’t make it to our hotel in Albuquerque until close to midnight. The next day was filled with excitement at our new relationship status and that it was finally the day to see my family! Thankfully I-40 is almost completely straight – we had the car on cruise control almost the entire drive. In addition to stopping for gas twice, J requested we get some authentic Texas BBQ food. If you ever pass by a Rudy’s you have to stop! It was sooooo so sososo soooo delicious! I got a pulled pork sandwich and J got brisket, both mouth watering good. Plans were made to stop there again on the way back.

Worf enjoying having his own bed; passing out of New Mexico and into Texas; A giant cross in Texas.
Late Monday night, we finally pulled up to my parent’s house. Though our trip was entirely mishap free, we both heaved a sigh of relief to at last be with loved ones. J said the entire drive to Arkansas he was both excited to see my family and excited to not have to be so much of an adult (because coming home to a clean house everyday is just too hard – goober). Things I miss most about my family being in Oregon: watching silly Sci-Fy movies, enjoying HGTV and TLC shows with my mom, geeking out with my brothers, having long discussions with my dad, and chatting sewing and fashion with my sister. The small stuff that we looked forward to most we got to do. My parent’s have a wonderful dog named Linc and we were also pretty stoked to have him and our Worf become good friends. They had their share of tussles at first but in the end they were besties.

We enjoyed Christmas lights, a movie on Christmas night (Into the Woods), J watched the Jurassic Park movies for the first time, I introduced my youngest brother to the huge graphic novel section, traveled to Eureka Springs to see Thorncrown Chapel, played board games until the ball dropped, and went on a long walk/ hike with my dad. A relaxing and enjoyable trip.

Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, AR – J and I agreed, if we lived closer, we would want to be married here.
At the top of our hike, looking over Fort Smith (okay, we walked part of the way and drove the rest)

It was a fantastic trip and we were sad to go. The morning that we were getting ready to leave, Worf and Linc played together officially for the first time. It put tears in my eyes to see how far our pup has come and gave us hope that we might be able to enjoy the dog park someday. It also reflected how we felt about the trip – just when we were getting comfy, we had to pack up and head back home. Saying good bye is always the worst part of the trip but I know I’ll see them all soon.

The drive back was fairly uneventful, with some snow on the ground in Arizona. I did all of the driving on the 2nd day and most of it on the final day since I was so eager to get home. J was his sweet self and read out loud to me as I set the car on cruise control.

Driving, driving, driving
Snowy Arizona and a sleepy pup as we finally pass into the Pacific Time Zone
Final day of the trip allowed me to press the home button on Waze; Mount Shasta as we near the Oregon border; A trip-tired dog as we enter into our home state

Was the 3-day drive worth it? Yes! In the end, including coffee, gas, food, hotel, rental car, and anything else we spent $1,348. Less money to drive than to fly, a bunch less stress, and seeing parts of the country we had never seen before were definitely worth it. Will we choose to drive again? If we’re visiting for 2 or more weeks, probably. Shorter trips (or solo trips when I fly out for my brother’s graduation) we’ll have to stick to the sky but driving was great. The weather was ridiculously cooperative – the only sliding on ice that happened was when we stopped for some touristy fabric and I completely biffed it in front of the store. I had a small bruise on my right side the remainder of the trip but oh well.

Thanks again for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed my adventure. Join me again Saturday to get part two of my 23 by 24 goal list update. Until then, live long and prosper!

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