Tuesday, November 20, 2012

All Good Things Must Come To An End

It's hard to believe that after two straight months of living on the road, traveling every single day, and sleeping in new places each night, we are actually HOME! We arrived to Taylor's parents' house last night where we will be living for the next month or so. As much as we absolutely LOVED our road trip, it feels wonderful to be settling in somewhere again.

On a scale of 1-10 of how awesome our road trip was I'd say we would have to give it a 12!!! We had the most amazing experience over the past 8 weeks and will always remember everything fondly! We grew even closer as friends and as a couple and are already looking forward to the next road trip in our future!

Here is our ROAD TRIP in a brief summary:

  • 59 Days from start to finish (9/20/12 - 11/19/12)
  • 33 Nights spent sleeping in the tent
  • 29 Night spent sleeping in a hotel or friends' house
  • 288 Hours spent in the car (that's 12 days exactly of driving 24 hours a day! phew!)
  • 13,641 Miles (sorry Toyota leasing agreement...guess we will be having some overage fees, huh?)
  • 3 Stops by policemen...and 3 Warnings! We didn't get a ticket the entire trip until the second to last day when we got a stupid parking ticket in Nashville! Boo!!!
  • 1 Flat tire
  • Favorite Meal: Loaf of Bread + Block of Cheese....cheapest meal we could come up with and most filling!
  • Favorite Place We Visited: Allison- The Redwoods National Forest / Taylor- The Grand Tetons
  • Favorite Drive: Allison- New Hampshire and Vermont...oh the colors! / Taylor- Pacific Coast Highway
  • Favorite Memory: Allison- The Elk Attack (see Yellowstone post for the story) Scary at the time but a funny memory now / Taylor- Climbing the Grand Teton (also see his post for story and amazing pics!)
A big thank you to all of our friends and family who were generous enough to host us as we made our way through the states! We SO much appreciated all of your hospitality and kindness to us, as we know that sometimes we were very last minute with our calls and often quite stinky! THANK YOU to...

Dana & Kristen Smith

Jason & Heidi Lang

Hillary & Calvin Brue

Gwen & Andrew Little

Bob & Lyndy Holzwarth

Karen & Steve Sherman

Stu & Ruth Matheson

Jennice & Marley Cote

Carli Motsenbocker

Jess & Abby Motsenbocker


I guess that now it's back to the real world for Taylor and I! Thanks to everyone who read along with us in our travels and for all of the love and encouragement that we got from all of you!




Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nashville, TN

We have had an enjoyable day exploring the fun city of Nashville a little bit! What a beautiful place! Because we didn't have a whole lot of time to spend here, our friend Evan suggested that we check out Hillsboro Village, so that is precisely what we did! We have been enjoying a cute main street strip filled with shops and restaurants and cafes on a lovely day. But the very BEST part of Nashville seems to be that many of the stores have friendly little store cats who live in them! My kind of shopping experience!! This is our last "tourist" stop before really heading toward home, so we are trying to enjoy every minute of it! Who knows, maybe Carrie Underwood will walk by or something! :)





Saturday, November 17, 2012

Don't Mess With Texas

From Albuquerque we drove many long and boring hours to see my absolutely wonderful Sister-In-Law, Carli! Carli is Taylor's "middle sister" and has been living in Dallas for a little while as a Special Education teacher, and seems to truly love it there! We arrived later in the evening and quickly changed outfits, being sure to throw on some boots, because Carli had one plan in particular for our short time in the city---Two Steppin!! We met some of her friends and were introduced to the world of two stepping! Two steps back with the right, one step back with the left (for the ladies that is)...piece of cake! :) It was a really fun evening and neat to get to enjoy something that we definitely hadn't experienced before! For some reason they don't seem to have too many two stepping joints in PA!? Haha!

Unfortunately our time in Dallas is very short as we need to continue east in order to make it home in time for Thanksgiving! Maybe we will be able to make it back here one day for some more two stepping!


Albuquerque with childhood friends!

After our visit to the Grand Canyon we headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico to spend a little time with one of my dear childhood friends, Jennice and her wonderful husband Marley. When my family lived in Abq Jennice was one of my very best friends! Our families went to church together and have kept in touch a bit ever since our move up to PA but haven't gotten to see one another since we were about 10 years old! So sixteen years later it was a pretty special treat to get to reunite with Jennice and also get to see her parents! We had lots of fun catching up and very much enjoyed some delicious Mexican food for dinner!! (something my family has complained about missing since the day we moved to the Northeast!) We left with full bellies and promises not to let another sixteen years go by until our next visit, and headed to Dallas!


Top to Bottom to Top of the Grand Canyon!

When we arrived to the Grand Canyon it was quickly getting dark and was absolutely freezing, so we booked ourselves a campsite for the night ($18...ouch!) and set up our tent. Because we figured that going to bed at 6:30 might be a tad too early, we instead had a little movie night and enjoyed watching a movie on Taylor's laptop in the warmth of our cozy car! Much better than shivering in the cold!

The next morning we made our way to the Visitor's Center to get our backcountry pass for camping at the bottom of the canyon. Turns out that we had gone to the wrong place actually, but the ranger that we spoke with gave us a scare, telling us that there was absolutely no room in any of the campsites down there and that there was a waiting list to do such a thing. WHAT!?! We momentarily panicked, thinking that our entire time in the Grand Canyon was now going to be ruined as our plans for the next two days were looking impossible! But before getting too upset we decided that we ought to check with the people in the correct office (the backcountry office) to see what they would suggest. Turns out that our first ranger friend couldn't have been more wrong, and that they did in fact have plenty of openings in all of their campgrounds. Phew!

We headed to the rim of the canyon and made a new friend named Chris who had clearly decided he was sticking with us for remainder of the day. The three of us shuffled down all 7 miles to the base of the canyon in approximately two and a half hours and set up our camp at Phantom Ranch. There is a neat little "canteen" there where backpackers and lodge-stayers alike can enjoy snacks and drinks and send post cards and things like that, so we spent most of our evening in there. It was very fun!

The next day Taylor and I went for another couple mile hike (because goodness knows we weren't doing enough hiking already!) and then headed to our second campsite which was a couple miles away from Phantom Ranch, heading out of the canyon. Here's the thing about doing the hike in and out of the canyon over a span of 3 days....while you get to enjoy an absolutely amazing experience, you also give your legs time to let that soreness really sink in, and sink in it did for me!! I was stiff as could be that second day as we walked to the other campsite, but managed to make it and get to bed early. Unfortunately sleep did not set in quite as quickly as we would've liked because it turned out that the loudest snorer in all of the Grand Canyon had set up his tent right next door to ours! By 2am it felt as if his snores were echoing off of the canyon walls!! Ugh!

The soreness that I felt that second day was absolutely nothing compared to what I woke up with on our third morning!! Taylor had to literally lift me up and out of the tent because my legs couldn't move! Ouch! So how did that make for our hike all the way up and out of the steep canyon? NOT GOOD! It was a painful haul the rest of the way and took quite a bit longer than we would've like (around three and a half hours we counted) but we made it out safely and were extremely thankful to see the car!!


The views were so beautiful that even standing on the rim and looking our didn't seem real! I felt as if I was looking at a screen!




Made it across Black Bridge!

Down at the bottom of the Canyon at Phantom Ranch


We Love the Grand Canyon!


Colorado River with Black Bridge and Silver Bridge

So true!
Backpackers have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Mules of the Grand Canyon, and by love-hate I mostly mean hate. It was interesting to hear what the other backpackers had to say about the Mules and the people who ride them. See, there are three types of people who travel down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon: Those who backpack/hike down themselves, those who hike down but send their bags and luggage down on mules, and those who simply ride the mules the entire round trip. It turns out there is quite a bit of pride within the community of those belonging to the first group of people, as their exhausting and hard-earned efforts down but especially back up the canyon give them cause to feel a bit more intense than those who ride the mules or send their bags on them. I will say that it all sounded a little silly to me, but after dodging mule poop step after step and having to constantly break our strides to stand aside for the slow-going mules carrying tourists past us, we were a bit less than enthusiastic about the mules ourselves!




Petroglyphs on the rocks!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Quick Trip to Joshua Tree

We hate to say that we probably weren't even in Joshua Tree National Park for a total of 24 hours before packing up again and heading to the Grand Canyon. But never-the-less, we enjoyed what we got to see and had a cozy little campsite nestled between huge boulders ("Jumbo Rocks Campsite", a very fitting name). The Joshua trees themselves were impressive in a variety of shapes and sizes throughout the desert landscape. Taylor remembered his mom saying that Joshua Tree was one of her favorite parks so Marilyn, we hope you enjoy these photos!

Today we traveled for quite a whole to get to the Grand Canyon, to which we arrived just as it was getting dark and cold...very cold! It is currently a chilly 28 degrees which is why, instead of shivering in our tent, we came just outside of the park for some wifi and warmer temps indoors! Hopefully it will be warmer tomorrow as we hike down into the canyon to get to enjoy the beautiful sights!




Night 30 in the tent!!!

One of the few campfires we have made

Our campsite at Jumbo Rocks




Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Californians

Just because we're in California......and I love SNL!!

This skit is always ridiculous but I love it for some reason! Plus, it's always better when they break...especially Kristen!



San Clemente & More Family Fun!

After staying with Grandma and Grandpa we were delighted to be able to stick around in California and see some of Taylor's other relatives! We headed down to San Clemente to stay for a couple of nights with his beautiful Aunt Karen and wonderful Uncle Steve (the same aunt and uncle who own the Colorado cabin that they so generously allowed us to use.) Taylor has had the joy of growing up with one of the most loving, supportive, and fun families anyone could ask for, and I have the privilege of calling them my family as well! We are two very lucky people and are grateful to have all of them in our life!

Not only did we get to spend some quality time with Karen and Steve, but we also got to see Taylor's cousins, Erich, Brad, and Cassie. His Grandparents also came down for a couple more days to spend together, so it was a whole lot of family fun!

Since we enjoyed their little zoo in Big Bear so much, Grandpa and Grandma treated us, as well as Erich and Brad, to a day at the San Diego Zoo! It turned out that we must have chosen a good day to go because the animals were all active and interesting, rather than snoozing in their dens! It was also special for us to get to spend an afternoon with Taylor's guy cousins, with whom he has countless fun-filled memories from growing up that he greatly cherishes (stories that I have heard again...and again...and again, by the way! haha). With his extended family all living on the west coast, it is rare that we get to see them, so we enjoyed every minute of our time together!

The view from Aunt Karen and Uncle Steve's house!
Grandma and Grandpa

Cassie and Aunt Karen

Poor Taylor...he's a good sport

Brad and Erich...We all felt a little funny about taking this pic seeing as toddlers were assuming the same position for it moments before!