At this point, nothing bad can really happen if I admit that I used to do most of my blogging at work. This hopefully explains the recent drop-off in posting; I don’t always have access to a computer with internet, and when I get home, the last thing I want to do is hop on the computer again.
My new job is awesome! I usually have trouble connecting with people, but I felt instantly comfortable with my coworkers. I found out later that my group is nicknamed “The Happy [My Company] Group.” They even laugh at my jokes! I’m still in training – they say it might even take up to 6 months to finish – but I’m finding that I can draw on my schooling and previous experience and that it’s all making sense. Chad even says I seem much happier.
The only stressful things right now are trying to find a new apartment, and trying to find had a job. Sometimes I wonder if we maybe made a mistake having him quit – after all, I get a month in a hotel and he could have easily stayed another month at work. We decided he should quit early so that we could drive across the country together and so he wouldn’t have to coordinate all of the moving stuff himself, but it does mean finances will be a bit tighter. Living on just my salary (since we have to plan for that, at least) means that finding an apartment is more stressful – we have to balance living in a nicer area and saving money on rent. I’ll post more abut our apartment search later.
Anyway, I promised pictures from our road trip, so here are a few. None of the pictures from Vegas turned out, but I found it very “Meh,” even though I won $14 or something on the slot machines. That almost paid for one of our giant Eiffel Tower shaped drinks we got at Paris Las Vegas.
The Grand Canyon was by far my favorite part of the whole trip. We hiked partway down the canyon, and I was disappointed that we didn’t plan ahead to stay an extra night so we could hike to the bottom. I’m trying to figure out when we can go back!
Our friends highly recommended Albuquerque, but again, I wish we would have had more time. We went to dinner in Old Town, where we had Navajo Tacos. Since it was our last chance for really good Mexican food, we got burritos for breakfast as well; the Albuquerque chilies have a real unique flavor! Many places had bunches of them hanging in doorways or off balconies.
Oklahoma City was the biggest surprise. We had planned on it just being a stopover, but they have a unique little downtown area called “Bricktown,” where old warehouses were transformed into restaurants and there’s a little canal system. We visited a brewery/restaurant that was a short walk from our hotel. The weather was an unholy mixture of burning heat and thick humidity, which would characterize most of the rest of our trip.
We had planned on staying in downtown Little Rock near the Clinton Library, but due to a snafu with my company’s travel department, we got a hotel in North Little Rock that was near absolutely nothing. We wanted to go to a local place, but when we got there, the building looked like a dingy old office building. We walked in, and were clearly out of place. I was wearing a skirt and heels (I’d discovered that my summer wardrobe was sorely lacking due to it never really getting above 80 at our place in California. I’d worn my only shorts hiking, so I had to dip into my work skirt supply). The air was thick with smoke (something else we’re going to have to get used to), our sandwiches were served on white bread with French’s mustard and mealy white iceberg lettuce, and the waittress checked our IDs so she could report to the other people where these strangers were from. I actually was quite charmed by the place because I grew up with white bread and iceberg lettuce. In California they’re too clever and they put spinach and orange marmalade on sandwiches, but sometimes it’s nice to just have something simple. The best part, though, was the fried pie they had for dessert. When the waitress offered it, I was envisioning a slice of pie, deep-fried (like those horrifying deep-fried Twinkies you can get at the Jersey Shore), but it was pie filling wrapped in a shell and deep fried. You can get something similar in grocery stores, but this was a million times better.
No pictures from Arkansas, sadly. We should have gotten a picture of the fried pie.
We stopped in Memphis for lunch at a famous BBQ place. The only quasi-vegetable offerings on the menu were a small side salad and a side of corn on the cob. When we arrived, I was confused because it had a drive-thru, leading Chad to attempt to insult me by calling me a “Northerner.” It’s the weirdest insult I’ve ever received.
We didn’t take any pictures in Nashville, but we bar-hopped around at some places recommended by Chad’s sister, who went to Vanderbilt. I think I would have liked it more if I could have heard something other than country music!
The final leg of our trip was through Virginia, and we took a small detour to take Skyline Drive. The scenery was gorgeous, and it was nice to see green since California in June is pretty dry and brown. After passing a bunch of hiking trails, we decided that sitting in the car was not good enough. We took a popular hike to a waterfall, then resumed driving. We finally arrived in Old Town, Alexandria, which is where we’re currently staying in our hotel until we find our new apartment.
Anyway, since this IS a personal finance blog, there were 2 things that were very useful on our trip (one expensive, one not): we bought a Garmin GPS system for about $200, and stopped at AAA for travel books and maps, which was FREE since Chad is a AAA member. The Garin helped with directions and with helping us find the In-N-Outs and the ice cream shops where we bought lunch on teh road (yes, we had ice cream for lunch one day), and the AAA books helped us find the best local restaurants in each of the towns we visited.
Hoping this means I’m back, the road trip post was looming over my head.