Thursday, December 1, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Part 1

Happy December!  It's hard to believe we've hit the final month of 2011 already.  Without the climate changes signaling fall then winter that we used to see in North Carolina, we don't really have many weather cues here in California to remind us that we're heading towards winter.  There's no way to ignore the overwhelming reminders in the stores and my email inbox, though.  Every company is sending out coupons and reminding us to start our holiday shopping.

Around this time of year for the past few years I have started to put together a photo book using photos from the past year.  It's quite easy in iPhoto, since there's the handy "Last 12 Months" folder already created for you.  I pull the best photos from the folder and throw them into a photo book layout, then just wait a few weeks for my inbox to present me with a coupon.  (A coupon will undoubtedly show up at least a few times over the holidays!)  With the book layout already complete, all I have to do is press "order" whenever I receive a coupon.  And the best part is there really is no deadline to order--who cares if we receive our "2011 Highlights" book in March 2012?

Anyway, today I started on the layout for our 2011 photo book.  It's really fun going back through all the photos and remembering how much we've fit into one year.  This year, especially, will be a long book: we celebrated a PhD graduation, a trip to Italy, a road trip from coast to coast, a cross-country move, 3 weddings, and a college reunion.

As long as I am sorting through the highlights photos, I figured I would share some of those highlights here.

Without further ado, our cross-country road trip: part 1:

Leaving for our road trip coincided with a number of other important events this summer.  In the 5 week period between July 20 and September 6, there was the PhD defense, wrapping up both our jobs, an amazing two week tour of Italy, arrival back home where house guests awaited us, meeting our brand-new nephew, signing an offer on the house, packing all our belongings, and leaving our old home.  So by the time the day came to begin our road trip, we were tired.  But also so excited about the adventure ahead.  

We had joked during our time in Italy, where we visited 6 different cities, that we knew it was time to move on to the next city when the weather changed; it seemed like each travel day we awoke to clouds or sprinkling rain--time for the next destination!  (I must have learned this tip from my mom, Mary Poppins.) 

"I will stay until the wind changes."

Well, without fail, the "wind changed" both on moving-truck day and the day we started the road trip a few days later.  We got totally drenched while loading up the car with the remaining items in our house.  

After snapping some final pictures of the empty house, we hopped in the car, surfboard on top, and headed off.

Once we hit the interstate, the driving conditions worsened to become the least visible and probably most dangerous that I've ever driven in.  So I knew it was a sign to move on (ha).  On the bright side, we were loaded up with a road-trip survival kit from my wonderful co-workers, and we had an exciting first destination for lunch: Asheville.

Asheville was one of our absolute favorite places to visit when we lived in North Carolina.  The artist-town is small but has lots of character, and it certainly has some gorgeous mountainous scenery going for it.  Another thing going for it is the large number of breweries the city boasts, and we had one destination in mind: Barley's Tap Room.  

That's just a fraction of their taps, and it's mostly all local beer.
 In a fit of nostalgia, we also had to buy Barley's t-shirts.  I had this unexpected need to represent my old state. 

After some beers and lunch, we sadly said goodbye to Barley's and Asheville.  I really hope to return some time soon.  Maybe we can take our new nephew there when he's a little bigger. (to Asheville, not Barley's!)

Our final destination for day 1 was Nashville, Tennessee.  I was beyond excited to see what Nashville was all about, but I soon came to realize that you don't see a whole lot in the 2 waking (but dark) hours you spend in a town when you are a bit tight on time during road trips.  Regardless, we had a great dinner at Rotier's, a recommendation from a friend, which hit the spot.  

With a stroll down Broadway, we called an end to Day 1.  Day 2 would take us all the way to Kansas City, and we'd have a lot of driving to do the next day to get there.

More to come...

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