As some of you might know, I lived in California up until last week and I just moved to New York (not the city) to start grad school. Well, I got here the other day and I'm starting to feel settled into my apartment :). I'm going to document some stuff we did along the way. It was me and my parents and we turned it into a little family road trip.
WARNING: There will be very few pictures in this post, and they'll all be terrible quality because phone. I don't really like taking pictures because it makes me feel distracted from the actual experience I'm having. I do have some pics here and there though.
First, we went from southern California to Las Vegas. My parents love Vegas and gambling but I had never been until now. It was all right. A little too gaudy and over-the-top for my taste, and I discovered that I'm not a big fan of gambling. I played a little blackjack but didn't really enjoy it. And the slot machines...I don't even understand how those fuckers work, none of them are the simple match-three-things type, they are all super complicated and I have no clue how to play them. I somehow managed to only lose like $5 despite not having the faintest idea what was happening. Here's my mom and I managing to dress exactly opposite of each other (blacked out parents' faces because identity and stuff, not that it really matters at this point :P)
The Wynn is crazy:
Next day, we headed for Salt Lake City from Vegas. Utah is so beautiful!! This was my second favorite state to drive through. The red rocks, the plains with mountains in the background...so amazing.
Next day we went from Salt Lake City all the way to North Platte, NE. 660 miles. It was...a long day. Wyoming was my favorite state to drive through BY FAR. It is so gorgeous. Most of it is plains with mountains rising up in the distance (although for some reason my only pictures are not of this kind of landscape). It's very sparsely populated (only about 580,000 in the whole state!) so it was mostly just the scenery. We saw lots of cows -- as a Californian I get really excited when I see cows. Also there were tons of deer. We saw them standing, sitting, eating, running, everything. I love deer!!
The next day we went from North Platte, NE to Iowa City. Nebraska was a bit boring; it was mostly corn fields and everything was flat. Not to diss Nebraska though, I still enjoyed it. However, Iowa was much prettier. In fact it was my dad's favorite state to drive through! There's lots of corn, but it's all beautiful rolling hills with little woodsy areas interspersed. That night we walked around the town over by some woods and we couldn't believe how loud it is with all the bugs and whatever making noise. Being from a big city, I didn't even know that there could be that many buzzing insects in one area!!
I didn't really get any pictures of Iowa because I forgot that taking pictures was a thing, but here's crossing the Mississsippi:
Then, we went from Iowa City to central Michigan. We passed through Illinois and Indiana but I didn't get much of an impression of them since it was mostly driving through suburbs of Chicago and some depressed old industrial towns. Plus we were stuck in traffic the whole way so I don't have very fond memories of that region. I'm not going to name the town in Michigan for identity reasons, but I will say it was quite a few miles southeast of Kalamazoo. We visited my great uncle and stayed with him. I also got to see my dad's cousin who I haven't seen since I was 5, and her two sons. It was so great. I absolutely LOVED Michigan. It was so calm and serene and we just spent the whole night chatting and walking around the forest and catching frogs in a pond. And I saw fireflies!! I had never seen them before so that was exciting. I caught a few. This was my favorite day of the trip.
Next day we went from Michigan to Niagara Falls on the Ontario side. Crossing the border was a bit of a pain because we were hauling a U-Haul trailer and they wanted to go through it a bit, but overall it wasn't bad. The bit of southern Ontario we drove through reminded me a lot of Nebraska, very flat with lots of cornfields. Their road stops are fucking boss though. They're really clean and nice, they have a whole food court and large maps. I love maps. After we got past Hamilton though, everything went to hell. We were stuck in traffic for two hours from there until Niagara Falls....
I have to devote a special paragraph just to Niagara Falls. This place is HELL ON EARTH. The Falls themselves are gorgeous, but the rest of it...imagine the crowds from every amusement park combined all on one smelly, dirty street. That's what it is like. There are tons of people pressing in on you constantly, and it has this weird run-down carnival vibe. There's a ton of tourist stores (expected), a wax museum and other weird museums (??), and at least 5 "haunted house" attractions (???). I also saw two pregnant women smoking. TWO. At different times. What the fuck is wrong with this place? It makes people crazy I guess. We had a coupon for Outback so we got the hell out of the crowds and sat in there for two hours. The highlight of the night was making fun of how terrible the place is while sitting inside away from the crowds eating some delicious blooming onion.
Here's a picture of the falls I managed to get. They're so beautiful in person but all I've got is this crappy phone picture (someone should tag this #crappyphonepics ;))
Finally, the last day we went from Niagara Falls to my new city in New York (again, not naming the city for identity reasons). Being from California, it's really trippy being in such an old city. The cemetery has tombstones from people who died in the early 1800's! It's so cool. I love my new apartment; I have a corner unit so I have windows facing two directions. I have 5 total windows, it's amazing. It's a pretty decent sized space and I think I'm going to be happy here. Yesterday and the day before was mostly unpacking my stuff and running some errands picking up some stuff I needed. My parents left last night and now I'm all on my own! I haven't been doing anything exciting. I haven't really met anyone yet, so literally the most exciting thing I've been doing is grocery shopping and eating food haha. This morning I had avo & tomato on toast, with tomato fresh from my uncle's garden. And for dinner was red quinoa with bell peppers, onions, and garlic. It's been so long since I've had a gas stove; I burned the shit out of the garlic because I forgot how hot gas stoves get, and how quickly!!
My jade sculpture matches the fireplace.
So far in the new city I've discovered some great grocery stores. The Wegmans cult is real...Wegmans is amazing. Wegmans is love, Wegmans is life. There's also a cute little grocery store near me with lots of local food. It'll be nice for walking there for small trips, and then going out to bigger stores a couple times a month. I got local squash...and also some unhealthier local stuff, like hard cider and ice cream ;). Other than that, I haven't been exploring the city too much. My neighborhood has a lot of shops and restaurants and it'll take a while to get acquanted. I think I'll hit up the used bookstore tomorrow.
Anyhow, this post wasn't exactly articulate and didn't have the greatest transitions between things I did, but it's a lot to process. I hope at least some of you got something out of this post :)
Seeing and catching fireflies is always such a reverent and joyful feeling for Californians. The first time I went to the east coast, I went outside after a massive thunderstorm and there were just HUNDREDS of them and I ran through the lawn catching them and I was so happy.
When Meriadoc moved to DC and saw them for the first time I think there was similar excitement.
Same with everything being OLD. There's HISTORY out here. That wasn't all knocked down by earthquakes!!