Category: Travel concerns

Traveling Realities

“Think of what I’m saying. We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.” We Can Work It Out The Beatles 

This will be a quick one but it’s something I wanted to share. Not everything is perfect and I like for people to know the not so happy things as well as the happy ones. That is what keeps things real and genuine.

Traveling obviously is a big adventure and there are thrills that are beyond the norm so of course that’s why we travel. However, traveling is not without some sort of difficulty. Unless you’re traveling alone you are bound to have mishaps or unhappy moments with those who accompany you.

Let me first explain the relationships and then I will explain the living arrangement during our time here in Washington. My sister and brother, by blood, are my half siblings. We share the same mother but not the same father. However, there has never been a time where I have felt them to be a, “half” sibling. We are all a family and all I have ever known are them. My father IS their father and he is all they have ever known of a father. They were very young when he came into their lives. With that being said, my brother and sister connected with their biological father’s family around 2008. It opened up a whole new world for them and they connected with a family they never knew. They gained so much from that experience, especially my sister.

My sister moved here to Aberdeen (my mother’s hometown), and currently stays with her uncle until she can become settled. He has been kind enough to let me and my mother and father stay here during our visit. Altogether, there are 8 people who are currently living in Ken’s house. LOL that’s A LOT of people: Myself, my mom, my dad, Evy (my sister), Ken, Rayann (my niece), Hayley (my niece) and Ken’s daughter Kaycee. There are four bedrooms but the house, for the most part is quite small (I’m not sure of the square footage) and there is only one usable shower. So I hope you can kind of visualize what we’re working with.

This leads me to the “mishaps” and “unhappy moments”. I would say that it was difficult traveling with my mom and dad, but that would be a lie. I love them immensely and they really don’t do anything that would warrant too much irritation or frustration. I, on the other hand can be a “pill” (southern term for cranky or unhappy). I can’t really tell you why, but I suppose certain things pick at my nerves or have a tendency to annoy me? So I will say that some of that frustration is due on my part. However, I realize when I’m doing it so I attempt to bring my irritations to halt and commence to be easier to get along with. But this is all normal and if you’re expecting to get along with everyone you’re traveling with all the time I think you may be living in a dream world, or you’ve just been really lucky.

When we initially arrived at Ken’s house, there were many stresses that each person in the house was facing (minus us). My sister, Ken Hayley and Rayann were all finishing up the end of their school semester; Rayann with High School, Evy and Kenny with college and Hayley with 9th grade. Emotions were high and adjusting to the housing dynamic was rough! I can tell you that some words were exchanged and tempers flared. You must also take into consideration that everyone in this family is HIGHLY opinionated. No one is leaving without stating their opinions. Myself included. 😉

It definitely took about 2 weeks to REALLY become adjusted with everything: the sleeping arrangements, social dynamic of the house, friends and family coming over and meeting them, functions etc etc. By the way, my sleeping arrangement is currently with 5 early twenties-ish British boys in a slightly small room. I’m talking about this band “One Direction”. They are currently the favorite band of my 14 yr old niece Hayley, of who’s room I’m currently inhabiting. They are literally ALL OVER her walls. They look at me every night as I go to sleep and I can’t help but feel a little…intruded on? They’re starring at me constantly. It’s so creepy.

I know everyone sees all of the really great and happy wonderful things that we’re doing and they ARE happy and wonderful! We’re having a blast, don’t get me wrong, but no travel is without some sort of discomfort or frustration. So we definitely have had our trials since we’ve been here but it worked itself out and everyone is good to go. 🙂

From California to Oregon

“I got a golden ticket, I’m not gonna even pick it. I heard it, he said it, I heard it but then it went something like Visit. I wanna visit the world.” Visit311


Well, we said our sorrowful goodbyes to Glenda, Bob, Bobby, Chad and Troy. They were so hospitable and incredibly sweet. We couldn’t thank them enough. So thank you all for extending your home and being so kind and generous. We love you 🙂 ❤

We started our journey up Hwy 101, cut through on 199 and then took the rest of the route on Hwy 5. So we basically took the coast up to Crescent City CA and then cut over and used the interstate all the way to Washington. We were really searching for time so it was easier and more efficient to take the interstate.

Going up the coast from California to Washington is not only beautiful and really amazing, but it really gives this North Carolina girl a different perspective on beauty. I can’t stress enough how different it is out here. The scenery is wonderful. It almost looks like Big Sur going up the entire coast of California!


The sky seems to always compliment the cliffs and water creating a magnificent view of California’s coastline.




Everything is so big that you feel so little.



We saw this guy ride next to us. What a nifty thing he’s done with that little trailer!


You know, there’s just miles and miles of different things to see coming up from California and into Oregon. The scenery definitely changes from golden hills to nice green trees.



Drive-Thru Tree

Right before we decided to jump over to the interstate we decided to take a nice little detour to visit the “Drive-Thru Tree”.

“Drive-Thru Tree Park is a privately-owned grove that has been operated by the Underwood Family since 1922. Located approximately 180 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area, the park was an ideal stopping place for overnight or week-long stays. In 1937 the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree was added to provide a unique treat for travelers. Visitors have been taking pictures of their vehicles inside the opening ever since. With the exception of motor homes or vehicles pulling trailers most vehicles will be able to drive through the Tree. Parking is provided for larger vehicles and tour buses.” from

Unfortunately the van wouldn’t fit through the tree, but that didn’t stop me from getting some shots.



imageThere’s a place for people to have picnics and enjoy the scenery on the property so it’s a really nice little stop off when driving up the coast. I enjoyed it.

Bad Experiences

Every traveling story MUST have a bad experience right? LOL We decided that we would stop in Arcata California and spend the night. I looked online and did some research on moderately priced hotels with good reviews and found a Quality Inn that seemed reasonable. We have stayed at Quality Inn’s before so we thought this would be satisfactory. It was quite late when we arrived so we were EXHAUSTED when we checked in. Upon opening the door to the room, there was a very musty odor, almost a pet and cigarette smell that hit immediately. I disregarded this as I’m not that picky and a lot of places smelled odd anyway. So we walked in and set our stuff down on the bed. I noticed there were four pillows on the bed, but non of them were standard sized pillows. They looked like they were for a child. So I called the front desk clerk and said they must have put the wrong pillows on the bed because they weren’t a standard size. He said that was the only pillow size they had and there was nothing he could do about that. So, that was okay. It had to be right?

I collapsed onto the end of the bed and mom says, “Are you going to check for bed bugs?”. I immediately pulled up the sheet and was disgusted by the soiled stains on the end of the mattress. There were no bed bugs but what I DID find, when I moved the sheet back were what looked to be blood stains on the sheet!


After getting attitude from the desk clerk I felt like I would pretty much have to deal with it. I decided the best thing to do was to not look around anymore. I would just go to sleep and be done with it.

When we woke up, THAT’S when everything came into the light.

The carpet:



The walls:



The bathroom:



Enough said. I really don’t need to discuss it further. However, I did leave a pretty nasty note for the manager. I also emailed corporate headquarters. I did receive an email back from them and they told me they would contact the manager of that hotel and have that person contact me in 72 hours. I have yet to receive a call or an email and it has been 5 days. I’m not very good at math but I think we’ve passed the time frame for the manager to call. Anyway…we were happy to be on our way and decided to enjoy the rest of the journey.

Driving Up the Coast

Driving up the Pacific Coast isn’t all beaches and cliffs, there are times where you come through mountainous terrain.


I do have to say that I went through a mini panic attack to get this image. I had to step down on the edge a little bit to get the angle. At first it wasn’t too bad at all and my body wasn’t freaking out or my mind. As soon as I got the shot and went to step up I immediately froze. I realized where I was and how high up I was and everything in my body suddenly stopped and shut off, as if it were in survival mode. I didn’t know what to do. Clearly this step up wasn’t terrible because all I had to do was make a couple of steps and I would have been in the clear. It was a little steep but to someone without a fear of heights this would have been a piece of cake. When you’re afraid, like I was, your brain works in a different way. I felt as if I would certainly fall if I took a step up, or gravity would pull me backwards and I would be supper for this beautiful little river. I knew I couldn’t stand there forever, so I mustered the courage and slowly climbed up the steep edge and landed successfully on flat ground. I survived! Yay!



We arrived in Oregon and…I fell in LOVE! I could, quite possibly, live here. The scenery is SO gorgeous! Everything turned from golden hills to luscious greenery! Everything looked so alive and thriving! Flowers popped up everywhere along the road. Daisies and Hemlock are plentiful along the road and on the sides of hills. Even though Hemlock is poisonous, I think it’s beautiful.

We found a Holiday Inn Express in Roseburg Oregon that seemed to be nice so we decided to stay there for the evening and it was FANTASTIC! We told them what had happened to us with the Quality Inn so they gave us the nicest room with the best view. And it really was the best view!


We were so happy to have a CLEAN room and CLEAN sheets and a CLEAN bathroom to occupy! That may have been the most restful sleep I have had on this entire trip thus far. So thank you Holiday Inn Express for providing a wonderful comfort for us. Everyone was so hospitable and friendly, we couldn’t have asked for more. And the only way to top off a great night of sleep was with a great cup of coffee the next morning!


I’m in love with Dutch Brothers Coffee. We don’t have them on the east coast so I suppose I will get my fill while I’m here!

We decided that we would just take the interstate all the way to WA so we could arrive sooner. My sister and nieces were VERY ready to see us so and we were ready as well. So we booked it. I caught a glimpse of the city of Portland.


If we had more time I would have liked to go into the city and explore but we were hungry and in a hurry! We stopped to eat lunch and what better place than, “Bannings Restaurant Pie House” in Portland. I’ve never been to a little place like this but have always seen them in movies. It was a really neat little diner :).



Did I mention that in the state of Oregon you do not pump your own gas?! They have gas station attendants to pump it for you! This guy was of such an attendant and posed nicely for me.

imageI thought that was the neatest and also craziest thing! But you know, it’s cool just like Oregon and I could DEFINITELY have seen myself living there. It’s such a beautiful place (what I saw) and I now know why everyone talks about it so fondly and are interested in living there.

I might be in the business of moving there. Anyone want to be roommates? 😉


“Goodbye to all my friends at home, goodbye to people I’ve trusted.” Jet AirlinerSteve Miller Band


We set off for what was an EXTREMELY smooth ride! Starting from the beginning, everything came into place and even though we were very tired, we were not letting that get us down. The weather was absolutely beautiful in North Carolina so it wasn’t hard to enjoy mother nature’s gift.

imageOur friends Beth and her husband Roy drove us to the airport and we couldn’t have been more thankful. For those of you who are not aware, Raleigh is about 3.5 hours from our home so it’s a bit of a stretch. So thank you Beth and Roy 🙂

We arrived a bit early at RDU. I should mention I was a bit taken aback by the complimentary luggage check-in that was stationed directly outside of the terminal. I thought, “Oh sweet! Delta is uping their checki-in game by making it faster.” We assumed they were employed by Delta and before we could even make a decision as to whether or not we would utilize that service, a gentleman came over and started check our luggage. So we just went with the flow and before you know it the guy says, “We are not employed by Delta. We are contracted to do this work.” Which then it dawned on me that they were looking for a tip. So the thought I came away with was how much and how fast things change or I must not notice a lot through my experiences. *note to self, notice your surroundings*

Security and Cary On was a bit wild. The line moved entirely too fast and, as usual, I always feel like I never know how they want me to go about this process; which items go in what containers etc. I began sympathizing with those individuals that feel the 360 x-ray machine (not sure of the term) is a bit invasive. Still, I would rather be invaded in that way than to be a victim from lack of security. So I’m appreciative.


After such stress we finally settled down for a nice lunch at one of the airport pubs. Our food was decent and we got out of there in great time.

Check out a little video update from the Minneapolis Airport:

Dad ordering some food from this cool techy restaurant


We had a 2.5 hour layover in Minneapolis. Our flight ended up changing and our arrival time into Sacramento went from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Mom and dad trying to catch a nap on the plane


But as you can see we were super exhausted because in California it was 10:00 p.m. but in North Carolina it was 1:00 a.m.

Imagine our relief when we finally got to California! We were so tired but so happy to be here.

Baggage Claim in the Sacramento airport. How cool is this?

Our cousins, Bob and Glenda picked us up from the airport in the Nissan Quest we purchased from them. The weather was really cool, around 50 degrees which is extremely abnormal for this area of California.

By the time we actually went to bed it was around 1 a.m.


Two More Days

“You’re callin’ my name, but I gotta make it clear – I can’t say, baby, where I’ll be in a year.” Sweet EmotionAerosmith

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.53.57 PM

AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH! Wow! We’ve come a long way and now we’re coming up on Two more days to get everything together.

Things that have been settled:

  • Talked with Advisor and registered for fall classes
  • Paid bills
  • Stocked up on prescriptions
  • Graded projects
  • Purchased travel gear

Things I still have to do:

  1. Talk with our animal caretakers (prepping them for what to do)
  2. Settle some loose ends (medical and school stuff)
  3. Enter grades
  4. Clean
  5. Wash clothes
  6. Unload images off phone to computer
  7. Charge iProducts
  8. Pack

It feels like there are so many things to do. I’m having a hard time sleeping at night! The last two nights in specific I had a hard time falling asleep. I will say that there is an element of stress, apprehension, and nervousness to what I am feeling currently. Though, the overall feeling is very much excitement! If I can steal away a few minutes tomorrow I’m going to make a, “California Bound” playlist on Spotify. I WILL need something to listen to on the plane and on the ride to the airport! I’m seriously getting excited the more I think about actually being IN the vehicle driving to RDU.

Video Clips:

Hey I want you all to know that I will be linking video footage to this blog. You can click on the links and watch the videos on YouTube. They will be short little captures of what we’re currently doing and where we are. I will have one up on Thursday, May 14th (departure day) when we’re on the way to the airport. So check those out in addition to the blog!

It REALLY IS hard to leave your belongings and animals behind while you go off on a trip for two months. I think the older we get the more the feeling settles into you. Or maybe it’s just me?

What do you think? Could you, would you or HAVE you left your animals and belongings for two or more months to travel? (It kind of sounds like a Dr. Seuss rhyme). I want to hear your stories. Let me know in the comment section below. I’d like to know what gave you comfort, or what you told yourself to feel comfortable doing this. *LOL* I may be having a hard time with it.


The Food Struggle

“One more helpin’ of what I’ve been havin’ – I’m takin’ my turn on the sin wagon.” Sin WagonDixie Chicks


So for those of you who are unaware, I have Type 2 Diabetes. I was diagnosed in September 2014. Diabetes is such a rapidly growing problem that you would think it wouldn’t make me feel any different from anyone else and that since it’s a growing disease I wouldn’t even feel differently about having it…but I do.

One would assume that since there’s a growing number of people who have this, there would be more accommodations made. I mean, I’ve seen more, “Gluten Free!” products now than I ever have before. In fact I could actually stock my whole kitchen with gluten-free products and be completely satisfied. Did you know that only 1% of Americans have Coeliac Disease (taken from From the American Diabetes Associate website, in 2012, 9.3% of Americans had Diabetes. Try finding sugar-free products (and not just cookies that still use white flour) as compared to gluten-free in stores. There are far less of those products. Also, just because it says “sugar-free” on the package doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t ingredients in it that turn to sugar quickly in the body. Really, sugar-free products are not really sugar-free. So there’s a bit of frustration with that on my end but when you get down to it: if you exercise, eat healthy natural foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole wheat breads) you’ll be fine if you’re a person with Type 2 Diabetes, or someone who doesn’t have Coeliac Disease. It’s limiting but it’s what you have to do in order to fight, “the struggle” lol.

Anyway, I do feel different having it but luckily that difference isn’t prevalent all the time. Usually I am only aware of it when it’s time to eat or when I’m with other people eating. For example: if I’m at a restaurant with my friends eating, there’s very few items on the menu I can actually consume. So while everyone else’s struggle is to choose between the many items they like, my struggle is trying to find SOMETHING that I can actually consume whether I like it or not. Now I know what you’re thinking, “#FirstWorldProblems”, but this is a part of my life and it’s a struggle in this society filled with sugar products EVERYWHERE! Fortunately, as time has passed, I have become accustomed to eating the way I do and going without the things I like. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t cheat once in a while. The other night at the college’s Employee Appreciation Dinner, there sat a delicious, juicy brownie sitting neatly on a white plate. The visual of this was so overwhelming that I sat for an hour and watched that brownie. During dinner I had made up my mind I would eat that brownie and enjoy it. Well, I did. And as you might have expected it was quite delicious! I paid for it too. I became quite sleepy and the next day I felt a craving for sugar. THAT’S HOW ADDICTIVE SUGAR IS!

So, because of my food limitations, it worries me about what my diet will be when I leave for the trip. When we are traveling we will be eating out a bit. We have a plan to have a cooler with food for the journey home but what about while we’re in California and Washington? Being in those places makes me worry more because I LOVE experiencing new foods and eating at good restaurants. Even though I have major will power when it comes to food now, I am scared that I will end up ruining myself in some way. *laughs* It’s kind of like the reoccurring dream I have about every 2 months: I end up smoking ONE cigarette and then it turns into a full carton! *For those that are unfamiliar, I smoked for 14 years but have since quit and have now been smoke free for 5 years*

I’m pretty sure I can stay focused but what are some things I can tell myself, or things I can do to prevent getting on the food wagon of sin while on vacation?