Tag: us travel

New Experiences

“This ain’t no funky reggae party, five dollars at the door.” Garden GroveSublime

That song lyric might have been more appropriate for the last post HA! But you know, Sublime is always a band I think of when I think of California along with No Doubt and a slew of others.

So at this point everyone should know that we are staying with our cousins Bob and Glenda in Penryn. Well, their grandson Chad, who is my second cousin once removed, has been showing me, “around town” and it’s been really great!

We went by his house for minute or two, then ran over to his mother’s house, Lynnette who is my 2nd cousin and talked with her for a bit. That was really wonderful because I have always heard of these people but had never met them! I can’t explain the feeling you get when you meet another family member for the first time. I think this feeling starts when you get older and can appreciate it more. It’s finding others that are part of your blood in some way and so you’re automatically connected and I think that is what I like so much about it.

Touring Homes

We then went and toured some model homes. WOW. These buildings were quite large but some not so large. One thing I noticed were the bathrooms and they were like a room all in themselves.

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After home touring, we hit up Nordstrom Rack. I’ve never been to one and we don’t have them in NC and if we do they’re either in Raleigh or Charlotte. I purchased a shirt for a very decent price and then we scampered over to the mall.

Tiffany & Co.

Before I begin this it should be addressed that I do love diamonds. It’s my birthstone and even though it’s not very rare, I still love the sparkle and shine. So I saw the Tiffany store and told Chad I had never been into one. He immediately grabbed my hand and pulled me in there. The first thing he said to the salesman was, “We’re not buying anything, but we’re just looking. She has never been into a Tiffany’s before and I want her to experience that.” At this point I was thinking, “Well, he can either say okay and turn around and walk away, or he could tell us he doesn’t have time for us at all that only paying customers were worth his time.” I think all of this because this IS the mentality of most salesman. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to think what I did because that’s how the world works. Well…imagine my surprise when he presented a sophisticated half-smile and said, “Please feel free to take a look. Anything you would like to try, let me know.” I disregarded this as I wasnt sure if I heard him right. I saw a princess cut diamond ring. The salesman came over and chad said, “She likes that one.” The man opened the glass door and set it on the counter for me to look at. It priced at around $24,000. The price wasn’t shocking as I know it can be expensive. I looked at it and he said, “Go ahead and try it on.” I responded, “I can’t because it won’t fit my finger.” He just responded in a very non assuming way that, “it doesn’t have to fit, it fits no ones finger, it’s just there for you to try it on the part that it will fit on.” So I hesitantly picked up the dainty little $24,000 ring and place it on the thinnest part of my ring finger. Hello love. Where have you been all my life. That feeling was wonderful. It was so dainty and shiny. I thought, “This must be what it feels like for other women.”

I looked at the next ring that was clearly covered in diamonds. Chad said, “Can we look at this one”. He said, “Absolutely but we must go into the room over there to do so.” Apparently this ring cost a bit more. We walked eagerly to the room and he pulled out the ring. I placed it on my finger…and then looked at the price.

 

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$127,000 sitting on my undeserving finger. Wow.

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I honestly didn’t know how to pose for the photo. I felt very out-of-place trying it on because I will never have money like that to spend on such a beautiful ring. I feel like such a simple woman in the things I own that I almost felt uncomfortable walking into Tiffany’s to start with. I felt like maybe I should have been dressed up to do this.

The coolest thing about that whole experience, I think, was the salesman. He was so very nice and completely sweet. He was never assuming or bothered. He seemed to enjoy talking and loved his job. I would love to give him a wonderful review. I never for a minute thought he would give us the time of day. It was very sweet and I’ll always remember that. :’)

Buca Di Beppo

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So after all of the stuff we did, Chad took me to one of his favorite restaurants in the area which is, “Buca Di Beppo”. It’s an Italian restaurant located near the mall. He told me he reserved us the VIP seating. I didn’t think much of this because of the VIP seating style back home. When you get a VIP seat, it’s usually just a dark corner that’s somewhat private. It’s not anything to really write home to mom about but THIS was something to write to y’all about!

The VIP booth is IN THE KITCHEN!

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Talk about private! This is uber private! It was just an amazing thing! So you get:

A private booth in the Kitchen

Whenever your bread or water are low a server immediately fills it up for you whether they’re your server or not.

If an order is messed up in the main part of the restaurant, they will bring that order to the VIP table and let you have it.

Sometimes they will let you try different sauces (though I think that might have actually just been Chad’s doing since he frequents there a lot).

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I was surprised to say the least. Behind the booth, located on the wall were pictures of famous celebrities who had eaten there, either at that locations or others across the country. There are very few Buca restaurants in the whole of the U.S.

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We ordered the Spicy Rigatonni and for dessert a Tiramisu (El, it was amazing!) I didn’t eat too much beccause that wasn’t going to be good for anyone! Hands down, that was another experience I will put down in the books. Thank you so much Chad 🙂 Now I just have to work off these calories! Yikes!

After all is said and done, you can call me, “Experience Lady”. HA!

The Perfect Little Home

“You could travel the world but nothing comes close to the Golden Coast.” California GurlsKaty Perry – feat. Snoop Dogg

I am in love! And we haven’t REALLY explored everywhere. But I must say that Northern California is beautiful!

Penryn is about 30 minutes northeast of Sacramento. The population is roughly  2700 and everyone seems very friendly. Bob and Glenda (our cousins we are staying with) have lived here since the 70’s and have really made an amazing home for themselves.

Glenda has around 30 chickens and owns two goats named, “Cookie” and “Oreo”. http://youtu.be/EKkZ8vdF42o

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If she had some ducks I would be in farm heaven (I think I may love animals more than the average person). I have developed a bond with Cookie and am just falling in love with her. Check out the video here:http://youtu.be/H4xgPI1PAVc

Besides my love for animals I have a deep, deep love for music. So imagine how my heart soared when I was introduced to their 1958 Seeburg jukebox.

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As you would guess, this jukebox is not filled with modern music, it is filled with oldies music. Now, depending on your generation the term, “oldies” may mean something completly different to you than it does to me. For me, and in this jukebox, the oldies consist of: Elvis, The Carpenters, Bill Hayley and His Comets, Brenda Lee, Bobby Darren, Perry Como and so many others. For me there is something so awesome about this! Maybe it’s nostalgia for the old soul in me or maybe it’s just something so different that I find it intriguing. Either way, I was thoroughly entertained and so we sat and listened. 🙂 http://youtu.be/eXGjynmEFV0

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Something I wasn’t particularly shocked about, but did take notice of was the gas price difference.

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This is California’s price and our’s is around $2.54. That’s quite a difference but it’s relative.

As if the animals and jukebox weren’t cool enough, Glenda and Bob had to go ahead and have a grove filled with orange, lemon, mandarine and cherry trees! The oranges and lemons should have been picked in December but since they hadn’t, we went ahead and picked what we could yesterday.

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You’re wondering if they’re still good? YES! They were delicious! We’re going to make some lemonade today (mine with splenda).

*yawns* I’m still exhausted. When will that stop?

The Food Struggle

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

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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 celiaccentral.org). 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?

The City by the Bay

 “We’re looking for such different things, it is insane but we wouldn’t want to be the same.” Weightless311

Golden Gate Bridge

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Now that it’s getting down to crunch time, my stomach is twisting around in knots and I’m absolutely about to jump out of my skin! I know it sounds really bad but the closer I get to the end of this semester, the sooner I want it to get here so I can be gone! I shouldn’t rush my life away and I really try to take each day at a time and be thankful but it’s really difficult to to do that when you’re getting ready to go to the West Coast for the first time! I really feel like I’m about to explode! We have exactly 3 weeks and 5 days until we take off so naturally I’m beginning my research of tourist destinations!

San Francisco is our first BIG hit when we get to California. Minus our arriving in Sacramento and driving to Penryn where my cousins live, our first tourist-y place to visit is, “The City by the Bay”. You know, I never knew San Francisco had so many nicknames! They include:

  • Baghdad by the Bay
  • The City
  • The City by the Bay
  • The City That Knows How (archaic)
  • Everybody’s Favorite City
  • Fog City
  • Frisco
  • Golden City
  • The Golden Gate City
  • San Fran
  • Shaky Town

Though I have read of several sites that say locals do not like the nickname, “San Fran”. Haha I don’t know why this is but I suppose we’ll find out. I’ve looked into booking a guided tour by bus and those prices seem quite reasonable. It was around $24.99 for the bus tour that includes stops at: The Golden Gate Bridge, Haight Ashbury, Lombard Street and several other places. I’m also wanting to go to Marin Headlands which seems like a great place to a get an image.

In the midst of researching touristy places to visit, I tend to feel self conscious about actually being, “touristy”. Part of the reason why my adventures in the past have been so poorly documented was due mainly in part to the sheer embarrassment of looking like a, “Tourist”. I tried to blend in as much as I could but if you think about it, if you’re not from there, you stick out like a sore thumb anyway right? If you’re a tourist, it doesn’t take a camera to differentiate you from locals; looking around at every object and taking in the entirety of this new experience proves that you must be a tourist or either a completely strung out weirdo! A local doesn’t examine it’s surroundings with curiosity and wonderment because he/she lives it everyday and has seen it already. Our touristic tendencies come out in our body motions and facial expressions. That just made me think about how funny that visual really is when you imagine it. But I’m not going to let that stop me from really experiencing everything and having memories of it later. Plus, everyone takes pictures all the time now anyway right?

So here’s what I’d like to know: Are there any other recommendations for San Francisco that we should check out? What are some recommended restaurants? Is there a coffee shop or market that we absolutely must go to?

 

Preparation is Important

“There ain’t a thing I’ve faced that’s been too much for me.” Inner Ninja – Classified, David Myles

Throughout my day, I have a lot of open area for my imagination to run wild and to meditate on current events as well as future goings on. So naturally the one thing that I am ALWAYS randomly thinking about is this trip! If you can remember back to when you were a child, you would anticipate Christmas day and what that would mean for you. For most people it was exciting and intense. The anticipation of what gifts you would get or maybe Santa Clause had brought some really amazing magical thing would overcome you and so life was barely tolerable until that moment. This is the same feeling I get when thinking about this trip, only it’s not as magnified due to my being an adult. *Enter in Debbie Downer sound effect*

To prepare for this trip, I have kept a checklist in my head and on paper of things I need to do before I leave. Some include:

  1. Showing the animal sitter how to administer flea medicine to my cat. (She’s got an attitude but super cute! You can follow her on Instagram @madamemouffette *the cat not the sitter*).
  2. Bathing my dog Lukkah.
  3. Preparing his sleeping quarters.
  4. Paying Bills.
  5. Going to the doctor.
  6. Exercising more.
  7. Contacting UNCG about educational matters.
  8. Paying a speeding ticket. Uhg!
  9. Shop for appropriate clothing.
  10. Making a list of what to pack for the trip.
  11. Ordering items for the trip: camping supplies, normal toiletries etc.

Some of these could be purchased or done on the trip. However I really feel more comfortable being prepared than having to do it later. A control thing? Maybe? A woman thing? Maybe. Either way it’s who I am.

I haven’t begun to imagine how to pack my bag. I really haven’t. But, the one thing I AM going to do before I leave is put my logo on my luggage! One thing I have noticed while traveling is that most everyone has the SAME luggage. This isn’t a new thing and people have taken lengths to try to distinguish their luggage from others. What better way to identify mine, than to put my logo on it. It’s a hard suitcase on rollers so I originally wanted to just take a Sharpie to the whole thing and do some creative design to it. Unfortunately I envision it getting worn off before I even get to California and frankly, as a designer I’m not interested in the end product becoming a mess, so I’m going to put my logo, in vinyl, on the suitcase. When I’m finished with it I will post a pic for you all to see!

I have some major concerns about specific things when I go on this trip, though I will save that for tomorrow.

If you all can think of some helpful tips on how to prepare for a two month trip, PLEASE let me know! I’d love to be as prepared as possible! 🙂

-Heather

Introduction

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I am everyday people.” Sly & The Family Stone

As an introduction, my name is Heather Wilkins. I’m 33 years old and am currently a part-time instructor at a local community college and teach Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign to Graphic Design students. You were wondering if I love my job? I ABSOLUTELY love my job! Every day I am teaching, I’m learning. It’s a great feeling and I’ve learned a lot about myself through my students. Being a graphic designer for 6 years has opened up a world to me that I never would have known and I attribute so much of my growth to that. Unfortunately this will be the last semester that I will teach because this fall I plan on attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for Interpreter Preparation Concentration (Interpreter of the Deaf)! I’m really stoked about that. In one hand I’m sad but in the other I’m excited and happy that I’m finding a new path. You’re probably wondering why I’m leaving something that I love…well…I have so much more of me that I want to give and more I want to learn. I’ve always been interested in sign language and recently became more interested in the Deaf Community. I think being an interpreter will open up a whole new world for me. I won’t quit designing – NEVER! I will always be a designer. Just veering off onto another path. 🙂

  Now, about the trip. So, if you haven’t read about it in my, “About This Journey” section in the menu, I’ve started this blog to document a cross country trip that myself and my parents are taking in May. We will leave May 14th by plane, land in California and stay with our cousins in Penryn for about 4 days. After that we will purchase a Nissan Quest minivan from them and drive it up the coast and arrive in Aberdeen Washington. My sister lives there along with my nieces (of whom I’m SO excited to see). We will stay there for two months (give or take a couple of days) then drive ALL THE WAY back in the Quest to North Carolina. For the journey back we are taking the middle route. So this is how the trip looks from start to finish:

Belhaven NC –> Penryn CA –> Aberdeen WA

Aberdeen WA –> ID –> MT–> WY –> CO –> KS –> MO –> IL –> KY –> TN –> Belhaven NC (You can also view this visual in the photo on the homepage.)

There are many sites we will visit and things we’ll do. One of our main purposes of taking this trip is to watch my 18 yr. old niece graduate high school! My heart swells when I think of her being so grown. 🙂 We will visit a couple of National Parks, visit Canada, go camping in Washington and several other things that I will share! We don’t have everything written down and nothing is set in stone. We have ideas and plans to go to certain places and we’ll let other events waft in as we go.

We’re just trying to have a good time and take it all in and really enjoy this trip. I mean, how many opportunities do you get to travel across this great nation?!