My name is Bonnie Gross, if you could not tell from the home page. I'm originally from Philadelphia, PA, but journeyed to the University of Alabama for my undergrad. Roll Tide! A year ago, I bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming a television comedy writer. Now, I just graduated the UCLA Professional Program for comedy television writing and work full time as a production coordinator at Encore Hollywood. In my spare time I enjoy playing the drums, going on hikes, and researching Game of Thrones theories.
If you would like to know more, please visit my website at www.bonniegross.info, or send me an email at email@example.com.
This time alone has been the most time I’ve spent without human interaction probably ever. Although it’s not my longest time without being able to leave my home (we will see if this lasts longer than 6 weeks). With all this new-found time, I’ve tried so hard to keep busy. I’ve deep cleaned my apartment 20 times over, washed everything I ever owned, and try relentlessly to complete unfinished scripts of the past. As a tried and true Capricorn (3w2 if you’re into enneagrams or ENTJ if you’re into Meyers-Briggs), I will not stop until I have reached my highest potential. I have goals and I must accomplish and achieve every one of them before I can sleep. Then all of the sudden you are stuck inside for days on end and your goals seem so contained, yet your mind and body feel as if they were hit by a train, unwilling to even accomplish the smallest of tasks.
Today marks exactly a week into social distancing and quarantine, but it has also allowed me some extra time to focus in on yoga and meditation. For me, it means a moment to reconnect with myself and the Earth, feel my own body, and find peace. The meditation I am about to describe came from a virtual moon circle via Zoom. Moon circles take place during the new moon, where women gather together to reclaim connection, spirituality, and love with a supportive community. Since this is a sacred space, I am not going to share anything about any of the other women, the moon circle itself, or anybody’s personal stories, other than my own. This is strictly just my meditation journey within the moon circle.
While mediating, we were told a story about a seed being dropped into the Earth and slowly growing its roots and letting the sunlight hit it. As my mind wandered about a grassy field, I could not let myself go deep into the ground. The thought of dirt covering me in felt suffocating and therefore my flower would never have the chance to grow. I resisted every step of the way as the seed was gently placed into the Earth to the tiny patches of darkness covering my sight as dirt was sprinkled on top. For the first time you are shut off from all the distractions in the world and stuck with the scariest of reality, your own self.
Suddenly mid-way through the meditation, I let my mind go. I was not thinking of the endless task list I created for myself or the weight of everything going on in the world around me. I was simply being still. In the stillness, the dirt began to cover my whole body. I could feel the water and the sunlight started to take shape around my non-moving being. Like a butterfly overcoming many transformations, my flower began to grow, pushing through the dirt, letting in the sunlight and poking through to let its petals flourish seamlessly into the garden.
I thought back on why I couldn’t just let my flower grow. Why was I so scared to be buried into the ground? How could I trust everything going on around me, yet be so out of control of everything? There were just too many unknowns.
It made me think back to 4 years ago when I was on a 6-week bed rest and unable to move other than occasional trips to the bathroom (for more details you can checkout out my blog post Bonnie’s Bed Post). I was back to that feeling of helplessness, loss of control, and total anxiety of the unknown. That is how I feel today, cabin fever mixed with the weight of the world. It is the calmest and most anxious I’ve ever been in a long time.
I would have to face the darkest parts of me alone in this apartment and eventually succumb to the boredom. I would have to live with my own shadow and allow the dirt to bury me in, even if I so badly wanted to pretend that there were no seeds to grow in the first place. As a society we are told that you’re nothing if you’re not productive. The embodiment of this mantra has stayed within me no matter how many times nature tries to slow me down. For the first time, I feel that it’s okay not be productive for a split second. I had to tell myself “Relax. Slow down. Allow yourself.” Even as I type this afternoon, I have to repeat the same words over and over again.
After we did our meditation, we came together to talk about our experiences and share our stories. Again, out of respect I will not be sharing anyone’s stories or personal information other than my own. Finally, it came time for me to share and I did a summed-up version of what I had written above.
After my entire stream of conscious ramble, another girl in the circle put everything into one simple phrase for me. She said “it seems it was never your grave, it was your garden.” I sat there nodding, unable to even say anything in response. It just sat with me heavy, yet empowering. As a writer I have a love of words and metaphors, but nothing that powerful had hit me in a long time.
We ended our zoom session and I just started writing and typing every feeling I felt in the past week, the words flowing out as powerful as the rain that creates waterfalls. I was so scared to be alone. I was so scared of change. I was so scared of being trapped. I forgot to look around and realize maybe this was all just a seed. A seed for a pretty flower within a vast garden. “It was never my grave, it was my garden.”
On a lighter note, since it has been a while since blogging, I wanted to give some happy life updates about the weeks prior. Of course, #52thingstodoinbham will be put on hold till it is deemed safe to go outside to certain destinations in the Birmingham area. Below are some things I got to do before social distancing and quarantine.
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of the amazing restrictions at Niki’s West restaurant, specifically the no rollers on head…
Recently I’ve obsessively been researching travel to another country. I want to go to 30 countries before turning 30 years old and am currently at 26 countries at the age of 26 (I guess you can say I’m on my way). Unfortunately, the past year was extremely expensive. I moved across the country for a new job and spent so much on moving expenses alone (Who knew moving a mattress could be over $1000…not me). I found myself at a new job where I would have to wait awhile before earning a significant amount of PTO since I’d have to use my only accrued days for visiting family over the holidays. Plus, I just turned 26 and now am paying a lot more for my own health insurance. This also includes expensive adult braces to fix my TMJ issues that I’ve been putting off for 2 years.
On a side note, I made a joke about losing weight on Invisalign, since you have to take them out to eat or drink anything but water and you get too lazy to take them out. The official Invisalign twitter account decided to reply and I don’t think they understood my humor as you can see in the tweets below.
Soon, I found myself searching travel credit card sign up bonuses like crazy, including a search on the Facebook group called Girls LOVE Travel (#GLT). Organized by Haley Woods, Girls LOVE Travel is a global community of over 1 million active and aspiring female travelers providing resources and empowerment to one another through safety, socializing and support. What I love about the group is that you ask advice on any travel question you may have, but can easily search the group as someone has already had the same question as you. Also there are lots of people sharing their travel stories and photos of their journeys. I find it fascinating that all of the members can lead such different lives, but traveling has such an impact for each and every member.
Sometimes I get lost on the page, imagining my next travel adventures. Recently, I’ve been noticing a lot of people asking for recommendations on a place I either currently live or have lived before. For myself, I grew up in Philadelphia, but lived in Los Angeles for a bit, and now live in Birmingham, Alabama. I can usually spit off a couple things to do off the top of my head, but found that I really didn’t know about some of the hidden treasures of my own hometown. I was learning more from the comments of these recommendation posts than I had ever learned by actually living there myself.
I find that I got so into my work or school routine, that I barely made the time to explore my own city, only yearning for the next time I could hop on a plane. The irony is that I was dying to get far away to go on an adventure, when there were plenty of adventures in my own town just minutes away. I think we all get stuck in this mindset that a “travel trip,” has to be a plane ride away to some exotic location, but a travel trip to me is really about the adventure. You don’t have to go far away to see beautiful nature, a quirky museum, or to eat great food.
Not to say that I still don’t want to go on a big trip this year and mark off a new country, but I do have a new appreciation for the city that I currently live in. I moved to Birmingham only 4 months ago and have already done so much! If you do not follow my blog (which why wouldn’t you), I am doing a challenge called #52thingstodoinbham, where I try something new every week that you can only do in Birmingham, Alabama. You can also follow along by searching the hashtag on Facebook or Instagram (@shake_ur_bonbon). Already I have completed 21 things out of the 52 on my ever growing list. Not only did I learn more about my new city, but I have had some amazing adventures and met some great new friends along the way. Isn’t that what travel is all about anyways?
I constantly feel this need to get away and travel. I think it is a product of just being in my mid-20s and so unsure of what the next 5 or even 10 years hold. From one side I feel this pressure to do everything as soon as possible. That I need to reach my goals and travel across the entire globe as soon as possible as if somehow time will run out at any moment. On the other hand, is this grandma inside of me telling me to slow my roll and maybe just take a full night of doing nothing but watch Chopped. I always somehow end up looking up cheap flights and planning trips I never go on. Even during study abroad I was overwhelmed at the thought of hitting up so many European countries, when I could have spent 6 months in Ireland alone and still not have done everything. No matter what I was doing, I always just felt this need to travel or plan a travel trip to look forward to, but I am still learning how to stand still. I’m learning how to enjoy the moment and the little things that make each day an adventure.
Okay before I get all mushy on here (to be fair it is close to Valentine’s Day) I’ll wrap it up. Until next time, please enjoy this photo of us keeping safe during a tornado warning…
Girls LOVE Travel (GLT), was founded by Haley Woods on Dec 30, 2015. Girls LOVE Travel is a registered trademark with the USPTO and the GLT Logo is copyrighted. Girls LOVE Travel, LLc. is filed as an S Corp with the US government. Unauthorized use of the GLT name, logo or likeness to create merchandise, trips, or spin-off groups/subgroups will result in removal from GLT and all of its subgroups.
It seems that another year has passed. Not only is my birthday today, but in 3 days we will finish another revolution around the sun and toast champagne to 2020. Every year on my birthday for the past 3 years, I have written a blog post while waiting to board a delayed flight to Orlando from Philadelphia. Each time I get sentimental because of the time of the year. We are supposed to list out our goals for the new year and reflect back on how we did this past year. It’s hard to judge, when so much has changed just within the past couple months.
This year feels a bit different. Maybe it’s because it’s the first year that things actually start to get worse as you age. At 25 I could rent a car and my car insurance went down $40. Now at 26, I have to get off my parent’s really great insurance and get my own high deductible BS plan. Also, I’m just tired, all the time. I guess I really just need the new Adele album or something to get me through the new year.
What I am finding to be the most difficult is the constant change. The moving around, the uprooting, and the traveling. I swear no matter how many flights I have been, I never have enough miles to get anything for free and I’m just constantly in debt. If you read my prior blogs, you will know at the beginning of this year, I was working a night shift (4pm-midnight) and then gradually in the spring, I went back to 9am-5pm with a promotion. Things were finally starting to balance out. I had my routine down and I even found a yoga place in LA I could afford once a week. Then I was offered a job as a comedy writer/producer in Birmingham, Alabama. In October I packed up all my things, drove cross-country, took a risk and started over yet again.
I think we as humans are like trees. When we enter a new environment, there is little keeping up standing still. Most of the time you don’t have friends, family, or any communities. It seems as if a simple gust of wind could easily move you to another nearby forest. Then a couple weeks go by and you start to get situated in your new apartment, hanging up photos and artwork, and you finally get comfortable at your new job. A couple more weeks go by and you start to meet some new people your age, and take the leap to leave your apartment on a Saturday night. Suddenly the roots grow a bit deeper in the ground, stabilizing your base within the forest. As time went on I didn’t realize how big my roots had started to grow in Los Angeles, until I uprooted them from the ground and planted my tree in a completely new city. The good news is that it has been a couple weeks for me and my roots are slowly taking place, at least enough to hold me steady if a strong wind (or perhaps tornado in Alabama) swings my way.
So now I sit again in the Philadelphia airport with my free birthday Starbucks drink, typing away at how I think the past year has gone by. In an essay I wrote for the UCLA Professional Program application, I wrote that “scar tissue was like the knots in wood; nature’s way of dealing with stress put into a system.” At the time I was talking about overcoming a recent surgery, but now I see it as more than just scar tissue. As humans we adapt to whatever scenario we are thrown into. No matter the stress put in our system, we find a way to adapt and grow even stronger. In a small-scale way, I am just another person trying to figure out what I want in life, but growing even stronger with every change. So here is to another year of big changes not for myself, but hopefully for everyone out there reading!
For anyone who follows me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have already seen my ongoing challenge #52thingstodoinbham. Every week I have to do something you can only do in Birmingham, Alabama that I have never done before. This can include everything from food, drinks, hiking spots, museums, or even just points of interest. Although I would love to do one thing every week, it has been hard with the holidays and weddings taking up some of my weekends. I am already at #day11 of the challenge and I can honestly say it is helping so much to learn my new city. Not only am I going to all different areas of the city, but I am learning so much about the city and its history. Feel free to go check out the hashtag, share the posts, and send me any tips for things to do around the Birmingham area.
Now I must go board my flight, but until next time please enjoy this photo of me getting a bit tipsy and joining a zydeco band with a washboard and spoons on Bourbon Street…
As most of you know, I recently uprooted my life to Birmingham, Alabama for a new job. I have moved a lot in the past 7 years, so much, that I have not stayed in the same apartment for over a year in the past 7 years. Over the span of those 7 years, I lived in 6 different cities. Like most of you, my life was a constant mess of stress and a full schedule. For the past 2.5 years in Los Angeles, I filled my time with a full-time job and night classes. I spent every moment busy and any free time writing.
For the first time in my life, I took a step back. I had start climbing to the top, but I was unsure it was a climb I wanted to be on. I was not sure who I was anymore. I was simply a mass of matter getting through the craziness of each day.
Fast forward to driving cross country and moving into my first single apartment, and crazily shopping for furniture and anything to fill the walls. Then a week passed and the craziness all stopped. I finished moving all the furniture and unloading the boxes. I had cleaned the apartment 5 times over. It was just me, alone in my very clean apartment and for the first time in a long time, I had what people would call “down time.” I actually found myself with a lot of it.
What do I do with my down time? Surely, I have to have hobbies outside of work and writing. Right? I came to the scariest conclusion of them all, something I was scared to admit, but I no longer knew myself. I had no hobbies anymore, or worse I did not even know what I was interested in anymore.
People told me to go on Meetup or similar sites to find a group and go out and meet people with similar interests. What did I even like to do? All I’ve been doing in stressing over work and school for so long that I forgot what it was actually like to plan something for the pure purpose of fun. What did I enjoy doing other than stressing myself out?
So, then I went down a rabbit hole of looking up things to do and meet up groups and it is a struggle out there. For one, as a girl alone in a city that I don’t know, there are just some things I don’t feel comfortable going to alone. There are just some other groups that I know I won’t like. For example, the skiing group. I am sure you are all lovely people, but I found out at a young age that even the bunny hill was a disaster for me. The promise of sipping hot chocolate in the lodge only worked to get me to go back one time too many (just ask my mom how the Girl Scout ski trip went and you’ll know). Also, some sites are not for meeting friends, they are confusing dating sites so be careful folks.
In my strange google searching about meet up groups and events, I came across a quote from Carol Burnett tonight that reads, “only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” I have no idea the context in which she is speaking, but the quote stuck with me. No one is going to give me some magical beans that would just fill all the time. If I’m not willing to go out there and do it for myself and find things that made me happy, then nothing will ever change. I would be forever stuck coming home to my terribly cooked dinners, re-watching Gilmore Girls for the fifth time.
I re-read a blog post I wrote on my 25th birthday, which also coincides with the new year because they are 3 days apart. Yes, people forget about my birthday due to Christmas and New Year’s, and if you’re reading this I am now expecting double gifts because I get gypped some years (just kidding – but am I?). Anyways, I made a promise to myself that I was going to make decisions solely on the purpose of putting my happiness first. In case you are wondering how it’s going, well I just uprooted my life and don’t know what I am doing (so like really good I think).
So, now it is time. I will be leaving my house to try activities I have never tried next week in hopes that I like one of them. I am terrified to go do something completely new with complete strangers in a city that makes no sense to me still, but here we go. Here is to turning 26 soon and still having no idea what I’m doing. Updates to follow.
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of me on the set of my first video with It’s a Southern Thing…
Well friends it’s official, I signed a lease and now live in Birmingham, Alabama. Just when I thought moving to Los Angeles with no job or place to live would be difficult, I actually found this move a bit more infuriating. The first move, I had no furniture or kitchen supplies. I bought most stuff there and packed my car with clothes and my beloved air mattress. This time, I had things to worry about. I had a bed frame, box spring, and a mattress! I even had a dresser. This was my first experience hiring a moving company and so far, I am in an empty apartment, with no internet, barely any furniture, awaiting all my belongings, with an ETA that is over a week off from the move in day. Oh yeah, the internet is still not up.
I’m currently writing from a local coffee shop I found down the block. It is actually quite nice. Shout out to O’Henry’s Coffee. Meanwhile, I’ve spent the whole day on the phone trying to set up everything else. After only two mental breakdowns, I think I’m in an okay place considering I just uprooted everything. I guess you will need to ask me after I go to the DMV next week for my mood. I think tonight, I will do my favorite activity of staring at a blank wall, trying to fall asleep on the new couch I had to buy just to have somewhere to sit and sleep till my stuff arrives. Granted, I was going to buy a couch eventually, but my credit card thinks otherwise.
I sounds like I’m ranting, well because I am. Moving totally sucks. I’ve spent all my money and can’t even watch Netflix in my own place until the internet decides to show up. I am not sure if I just blocked out the memory of moving all my stuff to Los Angeles, or if it really was not as bad. On the bright side, my shower tub was fixed and my water is turned on so I can take a shower. Also, the electricity is on and I can use the kitchen. In terms of my stuff not arriving, a quick trip to Target for a towel, some plates and other kitchen things can last out the week. Side note: I now live 2 minutes from a Target and Fresh Market and will spend all my time there. If you have not been to a Fresh Market you have not lived. I used to go there for fun in college (I had no life as you can tell).
This is my first time living alone. I have always had room mates, but now that the rent is cheaper down south, I finally decided to live alone. It is really weird. You come back inside and no one is there. You go to the fridge and everything is yours. Even the common space has only your decorations or things. This is my first time ever having to even purchase a TV, TV stand, couch, matching chairs (I have never had 2 matching chairs till now), and a rug. I truly thought all of that would fill the place, but alas it still looks very empty. If it weren’t for the spending money aspect of it, I really did enjoy getting to pick out furniture. If someone wants to put me on one of those decorating/design shows on HGTV, I will not fight you. I will also give you my Venmo.
For the past days my mom and dad have been down in Alabama helping me move. Sadly, since the moving company messed up and none of my things are here, there was only so much we could set up and unpack. Thank you to both of them for taking the time to help me down here. I don’t think I could have done all of this alone. They both left for Philly this afternoon, and then that’s when it hit me. I am alone. Silence. No one in this place, but me (and well the techno music coming from the upstairs unit). I felt like Liz Lemon in the pilot of Thirty Rock, where she chokes alone in her single apartment. I’m fine. We are all fine.
I know so many other people go through this every day. People move every day. People live alone every day. At 25 I thought I’d be better equipped and emotionally ready, but I am still terrified. I guess it is time to start discovering the area and going outside the apartment. It is way easier to write that than to go out and do it. I still have so much to get done, but now I am just awaiting other things to happen.
Once I am more settled, I want to do something to force myself to get to know the city (and possibly meet some friends along the way). A shout out to Julia, who actually did this in Los Angeles and gave me the idea. She did a new LA only thing every week. Whether it be a museum, park, shop, or even a dining experience, it had to be something new each week that was LA specific. I thought it was an amazing idea, especially for someone like myself who is new to a city. With this in mind, I may start 52 things to do in Birmingham, which is basically me just doing something new in the city every week that I can only do in Birmingham. If we can count Vulcan as my first week that would be great! Don’t worry you’ll read about it in the next paragraph. I may need to wait until I am a little more settled in, but I do plan on starting this and keeping the blog updated with each new thing. If any Birmingham friends want to join please let me know as you can tell I am very lonely at this time.
On a more light-hearted note, we visited the Vulcan Statue and park in Homewood, Alabama. It is a suburb of Birmingham, where I now live. It is a giant sculpture of the Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, that is a symbol of the city’s iron origins. There is a museum to walk around that tells the history of Birmingham and its role in the industrial revolution. Since we are children, we played the scavenger hunt meant for children through the museum. Highly suggest the scavenger hunt!
The Vulcan sits atop a hill and you can take the stairs or elevator up to see views of the city. One admission ticket works all day so you can even go back at night to take in the views with some wine and beer in hand. The park is also gorgeous and features a great walking/biking path.
Here is to new adventures in a new city! It can only get better once the movers arrive this weekend!
Until next time, please enjoy the most important view of the Vulcan statue…
As many of you know, I have just arrived in Birmingham, Alabama for a new job. I have spent the last few days road tripping cross country from Los Angeles with my mom. We had the pleasure of visiting 8 states over the course of 5 days. I had done parts of this road trip before as I have moved quite a couple times, but this is my first time doing the road trip while having a blog (so now you get to hear all about it, but I promise I’ll keep it fun).
The first day we left bright and early from Los Angeles and went all the way to Flagstaff, Arizona. It amazed me how long it took just to get out of Los Angeles (you know traffic and such), but once you are out of the city, the landscape is gorgeous. You are surrounded by mountains and deserts. One thing that really stood out to me as the days continued was how much the landscape changed day to day. It felt like it would happen all of the sudden, but maybe it was because I was too invested in my Spotify playlists to really pay attention. I sometimes forget just how big and vast our country is.
Some people here may know that Route 66 is decommissioned and you can no longer drive it all the way from Santa Monica to Chicago. It is now replaced mostly on the southern route by I-40. Even the last time I did this trip, I did not know much about Route 66, other than the famous song about getting your kicks, and that there were diners along the way. This time, I really wanted to look up the history behind the infamous road and truly understand the oddities we were seeing along the journey.
Before Route 66, there were no roads interlinking major cities, only some country roads between small towns. While legislation for public highways first appeared in 1916, Congress enacted a plan for national highway construction in 1925. The numerical designation 66 was assigned to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles route in the summer of 1926 and it soon became the nation’s principal east-west link. The road connected the main streets of rural and urban communities and for the first time most of these small towns had access to a major national thoroughfare. Now small farmers could transport their goods to major cities across the US. By 1930, the trucking industry had come to rival the railroads for preeminence in the American shipping industry.
John Steinbeck’s classic novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” calls Route 66 the “Mother Road.” The book, as well as the film, immortalized Route 66 in the minds of all Americans, as an estimated 210,000 people migrated to California to escape the dust bowl. From then on, the road came to symbolize a road to opportunity. I may dare say a road to the American Dream.
By 1938, Route 66 was reported as a continuously paved roadway, ready for all weather. Now that this all-weather road was ready, Army captain, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who found his command bogged down near Ft. Riley, Kansas, while on a coast-to-coast maneuver, was about to get the inspiration for a new system of transportation. The War Department need improved highways for rapid mobilization during wartime and to promote national defense during peacetime. When America became involved in World War II, the War Department wanted to use the west for military training bases because of the geographic isolation as well as the dry weather. Route 66 helped to facilitate the single greatest wartime manpower mobilization in the history of the nation.
After the war, Americans were now more mobile than ever. They could leave behind the harsh winters up north, and head down Route 66 to relocate. This is the same time the popular phrase, “get your kicks on Route 66,” appeared in the famous song by Bobby Troup and Tommy Dorsey. Later, it was released in 1946 by Nat King Cole. Store owners, motel managers, and gas station attendances recognized early on that even the poorest travelers needed food, water, gas, car maintenance and a place to rest. It was no longer the military bringing in all the money, but now the tourists.
Sadly Route 66 does not have a happy ending (I did tell you it was decommissioned at the beginning to be fair). Soon, the overused road became too narrow and deteriorated to drive on safely. The same public lobby that gained popularity for Route 66, now was creating its demise. Poetic if you ask me. Dwight D. Eisenhower was in his second term in the White House and was very impressed with the German’s use of the Autobahn, or national highways crossings their country, that allowed individuals to drive with speed and safety at the same time. Congress passed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which provided the finances for a national interstate and defense highway system. By 1970, almost all segments of the original Route 66 were bypassed by a modern four land highway. For most of our drive this was I-40.
Now that I have given you a history lesson, I want to focus more on the symbolisms of this road. It was the first-time people from one part of the country could even get goods and services to another part of the country hundreds of miles away. More importantly, it was the first time, everyday people, could take a road trip, and make the decision to move for an improved life. As you drive down I-40, you pass many relics of what used to be along the route, including broken down gas stations, foreclosed buildings, old cafes, and entire ghost towns. While intriguing, I also found it quite sad to see a booming industry fall and crumble, causing all the little towns that spiked from Route 66, to suddenly fall out of existence. Like everything in life, something new and improved always comes along and the others around it will fall. The new ways are constantly pushing out the old ways in an endless cycle.
For me, it was realizing that I had the privileged of road tripping across country to take a job in another state. Unlike times of the past, I was able to drive safely and speedily across 8 states in 5 days. It is crazy to think that before interstates and even before Route 66, none of this would have been possible. Although the dreams of those small towns are now standing as ghost towns, the idea of the road to opportunity still keeps its inspiration. I have driven this route 3 times and each one has brought opportunity just in the sheer fact that I am able to travel with my car. It has also connected people on a different level. Not only do you just know the people in your small town, but now you can travel to any US city and meet people across the nation. The most interesting part of the whole adventure was meeting people across the way and seeing how much we all have in common even if we live hundreds of miles apart. Before I continue going on about roads forever, here are the actual attractions we stopped at.
Our first major stop was Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. It is a pit stops that features tree shapes with bottles and antiques. A fun place to walk around and take pictures. No bathrooms though. Afterwards we stopped in Kingman, Arizona, home to a famous Route 66 diner, Mr. D’z. The town is filled with Route 66 murals and even a Route 66 museum. We also stopped at Area 66 in Arizona, that claims to have been the sight of an alien crash landing. There is a museum (yes, we did have to pay to see it) and I am bound to secrecy. I do believe in aliens if anyone was wondering. Finally, that night we got to Flagstaff, Arizona for some rest.
The next day we headed to see the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, we had rain for majority of the day and night, but we did not let that stop us from seeing the sights. As we chugged along, we stopped in Winslow, Arizona to stand on a corner (if you don’t know that song reference, then we need to have a long talk). After we made a pit stop at the Little Painted Desert Park. It wasn’t really a park if you ask me. It was a dirt road filled with pot holes, that led to a cliffs edge with beautiful views of the colored desert. There was no guard rails or parking and if you weren’t paying attention, your car could literally just drive right off the cliff. Since we weren’t trying to pull a Thelma & Louise, we continued on to the Petrified Forest. As I said earlier, it was raining all day, so we had to drive most of the park and only get out for short periods to get photos and views. That night we made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was also our first time change and really freaked us out as the GPS changed before we came to the realization ourselves.
That next morning, we headed to the old historic part of Albuquerque. It is filled with cute shops, restaurants and buildings. We walked around (may have bought more candles, do not judge) for a bit and then had a mini pit stop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Of course, we got some Mexican food and did some more shopping. Then, we were on the road to Amarillo, Texas. Once we crossed into Texas, it was the first time the landscape changed drastically. It was also luckily our last time change of the trip. Before dark, we snapped a photo of Cadillac Ranch. Another classic Route 66 roadside attraction, featuring Cadillacs stuck in the ground covered in the spray paint of many tourists over the years.
The next day was our longest drive. We first stopped in Shamrock, Texas. It was yet another small town that still had some parts of the original Route 66 that ran through the main drag. I guess we can say we did drive on Route 66. The town has a piece of the famous Blarney Stone from Ireland (except I did not want to kiss this one without a Lysol wipe). The town is also the official Saint Patrick’s celebration city of Texas. Along with this, the town has U Drop Inn, an art deco gas station/diner from the 1930s that used to be a stop along 66. Even Elvis once sat at a booth at the café. You may also recognize the iconic style of the stop from the Pixar movie, Cars, which took inspiration from Shamrock, TX for the design of Radiator Springs. We had to quickly make it through Oklahoma (no time to stop really) in order to get to our hotel in Fort Smith, Arkansas before dark.
That next morning, we had some amazing maple pecan lattes from a local joint called the Fort Smith Coffee Company. Then, we headed out to Little Rock, Arkansas. First, we went to the President Clinton library and museum. Although interesting, it was more intriguing to see Central High School. If you are unaware of The Little Rock Nine and the famous desegregation of the school, I highly suggest you educate yourself. It was horrible to think this did not happen so long ago, and really made me see how much further we still have to come as a nation. After Little Rock, we drove into Memphis, Tennessee for the night and were able to go out on Beale Street. It reminded me a lot of Bourbon Street, filled with neon lights, open alcohol carry, and lots of tourists. A shout out to the amazing police officer who helped my mother and I get away from three creepy middle-aged men trying to hit on us. He was a true gentleman and every man should try to help women who they see in uncomfortable situations.
For our last day of the road trip, we stopped in Tupelo, Mississippi. Our first stop was to Queen’s Reward, a local meadery. For those who don’t know, mead is in fact alcohol, that is created from fermented honey. All it requires is honey, yeast, and water, and it’s delicious. Queen’s Reward uses only local Mississippi honey and provides tastings and even mead slushies. It was amazing getting the run down from the owner herself. Afterwards we went to see the birthplace of Elvis Presley. The attraction has the actual 2 room house (one bedroom, and a kitchen) that Elvis was born in. You can also go inside the church Elvis attended as a boy as well as a museum full of relics and paraphernalia. I am not a huge Elvis fan, but it was awesome to see the humble beginnings of where it all started.
From Tupelo, it was only a short drive into Birmingham. We arrived Friday evening and were excited to finally stay put in the same location for a couple days. Luckily, we were able to find an awesome apartment in the Homewood area of Birmingham today and we will start the move in process in the next couple days. It’s time to continue down the mother road of opportunities! A huge thank you to my mom for coming on this road trip with me and always supporting my dreams. Also, a shout out to my dad who is helping move the furniture and set up internet out here in Alabama. Roll Tide!
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of a questionable neon sign on Beale Street….
Please also enjoy this photo of Cali girl achieving her greatest accomplishment to date, fitting both her favorite balls in her mouth at the same time…
Hello world! Life is getting a bit crazy, so I’m trying to squeeze in a post about Vancouver before uprooting my life and driving cross country for the fourth time. I’m not panicking, you are!
About a week ago, Chad and I went on a mini 5-day vacation to Vancouver, Canada. Why Vancouver? Well if you want to get Global Entry and do an interview without having to schedule one (which you cannot schedule at LAX or Burbank by the way), you can do the interview while coming back on an international flight. We figured kill two birds with one stone. Travel to a new country and complete our global entry applications. Also, Vancouver is a city I have been wanting to visit since I’ve moved to California.
Vancouver is a beautiful city! It was so clean and easy to get around. Maybe one day I could even see myself living there (one move at a time for now). Our first day was spent walking around the city. Of course, our first stop was a convenience store to buy umbrellas. Our idiot selves did not think that the pacific northwest would be rainy enough to warrant umbrellas during our visit. To be fair we packed very last minute. We stopped by English Bay Beach, which was gorgeous. Also, what stood out to me was the plethora of purple shells lining the shore.
Next to the beach were these creepy (maybe not creepy to others) statues of a little boy. I naturally sorority squatted next to one of them.
Next, we walked around Stanley Park. It is a large park that borders downtown Vancouver and is surrounded by the waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. Fun fact: Stanley Park is about one-fifth larger than New York’s Central Park. There are a lot of attractions, hiking spots, and restaurants around. the park. Prior to its uses as a public park, it was the traditional territory of Coast Salish First Nations and its history of habitation dates back more than 3,200 years.
The park features an 8.8km seawall that surrounds the peninsula. here is also Lions Gate Bridge which is visible from the seawall. Last thing I’ll mention in the park is the totem poles. These feature work by Kwakwaka’waka people of northern Vancouver Island as well as local Nations.
Later that evening we had dinner at The Dark Table. The below italicized text is from their website and I think it sums up what they are about perfectly:
“The blind dining concept originated in Switzerland in the home of a blind man—Jorge Spielmann—who blindfolded his guests in an attempt to show them what eating is like for a blind person.
Spielmann’s guests enjoyed the experience immensely, and claimed that when their sense of sight was removed, taste, smell, hearing and touch were amplified to the extent that the social act of eating took on a whole new meaning. These initial dinners evolved into a restaurant concept that included a dark dining room and blind servers, a tradition that Dark Table will continue.
With an unemployment rate of 70%, the blind face obvious challenges in a society that is preoccupied with visual communication, but in a dark dining environment, the tables are turned—the non-sighted servers guide the sighted.
While Alameddine is proud to offer employment to blind and visually impaired people, he admits that it is truly the blind offering this unique, eye-opening experience to the sighted.”
So, in case you were questioning it, yes, we ate in complete darkness. It was so dark that when you closed your eyes it was no different than keeping them open. Our waitress, Yuko, who was amazing by the way, lead us to our table and served us all evening. At first, I was little anxious. I am actually pretty terrified of the dark, so this experience was a bit fear inducing at the start, but by the end, I learned that I am fine and I should just trust my instincts. I must admit that Chad and I both ate lemons by accident. That was an unexpected twist (lemon puns). I also may have gotten food all over my face trying to get bites into my mouth. Overall the experience was incredible and opened my eyes (okay terrible way to word this, but here we go) to the way someone who is blind would experience something as simple as dining out with friends. They have locations in Montreal and Toronto as well. If you have a chance to go, it is worth the trip!
The next morning, we went to Granville Island. It is a peninsula that was once an industrial manufacturing area, but now is a thriving spot for visitors. There is a daily market open as well as many restaurants and shops right on the water.
Later that day we adventured to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park. The bridge is a simple suspension bridge that crosses the Capilano River. It is 140 meters long and 70 meters above the river (look at me using the metric system now that I traveled). The park also features tree top adventures with hiking paths running through the tree tops with mini suspension bridges connecting them. For the thrill seekers, there is the cliff walk, which is a narrow walk right at the edge of the 70-meter drop to the river. Of course, we had to walk across!
The next day we did as every basic girl does, we waiting an hour in line to try a hip brunch spot called Jam Café. I don’t know if I can ever say food is worth an hour wait in the rain, but my food was amazing! We then walked to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It is a classical Chinese garden, which is the first Chinese garden built outside of China.
We also walked around the Gastown district of town. Gastown was Vancouver’s first downtown core named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain, and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area’s first saloon. The town soon prospered and quickly became the center of trade and commerce. Obviously, there is a lot of history that happened from then to the Gastown now, which features a hip part of town with old buildings, new restaurants, eclectic shops, and many tourists. I will spare you all the details here. Fun fact: Gastown was designation a National Historic Site of Canada in 2009.
Gastown’s most famous landmark is the Steam Clock. It was built in 1977 to cover a steam grate. Although originally the clock required power from electricity, with the financial support of local businesses, the steam mechanisms were restored and it now stands as a major tourist attraction.
For our last day, we headed first to the VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Now a beautiful botanical garden, was once an old golf course, that the British Columbia provincial government and the city of Vancouver signed an agreement to provide the funding to develop a public garden (Leslie Knobe would be proud I think). The place also featured a hedge maze and waterfall.
After the gardens we went to Salt’s Tasting Room, a wine tasting place on Blood Alley (yes, I did type Blood Alley – supposedly it was not a nicer area of town just a short time ago). The place had a ton of wines, cheeses, and meats. What is not to love? Since we had to be in the taxi to the airport by 4pm, we had to call it an early night.
We got back from our vacation and Chad had to immediately leave for a gig in New York City. Now, I am finishing up my last week of work in Los Angeles and scheduling the moving company to pick up all my things (okay just my bed and dresser, I don’t have that much real things). Then, this Sunday my mom and I start our road trip cross country to Alabama. Roll Tide! Lots more updates to come!
Until next time, please enjoy this photo of the food options on the tree top adventures that I obviously purchased with my hot chocolate…