Friday, March 9, 2012

An Update of Our Adventures

OK, before we start, today's post is pretty long. So, as many of you know, we have finally moved out on our own!! Our journey started last Friday morning. After three hours of trying to play Tetris with all of our belongings, we got just about everything in the two cars. A few things did get left behind, unfortunately, but nothing we can't live without. Since the trip would take us through the mountains, we had to take a less-direct route. However, it was super easy. Other than side roads for gas and hotels, we were only on like 5 roads. Anyway, our first day took us from home all the way to Hubbard, Ohio, which is just over the Pennsylvania border. We pulled over a little early since there was a pretty bad rainstorm. Once we got to the hotel and settled down, though, the rain stopped... It was a nerve-racking night because it was the same night the tornadoes hit southern Ohio. Luckily, we were in northern Ohio.
The next day, we traveled through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. I think the worst part of the entire trip was the border between Indiana and Illinois. It went from a two-lane highway to a five-lane highway with only a few markers along the way. We tried to find rest areas along the way to meet up, but not too many states have Welcome Centers, which surprised us. We ended up meeting at the last Dunkin Donuts on I-80. It's a little sad that we have to wait till July for it again. It also started to snow a little, but it was blowing snow. It was kind of weird, though, because it wasn't like "regular" snow- it made the car dirty. I don't know, it's kind of hard to explain. At the end of the day, we crossed the Mississippi River and into the Central time zone in Iowa. We spent the night on the banks of the River and woke up to a very cold morning.
The third day of our trip took us across Iowa and through most of Nebraska. There's not much to do in either of those states. We drove through Omaha, which wasn't a very nice city. We stopped at a "Welcome Center", which was kind of sketchy. We did pass the stadium where they play the NCAA Men's World Series. Of all the places to have a tournament... We ended in North Platte, Nebraska. If you look at the town, or city, I guess, it doesn't look like there is anything to do. Surprisingly, though, there is a lot more to the city than what we saw. I guess that is how all the cities are there.
Monday took us from Nebraska to Ogden, Utah. This was the longest day of the trip so far. That is all the way through Wyoming and just into Utah. The cheapest gas we found was $3.05 at the first exit in Wyoming. There's also not much to see on the road through Wyoming, except for the mountain peaks, which was exciting to see. There were signs along the way for Yellowstone and Grand Teton, which were kind of like, "Oh, been there, done that..." Apparently there was an avalanche in Grand Teton this week. Luckily, we didn't have to drive through any snow there. Just around rush hour, we crossed the border into Utah. The first rest stop we got to was in Echo. It was an amazing stop!! We do have some pictures that we'll post. We stopped in Ogden, which is a ski town built in the side of the mountain. The view was just absolutely gorgeous! We went to bed as soon as we got into the room. The time changes were very screwy.
Tuesday was another long day. We got up early because we were having trouble sleeping. After breakfast (of dry Cheerios and oatmeal- yum...) we were on the road again. The sun was rising behind us and we were able to see an inlet of the Salt Lake. We decided that we have to go back one day and see it in all of its glory. We weren't in Utah for too long and entered Idaho. That was a tough state. There is even less to do here than in other states. We even made it to a gas station welcoming us to "the middle of nowhere"! The gas was $4.36 a gallon, the station had baby rattlesnakes on display, and two alpacas in front of the store. They were super cute, but didn't get to ride them... The only problem was that the kid working (who was probably 15) called me ma'am. We got out of there as soon as possible and continued to drive on. We hit a snow squall which proved that our windshield wipers should probably be changed... We drove through Boise, but didn't see much of it. At about 1:00 (after all the time time changes, we couldn't be too sure) we made it into Oregon. We were worried because we had to drive through the Cascades and apparently Oregon requires travelers to carry chains or traction tires during the winter. We were afraid that we were going to have to turn around or something, but luckily there was no snow on the ground anywhere. Interesting tid-bit, we did see the Ore-Ida potato company, which is in Ontario, Oregon, right on the Idaho border. (That's how they got their name...) We drove through Northeastern Oregon, which is pretty desolate. Not too much going on there. We drove along the Columbia River, which took most of the early evening hours. It was neat to see the places we went to last summer, but it was pretty dark out, so we couldn't see much, anyway. We stopped in a town called Troutdale for the night. It's about 20-30 minutes outside of Portland, but figured it would be better to stay out of the city. I went to get dinner at the Subway next door to the hotel and it took 20 minutes just to get there. The roads were one way, I kept getting into the wrong lane, and the GPS took me to the wrong stop. When I did finally get there, it took another trip around the block to get to the hotel because I missed the driveway. It was not a very fun trip...
The next day would be our last travel day. It is only two hours from Portland to Olympia, so we decided to take the long way. After getting a little lost, we drove out to Astoria, Oregon. We were out there over the summer and they have a bridge connecting Oregon and Washington. The directions were not the most concise, and it probably wasn't the quickest, either. We drove over the bridge, into Washington, which, in our opinion, is much better than the other way. You can see out into the water more. It's also a much easier way to cross the River, instead of having to caulk the wagon and ford it. We chose to go the long way, on Highway 101, which might have been a mistake. The first ten miles go along the Pacific Ocean, but eventually you go inland, so you don't get to see as much. At around 3:00, we made it to Olympia. We ended up separated from each other, and made it to one of the 10 Starbucks in town and spent some time there. After a little bit, we found a hotel and then did some more driving around town. It was a little overwhelming, at first, because there is so much more here than at home.
Yesterday and today saw us looking for apartments. The two that we looked at are in Tumwater, which is just outside of Olympia. It is a smaller town, which is nice because it's quieter. We finally decided on a 2bed, 2 bath apartment and, as long as everything goes well, we can move in on Monday!! We have to spend some more nights in the hotel, which doesn't make us very happy, but we can deal with it. We can't wait to start adding our own touch to the place and cook dinner!! We went to one of the local parks and hung out a little. The weather was absolutely amazing Wednesday and Thursday. It was sunny and around 60 degrees. We could see Mount Rainier, too, which was something we didn't see in the summer. Today was chillier, about 50 degrees and some showers. Nothing to complain about!!
Here are some pictures that we took along the way.
This is the view from our hotel looking out over the Mississippi River in Iowa.
A (blurry) welcome to Wyoming sign
Mountains in Wyoming
 Rest stop in Echo, Utah
Alpacas at the gas station in the "Middle of Nowhere"
Fields in Idaho
The Astoria-Megler Bridge, spanning the Columbia River and connecting Oregon to Washington
The view from the Washington rest stop, across the bridge. That little white mound is Mt. St. Helen's, and if you look real close, Mt. Rainier is behind it.
Our cars, happy to finally be in Washington! Now, they just need a bath...

Hopefully, we'll be all settled and back to our crafts and cupcakes!

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