Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Final Leg and Life in Florida

On Sunday afternoon in Houston, while enjoying the day with Wes and Jennifer, Brad decided to check his work schedule and discovered he needed to be at work on move-in day. Yikes! That put a bit of a wrench in our plans to "take our time" through the journey. To be honest, I think we were both ready to get to Florida anyway. We stayed in Houston through Monday to get our car fixed (and of course FINALLY get in a few hours of watching the Avengers save the world) and left early Tuesday morning to complete our journey.

Tuesday was a long day, and we decided to see how far we could get. The sooner we hit Orlando, the sooner our truck would be empty. I finally took a turn at the wheel to give Brad a break and to help pass the time. I actually love driving on road trips, but a trailer with a missing right blinker made me a bit nervous. I managed surprisingly well, even navigating a bit of local traffic near Pensacola.  I had to smile as we sat down to eat at Arby's and realized there was Christian Rock playing over the speakers. Yep! We were in the South. Walter was also incredible excited to finally be in Florida. We had to capture the moment as we crossed the border.

Tired and only slightly grumpy (mostly after trying to park the car), we decided to call it a night in Tallahassee. We grabbed as few necessities as possible, checked in, and fell into our beds thinking we might just sleep until noon. Not so. Brad and I both found ourselves wide awake at 4:15am. Whether it was the excitement of finishing the drive, or the worry our car with all our earthly possessions had been towed (we parked in the Outback Steakhouse parking lot because there were no spaces for a truck and trailer at the hotel), I'm still not sure. But by about 5am we decided we might as well get up and get the day started. Once we got on the road the lack of sleep caught up to me and I decided to lay my head back and close my eyes for a few moments. I hadn't slept in the car the whole drive and didn't figure this would be any different, but apparently I was asleep enough to not even notice Brad snagged a picture of me "enjoying the drive". 

We were "home" in Orlando by 11:30am Wednesday morning ready to get the keys to our condo and start unpacking. Mom and Ken Cottle arrived shortly after and the mass unpacking commenced! It took several days to start to feel like we lived in a "home", not just a war zone, but we're finally settled. The fridge and pantry are stocked (mostly), the furniture is all in place (other than baby room and an ugly recliner we need to get rid of), and all that's left is to add a few more pictures to the walls. Phew! Mom, Ken, and Dad Cottle (who arrived on Thursday evening) were an incredible help, and we couldn't have done it without them. Mom spent hours hanging and folding clothes to fill up our closet, and Dad and Ken put lots of furniture together. Ken was even (mostly) patient through several trips to Target and IKEA. Thanks to Suzanne, Hannah, and Grant who brought us food, and Dougie who helped unpack, move couches, and also fed us pizza. We have amazing friends and family. 

On the front end of things we definitely couldn't have packed in record time without the Bentleys, the Klcs, and Mom and Dad Randall. Dad's Tetris skills are pretty incredible, and we didn't even have to fill up space in the Expedition to get it all loaded. 

Here are a few pictures of the finished product. I am especially excited about the giant cabinet that holds our TV. Thanks to the challenge from Ken that I couldn't find anything to work, and a sleepless night, I decided to scour Craigslist and found something I've been wanting for a very long time! It's a bit shabby chic and just perfect!! We also scored a free couch from Uncle Jeff that goes well in the house, along with lots of free food (thanks Jeff!!).

The Office 


Bedroom (with a lovely bed donated by David Randall. We seriously scored in the furniture department)

At least once a day I still find myself surprised that we're actually here. I've also discovered that we live in a really beautiful place! I know that sounds silly, since I've lived here before, but living on the southwest side of Orlando is a very different experience, and almost everyday I discover new things I love about it. We have a ward I already know I will love, we are close enough to see the Disney fireworks (although we have to walk to the front of our complex), and we are surrounded by beautiful lakes, homes, and greenery. I miss Utah, I miss my family and friends there, but I know we are where we need to be, and it feels good to start getting settled. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

New Mexico to Texas. . .

Day two of our journey was supposed to be the longest day of driving (based on a slight change in plans tomorrow may actually be the longest...) so we tried to get off to a good start with a clean windshield and and a full tank. This is how a little tiny girl cleans the windshield on a giant vehicle...

I'll be honest... most of day two just looked a lot like this:

But we did stop for a lovely little picnic in Albuquerque. If I thought Farmington was a disappointment, my opinion of New Mexico did not get much better by stopping in Albuquerque.  However, New Mexico was much less painful to drive through than Kansas or Nebraska.  

We did drive on historic Route 66, and a photo seemed appropriate.

While we planned for something with a little more ambience as an interesting dinner choice, we did enjoy some DELICIOUS tacos from a taco truck in Amarillo. It turns out trying to park a giant SUV and trailer is a bit of a challenge sometimes. :)

We skipped the souvenirs in Texas, although they were definitely tempting...

And finally landed in Wichita Falls for the night, only to discover there were flash flood and Tornado warnings being broadcast throughout the area. It's funny that we've done this drive during the winter twice, which of course left me concerned about the weather throughout the drive. I figured since we were leaving in May we'd be set! Fortunately we seemed to pass through Dallas just before the Tornado did, and the worst of the flooding in our area covered the freeway going the opposite direction we were headed. Phew!

We got to Houston on Saturday afternoon and we have spent a lovely couple of days hanging out with  cousins and taking a break from the drive. Scarlett and I have played barbies while Desmond is loving chasing Brad. Today Brad, Wes, and I finally got to see the Avengers as well, which was a blast.

 We also got our window fixed, which is fantastic so we won't have to worry about it slipping down through our remaining two days. Anecdote about the windshield: During our drive we had a long way to go, so we decided to listen to an audiobook. We downloaded it and played it through the car stereo. Because the window was faulty, we would have to occasionally slide the window up to make it stop whistling. We did this by me grabbing ahold of the wheel from the passenger seat and Brad using both hands the slide it from one side. This would happen about every 15 minutes. So we are very  glad we won't have to do it anymore. Now we need to clean off all the finger smudges.

A few other memorable and humorous moments of the last few days:

We noticed on Friday morning that there was an adult video store across the street from our hotel. Right in front of it was a GIANT billboard that said "Jesus is watching you." Nice placement. :)

As we drove through Albuquerque we noticed traffic was completely stopped on the opposite side of the freeway. We happened to be passing just in time to see a motorcade and a hearse enter the freeway. Still have no idea who might have died that required stopping the freeway. If anyone has any ideas let us know. Google was no help.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Road Trip: Day 1

Brad and I packed up the trailer last night (with lots of help from an amazing dad and some wonderful friends) and headed out first thing this morning for our third cross-country road trip. After two and a half years in the west it's time to go back to Florida. A few tears were shed by both of us as we pulled away, but we are so excited for the adventures ahead. Here are a few highlights from our first day:

Our last beautiful view of the Wasatch front. Brad rolled down the window for me to get a good shot and we couldn't roll it back up. Eventually it rolled back up while Brad was pushing the button to roll it down. Not a good sign. We're hoping to get that fixed in Houston when we have a few extra hours to spare.

The best part of our day was a stop at Arches National Park. We drove through most of the park and decided to hike up to Delicate Arch. It was a gorgeous day and it was amazing to watch Brad discover the wonders of Southern Utah.

We agreed to eat simple meals for lunch and find something interesting and local for dinner. This didn't pan out so well in Farmington, NM where options are severely limited. We settled for Japanese food from a restaurant that delivered straight to the hotel. Oh well, it was a pretty amazing first day, even if dinner was a little lackluster.