Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 23- Reno to Chicago to Hartford

I managed to sleep just fine last night which was a relief, especially since I knew I had a long day of traveling ahead of me. Luckily this time I didn't have so many stops; it was just Reno, to O'hare, to Bradley. We gathered our things, said goodbyes to the cats and rats, and out the door we went. Once we got in the airport, Anna and I got separated before we could even have a proper goodbye. She was headed to check in with her flight; and I with mine, and we figured we would go through security together, but something got lost in translation and I found myself in a gigantic line. Seems self-baggage was down and backing everything up leading to over 50 people waiting in a long line that snaked around the lobby. Luckily I had plenty of time before my flight, but some people in line were due to take off in 20 minutes; wouldn't you think they would take those people first? After a hundred tiny steps forward; I began worrying that this line wouldn't move in time for my flight, luckily I neared the counter with time to spare. I checked my bags, got my boarding pass, and headed for security; it's always interesting rushing through an airport you are not familiar with. I had a little bit of a walk to get to my gate and as I jogged slowly, I noticed others doing the same; that delay at the front really wasn't helping with people's flight times. I made it to the gate in time to stop at an overpriced "healthy" airport kiosk with $10.00 sandwiches and $3.00 bags of chips half full. I grabbed some food, a drink, and sat to wait to board. It wasn't long before the last few rows were being called; this is when I decided to get up and wait in line to board the plane (why wait squished in a seat in the plane when you can wait until the last minute?) I wasn't as fortunate on my way home as on my way out; I had a middle seat with someone on either side of me. The flight took off and not before long, the guy next to me had fallen asleep and was basically leaning right up against me; how I wish I could just fall asleep too. Coming from the girl that rarely talks to people on flights; I am the one with my headphones in the whole time closing my eyes pretending to sleep, not the one enjoying sharing my life, never mind my arm as a pillow. (See photo below, the guy's shirt is green, and my hair is clearly all over the place on my arm that he is perched up against.) Otherwise the flight was uneventful, I ordered a water to accompany my ginger ale and listened to some country song or Eminem; really don't discriminate when it comes to music, I love it all. After hearing the captain announce we would be landing soon; I studied the terminal map and took a photo of it to refer back to later, I needed to get to G13 which would be a little bit of a walk in an airport I have never been to. I get a little anxious thinking about getting lost, and not getting to my gate in time and missing my flight so I wanted it to be as easy as possible. Thankfully I only asked for directions once to make sure I was going the right way! I arrived at the gate, checked in, and took a seat to wait eating the second half of my sandwich and chips. I looked around to find the typical person flying to Hartford, Connecticut; 9 out of 10 people were white males in their late forties, button down, blazer, dress pants, backpack or briefcase, smartphone in hand, and short neat haircut (see photo below of an example.) Oh, and how could I forget the occasional elderly couple bundled up like they were heading to Alaska; and here I sat with my Hiker Trash trucker hat, tank top and hoodie, looking like I belong back on the West Coast. The day was going by much quicker on my way home than my travel day out; and I thought it would be worse since I would be losing time with the timezones. I sat in the plane in my window seat waiting for the next contestant of shoulder sleepers, staring out the window at the blue skies wishing I was somewhere sitting on the beach or mountain top. I would be seeing my family in only a few hours, and as much as a beach would be nice right now; their faces will be better. We took off into the sky one last time today, and I again ordered a water to accompany my ginger ale. For almost the whole duration of the flight; I was able to stare out the window and see the landscapes below. This made the time pass faster being able to see points of interest such as highways, housing developments, rivers, bridges, mountains, ocean, and lakes. We neared Connecticut and the excitement grew; excitement to get off this plane, excitement to sleep in my bed, and excitement to see Hunter and the family. I gathered my backpack carryon, stood to stretch my legs, and one by one exited the plane to my final destination. Bradley was pretty deserted as I made my way to baggage claim. As I turned the corner, something hilariously surprising happened; Hunter and I both scared the shit out of one another by accident! I didn't know that they would be there waiting for me, I figured they were parked out front so that surprised me, and then Hunter didn't see me coming until I was already there so we both had the same shocked and then excited expression upon our face. I hugged her and picked her up, and then gave my mom and Felix a hug as well. We took the escalator downstairs to pick up my two bags which came out without having to wait very long, and as I stepped outside; I was reminded I was back in New England towards the end of September! It was a lot cooler here than it was this morning in Reno, that's for sure. I climbed in the car for a short 20 minute ride or so home; and was relieved as I walked through the door to be home. This past summer has been filled with so many great experiences, and adventures; I started the summer out with a cross country road trip of 29 days, I then WWOOFed at two farms in Vermont for a month, and then I ended it with another road trip. I cannot explain how grateful I am at this point in my life to be able to be unattached and able to experience these things, but I also long for the stability of everyday life. It is a constant pendulum that swings within me; when I am home for an extended period of time I long for the next exciting adventure. Though, when I am off exploring for over a month I yearn to return back home. I am excited to see what this next chapter brings to my life; at this time I am focused on trying to plant my roots back in Connecticut for awhile with a career back in place, and possibly a house and relationship in the near future. I don't know exactly what I want to do, and that is the beautifully disaster of a problem; what's next!?

Day 22- Lake Tahoe

Waking up today knowing it was our last official day of the road trip was both heartbreaking, and heartwarming. I had now had 22 days worth of new experiences, stories, and memories; but I was ready to not live out of a vehicle anymore, and see my family. As I gathered all of my things to bring to the car, I told Anna I was going to head down to load the car and have breakfast; she assured me she was right behind me. I sat in the crowded small lounge area at a table for two, and ate my yogurt, banana, muffin, and juice (continental breakfast.) Anna arrived as I was finishing up and not before long we were on the road again. We had a good amount of driving to do before reaching Lake Tahoe, some highway, and the rest through small towns. Passing through Squaw Valley was pretty memorable since they have a monument with the Olympic rings, all that ran through my mind was how fun these towns would be in the winter for snowboarding! As we neared the North shore of Lake Tahoe, we Googled places and things to see; which lead to a few dead ends in residential areas. One of which we just parked in the street, hiked down a little and took in the brilliant blue water reflecting off the equally as cobalt blue sky. The mountains, the water, and the forrest were breathtaking; here we go again for my struggle of mountain love vs. beach love; I think the mountains still win. The majority of the places we Googled, were hours away from where we were and visiting them wouldn't be feasible with the deadline we were on for returning the rental later that evening in Reno.  We did make the best out of our short stay at Lake Tahoe though; visiting Crescent Beach right outside of Crescent City, a few other beaches, one of which we would have lunch at, and lastly a docking area that looked as though it could be a tropical resort. We sat at a picnic table a few hundred feet from the water, and only forty feet or so from our car. One last Mountain House meal would make me smile for lunch, knowing it would be the last one for awhile. Exploring the beach lead me to finding one of the biggest pinecones I have ever seen, it was almost as big as my head! (see photo below.) The water was surprisingly very warm, I walked with water up to my shins observing rocks, crabs, boats, and other beach-goers. The wet sand was almost a terracotta color, with jet black strewn throughout; which made the sight so vibrant in comparison of the deep blue water. We hung out at the beach for awhile, I mostly walked the beach; whereas Anna chilled more in one place. What I wouldn't give for a boat right now, I can see myself coming back to Lake Tahoe in the summer years from now with my family for vacation. As we were getting ready to leave the beach; we saw a guy getting his wind surfing board ready, naturally I had to see him in action. We sat where the sand met the grass and watched as he set everything up, then finally made his way to the water while his kite soared wild and free in the sky. We had time for two more stops, and as we pulled into our next destination the "change oil" light came on; not an official road trip unless the car yells at you about changing the oil. The next stop was more of a nature walk/rest area location; we explored the trails losing one another to meet back up about 20 minutes later. As I explored the massive boulder formations; jumping from one rock to another, I met a nice couple who ended up taking a couple photos of me on the giant rocks. The photos don't even come close to expressing the beauty of this place; looking back at them now, sure they are beautiful, and I am sure you as a reader will swoon over them (hopefully,) but believe me when I say, it was 100 times more beautiful being there. The enormous rocks were as smooth as river rocks in the bed of a river, they looked as though you could purchase them in a store they were so polished, though what you would do with them would be beyond me at their size. The last stop was a boat launch, and small beach; which you had to pay for parking and we didn't want to so late in the day. We parked quick just to capture the beauty, if I saw these photos on a website somewhere I would believe they came from the Bahamas. The water was so crystal clear that you could see the bottom miles away, the ripples magnified the glimmer of yellow, blue, green, and pink hues. Opting to say "goodbye for now" to paradise; we hopped in the rental to go over the mountain and down and around into the valley of Reno. As we drove, I texted with Jonny to let him know our approximate time of arrival and that the car and to be back at 5:00pm. We summited the mountain by vehicle, and began descending when I had to pull to the side of the road to take in the beauty below. It was such a drastic change of scenery from the luscious forrest, woods, and lake we had just witnessed. The valley below was brown and desertsous, with civilization densely packed in tiny squares. As I was taking photos, a guy came walking out of no where (or so it seemed) Anna waited in the car, so I asked if he would mind taking my photo and he asked the same of me. We chatted for a minute and I learned that he too was from Connecticut visiting his mother; what a small world! I wished him well, and got back in the car to continue our journey down into Reno. Just prior to reaching the city, I almost hit a coyote as it sped across the road in front of me; proceeding all the way across into on-coming traffic. We arrived earlier than expected, but Jonny was out of work so it wasn't a problem for him to meet us at his place. My least favorite part of traveling (or grocery shopping) unpacking! We parked the rental on the street and made trips back and fourth unloading our life for the past month. It was a tedious project, but like anything that seems never-ending; we finished. The Chevy would sure need a nice cleaning inside and out; but it looked so bare and boring with none of our belongings scattered around. We arrived at Avis, and it was time to say our goodbyes; we went inside to sign paperwork and notify them of the crack in the windshield. I stated that it happened this morning when I went down from our hotel room and found it like that (the funny thing is; when I started writing this mornings portion of the blog I actually wrote that I came down to find the crack on the windshield before my continental breakfast ((since it is now four months later) and then had to think real hard to remember I had already written that and it did not in fact happen at this hotel but in Napa Valley!) The employee was rather, unsure and talked very slowly, making me wonder if he was just stoned. After awhile, everything was rectified and I was notified that I would not be charged for the windshield which was relieving! We asked him to take a photo of us with the Impala as a proper final goodbye, and then sat on the curb waiting for Jonny; where had he gone? He left the same time we had. About 5 minutes later he pulled in, and away we went to downtown Reno. We parked on the road where we wouldn't have to pay; and it smelled like a porta potty; I guarantee a bum peed somewhere nearby it was that bad. We stumbled upon a street full of white convention tents; apparently there was some motorcycle event this past weekend and they were still cleaning up from that. Walking around Reno reminded me of a smaller, less extreme Las Vegas. We walked past one of the largest rock wall climbs which was adjacent to a high rise. It was pretty terrifying and impressive, and there was someone currently attempting to climb to the top. Jonny assured us that by the time we walked to the end and came back that he would probably be reaching the top, so we continued our walk. We saw a "wedding party," very classy folk, as well as other interesting individuals along the way. When we reached the end; we saw what looked like a very beautiful river if it hadn't been so low, as well as a bike/walking path, and park benches and flowers. It was beautiful. Deciding to head back, put us in perfect timing for when we reached the rock wall, the man had reached the top! Impressive, it must be so windy up there. We arrived back at the car, to meet Allie back at the house for dinner. We continued to pack all of our stuff back into our massive suite cases, while listening to records, drinking beer, and socializing. We ended our evening with some lovely homemade pizza by Allie and Jonny, thanked them for the billionth time for everything, and said our goodnights. My flight was at 8:00am, Anna's wasn't until 2:00pm; since Jonny got up at 5:00am for work, we said our goodbyes the night before since Allie would be bringing us to the airport tomorrow morning before work. Jonny and I used to be best friends back in middle/high school; I hadn't seen him in over 7 years, and it was so great to reconnect and meet his other half. I am forever grateful for friends like them. Hopefully tonight I can sleep better than the first night here in Reno, early flight in the morning home!