Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Paul's Blog

My little bro has a blog! He's got videos from our road trip, some of his original music and pictures. He's pretty awesome, so you're gonna want to check it out.

Yeah, the picture doesn't have anything to do with Paul's blog, but I wanted to post a picture and Figs is so cute when he has his morning Dunkin'. (It was kind of mean of me to put his coffee so high off the ground, wasn't it?)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Katie & Paul's Excellent Adventure

Day 8: Las Vegas, NV -- Los Angeles, CA

17 states, 12 waters, 5 hotels, 6 days, 1 Harry Potter on CD

We made it! All the way from Boston to Los Angeles. We're a little fatter, a little more pimply, but very satisfied and very accomplished! Looking back on the blog, it's amazing how quickly we did this trip. We were in New Mexico by our third day. That is pretty crazy.

We left Las Vegas filled with anticipation. In just a few short hours ( five of them) we would be in sunny Los Angeles filling Paulie's new apartment with all his belongings. Paul did all of the driving this time and we made our second trip to In & Out for lunch. I wonder why we're gaining weight?

Then we turned a corner and there was Los Angeles, a mirage in the distance. We were still half an hour out, and with the L.A. haze, we could only see the outline, but there it was. When I pointed it out to Paul, his face lit up, he sat a little straighter in his seat, and his eyes got wider. We were almost home.

We got into town around 1:3opm to the smiling faces of our parents, who had flown out there the day before. Armed with the knowledge of where Home Depot, Target, and other important moving-related places are, they had been preparing for our arrival by purchasing extra keys to Paul's apartment and getting materials to help the move.

We jumped out of the van--our home for the past week--and after a quick hello, got to work unloading it.

My dad's best friend since high school, Larry, lives here with his family. His daughter, Alejandra, has become more like a little sister to Paul over the years and they've both become really more like family than anything. Turns out, they live only six minutes away! Convenient! Actually, most of Paul's friends from college live here now, so by the end of the night, it was more like a reunion than a move-in day. But that's later.

Larry and Alejandra came to help unload, which made it go much faster. Paul's best friend, Scott appeared at the end of the move, and opened himself up to some jeering after his first load to the apartment were two books on CD. Don't worry, he certainly pulled his weight later when he and Paul hoisted two giant bookshelves up three flights of stairs!

The most difficult thing about the move was the elevator. It doesn't have a laser sensor, so it closes immediately after opening. Woe to anyone who gets stuck in the doorway! It'll squish you before opening again! My theory is that the elevator DOES have a laser sensor, but just has a sick, sick, desire to squish all who enter it. The elevator situation led to what looked like some nice dance moves as you tried to hold the door open while balancing everything you were carrying. Then you would leap out the door before the elevator realized it could squish you. Pretty fancy.

Everything was unloaded fairly quickly and we left Paul and Scott to hang out and unpack while we all freshened up for dinner. We met Larry, Elva (his wife), and Alejandra for some take out at their place and then crawled home to bed. Well, not Paul. He, Scott, their friend Joe, and maybe Alejandra went back to Paul's place for late-night tacos. Crazy kids.

One quick word about how beautiful Larry's place is. He lives in the Hollywood Hills, so his neighborhood is studded with celebrities and his house overlooks Los Angeles. It's one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. Because you can't grow grass easily there, L.A. is technically in a desert after all, his land is filled with fruit trees, olive trees, and other pretty plants and flowers. He has literally 10,000 decks to observe this view of plants and city. It really is beautiful.

The plan for today so far is to (1) Go to King's Road Coffee, which is my favorite coffee place from back when I did a summer internship out here. So good. (2) Get me some Jamba Juice. This will probably happen on the way to the airport tomorrow though. (3) Help Paul unpack. (4) Once there is room, take Paul to buy a sofa.

It's gonna be a busy day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Katie & Paul's Excellent Adventure

What day is it again?
Day 7: Viva Las Vegas!
Loved, Loved, Loved, Love

Paul at the Venitian

We are leaving in the next few minutes for Los Angeles (can you believe it?) so I'll make this super quick.

We ate ate at the Luxor's buffet around 11am--right at the cusp of breakfast and lunch. Paul, never wanting to miss an opportunity like all-you-can-eat, filled his plate with breakfast items: bacon, french toast, etc. He finished his meal, took a deep breath, looked at me and said. "That was a delicious breakfast. Now, I'm going to get lunch." And off he went to get a hot dog, stroganoff, and macaroni and cheese. I love how he eats.

We spent the day wandering in and out of different casinos, wanting to experience all of them. Our first attempt at the craps table ended poorly for us, but by the time we made it to the Mirage, Paul turned $40 into $123 at the craps table and I turned $5 into $25 at the slots! However, both of our winnings were short-lived. Paul lost all of his last night at Mandalay Bay and I spent about $10 of my winnings playing the slots to pass the time. But that is what gambling/entertainment money is for, right?

My new favorite casino is Paris. The architect for that building is a genious! Paul's favorite is the Mirage because that's where he won his money.

We had tickets to see Love last night. It was beautiful. The Cirque du Soleil shows I've seen in the past are very trick-heavy. Lots of stunts. This one focused more on dancing and capturing the mood of the songs and the Beatles themselves. I would go again tonight, tomorrow night, the night after that, and why not? The night after that. It was spectacular. Just beautiful.

For dinner we went to Tender, the steakhouse at the Luxor. We had surf and turf sliders for an appetizer, which were AMAZING. The "turf" was kobe beef. Can you really go wrong there? However, the service was horrendous. Our waiter forgot about us, rushed us through ordering, and didn't tell us what any of the food was that we were eating. I wonder if I have a higher fine-dining standard now after living in Charleston aka the land of delicious food for two years. I'm used to waiters being your charming tour guide through your meal. The dude we had last night tossed our food at as, and wouldn't even let me get out what I wanted in a wine when I asked him for a suggestion. (me: I'd like a red, not too spic-- him: I'll get you a merlot. I'm not a huge fan of Merlot, but he was gone before I could say that.) But our steaks were good.

So vegas was really fun! Oh! We also rode the roller-coaster at New York, New York, which was really fun! Plus, there was no line! That's just the way I like lines!

The lobby at the Luxor

Did no one tell the people at Ceasar's Palace that the Trojan Horse attacked Greece, not Italy? It's still pretty darn cool though.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Katie & Paul's Excellent Adventure



Day 5: Albuquerque, NM – Las Vegas, NV

A Big Hole, A Big Dam, A Big City

Me and lil Paul at the Grand Canyon

First of all, This entry is a doozy. Very long. I’m bolding the interesting stuff we saw, so you can skip ahead if you want to. I'm also using pictures to break it up a bit. If you want to read the whole thing, well, bravo! Make yourself a nice cup of tea, take a quick bathroom break, and get yourself nice and settled because here we go!

Although today was our shortest day yet (driving-wise, I mean), it certainly was the busiest!

We left Albuquerque around 6am, not out of necessity like our previous early mornings, but out of convenience. Turns out, our body clocks haven’t adjusted yet to the multiple time zone changes. I awoke at 5:30am to find Paul playing on his cell phone. He’d been up for a half an hour. Well, we were both up, we might as well take advantage of it, eh? We packed up our belongings, said good-bye to Giggles, and headed out. For the first time, we had a pit stop on the way to our destination that we would actually be able to see during the day! Pit stop: The Grand Canyon.

Moms and Pops took us to the Grand Canyon back when I was an pouty new teenager and Paul was a super-eager, bowl-headed kid. We took a train from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, and it was beautiful. The canyon, the ride, everything. But, we didn’t think that we really appreciated it as much as we would now.

We made it there by lunchtime. And you know what? The Grand Canyon was well named. It is both a canyon and incredibly grand. I also think Paul and I were right about appreciating it more now that we’re older.

The amazing thing was that there was still snow on the ground! Could we not leave this dreaded snow behind us? We’ve driven thousands of miles going both south, towards the equator and west, towards the desert. Yes, back when I was in Boston, I said that I missed snow. But come on. There was snow even in New Mexico! My thoughts are that no place with the word “Mexico” in it should ever see snow.

Anyway, you can’t say much about the Grand Canyon except for how beautiful and grand it is because no words will do it justice. As we walked around the South Rim, I’d start getting nervous at ever turn that I had just seen the only beautiful view, and whatever was coming wouldn’t measure up. However, each view is gorgeous. And heaven help you if some wildlife starts prancing about. Then you’d just die of beauty.

Snow at the Grand Canyon

After an hour or so of this, I got hungry. Into the car we went to find some food! After having a difficult time finding a parking spot and lil Paul doing some pretty darn amazing driving to get our van out of some snow and up an icy hill, we found the hotel overlooking the canyon where we had lunch back when our parents took us. Excitedly, we marched up there, ready to fill our bellies. Our bodies were celebrating the first exercise they’ve had in days. I think I actually heard my leg muscles go “Yippee” as I climbed the hill. We passed the mules used for tours (very smelly) and the same train tour we had taken with our parents in our much younger days. We marched into the hotel and practically ran to the dining room but stopped suddenly. We had missed lunch by only 15 minutes.

So we returned to our car and I had tuna and crackers as we pointed our van towards Las Vegas.

On the way to Las Vegas, two very nice surprises occurred. The first was that we saw our first In & Out Burger! If you haven’t been to In & Out, well, it is the best fast food ever. Everything is fresh and made with healthy ingredients. Even the fries are cooked in cholesterol-free something. There is butter on the buns. The meat is fresh. The veggies are fresh and taste like veggies! It is pure heaven. We actually saw the In & Out after we passed the exit, and got so excited that we turned the car around so we could have it as an early dinner.

In & Out Burger!

The cheeseburger just about melted in my mouth. The fries were just the right amount of crispiness and softness. Is it bad to want to get a burger from there for every meal until I have to fly home?

Our second surprise was that we got to DRIVE OVER THE HOOVER DAM! We started wondering to ourselves if this would happen. Paul reminded me that it does separate Arizona from Nevada, but we didn’t think much of it. But then, as we drew nearer, we started seeing signs and we started to get excited. We got stopped at a police checkpoint for a few minutes while they checked our truck (probably looking for humans, firearms, drugs or something. Good thing we left all that stuff back in New Mexico – haha! kidding mom!) then BAM! We were on it! I started screaming, Paul started screaming! It was awesome and HUGE! “Wow! This would be so hard to jump over in a motorcycle!” Paul said excitedly.

The Hoover Dam has never been something I wanted to see, but now that I saw it, I’m so happy I did! It is so cool! I’m so glad we saw it at night too (come on, how can you be surprised we saw it at night?) because it was all lit up. The lights made it look powerful and magnificent.

Thirty minutes later we arrived in Las Vegas and Paul turned into the boy in the you-tube video of the boy seeing a lobster for the first time. “Wow! Wow! Can I touch it? No?” He asked over and over. We turned a corner and there it was, lights stretching for miles. We forget that Las Vegas is more than just the strip, don't we? It's a functioning city with a university and homes and everything. It's enormous.

Paul dropped me off at the Luxor and circled while I tried to get us a reservation. (He was also very funny about that. “We’re staying at the pyramid with the light coming out of it? Cool!”) We couldn’t get one online or over the phone because they wouldn’t promise us two beds. The conversation went like this:

“Hi there. I need a room for two nights with two beds.”

“We can do a room for two nights but beds are based upon availability.”

“I see, well are there any available?”

“Beds are based upon availability.”

“I UNDERSTAND that, I want to know if you have two beds available.”

“Beds are based upon availability.”

Luckily for her, you can’t strangle people through a phone.

I got us a room and tickets for tomorrow night to see the Cirque du Soleil show, Love. It’s Cirque du Soleil with Beatles music. Seeing as the Beatles are both Paul and my favorite band, and now Paul just did his final project on the Magical Mystery Tour album, this seems like the perfect thing to end our trip. The next day, we’ll be Los Angeles with the parents and Larry and all of Paul’s friends who have moved there already.

The Bodies exhibit is also at the Luxor. Pretty cool!

So, after Paul parked the van back in what felt like Arizona, we hoofed it to the hotel, got settled, and left to explore for a few hours before we got too sleepy to move. We played some slots (I lost $20 and Paul won $10.50). We’re going to try craps today if I can get my nerve up. I haven’t played in so long, I’m worried about looking like a fool!

That’s it for now! We’ve got the whole day in Vegas, so we’ll have some more stories for you tomorrow!

Our Egyptian-themed room at the Luxor

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Katie & Paul's Excellent Adventure


Day 4: Little Rock, AR – Albuquerque, NM

Three states in fourteen hours isn’t as impressive as nine states in twelve hours

Paul is very excited about his soda in Oklahoma.

I'm so sorry I didn't post a blog entry yesterday! Our very well-intentioned-yet-slightly-overbearing motel had a very bad connection and I couldn't get this to post. It's here now!

Little Paul and I saw the sun rise over the Bill Clinton Presidential Library as we left Little Rock. I have to admit that the Little Rock was not on my list of places to see until our brief stay there. It’s a really pretty city,

Next stop was Oklahoma City, OK where we had planned a lunch break. Well, we did NOT like that city very much at all! This is basically because someone beeped at us as we tried to change lanes. So, we left the city and grabbed lunch at some fast food taco place where the manager (or maybe he was just a guy) went from table to table to ask us how the food was.

However, I discovered something horrible at this fast food restaurant: I have…a…pimple. I don’t know where it came from. I haven’t been touching my face or eating greasy food…oh wait a minute. I HAVE been eating greasy food.

And speaking of all the food we’ve been eating on this trip, Paul and I are now sporting matching swollen bellies. We seriously look pregnant. It’s so sad. I bet if you rub my belly right now, you’d get good luck. I’m not kidding! However, once I look back over the day for what exactly I’ve been eating, it hasn’t been that much food. However, I am exercising, oh, about three minutes a day (Paul too) so that doesn’t help.

Note to self: go to the gym Monday and re-up my membership there.

AND back to the trip. Another interesting tidbit about Oklahoma is that every small town is the birthplace of some country star. We saw the bithtown (yes, that’s a word) of Garth Brooks and the birthtown of Carrie Underwood—and that’s just some of the towns off the highway!

We eventually hit Texas. We lucked out here. Others have warned me that Texas will take forever to pass through, leaving the driver achy and slightly crazed. However, we just drove through the handle, so it only took a few hours. Chris Bear was actually the most excited to see Texas. This is the first time in 18 years that he has returned to the place of his birth. We have videos of him looking excitedly out the window at his very, very flat homeland.

Finally, we hit New Mexico. That was a fun transition to witness. The land we saw in Texas was flat and bland until we were 20 miles outside of New Mexico. All of a sudden we turned a corner and mountains sprouted up all around us. The sun was setting as we crossed the New Mexican border and because we were driving towards it, the sunset lasted over an hour.

We had enchiladas for dinner, which just made us fatter (but seriously, I only had ONE!) and are now relaxing at a hotel Paul researched for me on his iPhone on the way. (I think he looked up “hotels” and “clean.”) It’s nice, except the lady at the front desk is CRAZY! Toothless and pleasant, she giggled her way through our checking in, repeating things two or three times, and giving us a nice discount. She was really tickled to put down on our registration that our vehicle was “big truck.” She giggled so heartily, you couldn’t help but laugh along.

Tomorrow we head out to the Grand Canyon and then to Las Vegas! WooWee! It’s amazing to think that just the day before last we were in a snowstorm in Boston. Today, we’re back in our short sleeves. It’s pretty incredible.

Paul shows Chris Bear the place of his birth.

Paulie driving at night, looking for our hotel.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Katie & Paul's Excellent Adventure


Day 3: Roanoke, VA -- Little Rock, AR

Tennessee is MUCH longer than Connecticut

Paul in his super cool new gas station sunglasses.

We left Roanoke at sunrise, which was beautiful. The sun came up over the mountains and made me a little homesick for the days where mountains were a little more accessible. But, I traded mountains for palm trees (sorry, palmetto bushes I mean) and beaches, so I really can’t complain.

We drove through the rest of Virginia and then spent the next eight hours driving through Tennessee. During this time, Paulie and I learned two things about this very long state: (1) the people who live there are the most friendly people in the whole country or, dare I say it, the WORLD (2) Tennesseans serve up some darn good pancakes.

See, Paul and I stopped at a pancake house for lunch, which was delicious AND decorated with little wooden statues of bears. Also, the waitress was nice. Both lil Paul and I are confidant that this experience represents all of Tennessee and those residents within its boarders.

After lunch, two very significant things happened: (1) We stopped driving south and started driving west (this may have happened before lunch). (2) We drove through a time zone.

Pretty exciting stuff.

We didn’t really stop again in Tennessee until Memphis. I was really excited about visiting Graceland, but alas, Graceland closed at 4pm and we didn’t get into town until 6pm. It seems as if there is a pattern emerging here. We always arrive a little too late to any sight or landmark I am looking forward to seeing! We got to JMU too late at night to really explore, and again, Graceland was closed. I am not losing heart though! Our next big stop will be the Grand Canyon and we’re planning on leaving super early so we’ll get there by sunset.

Despite missing Graceland, we did still have a nice adventure in Memphis. We researched online where the best barbeque joint was in town. And we found it. It was called Central BBQ and it was delicious! But arriving there was an experience within itself. The city has public service billboards with messages such as:

He’s shot. You’re sorry. He’s still dead.


Hurt a baby once, you’re a punk for life.

All these with the slogan at the bottom “Chill, don’t kill.” What a pleasant city! Paul and I were wondering what kind of dangerous city this was where there had to be public service announcements asking people NOT to kill each other. We were happy to leave until we were right on the Arkansas border and noticed that there was more to the city—something much more populated and beautiful—than what we had experienced. I must come back and give it another chance!

When we crossed that bridge, we didn't just cross into Arkansas, we crossed over the Mississippi River. We are officially west of the Mississippi. Pretty cool!

A few hours later, we arrived in Little Rock. I must tell you, I wasn’t expecting much, but boy, what a beautiful city this is! Of course, I’ve only been here a few hours and our hotel for the night, which is clean and has all the furniture in their proper places, helps my positive opinion.

Well, I must get some sleep. We have 15 hours of driving tomorrow (which will end up being 16 once you count gas and food breaks), so we must wake up early.

Thanks to all of you for keeping up with us!

Paul scratches the belly of a bear outside the pancake house.

I'm walking in Memphis!

Little Paul loves our nice, clean room in Little Rock!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Katie & Paul's Excellent Adventure

Day 2: Boston, MA – Roanoke, VA

Nine states, eleven hours

The folks and little Paul

Paul and I in front of a well-packed truck.

Well, today Paul and I set off on our big adventure. I awoke to news of church and preemptive school closings due to snow. We did not let this deter us. We left Boston at 8:30am, expecting to be at our parents’ house by 10am at the latest. Unfortunately, that did not work out very well. We were caught behind four snowplows, neatly staggered, across all four lanes of traffic on the interstate. We followed patiently behind, knowing that the Rhode Island border was not far ahead, and once we reached that, the Massachusetts-owned plows would have to leave the road.

But then we saw them. A line of Rhode Island-owned plows heading our way.

“Oh no!” shrieked Paul as he sped up.

Fortunately, we passed them by about 10 seconds, which made our arrival time to Rhode Island much earlier than expected.

Once at home, we picked up the moving van and no fewer than four fully packed bags of goodies from our mother, father, and Auntie Patty and headed out. Snow was falling. Everything was white. It was beautiful. What a great way to leave New England behind for sunny Los Angeles. If the culture shock wouldn’t be enough upon our arrival, the climate shock will surely knock our socks off!

We drove through nine states all together today. Here’s the count:


Rhode Island

Connecticut (The longest state to drive through by far. My God, it wouldn’t end. I even took a nap to pass the time. When I awoke, we were still in that dreaded state!)

New York

New Jersey

Pennsylvania (We passed through York, PA, where my lovely friend Emily is from)


West Virginia


We stopped at JMU on our way down to Roanoke. It was amazing to see my old school! So much has changed! So many things have been built! We have a new library and an entire block across from the main campus that wasn’t there before! Unfortunately, we got there two hours past daylight, so we could only see it in darkness, but it was still beautiful.

We stopped at Jess’ Quick Lunch for dinner. Yes, it makes no sense. It’s called “Quick Lunch” not “Quick Dinner.” In my opinion, I am certainly happy that they don’t see the lack of sense this makes!

And now we are in the creepiest hotel room I’ve ever been in ever. In my entire life. We’re at a Super 8 hotel, and for $58, we get two double beds in a room that had a dirty hand towel stuffed behind the door, a side table that has been pushed away from the wall and left askew, a cigarette smell, and moldy shower fixtures. I think tomorrow’s shower will be the quickest in my lifetime. I have a feeling that I will be cleaner by NOT taking one, but I think it would be nice for Paul if he didn’t have to share the cabin of our truck with his stinky sis.

So that’s all for tonight! We’re in safe and sound and despite my ick-factor being pushed to the edge, everything is all right.Our room's moldy shower head

Paul in our very creepy room