Wednesday, May 10, 2017: Day Nineteen

Wednesday, May 10, 2017: We have reached the final day of our tour de West. We drove through the plains, the mountains, the canyons, the high desert, the low desert, and home to the lush Mid-South.

But day nineteen was our drive home. We started the morning in Dallas with a bagel and coffee and began the longest stretch of driving planned along our route.

We did not plan any stops between Dallas and Jackson except for bathroom breaks and a lunch break. This was wise, since Arkansas’s roads are all under construction and every 18-wheeler in America was clogging up the highway.

So, by the time we made it to Memphis, we breathed a sigh of relief and decided to take a break and grab some Memphis BBQ as a final stop on our trip. Nathan suggested we go to Rendezvous for ribs. I couldn’t remember the last time I went to Rendezvous (a world-renowned BBQ joint). Whenever someone in New York mentioned that they’d been to Memphis before, without fail, they would tell me that they had eaten at Rendezvous. I would smile and nod, even though I’m a Central BBQ kind of girl, and honestly couldn’t remember what Rendezvous tasted like. Between the cheese plate and the dry rub, I was stuffed from my half rack of ribs. I covered the dry rub in Rendezvous sauce and it was quite heavenly. I’m still true to Central, but Rendezvous hit the spot.

After dinner, we decided to walk around and digest our dinner for a bit. So, we wandered into the Peabody Hotel and visited the duck palace on the roof and breathe in the view of the sun setting over the Memphis skyline and the Mississippi River.

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The sun setting over Memphis

As we drove home from Memphis, we reflected on our trip. This was such a great experience for our relationship, and equally as great an experience for our lives as individuals. We both took on new, personal challenges and were also challenged together. We were able to appreciate the little things along the way and the monumental, natural phenomena that surrounded us along the way.

If I learned anything along this trip, it’s this: to never turn down an opportunity to explore. Even if you can’t leave your hometown, explore it. I started the trip with wanderlust in my eyes and ended the trip with wanderlust overflowing from my heart. Go out and explore.

Since I am not finished exploring, I’ve decided to keep up with this blog to share what I’m learning along the way and to keep myself wide awake to my life experiences.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017: Day Twelve

Wednesday, May 3, 2017: Y’all, Phoenix is hot. Of course, it looks like it’ll be 70°F next week when we won’t be here. But for our two, full Phoenix days, we’ll be experiencing temperatures in the low 100s.

We started the morning by trying a highly rated, local coffee shop, Cartel Coffee Lab. They brew the coffee differently depending on the size coffee you order. Because a little caffeine goes a long way with me, I ordered an 8oz coffee, which they brewed using an aeropress. Nathan ordered their cold brew, and I ordered their Carmen Microlot, which originates in El Salvador and claims tasting notes of “plum, raw sugar, and subtle cinnamon.”

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After coffee, we drove around Phoenix to get a better idea of the city. We drove through the Old Town area of Scottsdale, where Cartel is located, and the drove downtown, where we stopped to find water. Seriously, Phoenix is hot.

We grabbed lunch at Rubio’s, a fast food chain that I need more of in my life [or maybe not]. I scarfed down three fish tacos and probably could have scarfed down about three more.

After lunch, we went to the Desert Botanical Garden at Papago Park. This botanical garden is no joke. It’s large and features a wide variety of cacti and trees that I never knew existed. We also enjoyed watching all the quails with their babies run around between sections of the park. In addition to the quails, we saw a few rabbits and lizards running around the park. We read that there is also a tortious and a couple of snakes in the park. Luckily, we did not see the latter.

We were exhausted from being in the sun for a few hours [yes, Mama, I caked on the sunscreen] so we took a break during the day to cool off before setting out to meet Bree and Charles for dinner.

Before I left for the trip, Bree suggested we try a deep-dish pizza place, Lou Malnati’s, when we arrive in Phoenix. So when we were making plans to meet up with this, this place was our priority. I’m still full as I sit here writing this a day after eating there, but it was absolutely delicious. I’m going to be dreaming about that pizza forever.

The best part, of course, was catching up with Bree and Charles and getting to sweet their sweet, 7-month old, Nora.

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At Lou Malnati’s with Bree and Nora

 

Saturday, April 22, 2017: Day One

Saturday, April 21, 2017: I’m hitting the road alongside my boyfriend, Nathan, (you’ll be seeing some of his photos used in this blog) as we travel west to visit cities and national parks that we’ve never seen in person.

Right now, 12:32am to be exact, I’m sitting here hoping I’ve packed everything I need for the next 18 days, while listening to the thunder outside. Of course, I’m also creating this blog. 

A little about me–I’ve lived in Tennessee for most of my 30 years. The exception was this past year and nine months that I spent living in New York City. Throughout the majority of my childhood, I was afraid of just about everything. I’m perpetually anxious. But my experiences in traveling and living in New York have introduced me to another side of myself, a side I’m embracing. I still get scared, but I’m actively reminding myself to be present. This blog is my way of  doing just that, and I’m excited to share what I encounter along the way.

For now, I need to go to sleep. It’s officially DAY ONE. To start, we’re heading to St. Louis to get in some quality time with my non-biological sister, Nicole. I’m excited to see the sights on this trip and even more excited to visit places I’ve never been. However, seeing my friends who live at a distance is the part that has me most excited!

So, here we go …to sleep. Because today’s going to be a busy day!