Leavin Cali

Yesterday, after a day at the beach enjoying the California sun, water, and in-and-out chain (where we spotted Kobe Bryant in the drive-thru), we left for Dave Smith’s condo, where we stayed with him, Alex DeHart, and Lucas Schoolfield for the night. We had a great time catching up with them, and then left early this morning for Phoenix, Arizona, to stay with the Heriauds. We drove right over the Hoover Dam, which was packed with small families and old tourists, and then made a stop at the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon was as beautiful and awe-inspiring as everyone told us, and after seeing it we hit the road again to make it to Phoenix, where we are staying.

Tomorrow, we begin our final days of intense driving. We have about 40 hours of driving to do in the next 2.5 days, so we are planning on sleeping well tonight and making an early stop at McDonald’s for coffee!

On our way home tomorrow!
Carolyn

L A Babay!

Two weeks done, and probably less than 20 minutes apart. Road trips really bring people closely (constantly) together, but lucky for us, no one had killed each other yet. The internet is elusive, and we are currently blogging from a McDonalds in Pasadena, CA. Since our last blog, we dropped Alecia off to return for her brother’s high school graduation, and we visited Yosemite and San Francisco. The two stops offered vastly different benefits, but both were amazing experiences. We met up with John Sikma, Brett’s friend from Grove City, and stayed with him on his family farm in Ripon, CA. In San Fran, we visited the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Union Square. We stayed at a Messiah alum’s apartment, and marveled at how good we had it, after having been in hotels and on the road during the previous week. In Yosemite, we saw bears, and mountains, waterfalls, and fields that seemed too beautiful to be real. Our car rides now consist mostly of scanning the radio for good new music, since we can only listen to the thousands of songs on our ipods so many times without going crazy. (gnarls barkley) We drove down the coast of California and saw elephant seals lounging on the beach, and bought “city outfits” on Hollywood Blvd. Everyone at Denny’s and McDonald’s knows to expect us, and between those stops and all the driving we’re doing, gas is always on our minds.

The people we’ve met have reminded all of us how great it is to meet new people, and how easy it is to start conversation if you’re just willing to make the effort. We’ve talked a lot in the car rides about our future plans, and how none of us really know what the future holds, but each person we talk with reassures us that that is not necessarily a bad thing. Brett is still in school, so his perspective is very different from mine and Steph’s. But we all have similar questions of wondering what’s next for us, and how much of it is within our control. For many people, it seems as if things just kind of fell into place for them. One major theme we’ve heard from people, is that we should focus just on pursuing one thing that we are passionate about, rather than trying to have everything figured out right away, and then stay proactive and be attentive to see what doors open for us. While this intimidates us, we know that it also simplifies things enough so that they don’t seem so overwhelming. Coming from a school where vocation is a major focus, sometimes it creates a pressure to figure out exactly what you want to do right away, and most of us have no idea exactly how to do that. But those we’ve talked with have assured us that we don’t have to make it such a big deal, and can take things one step at a time, at least to start out.

We are loving exploring and moving through our beautiful country. We will continue to update all of you, keep us in your prayers!

–Carolyn Wheatley

A few days ago, we “cleaned out” my car (as best we could) and removed a full trash bag of stuff.

Zion Vegas Yosemite

Well, yesterday we made quite a strange transition. We left Zion, where we did Angel’s Landing, a hike that took us up 1400 feet and then across narrow, steep cliffs where we had to hold onto a chain and many turned back (our whole group made it). We spent the day thinking about how much we were learning about our country. Before this trip, I had all sorts of assumptions about the U.S. and what it had to offer, and all of them were smashed to pieces by the beauty we encountered in the past few days. We stopped at Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Arches National Park, and all were amazing sites I had never imagined existed in the world, let alone my own country. Last night we came to Las Vegas, quite a different scene, to drop Alecia off at the airport. It made us realize a lot about the different kinds of people in our country. From our interviews with people we have met and stayed with, we have learned a lot about finding your niche in the world and realizing who you are and what you want to do. A common theme in all the interviews is that you should look for the open door in front of you, and continue to stay alert to find the next open door after walking through the first. We are excited to continue our journey by heading to Yosemite!

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Well…here we are at Day 4 in Denver, Colorado and we are loving it! We have much to be thankful for! We drove 18 hours and drove from Chicago at 6 am to Iowa, Nebraska (which Alecia loved) and made it to Colorado at 12:30 am. We hit a bad storm….tornado like symptoms but we pulled under a bridge and talked to a local about the storms Colorado gets and we waited until it was safer to pursue on our journey. The Lord watches over us!  We were warmly welcomed to Jaron Ness’s apartment at midnight with a light on and an air matress on the floor. We didn’t get to meet him face to face until tonight. Jaron and his roomate Mitch are great hosts and cooked an amazing dinner for us. We shared a lot of college memories because they are ‘06 grads.

Today we headed towards Colorado Springs to be a tourist of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods. We  decided to take a Cog Train up Pikes Peak which was about a three hour experience…riding up and spending time on the summit and riding back down. We experienced the altitude of over 14,000 feet…and show snow….at the top of the summit it was about 28 degrees. Yeah…we were cold, but we were able to provide enjoyment to the rest of the train leading everyone in songs and crazy faces :)

Then we drove a few miles down the road to the Garden of the Gods, which was beautiful. We enjoyed the combination of mountains, red rocks, and snow on top of the summit. We drove around the park, and enjoyed the sun starting to set.

Right before we pulled into the guy’s apartment our wonderful Brett hit a cat as it dove into our tires. We pulled over as we were all in shock of the incident that previously occurred. A bystander/ biker rescued the cat and took him under his arm…but we show much movement from the poor little kitty cat. We got back to the guy’s apartment and enjoyed the dinner and just relaxing. The cat episode helped us to have a story to share to our new found friends. At the end of dinner we were talking about Pikes Peak..and Brett starting thanking the guys profusely for dinner, but the guys thought he was thanking them for Pike Peak….it was great :)

We have enjoyed getting to know each other better, and it is crazy to think that none of us knew everyone really well before going on this trip, which has been beneficial to us because it has provided new outlook and perspective. I can say for myself that I have been inspired and have a new passion for life. This has not quenched my thirst for travel but has only enhanced it. We have laughed a lot and have learned a lot from one another already!

Alecia for the rest of the gang

Day 1 and Day 2. Beans and Sneaks and Buy the Road

Wow,

Two wonderful days have already come to a close. They say you don’t really know someone until you road trip with them, and that has yet to prove itself true. But we certainly didn’t know Chicago until we drove the first 12 hours of the trip here. We graduated on Saturday, skipped the emotional crash and life-pondering, and Hit the Road on Sunday. We planned on leaving at 9 but left at 10:15, which was not surprising. After we realized we had far too much to pack into my small vehicle, Alecia offered to leave behind her sleeping bag, but we talked her out of it, and made some necessary adjustments. The 12 hours to Chicago flew by, as we enjoyed talking, joking around, and seeing Indiana and parts of Ohio that some of us had never seen before. We also spent enough on tolls so that we were sure we had bought half the roads we used.

We reached the residence of the Dibos, my parents best friends from their younger years, and found that their home was much nicer than anything else we can hope to have for the rest of this trip. This morning, Mrs. Dibo gave us a great breakfast (her husband eats gluten-free so she was fully prepared for my diet needs!) and we set out for Chicago. We interviewed Laura Hayes, who works in marketing for a non-profit company that works with theaters. Everything went well except that we forgot the video camera so the interview was a waste. Just kidding, but technically, it didn’t count toward the three we have to complete. She had a lot of great stuff to say. After meeting with her, we departed in our skinny jeans and sneaks and headed for the Bean. It was much more impressive than we thought it would be.

We then continued through Millennium Park, and Navy Pier, both of which were wonderful. We left the city later in the day, then enjoyed a pizza dinner from the Dibos, and interviewed them. It was easy to take the wisdom of the Dibos seriously, because of seeing firsthand by staying at their home, what their lives and marriage look like.

We are very excited to take on the 16 hrs we will drive tomorrow to reach Denver!! So far everything’s bean great.

–Carolyn Wheatley

Faithful bleaders (less sketchy than you think–blog lingo for “readers”)

We are very excited to be entering the final stages of our planning and preparing for our trip! We’ve created so many different modified routes I feel like I’ve already driven this country 10 times!

Our final plan is to start in Grantham, go to Chicago, then stay in Colorado Springs, then Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Yosemite, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and then all the way back home. Our crew will be Amazing Alecia, Spitfire Steph, Barbaric Brett, and me, Critical Carolyn (double-meaning intended). Our trusty steed will be the car my brother Frank generously donated for our voyage, a 2007 Mitsubishi…and that’s all I really know about the car (even the color is hard-to-describe, a silvery, whitey, goldy combo). We will depart on the 16th, to explore the country and find whatever fate awaits us. Hopefully that fate is the one we’ve carefully planned out with our maps and itinerary, and doesn’t include car trouble.

This trip comes at a great time when three of us–Alecia, Steph, and myself–are all graduating, thirsty for adventure and full of thousands of dollars of foreseen but not foreunderstood debt. We look forward to seeing parts of our country we will never again have the chance to, and turning the money the Career Center generously awarded us into a whole lot more in VEGASSS!!!!! (Just kidding)

So keep us in your prayers, follow along with our blog, and wire us money if you feel so inclined (or so lucky–Vegas!!!).

We leave in just over a week!