Travel talk

The wheels on the bus go…. to Arrrrrkansas!

As you saw in the previous post, we were making our way from Florida to Arkansas to park it where it’ll be stationed for a majority of the renovation. Along the way, it started overheating whenever we’d go up hills or if the engine was pushed too hard… no good. While letting it cool down in Mobile Alabama, we decided to take it to a diesel specialist who spent hours diagnosing it with an estimate higher than you can imagine or at least more than we wanted to hear.Check out the sign they put on our beauty queen. (It says “this is not trash”). Priceless. So Matt decided to contact Steve (the magical mechanic from back home) to see if there was an alternative. Steve said that it wasn’t hard to fix as long as you had the right tools and instructions. With that said, Matt was willing to park our beast road-side and do it himself! During a phone conversation, we got the most unexpected news, Steve was going to drive all the way to help Matt fix it! Sure it was only a few hours round trip, but would you want to drive that after working all day!? Here we have yet another helping hand willing to contribute to our journey. We’re so grateful! Fast forward through the evening, Matt and Steve got the bus dialed in and it’s ready to roll. 8pm seems like an ideal time to check in for a good nights rest however it’s also the perfect time for Shanti to sleep through the drive, so we decided to skip the bed and keep on trekking.

Our goal was to get to Jackson Mississippi and find a hotel to close our eyes for a few hours so we could continue fresh(ish) onto Arkansas. We accomplished our goal to Jackson however finding a decent hotel with a reasonable price at 4am didn’t pan out. Plan B? Sleep in the bus! We found a gas station with diesel parking and we made it home for an hour nap.

Thank you Matt for capturing this photo even though I was not into it. This will go down in history as our first night in the bus!

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise next to a gorgeous open green field that welcomed us with the faint scent of cow manure. Other than the smell (cough-gag-cough) it was perfect!

We fueled up and headed north. Just a few more hours coasting at an average speed of 50 mp, we arrived to the surprisingly green Arkansas.

Here’s the view of the new location for our new home! It used to be packed full of forest but they’re currently transforming it into a self-sustaining farm with a spring fed pond. How lucky are we!?

Looking outward from the property.

Birds eye view. How amazing is this spot for our bus conversion… Space, privacy, security and family (help hehe)! See our yellow buddy down there?

Thank you cousins for the instant smiles and open arms that welcomed our project. It wouldn’t be the same without you!

Next post, updated bus pics! I can’t wait to show you how far it’s come. Here’s a sneak peek with a sweet video of two of our helpers:)

Categories: Accommodations, Bus life, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We left… turned around… and then left again!

Bus painted? Nope. All seatbelts installed? Not yet. Couch, kitchen, bed, toilet? Not even close. We DO however have it registered, insured and ready to hit the highway legally but only able to sit one person. Because we’re going to tear out the driver seat, it would be a waste of time and money to rig a makeshift passenger seat before we do anything else. With that, we’ve decided that Matt will drive the bus and Shanti and I will follow in our car. This also ensures a reliable set of wheels just in case they’re needed on our first long journey. (I wrote that days before the event below).

The first 600 miles in our new home (currently just the shell) will be going from Miramar Beach Florida to Benton Arkansas. This is where it’ll be parked for a majority of the renovation. For those of you that have been following this blog for years now will recognize the location. You saw it in several past posts including one of my favorites, Sweet home…Arkansas?! And you recently saw the family in our last trip to Oklahoma. Shanti will be surrounded by cousins and we’ll have plenty of helping hands to turn this rig into a beautiful livable space.

These past few weeks have been full preparation, packing and watching Shanti grow so fast! She jumped from 3 month clothing to 6-9 month outfits and she’s only 5 months, geeze kid! For all of you fans, here are some pics of her recent weeks.

Ok back to bus! Day one on the road actually started at 8pm with cooler temperatures and less traffic. 2 hours into our journey and only 50 miles covered our beautiful beast (she’ll be named soon) had overheated. Since we were so close to home, we decided to turn around and have our amazing mechanic friend look at it. Last thing we wanted to do was push it and cause more damage.

The next morning was spent with test drives and engine work before we got the go to hit the road. Although Shanti does best at night since she sleeps the whole way, we were ready to get out of there so a noon departure is what we did!

Unfortunately the engine couldn’t take incline or long distances so every 30 minutes we’d have to pull over to let it cool. This is why it took us 6 hours to cover only 100 miles.

We were taking a break just shy of Mobile Alabama when we found out there was an International Bus specialist just up the road! Since it was 7p on a Sunday night they were obviously closed so we parked the bus at the cheapest hotel for a good nights sleep and early rise. Yes moms, we slept in the hotel, not next to it.

I’m currently writing the last of this post sitting in the hotel room waiting to hear the verdict from Matt who’s at the specialist shop right now. To be perfectly honest with you, although this isn’t what we imagined the first stretch to be like, we’re both keeping a positive attitude. Keeping awareness around that this is an adventure and a journey we signed up for! I think we would be doing a disservice to our spirit if we focused only on the completion of the bus, instead of being totally present while creating these memories. Oh Shanti, you have no idea of the photos and stories that will make up you’re first years of life.

I’ll leave you with her capturing my water bottle. You’re welcome.

Secret news: Coming soon is the launch of our online video channel. Oh boy!

Until then, thank you for reading and following (hint hint- click the button on this page that says “follow” in order to be alerted when there’s a new post).

Happiness to you and yours!

Categories: Baby Talk, Bus life, Travel talk | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Drum roll please…..

Matt and I had so much fun watching the poll from our first post about living on the road, thank you to everyone who voted! Jenn, Donna, Dustin, Brie, Shane, Gloria and Tiffany, it was awesome to get your comments too, thank you! Here is the final results from all of you that voted!

We looked at a few RV’s and although they would be easier and quicker to move in to, we realized that’s exactly what we don’t want! Designing the bus, taking the time and hard labor to build our home from the wheels up is just as much of the journey as living in it.

So after test driving, researching, reading, talking and YouTubing, we’ve decided on our new home. We will soon be a family of 3 on the 6 wheels of a brand new (20 year old) school bus!!

…but ours currently looks like this.

As the journey progresses, I’ll be going into full detail of how we transform this beauty into our new home. Pictures, videos, and maybe even an online video series?!

For now, I want to share with you the story behind these wheels and the family that made it happen.

Air Force Captain Nathan, his wife Jennifer and they’re little Eva are the family you want as neighbors and even more so as friends. They’re the type of people that welcome you with open arms, huge smiles and tons of genuine energy. After enduring what most of us would call a living nightmare, they have every reason to live in a world of self pity. Instead, this power duo carries a backpack-of-back bones with eyes focused positively forward.Imagine your significant other leaving in the condition of the top photo from below and returning unable to look you in your eyes (bottom photo).I now know what it’s like to be pregnant and I truly can’t imagine getting the news Jennifer woke up to just 90 days before delivery.

I was sitting here trying to describe what Captain Nathan had survived until I found this perfect recap made by Building Homes for Hero’s :

“Captain Nelson barely escaped death when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Taliban extremists hit his forward operating base in Afghanistan in September of 2013. Tragically, his body took the brunt of the blast. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury, collapsed lungs and would lose 46 units of blood.

After undergoing several life-saving operations, he was flown to the Walter Reed Medical Center to be reunited with Jennifer, who was six months pregnant, and she has never left his side ever since. His recovery from the shrapnel wounds, TBI, collapsed lung, severely bruised organs and a massive blood transfusion, is still ongoing.

For his service and his sacrifice, Captain Nelson has been awarded the Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, and several other honors. He is now paralyzed, and has limited use of one of his arms, but he and Jennifer have become inspirations to everyone they meet”.

Up for a good solid soul-cleansing cry? Watch this video of Nate sharing his experience and incredible perspective. Kind of makes your unbearable bad hair day seem a bit silly and much more tolerable.

Back to the bus…

During Nathans recovery, Jennifer bought this bus as a (brilliant) form of therapy. She was able to smash windows and rip out seats all while envisioning a new path for her and her family. She was designing the bus to be totally handicap accessible so that her husband could travel in comfort. As the years went on, Nathan not only recovered like a champ but went back to work. Meanwhile, Jennifer was also now back to work, playing supermom and maintaining wife of the year. Little time was left to spend in a dusty bus let alone traveling in it.

Fast forward to a pizza party we attended in which we were introduced to this amazing family. Our mutual friend casually said, “Hey Jenn, do you still have your bus?” (I was thinking – Cool, another traveling friend!) But to my surprise she said, “Yes, but I’m selling it now”.

I physically grabbed Matts arm when my guts alarmed me that this would soon be ours.

After viewing the bus and having a mechanic verify the engine quality (thank you Ray!), it was a no-brainer, we were going to buy it!

Except…

When discussing what the final price would be, Jennifer spoke up with confidence. (I’m paraphrasing according to what I heard).

In a gentle voice she said, “Me and my family are so blessed and have been given what we need… I believe in paying it forward and I’d be honored to be a part of the joy you’ll get and also bring to so many with this bus. I feel very good in my decision, I’d like to gift you the bus and just sign the papers over. It’ll be my contribution to your journey”.

This is when Matts jaw dropped and my eyes filled with tears. Unexpected and completely beyond our wildest dreams… in fact, it is the beginning to our wildest dreams!

Their gift will allow us to continue our adventure sooner than we thought possible! Next up, let the renovation begin!

To the Nelson family, “Thank you” seems like such an understatement for the gratitude our little family feels. We invite you to follow the process and watch as we transform your 20,000 lb baby into our new home on the road!
Categories: Bus life, Polls, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Well Bless Your Heart

So there I was, Shanti with a full diaper and giving me the hunger cues. Like most airport bathrooms, the line was out the door with a stretch of women holding an impatient fake smile. I squeezed by everyone with hope in finding a spotless changing table with our names on it. Let me prep this with informing you that it would be my first changing-table experience. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s obvious when seasoned moms are on their hundredth changing-table routine, one hand here, sanitary wipe there, here a diaper, there a leg, all while balancing the edge of a broken hinge with a knee. I was up for the challenge until I rounded the corner and saw what I was working with. A dirty table with a woman already gagging her way through it with her little one. I could have stepped up and done the same but I’ll have to be honest with you, I wasn’t in the mood to battle it especially with a dozen women standing there watching. Chicken. So at this point, I have no choice but to join the herd in line and comfort Shanti to the best of my ability.

We finally got to the front and I see the size of the claustrophobic mini stalls in which I doubt we’d both fit in with her car seat in hand. I wave the others on as I patiently wait for the only large stall offered. Finally! It opens.

I got to the end and closed the door. I laid out my makeshift sanitation station on the ground and don’t have the guts to lay her there, so on my lap it is. I semi successfully get her clean and in a new diaper when she starts back in with the hunger signs, an excited whimper, not yet a cry and the side mouth reach. Trying to prevent her full on hungry holler, I get out my boob and she latches quickly as if she’d gone days without food. Typical.

Less than a minute into it, I hear a conversation outside the stall. A young woman says, “M’am are you waiting for this one?”, the answer comes from a fragile petite voice directly outside my stall that says, “No, I’m waiting for the large one. I can’t use the toilet without a handrail”. I hopelessly gaze at the handrail I was resting my knee on as Shanti gulps away.

“Are you waiting for my stall M’am?” I ask, selfishly hoping there was another one I wasn’t aware of. “Yes, yes I am”.

So with Shanti still devouring her lunch, I packed up my mess on the floor with one hand and proceeded to shove it under the door with one foot while attempting to cover her head with my free hand (just in case there’d be someone offended by my half breast). I open the door and hip bump it open and smile at the ancient woman waiting for us. She smiled back with the sincerity of someone who had been there, done that and truly appreciated my effort.

Then she said the one line that all southerners have said or heard at least one time in their life, “Well bless your heart”.

She went about her business and there I was, my back physically against the back wall with my diaper bag at my feet (half packed and spilling over), her car seat at my other side and her in my arms with no clue of the episode.

I looked up to find every single eye in the room locked in on the free entertainment I had been providing. I’d like to think I gave a confident stunning smile back at the crowd but in reality it must of been a squished eyebrow of wishing I could just disappear. I put my focus back down on Shanti and as I was wrapping up, a kind voice walks by me, leans in and says, “You’re doing a great job momma”. This small sentence gave me the encouragement I needed to gather my things, snap my shirt and waddle to the sinks with baby in arm, diaper bag over the shoulder and the car seat swaying from my lose grip.

Note to all humans: Take time to be kind, you never know how a few words can change an entire day for someone.

Fast forward to the end of the trip. 2 flights, no fits and a journey that’d I claim as a success for a solo parent and a 2 1/2 month old. I fed her on the final landing to help her ears pop and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back knowing she was never in discomfort nor did anyone on the flight know there was even a baby on board.

As I’m leaving the flight we got all kinds of kind comments on her cuteness, my bravery (as if millions of others had never done this) and “such a good baby”! As we walked through the terminal I continued to get smiles, except now they were a little awkward. I was so high on mom mode that I didn’t think into people’s expressions as my final goal was to collect our things and find daddy outside waiting for us. It wasn’t until I sat down to strap her into the car seat that I glanced below and realized what everyone had been smiling at while trying to avoid staring at. Call me genius over here, but I never zipped up the breastfeeding flap on my hoodie! Luckily I had a bra that matched, but hello… it’s still open and goods were hanging out.

To give you a visual, below is the exact sweatshirt I wore on the flight with the same zipper flap open. I’d like to think every mom has a photo like the one below! (Thanks to my mother for snapping this nap time pic).

You can imagine the exhaustion driven laughter I tried to hold back as I zipped up my shirt, tucked her in and moved along. What a day.

Here’s a quick video I shot right before we left the terminal. Our happy little (75 day old) girl after a thousand mile road trip and an entire day of flying. What a champ!

Categories: Baby Talk, Not-so-happy trails, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shanti meets more family!

I’d like to start by saying how grateful I am to be surrounded by a loving family, both mine and Matt’s. A group of people that have supported us from the beginning and now eagerly welcome our new addition. In a matter of 2 weeks Shanti met 4 Aunts, 3 uncles, 2 grandmas 2 grandpas, 2 great aunts, a great uncle, a great-great aunt and good bundle amount of cousins (no less than a couple dozen).

It’d take a few posts to gather all of the details, so I chose a handful of pics to show the love this family had to offer.

Below is Matt, his mom and her mother (Maw Maw)… 4 generations!

Following Maw Maw and Paw Paw’s visit, Matt’s brother and his family came to meet our little one. How exciting for her to connect with new cousins Jayden and Harper and her Auntie Erika and Uncle Jake!Just before leaving out of state, Shanti got one more outing with my mom. Can you see Gam Gam walking ahead of us?

If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you’ve seen this family throughout the years. My twin cousin Lana and her husband with 2 kids drove all the way out to Florida to meet Shanti!

After a few days on the beach, they were heading back to the middle of America… so I hitched a ride… again! This time I sat hip side to my little girl on her first road trip!Check out this comparison…

Once we finally made it to Arkansas, Shanti got swarmed with more cousins, hugs and tons of love!

To get from Arkansas to Oklahoma I rented a car and strapped her in. Mother-daughter road trip here we go!

Upon arrival we were greeted with no less than an abundance of more happy attention. Aunties, Uncles, Great Aunts, Great-great Aunts, Pa Pa, Ma Maw and more!

With our cups overflowing with family love, Shanti and I boarded her first flight (other than the 14 flights she took while in my belly) back to Florida!

Success! I took this video once we landed after the final flight… our little traveler!

Back home with daddy and we couldn’t be happier!

Categories: Baby Talk, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

7 years ago today…

What were you doing on this exact date 7 years ago? I was zipping up my backpack to load up before my mom dropped me off at the Sacramento airport for the first day of an unpredictable journey around the world. I can recall having no fear or at least no hesitation in the adventure I was about to embark on. Just excitement and a new found enthusiasm for life!

As each year unfolded and my passport filled to the rim (with about 80 stamps!) I encountered new friends, adopted cultural traditions and continued to allow my mind to expand. Sometimes it’s surreal when I look back on the photos as it usually feels like I’m talking about someone else from a book I read or movie I saw. If you want to see a clear layout with links of my first exciting year on the road, take a look at the 2012 archives!

I was going to make this post about some of my favorites from around the world, cuisine, music, architecture, etc. but as I began to write I felt more drawn to explore what kind of lessons I gathered from a variety of places. Could be that I’m 9 months pregnant and my sensitive hormones are on high, or simply because I’ve never really stopped to ask myself such a question.

So Erika, where did you learn some significant lessons and how did you walk away from it a better person?

PERU – Although I visited several different cities throughout the country, a little village has always stood out to me. I rarely go back to a place I’ve been, but the magnetic pull was too strong for me to ignore in Huambutio. I was invited to volunteer there in a variety of things from teaching English to painting walls, cooking and even to coach gymnastics.

The lesson here was simple, appreciation for the simple things.

Sounds obvious or cliche, but there were a few events that triggered this conscious thought. First was the toothpaste. We taught the kids how to make their own toothpaste (that they got to take home) and the importance of dental health. The enthusiasm and gratitude they showed was outstanding! Something we may all take for granted or even see as a thoughtless item we look for on sale at Target, but these children guarded their portion like it was gold. Makes me wonder if they had ever used any… ever. Next was meal time. The children’s breakfast everyday was 1/2 of a hard boiled egg with a scoop of plain oatmeal (not your Starbucks brown sugar, toasted nut and cranberry shenanigans, but warm oats and water). We would divide an apple into 1/8 slices in order for everyone to get a bite as a snack and occasionally got to accompany it with a few pieces of toasted corn. Lunch and dinner was whatever we picked that day from the garden. A clear memory I have was the evening they said we were goin to make corn bread. Now, I was aware enough to not aimlessly look for a box of ready make Betty Crocker, but I was on the scout for cornmeal and the rest of the ingredients. I can’t remember how long they let me look before informing me that we actually have to go pick the corn to start the process. After I was done blushing, off to the garden we went! An experience that made every bite of that bread savored as if we had spent hours preparing it… because we did!

I suppose all of this hit me harder than I was expecting when I flew out of Peru into the states to visit family. My first stop was Dallas, Texas… home of everything huge! I had my apple bits, a few nuts and some cash to get me buy as I plopped down in the food court during my layover at the airport. A family sat next to me who didn’t go out of their way to be discreet. The children were clearly mad at the toy they got in the happy meal, a meal that they didn’t want to finish for whatever reason. After fits and French fries on the floor, the meals went into the garbage. I’m not claiming that we need to starve to appreciate fullness, or go without toothpaste to love a good sale at Target. I will admit however, that I may have judged this situation in the moment, but looking back now it was an opportunity that invited me to reflect on my own behavior. Had I carelessly disposed of food that could of been leftovers or compost? How many times did I complain, especially as a child, about the items in front of me with no gratitude that I even had options!?

Moving from food to activity, we ventured to the outdoor area and I was pleasantly surprised at the creative use of items that would typically land in the trash. Used plastic containers, snack wrappers, laundry bottles, juice boxes, warm out shoes and more. I loved it!

This experience as a whole opened a new part of my character to this day (even ask those close to me), it’s left me very aware of waste, unnecessary abundance and a love for keeping things simple. I am that weirdo that has 1/4 of an apple in my fridge with full intentions of eating it. I order a to-go box with my meal whenever we enjoy the luxury of eating out. I choose not to go to Costco and buy a village sized pack of paper plates on sale because I “might” need them someday. By no means am I claiming some sort of award winning lifestyle, just sharing the lesson that 7 years later still sticks in my everyday existence. And now with a little girl due any day, I hope to carry this in our family and raise a grateful human that appreciates her surroundings and has gratitude for our simple luxuries.

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

On the road again!

After 8 months in Folsom, we were preparing to make our journey from California to Florida. First step was to sell our beloved Toyota 4Runner and purchase a “grownup” vehicle, a family friendly, fuel efficient, safe and reliable Subaru Crosstrek.

In the meantime, we had been looking into renting a Uhaul trailer to tow all of our belongings and after weeks of research, we (he) decided to build a trailer on his own to save cash and have something we can keep… and let’s admit it, it was a cool project for captain construction to have some fun with 😉 I’ll admit I was a little hesitant in the beginning but as time passed it proved to be perfect! I’m so proud.

Ok, so we’re packed, loaded and ready to go! Looking at the car-trailer photo from above makes me giggle knowing that everything we own is in that picture (excluding Matts surf boards). We have so much to be grateful for and so minimal to worry about. Beautiful!

The last time we made this trip (in reverse) we took the northern route through Nevada, Utah, Colorado and then on. This time we chose to go south to visit a few friends along the way and see some new scenery. First stop was in Riverside (Southern California) to see Craigg! You’ll recognize him from his first trip to Barbados, my time in Japan and most recently at our wedding.

Next up was Phoenix to hug Christie and John! Another bundle of joy that you’d recognize from Doing work in the AZ and also our wedding!

There really wasn’t anybody from Arizona to Oklahoma so we just made a quick overnight stop in New Mexico and woke up to get to my dads house for bedtime.

Our time in Oklahoma was short and sweet but allowed for a solid catch up with our family and announce the gender of our little one! We gave all 5 siblings a can of silly string and let them unload on us. Too much fun!

After Oklahoma we made what should of been a quick trip to Arkansas but considering we stopped every hour for the prego to pee, it took us far longer than expected. Sorry babe. The photo below is me attempting to get comfortable with a pregnancy pillow that was gifted to us. Epic fail… but we eventually made it to beautiful Hot Springs!

More cousins and tons of love greeted us on our final extended stay of the trip.

We made it to our last stop of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in which the camera regrettably didn’t leave our bags. I have no picture highlighting our visit with Matts grandparents (Maw Maw and Paw Paw) but it was short, sweet and full of homemade cookin! Early the following morning we said our goodbyes and put home in the GPS. Final destination, Miramar Beach, Florida!

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Back back to Cali Cali!

So there we were, living in Folsom, California as newlyweds ready to start a foundation for our future. (We only lasted 8 months, but here it was in a nutshell!)

Accommodations: We purchased a 28ft princess palace (aka a travel trailer) in order to live minimally and save to the max. We loved our little home and it served us properly before we sold it to move.

Working: I dove right back into the world of beauty by reopening my hair salon under the new name of “Hair Gypsy”. My loyal clients were so eager to support the return and helped get me back in action!

Matt continued his photography and videography by shooting family photos, senior portraits, weddings and special events. You can check out that gallery by clicking here!

Both of us got a rejuvenating job coaching at Tricks Gymnastics, Matt was working in the Tag program and I was coaching the artistic gymnastics.

(Fun fact: I worked at Tricks from 1997-2005 coaching the competitive team!)

On the side, we also picked up dog sitting which turned into our favorite little paw escape. These pups were so much fun and turned into family!

When we weren’t working, you could usually find us (mainly Matt) on a bike exploring the popular trails that surround the Lake and extend to outer cities.We also took advantage of being surrounded by some incredible destinations and often took day or weekend trips to explore!

Lake Tahoe!Santa Cruz!

San Francisco!Although Northern California has beautiful scenery, unlimited career options and some of my most favorite people in the world… it just wasn’t feeding our souls. A tough decision but a solid one as we decided to move to the Panhandle of Florida.

Just before packing up to move across the states we found out that we were soon to be a party of 3… What a beautiful addition to our already exciting life!

Next journey… road trip back to the East Coast!

Categories: Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Honeymoon Road trip – part 2!

Our honeymoon happened to overlap with Matts birthday so I wanted our next pitstop to be extra special. Utah or Nevada, hmmm. I searched for hidden jems and popular attractions and didn’t have to look any farther once landing on this beauty….

The Mystic Hot Springs of Monroe Utah!

👉🏽 CLICK HERE to see the video of our adventure at the Springs!

It’s a quaint little community many miles away from well, anything! Although the main attraction was the natural hot springs that bubble up on the property, the selling point for me was the accommodations. You had your choice between a van, covered wagon or old fashion school bus, all which had been converted into lovable spaces. We chose the bus!

The outside had a small patio which was the perfect space for Matt to cook us up some dinner on our camping stove while we sat and took in the ambiance. Inside there was a small dining area, full bed, couch and sink that took up most of the space with a bright tapestry separating the door from the room. The door, mind you, was the original swinging model with no lock or safe way of securing it completely closed. The bright side was being surrounded by people who generally gave off the hippie “one love” vibe with no concern of taking from you. A lot of bare feet, beards, braids and smiles greeted us as we walked the property.

The highlight of our stay was by far the music! We happen to hit the weekend when a female bluegrass brand was passing through. The Sweet Lilies had a magnetic way of drawing you in to their soulful sound and unique style. We were sitting front row and enjoyed every minute! To make it even more memorable, one of the girls had spoke with Matt prior and found out he was a musician as well. This led to them inviting him on stage to jam out for a few songs, what a rare opportunity!

If you’re ever driving through the dessert of Monroe Utah and need some entertainment or place to crash, I highly suggest you take a dip in the springs and walk the grounds barefoot!

The rest of our trip was through the dry desert of Nevada finally landing us in Northern California. Here’s a few more random photos to wrap up the road trip!

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Honeymoon Road trip – part 1!

Saying goodbye was a bittersweet this time leaving my new found island home. As Matt and I packed up the last of our things, there was a sense of sadness realizing I didn’t have a return flight, yet at the same time excitement filled the air. A new adventure, an unknown journey, something I had never experienced before was just ahead of me! Airport drop off, next chapter… Married and moving to California!

Although the final destination is California, we flew into Florida to kick off our priceless road trip across the states for our honeymoon! This journey alone could of been a dozen posts with videos, hilarious stories and countless photos, but let’s keep in mind the goal is still to catch up to present date. So bare with me as we fly through what was a 3 week expedition from the east coast to the west!

Before we begin, let me just prep you with the underlying vibe this entire trip started out with. I had just asked Matt if I could close my eyes for a bit and of course his angelic new husband answer was something along the lines of, “Of course my dearest love, rest those gorgeous eyes of yours while I drive, I’ll have lunch waiting when you wake up”…. Or maybe he said, “Sure babe”.

Matt truly didn’t know I was filming until half way through the video. Brat:)

We started in West Palm Beach with his (and now my!) brother and family. We stayed long enough to purchase a 4Runner and hit the road towards our new home.

Matts Aunt Jerri and Uncle Wayde happen to be right along the way as we departed Florida. Brunch in Baton Rouge Louisiana started us off properly!

Last time I saw this guy was in Japan! My cousin Brandon and I have managed to stay in touch most of our entire adult lives while never living in the same state or country for the matter! I was so excited for him to meet my new husband and what a wonderful stopping point to eat, laugh and rest up!

Arkansas and Oklahoma consumed us with dozens of my family members eager to greet the newlyweds. It was the perfect half way point to take a week and reconnect with all of them.

My cousins (thank you Lacie and Lana!)  surprised us with a wedding reception full of food, games, dancing and gifts. We got to celebrate all over again!

One of our pit stops was Raton New Mexico. This adorable little church house used to be where my dad and his family lived. How lucky were we that they still owned it and got a key for another over night rejuvenation. The sunset photo is at the top of an overlook just outside of town.

👉🏽VIDEO TIME! Click here to see a video of this leg of the trip!

After hitting beautiful New Mexico, we headed north to one of my favorite states… Colorado! Mountains, rivers, lakes, mesas, valleys and fresh air, what’s not to love? I was even more excited finding out that one of Matts long time school friends lived in Vale which meant another purposeful pit stop. A rejuvenating walk, sit down dinner and quality catch up time was the perfect way to start the tale end of our journey.

I made the mistake of not recording where each picture was taken, but I still wanted to throw in a few random photos we snapped along the way!

Next stop, Monroe Utah!

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