The long road to California

Back in November my husband and I drove from North East Kansas all the way to central California. It took us 25 hours straight. A very long 25 hours.

There was a lot of excitement and anxiousness attached to our trip MAINLY because only about three people knew we were on our way to California. Our intentions were to just show up on Thanksgiving to our family’s dinners and take them by surprise.

We started driving sometime after midnight and made it all the way to Denver, Colorado, just as the sun was starting to come up. The one and only time we hit snow was in Wyoming. It was all over the mountains in Utah though.

Luckily, there was no snow on the freeways!

The Salt Lake flats ♥

We took turns driving and for the most part, it was a pretty easy trip. We got to Nevada right after the sun had set. We got to Reno, Nevada, when I learned a very humorous (now, but not at the time) lesson. I wanted to pick out healthy snacks for us on our drive, so when I ate almost an entire bag of dried fruit to myself, I gave myself a pat on the back. Turns out though, dried fruit have a WHOLE LOT of fiber in them. Snack wisely, my friends! Especially if you have at least another four hours of your road trip left.

BUT we made it!

We “hid out” at my very gracious friend, Heather’s house for a few days. When Thanksgiving morning rolled around, we drove up the hill to Steven’s grandparents house. There’s a gate at their property and Steven’s mom heard it, came running at us full force in excitement. When we headed to my Aunt Linda’s house for my family’s dinner, we made it before my parents did. We stayed in a back room while they came in for a few minutes but jumped into the crowd of my cousins who were greeting them. My mom looked right at me but it took a few moments to register who I was, and my dad did the same thing to Steven. If you’re reading this Brittany, you were the first one to figure out our surprise! ♥

I think being home for Thanksgiving made us holiday confused. It was like Christmas had already happened for us.

I tagged along with my cousin Brittany to Sacramento State University, where I graduated from, and she’s currently attending. I went to all my favorite spots on campus, even got to sit in on one of Brittany’s classes, and had a wonderful visit with one of my very favorite professors, Professor Gieger. Turns out he had been visiting Manhattan, Kansas, just the last summer!

Sacramento was GORGEOUS (like always). Fall is my absolute favorite season because it’s in the 60s (but ask any Californian and that is their “Freezing”) and everything is so colorful!

We played tourist in our own hometown.

& No trip home is complete without a trip to the city.

the most fun tourist traps, collection of souvenirs, and delicious food!

We will return for our hearts some day.

Our trip home was the fastest two weeks of my life. We did not get to see everyone we hoped to see and we did not get to do everything we wanted to, but we did eat a lot of good food! My scale will tell you I ate at least 7 pounds worth (oops! BUT totally worth it). I did not take nearly enough photos, either. I was definitely too busy enjoying everything to pull out my camera, but I’m kind of disappointed that I did not snap more photos of the faces I miss so very much!

We learned our lesson with taking a 25 hour drive and knew we wanted to do something different for the drive back to Kansas. We also wanted to avoid all the bad weather, so we took the Southern route, which is a bit longer. We drove straight through to Albuquerque, and couldn’t help but be complete Breaking Bad fans.

Walter White had decorated for Christmas!

Tuco’s hideout is actually Java Joes, and they make delicious coffee!

& We stopped at The Candy Lady, the store that provided all the prop meth for Breaking Bad.

The Southern route just isn’t as pretty as the Northern.

Hopefully our next trip home will not be so far off as this last one had been. We had been away for 20 months, and that was just too long!

Until next time! ♥


Californian in Kansas ♥ Winter Edition

It is hard to believe that in a matter of days, my husband and I will have been Kansans for an entire year! We moved from the valley of California to the North East corner of Kansas last April. It was somewhat of a culture shock, and a weather shock mostly. Where we are from it does not snow, it hardly gets humid, and there’s never a tornado warning EVER. Towards the end of last summer I did a post on how different it is here (if interested, you can find it here). When it started to cool down here, I realized that autumn and winter here are also different than what we are use to, for even more reasons. Here are a few more differences I have noticed:

Winter day in Sacramento, CA

  • In California, Ugg boots and scarves are more of a fashion statement than a necessity. Here in Kansas, it gets COLD and stays COLD. When it’s only in the teens and there is a wind chill on top of it, you better believe that fuzzy boots, scarves, gloves, ear muffs – ALL of it is COMPLETELY necessary to be as close to comfortable as you can be outside. Back home, if it dropped into the 60s, I remember seeing girls in mini skirts and Ugg boots walking around campus. The funny thing I’ve noticed here in Kansas is that NOT many girls wear Ugg boots at all! Boots are worn, but not those signature Ugly ones.
  • Back home, if you fight to have an up close parking spot, you are usually considered lazy. A few extra spots behind will not hurt you. Here in Kansas, if the temperature is low enough, frost bite can set in quickly, as short as a three minutes (if not sooner). That closer parking spot takes on a whole new meaning and necessity.
  • Thunder ALSO happens when it’s snowing, Stevie. Turns out Thunder Snows are a very real, very bizarre, thing. You can watch a CNN video of it on YouTube here.
  • More of a similarity, than a difference, but Kansas people freak out when it starts snowing and they’re behind the wheel. Californians have a very similar reaction to rain. You have the people who drive like complete jerks and cannot be harmed by the dangers, and on the other hand, you have the people who are afraid to hit the gas pedal at all.
  • It never rains here in the winter (rain is for summertime thunderstorms). Back home, it only rains (and never snows) in the winter. Californians treat rain as an inconvenience – but really, snow is the biggest inconvenience ever. You do not have to shovel feet of snow off your driveway and walkways. If it’s raining the hardest it ever has, you can still go places. Snow locks you indoors and keeps you there!
  • Panic shopping the day/night/hours for food and supplies before a storm is a dangerous sport.

  • Winter day in Fort Riley, KS

    They kept saying that this was going to be the worst winter Kansas has seen in 10 years. Considering we had nothing in comparison to the “Blizzard of Oz” they had last year before we got here, I consider us lucky! Way to slowly break us in, Kansas. I will knock on wood that it’s not a false alarm, and the heavy snowfall is over with! Last year we experienced our first Kansas snow in the very beginning of May!

A Californian in Kansas

Before I ever stepped foot on Kansas soil I was terrified of what the place had in store for me. I knew that it snowed, that there was a tornado season, and that there would be no Ulta, Sephora, In-N-Out, Mr.Pickles, or decent seafood anywhere nearby. I knew that here in Kansas Dryer’s ice cream is called Edy’s, and that Carl’s Jr. is Hardees. I knew that I would still be close to a Wal-Mart, Target, Starbucks, and Chipotle (Thank you baby Jesus!). Well, now that I have officially been a Californian in Kansas for five months now, quickly coming up to the half-year mark, I’d like to share with you the things I’ve actually learned… SO FAR.

  • People see our California plates on our car and automatically think we are horrible drivers. FACT OF THE MATTER IS, Kansas drivers are the BAD drivers! They tailgate whenever possible, do not pay attention if it’s a two lane left turn (cause those folks in the inside almost always jump into the other lane), drive 20 mph below the speed limit or 50 mph over, etc., etc! AND DO NOT get me started on their park jobs. Okay, Okay, maybe we’re equally as bad?!
  • Kansas people are all generally very nice people. The NATIVES, at least. You can tell when you are dealing with an out-of-state college kid or a military person here. The natives will talk to you about anything, help you with anything, and wave and smile JUST because! Being from California, I find this extremely refreshing.
  • The weatherman here is extremely accurate! Maybe it is because we have more severe weather here, but they can tell you about when a storm will hit your county and it’s usually right on the money.
  • It gets HUMID here. On the weather app it shows the actual temperature and the “Feels Like” temperature which factors in the humidity and all other things that may change it. However, here in Kansas, it will be 80 degrees with 70% humidity. So that app will say it feels like 83 degrees instead of 80. There should be an option on this app that says “If you’re not at all use to humidity it feels like:” because it would then read 110 degrees! It’s like breathing WATER out here people!
  • These poor people have no idea what good Mexican food is! When we first moved here we went to a place that had GREAT reviews (one was even from someone who said they grew up in San Diego – LIKELY story). The burrito was cheese and ground beef. No, Kansas, NO! That is NOT how it is done.
  • If Sacramento State was as spirited as Kansas State University, or even KU, I think college would’ve been a much more exciting time for me. Everyone in Manhattan wears Purple, all day, every day. Their cars are decorated in purple (some even painted purple). The wildcat is painted on SO MANY buildings! These people LOVE their school.
  • Seafood is pretty much guaranteed to taste fishy at restaurants. We’re not close to an ocean, but we’ve practically got the Kansas river in our backyard! I don’t understand.
  • Thunderstorms out here are LOUD! They are usually accompanied by hail, heavy rain, and lots and lots of lightning.
  • Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean that it’s cold outside. The humidity just got so high that the sky is sweating.
  • They say “In Kansas, if you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes. It will change.” AND that I have found to be VERY true. It snowed here in May and a week later it was close to 100 degrees. It will rain and hail in the morning, and reach the 90s by mid afternoon. It will be the prettiest day you’ve ever seen until about 7 at night when a lightning and thunderstorm rolls in to keep you awake all night.
  • There is a beauty store out here called Beauty Brands. It does not hold a candle to Ulta or Sephora. It is a joke and should be ashamed of itself.
  • Alcohol laws here are extremely different from how they are in California. If you buy beer from a gas station, grocery store, or Wal-Mart, it will be 3.2%. Even if it’s known for being a 6% beer! The only place to buy hard alcohol, wine, or actual % beer, is a liquor store. Some counties you cannot buy beer on Sundays. Other counties, you cannot buy alcohol after a certain earlier hour on Sunday (for Manhattan, Kansas it is 8PM).
  • You have NOT seen a more beautiful sky than the Kansas sky. If you are a lover of clouds, like me, Kansas is the place to be!
  • They don’t believe in U-Turns here. I’ve gotten use to the yield on green, but seriously, I need my U-Turn capabilities back!
  • I don’t know what it is, but people love to have customized license plates. I’ve got to hand it to Kansans though, they’re all usually pretty clever and/or funny. I’ve never seen a “ABC♥EFG” or anything boring and typical of California custom plates. This one was my personal favorite:

I’m sure this is just part one of this “Californian in Kansas” BUT we shall see. I love my new home, in case that was not evident. It’s hot, then it’s really cold, but it absolutely breathtakingly beautiful here. I’m so thankful that the Army has given us the chance to take residence here!

Have a great HUMP DAY everyone!

The Adventure that was April

This past month has been so hectic. I’ve been in shock all month how quickly time was passing. This month we quickly said our “see you later”s to friends and family, spent two and a half very long days inside a moving truck, and moved into our new home in Manhattan, Kansas.

I don’t have a favorites list this month because I honestly haven’t had enough time to try anything new. Some days I didn’t even put on makeup, and I don’t believe my nails have been painted at all this month! Some days I didn’t even wash my hair, but that I am doing on purpose. I’ve gotten my hair to do two days really well, working on getting three. I want my hair to get healthy again! I didn’t even rediscover anything I already had and love enough to say “HEY! this is awesome!”

I loved April entirely. April, itself, has been my favorite so far. I had my husband the ENTIRE time (well, for the most part. It was as “normal” as it has been since last August!), I tried a lot of new food, saw a lot of new faces, had a lot of new experiences, and I’m becoming a new version of me. This is Kansas Kristen, ya’ll!

(Mini plug! Follow me on Instagram! CameraKristen)

April was full of a lot of highs and it’s definitely ending on a low. Three people I hold near and dear all lost someone over the weekend. But like I said, April started some new chapters. Spring is starting to blossom, and Spring is kind of an interesting season. I always say Spring is my least favorite season (due to allergies), but it’s so darn pretty! So excuse me while I try to make an analogy. Life can bring some struggles, some cold days, some unexpected snowstorms, but sooner or later the season will change and the flowers will bloom again. Yes, it might hurt (sneeze and sniffles and sinus pressure – amongst other things that are not allergy related: sadness and loss), but it’s up to you to see the beauty in those flowers. You can look from afar if need be, ease your way in (take that allegra!), and get yourself back out there. That wasn’t that great, sorry! I meant well.

For me, April was pretty stressful but exciting. We packed our moving truck with the help of our parents, my sister and nephews, and left the next day. We stayed a night in southern California, another in Albuquerque, and the night after that we had made it to Fort Riley. We only stayed on post two nights, another night in Manhattan, and the next day we were moved into our new home. Unpacking seemed like a never ending process. Organizing it all was another thing. It didn’t really hit me that we were so far from home until I went to find a place for a cookbook holder my mom and got for me a few days before we had left home. I haven’t been on post too much, but it seems nice enough. Manhattan, on the other hand, I LOVE! It’s such a cute college town. It has Target and Chipotle, and those were the two things I begged the Army gods for. I should have thrown in a Ross or Marshalls too but hey, there’s one not too terribly far away. Ikea, on the other hand, is an eight hour drive away. I’m starting to finally get used to our house, where everything is, and trying to work out a daily schedule for myself. We only have one car, so I’m stuck being a home body for now. HOWEVER, I am in walking distance of quite a bit, so, it is all good!

I took these panoramas of our living room about a week ago. Still on the messy side, but it’s all coming together!

Anywhos! Here’s to a new chapter, a new (but really, very much the same) Kristen, and a whole bunch of new adventures!