colorado, you're our fave.

while in colorado, we saw some of the most unbelievable landscapes.  from ah-mazing sunrises, to snow capped mountains, to endless canyons and gorgeous red rocks.  then to top it ll off, we spent tons of time with family & friends, making this state our all-time fave during our road trip.
things began in boulder where we met up with a college friend.  we met up for drinks and before we called it a night, liz invited a. & i to tackle a sunrise hike.  not ones to say no to such an awesome opportunity, we quickly agreed and made plans to meet at 5:45 am in starbucks.
with hot coffee & tea and time against us, we began the dark trek up mount sanitas.  as we hiked, the skies brightened with fantastic colors and unreal views.  along the way, we stopped for a few primo photo opportunities and continued the climb uphill.
once to the top, we took more photos (of course) and ate a few muffins we picked up at starbucks.  it started to get cold so we hiked down, passing a few people just beginning their day, and made our way to a nice warm breakfast thanks to liz's awesome momma.
after saying goodbye, we ditched our car and trailer on the denver airforce base and drove out to grand junction to visit with my aunt & uncle.  they had a yummy dinner of potato soup and pizza waiting for us & we talked until our eyes wouldn't stay open.
the next day, we drove out to the colorado national monument for the most unreal scenery i've ever seen.  we were completely mesmerized by these rocks and stopped often in the vain hope we could capture this majesty with the camera.  once we arrived back to their house, dave, a hunter introduced a. to elk sausage as geri and i looked through her awesome scrapbook albums and talked genealogy, something i've recently become uber interested with.
unfortunately, we had to leave after lunch to make our way to colorado springs.  here, we stayed with our neighbors from our alabama home.  as is true with true friendships, it felt as though no time passed & we were back in alabama around her kitchen table.  only, it'd been seven years.
a. & i caught up with debbie and her boys, bouncing on the trampoline, making dinner & talking late into the night.  the next day, we ventured out to the garden of the gods, a awesome rock formation that pops up out of nowhere and a mecca for beginning and advanced rock climbers alike.
 true to form, we took some photos here as well- and they are definitely some of my fave.
i know i've been inundating you with road trip pictures & while it's been almost a week and a half since we arrived to california, i still have a few more days i'd like to share.  hopefully you're enjoying this recap as much as i have.


adjusting to "home"

getting reacquainted with san diego has been easier than i ever thought it would be.  things come back naturally- like our old running routes and favorite driving short-cuts, best places to grab a cup of tea and  smells of the chaparral in the canyons.  the constant craving for mexican food & frequent trips to the local yogurt shops in the middle of the warm, sunny days.

some things have proved more wonderful than we could have hoped. seeing family regularly, without rushing through dinner to make it on time for dessert with another family has been heavenly.  saying yes to happy hour and swim dates with friends without the guilt (and pressure) of not spending enough time with our families is also something of the past.  our time is our own and our days, while filling up quickly with family obligations and other fun options- are for us to decide.

and yet, as good as things possibly are, it's hard not to be homesick. everyday i'm deploying the "fake it till you make it" attitude. it's helping, but i can't help but miss our little syracuse life. our home, our friends, our community & network, working internet, and the ability to cook whatever we want for dinner. no one said this would be easy, and we all know transition is tough- so instead of complaining my way through this stage, i've put on a happy face & am actively seeking the good in these everyday challenges.

this too shall pass, it's true. & soon i'll be looking back on these challenges fondly & with a better appreciation of the little life a. and i have worked so hard to build.

so bring it on friday, and let's get this weekend and new attitude started!


my first knit blanket.

desperate for a hands-on, road friendly project, i taught myself to knit.  using you tube of course.  about two weeks before we left on our trip, i picked up a various selection of yarn in coordinating colors and began my first knitting project, a baby blanket for our nephew.  since this was my first project, i wanted to keep things simple so i wouldn't get frustrated along the way. thus, the knit-only, stripe pattern was born.
i didn't have much of a plan and originally intended all the colors to be different. obviously this changed  throughout the process, mostly because i didn't count my first row of stitches and had no idea how many colors i'd actually need to complete the blanket to my desired length. as it came together however, i realized a few repeat colors would be necessary.
so once again, without a plan or any specific pattern, i continued to knit.  i found the entire knitting process to be exceptionally therapeutic; something about the monotonous rhythm was just soothing for me.  there were times however, i couldn't help but get frustrated.  for example, when i missed a stich or undercounted a row.  the first green stripe and i fought the entire time.  just as i thought i made progress, i'd have to tear it apart.  obviously we settled our differences & as the blanket came together, i couldn't help but get more excited.
i totally loved this project.  favorite to date.  this blanket will always remind me of packed boxes, community & our epic road trip.  i'm a little sad to be giving this up- but considering i'm now working on blanket number two, i know there are many more knitting projects in my future.


views from the road.

obviously, a. and i spent a ridiculous amount of time driving through the roads of this rad country.  for most of the trek, we did our best to stay off the highways and take the scenic routes, but sometimes this proved difficult since we were towing our car.  looking back, i'd totally choose to tow the car over driving our two cars separately.  once we had the hang of it, it really wasn't too bad.  and after we crunched the numbers, it was apparent we didn't save that much money on gas, however, the time we were able to spend together in the car, was definitely irreplaceable.
we saw some of the coolest (and some of the most boring) landscapes and sights along the way.  driving together gave us way more flexibility to act on a whim & stop, see and stay where ever we wanted.  

when it comes to getting from point a to point b, a. and i couldn't be more opposite.  he just wants to get there.  head down, pedal to the metal, refuel when the car gasses up, kinda go.  which to me, sounds miserable.  i on the other hand, love to take my time, stop for every scenic overpass, tourist trap, unique shop & yummy bakery.  this kinda road tripping would have taken us months to cross the continental u.s.  so we compromised.
with the exception of our two longest days (syracuse to detroit, mi and eau claire, wi to pierre, sd) we only drove during the daylight hours and were on the road for no longer than eight hours a stretch.  this gave us the option to stop when we found something unique or wanted to take our time to enjoy a nice meal.  it also promised ample time to connect with friends & family and the opportunity to explore the cities we visited along the way.
while we spent a lot of time exploring, most of our sight seeing was done from our bug-coated windows.  and many, many photos were taken along the way.  these photos are some of the views we were blessed with during this awesome trek.  i love seeing the various views in these photo grids.  everything from the colors to the landscape, changes drastically- only proving how much of the great continent we still have to explore.


welcome to san diego.

we made it!  those of you following me on instagram know we actually arrived to san diego late thursday night and for obvious reasons, blogging's been on the back burner.  we had a fantastic trip.  it was a culmination of productive miles on the road, some long days, awesome sight seeing on the shorter days, and plenty of time with many of our very favorite people.  
since getting "home", our priorities have been on spending time with our families, exploring our temporary home (san diego is only going to be home for about a month, assuming everything goes accordingly.  once everything falls into place, we'll actually be moving to orange county to begin our southern california lives.), and organizing our lives so we don't go bananas living out of suitcases.  it's been such an awesome transition and we're thoroughly enjoying our time here.  not to mention, we're finally united with our furry babe, radley!
during our epic road trip, we managed to take over a thousand photos.  i've been slowly diving in and organizing them as i have time and will share some of our favorite days & journeys with you shortly.  in the meantime, enjoy the rest of your sunday and thanks for all the well wishes as we traveled through the u.s. of a.


exploring mt. rushmore.

warning: please don't be alarmed by the insane amount of stone faces in the following photos!  i admittedly tend to go overboard in gorgeous setting such as this.
during this epic road trip, a. & i spent some time at mt. rushmore.  we arrived in south dakota and after a short drive, checked into ellsworth air force base and bee-lined straight to this national monument.  by the time we arrived, it was close to 5:30 pm & the suns last rays were lighting up the sky.
while absolutely freezing chilly, we were among very few people at the park, making it a spectacular time to relish in the fascination of four very large heads carved into the face of a mountain.

mt. rushmore wasn't nearly as large as either a. nor i thought it would be- however, that didn't make it any less impressive.  looking up at the faces of these influential presidents was humbling and awe-inspiring to say the least
we took our time walking the presidential trail.  along the way we stopped to read the signage (since we arrived as late as we did the audio tours were already closed), enjoy the beautiful scenery and of course, take some goofy pictures along the way.  like this one of me lovin' on one of my favorite presidents, teddy.
this was such a rad stop & we're so glad we took the time and went out of our way to make this monument part of our sight-seeing-musts along our drive.
while i can't say we'll ever be back (unless of course we happen to be in the area with kids or something) it was definitely worth the stop & a great way to pay homage to the brave men who had such a strong hand in founding this country.  very, very cool.


a traditional romanian podestat.

upon our arrival to michigan, my grandma mentioned that if we could extend our stay by one day, we'd be able to attend a podestat in honor of my great aunt eleanor.  not knowing much about my romanian heritage nor a traditional podestat (hopefully this is the correct spelling- after some google research, i only found this tradition listed under another name: maramure), we decided to stay and see what all the hooplah was about.
we arrived to the romanian orthodox church as the priest was finishing his sermon.  we took our seats at round tables with full table settings beneath a plastic tablecloth.  the room was hot and crowded and smelled of food.  the priest, only speaking in romanian, dawned a long white beard and wore an aqua cloak adorned with gold embellishments   he spoke in song holding a large silver incense burner and frequently made the sign of the cross across his body.  after about 30 minutes, he called the families of the deceased (there were three sets of families), to the highly adorned alter.
at this point, the room suddenly got much warmer as we stood in front of the crowd.  between the two crowds of people flanking the priest, sat a long, 8 foot table.  on the table sat eleven round loaves of braided bread speared with many yellow candles, two large carlo rossi jugs of wine, and two large cakes decorated with the sign of the cross and halloween candies.  as the candles burned and the priest continued to speak in prayer, three men separate from the families sang along with the priests prayers and answered his phrases in song.  
between each prayer, the priest would read the names of the deceased's survivors and other direct family members.  after about twenty minutes of prayer, song & name listing, the priest said something (again, this was all in romanian, so i had no idea what was happening) and all family members standing on the alter began surrounding the 8 foot table in front of the priest.  those closest to the table grabbed the underside of the table while everyone in the outer circle of the group who were unable to reach the table, placed their hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them.  then, in unison, everyone lifted the table (with bread, candles, wine and all) and began raising and lowering the table as the priest continued to pray and sprinkle red wine on all the food on the table.

once this overwhelming and more notably, fire hazard of the levitating table ritual was complete, the table was once again placed on the alter and everyone left to take their seats for the traditional romanian feast.  per this website, the charity that follows, usually in the yard of his house is made up of wheat bread, noodles with milk, stuffed cabbage with meat and rice (called "sarmale"), potatoes with fried meat, donuts, etc.  before everyone starts eating, the priest and the attendance say a prayer for the dead and bless the meal.  in case there should be persons missing, a second and even a third charity is organized, in order to satisfy the whole community.  basically, this event is given to the community on behalf of the deceased as a thank you for the support to their families during the time of grief and the help the community would have likely provided them during their living years.
during this podestat a. and i enjoyed some very traditional romanian cuisine   despite being romanian, this was my first sampling of romanian fare.  while interesting, it was pretty good.  my favorite?  the sour soup.  
i'm really, really glad we stayed for this experience.  it was very cool to see my heritage in all it's glory, meet many members of our extended family, and enjoy some unique food.  it's definitely something i'll always remember & an experience i was glad a. could join me for as well.


homemade apple chips.

recipe: homemade apple chips

adjustments: using local and fresh picked apples, we thinly sliced the desired amount on a mandoline.  wanting to use a fancy piece of kitchen equipment, we chose to use a dehydrator opposed to baking.  i'm sure this process took a lot longer, but the apple chips still turned out fantastic.  for flavor, i experimented with a honey cinnamon blend for one batch and a honey pepper mix for another.  overall, the honey pepper mix wasn't well received and won't be made again.

review: awesome.  these will definitely be a fall staple...and heck, an easy snack year round. 


where in the world are jess & a.?

we left new york on friday, and after five days, have finally made it to the great state of wisconsin.  trying to stay true to the epic road trip title, we're keeping our days relatively short, and stopping to see the sights and family along the way. 

we spent two days in michigan visiting with my grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin.  after our stay, we headed north to the upper peninsula (or u.p.) and camped in brimley state park, right off lake superior.  this stay officially marked us visiting each great lake.  after waking up to rain, we quickly packed, forewent our run on the beach (bummer), and hit the road for wisconsin.

we still have a long way to go, but i wanted to share some of the sights along the way.
as you can see, there's been quite a bit of rain along the way.
and driving in the rain all the while learning to tow a trailer has definitely made this trek a true adventure.
once in michigan, we caught up, explored the colors, watched some very important football games, attended our first potastat (more of this to come) & explored our family history.
once settled for the night at our campsite, we ran to the store for some dinner necessities and also found a bit of local smoked white fish.  once back, we made a nice fireside dinner (complete with sticky rice and a local white wine.
with the exception of the weather, so far, everything's gone swimmingly.  for the next couple days, i'm going to be without wi-fi, but i'll do my best to catch you up once we're back in civilization.

on another note, all photos were taken with my iphone; proof that while it's easier & more convenient, i need to rely on our canon a bit more.  agreed?