Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Wow! What a weekend! I just have to say that our life is really cool!! We had such an amazing. holiday weekend. Friday night we hung out with some friends who are also here from Utah for the summer and played games and went "house hunting" (aka drive around and see who can spot the biggest house then try to figure out how to get there and go see it!) There are a lot of incredible homes out here. Saturday we went with the same friends to the National Zoo. And I rode the metro!!!! (which I love now, but was a little nervous with at first!) It's kind of like a subway, but sometimes it's above ground. ANd WAY cleaner than a subway. It's alwayds a good time. :)
I'm on the Metro!!!

This is the world's longest escalator. This is what we had to go up to get to the street to walk to zoo. The picture doesn't even do it justice! And it was steep too!

It took somewhere between 5-6 hours to get through the whole zoo, it was huge! But perfect weather for being out and about; we really enjoyed it. Nate's favorite part of the zoo was watching the other "animals"- all the weird people! Sara thought it was way cool to see the pandas becuase this zoo is one of three in the nation that have giant pandas. She also enjoyed seeing the octopus in the invertebrates house because she's never seen one before. After the zoo, we headed to Capitol Hill to watch the rehearsal for the National Memorial Day concert on the lawn. It was a really neat experience and there were lots of famous people. Gladys Knight, the dad from Smallville aka Luke Duke, Sarah Brightman, Dennis Leary, Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump, and several others. Favorite moment of the concert was when the National Band played each song from the armored forces and brought out a leader to represent each unit, then had all those who have served or who are currently serving stand up in the audience while their song was played. It was so patriotic, I just couldn't believe that I was there!

Monday we woke up early and headed to Arlington Cemetery. The Laying of the Wreath Ceremony was going to be happening with President Bush, so we wanted to go spend the morning there at the cemetery. We ended up not being able to go to the ceremony (thanks a lot secret service for just making up rules whenever you want to-LONG story), but we were still able to walk around the cemetery and see many of the famous graves. I can't really put in words how it felt to be walking around those sacred grounds, especially because it was Memorial Day. It was so peaceful, solemn, and overwhelming all at the same time. There really wasn't a lot of people walking around becuase most everyone was locked out of the cemetery until the President left. We watched the anti-aircraft machines give a 21 gun salute at the beginning of the ceremony, and we also heard the National Anthem sung. It was all absolutely breathtaking. There are over 290,000 graves at the cemetery and the white uniform tombstones seem to neve end. I was very emotional.
Some friends had gotten us tickets to go up the Washington Monument, so we decided to tleave the sacred cemetery and head over to The Mall. As were leaving the gates, everyone was yelled at to freeze where they were, and suddenly gaurds started rushing traffic off the street to a turn off. What do you know, here come the sirens and a very long, very black, motorcade. President Bush was leaving the grounds and we just so happened to be right there on the sidewalk as he drove by. He waved from his limo right at us!! See slideshow for picture, though you can't see his face, we sure did! Again, I don't feel like this is my life! It was pretty awesome!
Althought I was terrified of going straight up a very narrow 500 feet to the top of the Washington Monument, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I do not do heights, but I'm sure glad I did this time. At the top, there are these little windows you can look out on every side that gives incredible views of downtown. Note: if you are afraid of heights, it's totally cool to look out, just don't look down! On the way down the elevator, a small tour is given and at points the elevator windows open up and you can see stones dedicated to George Washington from every state in the US inside the monument that go back to like the early 1800s or something. Again, way cool. From here, we parted ways with our friends and decided to do our own thing. Nate and I walked up to Union Station and had World Famous Bourbon Chicken :). We then took the metro down to the Lincoln side of the mall and walked to all of the presidential and war memorials. Yep, every single one! Nate keeps trying to remind me that we will be here all summer and we don't have to see EVERYTHING right away, but I just get too excited and want to do it all right now! It was another beautiful day, so I'm glad we did all the outside stuff, so when it's blazing hot, we can do the Smithsonions on those days. I hope that all of our weekends this summer can be like this! Yes, we got some sun and some blisters from all the walking (we figure atleast 10 miles walked by each of us), but it's SO worth it! It was a perfect memorial day that I will always remember. I can't think of a better way to pay tribute and remember those who have gone before us. At each of the war memorials, it was such an awakening for me and it all felt so surreal that I was here, in the nation's capitol, realizing my true blessings. It was really difficult to not be emotional and I was just completly speechless and in awe. The Korean War Memorial hit me the most; it was so real. Their eyes look like they are staring at you, hopelessly, and I just felt so heavy hearted. I am greatful for my freedom, and am so blessed to have the life I do! I'm so glad that we were given this opportunity to be here; it's certainly been a eye-opening experience for little naive Sara from northern Utah! We hope you enjoy our slideshow and certainly hope that there's plenty more where that came from! Hope you all enjoyed your memorial day weekend, whatever you did, and although it sounds corny, God Bless the USA!

Check out my Slide Show!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This one's for you, Stacey

We enjoyed our first weekend here in Virginie. Friday night we went exploring to the Dulles Town Center; it is a shopping center near our house and it is about 6 times bigger than the cache valley mall. It was really fun, and everyone says thats the smallest shopping center around here! So I'm really excited to find these other ones...

We also ate at Five Guys Burgers and Fries that night. Its a fabulous burger joint-best burger I've ever had, by far. They are all over the place out here in the east, and I guess there are some in California as well. The really funny part is that they ship their potatoes in fom Idaho for their fries and so it's a big deal to have fresh Idaho potatoes! Our favorite was that they post a sign every day that says where in idaho the potatoes are from. It was pretty fun.
Saturday we went to our niece's final soccer game. We had a ball. It doesn't get better than a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds running around in circles.
Sadie is the best scorer on the team. This is right before she made her first goal of the game.

After the game, we went to the Old Town Warrenton spring festival with Nate's sister and her family. Most every town out here has an "Old Town". They have kept up all of these old homes and shops and eaterys. I love the Old Towns! It feels like a totally different world. THe spring festival was a bunch of street vendors and performers and stuff all along the main street. And the rain even managed to hold off for a beautiful afternoon outside for us!

I started back to working this week. There is a Curves super close to my house and they are in dire need of some help. I was hired on as their general manager and am basically doing everything, starting from square one with the employees. THe owner just recently acquired another Curves about an hour away, so she is constantly down there trying to get things together, but in the meantime has left the sterling curves completely falling apart. So I definitely have my work cut out for me, but I'm being paid more than double what I was making at home, so I guess it'll be worth it :) I have a pretty sweet schedule and it basically is just keeping me busy while Nate is at work, and then we get homoe about the same time and play! I think it will work out to be a great summer; I may change my mind after a week back at Curves. I must say- TO ALL MY CACHE VALLEY CURVES LADIES: you have no idea how good you have it out there! Be greatful to be a part of the cache valley curves! They are run SO well, and you have incredible employees. As I mentioned before, I have a lot of work to do here to help this club even become a fraction of what cache valley is. It's been a great awakening!!!!

Nate REALLY is loving his job. He love his boss, the project he's working on, and he's making friends. There is a gym there, so he gets to exercise after work. He's already put in a little over 2 hours of overtime this week and it's ony tuesday! Wow!
Thanks for commenting on these silly thoughts I post; it makes my day to hear voices from Utah! (Ive recently become very attached and proud of my state! Things are starting to hit me that we are not just on a vacation for a little while-we LIVE in virginia! It's all very surreal)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Goldie's got guts

Most important item of business first: we officially have a place to stay. The land lady of the house we've been in this week (redskins player) called late last night and told us she really appreciated us being upfront and honest with her about how we felt and she's decided to just hold off on renting until we leave in august. She said since we are already in, and everyone gets along, she just has a good feeling about letting us be here. Hooray! So thank you ALL for everything you did to help us get here, from looking up places for us on the internet, contacting family out here to see if they could help us, keeping us in your thoughts, and especially for all the prayers. We grateful to feel settled. Nate's sister and her husband have been so generous to loan us (me) an old car of theirs. Her name is Goldie Hawn. I believe its like and 89 Buick, and she is very gold, inside and out. It's certainly making life easier on us to have two vehicles, but it suris funny to see the looks people give you when you're out cruising in Goldie. NO ONE drives clunker cars out here in VA. Not only are they nice and clean, it's usually fancy pimped out cars! But today I went out exploring in Goldie, trying to get myself oriented with this crazy place, and I'll tell you what Goldie's got guts! She can cruise with the best of them, and keep up with everybody. SHe gets up all of the hills out here just fine, and I'm never worried about her not starting up again. She does provide air conditioning, which is a huge step up from my mothership, and there is a cd player, so it makes riding in those plush gold velvet seats a pretty luxurious time. Just to brag a little, I made it to all my destinations today without getting lost, and I'm feeling like I can keep up like a real virginian driver now (cause trust me, they drive crazy on that route 66!). I feel very blessed right now, and there is not a doubt in my mind that the Lord is protecting and guiding me with this whole experience. Life is good! And thanks again to Sara and Hans for giving up Goldie for a few months; she is certainly going to help make this summer an unforgettable experience!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The housing update...

So first of all, MAJOR thank you to Nate's sister and her husband for letting us stay with them for several days until we figured out what we were going to do with ourselves. Their home is beautiful, and we can't get enough of their girls. Sadie is 6, Hannah just turned 3 (I think), and Bella is almost 6 months old. So far, I don't have any pictures of the older girls becuase they don't hold still long enough for something like that, but Bella doesn't go anywhere. :) I'm sure we'll get plenty this summer. The girls were SO excited to have us come, they made us a really cute poster that said welcome to virginia nate and sara. And of course they didn't leave me out on mother's day; I got a really cute card that they signed telling me they need more cousins. I love being at their house and wish we could just live with them this summer, but it's quite the commute for Nate to go to work, and he REALLY hates that.

Baby Bella and her fave uncle

So onto the housing update. We found a place VERY close to Nate's job that is the home of a former washington redskins player. It is completely furnished, rent includes utilities, and they wanted someone temporary. The couple is currently living in texas, but my want to come back, so they want their options open. Here are some pics of the house:

The kitchen area

The spare bedroom-complete with HUGE closet, armoir, and nightstand. Don't you want to come visit me?

This is the front room on the main floor. Don't worry, those chairs on the right are definitely purple and I LOVE them. :)

I would call this the family room. There is a tv you can't see., and it's right off the kitchen area.

This is the totally awesome dining room but it never gets used becuase there is a ton of places to sit and eat in the kitchen.A different view of the kitchen

The view of walking into the kitchen/family room area

What you see as you walk out of the family room area-this is the upper level of the deck

This is how you get upstairs to the bedrooms

These stairs go downstairs, and yes it is bright green carpet. Apparently it reminded him of turf.

I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but that tv is definitely bigger than most people's beds. I should have stood next to it, to show you that it is ridiculously enormous.

The pool and foosball table could make for a good time. do you want to come visit me yet?

This is the lower level of the deck, coming out of the basement.

The basement bathroom, of course it had to be green, to match the turf!

There are a few other bathrooms in the house, a nice red laundry room, and office with treadmill and such, but those aren't very exciting. Now to the best part of the whole house: our room. We are staying in the master. Ahhh....

one side of the bathroom, with the giant glass shower

The other side, have you ever seen a black toilet? Cause we sure have.

The giant jacuzzi tub inbetween

Here is the living room section of our bedroom, complete with cow hide rug and mini bar.

This is our little office space we created, looking out the window over the river that runs through the backyard.

Oh and the bed, the greatest thing about this whole place...oh the bed. To say the least, it is VERY comfortable.

So here's the thing, yes the house is nice. Something kind of weird, they left a lot of stuff here, like everything. Clothes in the drawers and closets, food in the pantry, their cars, rosary's, chewing tobacco etc. It just feels kind of funny; but, like we said, it is so close to Nate's work and you just don't find commutes like that out here. So we decided it would definiely be worth it. So we moved in monday night. Surprise! SOmeone comes to see the house. Nate calls the lady who owns this place, and she's like "Yeah, I thought she could rent out the other bedroom." He told her he didn't know she was planning on doing that, plus this girl was not first choice of a roommate so Nate told the lady that. Tuesday, I spent the entire day cleaning this house so I didn't feel like I was in othere people's yuck, and unpacking and settling in, surprise! Nate gets an email from the lady saying someone would be coming over that night to look at the house and if we could move the bedroom furniture downstairs cuase thats where she would be staying. We did not sign up for a dormitory! The house is not THAT big, and that's weird! We have informed our landlady that we are not comfortable with having another person living here too, and if she wants to rent out every room then we would find another place to live. We are currently waiting to hear back from her on what she decides to do, and again, are in a search of apartment, just in case. It would be best if we stayed here, it's a good location and plus, I wouldn't have to pack everything up again! I've talked to the Curves owners out here, but until I know for sure if we are going to stay or have to move, I haven't started working yet. I'm just trying to orient myself with this place and keep from getting lost (which is not going so well so far). Nate loves his job, so I'm happy. It's nice to have something going well. :) Since is the LONGEST blog in all of blog history, I'm done now. THanks for paying attention all the way to the end!

OK, I get it...Utah really is a desert

Here is the Ohio River. Very big and totally cool. The town came right up to the banks and it looked really old fashioned. I love big bridges! the whistle was blown across bridges of course.
Here is West Virginia. There were a ton of hills, and each time you get to the bottom of a hill (the break in these trees) there are the coolest little towns. The houses were very old fashioned on tons of land. Then you go up another hill and come across another hidden town.
Pennsylvania, not very exciting, but stille very green. Our favorite thing in Pennsylvania was the signs all along the freeway that said beware of wild animals, and there was a picture of a deer, a bird, and a bear! It was way funny, wished we got a pic.
This was over a bridge in Maryland. Again, very quaint little towns that would just come out of nowhere from the trees. I'm sure we will be in Maryland again this summer, so I will get better pictures next time, but we would like to go back; from what we saw, it looked like a cool place.
Here is the view of our backyard of where we are staying right now. This is from our bedroom. Green green greeen!!! I do love all the trees and green out here, but I'm sure missing my mountains. As we were driving and looking into the distance of clouds (because it rained for six straight days on us), my mind kept telling me "When we get through these clouds, then you'll see the mountains. The mtns are just behind all of these clouds right now." Guess what? they're not! THere are NO mountains that I have seen yet, just hills. But I definitely get it now, Utah really is a desert. Even in my beautiful northern Utah, it is a desert. I never really understood that, except for central and southern utah, but there is definitely nothing like it out here. Better pics and more to come soon....i must apartment hunt. (also more to come on that)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

That's South Dakota. A LOT of brown rolling hills. Although we did love the Black Hills National Forest, the rest of the state is nothing like it.

This is Minnesota. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get to see some trees or something. Iowa was a lot of farm and flat.

There's Illinois. More farms, flat, and rain. But a little more green

When Nate gets to choose where we eat, we go somewhere like this: It has a statue out front and is called Big Boy. Classy place, Good food and service.

This is Indianapolis. Nate loved it because he saw the Colts stadium from the freeway and thought that was way cool. I liked it, too. It looked exciting.

Here is Columbus, Ohio. We liked Ohio because the freeway was lined with trees.

Day 3 - nothing real awesome. We left Cedar Rapids IA this morning and are now in Zanesville OH. The really good thing about today was that we went through several states, so there was a lot to look forward to; it seemed to go by quicker than south dakota, minnesota, and iowa. the weather was still crummy, but oh well, what do you do. Ooh! We did cross the Mississippi River and that was really exciting! It was huge! Not what I know to be river; that was like a lake. We got excited when we got to Indianapolis and Colombus because they were the first big cities we've seen this whole trip. It was weird to be in such congested traffic though, because we have gotten used to being one of the only cars on the road. Tomorrow we will arrive at Nate's sister Sara's house in Warrenton VA and we expect to get there by the afternoon. Thank goodness! We are really starting to get bored with driving. Today in Indiana, we came up with a game where every time you saw a bird fly in front of the car you had to pretend like you were shooting it, and whoever shot the most birds won. Oh, the entertainment you can create...

Thank goodness for my best friend Marilyn. She came to Logan a few times before we moved to help me pack and stuff, and on the last day, she gave me an entire grocery sack full of presents (20 to be exact) to keep me entertained for the drive. I open one every couple of hours and it has been so fabulous! So far, our favorite was a whistle that makes a loud horn noise and I blow it every time we get to a new state. Nate really likes it. :) Thanks Mare!!! you're the BEST!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Where the heck is Wall Drug?

They dress up dead animals at Wall Drug

The Giant Jackalope

This bear was officially ginormous; this picture does not do it justice
Who doesn't have a giant t-rex in a cage that roars and lights up?

So we woke up in South Dakota to blue skies, and could tell it had rained overnight. We began our day of driving again. Once out of Blackhills National Forest (which is breathtaking by the way) we were back to plain old plains. We started seeing all of these weird signs, like every mile, that said crazy things like 6 foot rabbit-wall drug, free ice water-wall drug, etc. We needed a break and decided we just had to see what in the world all of these "Wall Drug" signs were about. Wall Drug is an old drug store that is the size of about a city block, and it is crazy cool! They had the most random things (see pictures below), but our best find was the free bumper sticker that reads "Where the heck is Wall Drug?". it was an excellent adventure, and we will never forget our time spent in Wall. As we left Wall, we could see we were on the tale end of a storm; gloomy clouds up ahead as far as we could see. After about an hour, we approached the storm. Don't worry, we followed that terrible rain all through south dakota, minnesota, and iowa, which is where we are now, hoping the it passes over us as we sleep and that we don't catch up to it tomorrow. Next stop, Ohio. Hope the Wall Drug pictures make your day, cause it sure made ours. :)