That is the number of miles we have driven from Lugoff, SC through Atlanta, GA… Austin, TX… Tucson, AZ… to Berkeley, CA!

It’s been quite the adventure just getting here and so I’ll try and recap as much as possible. Some of these recaps are interesting and some are just weird and, of course, they are in no particular order:

* When you sit in a car for hours on end, you remember not to take for granted to awesomeness of standing, or stretching or walking around.

* I think I listened to just about every song on my Ipod.

* We spent a night in Atlanta with my sister, Jenny, who introduced us to a unique restaurant featuring CREEPS and visiting Atlanta was another great excuse to see my niece!

* We left each morning to hit the road around 5:15am setting out for mostly 15 hours drives. That’s like driving across the entire state of SC 3 times… or driving across NC just about twice…EACH DAY!

* Austin public parks are great for cooking with camp stoves. We just wanted to live out the motto, “Keep Austin Weird” and I believe cooking out next to a basketball court and a street would count for that.

* Nichole’s Radio Show in Austin was quite the hit! I’ve got a new favorite band (STUNTS) and enjoyed seeing her Star Wars sleeping bag. It was SO COOL so of course I had to try it out!

* I-10 across Texas was a LONG, LONG uneventful drive. Lots of deer farms and straight stretches of Interstate. My favorite part was the “Welcome to New Mexico” sign.

* Just so you know… El Paso, TX is just next to Juarez, Mexico. So close that the cities have sort of merged together except for a big wall in between some of the buildings. Nothing says fun like driving right next to areas with drugs and gangs and corruption rising each day!

*We witnessed two interesting things during our travels through New Mexico and Arizona: Dust Storms (which apparently are a serious threat in New Mexico and a mild nuisance in Arizona according to their sign-age…) and The THING? Yes, the Thing… is it a ghost? Is it an alien? Is it nothing at all but a tourist trap in the Arizonand Desert? Sorry, I can’t tell you. You’ll have to go and experience The THING yourself! (Okay, you caught me…we didn’t go.)

* On our way through Arizona (the land of escaped convicts and John McCain) we passed through a few thunderstorms. One storm had openings within the clouds where the sun shown through so we had a unique opportunity to see the rain drops shine and fly through the sky before they hit the windshield. It was pretty neat… until the rain got so heavy we could barely see in front of the car and one small washout over the road led to a little hydroplaning. But all went well and we survived unscathed!

* We soon arrived in Arizona at Picacho Peak State Park to do some camping. We pitched the tent then proceeded to hike around the area to check out the COOL Saguaro cacti that are everywhere! We got so caught up in the scenery that, even when it began to rain, we continued to explore only to return to my car where I left my door opened. We quickly hopped in the car to go catch a few shots of the GORGEOUS sunset before it disappeared only to meet up with a tremendous thunderstorm that attacked us from over the mountain. We returned to our campsite only to sit in the car as a massive lightning storm ripped through the area dropping down lovely gifts of hail (mind you, this is ALL happening in the desert…) and intense winds. I look to my left and watch my tent flip over hanging on by just 2 remaining tent stakes. I run in the rain to retrieve/save our sleeping bags and we watch as a beautiful storm passes overhead. Of course, once the storm passes, it’s dark and we have to use the car headlights to cook and prepare our dinner. But we laughed through it all and dried out the tent for a great night under a sky FULL of stars. It was a beautiful state park with incredible scenery and so far a highlight in our journey westward. (No, I did not get any shots of the lightning… I tried and with over 270 shots only 3-4 of them showed any light slightly resembling a bolt of lightning…fail. But I did get some good shots of the sunrise so I evened out!)

* After the state park, we passed through Phoenix, AZ where we saw the ACTUAL University of Phoenix. Silly and random but I thought it was pretty cool since they are EVERYWHERE now.

* Upon entering California, we were stopped at the border and asked, not if we were carrying drugs, or concealed weapons, or illegal immigrants… but fruit and vegetables. Sure enough, Cali doesn’t like it when you bring fruit in from other places so I had to quickly chow down on 5 apples and 1 clementine and Allison finished a few other clementines before we could pass through. Oh, the rules our country has sometimes…

*We passed through Hell, California… Center of Desert, California… Cactus City, California (which had NO cacti around)… and nearby Los Angeles, CA (we’re not big fans of traffic). As we traveled around LA,  we saw what we think was the back of the mountain where the famous HOLLYWOOD sign was located. close enough I guess??

* We then pass through the Los Padres National Forest which was a MASSIVE, high altitude range of mountains (some covered in trees, some bushes, and some just yellow grass). It was beautiful…especially as it dropped back down into a vast valley where oranges, grapes, lemons and more straddled I-5 for 250 miles. That was the closest I had ever seen mountains next to such flat plains before… wow!

*Along the looooong drive up I-5 (basically up the state of California’s spine!), we had some interesting experiences. A bird hit my window as we were cruising along. I looked in my rearview mirror and all I saw was feathers… A few miles later we smelled the distinct smell of cow manure only to find a HUGE cattle farm that literally lasted for about a mile. Thousands of cattle living together and all I could think of was… “America, got beef?”

*Upon entering the Bay Area, we passed hundreds of modern Windmills collecting power from the high winds that pass through the valleys nearby. It was quite surreal to see that many but excited to see alternative energy in use! Woo hoo!

*Then… after 2,160 miles and a lot of time in a small red box with wheels, we made it to Berkeley, California. We’re settled in now and getting siked for an awesome week of exploring the cities nearby as well as a national park or two. Not to mention, we are super-pumped about seeing some close friends who have moved over here. 

*Overall, so far on this trip, we’ve traveled 2,160 miles through 9 states on 10 interstates! Including almost the entire pass of I-10 (except for a few miles around San Antonio, TX and the remaining 20 miles to Los Angeles, CA which we circumvented to save ourselves from hours of traffic) and finally seeing the concluding spot of I-20 (since we knew of its beginnings in Florence, SC…)

More to come as our California adventures have only begun!

Mpaka wakati halafu…