It is 11:47a.m (Jersey time) on Sunday and we had great intentions of waking up and going to church this morning but when the olympics are on the night before you have some what of a predicament. There is something about the olympics that just catches your attention and you end up never leaving the couch. That is exactly what has been happening to us the past couple days. We start watching them at around 8p.m thinking that we will just watch a little a go to bed and all of a sudden it is 1 in the morning and we are still watching. Bear turned to me last night and said " we have never watched this much TV in are whole lives of knowing each other" and I think he is probably right but when the Olympics are on it's a whole different story..
Katrina has been working hard to decorate and put together our house and I think its almost there! I do all the manly things that need being done while she makes the place look pretty. Also, we've been really enjoying cooking with all our new appliances and figuring out how to be gourmet chefs. Recently, Katrina has been speaking with different businesses and has had a few interviews in her search for a job. I took a little one day trip to Manhattan to see a few friends and can't wait to take Katrina back to see how huge of a place that is. My pop came and visited our place on his way to D.C. We're better prepared for guests now that we have the house put together. Around home we've been checking out the different parks, Shento loves it. All along the Raritan river, right next to downtown New Brunswick and the Rutgers' campus there's a huge park with baseball and soccer fields, plenty of trees and places to walk and even a little zoo. Apparently birds don't like Katrina because as we're walking up to the row of pheasant cages from all over the world one of them lays down, starts kicking, and then lays still...dead. Check back in the next day or two for some pictures of around the house and our little gardens.
We made it to New Jersey. After all the many photos that we have of all the state signs, we missed New Jersey. But we have arrived and as you have read in the first blog we have been experiencing many new things. We are both enjoying it and are getting settled in.
The first picture is of Katrina filling up our gas tank for the very last time while on this road trip. We stopped and hung out with the Amish and had a great lunch and amazing dessert. We learned about their culture and visited a quilt museum (Bear is standing next to some of the many quilts we saw). We later walked around a little shopping center that had a mish-mash of amish shops (Katrina testing her skills at milking a cow).
Bear playing with Shento on a playground.
Bear got stung or bitten by something and his poor foot was all swollen and hurt so bad. We doctored him up and he healed just fine.
In Pennsylvania we saw what is known as the Engineering Marvel. The Kinzua Viaduct. Which began construction in 1881. Just shy of 302 feet and at a length of 2,053 feet, the bridge was built without any scaffolding. This was the worlds highest and longest rail bridge ever built. In 2003 the bridge was nearly destroyed by a tornado.
Welcome to Chicago!!
We drove through down town Chicago and what a crazy, busy, yet beautiful place it is. There are people everywhere, doing everything from out-door activities to shopping, boating, exploring all the many museums that are there, or just site seeing around town. The drivers new where they were going and they did not care if you were in their way. Bear and I want to go back and visit but we will not be driving anywhere in down town Chicago.
The Nauvoo Temple.
We also went to the Carthage Jail which is where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed. Bear is standing in front of the window that Joseph Smith fell out of after he had been shot.
We took some time out of the trip and stopped and saw Nauvoo. This was the best part of the whole trip. For the people that don't know, Nauvoo is one of the spots that Joseph Smith and the Mormons settled. We had the opportunity to learn all about the history an experience what it would be like to live in that time. The bakery (1st picture) taught us all about the cooking and baking that the women of that time period did and they even gave us homemade gingerbread cookies that would of been baked in a bustle oven. Along with the bakery we got to learn about making shoes, bricks, guns, the metal shop (picture 2). We were able to tour the culture hall and see many quilts that were made in that time period (picture 3 and 4).
Camped, drove, went through different states and saw a lot of corn.
1st picture. Entering the good 'ol state of Nebraska (the great state of corn, corn, and more corn) 2nd picture. Our camp site. 3rd picture. We made it to Iowa. Home of the floods. We got a great tour of the state due to having to travel up and down the state border because of all the de-tours caused by flooding. 4th picture. Bear just could not resist taking a picture of this adorable dog. It was raining quite hard and the dog was soaking wet but he did not seem to be bothered by it.
The first stop, Colorado. We drove through many beautiful places in Colorado and got to see some wonderful things. We drove through the Rocky Mountain National Park and had the neat experience of seeing elk 4 ft from our car. Bear fished, and we were able to take a wonderful hike to a waterfall. We visited Estes Park which is highly recommended if you have never done so.
New Jersey is a strange place, as our outing to the Ashley furniture store clearly represents. We have no idea where anything is, and the problem with this is heavily compounded by the fact that there are so many streets, highways, and differently named cities around. Having decided we would like to visit the Ashley furniture store we set out after plugging in the address into our new portable, in car, gps system (whom we affectionately named Beatrice during our trip, named after a town we drove through). Beatrice occasionally has troubles with giving the most direct routes to and from places, and it seems she is not quite familiar with the New Jersey area yet, though we're giving her time to adjust. Ok, so go left out of our neighborhood, right on the next street, follow that down someways, make a left onto highway 1 (same as US 1 in Florida) and a left into the store. No no, not that simple Beatrice. Upon finding the store we subsequently had to drive a good mile further down the street looking for a place to legally do a U-turn to then continue in the opposite direction on the same street to finally turn right into the parking lot. No left turns on major streets in New Jersey. To remedy this potential conundrum the DOT has installed what look like off ramps every so often that allow drivers to wait in front of another light to either make the originally intentioned left hand turn or a U-turn.
Luckily, we did find a great furniture sale at Ashley's in their back warehouse and were able to buy a brand new nice looking couch for $150, discount due to a red streak mark on one of the cushions. Once the couch gets here on Tuesday it will fit in our living room nicely with the blow up mattress, camping foldable chairs, and dog bed that currently make up the sum total of our belongings in New Jersey. The moving company figured it would make them more money if after arriving in New Jersey a day early to then drive back out west, pick up somebody else's stuff and make us wait who knows how long for our belongings. It has been nice though to have the time to play around here, drive to the different towns, and visit campus. Campus is actually made up of four separate campuses strewn about New Brunswick area. The little pockets of campus are pretty with trees and green areas aplenty. My department's office is located on the Douglas Campus, so called because it was once named Douglas College and served New Jersey as the largest woman's college. I had been wondering why I was the only guy they accepted this year and why the department only has a few male students.
Surprisingly living in Utah has prepared us for the liquor laws in New Jersey. Here we thought we'd be living it up once we got back east. As we were approaching the Pennsylvania New Jersey border, still on the Penn side, large signs on the highway let us know of the "Last exit in Pennsylvania". We pulled off and went to the gas station. Inside the walls and fridges were stocked with copious supplies of locally crafted microbrewed beers. I loved it! But come to find out this is probably a result of New Jersey's heavy taxation on the selling and distribution of liquor and beer. Not one single gas station, 7 Eleven, or grocery store sells wine or beer. You have to go to the liquor stores, which there seem to be a few around here. But they sell the usual cheap mass produced styles of beer. The governmental control over well, controlled substances, also extends to gas stations in which an attendant must pump your gas for you.
Those are just some of the more surprising differences that we've encountered. On a more positive note though, New Jersey is a beautiful area of the country. Just 10 miles or so from our house the countryside opens up, the ground becomes gently rolling and forests abound. Within the city trees are everywhere, ever more so than Florida or Utah. Also, and most importantly, the people here have been soo nice and friendly to us. Almost without fail every person has been outgoing and talkative. Our neighbor Yancey, a single woman (plus a cat named Meisha) and the neighbor on the other side (who with his wife has a new baby boy) have been so welcoming and willing to help with whatever while we try to get settled. Katrina and I both are so excited to feel welcomed and safe here and look forward to getting to know more people around town.
So in the meantime, until our moving truck shows up we've been playing hide and go seek around the house with Shento (who loves being able to sit outside in our back yard), cleaning up the place, and going for walks. Katrina's job search will begin in earnest once we have more to wear than dirty camping clothes and sandals, and my studies will begin in September. We're way excited and happy to be starting this great adventure.