It feels like home

The first couple weeks were filled with searching for furniture and household essentials. While sitting in the passenger seat for umpteen hours I made a list of all the basic living necessities that we would need.  Silverware, plates, bowls, hangers, towels, and the list went on and on.  The morning after we arrived to our new home, and with a sore back, thanks to our blow-up mattress that had just a small enough hole to cause the middle of the mattress to sink to the ground during the night, I headed to Ikea.
I wondered around Ikea in circles for what seemed like hours and hours.  I had never experienced this feeling. I was over-whelmed with the amount of stuff that I needed to purchase and the ample supply of options.  So instead of making decisions on what color plates I should buy, I kept wondering. 
Somehow after many hours I was able to get enough items in my cart to justify checking out. I knew I had forgotten things on my list, but at that point I didn't care.  
As I drove home from Ikea I looked around. The highway that connects my new home and Ikea is one filled with strip malls, dunkin doughnuts and factories.  It's an ugly area of New Jersey. But as I slowly drove home hitting traffic and stop lights, I felt at home. Peaceful, and so grateful to be back in the garden state.
The following days were filled with exploring our new town and getting settled into our home. We ate at our local hamburger joint (conveniently located around the corner from our house), went fishing at Bears favorite fishing spot, found a good close  wooded area to take Shento for walks, and enjoyed exploring our local farmers market. Fresh produce is always the best.  

We arranged the silverware and put away the blue plates that I bought from Ikea. It was going to take some time to get everything we needed, but with empty rooms and only one towel, because I forget one of the most important essential items on my Ikea list,  the little empty house really felt like home.

^ Our first dinner we made at home^           ^Cucumbers from the farmers market^ 

^ Bear is getting excited about trying our local hamburger place and I painted a picture for our living room^
^Bear out fishing in the pouring rain^              ^On a walk to the farmers market^


2,600 mile road trip

We left Park City on August 22nd, 2013. We have driven across country enough times to know what we were getting ourselves into. The long days (and nights), the many stops at random gas stations because I have to use the bathroom, and the sudden urges to drive all night (even though every single time we do that we regret it the next day).  One way or another our cross country journeys always turns out to be a fun adventure and have created a lot of great memories for us. 

When we pulled out of town it was a mix of emotions. I was feeling excited to start this next journey but terrified at the same time. We had no first destination in mind. Bear does all of the driving (he's such a trooper) and he always feels invincible the first day/night of our journeys. He could drive forever... until he realizes he can't. Which is usually sometime in the middle of the night.

DAY 1. 

^ A Wyoming field and a random trucker chapels. ^

^ This was one of my favorite stops. A dirt road in Nebraska but it was extremely peaceful.^

We drove twelve hours. Passing trucker chapels in Wyoming and fields of sunflowers in Nebraska. After twelve hours on the road the sun had faded in the distance and we started to get tired, but not tired enough to get a hotel room. We settled on a rest stop right off the highway. The air was starting to feel sticky and the temperatures had hit 108'  during the day, and only cooling off a couple degrees once the sun set. But nonetheless, the rest stop parking lot looked like a great place to stop for a short nap. 

To my surprise, we all fell asleep. I was in the passenger seat with a plant and a plastic box on the floor so I was unable to put my feet all the way down. I went back and forth between my feet in my lap and my feet on the dashboard. Bear was in the drivers seat with a plant between his legs and little room because of the steering wheel. He moved his body sideways so he could get a better angle to rest his head. And Shento, he was in the back laying on-top of clothes, shoes, and a bike tire.

DAY 2. 

After our brief slumber in the car our bodies needed to stretch and our legs feel movement so we walked around the dark rest stop. There were truckers and other families taking a break for the night. I’m always curious what other people are doing on the road. Why are they driving? Is it a fun road trip or a mandatory move?  The humidity was intense and after our short walk around the rest stop, getting back into the air conditioned car was a delight.
Shento took to his spot in the backseat but quickly realized that he was frustrated. He makes this huffing noise when he gets upset, and every ten minutes for an hour he would huff, letting both Bear and I know that he was unsatisfied with the situation he was in and I really couldn’t blame him.  He was squished and had shoes and plants creeping into his space.  
We drove through Nebraska and into Iowa. By the time we crossed the Iowa border the sun was beaming through the clouds and the lack of sleep was catching up to Bear.  We pulled off in Ottumwa (the town known for competitive video gaming) at a local park. Shento and Bear quickly found a nice spot under a big Oak tree. I grabbed a blanket and our pillows from the backseat and headed out after them. By the time I got to the oak tree (about one minute after them) Bear had already fallen into a deep sleep. I propped his head up with a pillow and cuddled up right next to him. 

We were already a little ahead of our schedule so we decided to play tourist. We drove to Burlington, Iowa and walked a small path along the Mississippi river.
We decided to stop for the night in Peoria, IL.  The Peoria Lake flowed right through the downtown area. We got dinner and sat outside under a big canopy and misters. While enjoying drinks and dinner we talked about this new adventure that we were taking. Hoping and praying that we made the right decision with leaving the west and coming east. 


We got up bright and early and hit up the local farmers market. Although the only exciting thing happening at the market was an alpaca walking around, we still enjoyed ourselves.  We drove 3 hours east to Indianapolis, IL. We were still ahead of our schedule so we took part of the day and explored the town.

The river runs through the entire downtown area and you can take little boats from one end to the other. 

After our day of exploring Indianapolis we had one more over night stay until we arrived in New Jersey. Once we entered Pennsylvania we took a small back road that was beautiful. It wound through bright green hills and small farm towns.

We stopped at the flight 93 National Memorial site. The park is filled with newly planted trees and flowers. We walked the entire park and paid respect to all those who lost their lives. 

We hit up a local ice cream parlor that served specialty dog ice cream. Shento loved every lick of it. 

For our final night we decided to set up camp at Trough Creek State Park in Pennsylvania. We got to the area with enough time for an afternoon hike.  The weather was beautiful and the park is filled with small waterfalls, boulders, and streams.  Shento loved running around with us. Bear was able to fish and I dangled my feet in the stream. It was such a perfect night.

DAY 4 
We arrived.