Sunday, November 28, 2021

Final Thanksgiving Road trip

This will be my final post for my Thanksgiving road trip. It was perfect. Simple. Absolutely beautiful scenery and close to (my new) home. 

I created a short video to help me remember the sounds of this adventure (no background music added). If you like to hear the ocean, you’ll enjoy. 

Thanks for following along! I added some stats for all my stat fans. 

 -Rae Ann

Final Stats: 
  • Miles: 808
  • Gas cost: $128.79
  • Gallons of gas: 25.745
  • Miles/gallon: 31.16 (Mini-Cooper!)
  • Average cost per gallon: $5.00 (ouch!)
  • Lodging (four nights): $389.10
  • Car rental (Turo): $424.97 (insurance was $110.58, as I don’t own a car and therefore do not have insurance)
  • Breathtaking views: Too many to count
  • Views on this blog: 228,014

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Friend and Santa Barbara

I slept great and ventured out around 8:30 toward Solvang. Solvang is located in the Santa Ynez valley with Danish-style architecture. It is as if you are being transported to Europe! Ten (10) years ago I met a woman, Tatiana, at a knitting retreat who lives in Solvang. We met for coffee and she took me to have their famous Aebleskiver, which is a donut like bunch of yumminess.

I could have visited Tatiana all day but Santa Barbara was calling my name. So I filled up with $4.60/gallon gas (so cheap!) and made my way south. I joined a walking tour of Funk Town, what used to be an art district of sorts in Santa Barbara. I love walking tours. You learn a ton, get great tips, and often meet others. 

I walked to the beach and realized why Santa Barbara attracts the wealthy. You have sun, sand, and mountains. Beautiful!

I quickly realized I only had some Danish donuts and a Diet Dew for the day! So I went to Stearns Wharf for dinner, a glass of wine and a beautiful view of the sunset.

Before heading to my Airbnb I made one last stop at McDonnell’s for their famous ice cream that is still made as it was 70 years ago. Something about 85.5% cream…blah, blah, blah. All I know is it was damn good ice cream.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Yes Sir Big Sur

I spent all day driving down highway 1 along the coast and…oh…my…beautiful! I have so many pictures! It took me nine (9) hours to drive from Carmel to Santa Maria because I stopped so often. Around 3pm I started to panic as I was still a couple hours from my Airbnb. 

Pro-tip: There are a ton of State Parks along the way so save your pass because the first will cover all. After filling up with $5.18/gallon gas (!!) my first stop was Point Lobos Natural Reserve. It took my breath away and I didn’t realize I had 8 more hours of it. 

People get on my nerves at tourist stops and Bixby Bridge was filled with idiots so I continued down the road a bit and captured it from the other side. 

Andrew Molera State Park was a nice walk to the beach with a river crossing without shoes. 

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park was my first glimpse of Redwoods. This is the most south they grow, and therefore smallest. I can’t wait to drive north at some point to see the giants. 

I stopped for lunch at Nepenthe, which had a lovely view. 

I couldn’t miss Moonstone Beach with lovely colored rocks. These pictures don’t do it justice. 

I was losing the sun but caught the sunset at Pismo Beach. 

Wow! What a day. Just…beautiful. 

I am staying at an Airbnb in Orcutt, just outside of Santa Maria. I will sleep well tonight. I can’t believe I live in this state. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m not much of a holiday person but Thanksgiving makes me reflect upon what I’m grateful for. I’m thankful most for my health, the fact my children like me, and all the people in my life. 

Today started waking to an alarm, which I like to avoid, but my parking garage was only open between 10:00-11:00am due to the holiday. I drove through some parts of San Francisco, including across the Golden Gate Bridge. 

I’m not spending much time in areas I can access by public transportation but I thought it would be fun to drive across. It was. I jumped on Hwy 1 and my first stop was this Taco Bell in Pacifica. You might ask why a Taco Bell but it has the best view and serves alcohol! I thought that would be fun. Probably good they were closed because starting to drink at 11am is never good. 

But it gave me an opportunity to watch the surfers and oh my goodness…I have never seen so many surfers! Look closely at my video. Those aren’t seals. I tried surfing once…once…in Hawaii. It was so freaking hard! I admire everyone out there (although I noticed many of them are sitting on their boards). 

I continued down the coast and my next stop was a swing that hangs off an old pier in Davenport. When I planned this I wanted to make my way down the steep cliff and get an Instagram-worthy photo but…I chickened out. The tide was high and I would have been soaked and there wasn’t anyone to take my photo. Excuses. 

So I took this one instead with my iPhone Watch remote…note the steep cliff in the back. That is what I would have navigated down to the swing. 

This coastline is just beautiful and the weather was perfect, as always. My next stop was the Monarch Sanctuary in Monterey. Monarch’s migrate to this area every winter as the weather is perfect. Monarchs aren’t stupid. Zoom in on my video if you can. The Monarch population is severely down but it was crazy how they were fluttering around. 

I checked into my Airbnb in Carmel. I took a 12 minute (power) nap and went to The Fish Hopper in Cannery Row because I wanted a traditional Thanksgiving meal and this was the only one under $100. California isn’t cheap. If the Monarchs had to pay rent they would land elsewhere. 

The place was packed with huge tables of families. I was the only single person. Two families asked me to join them. I’ve been dining alone in restaurants for six years now, and although it feels uncomfortable at times I would have rather been alone than sitting with the woman that bitched at her husband all night.

I stopped at the Ghirardelli store and picked up a big of minis. If you want to know how many of those things you can eat before you vomit, I think I tested it tonight. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am truly grateful for my life and everyone in it. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanksgiving Road Trip

I’m taking advantage of a long weekend and heading down California’s Hwy 1, where I’ll turn back around in Santa Barbara. I’m trying out Apple Map’s “My Guides” which tracks your stops. I think this is my first solo road trip and I prefer being the navigator over the driver so I’m hoping this app helps. 

I’m on a year-long journey of using public transportation only so I picked up a car via Turo. Think “Airbnb, but for cars”. The owner lived in San Jose an hour bus ride away. It is a cute little Mini-Cooper!

I admit I was a bit nervous at first driving. I haven’t been behind a wheel since August. I may need to drive more often as I don’t like that feeling. 

I stopped at In-n-Out, my first fast food since being in California. I LOVE fast food burgers and my neighborhood doesn’t have any begging me to walk in (probably good). We don’t have In-n-Out in Minnesota and it was…ok. Not sure I will be going back. 

I made my way to San Francisco where I went to Twin Peaks to check out the view. I must admit I teared up once arriving. Beautiful!! I love cities and skylines.

I navigated my way to my hostel via the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and passed by The Painted Ladies. I love this cities’ architecture. 

I checked into my hostel, where I’m in a shared bunk room for only $33 ($1 for a towel as I don’t like to pack one out wet). What a deal! When traveling solo, hostels are always a deal. Over two people, not so much. I don’t often post videos but you have to check these out. This place is so cute and I have a fire escape that has an awesome view!

My main goal for coming here tonight was to see one of my favorite bands from Minneapolis, Yam Haus. When I bought the tickets in July I bought two thinking I may know someone that wanted to join me but I didn’t have any takers. So on my way out for the night I stopped in the hostel’s kitchen and asked if anyone wanted to go to a show. Meet Jessie…

It was SO fun to see Yam Haus! They were great and the venue, The Great American Music Hall, was beautiful. 

Jessie and I went to a club afterwards and returned to the hostel to eat my leftover dim sum. It was a really good day. Experiences are amplified with company. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Week Two Complete: San Jose

I've been in San Jose two weeks and feel very settled. I've found my local necessities (e.g., grocery, liquor, drug, hardware, library), figured out public transportation, gone out several times, and met some nice people. As I did this past winter in Myrtle Beach I moved my simple life easily to San Jose. 

It has been very easy to meet people. My personality helps but I really do believe it is the culture. I met some lovely people in my building simply hanging out in the community spaces. I also jumped back into online dating after a Covid hiatus. I am finding there are so many "transplants" in this area most people are looking for a friend (or Covid made them desperate). 

For the past couple years one of my favorite parts of my day has been eating on the patio. When picking an apartment Annelies told me it was ridiculous to pay an extra $400/month (gulp!) for a patio and I should "walk my ass down to the Sky Deck", so that is what I do (48 steps to be exact). In addition to experiencing the beautiful mountain view, and the weather San Jose has to offer, it has given me an opportunity to meet people. 

Sky Deck View

My apartment is perfect (I spent over 30 hours searching so it should be!) and the location is fabulous! I am one block from downtown so everything is a quick walk (or bus ride). There is live music nightly - so much so I'm overwhelmed! In two weeks I have taken the train into San Francisco, attended an Oktoberfest event, spent the day driving the coastal shores, and this weekend I'm going to Hamilton (for the FOURTH time!!).  

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco


Moss Landing

Roadside Fruit Stands


Pebble Beach


One of my goals this year is to not own a car. After two weeks I will say I am adjusting nicely to public transportation (the system here is GREAT!). I love the challenge of planning ahead and slowing down. Often friends say "can I pick you up" and I refuse, because a challenge is a challenge and I am all-in. At least today. For those wondering why the hell I would I rely on public transportation to get around it is for three reasons: 1) I love a challenge - it keeps me thinking and my brain sharp, 2) when I own less, life is easier, and 3) if we are going to turn the tide on climate change we all need to make changes that are uncomfortable.

Bus Patron
The weather here is...just amazing. I've lived in Minnesota my entire life and hate the cold so it isn't a difficult transition. Every day it has been sunny and warm. I see people wearing winter jackets when it goes below 65 degrees but I think they just want a reason to wear their winter jackets. There are fruit trees everywhere, including on my block! It is so strange.

Grapefruit Tree

Because life isn't perfect I have a couple struggles. I knew it would be a challenge, but living in the pacific time zone has been rough. I'm a night person and most of my work days now begin at 7am. Ouch! The second issue is my damn "old lady hip". I've had hip pain for five (5) years and conservatively treated it until this summer when I committed to physical therapy and a steroid injection (a miracle!). But when I schlepped all my shit for the move something happened and I am back to hobbling. I love 75% of the benefits from getting old (e.g., smarter, richer, wiser) but not when my body doesn't work as I wish. I need to get established with a clinic. Task on this week's agenda.

I find myself explaining my life over and over as I meet people. When you do not follow social norms everyone is intrigued. If it intrigues you as well, a friend shared an article with me that perfectly describes my wanderlust (click here to read). I recently read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, which resonated with me as well. It is a classic that tells of a young boy who learns to pursue his dreams by following what his heart desires. That is me. 

I hope all of you are doing something today to follow your heart and pursue your dreams as well. I'm not sure how often I will update this blog for my “normal life” but I want to say this...I'm loving it here! This was a good move. 

Rae Ann

Lessons learned from this move (for later retrieval):

  • Big Purchases. I purchased a mattress, bedframe, sofa, desk, nightstand and end table. All great purchases. However, I would purchase a simple platform for my mattress next time and not a full headboard. 
  • Look for Smart Packaging. I purchased basic items that came in "smart packaging", meaning they break apart in pieces so I can pack for my next move and not buy new. Buying through Amazon helps. Some examples were a broom that unscrews in pieces and instead of a tall mirror small squares that make up a long mirror. 
  • Shipping Lessons. First, shipping stuff was a good idea. I would tape the boxes better next time (I didn't lose anything but one box showed up split down the side).  I would try shipping via FedEx next time, as I heard that is cheaper. It still was cheaper than having a moving company.
  • Order Earlier. Thankfully my mattress arrived prior to my first night, but nothing else did. I would order earlier and let the apartment hold it. I was worried about having it sit in the package room but I saw so many others doing the same. It took from Friday to the following Sunday to receive packages via USPS.