Saturday, December 6, 2014

Country Crossin' Part I: First Stop-the Midwest!!

Monday 22 September 2014

For the second time in my life, I packed up my car and headed west to California. Last time I took my beloved cat; this time, my beloved Momma ;)

I am going a bit reluctantly...that I can't deny, but I'm going. I've put it off a bit, which has worked out since Preston is having a hard time finding a place in LA. The problem is that we need something month to month. I don't yet have a job. My old job wants me to come back, but as I just feels time to move on to new things. So, without knowing where I'm going to's hard to commit to a year lease. Los Angeles is over 400 square miles. It's huge and the traffic is infamous. You just CANNOT live, say, in Long Beach and work in Thousand Oaks. You can't live in Santa Monica and work in Cypress, which is actually in Orange County, but you get my point. Or if you're not from LA...maybe you don't. A 40 mile commute somewhere else could be totally do-able, but in LA? That could be 3 hours. One way.

Anyway, I've just been blindly applying to jobs that fit my qualifications ALL over LA and Orange County, so it's hard to choose where to live. Poor Preston is dealing with the lack of month-to-month leases. He's been looking at tons of places, but nothing is working out :-/ Preston has been staying with friends, but there's really no place for me to go to when I get to it's kind of worked out with my wanting to stay home longer.

HOWEVER, it's time to get going...mostly, because: Winter is Coming. 

But, seriously...we can't wait much longer to do the northern route of this cross country trip. I've driven twice across the country: once going the southern route and once across the middle. I NEED to go North!! Also, we are headed to Chicago, so it just makes sense.

My cousin Zak came to see us off and my mom and I hit the open road for our first stop in Columbus, Ohio. The drive through western Maryland was beautiful and in a quick five hours...we made it to Columbus.

One of my most favorite people lives in friend Jen!! Jen and I met years ago when I first moved to LA. She had come to stay in my apartment with mutual friends of my then roommate. Jen and I immediately hit it off and later found out that not only do our dad's have houses less than a mile from one another in FL, but we have the SAME birthday. How crazy is that?!

When Kelly met Jen
Jen is amazing and upbeat and positive and fun. Not only is she a single mom, but she's also working full time and going to school full time. She's a wonder woman. I just LOVE her. Jen lives in Columbus with her daughter Georgia and they kindly invited my mom and I to stay for the night.

We met Jen at her new house, which is super cute. Jen has an incredible decorating sense. The house was perfect. It was so wonderful to see her!! Jen's parents took Georgia for the night so that Jen, my mom, and I could hit the town.

Jen drove us into Columbus proper and gave us an INCREDIBLE tour. I mean, it was FIVE STAR. I don't know even half as much about my hometown. My mom and I were really impressed and felt like VIPs!! 

OF COURSE, we went by THE Ohio State football stadium. People in Ohio are CRAZY for Ohio State. This was a phenomenon that I was introduced to with my Ohio born roommate in LA. I had no idea.

It was pretty cool to see the stadium and we took our O-H-I-O pictures :D We continued our tour of the city. Columbus is bigger and nicer than I expected. It seems like a really great place to live. 

We got dinner at a bar with a famous burger challenge, which is something crazy like 4lbs of meat. We opted out of the challenge, but the burgers were really good!! Jen treated us to dinner...I'm telling you, I felt like I was on a world class tour!! 

From dinner, we drove through an impressive neighborhood full of enormous houses. My mom and I love looking at houses, so it was perfect. We made a quick stop to see Jen's old house that she is putting up for sale. It was adorable.

It had been a long day, so we headed home to bed, but Jen and I stayed up talking for a while into the night. After all these years, I'm so glad to have finally gotten to Ohio to see some of Jen's life here :)

Goodnight Columbus

Tuesday 23 September 2014
We were all up early, since Jen had to go to work and we had to hit the road. If you can believe it...on top of everything else, Jen got us bagels for breakfast. I'm serious...I need to step up my hosting game. BIG TIME.

I gave Jen a huge huge hug and my mom and I headed west and north to Illinois. We are on our way to Chicago to stay with my in-laws (Gay and Debbie) for a few days. I look forward to hanging out in Chicago as much as I look forward to being home, so I was excited :D

We drove up and up through Indiana, which we actually found quite beautiful. There were lots of wind turbines. 

Traffic got a little crazy and congested around Chicago, but we made it safely to the little suburb of Barrington where Preston grew up.

My mother and father in law greeted us with open arms. I always feel so welcomed and at home in their house. We settled in and talked for a while before being joined by Dale (their neighbor, who married Pres and me)for dinner. 

Debbie made her delicious veggie lasagna and we had a great time talking and laughing.

As is usually the case, Gay and I stayed up late talking in the living room before retiring to bed.

Wednesday 24 September 2014
It's always so strange to be here when it's warm. It doesn't happen very often :P We had coffee on the back patio and my mom and I took a walk around the neighborhood. It was great.

Today we get to go meet a new baby!! One of Preston's dearest friend's Rich and his wife Aimee just had a baby boy. I get to meet him before Preston does even :) 

Preston has SUCH amazing and fun friends in Chicago. Most of these guys Preston has known since childhood. I really love them all and they've welcomed me as family right from the start. Almost all of Preston's friends are married or in serious relationships and their wives and girlfriends are equally awesome. When considering places to live...Chicago definitely gets a lofty vote for this reason. 

Debbie, my mom, and I headed out to Rich and Aimee's to meet baby Jacob. He was, of course, perfect and adorable. Rich and Aimee actually had snacks ready for us while we were there!! I'm amazed at the hospitality of all these parents with new babies!! Incredible. 

I think the cutest part of our visit was the pride that their little daughter Julianna showed for her new brother. It melted my heart. :)

I have a date tonight with my Chicago BFF-Lindsey, so we headed back to Barrington. Debbie and my mom are headed out to girl's night and I headed south to Napierville to see Lindsey and Timmy.

Conveniently, Preston's very very best friend Timmy is married to Lindsey, who I adore. We are so similar that it's scary. She definitely gives the Chicago area another big vote in my mind. (I'm still thinking ahead on future places to raise a family, should we leave California).

Lindsey and Timmy just moved into a huge and beautiful new house. I got the official tour and hung for a bit with their daughter Avery before Timmy came home from work to take over baby duty.

Lindsey gave me great tour of her hometown and her old neighborhood. It's a beautiful area and seems like a great place to have grown up. Lindsey treated me to a yummy sushi dinner and we had a great time sipping wine and catching up.

OF COURSE I didn't take any pictures, but here we are back when we first met ;)
On the way home, we saw a coyote and actually followed it for a while!! Crazy that these animals are coming into such suburban areas looking for food. 

My night with Lindsey made my heart so happy. It's such a great thing when you can find someone that you just understand and relate to so easily. I drove home to Barrington with a big smile on my face. 

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