Kate · Travel

California Wrap-Up, Day 1.

I try very hard to keep a journal whenever I’m traveling. I find that many of the in-the-moment details tend to get lost in the bigger picture of the post-vacation memories and the journal always brings those moments back to life for me. Even if it means documenting the last two vacation days for the entire final 3 hour flight home.  Which I did not do on this trip 😉

Bright and early…well more like dark and early on Thursday, Dec. 8, our wonderful bro-in-law gave Paul and I a lift to the Richmond airport around 5:00 am. I haven’t flown enough in the US to have any passionate feelings towards any airlines, so when booking our tickets for this trip, I did it by selecting the airports I wanted to avoid. Most flights wanted to send us south to either Charlotte or Atlanta for a super short first flight and then over to L.A for a longer cross-country flight. The other main options include layovers in Chicago, Detroit or Denver…which in mid-December and possibly snowy/ice conditions were a no, no, and no in my book. We opted for a medium based price flight with a layover in Dallas/Ft. Worth. This meant our two flights were closer to three hours each and our chances for encountering winter weather were much lower.  The only little snafu we ended up having was with our final flight home from Dallas. The plane was delayed getting in and therefore we left about 2.5-3 hours later than expected. Not too bad for 3 different airports and 4 different flights.

At the airport in RVA-waiting to head to Dallas

Our first order of business after arriving in L.A (well besides an obvious potty break) was finding our rental car. Luckily, LAX has everything clearly marked and we hopped on a bus to the rental car company and picked up our ride for the next week.


The coolest thing about our rental car location pick up was that it was right under the incoming airfare’s flight path. Paul and I could have plane watched in that parking lot all afternoon. We didn’t have too much of a problem navigating our way out of the L.A and toward Barstow and I was probably a little too giddy to spot my first west coast Kohl’s. Anyway,  we had about a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us. We beat rush hour traffic luckily. Although, is there such a thing out there? I’m pretty sure it’s all traffic jams, all of the time. Luckily, the HOV lanes were our friends and judging by how open they were, I’m not sure anyone out there knows how to carpool.  After a few minor heart attacks, we quickly learned that motorcyclists take full advantage of riding on the white lines separating the lanes of traffic.


We loved seeing the mountains and west coast palm trees for the first time and used the slower traffic to soak in the California scenery.

Right near the exit for Pasadena. Our first up close sighting of California mountains.
Let’s play guess who told me to take this pic?
Pretty scenery
I’ve driven through east coast mountains at dusk many, many times. It was neat to drive through west coast mountains for a change!
A west coast must eat dinner. Near Victorville, Ca.

We pulled into Barstow shortly after the sunset and made the decision to check in first before heading to a local Wal-Mart.  It seemed like such a natural pit stop since it was so close to our hotel and we knew it would have some cheap, necessary items we wanted to stock up on for a week and countless hours in a rental car (snacks, bottles of water, etc.) Nothing makes you feel more out of place than a visit to the local Wal-Mart. Yikes. Our first clue should have been that it wasn’t a super Wal-Mart and instead felt more like a tiny, original K-mart. I’m convinced most of the photos on the people of Wal-Mart website were snapped at that location. Needless to say, we shopped very quickly and returned to our hotel for the evening. After a day of traveling and our bodies telling us it was closer to 10:30 pm than 7:30 pm, we called it an early night and were both fast asleep by 7:45 pm. I’m not sure I’ve ever gone to bed that early.

You’ll have to wait until next week to read about when our adventure really begins.

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