It seems as if I’m averaging one post a season and that is simply not acceptable. Summer has arrived, and for the first time in the year since I’ve graduated college, I took an extended vacation to someplace other than my parents house.
This past week I flew out of LA and through 6 major cities across the United States. It was exhausting. And exhilarating. And I’m extremely happy to be back in California. But I’ve always enjoyed traveling – it’s the actual getting there that I don’t particularly care for (you know, TRAVEL).
The disappointing thing about travel these days is that you almost always run into some sort of problem – I know, I’m supposed to “enjoy the journey.” I left LA for DC on a Tuesday afternoon, with a connecting flight in Chicago. In what seemed like deja vu (this may have happened to me once or twice before), my flight out of Chicago was cancelled and I found myself wandering the airport after hours. Ours was the last flight out going anywhere within a 200 mile radius of Washington, so I just had to wait it out. I thought about doing an “All By Myself” cover – kinda like this guy, who I had the pleasure of meeting via telephone – but my parents advised me against it.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/97634383″>All by myself</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user4275242″>Richard Dunn</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
I found myself in a inexpensive motel on the south side of Chicago – maybe not the ideal place to be for a female traveling solo late at night. Even though I settled in around 10:30pm (Chicago time – 8:30 LA time), I had to be up at 5 to make my morning connection – the whole situation left me nervous and anxious to get to my final destination.
I slept about an hour that night, tossing and turning and texting my friends back in California. Just before my alarm was set to go off, I got up and headed downstairs. Luckily I picked a hotel with a few perks – there was free wifi (what I live for) as well as breakfast (a cold sandwich from Dunkin Donuts and a chocolate sprinkles donut, plus coffee), and a courtesy shuttle to and from the airport.
I got through security with time to spare, so I watched the planes take off through the clouds and the early morning sun. With more time I think I would have liked to explore Chicago – it looked like a beautiful city. Older homes with big front porches lined the streets, and the Great Lake stretches so far it looks like an ocean.
I finally got in to DC that afternoon, exhausted, but used what little adrenaline and energy I had left to visit family and walk around a bit. At 5pm I found myself caught in a torrential downpour – it went from 90 degrees and sunny to holy humidity coupled with lightening and thunder in a few minutes. A quick call to friends in LA and I discovered the weather there: 80 degrees and clear, sunny skies. Ah, the spoiled life we Californians live. Though, I do enjoy some of the unexpected east coast weather from time to time – it reminds me of being on the islands, which is my paradise. It does make for occasionally unfortunate travel conditions, though.
I never expected to visit Ohio in my lifetime. I had no reason to. But when my best friend from Los Angeles decided it was time to turn in her press badge and return to her small town outside of Columbus, I thought it a possibility. When I heard she was getting married, I made it a priority.
Ohio really is beautiful. She comes from a place about an hour from the city, and it looks exactly as you would expect it to – wide open corn fields, old brick buildings – it’s country. There are places I’ve lived and spent time in Northern California that are old, rustic, and full of mountain folk – but nothing prepared me for this.
She took me to meet her family – it’s one of those divorced and remarried plus in laws type of family that basically comprises of the whole town. Everyone knows everyone. Her mom is this adorable blonde with a bit of an accent (they all have one, and it’s incredibly charming). Ashley and her mother are practically twins, save for the fact that Ashley was born with a beautiful brunette head of hair. They look alike, worship Jesus, and love their family more than anything. I took an instant liking to them both.
I had met her now-husband Crosby when he was her ex-husband a few years ago, but didn’t get to spend any time with him – this visit was a little bit better. I stayed at their home for two days and we got to chat a little. He is very different from Ashley in many ways, but it’s obvious how deep their love is for one another. He has a darker sense of humor and is unlike most of the guys I hang out with in LA (meaning: Crosby is a real man’s man). He likes shootin’ and ridin’ his motorcycle, has a beard and lives on a large property with his whole family – Ashley, Crosby and his brother in one house, the parents in another, and extended family in yet another.
The rest of the family was just as fantastic, same for the friends. They all came together in what was one of the most beautiful events I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. A couple of Ashley’s friends and I helped the couple set up at this cute little park in town, right across from where they went to high school. Though not part of the original plan, the general theme became “vintage,” as Ashley has always felt she belonged in the 1940’s. The wooden tables were covered with burlap and mason jars, white ruffled umbrellas were hung from the trees, and fireflys (or “lightening bugs”) lit up the grounds as it turned to dusk. It was a beautiful sight. Ashley wore a floor length pale pink gown with ruffles, while Crosby paired fitted khakis with a button up and suspenders. Their rings are incredible as well – Ashley’s is a pink oval stone with smaller stones surrounding, on a rose gold band, while Crosby’s is a thick platinum band with a bullet molded into the top. They are truly unique, and really showcase the couple’s personality’s.
Because Ashley and Crosby had been married once before, they felt it important to make this day special – in the sense that it was about their love and devotion to each other this time around, rather than a big event to commemorate. So instead of going the traditional route, the couple eloped – a month before the wedding. They told everyone it was a surprise party for Crosby’s birthday (which is later this week) and only a select few that needed to be in on the secret were aware of the night’s true nature.
At 7:30 all of the guests gathered around the stage where the DJ was set up to watch a special video that Ashley and Crosby made themselves (See below). It was a beautiful testament to their love – and an explanation of why things would be different this time around. When the video ended the happy couple emerged from behind the building as the crowd wiped their tears away.
I left Ohio feeling really thankful I came – and a little more country than I was prior. I’m always apprehensive going into new situations, especially ones that requiring multiple days of socializing – but this portion of my trip was just perfect. We ate good (as in the fattiest food I’ve ever consumed), drove the back roads (or the main roads, they both look the same here) with the windows down and the music blasting, and I got to share a very special day with one of my very best friends.
Saturday evening I landed at La Guardia in New York (fly in here if you get a chance – we went right over the city); my cousin picking me up and whisking me away to her home just north of the city. She lives at an amazing property situated on 3 acres, hidden behind trees in the lush countryside – you’d have no idea the concrete jungle was just 30 minutes down the highway. I’m kicking myself for not taking any photos. It’s a large, multiple story home that was converted from a barn back in the 60’s. When entering in the side door you walk through the hall of what was once horse stables. I think the room I slept in used to be a loft of sorts. Out back there’s a large deck with steps walking down to a grassy field below, complete with a pool, swing, and trampoline – My cousin is now the stepmother of her husband’s two extremely attractive young children and the house is done up to accommodate the whole family.
On Sunday I played tourist – I’d been to New York once before when I was significantly younger and didn’t remember any of it. While I have a few friends scattered about the city, I wasn’t able to connect with any on this particular trip (it was just too quick!). After touring 30 Rock with my cousin (SNL, The Tonight Show), I visited Times Square, Central Park, 5th Avenue, the World Trade Center and 911 Memorial, the Empire State Building and Herald Square, before finally winding up back in Rockefeller Plaza for a drink. It was a long, tiring, but thoroughly enjoyable day. I had some delicious bites throughout the city and navigated my way through the New York City subway system (way more confusing than any other I’ve used).
Monday was an early morning – my cousin had a spot on the morning show so we had a car come pick us up around 6:30am to head into the city. It was very exciting for me – I live and breathe news, and grew up watching The Today Show. I was able to visit the set and see each and every anchor and correspondent up close and personal. The energy in a newsroom, on set, especially in a live studio, is unlike anything else. Electric. For a split second I wished I lived right there in Manhattan.
I made one more stop before I flew out, dropping in unannounced at my companies east coast bureau – headquarters. After a year of working there I still hadn’t met my EP’s, so I finally put faces to many of the voices I had spoken to over the phone. I also suggested I return for a week or two to work in their office.
But alas – I’m not sure that NYC life is for me. It’s breathtaking and majestic. It certainly has an energy about it that you don’t find on the west coast. But as I climbed into my Uber and made the ride through Lincoln Tunnel and into NJ over to Newark, I breathed a sigh of relief. Suburbia.