Sunday, May 31, 2009

photos of our temporary apartment

I'm finally getting around to posting pictures of our temporary apartment (yeah, now that we have to leave) and surroundings. I may have mentioned how much it's been raining here. Monsoon season isn't until July; people have been saying this weather is unusual. The mountains look beautiful with the forbidding clouds overhead.
View from the porch.

We're staying in a temporary apartment on campus. Here's what it looks like:

Living room

Kitchen (you can see the porch from here)

Bedroom (there's only one)


View of road coming out of campus

Another view from the apartment

We've escaped the heat!

Friday, May 29, 2009

it happened!! The perfect apartment does actually exist.

It happened! And not a minute too late. But almost!

If you've been following me on Twitter, you've probably seen that I have been furiously searching for housing the minute we arrived in Flagstaff two weeks ago.

I was hoping to fall in love with a place but many of those that looked great online turned out to be scams*. Those that weren't were either crack houses, had mold problems, were too far or too expensive.

We were about to settle on a place that was so-so but convenient -- we'd even put down a deposit on it -- when the perfect apartment materialized. I nearly busted a gut when we walked in.

It's an apartment attached to someone's home and has beautiful vaulted ceilings, tasteful tile & carpet and lots of windows and light. It's a small 1 bedroom but simply lovely. The landlords are so nice and the place is within WALKING distance to everything -- Dan's work, the library, fun downtown region filled with restaurants, yet is still in a quiet area. I am beside myself.

I've been so consumed with finding a good place that I've been unable to blog, my emotional energy & time wrapped up on the sole focus of obtaining housing. Now I can finally relax!

The only pain is that we have to move out of our on-campus temporary housing into a motel for 2 weeks. I've been living out of a suitcase for a month now and will be relieved when I can finally unpack!
*Scams! Let me just say this... don't give your social security number out to anyone for any reason! Scammers posing as landlords post pictures of gorgeous houses at ridiculously low prices on Craigslist and then, when contacted, reply about their overwhelming response and how you must fill out a credit report application (or some other form requesting personal info) before they'll even show you the place. Some even say deceptful things like "You don't have to send me the credit report, just do it on this website for free!" I can only imagine the database of harvested social security numbers there. Bottom line: meet the landlord and see the property first before giving out any personal information.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fine. I gnawed them apart with my teeth.

So we're here, in Flagstaff! We made it. Staying in a quaint apartment on the Observatory's campus and using their awesome set of cooking knives to produce THIS:
The reddish hue is somewhat due to the spurting blood from when I accidently hacked off some limbs while sawing away. So what if it took 10 minutes - we will have butternut squash tonight!

I have a lot to share -- the rest of our trip, pictures of the apartment (and the abysmal search for a new one amidst scammers on Craigslist) and more. I'll be back when my arm is reattached!

Friday, May 8, 2009

cross country trip, part 1!

So we left last Saturday for Arizona from Maryland. Now we're in Colorado Springs! Here are some pics from this past week.

Fifty pounds of books:
don't leave home without 'em!

Those are all travel books, mind you, for planning the route. Yeah, you could say we're a little spontaneous, if by "spontaneous" you mean "freaks who loaded themselves with so much work for weeks before leaving there was no time to plan a trip known about for months."

Where did I think the dog was going to go?

We agonized for months on whether to take the dog but now, seeing the car loaded and sagging, I have to wonder: where did I think we'd stash a 70-pound samoyed mix?

We took a central route cutting through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Kansas.


First stop: the Creation Museum in Kentucky, built by a, um, very passionate man who used to work at Universal Studios making exhibits. So let's just say the exhibits look very, uh, polished. If you don't know better, you might think they're educational. They're not. I could build a museum expounding the tooth fairy if I had enough money. Dinosaurs never lived with people.

I'll be putting up more pictures soon but for now, I am summarizing their entire philosophy with a single song lyric: "If lovin' you is wrong, I don't wanna be right."

They did have a beautiful garden out back though:


Purple alliums (yes -- ornamental onions!).

Indiana field bursting with sunny yellow flowers.

Closeup of those little flowers.

Biking at the University of Indiana, Bloomington.

Next: Kansas

Just kidding. We didn't see any tornadoes. Just trying to see if you were paying attention. heh. I kept dreaming about them though and either I was subconsciously convinced it was not possible to cross Kansas without fighting for my life in a swirling wind of uprooted houses or there's a lot on my mind, but Kansas is actually not as flat as I thought.

I was still surprised to see trailer parks though. In tornado country, really? Are they insane? (Then again there are trailer parks in Florida, hurricane country. I guess this is proof that yes, crazies are everywhere.)

Kansas: not as flat as I thought.

Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve. The short green grass at right has recently been burned, the left side has not.

This place is home to the largest concentration of prairie chickens in the U.S.! We saw four. (All exploded into the air within 3 milliseconds of being flushed in case you wondered why I only captured the landscape.)

Dan hiking across the grassy land.

It was WINDY. I have a whole new appreciation
for the term "wind-swept prairie."
Wind farms make sense here.

Windmills too.

Later, we pulled off the road to follow signs to a gas station and found this:

Thanks, road signs. There when we needed you most.

Can someone tell me what this means?
I almost had an existential breakdown at this corner.

Brought to you by the Greater Kansas
Gas Station Beautification Committee.

The natural parts of the land
need no extra help: beautiful as is.

Beautiful, that is, unless splattered with
billboards. These were funny. Kansas is
not exactly known for its secular mindset.

Oh! OMG! Did you know about the bounty and wonder of barbed wire?

There are over 2,000 different types of barbed wire. And 500 of them are on display at the Agricultural Hall of Fame:
500 different types of barbed wire, how could I have lived my whole life not knowing this??
Irises at the Agricultural Hall of Fame

I have more pictures to post of the Agricultural Hall of Fame, stay tuned.

The amount of loot we had to haul into the
Dan is smiling because the laptop
isn't broken yet.

Now in the Doh! Department:

Spend this much time on the road and something has to go wrong. Two days ago, my computer fell off a luggage cart and crashed to the ground while I gasped in horror. The laptop that I carried around like a delicate glass sculpture and moved so gingerly with both hands at every stop ended up on the ground with a cracked LCD screen all because of one exhaustion-fueled decision: fine, slap it on the cart.

I spent the rest of the night rocking despondently on hold with tech support but luckily I had paid for unforeseen future stupidity with a comprehensive warranty. A tech visited us on site two days after reporting the incident and fixed it within an hour. Yes! Dell win!
The laptop gets fixed: whew!

The above pic was taken last night right after arrival in Colorado Springs. We're visiting friends and having a blast. We move on soon, I'll post more as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing my cross-country journey (so far)!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Arizona or bust!

If you'd said to me Thursday, "hey Spleeness, what are you doing this weekend? How would you like to work 15 hours, arrive home at 1:00am, pack until 4am, get up at 8am to start heavy labor and consume nothing but a single dry calcium pill until late afternoon, and then embark on a 9 hour road trip?" I might have refused to join you in your fun.

Yet that's exactly the rolicking good time I had. But we're on the road and heading west!

What? Can't you tell?

My coworkers *love* when I whip out my camera. Isn't it obvious?

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