North Carolina: Frogs, lizards, and racoons

We finally arrived in Raleigh around 8pm last night. Traveling with the dogs will definitely have some challenges. Right now the car is so full that only one dog crate can be ‘open’ so we rotated with one in the crate and the other in my lap. A lucky bamboo plant that I had in my office almost didn’t fit in the car, but Ashwin came up with the great idea of having it ride in the dog crate. At a rest stop in North Carolina, Meeko decided she’d had enough of that plant and promptly chewed it to pieces.

The house we are staying in is out in the suburbs. Ashwin was quick to notice how much space there was “in the South.” He suggested we take have the population of NYC and set them up in North Carolina. It’s true though, around every corner there is another lot of land for sale, both commercial and personal. Not a sight one usually sees in a city.

The gardens of the house are beautiful–there are pockets of flowers everywhere, a little pond with a waterfall, and a koi pond. I love little ponds like these because at first glance, you just see the fish. Then you start really looking, and you realize there is so much life going on just below the surface. You see the lizard sunning along the netting, the little water skimmer bugs (seriously, how do they skate across the water? Can we adapt that technology for humans?), and you catch a big bullfrog plunking into the water in fear of your shadow. Snickers had taken to walking along the stone wall of the koi pond, eyeing the fish. I swear one of these times she’s going to jump in.

Speaking of animals, we found two huge spiders in our guest room. This wasn’t a huge surprise as it is connected to the garage, but, as Ashwin put it, they “popped” when he squished them for me. Meeko tried to catch one but I was worried it might be poisonous. A quick google search of “large brown spider nc,” apparently a popular thing to search, I discovered that it was a harmless Wolf Spider.

I’ve got my workout clothes and spf 100 on, so I am off to take the doggies for a walk around the neighborhood. With all the land between the houses, I think staying in the neighborhood will get us plenty of ground to cover!

Oh, and we ran over a dead racoon with the car today. It smelled disgusting.

Cross country road trip: The Plan

I’ve given a lot of thought into how to approach this road trip. My conclusion is that this is a perfect opportunity for me to explore the Southern states that I have never been to before, and to really take my time. I realize that cross country road trips are usually “once in a lifetime” ordeals, but this is actually my second cross country road trip.

The first one was the Summer of 2009, driving San Francisco to Pittsburgh with my boyfriend, with the express purpose of getting his car to Pittsburgh and going to Lollapalooza. With limited time and money, and no doggies, we took the Northern route, camping at the Grand Canyon without a tent and arguing over who had to drive through Nebraska. This time around, I’ll still have money in mind, but with no job to get to (or concert to be at) I can take all the time I want. I also know that driving by myself from Raleigh to San Francisco, I have to be realistic about how many hours I can do each day.

There are a few places that I know I will be staying longer than one night. The first is my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding in Raleigh– I’ll be there from May 30th until June 4th.  We are staying at a family friend’s house, who I’ve heard also has a dog. Maybe Meeko and Snickers will make a friend?

From there, I am heading to Mt. Juliet, Tennessee to visit my Aunt and Uncle and my cousins. One of my cousins has started a family, but I have never met either of her little boys. I’m very excited to meet my new second cousins! I haven’t seen this side of my family in about six years, but with the potential of being in the South for grad school, perhaps I will get to see them more often.

After that, I’ll be on my own for a bit, going through Arkansas and Mississippi. I’ve driven over the Mississippi river once, but this time, I’m going to find a place to stop and hang out by it. Maybe there is a state park along it so I can dip my feet in? If it’s not too out of the way, I plan to drive through the campuses  of Ole Miss (University of Mississippi in Oxford) and University of Central Arkansas as they are potential MFA programs for me. In my head, living in these places for three years would be a grand adventures, but the realistic side of me says you’d better go check these towns out before you sign any leases!

I’ve never been to Louisiana, and being a huge Anne Rice/Vampire Chronicles fan, I have this image of Louisiana that a mix of the forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and James Bond’s Live and Let Die. I’m very curious to see New Orleans, to see how reconstruction is going and to find Lousiana State University, one of my dream MFA programs, and University of New Orleans. Continuing west, I’ll stop and see McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

After a few days in Louisiana I’ll drive further south to Corpus Christi, Texas where my sister lives. She’s just finished one part of her schooling to become a Navy Pilot! They are deciding which of the planes they want her to fly, which will determine her next step of more specialized training. By this point, I will probably be sick of driving, so staying at my sister’s for a week will be a fun mini-vacation for all of us!

Driving through the rest of Texas, I’ll head up to the University of New Mexico then west through Arizona. I love the landscapes of the Southwest, especially all of the rock deserts.

What happens next is still undecided. Do I drive along the coast of California along the famous Route 1? Or do I avoid any traffic jams by driving through Nevada? Ashwin votes for California, but I know it would be cheaper and less congested to go the other way.

I plan to make posts each night, and there will be lots of picture taking for each of my stops. I’m very curious to see how this trip will go, especially with two doggies with me, but at this point I’ve done all of the planning that I can!

Next stop, West Virginia!