In which we’ve left Seattle

Well this is it – we’ve finally left Seattle.

I’ve written many draft posts about my feelings in anticipation of today and as of yet, have trashed them all. Mourning change does not stop the inertia that is pushing us towards Minnesota. Mourning can also cloud too many things: both new opportunities and a deep gratefulness for something so special to mourn. Goodbye Seattle friends, for now. Thank you for so many sweet memories and for loving us so well.

Our last stop was by our neighborhood Dick’s on our way to I-5. One, because they are delicious and so quintessentially Seattle. Two, because there is nothing like having a cheeseburger for breakfast to cheer you up.

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We meandered south down the interstate all morning and into late afternoon, stopping just for gas. Our goal over the next week is to see eight National Parks, eight states in eight days.

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First stop: Crescent City, CA (so just go ahead and knock three states off that list – I like to get ahead early).

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507 miles – a good first day.

On our way, our little family experienced an important milestone:

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I have driven this Jeep from North Carolina to Quebec to Florida and back again, between New Jersey and Pennsylvania and countless trips between school and Tennessee. She has made a true cross country road trip and survived two back to back trips to Burning Man. I have driven this Jeep since high school and she is one of the few things that I've had since before I met Jeff.

I have driven this Jeep from North Carolina to Quebec to Florida and back again, between New Jersey and Pennsylvania and countless trips between school and Tennessee. She has made a true cross country road trip and survived two back to back trips to Burning Man. I have driven this Jeep since high school and she is one of the few things that I’ve had since before I met Jeff.

It’s easy driving on an Interstate, so we made good time through southern Washington, Portland, the Willamette Valley and down into southern Oregon:

We crossed into California around 6:30pm.

We crossed into California around 6:30pm.

First glimpse of redwood trees

First glimpse of redwood trees

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After our cheeseburger breakfast neither of us felt like lunch, but hunger returned around supper, just in time to settle into our hotel. After feasting on Mexican at Perlita’s, a strange sound pierced our sunset walk back to the hotel. It sounds like a cross between a whale dying and a angry sigh. I walked to the park next to the ocean to check it out (and because I wanted to see the Pacific again) and discovered that it was the foghorn at the lighthouse blasting it’s warning to incoming ships. We’ve found a white noise app to help us sleep.

Crescent City, CA bay

Moonrise over Crescent City, CA bay

Noisy lighthouses should be seen and not heard.

Noisy lighthouses should be seen and not heard.

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Morning update: Read last night that Crescent City is the tsunami capital of the United States and learned from experience that it’s populace must be crazy from listening to that damn foghorn all. the. time. Time to get out of here! On to Lassen.

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In which there’s an announcement (and we’re not pregnant)

I have been traveling a lot lately. See this map for places I’ve been since January of this year:

Where in the US is Elise??

Where in the US is Elise??

About half of it has been for conferences, but the other half was for job interviews. I graduate from my program in two short months and after completing the 23rd grade, most people expect that you’ll be employable. Well, I am!

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This is us, standing on a frozen lake in our new city.

In July, Jeff and I will be moving to Minnesota so that I can join the faculty as an Assistant Professor in their pediatric dental division. It is literally my dream job – I’ll be teaching pre-doctoral students and residents and working in their Children’s Hospital and pediatric dental clinic. Our only sadness is that we will have to leave Seattle, a city we’ve come to know and love and the many dear, sweet friends we’ve made here. I am so thankful for their friendships, for the chance to live in the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest, for the training I’ve received from the University of Washington and for the opportunity to fulfill the mission of one of my favorite quotes:

Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good. 

{Minor Myers, Jr.}

More to come.

In which these are the last of the pictures from our trip

I know these are horribly out of order, but at least this completes the last of our pictures from our trip across the US last summer. After leaving Yellowstone we made our way north through Montana, stopping for the night in Helena (pronounced Hel-eh-na, not Hel-lee-na like I’d been saying my entire life in those name the capitol quizzes).

Official border crossing while leaving Yellowstone

More impressive state sign in Gardner, MT

We decided to check out the Lewis and Clark Brewing Company for dinner since 1) it was just down the road from our hotel and 2) like the yuppies we are, we’re fond of local breweries. The reviews online praised their beer and burgers, but when we got there they only had beer – no food except some popcorn and bar nuts. Also as a brewery they had some interesting rules:

Fortunately Helena had a great little pizza place just a block away and we filled up our bellies there instead.

Montana bills itself as one of the last great wildernesses in the contiguous United States and after spending much of the next day driving through it, the claim is pretty accurate. Despite being June it was cold and we spent hours driving without passing another car or building. I can only imagine the solitude here in the depths of winter.

Montana landscape

Our goal was to see Glacier National Park and drive its famous Going-To-The-Sun road as one of our final destinations before Seattle. We should’ve known that wasn’t going to happen when we stopped at a diner in West Glacier for some huckleberry pie and the only people there happened to be us and a park worker that said he started next week “at the beginning of the season”. My entire life I was somehow incorrect in counting June as a summer month – in Montana at least it is more of a late winter/early spring season.

We were some of the only tourists going into the park and one of the only rooms occupied in the Village Inn at Apgar. The Going-To-The-Sun road was closed due to snow and they hadn’t yet finished plowing it. I was pretty disappointed because I was looking forward to driving what has been called one of the most scenic roads in America, but we made the best of the evening and treated ourselves to a delicious meal at the nearby and nearly empty Lake McDonald lodge before retiring to our hotel room to hunker down under several blankets with the heater cranked on high.

View from our hotel window when we first checked into the the Inn

Lake McDonald – getting a glimpse of the peaks as the clouds moved out

 

Our first sighting that Glacier National Park has glaciers..

The next morning brought sunnier, clearer skies

The next morning we decided to drive the 10 miles of the Going-To-The-Sun road that were open to at least see a little of the park that we’d budgeted two days to explore.

Attempt as a self portrait from our hotel patio

The loyal Jeep

Lake McDonald

Since our ability to see more of Glacier was hampered by the snow fall we decided just to go ahead and drive to Seattle that day and end up there two days early.

To round out our road signs:

The day we drove in Washington was characteristically rainy – appropriate I think for our first time together in the Northwest.

Eastern Washington reminds me a lot of Kansas – flat and agricultural.

And that rounds out our trip across the US. If you ever have a chance to do it, go. We have a vast and diverse country. Travel on back roads as often as you can. Eat huckleberry pie from the dingiest diner you can find. Play all your favorite songs and listen to some new books. Pick a good co-pilot. Know that BLTs are best enjoyed at the local gas station/restaurant. Experience the areas you’ve only ever seen in books and on postcards. Do everything you’ve ever wanted – who knows when you’ll make your way there again.

And always keep in mind that the best part of the trip is the journey itself.

In which I made a video!

My attempt at a video compiling hours of iPhone video Jeff and I took on our cross country trip: http://vimeo.com/50499647

You can follow along here:

A: Somers Point, NJ
B: Chapel Hill/Durham, NC
C: Knoxville, TN
D: Nashville, TN
E: Memphis, TN
F: The Arch, St. Louis, MO
G: Kansas City, MO
H: World's Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, KS
I: North Platte, NE
J: The Badlands, SD
K: Mount Rushmore, SD
L: Gillette, WY
M: Yellowstone National Park
N: Helena, MT
O: Glacier National Park
P: Seattle, WA!

Yellowstone – Part 2

We continued our whirlwind tour of Yellowstone with visiting the iconic Old Faithful area.

Old Faithful!

Hehe – it went so high!

It was so much fun to see it go off! Since some other geysers in the area were going off during the “scheduled” time, Old Faithful was a little delayed (but seriously, you can’t schedule nature!), but Jeff and I had a great time chatting with some of the other visitors. One couple had been coming for over 20 years!

After Old Faithful we checked out the rest of the geyser field surrounding it.

After seeing about a bazillion geysers we ducked inside the Old Faithful Inn just to see it. Very cool place and we’ll definitely try to get back and stay there at some point. We downed some PB&J sandwiches at a picnic site before heading back out on our ambitious loop plan. Heading north we crossed the Continental Divide:

Next we visited the Midway Geyser Basin which was one of my favorite spots. You walk along these boardwalks and alternative blasts of cool mountain air and hot, humid  geyser air wash over you which is perhaps one of the neatest things ever. It’s like being in Myrtle Beach in July and then in the Rockies and then back within seconds of each other. And the Grand Prismatic Spring was pretty too.

Boardwalk up to Midway

Gusts of steam blowing off the geyser

Grand Prismatic Spring

About this time we realized that there was no way we could see everything on both loops in one day. We cut our losses and decided to just drive the lower loop and do most of the upper one on our way north the next day. At least it gives us plenty to do next time we come to the park!

Unstable Ground, Boiling Water will be my band name if I’m ever in one

You know its  a good day when you start to get tired of seeing geysers because you’ve already seen so many. Between the geyser fields we caught a peek at some of the park’s wildlife:

Bison grazing

The bison that live in Yellowstone are descended from 23 individuals that survived the mass slaughter of bison during the 19th century. They are such large, lumbering creatures and it reminded me of being on safari when we saw them from the car.

The next day we stopped by the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone:

And then Mammoth Springs:

Before heading out of the iconic Northern Park Entrance and onto Wyoming:

Drive from across Wyoming

The drive across Wyoming deserves its own post – what a varied country!

Distance from Gillette to Yellowstone via scenic Route 16: 541 miles

From outside of Gillette we could see the Rockies in the distance approaching. As someone whose experience with mountains rarely sees them snow covered in summer, I was enchanted and even made Jeff pull off the road once or twice to take pictures.

Rockies in the distance

 

We crawled up through Powder River Pass (elevation 9666 ft) and found snow!

And then we slide down this huge gorge:

to a flat area of land I can think to give no other description than it looked like it was straight out of the Xbox game Red Dead Redemption:

A very dry and stark contrast to the lush green we had just traveled through.

We reached Cody, WY – home of the rodeo, but didn’t stop to see a show because we still had another hour and a half of driving through Buffalo Bill State Park to get to the Eastern entrance to Yellowstone. The entrance to the State Park features a huge dam built in 1905 that has created a huge lake in the mountains. That and the large rock faces along the road made for a very scenic drive into Yellowstone.

Drive into Yellowstone

In the tiny enclave of Wapiti I got pulled over for speeding where the limit had dropped down from 65 to 45 for a brief stretch. The officer was really kind when we explained we were moving across the country and not only didn’t give me a ticket, but wished us a good trip in Yellowstone! Whew!

Sorry this has been mostly pictures of landscapes, but it serves as justification why you should try to drive across the country at least once in your life. This beautiful land is so diverse, even within one state!

The Sarvases did in fact make it to Seattle!

But my computer just arrived yesterday evening. Whoops! It seems we accidentally left it at Glacier National Park while staying at the Apgar Lodge. The kind people sent it back to me, but because of the remoteness of Glacier, it took until yesterday for it to arrive.

Since our last post in Wyoming, we’ve traveled far and seen a lot! We spent two days in Yellowstone and another traveling through Helena, MT to Glacier. Since Glacier’s famed Going-to-the-Sun road was closed due to snow (ahh! On June 6th! this is summer!!), we cut our trip there short and headed into Seattle. We picked up our apartment keys last Friday morning and have begun the process of settling in, finding furniture and learning what it means to be Seattlites (Seattleians? Seattlers?).

Our first stop was the downtown post office to pick up all the mail we shipped. On arriving and asking for the place to pick up items shipped to “General Delivery,” the woman asked to whom it was shipped to. When I said “Oh, we’re picking up for ‘The Sarvases'” she gave me a really dirty look. Turns out they didn’t appreciate getting all 25 of our boxes to hold for 10 days. Hey, but we paid good money to ship all that stuff out there! When we started to load our boxes into the car however I began to think that her dirty look was less one of contempt and more one of remorse. Could it be that she felt bad about the USPS kicking and stomping on our treasurers? Most boxes were round they were so smushed. Anything breakable was broken despite many, many layers of bubble wrap and inches worth of padding. Out of one box they lost the baby Jesus from the Nativity set I brought back from Africa, even though the bag containing it was tied and packed securely in the middle of the package. Sad.

Round boxes

We have to be thankful that at least they did all make it though and we didn’t lose any important documents or pictures (seeing that we didn’t ship those, thank goodness!)

A picture of all we owned in the world (minus the Jeep) on Friday morning:

Our Earthly possessions

So we began the weekend hunting for furniture and all the life accoutrements that you need to set up a home.

Our first stop was to go to Tukwila, a suburb south of here that had ample furniture stores at not city prices. A special thanks to Symon and Ashely who not only took us out on our first night here to an awesome Mexican restaurant, but gave us great tips on where to find things! In Tukwila we found couches, chairs, a TV and a mattress – all essentials! Unfortunately the couches and chairs won’t be here for a few weeks, but Jeff is happy that we have a TV and I’m very happy we have a real mattress after sleeping on the blow up one for several weeks.

In Renton next door to Tukwila there is an Ikea. We’d never been to one before and thus weren’t prepared for the incredible onslaught to our senses. I mean, I grew up in a place that was never big enough to play host to this monstrosity. It’s HUGE. I mean, acres upon acres of Swedish engineered particle board furniture and every accessory needed or ever conceived by mankind. Good gracious this place is both heaven and hell at once. Our first trip left us googly eyed and wandering from showcase to marketplace to omg, they even have a cafe and kids playground in there. And you can buy frozen swedish noodles to take home with you. So overwhelming. Most of the time Jeff and I walked around saying “sklerg” under our breaths to each other. This is a reference to the last ABC’s Modern Family where the dad, Phil Dunphy is trying to talk his eldest daughter Haley out of moving in with her longtime boyfriend Dylan. He says, “Its no fun. Allan wrenching a bookcase called a ‘neurk’ because you couldn’t afford the ‘sklerg’. We said it to each other so much we eventually named our wireless network that.

For the record, there is no item called a sklerg or sklurg or any variation thereof at Ikea. Sad. We checked. On a monitor left unattended.

There is however cute vegetable themed stuffed creatures in the children’s section. Jeff liked the broccoli.

We came back the next day after our senses had cleared from the initial onslaught for a desk (mine), a dresser (Jeff’s arch nemesis and a course of many frustrations), a chair and a TV stand. After the chaos of the showroom you’re directed to a warehouse of sorts where you find the aisle and section where the piece of furniture you picked out is located. This assumes you wrote the correct directions down off the tag of the piece in the showroom, but no problem if you didn’t – you can wander through 50 aisles trying to find the Hemnes 8-drawer dresser which is 6 aisles down from the Hemnes 6-drawer dresser if you have some free time. Once you have collected all your flat, heavy boxes you can lug them home (delivery starts at $99) and then begin the fun task of assembling them.

Ikea you see are diabolical geniuses. All their instruction booklets come with no words so they can ship their furniture worldwide without silly hangups like language barriers. On the inside are helpful characters to guide you.

I interpreted this panel to mean you needed a friend to help you with assembly. Jeff said it meant you needed someone on hand to pull the razor out of your wrist when after ten hours of struggle the dresser had sucked the life out of you and you no longer wanted to live.

For the sake of our marriage, my new husband’s life,  and to actually have functioning furniture, I put together the TV stand and desk. Two days later the dresser was complete and we could finally get the clothes we had brought out of bags and into proper storage containers. Pictures of the place soon!

Also, pictures of Yellowstone, Wyoming, Glacier and the rest of our trip coming soon too!