Wedding Cake for All

Yesterday was a good day.  I woke up to the news that SCOTUS had ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage.   And while the ruling doesn’t change my life in any real way, it does give many of my friends the same rights that many of us take for granted simply for having been born straight.

I decided that I had to do something to help celebrate this day.  I didn’t know what might happen, given gay marriage has been legal in California in June 2013, but I had the idea to go to the Santa Clara County offices and hand out cupcakes to newlywed couples.  If someone was eloping today in celebration, they deserved the best part of weddings:  cake.

24 Cupcakes and a Pentax Camera

Banana for scale.

Given that the SCC Wedding Chapel was going to close at 3:40, I realized I didn’t have time to bake the cupcakes myself, so I got a tray of beautiful rainbow-colored cupcakes from Safeway, grabbed my camera in case anyone didn’t have someone taking pictures, and headed to downtown San Jose.

With the help of some employees, I found the wedding chapel, located adjacent to the cafeteria.  The first thirty minutes or so were rough–I almost gave up. honestly.  A news crew from NBC Bay Area showed up, thinking like I had that there would be a line of people getting married.  They left within a few minutes.

Cupcakes with Sign

You’d never know I used to do graphic design…

I decided to give it fifteen more minutes, and I’m so glad I did.  I got to witness four couples getting ready to get married yesterday (I didn’t actually enter the chapel).  I had positioned myself near the entrance of the chapel at one of the cafeteria tables.  It was a little awkward at first–I was just sitting there, and several people just assumed I was waiting for another wedding.

Eventually, the universe smiled and someone asked me what the cupcakes were all about.  And I explained to them what I was hoping to do: bring a little wedding cake joy to anyone getting married on this historic day.

The idea was a hit, and I almost started crying.  After that, everything just kind of flowed perfectly.  I met four couples yesterday, some opposite-sex, some same-sex, all super happy to be getting married that day.  I’m actually on the official camera rolls of one of the couples, which was so fun.

Happy couple at wedding.

Super happy couple!

I wanted to share this with you all simply because it was fun.  And appreciated.  Small gestures as allies can go a long way toward showing people how much others care.  Pride is happening up in San Francisco this weekend, and I’m sure it’s going to be one of the most amazing on record.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to take part, but being around yesterday’s couples totally filled a need to be outside doing something that I didn’t realize I had been missing.  It’s been a whirlwind couple weeks of events for our nation, between the events Charleston and SCOTUS’ decisions on the ACA and FHA.  I’ve been outside my bubble of close friends and family, so going out and doing something fun simply for the sake of doing it was refreshing.  And seeing the joy of the happy couples getting married (and enjoying cake–who doesn’t love cake??) was so worth it.

Bride eats cupcake.

The speed with which she ate this cupcake was inspiring.

Let’s be real, the upholding of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage (or, as we should probably call it, marriage) isn’t going to “fix” the discrimination LGBTQIA individuals face on a daily basis, in the same way that having a black president didn’t end racism.  Multiple states still have no laws protecting the aforementioned individuals from being fired based on their sexual orientation.  But yesterday was a step toward making a large portion of the US population feel like accepted citizens of our country.  One good friend expressed her feelings as “overwhelming,” that she now felt like a full citizen of our country by being given the legal ability to marry the woman she loves.  And yes, this friend is in California, where she could legally have done this since 2013.  But there is something amazing about the knowledge that your marriage options aren’t limited by the state you live in, that all people who feel as you do have the same right to marriage as any heteromonogamous couple.

This isn’t the first major decision on who can marry whom this country has gone through.  Anti-Miscegenation laws in the United States weren’t officially deemed unconstitutional  until 1967 in Loving v. Virginia.  Spanning from all non-whites in several southern states, to laws specifically including Blacks, Asians, and Native Americans in countless others, anti-miscegenation laws are generally recognized as racist today (though trust me, there are many exceptions).  But these laws were justified with the Bible in the same way that laws against same-sex marriage have been justified my whole life.

Photo of couple at Nevada/California border.

Two places at once!

I can’t fully understand the joy so many of my friends yesterday.  And while yes, my partner and I do sometimes get dirty looks when we’re out together, I generally go from day-to-day without my current relationship being questioned by anyone (in fact, generally it’s pretty encouraged).  But knowing that even fifty years ago, that wouldn’t have been the case (hell, it wouldn’t have even been legal), breaks my heart.

I could talk about the separation of church and state, or Judao-Christian values.  I could be an utter snob and translate some biblical Hebrew or Greek to show off my MA knowledge.  But trust me, it doesn’t work.  Instead, I’m choosing to focus on the looks on the faces of brides and grooms I saw yesterday, the joy that literally radiated off of them.  I’ll focus on those friends who expressed relief for finally feeling a part of this crazy project we call America.  And I’ll feel grateful that a small step was made toward improving the quality of life of so many families across our country, families who will now have inheritance rights, death benefits, health insurance, and access to most of the basic economic and social rights so many of us take for granted.

Thoughts on Not Being Vegetarian (in California)

I need to admit something to all of you:  I’m in a mixed relationship.

You see… sometimes, I eat meat.  My partner… well, he’s a lifelong vegetarian.

I’ve dabbled in vegetarianism for years, sometimes for ethical reasons, more often for health reasons.  Most days, I prefer getting my protein from plant-based sources, finding I feel healthier on days my stomach isn’t weighed down with animal parts.

And then, about once a year, I have a Ron Swanson-level squee-fest over the mere idea of a steak.

Thanks http://nbcparksandrec.tumblr.com/ for the perfect visual.

Thanks http://nbcparksandrec.tumblr.com/ for the perfect visual.

This preference toward vegetarianism is on a moving spectrum, from complete vegetarianism in high school to having chicken and turkey in the house during most of grad school.  The last year or two has been mostly a “I don’t have meat in the house, but sometimes I eat it out” sort of situation.

So where’s my “so what?’ of this post?  Let me tell you a story.

As of today, I’ve been living in California for a month.  San Jose, to be specific.  And I’ve noticed a few differences between my current home and where I live 9 months out of the year:  gas and groceries are way higher priced, diversity is actually a thing here, annnd there are usually way more vegetarian items on a menu (complete with being able to eat my body weight in avocado – yay!).

While I may not be ethically/religiously vegetarian, my partner is.  So while I honestly will eat whatever you put in front of me (including hákarl with a brennivín chaser while attending a conference in Iceland), I’ve learned to be more mindful of scouting out vegetarian options (don’t even get me started on being on the lookout for hidden gelatin and chicken broth…) when we go out.

And we’ve had some pretty good food the last month.  By far, my favorite find has been the Haute Enchilada in Moss Landing, whose vegetarian/vegan and seafood options are truly top-notch.

But lately, I’ve been noticing a trend when we order food.  I do say trend, as at this point, it’s happened multiple times.  The first couple times, I chalked it up to the server mixing up seats on an order.  Or the fact that often, a second person (not our server) would bring our food to the table.  No big deal.

But then it kept happening.  The most recent example was when we went out for pho on Saturday.  We’ve found a lovely place near us that does a decent vegetarian pho, which I’d ordered the first time we went.  But this time, I was feeling seafood.  I’m from the Chesapeake.  For me, seafood is generally always going to win over a vegetarian option.

So we’re sitting there, munching on vegetarian spring rolls when our food comes out.  The gentleman carrying our food announces “vegetarian?” and before we can answer begins putting it down in front of me.

Actually, no, thank you, that delicious bowl of seafood is mine, thanks.

So what’s going on here?  I’ve come up with a two options.  Either

  • there still is an inherent bias that women are more likely to be vegetarians than men, or
  • given my partner’s height, people assume that he can’t be vegetarian.

This second option has actually come up repeatedly.  People legitimately think that if you’re tall, you must eat meat.  When visiting family in India, people actually vocalized on several occasions that my partner must eat meat in America because there’s no way he could be that tall otherwise.

If I really wanted to make this article even more confusing, I could add in an entire side adventure about misconceptions in the West about Indians and vegetarianism.  But it seems that conceptions about size, masculinity, and vegetarianism, at least with what I have encountered, trump the “all Indians are vegetarians” myth (though you would think the conflicting perceptions would at least make servers pause before automatically plunking down a bowl of veggies in front of me).

I’m laughing to myself as I sit here thinking about all of this–in California.  In the Bay Area.  You know, the part of the US that all of us East Coast snobs refer to as “crunchy,” “granola,” “organic,” and high on its own smug (thanks Matt and Trey).  If any place were going to be openminded about vegetarianism, this would be it, right??

The good news is, through all of this, I’m having to rethink my preconceptions about living on the West Coast.  Yeah, there might be more vegetarian options (and yes, the aforementioned avocado comment is real – you really can get avocado added to anything) out here on the Left Coast, but male vegetarians still confuse people (apparently).

Which is intrinsically ridiculous.  I started doing some research and came up with some things, including a website devoted to vegan bodybuilders and this list of famous vegetarians (including Sir Paul, Mike Tyson, Ben Franklin, and, of course, Gandhiji).  I even found this really interesting article about Griff Whalen, a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts who decided to go vegan for health reasons.  Just read this excerpt from the article:

Despite the health benefits and Whalen’s decided push for such a diet, being a vegan is not the most popular move to make in the NFL. The few other players who have professed plant-only diets have riled up fans, media pundits and even teammates.

They’ll ruin the team’s chances of a winning season. They’ll be weaker on the field. They’ll get tackled and outplayed more easily. Meat is a must for the NFL. Protein. Manly food. To eat plants-only is foolish for a football player.

So yeah, there definitely seems to still be a misconception here about size, strength, and the health benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet.  And of course, we can debate all day about size, strength, and whether or not vegetarianism affects either.  But the bias really seems to be clearly on the side of “of course you can’t be big and strong only eating plants.”  Unless, of course, you’re Popeye.

Notice he's not standing up straight...

Notice he’s not standing up straight…

So does what I’ve been witnessing at restaurants really come down to this continued belief?  Does it really just come down to the 15-inch height difference between myself and my partner?

I have no idea.  But it keeps happening.  And every time, I roll my eyes, and my (far more) gracious partner smiles and tells the waiter “No, actually I’m the vegetarian.”

And then I chow down on the souls of recently departed shellfish, preferably slathered with all the avocado the kitchen has.

Shellfish that, from what I’ve been told, apparently isn’t kosher

Judaism, the Convert, and Identity

Today, I take a short break from dissertating and finishing the road trip blog (yes, I know I’m three weeks late and 2 days of trip behind… I’m having problems with the GoPro footage) to bring you some thoughts I’ve been having about race, identity, and Judaism in light of the Rachel Dolezal coverage.

I can’t speak the motivations, thoughts, and aspirations that led Dolezal down the path she has taken the last several years.  And frankly, plenty of other people are weighing in on those sorts of issues.  What I can speak to is the kind of personal questions her story is making me ask about my own identity.

I’ve spoken before about converting to Judaism on this blog, so I won’t rehash those details.  What I instead want to focus on is one’s identity once one converts to Judaism.

Part of our religious lives as human beings is the history we inherit from our family members.  And I can give you dozens of such stories about my family: from stories my dad has told me about getting Easter suits to the history behind each of the Christmas ornaments my mom’s parents bought for myself and all of my cousins each year to the hour upon hours of my own childhood spent rolling and mixing cookies with my Baltimore cousins in December.  And I will gladly tell any children I may have these same stories.

However, these are the stories connected with my formerly Christian identity and my family history.  The stories of my Jewish identity, while plentiful and fun in their own right, do not stretch past my own lifetime.  In a religious tradition where history is so linked with identity, being a convert to Judaism leaves me at least feeling somewhat bereft of history and traditions.

I’ve talked to many of my convert friends about this feeling–like something is missing or, even worse, like we’re “faking it” on some level.  We don’t have years of camp memories or a menorah we inherited from a family member.  On some holidays, even years after our conversion, we still struggle to sing songs that, if we were raised Jewish, would be second-nature to us.  Our hearts are Jewish, but our cultural memory is sorely lacking.

For me, my first Passover as a convert was a pivotal moment in this search for a Jewish identity.  Would my fiancé and I be serving rice and beans as part of our seder?  Were we instituting Ashkenazi or Sephardi rules in our house?  And for what reason?  I brain-agonized over this for a while.  My family history is that of Western Europe, so… Ashkenazi?  I’ve actually traveled and studied in the Middle East and have (barely) learned some conversational Arabic, so… Sephardi?  And those of us who convert often joke about which identity we get to “claim” (most of us go Sephardi because, let’s face it, a Passover without rice, corn, or beans sounds like hell), but the jokes really cover up a feeling of emptiness.

The beauty of conversion is that one chooses their religious identity–that one becomes Jewish because it the religion that speaks most to them.  But there is a comfort that comes from inheriting tradition that we did not realize we took for granted prior to conversion, from the little things we did in our pre-Jewish lives that we did not realize were so much a part of our identity.

For instance, I had a Christmas tree in my California apartment this year–the first Christmas tree in my home since my conversion.  Hanukkah bushes as a general rule annoy me–Hanukkah has plenty of its own beautiful traditions without having to co-opt the Christmas tree, too.  And yeah, I do get it.  Christmas trees have absolutely nothing to do with the baby Jesus and any sort of truly Christian symbolism.  But in my brain, you can’t separate the two.  But my partner (also non-Christian, I might add) grew up with a Christmas tree and decorations and mentioned missing having them in our apartment, so I picked up a small rosemary plant and some lights and baubles and set it up as a surprise.

I didn’t realize how much it would hurt, not because I felt like I was betraying my Jewish identity in any real way (Again, I totally get that a Christmas tree is a pagan symbol brought into Christianity.  It’s not like I set up a manger scene in my living room.), but because I didn’t realize how much I missed the ritual of decorating a tree.  And yeah, I do get that warm, fuzzy religious feeling from lighting my menorah and setting up my seder plate, but I don’t have the memories of a childhood of doing that to meditate upon as I do it.

What I’m trying to say, incredibly longwindedly, is this: for the last week or so since the Dolezal story broke, the story of a woman who went great lengths to take on an African-American identity, both internally and externally, I’ve been asking myself if I am any different as a convert to Judaism?  I say prayers I believe in with all my heart, attend services with other Jews, and identify with Jewish culture and literature, but I was not born/raised Jewish.                               If (and I say a huge if here because, again, I really don’t know enough about the situation to pass any judgements) Dolezal has anything to feel/be guilty for, am I guilty of the same things?

So I’ve reached out in various ways to other converts I know.  And we’ve all kind of come up with the same answer:  the difference is in transparency.  When you wish to convert, you make your intentions known to the community.  The entire conversion process is very public.  First, the rabbi introduces you to members of the community as one seeking conversion.  Then, you go through classes, some of which include members of the temple/synagogue who are there to instruct you on ritual, practice, Hebrew, or any other number of things.  You publicly attend services and eventually, you stand before that congregation stating your intentions plainly.  And once you have converted, it is considered a sin for anyone “born Jewish” to remind you that your ancestors were not Jewish (basically, you are to be treated as if you have always been Jewish).  You are not barred from any part of Jewish life after your conversion; you are as Jewish as anyone else.  This sort of transparency seems to be lacking from Dolezal’s story.

Judaism is a religion.  There are cultural elements, there are ethnic elements. There are last names inherited in some traditions, and there are dietary traditions.  Judaism is far more than the books of the Tanakh and the Talmud.  And conversion to Judaism is accepted by the community (though I can tell you that more than once, the other Jews in my life seem baffled that I would convert).

As a convert, I have had to learn to navigate these elements, and sometimes, in incredibly weird ways, I’ve had those moments of “passing” as a lifelong Jew.  I remember inviting people to my conversion, and having one of my Israeli friends be shocked to find out that 1) I wasn’t Jewish already because 2) I “looked” more Jewish than her (I still can’t even tell you what the second half  of that means).  And with the last name of Jordan, I’ve had Jews go 50/50 on whether or not they consider Jordan to be a “Jewish last name.”

But I’ve never lied about my convert status, even if it supposedly is a sin to remind me of it.  I have never and would never enter a new Jewish community and lie about having a grandparent who survived the Holocaust or claim an Israeli family members that did not exist.  I don’t create a narrative of participating in childhood Purim spiels or fake knowing prayers I don’t actually know.  This would be an insult both to my tradition and to my loving family who raised me with their own traditions, holidays, and prayers–family members who have been beyond supportive of me on this journey.  My cousins, aunt, and father, for instance, held a Hanukkah meal for my ex-husband and I years ago, asking us to bring a menorah and say the prayers so they could learn about who we were.  And if my mom or dad ask me to help put up Christmas lights, you better believe I will.

I guess what I’m saying is this:  identity is fluid.  I don’t feel comfortable making decisions on where to draw the line on that (in Dolezal’s case, the conversation has gone from can one be transracial to whether or not she has been performing the equivalent of blackface to whether or not she should lose her professorship–and I feel in no way equipped to answer any of this), but in any case of identity, and maybe this is my background in religious and ethnographic studies talking, I do believe that transparency is key.

I’ll admit it:  I do sometimes feel that I’m not as Jewish as someone who grew up in the tradition (and I wonder if others see me that way).  It’s a pretty shitty feeling, and one I know I shouldn’t have.  I worry about what being a stand-alone convert (one without any sort of Jewish heritage and without a Jewish partner) will mean for raising children to feel any sort of connection with a Jewish identity. And then I remember all of the Jews in my life who have welcomed me into their homes and lives and realize that any kids I may have are going to have plenty of adopted aunties and uncles that will spoil them rotten (Singer, I’m looking at you) and give them the kinds of Jewish role models that helped shape my own religious life.

I’ve gotten really far away from Dolezal, I know.  Like I said, this post was going to be about the things her story has made me consider.  Frankly, this TL;DR post is going to end in aporia, mostly because I still don’t really have any answers.  If nothing else, talking about her story with other Jews-by-choice has helped me remember both that I’m not the only one who has these doubts and that I’m incredibly grateful for a religious community that is supportive of my entrance into their tradition.

Road Trip 2015 Entry 5 (Day 3 – MO to TX): Everything is Bigger (and Weirder) in Texas

As promised, I’ve got some more thoughts and stats about Day 3.  Between a lack of internet and sheer exhaustion, I’ve gotten behind on this blog.  Luckily, I took trip notes.

I-40 went on forever... and ever...

I-40 went on forever… and ever…

Left Springfield and made it to Oklahoma within the first hour or so.  I was immediately surprised by the speed limits on many of the state routes and highways.  I don’t believe I’ve ever driven on roads were the posted speed limit was 75 mph.  (I have, however, driven I-85/I-285 in Atlanta hundreds of times, and while the understood speed limit was at least 75, it wasn’t, exactly, legal.)  My mileage was definitely affected by going this quickly, but it was completely worth it.

As I mentioned before, Oklahoma looked nothing like I expected.  I think we get this impression growing up on the coasts that the “middle” of the country is just open, brown, and boring.  Oklahoma was anything but boring.  Rolling hills out of the Ozarks morphed to wide open spaces full of trees.  I only really got to the prairies I was expecting toward western OK going into Texas.  Tulsa was kind of a weird city to drive through.  Both kind of cooly modern while simultaneously weirdly dappled with casinos.

Me and my Aunt!

Me and my Aunt!

Stopped in Shawnee, OK to have lunch with my awesome Aunt T.  She’s my aunt in the sense that she is my mom’s oldest friend/maid of honor.  While the trip that day wasn’t particularly long mileage-wise, it was nice to have the break in the middle to catch up (I hadn’t seen Aunt T. since high school) and have some Pho at the brand-new Shawnee Pho (I’d link to it, but that’s how new it is).  Got that selfie in for Mom (how adorable are we?) before hitting the road again for Amarillo.

Leaving Shawnee began the long trek across I-40/Route 66.  Once I passed Oklahoma City, the road completely opened up and it began to get flatter.  The cross into Texas  was exactly what I expected.  Lots of oil fields and refineries.  The largest free-standing cross in the Americas (complete with matching late 90s style website!).  The prairie got more scrubby and desert-like as I went.  Absolutely stunning.


Got to Amarillo right before sunset for my second night of Couchsurfing.  While I still completely recommend it, I was a little wiped by the time I got there.  I get unusually (for me)  introverted when I get tired/stressed, so as lovely as Angela and her family were, I found myself struggling to be sociable.  Luckily, she and her kids seemed to get it and let me sit there watching Full House and Fresh Prince with them without expecting all that much interaction with me.  Went to sleep relatively early, as Angela needed me to get out of the house by about 6 a.m. (kids had to go to school), which gave me the opportunity to get going on my longest leg of the trip pretty early.

At this point in the trip, I’m at 1514 miles, so over halfway.  Definitely going to need an oil change once I get to California.

More posts coming up in the next few days.  Don’t want to rush this.  Luckily, all of the tech I used on this trip (and the actual handwritten notes I took) are allowing me to reconstruct this pretty well.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.28.14 AM

Genius playlist based on “Everlong”

Trip Stats:
Starting OD (Springfield, MO):  214830
Ending OD (Amarillo, TX):  215407
Stop 1:  277 miles (Shawnee, OK)
Stop 2:  Some Miles (Somewhere near Texas?)
Stop 3: 299.3 Miles (Amarillo, TX)

Gas:
Fill-up 4:  12.263 gallons @ 2.36/gal – $29.05
Fill-up 5:  10.217 gal @ 2.37/gal – $24.20

MPG Day 2:  Tank 1:  27.23 mpg.  Tank 2:  27.11 MPG.  75 MPH highways had a lot to do with this.

Music:
Walk the Moon – Talking is Hard
Genius Playlist based on Foo Fighters “Everlong”
Jimmy Eat World – Futures
Kongos – Lunatic
matchbox twenty – Yourself or Someone Like You
MuteMath – Armistice

Road Trip 2015 Entry 4 (Day 3 – MO to TX): Brief Edition

Apparently this is the Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere...  East Coast, take note.

Apparently this is the Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere… East Coast, take note.

Made it to Amarillo, Texas in one piece (though I am a little scarred already).  This is going to be a brief update, as I don’t have access to wifi at the house I’m surfing at today (I’m using my phone’s hotspot).  I’ll do something more extensive later today or tomorrow.

Oklahoma was far greener and prettier than I could have possibly imagined.  Apparently, there has been a ton of rain in the last couple weeks, so it was unseasonably green.  The rolling hills of Eastern Oklahoma slowly blended into the flatter plains and scrub of Western Oklahoma right as I dumped into Texas (I’ve finally made it to I-40 y’all).

Couchsurfed with the lovely Angela, her two daughters, and three dachshunds.  Got my own room and everything, so I feel very spoiled.

Today’s goal is Laughlin, NV (via Route 66).  Who can say no to a $15 hotel room ON A BOAT??

Like I said, I’ll do a far longer post later, including trip stats.  Music yesterday included Walk the Moon, Foo Fighters, matchbox twenty, and MuteMath.

Peace, Love, and *cough*Signal Boost*cough*!

Road Trip 2015 Entry 3 (Day 2 – KY to MO): I Crossed the Mississippi And None of My Oxen Died (with Couchsurfing!)

Day two was pretty amazing.  I’m currently importing all of the photos from the GoPro, and I can’t wait to see this timelapse (This might be delayed, y’all.  It’s really big).  Kentucky continued along with rolling hills until Illinois (which I was in for all of about 10 miles).  Torrential downpours from the end of KY through the beginning of MO made the trip a little gross, but when the sky cleared up.

So you know how you know something will happen but you don’t know it because you just didn’t think about it?  Yeah, totally had that moment crossing the Mississippi.  To be fair, it was pouring and I’d just crossed several other rivers.  But there was definitely a “oh hey, look at that!” moment.

Crossed into Central time at some point.  Have no idea where.

Missouri was beautiful.  A little flatter than I expected at first, but then I entered the Ozarks.  Best part of the Ozarks:  passing all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder stuff while simultaneously passing Amish buggies on US-60.  For a hot second, it felt like being in an episode of Little House on the Prairie.  With cars.

Stopped in Poplar Bluff, MO at a Harps grocery store for a homemade hoagie.  Totally worth the stop.  Am starting to think I’ll stop at grocery stores instead of fast food joints from now on (except Taco Bell.  Please.).

Made it into Springfield in early evening and met up with my Couchsurfer hosts Melanie and Holly.  If you’re looking to do this same cross-country route, I highly recommend them as hosts.  Holly and Melanie, their two dogs, and one super fluffy cat made me feel quite at home.

Beer Mac and Cheese.  OM NOM.

Beer Mac and Cheese. OM NOM.

After arriving, they took me to downtown Springfield, which has a wicked cool college town vibe.  After dinner at the Springfield Brewing Company, we popped over to this amazing townie bar, the Patton Alley Pub, which was having a tap takeover by Mother’s Brewing Company, a local brewery out of Springfield (beers I tried:  McJagger Irish Red, Ruby).  Another friend of theirs, Devin, joined us, and we had a fantastic time.  At the end of the night, we returned to their place to marathon HIMYM and have a few more beers.

Congrats, Melanie and Holly, you have set the CS bar way too high.  I look forward to seeing if my next couple stops can compete!

Today I head to Amarillo, TX by way of Shawnee, OK (where I will be having lunch with my awesome Aunt!).  Leave me some love!

Trip Stats:
Starting OD (Fort Knox, KY):  214326
Ending OD (Springfield, MO):  214830
Stop 1:  176 miles (Paducah, KY)
Stop 2:  114 Miles (Poplar Bluff, MO)
Stop 3: 191 Miles (Springfield, MO)

Gas:
Fill-up 3:  11.187 gallons @ 2.59/gal – $29.08
Should have done Fill-up 4 before I got to my host’s house…

MPG Day 2:  25.65 for first tank.  Not sure what the second one is.  Given I was averaging in the 30s before I left, I’m going to blame weight and the untested cruise.  Other suggestions would be welcome.  This is making me angry.

Music:
Grouplove – Never Trust A Happy Song
Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll, Folie A Deux, and Infinity On High
The Heavy – The Glorious Dead and The House that Dirt Built

Road Trip 2015 Entry 2 (Day 1 – VA to KY): “Sister” Time and Childhood Lies

The first part of my trip was relatively short and pleasant.  I met my college best friend (and “big sis”) in Lexington, KY along with her family before a quick jaunt to Best Buy (I’ll explain) on the way to Fort Knox, KY.

IMG_3563-1

Morton Travel Plaza, WV

The trip started pretty frustratingly.  My plan to use the GoPro for the trip was (nearly) foiled by a firmware update.  Went to update the Hero3+ Silver for the first time in (probably) months, and for some reason, it wouldn’t turn back on after the install.  Several bad words later, I left for breakfast with the brother, the brother’s roommate, and the brother’s roommate’s dad.  After a brief respite from the camera stress, we went back, hoping that it had magically fixed itself.

It hadn’t.

Angry, I made my last stop on the way out of town, gassed up at the University City Kroger, and headed out.

IMG_3519Not going to lie, I was super bummed about the GoPro.  If you’ve never done it, the drive up US-460 West to I-77 North/I-64 West through Charleston and Huntington, WV is some of the most beautiful driving on the East Coast.  I’ve done the trip a few times (though never past Charleston prior), but never in bright, green spring.  Nearly every time I drive through West Virginia, some well-intentioned person always warns me about being “safe.”  “Hillbilly” prejudice drives me nuts, especially given I was raised in WV for many years (and I’m related to half of Keyser, WV…).  It’s a bias that just grates on me.  Not having the video of the trip to show people just how lovely one of my homes is is going to be one of my biggest regrets of the trip.

IMG_3651Yesterday was my first time in Kentucky.  Fun fact:  the grass is not blue.  It’s not.  At all.  I feel lied to.

Once I crossed the WV/KY border, the mountains died down, and I was driving through gorgeous piedmont.  I don’t know why I assumed KY would be more mountainous.  Probably because elementary school geography was over twenty years ago… (my G-d).  The drive was stunning.  I cannot wait to see more states I haven’t seen before!  Plus, the roads seriously opened up the second I entered KY.  If this is any indication about how driving is going to be in “the middle part of the US,” I’m really looking forward to the pace.

Made it to Lexington with relatively few problems (springtime roadwork is going to destroy me on this trip, I think).  The cruise control has kind of a weird relationship with my throttle, but I’m getting used to it.  Ate at the Cracker Barrel in Lexington (I seriously hadn’t eaten there since college.  It did not disappoint.) before swinging by Best Buy.  My awesome partner ordered me a new camera for the trip (we’re not 100% if the other one is fixable.  It’s being sent off), so we did manage to get video from Lexington to Fort Knox.

This was set to take photos every 5 seconds.  Let me know if you have any suggestions on changing that.

Today is a chill day in KY with J.  Watching The Fast and the Furious 1-4 (relationships make you do funny things…) and staying in on a truly miserable rainy day.  Tomorrow I leave at the crack of dawn to drive to Springfield, MO.  Looking to Couchsurf across the country (Yes, it’s safe.  No, don’t yell at me).  Any suggestions for stuff to do in Springfield if I get there early?

Remember, please signal boost if you’re enjoying these updates!

Trip Stats:
Starting OD (Blacksburg, VA):  213894
Ending OD (Fort Knox, KY):  214326
Stop 1:  108 miles, 2 hours (Morton Rest Stop, 77N/64W, WV)
Stop 2:  201 miles, 3 hours (Lexington, KY)
Stop 3:  119 miles, 2.25 hours (Fort Knox, KY)

Gas:
Fill-up 1:  8.18 gallons @ 2.09/gal – $17.17
Fill-up 2:  11.335 gallons @ 2.69/gal – $30.59

MPG Day 1:  27.6mpg.  Terrible, given I’ve been averaging over 30 since I had all the work done.  I blame weight (my entire trunk is full with clothes and books) and mountains.  We’ll see how this goes now that I’m in flatter areas.

Music:
Beck – Mellow Gold
Broken Bells – Broken Bells and Meyrin Fields (EP)
Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
Lieutenant – If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going to Eat For A Week
Plain White Ts – All That We Needed
Silversun Pickups – Seasick (Single)