"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."
~ Oscar Wilde

United States

8 November 2008
New York, New York, United States

                The plane landed at JFK right on time around 6:40pm.  Customs stamped us back into the country, so far so good.  It was good to be home.  We made our way to baggage claim, and out into the waiting area of the airport.
                We needed to get to the air shuttle, to the subway to get us to the train station.  The air shuttle was easy enough.  But when we got what we thought was a free service we were charged $7 each.  The good old USA charging for everything they can.  This fee did include our subway fare to the train station though.
                The subway took unexpectedly a long time to arrive.  Then it was another 40 minutes on the subway to get to the train station.  We arrived at the train station by 9:00, and our train was to leave at 9:30.  The day had gone really well.  We got our train tickets at will call, and waited for our train gate to appear on the overhead screen.
                The train left promptly on time.  The ride was to be about 2 ½ hours.  We arrived promptly at the Albany train station just before midnight.  Doug’s friend Eric met us, and brought us to his home.  His wife Lauren greeted us as we entered their house.
                The four of us stayed up chatting for about 30 minutes before everyone went to bed.  By now it was almost 1:00 in the morning.  We had been up for almost 22 hours, and it was time to sleep.

9 November 2008
Schenectady, New York, United States

                The day began surprisingly early.  We were up by 8:00, as was our hosts with their little 14 month old girl Tess.  She was eating breakfast when we came down the stairs from our room.
                Our first stop was a Barnes and Noble.  It was quite nice to ask a question and have somebody answer clearly.  It was even nicer to use their bathroom and discover that it was free, big and clean.
                Our next stop was a cell phone place to get Anna plugged back into the world.  We quickly discovered that we could get better deals on-line, so we left.
                Our next stop was at a car dealership.  The final leg of our journey is going to be a cross country drive, but we need a car to do it.  We pulled in at a Subaru dealer and found a nice car, but they were only selling it for about $30 below invoice, and we were pretty sure we could get it cheaper.

10 November 2008
Schenectady, New York, United States

                The day began early as the day before.  Eric had to work today so Lauren said she would take us to do some further car shopping.
                The day prior we found the car we wanted, but not the right price.  So today we went to another dealership, with a car in mind.  The salesman didn’t have our car in stock but said he could get it at a price below the other dealers.  We left the dealership to possibly visit another one. 
                One the way to the second dealership for the day we stopped by a coffee shop for a warm drink.  While drinking our drinking the salesman called Doug and said he could get the car we wanted for the price we wanted.  The day was going on well. 
                We then headed back to the dealership to put down a deposit, and then back to our friend’s house.  Doug then spent most of the day on the phone with the bank, working out details for our car loan.  The bank was not too happy about loaning us funds when we were unemployed and had zero income.  But alas, we worked out all the details
                For dinner once Eric got home from work we headed out to a sushi restaurant.  They were able to get a babysitter for their daughter so we could enjoy a nice meal and have some adult conversations.  After dinner it was back to pick up Tess, and to the house for the night.  We were still working on the 5 hour time change from Ireland to New York.

11 November 2008
Schenectady, New York, United States

                Everyone woke up pretty early.  Eric was home today due to the Veteran’s Day holiday.  We all had our breakfast and waited for 10:00 to come.  The bank said they were able to over night the loan for the car.  We were keeping our fingers crossed that the holiday was not going to interfere with the Fedex delivery. 
                Well 10:00 came, and a few minutes later the Fedex guy came running up the door with a down payment check.  Meanwhile Doug received a phone call from the dealership letting us know that our second check had arrived there for the rest of the payment.  We should have been all set.  But the dealership said our car was not finished.  There were a few extra accessories that they still needed to put on the car.  The car was supposed to be finished by 3:00 that afternoon.
                So we waited, and waited.  Doug received a phone call around 1:00.  The car was not going to be ready now until the next morning.  Due to the holiday two parts would not be available, and they still needed to install the parts.  This made Anna really irritated.  She thought that since we had done our part with getting the money organized, they should have done their part, and found a way to have the car ready that day. 
                We decided to go down to the dealership get all the paperwork done, and drive the car back that day.  Then the next morning go back to the dealership to get the two parts put on before heading on the journey across county.
                At the dealership, the car was nice, and shinny when we picked it up.  There were only a couple things we needed changed before we completed the paperwork.  We made it back to our friend’s house by 4:00 or so.  For dinner we ordered Chinese takeout.  This was the first Chinese food we had had since leaving China, and it was better food than any we had in China. The food was just as we had expected it to be, nothing like the real Chinese food…GOOD!  The rest of the evening was spent chatting.

12 November 2008
Schenectady, New York, United States

                After thanking Eric and Lauren for being such great hosts we made our way to the dealership to have our final accessories installed.  We were out the door at 9:30am and on the road.
                Our drive took us across New York, through a sliver of Pennsylvania and into Ohio.  We had hoped to stay with one of Doug’s Marine friends up near Milwaukee, but we never got out of Ohio and decided to stay in Motel 6 near Columbus.
                The Motel 6 was pretty disappointing.  There were cigarette burns all over the bed spread in our non-smoking room.  It would however do for the night.  One thing the place had going for them, there were no bed bugs.

13 November 2008
Columbus, Ohio, United States

                We were back on the road early in the morning.  We finished up Ohio and crossed into, Indiana, Illinois and then Missouri.  Doug’s friend Matt from the Marines was staying in Kansas City for work and we were looking forward to seeing him.
                Matt was staying in military lodging and they allowed us to check into too.  We were exstatic about the room.  It was only $25 and had a huge bed, TV, private bath, wireless and lan line internet.  Best of all it was spotlessly clean.
                Unfortunately Matt’s visit ended up being short.  His conference ended early and his wife and child were arriving at the airport soon.  His daughter was sick and the drive home wasn’t much longer than the drive back to our current hotel.  We were able to visit for about 30 minutes before he had to go pick them up.
                For dinner we had one of Doug’s favorites…Chipotle.

14 November 2008
Denver, Colorado, United States

                Today we quickly left Missouri, entered Kansas and eventually Colorado.  Soon we arrived in Denver and made our way to our friends Jeanne and Juve.  When we knocked on the door Juve was home whipping up homemade tortillas.  We thanked him for inviting us to stay with his brother in Mexico.  His brother, Louis and his wife Lupita had been amazing hosts.
                Soon Jeane arrived and we spent the evening catching up and enjoying some homemade enchiladas.
15 November 2008
Sheridan, Wyoming, United States

                We woke up pretty early.  The last two days we crossed to a different time zone, and we were still getting used to the time.  The kids were up early playing.
                Soon everyone had their showers, and breakfast we being made.  This had been the best breakfast we had had in months.  The spread consisted of eggs, sausage, fruit, pancakes, juice, coffee, and English muffins.  Everyone ate their fill.  Soon it came time to say our thanks, and goodbyes.  Today we only had a 6 hour drive up to Wyoming.  This was nice compared to the three previous days of about 10 hours of driving each.
                The drive out of Colorado and into Wyoming was pleasant.  We were able to see antelope grazing along fields near the freeway.  We arrived at Anna’s friend Jamie’s house around 4:30pm.
                We all said our hellos, Anna and Doug were excited to meet Jamie’s new husband Will.  They were having a ski party that evening so we helped them get ready for their guests.
                The party was a lot of fun, it consisted of a bunch of people getting together to watch ski movies, eat, drink, and wax some skis.  We are excited to be around for the snow season this year being that we missed it entirely last year.
                By midnight everyone had left.  We helped clean up a bit, and went to bed.

16 November 2008
Sheridan, Wyoming, United States

                Everyone ended up getting up early despite the long evening.  We helped make huckleberry pancakes, eggs, and fruit.  We were not used to have such large breakfasts, or even one at all on many recent occasions.
                The day consisted of lounging around.  Jamie and Will did take us to lunch in a nearby town called, Story.  The restaurant was really quite good.  We all ended our meals with a different dessert, and would share by passing them around.
                That afternoon we watched James Bond, Casino Royale, to get ready for the next evening when we were to watch the new James Bond movie.  We wanted to make sure we had the movie in mind being that it continued from the first one.  For dinner we shared some great leftovers and chatted for a while before going to bed.

17 November 2008
Sheridan, Wyoming, United States

                We got up shortly after Jamie and Will went to work.  Today we had some chores to do.  The first thing to do was take the car into town for a windshield repair.  When we were going through Illinois and a big rock hit the windshield while we were going 70 mph.  This is always good when buying a new car.  Luckily the Insurance said they would cover the nick in full.  So we drove down to the windshield place, and dropped the car off.
                While the car was being worked on we walked down to a coffee shop for a café, hot chocolate and cinnamon role.  We were able to access their Wi-Fi, and hang out with the locals for a short while.  After the car was finished we went to the grocery store to get a few items for dinner.  Anna had suggested she make dinner for her working hosts.
                After the errands were complete we headed back to the house for a few internet errands.  Anna needed to order a phone.  We both continued the search for jobs.
                Jamie and Will came home close to 5:00.  While dinner was cooking Anna and Jamie took their dog for a short run.  After dinner we cleaned up, and went to the movie theatre for the new James Bond.
                The movie ended up being pretty good.  It didn’t compare to the first one, but was still pretty good.  We came home after the movie, played with the dog for a short while before going to bed.

18 November 2008
Sheridan, Wyoming, United States

                Our big highlight today was a BBQ with Jaime and Will at the house of some of their friends.  We had some great venison.

19 November 2008
Sheridan, Wyoming, United States

                Today was an errand day.  We spent most of the day working on resumes.  Later in the evening we whipped together some leftovers.

20 November 2008
Sheridan, Wyoming, United States

                After a long day of job hunting Jaime and Will went out of their way and treated us to an amazing dinner in one of Sheridan’s nicest restaurants.  Everybody had high end drinks and even fancier dinners.  Thanks guys!!!!

21 November 2008
Sheridan, Wyoming, United States

                After saying goodbye to our Jaime and Will, we put our new car to the test.  We wanted to stay away from the Interstate so we took a small state highway up through the mountains.  About one hour in driving, the snow began falling, and the highway was covered in snow.  The further we drove up to the pass the worse the weather got.  Soon we found ourselves in full “white-out” conditions.  The road was 100% covered in snow, the visibility was next to zero.  Thankfully our new car was unfazed and about 10 minutes later we broke through the storm.
                Just before sunset we came to one more pass.  Thankfully the sky was clear, but this time we had to deal with ice due to moisture freezing on the road.  As we came around a bend we saw an amazing sunset silhouette of the Grand Tetons.
                When we arrived in Jackson we found a Motel 6 and booked a room for the evening.

22 November 2008
Jackson, Wyoming, United States

                Once we were up we decided to back track a little to see the Grand Tetons in the daylight.  While we were on our way we passed an elk reserve right off the road.  There must have been nearly 40 elk less than quarter of a mile from the road.
                After a couple snapshots of the Tetons, we set off for Anna’s brother’s place in Idaho.  When we arrived we were greeted by our niece and nephew, Vivian and Caleb and also by Michael, Anna’s brother.  After doing some catching up we headed off to see Melanie who was at work.  For dinner we went to one of Anna’s favorite local pizza joints.

23 November 2008
Meridian, Idaho, United States

                Today was a mellow day for everyone.  The Thanksgiving dinner shopping was done, and we all played with the kids.

24 November 2008
Meridian, Idaho, United States

                There were a couple of errands we needed to complete today while everyone was at work, and the kids were at school.  We first went to the Subaru dealership to get a couple of things looked at.  For some reason someone decided to break the right rear light on the car, so we also got an estimate.  Then we went to Men’s Warehouse.  It was time for Doug to get a couple of new suits.  They were having a buy one get one free sale.  And then last on the list was the mall.  Anna wanted to also try to find a suit for herself, but didn’t find anything she liked.
                Then it was back to the house to wait for everyone to get home from school, and work.

25 November 2008
Meridian, Idaho, United States

                Today we got up with the kids, and said our goodbyes for everyone to have a good day.  Then we went to Michael’s work for a while to check out some furniture we would need to buy in January.  Anna’s brother showed us around his work and helped us find a couple items we might be interested in.  Next we took a little drive to Nampa where Anna grew up.
                Anna wanted to say hello to a friend of her late grandmother, as well as her former Taekwondo instructor.  First we went to see Moss.  She is about 91 years old now, and faintly remembered Anna.  Then we went to visit Master Sanchez for a short while.  It had been a few years since Anna had had a chance to visit. 
                Later in the afternoon when the kids got out of school we picked them up, and took them to see Madagascar 2.  For dinner we took them to IHOP.  It was a nice evening. 

26 November 2008
Meridian, Idaho, United States

                In the morning Anna did a little bit of holiday shopping.  Anna’s brother’s wife is due to have a baby in April, and Anna wanted to get the “baby to be” a little gift for the holidays.  That afternoon we hung out with Melanie, Anna’s sister-in-law.  She had the day off of work. 
                When Michael and the kids came home we had dinner, and played for a while.

27 November 2008
Meridian, Idaho, United States

                Today was Thanksgiving.  Anna attempted to help Melanie and Michael with some of the cooking.  She soon found out the kitchen was best left to the owners of the house.  That afternoon before dinner we took the kids across the street to the school to play on the playground.
                We soon had our Thanksgiving dinner.  Everyone said a few things they were thankful for.  That afternoon we all watched a movie, and rested while our stomachs digested.

28 November 2008
Meridian, Idaho, United States

                Today we rounded up the kids while Michael and Melanie headed off to work.  With the kids in tow we set off to the Men’s Warehouse to pickup Doug’s new suits.  Unfortunately they were not ready yet.  The mall was close by and we killed some time there.  The kids were doing pretty well so we decided to buy them each a small gift.  In the afternoon we were finally able to pick up the suits. 
                Back at the house we took the kids to the school’s playground across the street.  We had bought Caleb a remote control helicopter in China and it was time to break it in.

29 November 2008
Meridian, Idaho, United States

                After giving our farewells we set off for Oregon.  We decided to skip the interstate again and took state roads across.  After going through the plains we came to the mountains around Bend, Oregon.  Eventually we made it Eugene and went south to Cottage Grove.  Doug’s uncle Don was waiting and greeted us.  In the evening he treated us a Blue Ray movie on his huge HDTV.

30 November 2008
Cottage Grove, Oregon, United States

                Today we decided to head off and do some Christmas shopping; taking advantage of Oregon’s no sales tax laws.  For lunch we decided to treat Don to one of Doug’s favorites…BJ’s pizzeria.  In the evening we tried to eat dinner (which was hard after such a big lunch) and then caught another movie.

1 December 2008
Cottage Grove, Oregon, United States

                While at the DMV we were able to register our new car but ran into a hiccup with our drivers licenses.  What was most important was the registration however.  We went back to Don’s and said farewell before heading off to Yreka, California.
                The drive was short.  Doug’s dad Tim would be working in the area and Tim decided to use hotel points to treat us to a nice room at the Holiday Inn (nice!!).
                Just after we showed up, so did Tim.  We had a nice reunion there in the hotel lobby.  For dinner we went to a classic restaurant, The Black Bear Dinner.

2 December 2008
Yreka, California, United States

                After having breakfast with Tim we set off to nearly drive the entire length of California.  We jumped on the I-5 and about 11 ½ hours later we arrived in San Diego!  We pulled into Sean’s place.  He was the one that had dropped us off at the border the first day of our trip.  Of course he had a new addition, a beautiful baby girl. 
                The next couple weeks were spent catching up with friends in San Diego and then heading north to visit with friends and family for the rest of the Holidays.
So what’s next?
                Our next adventure will be trying to start a new life in the Portland Oregon area.  Only time will tell if our luck holds out and we manage to find jobs during an “economic crisis.”
                One parting thought for all the reluctant travelers.  Never once were we robbed, assaulted or bothered by corrupt police.  Bypass the tour groups, just buy a ticket and go.  To quote Anna, “The world is a beautiful place.”

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