It’s Been a Long Time

It’s been a long time, New Jersey, but I am finally back in my home state. After flying out of Ontario, California at 6:30 in the morning, I have landed in Newark, New Jersey at 4:30 in the afternoon.

The flight was very short from Ontario, California to my connecting flight in Phoenix, Arizona, a mere 50 minutes or so. However, the flight then from Phoenix to Newark was a grueling four and a half hours, not accounting for the time changes. Thankfully, catching up on sleep and playing on my laptop was enough to keep me occupied over the course of the flight.

Now I am happy to be home, though I still wish I could have had more time in California. In any case, I am very glad you all could share this trip with me, and I hope it has been both informational and entertaining for you. Look for more updates to be coming throughout the summer with all of my summer plans.

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Traveling through California

Well, its my last night in California, and I have had an amazing trip! As I am packing, allow me to tell you all about the fun that Justin and I had over the past week.

Exploring Riverside was a lot of fun! Justin took me to a driving range not too far from his house, where I got to hit some balls for the first time in a number of years. Trust me, my lack of experience showed, as I was only able to drive the ball about 75 yards. That was nothing compared to Justin’s 100+ yards.

Beyond that, Justin gave me a tour of his old high school, where I got to meet some of his former classmates and teachers. Visiting a private school for the first time, it felt very different than my public high school back in New Jersey. With much more open space, and outdoor seating to go with it, the school had the stereotypical California high school on TV feel. Everyone I met there were very friendly too.

Justin also showed me one of his favorite places to go in Riverside, the martial arts studio he went to as a kid. I got to see an introductory session going on while we visited, and got to meet many of the people Justin was trained by as a child. It was very cool to see this firsthand, having only heard the stories of many of the people I met.

Of course, amid all of this, we had to have at least one stereotypically tourist-like day. That day was today, when we drove down to Venice Beach. Along the way we drove past the famous letters denoting LAX, the biggest airport in Los Angeles, and through parts of Corona and Los Angeles. When we arrived, we walked out onto the pier at Venice Beach, and then made the five mile walk up to Santa Monica Pier. All along the walk we saw a lot of sights, including the famous Muscle Beach. We walked out onto the famous pier five miles away, passing the Bubba Gump seafood store, and saw the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It was well worth the walk, and well worth the trip.

And what trip through California would be complete without a stop at a local In N Out Burger! Amazingly enough, this was the FIRST time that I had eaten a hamburger, and I absolutely loved it. In N Out just needs to expand to the east coast already!

I could not have asked for a better vacation, or for a better trip partner in Justin. I wish I could have stayed longer to see more of California, but all good things must come to an end. I fly out of Ontario Airport tomorrow morning to head back to New Jersey, and I’ll be sure to update you on how my flight progresses.

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Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day everyone! And today, we remember those who have served this country and those that continue to serve today, with pride, dignity, and strength. Those who served and serve continue to defend our freedoms, so remember them today.

Today Justin and I are having hot dogs and hamburgers with his mom and grandmother, then going to see his sister for even more food! We have yet to spend much time exploring Riverside, because well, we are still trying to recover and rest up from our cross country drive. It is only when you actually get out of the car after driving over so many states that you realize how tired you actually are. Sleep and relaxation are the orders of the weekend, and we will get right to exploration when the week begins!

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California, We Have Arrived!

We have finally arrived in Riverside, California! After nearly a week on the road, driving throughout the country, seeing the sights, we have made it to Justin’s house. And amazingly enough, California has already shown me some interesting sights.

Now, I must say, when we first entered California, I thought Justin was kidding. We entered through Nevada on an interstate, and were driving through the desert. Yes, the desert. Clearly I had my geography wrong, because I had no idea that so much of California appeared to be desert.

In any case, I was very impressed by the rock formations and the amount you could see when driving through the Mojave Desert. Justin was right when he told me about the joshua trees in California, they are everywhere!

What surprised me the most was when we arrived in Riverside. It was as if we came down from the mountains and fell into the valley, surrounded by the cities that make up the Los Angeles metro area. You could really see so much coming through the mountains, and then arriving into Riverside.

Make no mistake, Riverside is a big city, and I can’t wait for Justin to show me around!

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Viva Las Vegas!

We are passing through Las Vegas, Nevada right now! After driving throgh hours of the deserts of Utah and Arizona, we are into the Sin City. The closest place I have seen to this so far in my life has been Atlantic City, New Jersey, and AC has nothing on this.

 

The first site we passed along the interstate was Las Vegas Motor Speedway. As an avid race fan, you know I had to get as many pictures as I could of the speedway. We then passed a number of the casinos that have made Las Vegas as famous as it is today. Seeing signs for places like Trump, Mone Carlo, South Point, and more were very interesting to see.

 

 

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Rumbling through the Rockies

We have departed Denver, and are driving our way through the Rocky Mountains! The sheer beauty of the mountains as I watching outside of the passenger window is astounding. And what is more amazing to me is what I am seeing that you don’t see on the east coast. The size and stature of the mountains, plus the way the towns and cities are built almost into the mountains is beautiful.

Its getting to be nighttime now, so I don’t know how much more we’ll be able to see tonight. We are expecting to rest up in the car tonight, and then finish the drive to California tomorrow, and arrive in Riverside by the evening.

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Hello Denver, and Hello Sara!

We have reached Denver, Colorado, where we have briefly stopped to see one of my old friends Sara Van Velkinburgh. Sara, a junior in high school, is one of my best friends that I made by being involved in Model United Nations. We met at the North American Invitational Model United Nations in Washington DC back during my senior year of high school. Sara impressed me with her ability to speak and persuade other students in our committee, being that she was a freshman at the time in a room made up of all seniors minus her.

Since then, Sara and I have stayed in touch through Facebook, texting and calling, as well as the old-fashioned letters. We jokingly still refer to each other at times by our countries that we represented on our committee at the time. Sara was representing the Russian Federation, while I represented Switzerland. Getting to see her after three years is an absolute delight.

Unfortunately, our visit was short-lived, as we had to continue towards California, in an effort to make sure we can make it there in the truck’s current condition. Regardless, I was so happy to get to see Sara again, and I look forward to seeing her again soon.

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Onward to Denver!

We have just departed the Clarion Inn in Gillette, Wyoming, and are moving onward to Denver, Colorado and visit my good friend Sara, who I have not seen in over three years. Unfortunately, because of our car troubles, we have cut back on the stops remaining in our trip, since we want to be sure that the truck gets back to Riverside, California in one piece. That means regrettably we will not be stopping in Billings, Montana to see one of Justin’s old high school friends, and not planning on stopping at Yellowstone National Park either. While our car troubles may have set us back and cut back on what we continue to do, we are still have a great time on this journey, and remain in high spirits!

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Wyoming, We Have a Problem…

We have stopped unexpectedly in Gillette, Wyoming. When exiting from the highway into the town, the truck became jumpy when braking and accelerating. We pulled over into a Smith’s Supermarket parking lot to figure out what the problem could be.

At first, we thought it could have been an issue with the transmission, which would be either terminal or very costly. However, Justin thought it could have to do with the fuel filter, so we embarked on a trek to the nearest auto parts store to get the necessary supplies. We then pulled into an old abandoned gas station and fought to replace the fule filter. Not only were we having issues with getting the old filter off, but the winds in Gillette were blowing at nearly hurricane force.

Fortunately, after three and a half hours of work, the fuel filter has been replaced and the truck seems to be back in working order. We will shut it down for the night though. We are gonna stay at the Clarion Inn in Gillette, and take a night to relax and recover after what has become a stressful day.

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The Majesty of Mount Rushmore

We have reached one of the most spectacular national monuments in our country, Mount Rushmore. On the drive up to the monument, you drive through the small town of Keystone, South Dakota, a town dedicated to the monument and the presidents it represents. You can clearly see why Gutzon Borglum chose this place to build Mount Rushmore:  the beauty is all around.

When you arrive at Mount Rushmore, you walk up a set of stairs to a walkway towards the mountain. Along the walkway are informational stops about the presidents, poles with the flags of every state and their year of admission to the union, and the bust of Gutzon Borglum, the architect and designer. At the end of the pathway you find a perfect spot to take pictures in front of the presidents that make up the mountain, as well as an ampitheatre and museum. In the musuem, you will find everything from the lives of the presidents of the mountain, to the design and creation of the monument.

Mount Rushmore is truly one of those places you need to see in America. It is by far one of the most beautiful monuments in the country, and if you get the chance, spend an hour or two there and learn about our presidents.

From here, we move on toward Wyoming and Montana. And away we go!

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