Road-trip recap

Cram everything into the car? Check.
Wake up at 3 a.m.? Check.
Take pictures with sloth? Check. Check. Check.

Romeo the sloth at Six Flags Great America, where we spent Monday riding roller coasters as a reward for making it all the way to Illinois

As we zoomed across the country last weekend, I tracked my progress on Facebook using pictures of my sloth, whom we named Romeo. It may have been the fastest a sloth has ever moved, because we made it from Black Diamond to Carol Stream in just under 58 hours, including all of our stops and two time zone changes.

We stopped in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, about six hours into the trip, grabbing breakfast at a local diner. It was the last time I’ll see Ruby for 10 months at least, and not just because I’m across the country. She’ll be across the world teaching English in Turkey!

We drove pretty relentlessly after that, plowing through Montana and Wyoming. On Saturday, we stopped in Black Hills National Forest to see the Crazy Horse Memorial (nowhere in that entire place could I find out who exactly Crazy Horse was) and Mount Rushmore. We also stopped at Wall Drug, which was probably the most amusing stop of the day. Where else in America can you find a piano-playing gorilla and ride a jackelope? We didn’t stop until we reached Blue Earth, Minnesota, home of the Jolly Green Giant.

Finally, we drove the last 7 hours into Carol Stream on Sunday. After making it through Iowa, where there was literally nothing but corn on the horizon, it was reassuring to see some trees after crossing into Illinois. Carol Stream is about an hour west of Chicago, so I’m not in the city, but it’s easiest just to say that I live in Chicagoland, I guess.

Needless to say, after that massive trip, Romeo and I are glad to have arrived, even though I woke up today 2,100 miles from my family.  And unlike waking up to an apartment full of friends in D.C., this morning was very different.

This is my new “rental” dog, Kane. I get to love on him, but not have to pay for him! Best ever. How can you not love that floppy ear?

I am living in a house in Carol Stream with one other woman, Kim, and her dog, Kane. Kim travels a lot for work, so she needed a roommate to help care for and love Kane while she’s gone. That’s my job! Kane is a German Shepherd/Bernese Mountain Dog mix, and he’s one of the sweetest, calmest dogs I have ever known. The neighbors call him “the zen dog.”

The day after we arrived, Kim left on a three-day business trip, so Kane and I were on our own almost right off the bat! He is pretty suspicious of being left here with me, but I think we bonded last night over a “squeak-the-stuffed-football/grab-the-bone” game. I will win this dog over to me if it is the last thing I do.

My home is a 3-bedroom house with a good-sized backyard. (I feel like I’m trying to sell it or something) My bedroom is shaping up to be just perfect for me; I’m finding all of the things I need to feel right at home, and I’m even getting my photos hung, so I have familiar faces around me all the time.

I just wish that all of my friends were here so that I could bake for them, because I finally have a good-sized kitchen! If you knew where I lived in D.C., you’d be picturing those tiny, one-butt kitchens in the Dellenback right about now. This kitchen is spacious – and the fridge is only shared between two people. (How did we ever share that space between FIVE of us?)

In many ways, this house already feels like a home because it’s all furnished (a blessing for me), but the downside is that I feel far away from anyone my age. I go to the store and I see multitudes of young moms with kids (I nearly ran over a child with a cart today, so that was fun), so I still worry that making friends here will be hard. I’m actually looking forward to trying out a new church on Sunday because I’m so desperate to get involved anywhere and meet anyone. Hopefully that will change when I start work on Monday!

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