October – November ’15

Thanks for reading my blog! I’m writing this 9 months after arriving in the Denver area, our new home, because I want to collect all of my Colorado adventures in one place for my family in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida to read and see everything we’ve done since arriving here.

Oh boy, has it been an adventure.

So, starting out, we left Pennsylvania on October 20, 2015. Worst day of my life. I couldn’t believe it was really happening, that I was really leaving my family, my best friend (that’s you, Ash!), my friends, my church, and every remotely familiar sight I’ve ever seen, just to move to a place that didn’t even appeal to me in the least. (Seriously though, who in the right mind enjoys living in a desert in the middle of the US, away from the ocean that is my heart, and full of North America’s dangerous predators?!)

But I did it. It was hard. It was necessary. And it made me a stronger person not really because of anything I did but because of how hard I had to lean on the Lord. And now I know He really is there through it all and that His presence makes all the difference in a situation.

Here are highlights from our drive across the country, from New Hope, PA to Littleton, CO.

Day One, from New Hope, PA to Columbus, OH. We visited Josh’s best buddy from college, Jake. Fun!

Day Two, from Columbus, OH to St. Louis, MO. Best part of the trip (no offense, Jake!).

As we drove over the Mississippi River, I thought about how I have become a modern-day pioneer and that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really. Growing up, that’s all we ever played: going west in a covered wagon. And here I was, with my husband, starting a new life just like the pioneers of the 1800s, except we were driving a WRX…not a Conestoga.

We stayed in a fancy hotel with the Gateway Arch just outside our window, overlooking the Mississippi!

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St. Louis, MO, Gateway Arch from outside our hotel room windows

We also enjoyed a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown St. Louis from a well-treated, impeccably groomed Percheron named Tank.

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Tank the Percheron – what a sweetie!

The next morning, we went inside the Arch! Signs outside of it read, “Do not attempt if claustrophobic or afraid of heights.” That didn’t daunt us one bit. And who could really turn down the opportunity to ride up into the 630-ft tall Arch high above the city? While the ride up to the top in sci-fi spacepods was uncomfortable (seriously though, each pod fit six people and all of our knees were touching in the middle, backs hunched over, arms pressed up against our sides), the view was spectacular.

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Photo cred: Josh and my sister, who took it upon herself to photo-shop out my thumbs, so it really looks like I’m holding the Arch!
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Gorgeous fall leaves blocked the bottom of the Arch from view.
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So high up!
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Inside the spacepod, on our way up to the top of the Arch…
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Looking westward, into the city of St. Louis. It was crazy to think that I would soon disappear over that horizon.
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Looking east, over the (very muddy) Mississippi.
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Selfie time:)

Day Three, St. Louis, MO to Topeka, KS. From this point in our trip until we reached Littleton, CO, the terrain was pancake flat. We drove and drove and drove some more, passing nothing but ranches and wind farms. I read Harry Potter to Josh, we listened to good music, we talked, and we wondered when we’d see signs of life other than moo-cows contentedly munching on wild grass.

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Kansas wind farm

Finally, we arrived in Topeka, the capital of Kansas and where we stayed the night. I didn’t tell Josh at first (because I knew he’d say NO WAY), but the hotel mansion we stayed in (for dirt cheap, btw: full bedroom, sitting room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom, walk-in closet, and balcony for only $120.00/night) was rumored to be haunted… Hey, what can I say? I have a thing for Halloween, which was right around the corner.

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Our “supposedly haunted” hotel… Our room was off of that third-story balcony in the middle of the picture.

And if the hotel was actually haunted, its other-worldly inhabitants were of the amicable sort because this place gave off nothing but good vibes.

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The Topeka Capitol building was just down the street from our hotel.

So, yes, Kansas is flat nothingness. And, as someone who came from the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with its winding rivers and never-ending forests, I would never want to live here. (Though, that’s what I said about Colorado… And look at me now!)

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Flat-as-a-pancake Kansas. Eastern Colorado looks the same way.

Day Four, from Topeka, KS to Littleton, CO. On our way out of Kansas, we stopped off at a museum dedicated to the first settlers.

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The Prairie Museum was a much-needed break from driving, and we learned all sorts of interesting things about life on the prairie as a settler back in the 1800-1900s.
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Old one-room schoolhouse. As a substitute teacher, I can relate to what these poor teachers had to go through!
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Dug-out home, built from sod – the best material available on the Plains.
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Giant old barn
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Conestoga wagon – my childhood self couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to ride in it so bad, but this old guy had seen his fair share of bumping along the rough Kansas prairie.
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Windmill and tornado siren
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The barn again – so beautiful

The Rockies first came into sight about 50 miles east of Denver on Route 70. I was convinced they were just low-hanging clouds, but Josh knew right away that they were mountains and started bouncing excitedly in his seat (or maybe he was bouncing because his butt had fallen asleep from all that driving and sitting).

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Rockies? No, they’re just the foothills… To put it in perspective, they’re the size of the Poconos back in PA!

At last, we have arrived at our hotel, where we stayed for a month until we could move into our apartment. It was our first time living on our own – we’d lived with my parents for the first 3.5 years of our marriage because we were in college and just starting out (thanks, Mom and Dad! Love you!). Suddenly we were “real” adults, buying all our own groceries and making our own dinners.

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We had a studio apartment in a Marriott Hotel. This was the extent of our “living room.” (Note, the Starbucks chilling out there on our “dining room table.” A must-have after a long road trip.)
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Our “bedroom,” a.k.a., the most UNCOMFORTABLE bed in the universe
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Our lil’ baby kitchen

Thanksgiving was tough, not being with my family back East. We do everything together. Every holiday. Every birthday. Every anniversary. Every Sunday. So, being away for Thanksgiving was incredibly difficult. Annnnnd, the fact that it snowed here on Thanksgiving made it worse: I hate snow. So, here I am, in Colorado, away from (almost) everyone I love (still had my hubby and brother Robbie), and it just HAS to snow…

But God is good! He showed all three of us that we have family wherever we go, and He made sure we felt loved. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom’s best friend from childhood and had so much fun.

Two days later, we moved into our first apartment together!

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Our living room, decorated for Christmas!
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Our kitchen
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Our bedroom (that’s Shadro, Bear, and Baluga, respectively, our childhood stuffy babies)

It felt so nice to have all our things unpacked and in one place again. A place we could call home, finally.