Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thoughts on Our Journey Across the U.S.

Eric and I threw the cat, Caesar, his litter box and crate, several pieces of luggage full of clothes and some camping equipment into the car and drove away from San Francisco on Wednesday, July 23rd. The plan was to visit friends and family on the way to our final destination, our new home, Toronto, Ontario. We broke the trip up into segments, sometimes making stops only to sleep and taking extra time at others to see the sights and visit with friends or family.

We drove from S.F. to Las Vegas on the first leg of the trip. Neither of us had ever been to Vegas and figured if we didn't go there on the way to T.O. we never would. Gambling is not our thing and there are other destinations that interest us more. Still, despite there being casinos in many places all over the U.S., Vegas is unique and we decided not to miss the opportunity to experience it.

Our drive to Vegas began by leaving San Francisco as non-residents. We will, of course, return to visit. We both have family there we care deeply about. And a great group of friends. We may even move back permanently. It's an incredible place and a wonderful area in which to live. It is, though, very odd to close the door to your home knowing you will not re-enter...and then drive away. My brother and nephew hosted us at his house in Berkeley that night for a proper send off. Unfortunately my sister in law was travelling for work. We also stopped at the homes of Eric's brother and sister beforehand to say farewell to them.

The next morning we drove from Berkeley to Las Vegas. We stayed an extra day and spent much of that time at three of the larger casinos; the Bellagio, Caesar's Palace and the MGM Grand. Our hotel allowed pets as did all the accommodations we stayed in. Our cat, Caesar traveled in the car really well, though he did have some help thanks to some great drugs provided by our veterinarian in San Francisco. We also consistently set up a space in the car that we kept identical during every leg of our journey. Caesar became very comfortable, drugs or not, in "his" space right behind the driver and front passenger seats. He had an open crate, lined with a clean towel with space in front and on the side leading to his litter box. We made sure he could lay inside or outside his crate, that he had both food and water during the entire trip and access to his litter box at all times. Caesar is an older kitty, about sixteen - so we were keenly aware to reduce his stress wherever possible.

Las Vegas is a sprawling city in the middle of a desert. It has no business being there. It can only exists because of the electricity produced by the Hoover Dam and the water of the Colorado River. And the city obviously uses a lot of both. Vegas is dry. And hot - like an oven. Unfortunately we were in town at the end of July - the middle of the summer. I am not a big water drinker. I drank a lot of water. During one walk down the strip at about nine thirty at night I realized my eyelids were sticking to my eyeballs. Vegas is hot.

Las Vegas, is, however, amazing for just the reasons it can exist. The city is grand, flashy, and extremely over-the-top. There is never a minute you aren't reminded what keeps the city thriving; money, water, and electricity. The extreme amount of all three flowing into the city is beyond obvious, it is ostentatious.

We spent most of our time at three of the larger casinos; the Bellagio and the MGM Grand and Caesar's Palace. I have only gambled once before in my life. I left that casino, in Connecticut, with significantly more money than when I arrived. I did not have the same amount of luck my second time around. But it took me a day and a half to lose the money gambled, win back that amount and more and then lose almost all of it again. It was fun. I had a good time. I would do it again. We also attended a Cirque du Soleil performance. The scale of the theatre and the production was grand, staged on hydraulic platforms used at one hundred percent vertical as well as horizontal. And the renown athletics of the performers are even more impressive live.

Our next stop was Albuquerque for some sleep. New Mexico was surprisingly beautiful. The landscape was very diverse and I didn't realize how verdant parts of it would be.

Eric lived for several years in Denver so we made our way there to visit for an extra day. We had a very lovely time with Eric's friend, Christina, who hosted us at her house, made us a family dinner with her brother, sister in law and their family and allowed us to thoroughly relax. During our time there we also walked around Denver's downtown pedestrian mall and met up with a large group of friends for a dinner at a local restaurant.

After Denver we traveled through to Omaha, Nebraska only to rest and then on to Chicago. We stayed an extra day in Chicago, got a good nights sleep, toured the downtown loop, went to the top of the Sears tower to the observatory, and visited Boystown and had a couple of drinks. I've been to Chicago twice now and both times really enjoyed it.

Better rested thanks to our stay in Chicago we traveled to Pittsburgh, PA to visit with my mother and Step father. I haven't been to Pittsburgh in years and it was nice to visit with my mother and her husband and to allow her to show off her city a bit to Eric, who had never been before. He also got to add another state to the list of those visited. I believe he has been to most of them.

That was the last stop before ending our journey in Toronto. The last leg seemed the easiest. We had to stop at immigration and customs at the border between New York state and the province of Ontario to declare our "landing" and personal possessions. We were completely prepared and all went very smoothly.

Eric, Caesar the cat, and I successfully crossed the country ending our journey on August 2nd in T.O. - Toronto, Ontario. It was a good trip and I am very glad we made the opportunity happen.


Ed Terpening said...

glad to hear it went well! Any pictures?

Vancouver Isle Doug said...

A belated congratulation on your landing and glad to hear all went well. It sounds like your cat was MUCH quieter than ours, who meowed the entire 6 day drive from WI to BC. Lucky for me she was in my husband's car with he and the dog while I was driving the U-haul! LOL!
I wish you both well on your new journey and home and was surprised by your comment that someday you might move back to San Fran. We never thought of moving back to the US, just visiting.

Adam said...

We'll be back to visit S.F. but the comment about moving back was only to acknowledge that it's a great place, we had great lives and that one never knows where life is going to lead them. We are incredibly happy to be here in Canada and plan on staying. Our reasons for moving mirror those of other US2CA bloggers whom I read. The reality has already begun to meet my expectations. What more could one ask for? Thanks for the "thumbs up".

Edward Martinez said...

Doug and Ed here from San Francisco....
Glad to hear the journey to T.O. was smooth and T.O. is already living up to your expectations. We miss seeing your faces in the Hood.... We raised our glasses to you last night at the Sun and were really happy to get the news for Ed T that you had your blog up and running and that we could get news on the journey and your new home.
We look forward to hearing more and are anxious to visit T.O.!!

Marketing Maven said...

I didn't know there is a "Denver" connection! Can't wait to talk about that more with you guys. Oh, and WELCOME HOME!