The Road Trip Begins!

It had seemed like the day to leave on the road trip was so far away and would never come, but it was like I closed my eyes and BOOM it was here!  The day before I left, my neighbor (Don) helped me pack the car.  When I showed him the pile that I wanted to take, I told him that it’s okay if it doesn’t all fit and that I would either get rid of it or ship it.  He takes one look at the pile and says, “I can make it fit.”  And he did!  I was so impressed with his packing skills.  He even made sure my tire pressure was good so that we didn’t have a blow out on the interstate.  I’m going to miss all of our neighbors.  We loved Don & Shiri’s two little boys (Andy & Kyle) a few doors down.  Such sweet boys 🙂

We were looking to depart around one.  I spent the morning finishing up a few loose ends – I had things to recycle and wanted to drop off a few items at the Interpretive Center (the place I volunteered).  When I was at the Interpretive Center I was able to say goodbye to a few more friends that I had volunteered with.


Then I headed over to Gemma’s to pick her up!  I showed her the small space that I had made for her (it was a squished ride for the both of us) and we were off! image

Our first stop was Williams, AZ.  We stayed the night at the Best Western and decided to head down to the restaurant in the hotel for dinner since it was already pretty late.  The funniest thing about this stop is that Gem wanted to know if the salsa/soup was spicy.  Three separate people (including the chef and manager) came to our table to make sure that she thought it was spicy enough.  I don’t know I guess maybe you had to be there 🙂

I forgot to mention that as we were driving at night there were a few semi-trucks that had honked at our car.  I told Gem that we probably had a gremlin on our car and that they were probably trying to warn us.  However, as we were filling up gas the next morning I kept trying to figure out why they would be honking at us.  I decided that maybe we should check the tail/break lights.  Sure enough, one of the lights was out.  We decided that we would get it fixed later down the road.


After filling up with gas, we set course for the Grand Canyon.  I’m really glad that we decided to make this detour.  We only drove along the South Rim, but it was still really cool to see.  Hopefully I will make it back one day.


For one photo we stopped to take, Gem decided that she wanted to do a yoga pose (crow I believe).  She was on top of the rock getting into position when I heard a lady behind me say, “Oh my, she’s going to do a hand stand.  I can’t even watch.”  I called out to Gem, and said “Wait, you’re not doing a hand stand are you?”  She replied no, but the lady still was pretty uncomfortable.

12-Grand Canyon


At another stop, we decided to venture way off the designated path.  In that spot it felt like we were the only two people in the vastness that is the Grand Canyon.  Pretty cool feeling if you ask me.

18-Grand Canyon


The next destination was going to be Four Corners Monument.  We made a pit stop in a small town to buy a bulb for my tail light.  The lady at the Best Western in Williams had mentioned that there was a place along the way to the monument that had dinosaur tracks.  We found the location, but decided not to stop.  Maybe I was being silly, but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving all of our possessions in the car to venture out to see the tracks basically in the middle of nowhere.  I do want to check it out if we make it back though.

As time ticked on, we realized that we weren’t going to make it to Four Corners Monument before they closed, so we decided to just head straight to Albuquerque.  As we were heading into town, Gem commented on how there were so many stars!  We decided to pull off on a side road to stop and take a look.  The road we drove down ended up being near a prison.  We realized this because we saw a sign warning that hitchhikers might be escaped inmates.  At the end of the road we pulled over and admired the stars.  On our way back to the main road, I decided that I thought it would be funny to get a picture of that sign warning of hitchhikers.  Gem hopped out and ran over to take a picture of the sign and then we were on our way to find a hotel.


As we pulled up to the first hotel to check vacancy and price, Gem started to freak out saying “Wait, what is happening?! OMG!? Something is attacking me!”  Come to find out, she had tracked in a bunch of cockleburs when she took a picture of that sign near the prison.  It took a while to get the car clear of all of those lovely presents 🙂

The next morning, we headed out to find a few locations where they filmed Breaking Bad.  We got to see Walter White’s house and the office of his lawyer (Saul Goodman).

21-Walter Whites House

As we pulled up to Walter White’s house we encountered others doing exactly the same thing.  The lady that owns the house came out for a bit and told us that she had lived there for many years and one day got a knock on her door about them using her house in the show.

I actually just recently finished the Breaking Bad series.  For some reason I couldn’t get into it after the first few episodes, but once I started watching it for the second time I was hooked!  Great series and I highly recommend it!

The next stop in New Mexico for our road trip adventure was Roswell!  We ate lunch at a Thai restaurant!


Then we ventured over to take a tour of the UFO Museum.  image

Being the tourist that I am, I asked the lady at the museum if she had ever experienced anything extraterrestrial.  She replied no, but that she believes the story and all of the facts/info provided in the museum.  It really was a pretty cool little town!  Sorry to report, no aliens though.  Maybe if we come back at night…

After Roswell, we began our journey to San Antonio!  But I will save that story for another post!

Btw, my friend Gemma is also posting about our road trip!!  You can read about it here: Jessica + Gem’s Grand Road Trip Adventure: Hot, Cold, and Super Cool!

My last month in California before the road trip and the big move

There I was, Andrew had taken off for Paris and I still had one more month left.  We had already gotten rid of most of our furniture and only had smaller things left to wrap up.  I still had one more month of work and then I would be departing on my road trip back to Missouri!  But I’m getting a little ahead of myself…

All of our friends that we had made over the past 5 years wanted to hang out before I left and even though I mentioned before that we only had smaller things to wrap up, it still amounted to a lot of time sifting through the piles (plus I was still working at my job and passing on my responsibilities at Newport Bay Conservancy).  I remember telling Andrew how stressed I was trying to see everyone before I left.  His response was “Oh I’m so sorry that everyone wants to hang out with you.” – that really put it in perspective.  I decided that I should be happy and not stress out so much over it.  Plus he had a lot more on his plate than I did on mine.

My first big meet up before I left was with Erica and Gem.  Erica and I had been hiking Crystal Cove for the past year or so (it had kind of became our ritual hike every 3 months).  The hike is 4 miles down to the beach and then 4 miles back up.  That day I decided that I would complete my Landon Plunge in the ocean!  And believe me, it was cold!  So much fun with these girls, going to miss hiking there!


I had also promised my friend, Mary, that I would join her on one more NBC kayak tour (Andrew and I loved kayaking the Back Bay).  If you’ve never been on a kayak tour, I highly suggest you go.  It is a perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning and it’s not too expensive (check out details here:  Or better yet, look into becoming a volunteer for Newport Bay Conservancy 🙂  It was a perfect day on the water.


After kayaking, we went to Taco Mesa for lunch.  Very good food!  I’m sad that I was just discovering Taco Mesa for the first time that day, because I would have definitely made it a regular occurrence if we were staying in the area.


The following day, my friend Kristin was in town.  So we headed down to the beach for her to complete the Landon Plunge!


It was so nice on the beach that day, too bad she had to head back up north and I had things to do.  And by things to do, I mean meet Gem, Peter, and Erica at Kéan Coffee for Cards Against Humanity!  We were there for over 2 hours and it was so much fun.  One of the mangers for Kéan actually came out and told us how nice it was to see people sitting in a coffee shop playing a game together and not just on their phones or other electronic devices.  We kept asking ourselves why we hadn’t been doing this regularly.  Oh hindsight…


Later that night, Gem and I headed to a hockey game!  Go Ducks!  It was my first game ever, and I don’t really have a team that I root for, so I just went with the home team and they WON!  Gem had gotten tickets from her work and they were box seats, so I’m pretty sure that all other games (as far as seating goes) are ruined for me, but I hope to go again someday.  I really enjoyed it!


That following Wednesday, my fellow NBC volunteers held a going away party for me at Yard House.  Such wonderful people, I enjoyed spending time with them and have learned so much!  Although I must say that I was upset with the waiter because I was the only one who got carded for an alcoholic drink 😉


Then on Friday (4/18) was the going away party from Toa.  Before we headed out to happy hour, my boss Andrea had a surprise presentation/sing-a-long to Aladdin’s “A Whole New World.”  If you know my boss and you know me then this makes perfect sense.  I was really touched by the presentation and will miss working with the team.  I really learned a lot about myself from working there.  For happy hour we headed to Yard House again, because apparently that’s the place to be 🙂  At the restaurant we proceeded to sing “A Whole New World” again, so maybe we had a few too many drinks 😉


My last big adventure would be with Erica and Alex.  They were going to WonderCon and had asked if I wanted to tag along.  I still had so much to do, but I definitely wasn’t going to miss out on this!  They both dressed up as Mandalorians – their costumes looked great!  Everyone wanted a picture with them!  It was fun seeing kids so excited to get their picture taken with them.  It was great walking around seeing all of the different costumes, displays, and merchandise they had at the event.  Sadly, we didn’t listen to any panels that day, but I don’t really feel like I missed out.  Maybe I will partake in that the next time I go.


I did meet up with many others, but if I were to talk about them all I would just begin to bore you 🙂  Now the only thing left to talk about is the ROAD TRIP!  But I will save that for another time 🙂

We’re moving to France???

Who knew that everything could change drastically in just one month?!  We had just signed the lease on our apartment in December 2013 for one more year.  After one year, we had planned to play it by ear on whether we would stay or go.  But in January, a little monkey wrench was thrown into our plans.  Long story short, Andrew accepted a Head Chef position in Paris, France!  We would be moving a little earlier and farther away than expected.

Moving halfway across the country is challenging (which we had done 5 years ago), but across the world was a whole different ballpark.  We had initially decided to put most of our possessions in storage, but after a bit of thinking I thought it would be best to just get rid of most of our things and start fresh.  Luckily my husband reluctantly agreed and thus we began the process of sifting through what we would keep and purge from our lives (our family back in Missouri agreed to let us store the few possessions I could fit in my little Toyota Corolla – thank you!).  Lots of our friends and family bought or took things off of our hands (Janh even came by and filled up a duffel bag full).  It felt good to see everything go to a good home.  Our friends Toby and Jenny even let me come over and try to sell a few things at their garage sale.  That was a lot of fun!


A few days before Andrew left for Paris we decided to have one last bonfire with all of our friends. We had met so many great people over the past 5 years and were happy to see most of them make it out (for those that didn’t make it we did manage to see each other elsewhere before we left).  Andrew made delicious tacos over the fire.  This was by far our biggest turnout yet.  All we had to do was tell everyone that we were moving, who knew those were the magic words 🙂  At the end of the night there was a hit and run accident in the parking lot near the beach where we were having the bonfire (some people having a fight over something).  Then the cops came in their helicopter to say goodbye, how sweet of them (we got the spotlight and everything).  I think the guy that was hit by the car was okay though, so that’s good.  We also are pretty sure that we saw a mermaid that night…yep definitely a mermaid.


Andrew’s day to leave was on March 24th.  We made the rounds that day.  Stopped at our favorite place to get a cup of coffee (if you haven’t been to Kéan Coffee then you’re doing it wrong) and also had lunch at In-N-Out.



We arrived at the airport and went to check in the bags for his flight.  I learned that there is a maximum weight for bags (you don’t just pay more if it is over).  Andrew scrambled to move things around and remove a few items from his bags so they would meet the requirements. What a mess, but in the end it all worked out!  Andrew was off for Paris!  I would not meet him for almost two more months.  I still had a lot of work to do, people to visit, and had an epic road trip planned!  But that’s for another blog post 🙂

A Night at Kéan Coffee – August 29, 2013

A couple weeks ago, we were very fortunate to be able to attend a tour of the Kéan Coffee roastery.  Upon our arrival we were greeted by Denia.  She asked us a few questions and one of them was how did you hear about the event?  I initially saw the event on the website, but my history with Kéan goes back a couple years now.  I was first introduced to the delicious coffee by my friend Nick Burton (we slaved together at Barnes and Noble).  My next encounter with Kéan was with Newport Bay Conservancy and their Earth Day celebration.  I learned that Kéan was and is a strong supporter of Upper Newport Bay.  I really liked seeing how they were involved in the community.  Anyways, I jumped at the opportunity to get to tour the roastery!

Okay, back to the tour.  Once more of the guests showed up, Martin came in and started to talk about his family and how he got involved in the coffee business.  It is a fascinating history and you can read more about that here:  After everyone arrived, we made our way into the roastery.  The first thing Martin showed us was the coffee fruit (I don’t remember what kind).  He had us hold it in our hands and squish it to push out the coffee seeds.

 Below is a picture of Martin showing us the Coffee Family Tree.


The roaster below on the left is the roaster built by Martin’s father.  He said that they used to keep it in the living room until his mom suggested that it find a new place in their home (guess it was too loud).  That is the roaster that Martin learned to roast on.  The roaster on the right is the one that his brother built.

We continued our tour into the back room where (if my memory serves me correctly) all of the “green” coffee seeds/beans are stored until they are roasted.


Here are the open bags of “green” coffee seeds that are waiting to be roasted. We were allowed to smell the different seeds – the Sauta Julia with honey smelled amazing!

Kéan’s coffee roaster, Shawn, then began his roasting demonstration.


This paper shows the different stages of the roasting process.


Looking good…


I love this picture of Shawn.


That man roasts a mighty fine bean.


After the roasting demo, the next part of our tour included a blind taste test of 3 different coffees.  It was fun trying to pull out the different flavor notes.

The final stop on our tour was the barista demonstration put on by Denia and Garrett.  They went over the different methods of brewing coffee and also walked us through what goes on during a barista competition.  We sampled espresso, cappuccino, and Garrett’s specialty the Amaro “Pie-o” which uses the Ethiopia Amaro Gayo coffee (tastes include passion fruit, honey, blueberry, semi-sweet chocolate, and almond butter).  This is by far my favorite coffee at the moment!  Below are a few pictures from the barista demonstration.

This was such a fun evening (can’t you tell how much fun I had by my reflection in the roaster?)!  I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different to do or at the bare minimum get highly caffeinated for the evening!  Oh and before I forget we got to take home a bag of the coffee that Shawn roasted – what a great treat.

Seriously though, check out Kéan Coffee!  They have two locations – one in Newport Beach and the other is in Tustin.  It’s definitely worth the trip! Here is a link to the information about the tour: