Adventures Across America

Hello friends! I’m sorry I’ve been super MIA on posting anything. It’s been quite hectic this last month preparing for Matthew’s training and the long trek over to Georgia. But it’s good to be back after conquering six day road trip over eight different states across the glorious US of A. As sad as we both were to leave each other and start the ever agonizing long-distance status, we had such a blast and a blessed time together that it made saying bye not as horrible. But only by a little 😦 Anyhooo!! I wanted to take y’all on the journey with us and recap our adventure across America!

So a lot of people ask why we decided to drive instead of fly to Georgia and it’s a two part answer, really. 1) It’s no secret that Matthew loves his car so obviously, he wanted to have it with him.  2) It’s more convenient for him to have his own car there to drive to and from base and also to church!

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In order to prevent any road-rash damage to it, he taped up his ENTIRE front bumper. Aiyiyi. But it turned into a fabulous artsy fartsy moment for us and we decorated it to give it more personality! But having me decorate and draw also kept me busy so he could work on his car in peace hehe. Very smart, Matthew. Very smart.

 

DAY ONE – CALIFORNIA TO PHOENIX, AZ

We left right after Member’s Meeting at our church, Berean, and Matthew was so thankful that the church was able to pray for him and send him off. Beyond anything, we’ve seen how much God has blessed us with the most fantastic and supportive church family – even as Matthew is all the way across the country! We had to book it since it would take us 6 hours to make it all the way to Phoenix, Arizona AND we realized half way through that we would be losing and hour [almost] everyday.

Seriously, there’s nothing more I could ask for than to spend the entire day [times six] with no one other than my best friend. All our weirdness came out very quickly after being cooped up in a car together for a few hours.

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Yeah….forget everything you knew about Matthew. He’s a strange one.

Just before we left California, we stopped by this cool little BBQ place off the highway called Rebel BBQ. BTW, Yelp seriously became our best friend on this trip and it never let us down. This place was no exception and we shared a bomb BBQ Brisket Sandwich with a yummy side of Mac and Cheese!

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Food coma hit me like a ton of bricks as soon as we got back on the road and I accidentally knocked out. Oops! Which did not help Matthew stay awake very well BUT he woke me up and we listened to John MacArthur sermons until we got to Phoenix safely and in one piece! Praise the Lord for making it through the first day!

 

DAY TWO – PHOENIX TO EL PASO, TX

One thing Matthew absolutely would not budge on was working out every. single. day. Guess that’s what I get for dating a committed military man! We found a quick place to grab some breakfast grub and it turned out to be this fresh, hipster place with a giant, pink throne outside.

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After being on the road for a little bit, we found the most awesome Jamaican place to get some jerk chicken and fried fish for lunch. It surprises me a little each time Matthew says he loves Jamaican food but it’s always a foodie adventure trying it out!

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We had 4 more hours to go until we got to our next stop in El Paso, Texas so….I got a little sleepy and fell asleep again. Which caused a domino effect of Matthew getting tired, us pulling over so Matt could chill, us exploring on the rocks nearby, me forgetting my phone after we had driven off, us having to turn back around after 10 minutes on the road, us taking an extra 5 minutes trying to find an exit to turn around, finally getting my stuff, us taking a detour at The Thing out of frustration.

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So it ended up being a good thing! We paid the $1 to see the mystery creature and if you ever pass it on Route 10, you should, too.

We crossed through New Mexico [the Land of Enchantment!] in one swoop and got to the infamous Texas!

 

DAY THREE – EL PASO TO MIDLAND, TX

Today was a seriously adventurous day! After uhh *ahem* sneaking *ahem* into a gym, we worked up quite an appetite and got some goood comfort food at a place called Ripe. It was our first time eating in Texas so we had some high expectations since everyone always says Texas does it bigger and better. This is very true.

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Sweet potato fries, turkey pesto and tomato sandwich, caprese burger, and a raspberry limeade. Our bellies are more than satisfied!

I wanted us to be a “fun” couple so I looked up what adventures we could get ourselves into in El Paso and wanted to go to this Mission Trail that looked pretty cool. Turned out to be more of an adventure than I bargained for….I almost navigated us across the Mexican border [which was funnier to me than to Matthew] and then I got us lost and almost navigated us across the Mexican border again. And then we finally found the mission but Matthew was more interested in doing donuts with his car in the empty lot next to it. No more trying to be fun for us.

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The mission was nice but it took so long to get there that we were just ready to keep moving. Even though Texas is pretty great in the cities, in between….there’s really not all that much going on. At least not on the highway we were taking. It was crazy how many abandoned houses, gas stations, even hotels that we saw on the side of the road, which is something we never see in California. It kinda gave us the heebie-jeebies but also gave us a greater look at how other parts of the country could be. Because of all the nothing-ness we saw, we jumped when we saw a billboard ad for Sand Surfing 5 miles up the road. Sand dunes in the middle of Texas?? So random, but we’ll take it!

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It was our first spontaneous adventure and it was a great adventure indeed. The sand dunes were huge, they spread out so far, and since not a lot of people were there, they looked so undisturbed and majestic. We had a blast racing up and sliding down the dunes and we even got a chance to just sit and watch the sun set. In small moments like those, we were reminded of how big and how good God is. How he holds all things, even this random little patch of sand dunes, in his mighty hands. What a good creator we have 🙂

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DAY FOUR – MIDLAND TO DALLAS, TX

Today was only a short 4 hour drive from Midland to Dallas so we felt like we had some extra time to explore this morning, which came in the form of a zoo! I know, I know….we could go to a zoo anywhere BUT this zoo was only $6 a person AND we got to feed giraffes!

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We raced through the zoo and saw lion, tigers, and bears! Oh my! All the animals were so active and the zoo wasn’t crowded at all so we seriously had such a lovely time. Thank you Zoo of Abilene!

Dallas is such a gorgeous city. Maybe it was just because we were missing the city vibe after being out in the country side for so long but it was grand.

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There was no way we were leaving Texas without getting some gooood Texas Bar-B-Q so for dinner, we raced over to Hard 8, where they serve meat market style, by the pound, with an abundance with sides like all-you-can-eat beans, jalapeno cream corn, mac and cheese…..beyond words.

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Afterwards, we snuck around security guards to see the Mustangs at Las Colinas. Huge sculpture of 12 mustangs running across the square through the water.

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Naturally, Matt had to climb on one – even though there was a plaque right next to it asking not to – and do lots of other weird things…

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Hehehe. Anyways, loads of fun and super worth it to visit. Plus we felt super stealthy because we didn’t get caught [even though I’m pretty sure it was ok for us to be there!]

 

DAY FIVE – DALLAS TO JACKSON, MS

Today, was by far , one of the best days of the trip.

We set out from Dallas for Jackson, Mississippi but not before making an extremely excellent decision. There was a billboard on the side of the road for an animal safari and after some quick yelp and google research, we took the last possible exit and decided to take the one hour detour to go.

Best decision ever.

Each person got one bag of feed and when you shook that bag outside your window, the animals came running. We saw deer, bison, buffalo, warthogs, zebras, crazy horned cows, and a camel named Ollie. All of them came right up next to our car and were so close that we actually could pet them! Well…we weren’t technically supposed to…but we couldn’t help it! They were just so cute 🙂

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Matthew and I were literally freaking out the entire time and sometimes when the animals tried to stick their head inside, we really freaked out. Crazy as the experience was, we were even more excited that we got to share this first-time experience together because that definitely made it that much more fun.

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We booked it through the rest of Texas, which was so nice and beautiful to drive through.

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Stopped by Herby K’s for some yummy southern food we’d heard so much about. Definitely thought the GPS had led us to the wrong place when we saw blocks of abandoned buildings like this.

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But we’re glad we kept going cuz it led us to this!

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Both of us were a little bit disappointed it wasn’t as fantastic as advertised but it was still some pretty good grubbin’. Drove straight to Jackson after that and got there around 11:30PM. After a lot of confusion trying to switch from a smoking to a non-smoking room, it was 1:30AM when we finally got settled and…we still didn’t get to celebrate Matthew’s birthday! It was two hours ahead of California so technically it was still April 10th so I sang him happy birthday and gave him his birthday gift. A labor of love by the entire church, indeed, and Matthew is extremely thankful for all of you who contributed to his Book of Letters!

 

DAY SIX – JACKSON TO FORT BENNING, GA! FINALLY!

What a thrilling day 🙂 We finally made it to Fort Benning, GA – Matthew’s military training base for IBOLC (Infantry Basic Leadership Officer Course). He was so nervous and excited at the same time….it really something to see him step onto that base. To see the thing he’s been working so hard and praying so long for finally come to fruition by God’s abounding grace. It gave me great affirmation that this is exactly where God wants him and exactly where God will use him for His kingdom work. Seeing Matthew so happy here made me understand that it was necessary for us to be apart for this short while so that he could do what God has been preparing him to do.

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Such a happy time 🙂 I’m sorry there aren’t more pictures for this day, but there was a lot going on and I didn’t wanna be the embarrassing girlfriend on base for the first time taking pictures of everything hehe.

 

DAY SEVEN – ATLANTA, GA

Waking up knowing you’re going to have to say goodbye is a pretty terrible feeling. But we tried to make the most of it by enjoying our time together in the city. I’m starting to get the sense that I’m a bit of a city girl because I LOVED Atlanta. Terrible parking. Great people, great food, great things to see and do 🙂

Matthew is a planner and apparently woke up 2 hours earlier to research places to explore and the World of Coca Cola was first on the list.

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It was not as exciting as we had thought but the Tasting Room was beyond belief. We tried so many Coca Cola products from all over the world and even got a free bottle of Coca at the end!

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Made our way over to South City Kitchen for some real southern comfort food and then to Piedmont Park. After taking a walk through Piedmont Park, we slowly and reluctantly made our way to the airport to say our teary and final farewells.

It’s been a week now and….I am so weak, it’s embarrassing. Long-distance dating is not easy but it is sanctifying. God has been teaching us both a tremendous amount even in just this short time about our relationship with each other, our relationship with those around us, and more importantly about our relationship with Him.

Thanks for reading/looking through this extremely long post. I guess this is more for me than anything else so thanks for stickin’ through it with me 🙂

 

Till next time,

Juang

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