Tuesday, June 26, 2012

children's museum & the man at the gas station

The Bayou at the LA Children's Museum

Today I went with Jaime and Keaton to the Louisiana Children's Museum. I didn't take many pictures, but it's a fun place.  (My favorite's the Bayou... in the pictures. The trees that you can't really see are all made of cardboard! Pretty impressive.)

Keaton & the alligator
Jaime and I enjoyed lunch at Raising Cane's, then headed to her apartment, where we probably should've packed (they're moving on Friday), but we just sat on the couch and chatted until Michael texted and asked when I would be home. It was 6:00... woops. And just to record for posterity's sake, we made pizza rolls for dinner. (Thanks, Our Best Bites! You've saved me many a frustrating cooking experience.)

Ah, one quick story. Our car was running on fumes, so I headed to the gas station (where gas is $3.08 a gallon, people. It almost makes up for the milk being so expensive.). I haven't posted yet about all the friendly Southerners we've run into, but I better do that soon. The joy I got from this guy was just too good to not share. Filling up his car behind me was a skinny old man in a wife beater with a cigarette and a crooked smile. He croaked, "Utah, huh?" And we had a conversation in which I understood very little of what he said (I got something about him building something in Salt Lake and there being Mormons.) He pulled away as I was getting in my car. Traffic was getting pretty bad, so I took some back roads (someday I'll do a post about driving here, too) and finally got to where I needed to be. I was sitting at a red light, when all of the sudden a car stopped beside me in the right turn lane. There was the skinny old guy with a couple of people in the car, someone I never expected to see again, grinning at me and waving. I waved and laughed the whole way home.

I could get used to Louisianans.

Monday, June 25, 2012

how have i never seen this before?

Now this. This is brilliance.

we're fun! [or trying to be :)]

The first sentence I wrote was this: I'd post more often if we did fun stuff.

Then I did a sudden brain-brake. What a horrible thing to say! Just because I've been lazy today, waiting around for job training, doesn't mean we're always boring! (Sometimes we're a little boring, but not all that bad!) We've done a ton of really wonderful things in the past five days, including the following:

One. Another trip to the French Quarter. We took Michael's friend from work named Andy. It's still as magical as the first time I went. And this was Michael's first time, and he couldn't stop raving. I've never thought him one to be all over architecture and design, but he sure was. He suggested all of the following pictures:
From left to right: First, he's in love with the balconies, especially the ones that are just plywood and held up with really sketchy poles. He also loves all the metal work and all the bright colors. We are wondering if there is a city ordinance that you have to paint your house some exciting color, because we rarely passed one that was not yellow or blue or purple or red. Seriously. Secondly, there are so many quaint treasure-finding shops. This one (the photo in the middle) was just in an alleyway. But when you walked to the back, there was a courtyard with more treasures and another pathway to a secret room with art. And thirdly, it's just old. Michael could not get over the flaking paint and the warped wood. Ok, and I was in love with it too.

We walked through the French Market (there's even more stuff on the weekends!) and all the way up to the Aquarium (we didn't go in that day... maybe one day after we get paid :)). Then we walked through the downtown area, the Big City (reminds me of New York, just a little less crowded). And finally started walking back to our car. At which point we were hungry, so we stopped at the Gumbo Shop, a swanky little cafe (I got gumbo, he got a shrimp poboy).

Two. We've had the missionaries over quite a bit with a young man named Joshua. He's learning about the Plan of Salvation, which we think is really special. And he really liked the chocolate chip cookies that I made last night (he ate at least five :)). And we're going out with the sisters tonight. We figure that we're averaging about four hours a week with the missionaries, which is awesome for both of us. Michael's decided he wants to be a mission president in Korea. 

Three. Last night we were invited over to dinner with David & Jasmine Hall as well as Jason & Jaime Rich. I should've taken pictures. David is a barbecue maniac! We had ribs, chicken, brisket, and more. Then Michael gave a little FHE lesson, and we played Bananagrams and Cranium. It was a good time. A real good time.

We're really happy to be here. And so far, I haven't even had a breakdown. Life is good. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

dinner & a cello

Birthday's aren't meant to be spent alone. When I woke up to an empty apartment, I have to admit I was sad. A run helped, and so did a lot of phone calls and cards and texts and Facebook posts from people that I love. While on one of the four phone calls with my mom [hehe...], I decided to finally pick up a lifelong dream. Over at Michon's there was a lovely cello just waiting for me. And I spent the remainder of the afternoon learning how to hold it and the bow on YouTube. I'm hoping there's someone in my ward who plays that will be able to make sure I'm doing it right. The cello man suggested not trying to teach myself. But I sure am excited. I've learned how to play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." We're off to a really good start.
Michael got home and pretended that he forgot it was my birthday. Not a good move, my dear. Especially for someone who has spent the day by herself. But before we went out to dinner, he made me go to the bathroom, and when I came out there were sandals and a Cafe du Monde mug. I do love my mugs [and my husband, too ;)]. 

Dinner at Sake Sushi and Hibachi House was awesome. Even here we couldn't get away from the deep fried... We got a huge plate of chicken, shrimp, and vegetable tempura. And also a Volcano Roll. Two thumbs up for presentation, Sake; it was almost too beautiful to eat.

On our way home, we went straight instead of turning onto our street and came upon a treasure! A park! With piers. [The second guy to the right in the photo caught a catfish and a stingray within moments of each other. He was on a roll, and we were totally impressed.] And a floating casino! And a breathtaking sunset.

We finished the night with a chapter or two of The Fellowship of the Rings. Don't worry, we're a little bit obsessed at the moment.

Thanks to all my family for a lovely birthday. I love you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

missionaries and a birthday run.

Last night we had the missionaries over and got to bear our testimonies about the Restoration of the Church and the Book of Mormon. There are few things more attractive than seeing Michael open his heart and show so much concern and love for other human beings who need it. 

I woke up today and promised myself that it was going to be a good one. So for the first time in a long time, I ran. And walked quite a bit :) [anyone got any ideas on how to get rid of nasty side aches?]. I got up along the levee and then gave myself a tour through a gated neighborhood that I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to be in. But it was beautiful, and thus, worth the suspicious expression on the security guard's face when I walked out the gate.

So far today, I've cleaned up our apartment and gotten ready and read some emails and started on my next article. Nothing too exciting yet, but I think I might go rent myself a cello as my birthday gift to me :) Oh, and check out my little article here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

a job.

You're looking at the newest reporter for L'Observateur which serves the river parishes (St. Charles, St. James, and St. John).

My first assignment?

The Louisiana Crawfish Festival.

Bring it on.

[But really, my thoughts are the following... Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh. What am I even doing?! I've never interviewed a soul outside of my family and I've never even tried to write an article for a newspaper. Pray for me. Hard.]

Sunday, June 17, 2012

father's day

Dear Dad,
It's hard for me to put into words what I want to say. Thank you for your kind and generous heart, for always reminding me of your love, and for frequent phone calls from the airport. I know of no one who loves more deeply than you do. Thank you for loving me no matter what and for showing me even though I'm so far away. I love you, Dad. 

Dear Robert,
From the first time I met you in Mimi's Cafe I knew that you were something special :) with your plethora of knowledge and your warm and welcoming personality. And of course, thank you for raising such a wonderful son. The respect and devotion he shows to me comes in a large part because of the way you treat your beautiful wife.

I love you both more than you know.

My sweet husband,
We've been married almost a year. And I know you're not really one to celebrate Father's Day for yourself, but I want you to know that your air kisses from across the room and the tight squeezes that take my breath away (in more ways than one :) make me love you even more, even when I push you away or roll my eyes. My life is a thousand times happier and your attitude is rubbing off on me. Thanks for making me better.

I sure do love you, my dear.

the swamp platter & stake conference

We were looking for something to do Friday night and happened upon this place: Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar, 3203 Williams Blvd., Kenner, LA. Every review raved about their food, and when we pulled up the parking lot was packed. We walked in, though, and were confused. It looked like a market--no tables, no chairs, and raw fish everywhere. We stepped out and then saw the entrance to the restaurant. Awkward...

 It was a teeny little place and jam-packed. And the reviews were right. Good food abounded. Our waitress, who explained to us the mystery of the "Who dat?" stickers all over restaurants and cars [it's for the NO Saints], recommended the Swamp Platter for the first-timers. It included the following:
~ Crawfish Soup [Not our favorite... it had a fishy taste, obviously, but not the kind of fishy we thought. Like a swampy fishy.]
~ Turtle Soup [better than the crawfish. I finished it; Michael wouldn't eat it. We had to go get beignets to wash down the flavor ;)]
~ Alligator Sausage [spicy regular-ish tasting sausage]
~ Frog Legs [Michael liked them. I did not. The fact that it's the whole leg that you can bend at the knee was a little too freaky for me. Also, they don't taste like anything and are a little slimy.]
~ Fried Alligator [Just like everybody said, it tastes like chicken. Just tougher.]
~ Fried Crawfish Tails [My favorite part of the meal, I do believe.]

While we were waiting for the hostess to call our name, we spied an Asian market, and of course Michael couldn't resist. They had the good calrose rice, but only little bottles of kimchi. We're on the search for a cheaper market. Cross your fingers for us!

After dinner we walked over to the Cafe du Monde for Michael's first round of beignets and hot chocolate. Michael believes that hot chocolate is the best he's ever tasted. It's good. Real good.

So good, in fact, that we went again last night. Hee hee... Our excuse was that we went with Michael's new friend Andy [who is also doing a co-op with Monsanto]. Hooray for friends who live in our apartment complex and are willing to carpool to work! This means I have a car at least a couple of times a week, which is the happiest news.

Today and Saturday were stake conference. We sang with our ward choir at the adult session [to give you an idea of how good we were, the face our director gave us at the end of our last song was one of relief. Not that it was good, just that it was finally over. But we made some good friends doing it!]

We heard from a couple of new converts, the Baton Rouge temple president and his wife, and the stake patriarch, who helped to build the stake center we were in, which was getting re-dedicated.

Things may be a little bit different, but the Church is true no matter where we go and no matter who we hear it from. We're happy to be here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

a house tour

This is a special day for everyone... Two videos! (See the African harp thing here.) Please excuse the blabbering behind the movie. (I know that you can see that we have a chair.) I'm learning slowly; next time I have a movie I'll be better, promise. Also, I can't figure out how to make the movie stay in the spot I want it to. Just imagine it's on the left side, alright?


And as a special treat... here's the house that we see when we go on a walk along the levee. Do you see it? That blue thing? A two-story aquarium. With enormous fish. That swim. This is like a full on manor home with a dining room with huge paintings of unsmiling people and everything--the whole six-thousand yards. It's cool.

I finally found a free editing software called Picmonkey.com. What do you think of the photos in the last two posts? It definitely takes me twice as long to post... but admittedly looks much better. Any other great free editing websites you can point me to?

the french quarter

Yesterday, something monumental occurred. That's right, we got internet. Now all the job searching can be done in my g's.

And maybe I'll start posting again. (I apologize for the wait. I'm sure you're all just dying ;)

Monday, June 11
French Quarter & Market
At the Cafe du Monde, the windows are painted the perfect turquoise-y blue. I'm considering getting new engagement photos (ok... maybe one-year-anniversary) taken just for that.

Almost every street looks like this. It's like Disneyland. Except more humid.

Gator on a stick. The sister missionaries tried it, but it was a little out of my price range. They say it tastes like chicken. Next time...

St Louis Cathedral was large and lovely. See if you can guess the problem with taking a lot of little kids in there, though. Don't worry, only one of them got up past the blockade and only one candle was blown out. (We lit it again... was that wrong of us?)

Then we had beignets. Like scones covered with mounds and mounds of powdered sugar. Mmmm...

We saw lots of street performers including the following: one guy in a pink feathery body suit, many painters and portrait artists, twelve fortune tellers and tarot card readers, and this guy (forgive my terrible camera skills... oh and there's the Cafe du Monde--always packed).

The French Quarter is exactly what I imagined New Orleans to be. Music, good food, and interesting people to watch.

Oh, and we passed down Bourbon Street while trying to find a parking spot. It isn't that bad in the daytime... just don't look. Anywhere. Ok, so it is that bad.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

seven things.

[one] The past few days have consisted of grocery shopping, things-to-put-in-our-house shopping, and more shopping. We have bought: lots of groceries, 3 makeup items, one bookshelf, and some dishwasher detergent. We sat in the microwave aisle at Walmart for way too long and debated on the pros and cons of having a microwave and having to get rid of it at the end of our adventure. (We didn't buy it.)

[two] Having a dishwasher is a joy. A true joy. However, half of our dishes must be hand washed anyway. But it's still lovely to not have to do the other stuff.

[three] I've made real food: baked ziti, pancakes from scratch, and Italian chicken with rice. To name a few. (...or all.)

[four] We got called to be Primary teachers on Sunday. They haven't assigned us a class yet, but probably the Sunbeams. Hooray for singing songs and coloring pictures and corralling rowdy childrens!

[five] Yesterday I went with Jaime and Virginia and the sister missionaries (all from our ward) to the French Market. It's a magical little place... It's pretty much like Disneyland, but real. And dirty.

[five and a half] I forgot to bring my camera to the library, so the apartment tour and pictures of the French Quarter will have to wait until next time.Which leads me to...

[five and three quarters] It sure would be nice to not have to ride Michael's bike two miles (without a sidewalk) through the scorching heat and 300% humidity to get some internet... Geez Louise, how much is internet worth? Why so expensive?

[six] I'm excited to see my husband today. I saw him for a full 10 minutes yesterday. He got up at 6, stayed at work until 9 to study for his final that happens tomorrow, at which time I left to go watch the next episode of the Bachelorette with the ladies, and then I returned at 11:45, as he was finishing up studying. We got ready for bed together and snuggled for a minute, but he was just so dern tired. Here's to seeing him today!

[seven] I sure do need a job. I'm getting ready to go crazy.

Friday, June 8, 2012

a detour, we'll call it.

Today, I took Michael to work. We left the apartment at 7:30, making our estimated time of arrival at Monsanto 8:00am.

We missed the exit. And the highway we were on happened to be a 10-mile bridge across Lake Pontchartrain (without an exit), making our 25-minute trip into a 40-minute trip, and thus making Michael 15 minutes late for work.

Then I took another wrong exit. And the highway we were on happened to be another 10-mile bridge (without an exit), making our 40-minute trip into a 55-minute trip, and thus making Michael 30 minutes late for work.

Let's just say both of us were frustrated. (See map. Red is our actual route.)

Luckily, it's Friday. And every other Friday, the engineers have a day off (but not the interns). So the people that Michael works with were out of the office.

I hope he doesn't get fired.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

a quick update

Just chillin' at a Starbucks where I made Michael buy a piece of yummy bread because I felt bad just sitting here and using their internet.

Last night we carried lots of heavy boxes up three flights of stairs, but we're finally into our apartment! Unfortunately, the Space Bags we brought did not keep the air out, and the biggest one split right in half as we walked in the door (at least we made it that far!). That was the one we put all our coats and winter clothes in... And with an average high of 77* and low of 55* in November here in NOLA, we're regretting that decision we made to bring all that stuff.

We met George the Greek, who has a daughter named Aly (he says I'm just as pretty as she is :)) and lives in #26. Guys, he's got the real accent.

What else? Oh, we went grocery shopping, and a gallon of milk was $4.29! My flip; I just about lost it. What am I going to do without my cereal?

Today Michael rocked at work and I tried to put together our little apartment. The fact that there are only two six-inch-wide drawers is not very conducive to any kitchen, even just one for an amateur chef :) But we're working on it. At least there's a pool!

Next goal: A bookshelf and a vacuum and a microwave and a toaster. Any ideas of where to get one of these prizes? Any Louisiana readers out there?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

another movie review

Today has been more applications for jobs and gabbing with some of the ladies from the ward. And seeing another movie.  

Darling Companion (I keep having to look up the name... like 4 times in the last 2 minutes. Seriously.) with Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline was... not worth it. The main problem was that it was dirty, which was not something we were expecting. Lots of swearing and talk about things that should only be between married people. The plot follows six people who, while looking obsessively for Diane Keaton's mutt, come together and actually find they care about each other. Funny parts, like the crazy man with the axe and the dogs, helped but didn't redeem it. And as they're finally leaving on a teeny plane, Keaton sees the dog out the plane window (really? what are the chances?) and requests it to be turned around, so her husband fakes an appendicitis attack. I would give it a C. (But, hey! It was filmed in Utah!)

As soon as Michael gets back from work we're finally getting into our apartment! Hooray!! But, it has been really nice to have someone taking care of us. We're going to miss living with the Holmes'!

Oh, and Dad, I used your credit card because the machine wouldn't take mine. So if you have a $5 charge from Louisiana, don't freak out. It was me. Loves!

work and the bachelorette

Michael has now completed two full days of work... and from what I can tell, he loves it. But maybe that's just me.

His favorite things about work:
one. his very own hard hat and goggles.
two. a security badge.
three. the fact that he can go up to a vending machine with those sweet sunglasses in them and swipe his badge and get new ones as often as he would like.
four. his steel-toed boots.
five. he can't take any pictures at work, but he even gets his very own office. with a nameplate. he's a big deal. 

He's a hard worker. And he's sure excited about having his own projects and contributing. And he took a test last night, which wasn't that fun, but I got to go with Sonia to a Bachelorette showing with a bunch of the women in the ward (they are a hoot!). If you want my opinion, I don't think I like any of the guys. Ryan's a scum bag, Chris is immature, and Doug the Dad [thanks for helping me out, Laur :) shows you how well I was paying attention!]is too good to be true. We'll see... next showing is on Monday :)

Monday and Tuesday, I spent a lot of the day at the pool and trying to find a job. Job hunting is not quite as fun as I imagined it. Especially in this New Orleans economy... even the fast food jobs are taken. Sonia and I walked around the mall, and I tried beignets and the hot chocolate from Cafe du Monde for the first time.

Monday, June 4, 2012

the weekend

Saturday went like this:
9:00 Awaken
10:00 Swim with Sister Holmes while Michael studies for his surprise test (it wasn't really a surprise, he just kinda forgot about it)
4:00 Take our car in to get two new tires (Our back left tire wouldn't stay pumped up and so we took it in to get patched and they said it was long gone... and then convinced us that the second one was close to dying anyway)
4:20 Snow White and the Huntsman. Our quick review follows:
Kristen Stewart doesn't have a line until 40 minutes into the movie, and that's probably a good thing. She's good at running and crying, so don't worry, there's not a scene without those things in this movie. Interesting story. And we like Chris Hemsworth. The plot is relatively engaging, but the ending leaves much to be desired (there is nothing... I hope they don't plan on making a sequel.)
6:30 Pick up car and get advice from another nice man at Firestone. "I hate Kenner police. They'll pull you over for anything. And just be safe." We've heard that a couple of times now. 
7:00 Steak and potato dinner (Bishop Holmes is a rock star!)
Then just chilling until bed.

8:00 Get up and get ready
10:20 Church starts
10:45 Sister Holmes is ready to leave :)
11:00 Get to church-- Relief Society & Priesthood
12:00 Sacrament Meeting-- being in a family ward is going to take some getting used to. Lots of children + late sacrament meeting = Loud. With a capital "l."
1:30 Choir Practice and meeting the sister missionaries
2:30 Baby blessing party and meeting lots and lots of friendly people from the ward.
I must really quickly say how much I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The ward may be a little bit different, but the truths are the same, and we have built in friends wherever we are. Each person we talked to was open and welcoming, and we felt like we were part of the ward within just a few minutes. 
4:30 Naptime!
6:30 Roast dinner (once again, Bishop Holmes knows his way around a kitchen!)
8:30 Watched the first episode of The Glades as well as the pilot of Teen Wolf (hahahahaha... I die)

My favorite part of the weekend: Very little driving
Michael's: Naptime, I do believe. (I might have to confirm that when he gets back from work.)

our first swamp tour

After we signed our contract on Friday morning, we met up with Michael's friend from high school, Alexa, and her husband, Kyle, who are living in Baton Rouge for the next two years while Kyle does Teach for America.

Cajun Pride Swamp Tours... this is the real stuff, people. Captain Allan told us all kinds of stories, the majority of which ended with his pride in the fact that he only had a 3rd grade education; obviously you don't learn what you need to know in public schools.

Michael's favorite fact: When alligators go into hibernation, their hearts can slow down to one beat per hour.

Aly's favorite: I can't pick from the stories about the witch who lived on the island that got wiped out when she died. Apparently Discovery Channel came out a couple years ago and confirmed that there was a graveyard with one grave out in the swamp... that one was the witch's.

Only the best swamp tours have the following:
1. Marshmallows (No, really. The gators love 'em. The Captain says he gets a pretty large following of people he doesn't know when he picks up his 3 huge cases of marshmallows at WalMart every week.)
2. A lesson on Cajun culture and alligator habits.(Alligators are not vicious unless you corner them. Captain Allen swims with the alligators all the time. I'd rather not chance it.)
Isn't this bearded man a beaut?
3. The cat on YouTube that swats at the gator. (See the video here)
4. The chance to hold a real live 3-year-old gator.
5. And finally... Queenie. The 13-foot 100-year-old-ish gator with babies down the river. She was monstrous.
As soon as I can upload the video, I'll put it up here... It was pretty awesome!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

day one: apartment hunting... and other advice

1. Apartment hunting. Not as fun as one might think, especially after three full days of driving.
2. GPS is a necessary evil. We would have been even more lost than we were if we didn't have it. 
3. Don't ask how safe the area is. Few people will (they say "can") give you a real answer. They will tell you to call and get a Crime Statistics report. (We're pretty sure that just means the area is not safe enough.)
4. Before you get to an area, plan. We dropped in on the Whipple family with barely an hour's notice. They were very kind, but I was embarrassed. Luckily, I had my handy-dandy Michael to ease my awkwardness; he's thrives on occasions such as these. (I do believe everyone should have one.)
5. This goes along with #4. Getting an apartment is not as easy as it is in Provo (at least the place we were staying). You can't just walk in and say, "Yes! We want this apartment and would like to move in this very hour!" They have to do a credit check, background check, and Entergy has to come in and turn on electricity before you move in.  
6. Plus you have to have renter's insurance. It's not an option.
7. Watch out for those darn one-way streets. They get me every time.
8. But luckily, most people are very kind. "Did you come the wrong way?" a kind man asked, and then gently showed me the way to get right on out of there.
9. It's exciting to run into the missionaries. I just about had a heart attack when I saw them pulling out of the same apartment complex. And then again at McDonald's.

On Thursday (the 31st), we spent the day looking at apartments. It was long. We were tired. And our car was (and is) still full of all our stuff. It's more than slightly frustrating not being able to see out the back window. But we met a plethora of sweet Southerners who did everything they could to help us. 

Making a decision on where you'll be living for the next 7 months of your life is not that easy, at least for a stress-case like myself. We just couldn't stop: What if the place was around the corner? What if we could find an apartment closer to Michael's work? What if... the list goes on and on. But we decided and signed Friday morning. This stuff is permanent, people; we have to pay out our entire lease if we end up leaving. 

We drove across the Mississippi and past the Monsanto plant where Michael will start work on Monday, and then passed some of the plantations and stopped when we saw a couple of "For Rent" signs. Michael knocked on the door and met MJ, a single woman living with her dog and 4 cats who keeps up the yards of her neighbors so that the price of her condo will stay high. She raved about the area and the people (at least on her street... you never know about the next street over) and offered to call the guy leasing the next condo over to get us a price. Everyone we talk to wants to make sure we're taken care of. Don't worry, Mom. We're still alive and well.

the drive

The first words out of Michael's mouth as we set off on the 28-hour drive from Pleasant Grove, UT, to Luling (pronounced Loo-ling), LA were these:
"Are you ready for 30 hours of really annoying singing?"

After many a horror story about drives longer than 13 hours, I was prepared for the worst for our first day of driving, clocking in at a whopping 16 hours. 

Especially with our car looking like this...
(If you can't tell, it's packed. And the bikes on the back don't help much either.)

After some tearful goodbyes (little Ike is a tender heart and he got all of us going... except for Michael), we were off. Coming up on Price, UT, we had our first real adventure. (We debated telling this story because I'm sure my dad would have had a heart attack.) You know those bikes on the back? Well, when we left at about 6:30 AM, the straps wouldn't snap on. So we hooked them to the bike rack with our locks and were on our way. Right about as we hit Price the road started getting bumpy and the bikes started jumping around. Both of us looked out the side-view mirrors (you can't see out the back with all the junk in the car) and watched one of the bikes fall off the rack. Luckily, no one was behind us and the bike stayed hooked to the car. So we pulled off the side and hooked them back up. This time it was warm enough to get the snaps to stay, and, boy, were we happy drivers.

Michael-n-Aly's List of Things to Do in the Car: 
1. Read until your voice hurts. We've been working on Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude since Christmas (it was Michael's Christmas Eve present from his dad) and we finally finished it, just about as we were pulling in to Louisiana. (Very interesting... maybe we'll do a combined book review later.)
2. Watch the bikes.
3. Look at the scenery. 
4. Listen to the full soundtrack of Les Mis
5. Talk politics. 
6. Stop and get gas and fill up your tires. (We did a lot of this.)
7. Work on that Southern accent of yours. (Michael's loving adding the "ya'll" to every sentence.)
Gosh darn it, New Mexico is a boring state to drive through. At first, I took a picture every hour on the hour of what we were driving through, but the pictures started getting so boring that I ceased that practice. By about 8:00 PM, we were tired. Scratch that, I was tired. 
(I'll apologize once for the nasty pictures that will follow on this whole blog... this is just the beginning. I'm sure many more will follow. But no more apologies; this is it.) 

And Michael was just as happy as ever.
(Guys, it's a little creepy how joyful this human is. But it makes life good. Reeeeeeal good. 10 points for you if you can name that movie.)
We stopped for the night in Lubbock, TX, and planned on getting up at 6AM to start again. But it wasn't meant to be. Instead we slept in and went off at 9. The second half of Texas was beautiful. We Utahans and Idahoans are not used to the freeway going through the towns, so we got all excited about driving through many sleepy little towns (by the end, we weren't as excited).

If you know Michael and I, you probably know that we read Les Miserables together while we were dating and engaged (yes, out loud, and yes, the unabridged version). So when we heard it was playing in Austin, we pretty much planned our trip out around that. Austin is a lovely city, as is the campus of the University of Texas.We had a little ordeal with not knowing where we could safely park without getting towed (what would we do without a car?), so we had to stop at dinner at Jimmy Johns instead of something a little more fancy.

Les Mis was beautiful. The scenery was especially impressive and the lovely ladies scene especially raunchy (I think they added some nasties in there...). Michael hadn't seen it before (and I was in it in high school) so it was especially exciting for us to experience that together.

Once again, we planned on getting up early, but driving sure does take it out of you. So we slept. And got stuck in the 5 o'clock traffic going into New Orleans. Michael's good friend Bill told us we HAD to stop at Raising Cane's as soon as we got into the South, so when we saw one, we happily pulled off the road. Bill, you were right. It was mmm-mmm-good. Our waitress happened to be LDS-- a happy little coincidence (or non-coincidence). We got her number and hope to meet up with her soon! Thanks for the warm welcome, Kaeli! 

We stayed with the Whipple family for the first two nights, and are currently staying with Bishop Holmes and his wife Sonia until Tuesday when we get to move into our little studio apartment on the levee. More about that to come. We miss our families, but we have been well taken care of.  

(Don't worry, I'm learning about blogging... much shorter and more interesting posts to come! Congrats if you made it through this one!)