Monday, December 31, 2012

Two Thousand Twelve


It has been quite a year. I remember this time last year, I was thinking of the heartbreak 2011 left me with, praying for 2012 to be a better year and a new start.

Little did I know, my mother would be taken from me not even two months later; shaking my world and breaking it in half. Just like that, it became the worst year of my life. 2012 will always be the year my mom died. But I had to learn from it. I had to let it grow me... somehow.

Here I am, looking back on the months and days of this past year and I see how much I've learned.

About life.
About love.
About moving on.

Last year, I also focused my energy on one word instead of a resolution. My word was become. All the things I wanted to do. All the things I wanted to be.

Now, here I am. About to ring in the new year in my new city - San Diego. San Di-friggin-ego. MY DREAM. I did it. And, yes, I just have to say it... I am pretty darn proud of myself. I didn't let anything get in the way. In fact, because of the hurdles that were placed in my way, I fought harder than I would have to get where I am today.

In 2012 I:

+Spent NYE in Boston
+Tried repairing broken love in Sin City... twice
+Lost my sweet Mom
+Lost my sweet Missy
+Took a new job
+Left that job
+Had too much drama at the dentist
+Conquered my fear of flying
+Visited San Diego
+Moved to San Diego
+Learned to love again

2013 really does look so fresh and new and bright. There are so many possibilities. My calendar is mainly blank with a few plans already penciled in. I'm excited to talk about what's to come in little Chelsea's life and it'll be exciting to see what happens in the new year!

As the last day of 2012 rolls on by, I wish my family and friends a very Happy New Year. May it be the best one yet :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Christmas Angel

Merry Christmas to my angel.
This year just won't be the same without your light.
Your energy. Your laugh. Your hugs.

There will be an empty chair at the table.
An empty stocking.
An empty space under the tree.

You started so many of our Christmas traditions.
You gave the most thoughtful gifts and always managed to give me something totally random to throw me off.
We'll all remember the tradition you started of putting hints on the gift tag.
"Who's that one from, Chels?"

I'll miss watching you open your presents but always being the last one to finish because you wanted everyone to open their gifts first.
I'll miss the excitement in your eyes.
I'll miss your messy morning hair and your little slippers.

As we open our presents this year, as we say grace, and as we say goodnight... the moments will be a little more silent.

Christmas will never, ever be the same.
I'll have my angel watching over me.
But I'll always miss my Mom's Christmas hug.

Merry Christmas, Mommy.
We miss you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

I know, I know... some of you just aren't into recaps but these pictures are too good not to share. Day Three and Final Day were my absolute favorites. I have fallen in love with the Southwest - the views, the architecture, the history. It is all so rich. Read along and find out which state was my favorite [California doesn't count.]


Texas began the day-long stretch of having zero Internet reception on my phone. I'm sure it's hard to believe but this was my first time ever setting foot in Texas. The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo was my favorite thing about the Lone Star State. I was disappointed that after the thousands and possibly millions of poor cows I saw, I only saw one LONE longhorn. C'mon, Texas!

New Mexico

By far, the coolest part of the drive cross country was Historic Route 66. Typical Chelsea, of course, did research on the road about how it was one of the original U.S. Highways and how the implementation of the Interstate Highway System in the 60s wiped out many of the little towns Route 66 used to go through, leaving ghost towns. 

On the side of the freeway, you'd see deserted gas stations, car repair shops, etc. Old cars, tractors, trucks. Below you will see certain stretches of Route 66 we were able to drive through. It was truly fascinating. I also picked up an authentic dream catcher in New Mexico - something I had been wanting :)

We decided to drive through the city of Albuquerque [do you realize how difficult it is to spell that?] and again, drive on the strip of Historic Route 66. It's also pretty cool to have driven through now that I just started watching Breaking Bad which is filmed there. ABQ had a different feel to it. Something I hadn't experienced in any of the other U.S. towns. It was distinct. Unique. Additionally, the sunsets in New Mexico are out of this world...

As the sun sank into the horizon, we eventually drove into Arizona and stayed in Holbrook for the night. Holbrook definitely felt like taking a step back into time into the 60s. The final leg of the cross country journey was just around the corner and I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that by the end of the next day, I'd be home sweet San Diego :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day Two Delirium

Day Two of the cross country trek was probably the worst. Not only was it the first day waking up in a hotel with only one quarter of the drive complete, but I just wasn't thrilled about the road ahead of us that day: The rest of Tennessee, Arkansas, and half of Oklahoma.

For some reason, the drive into Memphis, reminded me of the drive into St. Louis from the West. Total deja vu. Maybe it has something to do with the Mississippi...

And then there was Arkansas. Ohhhhh, Arkansas. There really just wasn't much to look at along the I-40 stretch until Little Rock finally came along. You know it's bad when the only pictures on your iPhone for a large stretch of the way are taken inside the car... of Stella.

I originally had Stella in her carrier, secured in the backseat while I was driving but decided when I wasn't driving to hold her in my lap while still in the carrier. She enjoyed the security of having the carrier around her. I unzipped each end and occasionally placed my hand inside to say "hi" and give her some comfort. She loved snuggling up to me :)

We stopped in Little Rock for a quick lunch right in the middle of the city. It was fun to finally see a town in the state and get a somewhat better feel for Arkansas. There wasn't much after that until the Oklahoma border. Oh, except for a stuffed bear dressed in Razorback gear...

Then it was onward into Oklahoma! I enjoyed the sunset while watching the terrain start to change a bit [which I always find fascinating from state to state.] It's also fun to look up the state on Wikipedia and find out some interesting facts which I also did. Read up a ton on Native Americans in the land. Very cool!

I chatted with Lauren who's now living in OK and she mentioned that the buildings in OKC might be lit up with crosses since it's Christmastime. She was right! I enjoyed driving through the Oklahoma City area [although it was unfortunately dark by that point.] It was one of the more occupied areas we had seen in quite some time!

Day Two ended West of OKC in a small town right on Historic Route 66 called Weatherford. It's hard to believe Day Two started all the way back East in Nashville! Look THAT distance up on the map! And Day Three was going to be yet another long day... A day that I was so very excited for!

I won't be writing tomorrow as tomorrow many of us in the blogging community are having a blogger day of silence for the victims of Newtown, CT. Join us as we remember the heroes and those lost this past Friday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

An Early Moving Reflection

It has been a while since I have just written whatever is on my mind so instead of a re-cap right now, I just want to let the words flow :)

I am extremely happy right now. I am here, in my new home, in the place I dreamt for years of moving to. I just had dinner with my neighbors, Stella is snuggled up on the couch with me, and I'm texting new friends I've already made here. So much has changed in a matter of days and I feel so great about what lies ahead.

I am in awe of all that this city has to offer. All that there is to see and do. I'm about to be really cheesy but...

It's almost like that feeling you're supposed to feel when you meet your perfect match. You just know. It feels so right. That's how I feel living in San Diego. I feel so in my element. San Diego is all the things I love about a city all rolled into one. And I don't care what time of day it is, I'm amazed at the sights my own neighborhood offers me.

Moving far away from home in a city where you only know a few people really puts you out of your comfort zone. You have to re-define everything while staying true to you. You're constantly challenged whether it be by the roads and figuring out where you are and how to get un-lost or conquering the fears you never knew you had [or even the ones you knew you did - helloooo, spiders!] You find new ways to do things on your own because you don't always have a friend nearby, let alone a husband, boyfriend, or family member to come help at the snap of a finger.

I love every second of this and I've only been here a week. I have several more adventures planned this weekend that will be putting me out of my comfort zone again, but I guess that's good, right? :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Leaving Virginia

Well, here I am! Blogging has been difficult to do lately as the unpacking and organizing process is underway here in San Diego. I'm so excited to share bits and pieces of my new place with you once everything is all set! For now, I want to talk to about the cross country trip from VA to CA since I hyped it up so much.

It was amazing, to say the least.
It made me fall even more in love with this beautiful country that I call home.

First, I said goodbye to my childhood home. The one on the hill with the big, red door.

Then, we loaded up the car Sunday morning and spent most of the day driving through boring Virginia. Don't get me wrong - I love driving the Eastern route of VA down to the beach but the Western route through the "mountains" just does nothing for me. As we crossed the border into Tennessee, the sunset greeted us and boy, was it beautiful!

We made a stop in my favorite Tennessee city, Knoxville [Go Vols!]  for dinner and I was nicely surprised when I saw a McAlister's! I had McAlister's once in Alabama years ago and just had to go back!

I tried taking Stella out of her carrier to feed her and give her some water. Do you realize how difficult it is to do this in a car? I felt like the mother of an infant. I had to put some music on for her so she wouldn't hear every single sound in the parking lot and hold her while pouring water and food. It was a spectacle but she ate so I felt better.

We drove a few more hours in the dark [driving in the Winter is horrible since daylight is scarce!] and stopped for the night in good ole Nashville!

1. Downtown Nashville. Love the "Batman" building. (That's just what I refer to it as.)
2. We stayed on "Music Row" so the hotel decor was all music themed with guitars and saxophones, etc.
3. Stella enjoys exploring.
4. Early morning in Nashville, looking at a neat statue.

I must admit, as someone who's not into country music, Nashville impressed me. It was a neat, little city with lots of character! Then it was onward to Day Two where we conquered the remainder of Tennessee, Arkansas, and most of Oklahoma! So, check back soon for that.

By the end of Day One and start of Day Two, I was feeling great. Day One was a 13-hour day and while it was exhausting, it was also exciting to know the journey was finally happening and that there was still so much more of the country to see!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Made It

I am currently lying in my bed in SAN DIEGO, writing this short but necessary blog post.

A post to let you know one very important thing: I made it.

East Coast to West Coast. VA to CA. Nearly 4 days and almost 4,000 miles later. I am here.

And, clearly, I am delirious. The picture above says it all...
In case you don't get it, the "W" is for the old-school "West Siiide" term. Ya know, since I'm a part of that elite group now :)

There will be many updates and stories to follow once the remaining moving shenanigans are out of the way. For now, this girl is ready to turn on Pretty Little Liars and snuggle with Stella until I fall asleep. My moving truck arrives tomorrow and there is a lot to be done!

Goodnight, world. Goodnight, San Diego.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Now is the Start

Now Is The Start by A Fine Frenzy on Grooveshark

[Feel free to click the song above as you read. It's my current theme song :) ]
Wow. So, this is it. The last post in Virginia. The last post before I leave on my journey to start a new book in the Golden State!

I have been overcome by emotion these past couple days as it all sinks in.
I've been nervous, excited, scared, antsy, exhausted, sad, and jubilant [yes, I really just said that] all at the same time.

It is certainly overwhelming... but I'm ready!

This is where my path has taken me.
Through all the trials and speed bumps and hiccups along the way.
Here I am. With the world at my fingertips. Anything is possible.

I'm sure my Mom is watching over me, shaking her head and saying, "I hope you're ready for this, Chels. It won't be easy."
And I love her for that. She always challenged me.
Which is why I'm comfortable challenging myself with something as huge as moving to the other side of the country by myself.

I can either look back, wondering "what if?" or I can make my dreams a reality starting now.

Early Sunday morning, I leave for the cross country trip to San Diego.
The new book begins.

If I can update my blog on the road, I will. Otherwise, FOLLOW ME on Instagram [@chelseasunset] and Twitter as it is much easier to update there and, believe me, I will be updating as I travel through this BEAUTIFUL country!

Until then, I love you all and can't wait to share the new pages of my book with you!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Road Trip Details

This will be my life over the next few days. It is going to be a long trip. 2,679 miles door-to-door to be exact. 8 states. 4 timezones. And I couldn't be more excited. I've waited for this moment for years. The cross country drive to the one city I've always kept in my heart - San Diego.

The plan is to make the drive in about 3.5 days. My dad [and Stella of course] will be accompanying me and helping with the finalization of the move once we make it to Southern California. But first, we'll have to make it through several states:

I'll be taking the Southern route along I-40, which is a route I have wanted to take for quite some time now, as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico will all be new territory for me. I've been trying to find some roadside attractions to stop and see, such as the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo. Where else should I go?

I LOVE the Wild West! Growing up in over-populated Northern Virginia, I was blessed with rich history and colonial culture as well as beautiful trees in the Fall but the only taste of nature I got was the outline of the Blue Ridge "Mountains" way off in the distance. When I ventured out West and drove myself from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, I was astonished at the beauty of our country. It is un-touched out there. Quiet. Peaceful. Genuine. It was the first time in my entire life where I could look ahead of me, next to me, and behind me and I was the only person on the open road. Looking out at the mountains, the mesas, the earth. Not just trees as I was so tired of seeing in Virginia, but the actual earth of this planet. The rock. The dirt. The shapes that Nature created.

Anyway, I most look forward to those parts of the trip. Seeing this country of ours so raw and up close and personal has hands-down been the best gift I've given to myself :) Now, moving on to other things. What shall I bring with me on the trip?

1. Pain-killers - I always have to carry these bad boys with me because of headaches, especially on long trips. This should also help with any aches and pains from being cramped up all day.
2. Chocolate - You know me and my chocolate. If I'm stopped at a gas station and just need a little boost, I'll pick up a Snickers or Coconut M&Ms if I can ever find them again!
3. Water - Stayed hydrated. Just not too hydrated. Spend your time on the road, not at rest stops.
4. Sunnies - This [much more expensive] pair looks just like my favorite pair from H&M.
5. & 6.  Comfy top/pants - I admit, when I travel, I don't travel in sweats. But I still like to be comfortable! A long-sleeved, loose-fitting chambray top & stretchy colored skinnies. Bam!
7. Slip-on shoes - It's good to take advantage of a nice stretch break by slipping your shoes off for a second to keep the circulation going. I've packed my TOMS as well as some ballet flats!
8. Big Travel Bag - I received the Vera Bradley Grand Traveler a couple years ago as a gift and since then, it has been my go-to travel bag! It has a compartment to secure your laptop as well as lots of other sections to keep all your belongings organized. #9 also fits perfectly inside!
9. A nice camera - I totally use my iPhone camera more than my DSLR camera but for beautiful sights like those on a cross country road trip, you need to have the real deal available.
10. iPhone - Where would I be without it? Not only do I use my iPhone as a communication tool, I use its GPS, Internet to look up hotels on the road, Instagram to fill you all in on my adventure, Twitter to say hi, and most important of all... MUSIC!

So, those are my essentials while traveling coast to coast! Now here is where you come in: What songs need to be added to my playlist? Music is very high on my list of priorities.

Where have your favorite road trips taken you?
What were you always sure to pack in the car?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How I Move Cross Country [Past/Present]

I'm documenting the move as it happens so that you can all learn from my mistakes and from my genius ideas. Let's talk today about how the heck your stuff gets to where you're going.

Cross Country Trip #1 to Salt Lake - I packed up some suitcases of clothes, took my printer, an air mattress, and some sheets and a blanket, packed it all neatly into my car and drove cross country. The rest of my belongings [15 boxes or so] were kindly shipped to me later by my dad. I bought couches, tables, lamps, and eventually a big ole king-size mattress within the next few months.

Cross Country Trip #2 back to Virginia - I donated a bunch of clothes and household items and packed everything else up into a Penske truck with my Honda Civic securely attached onto a trailer. This was horrible. And the truck was only half-full but you had to get that size in order to attach the trailer.

     These trucks obviously guzzle down fuel like there's no tomorrow.
     Cabs are no place for claustrophobic girls like myself to sit for days on end.
     I am sure you can imagine how fun it was to park a truck with a trailer attached to it.
     The brakes like to give out on steep grades in West Virginia.

Not to mention the price to rent the truck + the trailer + the insurance = never again.

Cross Country Trip #3 to San Diego and hopefully the last - One word: ABF. You've seen those trucks before and probably never considered what was inside. Well, if you see one of those bad boys driving on an interstate this week, my belongings could very well be inside.

ABF [] gives you however much space you need in a trailer. You can take up an entire 28 foot trailer or just 5 feet of it [like I am doing.] Either you can pack everything into it yourself or for another $300, you can hire movers to take care of that ish for you. Uh, hello... I cannot pick up my 200 lb dresser and safely secure that thing in a trailer. No, thanks.

Trust me. The extra cash is WORTH IT to hire a professional to handle your stuff and secure it properly when everything you care about is about to be transported 3,000 friggin' miles. Do it. Then, they drive off, fill up the remainder of the trailer and meet you in your destination. Talk about door-to-door service!

This option ended up being considerably less expensive than Penske/U-Haul AND even less expensive than renting one of those PODS. Bam! Get some bubble wrap, a tarp, and some moving blankets and you're ready to go!

And, yes, the above picture shows that all of my belongings only ended up taking up just over half of the 5 feet I reserved. [5 ft is the minimum!] Again, I sold my mattress, box spring, and couches so that helped save some space :)

So, there you have it! Tomorrow, the trailer will be picked up and off to San Diego it goes! All I have to do is drive my car out there and meet up with them next week! Easy as pie, my friends. The worst part [the packing!] is finally over and now I can enjoy the remainder of the adventure out to the West Coast!

Got a question about moving cross country? Leave it in a comment below or email me! I still have a few days before I leave to jot down a few of my tips and tricks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

San Diego Trip | Part Two

As I'm sitting here writing this, I'm in the comfort of my childhood home, staring out into the familiar backyard full of trees that have now gone bare in preparation for the Winter. I wait now for the 28 foot trailer to be parked in the driveway, signaling the official and very real start of my coast to coast move.

I can't believe this is happening...

I'll share with you now the remainder of my trip out to San Diego, before it becomes home. [If you missed Part One, you can read it here!]

That Friday morning, I woke up and headed off to Apartment #3 which I had high hopes for! I was so excited after viewing it, that I filled out the application on the spot and had a nice, little chat with the landlord about life, theatre, earthquakes, and bugs... obviously. A girl's gotta be prepared! I drove around the neighborhood and surrounding area; checked out the nearby Target and Vons [gosh, I love Vons] and then picked up some sushi for lunch.

Later that afternoon, I had a fun sit-down chat with a San Diego-based jewelry designer which was a blast. On the way to her house, I certainly felt like I was driving the crazy steep hills of San Francisco! After the stop sign in the picture below, the street pretty much drops off...

After that, as I impatiently awaited the dessert date I had later that day, I received a phone call from the landlord that I was all approved and the apartment was MINE! Hallelujah! Yet another surreal moment, knowing everything was coming together. Doors were being opened. My path was being paved right before my eyes!

I could go and sign the lease the next morning. But, first... it was time for a dessert date with some awesome San Diego ladies! 

+ Hollie [from Hollie Takes Notes - now Hello Indigo]
+Jessica [owner/designer of Rose Rags]

and moi :) We went to a fun, little place in the ever-so-trendy and eccentric Hillcrest neighborhood. The place was called Chocolat and is the perfect spot to go if you're craving yummy crepes, gelato, or other desserts!
Hollie, Me, Jessica, Tammy :)

We went next door to a store full of sunglasses and I just had to pick up a pair! Then, we went across the street to probably the coolest thrift store I have ever seen. It was Halloween weekend in Hillcrest which definitely made for some great laughs, especially in that store!

I sure am lucky to already have a group of friends when I move to San Diego that I just adore. I can't wait for our next outing soon!

On Saturday, after SIGNING MY LEASE and getting my KEYS [!!!!] I spent some time in Balboa Park. It had been years since I had last visited so, while I was familiar with the area, it was still new enough to be a fun adventure for me. Balboa Park is a must for those visiting the area!

Balboa Park is full of museums, gardens, and even the world-famous San Diego Zoo. It is the perfect place to walk, explore, enjoy the beautiful Spanish architecture, and take in all the sights and sounds of San Diego. "Breathtaking" is a great word to describe this historical park!

As I walked through Balboa Park and explored the area that would soon become my home, I felt a way I had never felt before. Truly at peace. I felt as though whatever life brought my way, I would be okay. I felt a happiness so deep in my soul. I had never before been so excited for what my future held.

Moving to a new city where you only know a few people, is such an exciting thing for me. It's the times when you have to create your own world out of endless possibilities that really make me come alive. So, it was in those moments at Balboa Park... being a lone explorer in a park with so much rich history, so many people visiting from all over the world that I felt life.

I really can't believe I get to call this beautiful place HOME in only a few more days! I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to visit San Diego and even more grateful for the chance I have to move there.