Jun 8, 2016

Florida to California PCS: The Road Trip



3,100 miles, 11 days, 8 different stops, and 7 hotel stays. 
#FLtoCaliRoadTrip 



T-10 days till go time! 
So, there it is...that's the route we'll take on our 11-day journey across the good 'ol US of A. This Northern route approach will have us logging almost 50 hours of driving. FIFTY. I know, kill me now. But, we've got enough stops planned to break it up quite a bit. Here's a better breakdown of our plan:

STOP #1: Atlanta, Georgia - Here we'll be logging in another sure to be FABULOUS stay at Towneplace Suites (this hotel chain is perfect for road trip stays for couples AND families alike) and hopefully enjoying some iconic burgers & shakes at The Varsity. We've been to Atlanta before so we're not gonna go too crazy exploring, especially since we've only got maybe 13-16 hours in the city. Plus, the drive from our starting point in Florida to Hotlanta will be the second longest leg of our trip (clocking in at an annoying 7 hours). I'm sure by the time I get to the hotel, I'll want to kick my feet up and chill.

STOP #2: Nashville, Tennessee - Even though we've also been to Nashville before, we were young (hello, 11th grade!), so we're excited to get to explore a little more. We'll have a good chunk of time here in Nashvegas...roughly 24 hours, but who's counting (me, I am--we've got a schedule to keep, unfortunately!). We're still undecided on whether we just wander the city or if we should hit up a backstage tour at the Grand Ole Opry or a couple hours at the Country Music Hall of Fame (thoughts?). We know FOR SURE that we want some good southern food (biscuits, preferably) and to buy Heidi some baby cowgirl boots. Because when in Tennessee, am I right?

STOP #3: St. Louis, Missouri - Another city I've visited once at a young age, so we're not spending a whole heck of a lot of time here either. But, I do want to show D the Gateway Arch (not that you could miss it) and we'll probably hit up Delmar Loop for some shopping/eating. I would LOVE to do the City Museum, but thanks to being pregnant, it wouldn't be nearly as fun. Next time!

STOP #4: Kansas City, Kansas- This may be the stop I'm most excited about. Not because I've never been here (hint: I have...like 5 times), but because we get to spend 3 days staying with my Kansas cousins! After a few days cooped up in a car, we'll be SO thrilled to have some quality time with some super familiar faces. Plus, KC is a really fun city and D has never been! Hoping to share the goodness of KC BBQ and Boulevard Brewery Beer with him. We've also got a date with a swimming pool. Can. Not. Wait.

STOP #5: Denver, Colorado - This will be our longest, most boring drive of the whole trip (8.5 whopping hours of midwest nothingness, yay!). So once we get to Denver...a city I HAVEN'T been to before (but D has, whomp whomp), I have a feeling we'll grab a bite to eat and pass the heck out. Not much time for sightseeing, but we did get a hotel with a view of the Rockies, so at least we're looking forward to that.

STOP #6: Moab, Utah - I'm super excited to make a stop here in Moab. We'll be staying at an fun motel just outside of Arches National Park and will get to spend a decent amount of time exploring the gorgeous rock formations inside the park. No hiking for us (thank you, Heidi), but we'll still drive through & stop at all the scenic pull-offs for a good taste of one of Utah's most treasured natural attractions.

STOP #7: Salt Lake City, Utah - Salt Lake will be another fairly quick stop, but that's alright with us. Aside from eating at some cute local eateries, the only thing I really want to do is explore Temple Square. Our hotel is just around the corner from it to make visiting super easy on my sure to be exhausted body. I wish we did have a little bit more time here just so I could meet up with some fun bloggers I've gotten to know. Hopefully this won't be our only time in town!

STOP #8: Reno, Nevada - the "Biggest Little City in the World"...if you would have told me we'd be making a pit stop here, I would have laughed at you (Vegas AND Reno in one pregnancy? You gotta be kidding me!). But we had an extra day and instead of facing a third 8-9 hour drive straight from SLC to Cali, I decided we'd stop and see how Reno compares to Vegas. We're staying right on the Reno "strip" at a casino/spa resort, so while D tries his luck with the roulette wheel, I might cash in on a prenatal massage. I'll have earned it by then, right? ;)

FINAL DESTINATION: Sacramento/Roseville, California area - At this point, I'll calmly get out of the car and kiss the ground. We aren't 100% sure yet where we'll be laying our heads when we FINALLY arrive to the Golden State, but I do know I'll be so darn thankful...and ready to hit the ground running on the house-hunting front (UPDATE: staying at another fabulous Towneplace Suites for the next 8 days!! HELLO, FREE HOT BREAKFAST AND COFFEE!). We aren't buying a house in Cali (I wish I had that kind of cash flow, plus we'll only be here 2 years), so a rental it will be. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed we find something perfect for our little family of 3.


As much as I want to hit this road trip hard and make the most out of our first big move cross-country, being preggo comes with more restrictions and less fun. My sole goal is to make it across without giving birth, ya know? My doc has been on top of that and so far, baby girl and I are healthy as can be. Even so, we're going to try to make this trip one to remember. How many times does one get to road trip across America? If you're military, often...but we like to think this will be our only chance. I hope I don't eat those words later.

Because the travel blogger in me can't let this opportunity go to waste, I'll be documenting the whole crazy adventure via Instagram and Snapchat (username: Caseadilla1016), so feel free to follow along! There will be exciting sights to see along the way and likely a whole lot of delirious car chat (and singing--consider yourselves warned), so help keep us entertained! Also, if you have any suggestions for great restaurants for us to try in any of the cities above, shout 'em out! We're always down for recommendations from past travelers. It's how the travel world goes 'round.

And as always, if you've got some spare good vibes and prayers hanging around...we could still use them! We're getting closer to that light at the end of the tunnel feeling, but we've still got 3,100 miles and a few questionable hurdles jump before we can breathe again. It ain't over until I'm surrounded by my belongings in a nice home in California, amen? AMEN! Oh, and baby girl...stay nice and comfy in there for at least 10 more weeks, mmmkay? Peace out, East Coast!

**Cool road trip map itinerary planner via Roadtrippers**

May 31, 2016

Sanibel Island: Babymoon


The last 2.5 months have been a total whirlwind of change. With a pending cross-country move, a house to sell (it's SOLD, thank goodness!), and an entire life to pack up and restart in a new state 3,000 miles away, it was safe to say D and I needed some time away from all the chaos. Even amidst the the busyness that is this military life, we wanted to take a moment to relax, recharge, and celebrate our baby girl in a way that we both love...on vacation! Since writing about our Florida Bucket List the end of last year (and thinking we'd have 2 more years to try and check things off that list), I knew our babymoon destination would have to come from that short list. It wasn't long before reservations were booked and off we went to Sanibel Island for 4 sweet days of sand, sea, and celebrating our little Heidi.


Sanibel is just about as dreamy as islands come. Palm trees and lush tropical greenery line all 33 miles of this gulf coast town and the water...oh, that GORGEOUS turquoise water...was so blue & clear that it sparkled in the sunlight. Everything about Sanibel was quaint, from the colorful beach shops and non-chain restaurants to the charming B&B's and 25 miles of scenic bike trails, the island felt like our own secluded slice of paradise those 4 bliss-filled days. Instead of staying at a large resort, we opted for a small inn on the Eastern part of the island called Song of the Sea. It was perfectly beachy, came with a continental breakfast each morning (hello, fresh Florida fruit!), complimentary bike rentals, and swoon-worthy views of the coast that kept me starry-eyed each day. There's nothing like waking up to salty sea air in the morning. Heaven must be a beach...MUST be.


Our Sanibel days were spent waking up early for sunrise walks on the beach, lounging by the pool, searching for shells on the beach, exploring the island by bike, and chowing down on local seafood by night. We talked about our days in Florida and how we felt we didn't fully appreciate our time in the state until it was being cut short. We reminisced about the last 5 years of our lives together...from Germany to now...and how crazy our journey has been. We tried to picture what our lives in California might be like with a baby and a whole new set of responsibilities on the horizon. And we prayed for our sweet girl, our move, and our marriage. There were some tears (mostly mine), but a whole lot of clarity and time to make peace with the big changes we both were still trying to wrap our heads around. Those moments, just the two of us, remain in the forefront of my mind as we continue to navigate our way through this move. I fondly look back and take solace in the words we said and plans we made every time I feel overwhelmed with all the tasks still before us. Thank goodness for the inception of the "babymoon"...trendy as it may be, it was too good for our souls. Two babymoon believers right here. 


If you're interested in making Sanibel your babymoon destination (or just a super fun vacation, for those not expecting), here's a few places you should try hard to not miss:

If you need help planning or booking your Sanibel getaway, I know a good travel agent! A little shameless plug, I had to. Email me at Casey@destinationstoexplore.com ;)


A few tips for planning the perfect babymoon:

  • Travel before you're 30 weeks! We only had a free long weekend around the time I was 22 weeks and it turned out to be just perfect. I wasn't too big to enjoy lots of activities, but still pregnant enough to be offered free ice cream and prime sunning spots. ;)
  • Minimize your travel time. Drive no more than 6 hours and stop every two hours to stretch your legs.
  • If you're a maternity body pillow lover (I'm obsessed with my Leachco Snoogle Body Pillow), bring it along with you! And grab a king-size bedroom reservation to add extra comfort.
  • Don't forget to pack pregnancy-friendly sunscreen (I LOVE this kind from Kiss My Face) and all your vitamins, belly creams (big fan of Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter), bug spray (I use Cutter All Family 7% DEET Bug Spray), comfy breathable clothes/shoes, healthy snacks, and a water bottle to keep hydrated.
  • Is your destination safe from Zika Virus? Sanibel is! Avoid any babymoon destinations with Zika Virus travel restrictions. For more info on the virus and it's affected locations, click here.
  • Check with your OB before you travel! Typical recommendations are to not fly after 36 weeks and most cruise lines won't allow you to cruise after the 24th week of pregnancy.
  • Make time for naps or ample down-time between activities. Be active, but know your body's limits while pregnant. Don't overdo it!
  • Document it all! We brought along our FujiFilm Instax Mini and took loads of fun Polaroid photos to put in Heidi's baby book. We also Snapchatted (find me at Caseadilla1016) much of the trip, so now we have little videos to share with her when she's older.



"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory"
-Dr. Seuss

May 23, 2016

What's in a name?


When I was younger, I was always snooping in my parent's bookshelves -- pulling books and photo albums off the shelves, flipping through the photos and pretending I was a librarian or a school teacher. My mom had a book titled Big Book of Baby Names (circa 1983) and it was always one of my favorite books to browse. Even though I could hardly read a word in it, I loved the silly photos of babies wearing costumes and sitting on strange props. Why? Who doesn't think a baby riding a seahorse is hilarious?

 When I was all grown up and D and I were moving into our first apartment as newlyweds, I asked my mom if she still had this book. We weren't planning to have kids right away (we were still just seniors in college at the time), but I always hoped this book would be passed down to me. Thankfully my mother is just as nostalgic as I am, so the book I'd loved for so many years finally took its place on my own bookshelf.



Since the day she gave it to me, the book remained on my bookshelf...its cover faded, tattered, and torn in some places. Somehow it's managed to survive all 6 moves we've put it through. With every new apartment or house we made a home, I'd unpack this book and flip through it, always knowing that when we did finally decide to expand our family, his or her name would come straight from this book.

Cut to January 2016 (almost 9 years later) -- me, 2.5 months pregnant with an iPhone notepad full of baby names I loved -- D, a proud daddy-to-be with a strong opinion about every name on that list (go figure). D and I spent countless nights those first few months hemming and hawing over this name and that name. We settled quite quickly on a boy's name, but a girl's...that was proving to be a thorn in our sides (more of a tell-tale sign she was sure to be a "she"). We had a shortlist of somewhat trendy, somewhat popular names, but none felt like "us". We'd always come up with some outlandish reason why the name was sure to cause our child years of intensive therapy...and back to square one we'd go. Since unpacking my box of books a few weeks after we moved into our new house here in Florida, I hadn't touched the Big Book of Baby Names (nor had I thought of it). All of a sudden, the book popped into my mind. I flew out of bed to my office to grab it, and thus began the late night combing through its monikers.



I'm typically a realist. Logic and concrete facts fare me better than making decisions based off pure emotions. That being said, if something punctures my tough exterior and makes me emotional, it often means I really care about it. The moment I spotted "Heidi" in the book and said the name out loud, tears burst from my eyes and I just knew. That was to be her name. If she turned out to be a she, a little girl named Heidi would become a part of our family forever. We quickly tried to decipher all the ways silly school boys would try to make fun of it, or if it would sound strong to a job interviewer, or what it would sound like screaming it across a grocery store...and then D smiled and said "that's it, Heidi Cote." 

We fell in love with the name Heidi for more reasons than one. Not only is it a name you don't often hear, but it gave a little nod to one of the most wonderful times in our lives as a couple--living abroad in Germany. With German origins and a meaning "of noble birth" we continued to fall more and more in love with it as each day passed. 


As for her middle name, well, that came soon after. "Lorelei" (meaning "alluring") had been a name on my iPhone short-list, but I didn't love it as a first name (mostly because I knew people would have trouble spelling it). When we finally settled on Heidi, it seemed almost serendipitous that Lorelei be her middle name. Lorelei Rock is a rock we'd passed by many times on our countless days spent sipping wine and exploring little German villages along the Rhine River. While the story of why the rock is named Lorelei isn't quite so pleasant, we though it flowed well with Heidi and still meant something special to us. Hopefully our little love will be beautiful, but leave all the tempting to her siren namesake. ;)

So, there you have it...the story of how Heidi Lorelei came to be! It was such a sweet feeling to finally be able to call her by her name the day we found out she was a she. More tears...and more confirmation that "Heidi" was perfect for our little lady. Since that day, I feel so much more connected to her. Funny how a name can really solidify things. We can't wait to meet our sweet Heidi in just 14 short weeks!


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