Trip Log: Des Moines to Raleigh

Trip Log: Des Moines to Raleigh

Due to popular demand, I am telling you all about my solo road trip halfway across the country and back. This is the third part, starting at mile 1,681.5 because yes, I kept track of all my major stops. If you want to catch up on the miles before now, here’s your chance: Miles 1 through 465.9 and Miles 466 through 1,440.4. Otherwise, let’s get back on the road!

1,681.5 miles Des Moines, IA: I arrived to the place I called home for several years and the clock started ticking. We’ve taken a few trips back in the past, and it always feels like a race to see all the people we love in the amount of time we have (oh yeah, and I kept working during the day on this trip). So, I saw a LOT of people and was so glad to do so.

Mason City, IA: I arrived in the area and then promptly headed a few hours north. I don’t have the miles because this time I got to ride instead of drive to my next stop. A few friends were headed to Minneapolis, MN and I caught a ride to Mason City, IA, which was on the way there. This is where the real surprise was planned.

There’s a reason I didn’t post much about this trip until after it happened. My mom has NO idea I was coming. I thought maybe this trip would line up with Mother’s Day, but when it didn’t I decided not to tell her anyway. There was a part of me that wanted to record the moment, but then I decided to experience it instead. Her jaw dropped as soon as she saw me and this is her trying and failing to reenact the expression. Just know that it was worth it. After the surprise had subsided, she showed me all around her new town as I had never been there before.

Surprised Mom | Moving Peaces

Music Man Square | Moving Peaces

Me & Mom | Moving Peaces

Ames, IA: On the way back to Des Moines, my mom and I swung through Ames to visit my alma mater. It’s funny, when I was in high school, I refused to even visit a college in Iowa because I was so bent on moving, which is why my first year was spent at Missouri State before I transferred to Iowa State. Now I am so grateful for my experiences at Iowa State and proud to be a Cylcone, even from afar.

ISU | Moving Peaces

Des Moines, IA: Are you ready for a whole bunch of pictures of people I love and far less description of how my week went? Good, because that’s about to happen. In summary, I spent the week working during the day like a normal person and then using the rest of the time to catch up with great friends over lunch, coffee, dinner and dessert. I stayed with friends who are new homeowners, held tiny babies, checked out the new building of my old workplace and celebrated the next season in life my friends are entering in to. Des Moines was beautiful all week and I kept feeling like a tourist who wanted to capture all that is great about that place. Somehow, there are several more people I got to see and spend time with but didn’t get a photo with this time.

Michelle | Moving Peaces

Emily | Moving Peaces

Jen | Moving Peaces

P. Family | Moving Peaces

Carrie | Moving Peaces

1,817.1 – 2,467.4 miles Clarksville, TN: In one day, I traveled 650 miles by car as I went from Des Moines to Tennessee. While originally planned as a two-day trek, this is another one of those plans that just changed and probably for the best. Luckily for me, it went incredibly quick as I had a co-pilot to keep me company all day. When Nancy and I realized we were thinking of going back to Iowa around the same time, we coordinated our trips so that we could do part of the journey together. She is another friend about to enter into a new stage of life as she was 30 weeks pregnant at the time, and I am so excited for her and her husband to be parents.

Nancy | Moving Peaces

2,516.3 miles Nashville, TN: I got on the road thinking I might simply wave hello to Nashville and be on my merry way. Originally, this was to be a stop-and-stay-with-a-friend location, but when you’re on a road trip you’ve got to be flexible and ready to shift plans around. Once I arrived, I realized how much I still wanted a chance to stay for awhile. So, I did. One might think it was for reflection on this trip before returning home and in a way it was, but the reality was that I finally finished journaling about our trip to Argentina earlier this year. It gave me the chance though to let some of my thoughts flow from pen to paper and was just the rest I needed before driving the remaining 450 miles back home. I’d just spent time with a lot of people, heard a lot of truths and challenges and traveled almost nonstop for a few weeks and had a lot to process, so I was grateful for those last few hours driving through the mountains alone on my final stretch of the journey.

Journaling | Moving Peaces

Nashville | Moving Peaces

Mountain Driving | Moving Peaces

Sunset Driving | Moving Peaces

3,066.3 miles Raleigh, NC: Home at last.

Thursday Three

Thursday Three

Hello to the Thursday Three! It’s been a good week of lots of fun things. I’ll just go ahead and tell you that this will be a photo heavy post, but I’m alright with it. We’ve been showing off Raleigh to my youngest sister for the week, which is a great excuse to visit all of our favorite places in the area. All I can say is, YUM FUN.

1. You are never too old to try something new. Right before my sister arrived we decided to cash in one a Christmas gift card toward a local Art Bar. I’m much more of the writing type…I see things I like in art but when I go to replicate it…well, it doesn’t always go as planned. That said, we spent six plus hours painting away until our canvases looked like something we meant to make. Can you tell what it is?

Painting at the Art Bar | Moving Peaces

Painting in Progress | Moving PeacesPaint Date | Moving Peaces

Painting | Moving PeacesPurple Hippo | Moving PeacesGlowing Cherry | Moving PeacesRooster Painting | Moving PeacesThis was the bonus 6″ x 8″ canvas the hubby painted while I finished up my masterpiece. It fits right in with the rest of our kitchen!

2. Christmas is still here in this household. Because both sisters were going to be in town this week and shipping is a total pain, we just decided to leave the tree and decorations up. At this point, it almost seems easier to keep it going year-round. Alas, we have a real tree and cannot make it last much longer. But who doesn’t love those twinkly lights on the tree?

3. There’s not enough time in a week to see all of our favorite places in Raleigh. I made a master list of all the things we’d go do and see and eat while my sister was here and we’ve only hit about half of them so far and sadly, she leaves tomorrow. Recently, I found a list of places to check out in Raleigh and they really did include all of our favorites in case you are wondering what there is to do around here. I wouldn’t call Raleigh a tourist-y place, but we sure do like living here. It’s been really fun showing yet another family member all the reasons why we love it.

YAY | Moving Peaces

Southern Food | Moving Peaces

Art Museum | Moving PeacesSister Selfie | Moving Peaces

Lilly's Pizza | Moving Peaces



Moving Part 2: Finding a Location

Packed Truck

Based the questions I am often fielding about our move, I’ve written up a few parts of the moving process. You can start reading it wherever it is most helpful but if you’re particular about following the order, you can start with Part 1: Deciding to Move.

Part 2: Finding a Location

For some, this part of the process is dictated by outside factors. This may include a job offer, a family tie or something out of your control. If so, this part will look different. Finding a location will mean, finding a job or family tie or whatever it is that is calling you and then sorting out the details to make it a reality.

For me, I needed to sort through what I wanted in a place. Criteria can range from the size of the town to the weather in the winter.

The following contributed to our list of criteria:

  • Near geographic interest (i.e. mountains or ocean)
  • Warmer weather year-round
  • Bigger city than current location or nearby one
  • Within 20 minutes of a Target and within an hour of Trader Joe’s
  • Music and arts culture

Having criteria helps, but it does not automatically give you the answer. There were several cities that fit this description. For some, several options is a positive thing and can lead to more opportunities in the job search. For others, it can be difficult to plan without a narrowed search or a clear direction. Moving can be a complicated process with a lot of planning involved, so it’s best to go with what you are more comfortable with.

The final push for Raleigh came because of these key factors:

  • It showed up on similar “Best City for…” lists as Des Moines. Knowing we liked Des Moines helped us realize this would be something we would like.
  • Family would be three hours away, which we knew would be helpful
  • We had some familiarity with that region of the country, although limited knowledge of Raleigh itself

Thursday Three

Gee, I blog almost everyday for a month and as soon as we hit November go quiet for a week. What the heck? I’m going to partially blame studying for an exam I had earlier this week. Something about homework makes you feel like if you aren’t doing it then you shouldn’t be doing something else you enjoy. So instead you sit around procrastinating and not really accomplishing anything. But here we are, it’s Thursday. Oh blessed Thursday. Sidenote: “Bless” and all forms of the word is all sorts of Southern charm—something I’m learning to be quite a bit more cunning than we simple Midwesterners might imagine. 

1. Marriage brings us together... Over the weekend our church had a marriage seminar that was very interesting to say the least. All in all it was good to go but what I liked the most was that we made no plans for rest of the Saturday night when it was over so we had plenty of time to just hang out. We were totally adorable and laid the quilt in the lawn, surrounded by leaves and the lights strung from the tree to our house, and read a magazine together page-by-page. That was followed by a family band jam session and a walk through town. 

2. We’ve hit the anniversary stage with Raleigh. When we went on our walk we wound up downtown (it’s only a mile away) in the middle of a festival. It just so happened to be the same one we randomly came across a year ago when we hardly knew anyone and had no real friends to call. It was fun to reminisce and see how far we’ve come. We’re not always doing something new anymore but doing things twice, setting traditions and making memories. Before it was, “a year ago in Iowa” but now it’s, “a year ago when we were here…” Sorry if I sound like a broken record about that sometimes, but I still think it’s pretty amazing. It’s as if our relationship with Raleigh has really started to blossom and hit its stride. We’ve figured out some of the patterns and are getting into a routine together with this city. 

3. I love antiquing. Sunday afternoon we stopped by Vintage Village where several shops are all in a row and perused place to place. The bounty? Two necklaces, a ring, a cast iron rooster and a snare drum. Gosh it’s just too much fun to look through old stuff (junk and treasures really). It’s so interesting and inspiring to me. Whenever I go to a place like this I feel like a part of myself is realized and unleashed. I know the antique look is a little more trendy right now, but I often think I should have been born in a different era. The drum was a great find by the hubby, and I’m fairly sure he loves this sort of stuff as much as I do. It seems to have been owned by only one family before now and had all sorts of memorabilia from the 70s inside the case. The World’s Finest Chocolate Bars were apparently the fundraising tactic way back then—same label just a different expiration date. A lot of the things we find captivate us and adorn our homes but the drum might actually prove to be a profitable pick. That is, if the hubby’s ever ready to give it up. (Who wants to take bets?) 

Thursday Three

A lot of people do the “Friday Fives” post on their blog. You know, write about five things that are happening and maybe throw in some energetic photos from the week. I love reading those and seeing those smiling faces, but it’s just not me. Because you know what? On Fridays, I’m just happy to have made it to the weekend and would rather sip a Bellini or margarita at the end of the day with no more obligations, if even for a few hours. Solution: Thursday Three. The perfect time to give a little update with a few less items to list off. It even has some alliteration (th + th) and that’s when you know you’ve officially made it as a writer. So here it goes—

1. My leg still hurts. I know, with all the pressure of this first listing on the very first ever Thursday Three, number one fell a little short. But that’s the truth. If you weren’t aware, I tore my calf almost three weeks ago. One week ago they gave me a sweet boot to match my crutches. The accessories are just amazing. There has been some progress though and physical therapy seems to be helping quite a bit. Quote of the month, “Maybe you can find a project on pinterest to do something with these crutches when you are done using them.” -Hubby.

2. Hole-in-the-walls have the best pie. But for real. Maybe I’ll get better at grabbing a photo next time, but let me just say that black bottom pecan pie in the south does not disappoint. The hubby and I had an impromptu date night on Tuesday to discuss some upcoming life decisions (details to follow) and ended up at a new favorite called Side Street Cafe. They have some sort of charm and a ridiculously long and spectacular list of sandwiches.

3. We really love Raleigh. There’s a lot of new discovery each month as we get more acquainted with our surroundings and every once in a while, we look at each other and comment on how glad we are to have moved here. New restaurants, new concert spots, new neighborhoods, new routines. As of yet, it seems we will be here for awhile and we’re really excited about it. That said, Des Moines will always have a piece of my heart, so I am excited to be headed back for a visit next month!

Call Me Maeby

I think in a recent post I made it fairly clear that we don’t quite have friends yet. It’s true. We’re friendless. But, we’re doing what we can to be a part of this new community of ours and finding more and more how much we’re going to love it (especially when we get friends). Seriously, this place is great. We keep having moments where we look around and say, “Wow, we live here!” Don’t get me wrong, Des Moines was (and is) great, too. There’s just something special about discovering a place for the first time.

In effort to both see the place and meet people, we had a fairly busy weekend. This includes all of the essentials: an outdoor show, hiking, an indoor show, a local coffee shop, a couple of churches, a guitar & amp show and a delicious brunch spot. Our general thought process being – why not? We don’t have much to lose or much else in our schedule. Everything we’ve visited has been pretty cool, but I must admit, is not quite as fun without friends. I’m enjoying going to the grocery store without running into someone I know, but going to a coffee shop where everyone feels like a family makes me miss our favorite coffee shop in Des Moines. Going to an outdoor show is almost lonely when you keep seeing people who look “exactly” like someone you used to know. Church isn’t the same without having lunch with friends afterwards, and it’ll come as no surprise that the hubby would have likely preferred someone more musically inclined than myself at the guitar & amp show. But, at least we’ve got each other.

Today, the unexpected happened—I got some digits. We told our waitress at said brunch spot that we had recently moved. Honestly, we’ve been telling everyone from the clerk at the grocery store to the guy passing out flyers on the street in hopes that someone will decide to adopt us into their group of friends. This was no different. We said we didn’t know what to order because we just moved here and there it was. Our story was told. “We just went for it… No jobs…We have jobs now… We love it here.” When she left us the check, she also passed me her number. SUCCESS!

Now I’m debating proper friend date etiquette. Call? Text? Wait a week? Wait a day? Coffee? Lunch? Oh, it’s all so new, but I am totally thrilled to have a friend prospect.