Saturday, July 25, 2009

Did you ever see the beauty of the hills of Carolina, or the sweetness of the grass in Tennessee...

First person to name that song gets lots of high-fives from me.

Today was perhaps the best day in Tennessee. And North Carolina, for that matter.

We knew today was going to be super-hot, and we didn't really have much productive to do today, so we had an adventure. We wanted to find a swimming hole. Being from SoCal, swimming in rivers is a relatively new phenomenon to us. I think I've gone swimming in a river once with Maggie in NorCal... we have both been white water rafting once... we've gone swimming in lakes... but in LA, the concept of "river" doesn't really exist. The "LA River" is a concrete basin which is usually empty, and sometimes has a slight trickle down the bottom.

So we took our lovely apartment-mate Michiko and headed out to the Great Smoky Mountains. First stop: Sonic. I'd heard a lot about Sonic, especially from bloggers who live in the region, but none of us had been. It was pretty good. I liked the limeade. Not as good as InNOut, but you know.. nothing is.

Then we headed up into the 'mountains'. The trip up had so many cute little houses with rocking chairs and horses and Southern Charm. The mountains are really not that big, but they are so gorgeous. So many rivers and streams, tons of cool hiking paths with beautiful tree cover. In the park we saw so many white water rafters and horseback riders, so we can't wait to go back and try those.

We parked in a very crowded lot and hiked a mile and a half up Big Creek Trail to Midnight Hole. It was fun to see that there were so many people up at the top... kids everywhere and families just hanging out and swimming and relaxing. The hole was pretty large, maybe 15 feet across, with a waterfall coming in. It was surrounded by big rocks (maybe 10-12 feet high) that everyone was jumping off of.

It was a hard process getting in the lake. The rocks were very slippery, and the water was numbingly cold at first. At one point, Scott was in up to his knees, and turned around to see Michiko and I standing on separate rocks, completely avoiding the water. But we girls slowly crept in, and of course Scott headed right to the top of the rocks. Eventually he got both of us to jump in too, and it was amazing! The water felt so refreshing.

The day was just so beautiful! I love living out here, where we can drive an hour away and be in such a beautiful place. One thing that I didn't like about San Diego was that it was harder to get to beautiful mountain areas. If you drive north, you just hit city after city. If you drive east, you're in the desert. If you drive south, you're in Mexico. And if you drive west, you fall in the ocean. Which is beautiful, but salty. There are some pretty areas, but nothing close like this.

It was so nice to be out and smell nature and hear silence. The temperature was perfect, the swimming hole was perfect, and the company was perfect. So fantastic! I love living in Knoxville!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


There are a lot of blonds in Knoxville. It's strange, having moved from San Diego, where everyone is supposedly blond-haired, blue eyed. But it seems like Knoxville has twice the Norwegian population.

Also, happy birthday (yesterday) to Scott! We celebrated by eating real, non-pasta, non-sandwich food, at PF Changs. It was one of the best meals ever.

I'm ready to have my own kitchen again and to be able to cook. And to get my cookbooks out of storage. Because I read cookbooks like novels, you know.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A message from the husband - Driving in Knoxville

Hey all!
If there's one thing you've done a lot of coming from southern California, it's driving. Driving to the grocery store, driving to see friends, driving to/from LA. Everyone does it and, excluding those who are asian, elderly, female (choose two), everyone can do it pretty well. But driving in Knoxville is, to say the least, an adventure.

Let's begin. So say you're driving in the right hand lane on the freeway (say, the 405) and suddenly the dashes to your left become short and close together. This would seem to indicate that your lane has become an exit only lane. So if you're getting off at the next exit, no worries! Except suddenly you find yourself driving on the shoulder! What happened? Here, those little short dashes mean that the lane is ending now. Not in 1/4 mile, not in 500ft, but now. More than once I've been caught off guard by this bizarre method.

Nextly, you find yourself driving on a normal suburban road. Nothing in particular about it. Say it's a fairly busy street with many side streets coming off of it. Now your gaze drifts to one of these streets as a car comes towards your road at 30mph. You think, "He has a stop sign. He'll stop." But he doesn't. He keeps going. and going. and going until you think that there is no way they are going to actually be able to stop in time when the SLAM on their brakes, barely out of the way of the right-of-way traffic. Oh my gosh. This scares me every time. People seem to think that they should break at the very last possible minute here. Not just 18yo kids who think they are invincible, but everyone! I've thought several times that I was going to get hit. Scarytime.

So that wraps up this edition of Driving in Knoxville. I'm sure that there will be many more to come as I encounter many more things that just don't quite make sense to me.


Friday, July 17, 2009


We have made progress on one of two important fronts!

Today we went and turned in our application for the apartment we want. It's a great little place in Western Knoxville (the newer side of town). We decided this year to go with a small, inexpensive place. The apartment is not large (730-ish square feet) but it will be great for us. The living room was a decent size so we can at least have people over. It has a little porch, and they said we can garden around it.

We really liked the apartment complex. It is very large, with brick buildings and lots of open grass spaces. There's a big pool, lighted tennis courts, an exercise room and four laundry rooms. It's within walking distance of a grocery store and a mall. One of the decisive factors was that the staff was so friendly! You know, you can kind of tell when a staff member is being friendly just to get you to sign a lease, and when they are truly a friendly and fun person? We just got the vibe that the people who worked there were having a lot of fun. They were having Resident Appreciation Week when we were there. We first toured on Rootbeer Float day, and the woman who showed us around made sure we got some floats. Next month they're having a big pool party with a DJ and catered barbecue.

So, we turned in our application. We still have to get all the background checks done, and get our finances in order to show them that we are able to pay for rent, and all that... but hopefully, the apartment will be ours! As soon as we know, I'll let you all know so you can get the address for us.

Now, I can spend more of my time trying to find a job! Please be praying that God would favor me in this area, since things have not been encouraging so far!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Special Forces, Reunite!

I made the trip to Nashville yesterday to collect Scott from the airport. He made it to and from NorCal in one piece, although exhausted. I am so SO glad to have him back in Knoxville, and glad he had fun with the boys this weekend and that he could be there for Ben's wedding.

But I'm all done driving to Nashville. It's 2.5 hours each way. In the ten days we've lived here, I've made the trip 4 times. No more driving!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just Another Lazy Day Afternoon

I had my first taste of Southern church today. Honestly, it was less Footloose than I had pictured. It was a pretty traditional church (Methodist), so it was not like much I've experienced in the last few years. But there were very friendly people, and old ladies dressed up with hats and skirts and nylons, and a lot of food like doughnuts and sausage balls, so the South did not disappoint.

Also lived through my first thunderstorm. Well, I've been in them before, but never at my place of residence. It was always on vacation (with my parents), so it was always novel and awesome and we could play a family game. Today it was more like "I'm stuck in my bedroom and I'm all alone and if lightning comes through that electrical outlet, into the TV, out the antenna, through these keys sitting 2 feet beside me, and into my head, no one will know that I died." Maybe I should stop googling lightning safety websites and looking at the freaky possible scenarios. The thunder was pretty loud but didn't last too long. I don't think the storm passed directly overhead, but it still freaked me out. The rain afterward was intense and awesome though. I like living somewhere that gets rain more than 3.6 times a year.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Further Up and Further In


- At the coaxing of my fantastic Mother-In-Law, I went to the farmer's market. It's downtown in Market Square, which is less than a mile's walk. The produce isn't as varied and delicious-looking as SoCal, but what can you do? It was fun to walk around and see everything.

- It was noon and dreadfully warm, so I tried Rita's for the first time. Delicious pina colada italian ice for less than $3. MMMMM. Sat on a park bench and watched people.

- Walked around downtown. Found the visitor's center, where they broadcast a radio station and have free concerts every weekday at noon.

- Ran into Michiko right as I was walking into the apartment. She was cooking, so we talked for a while. We ended up hanging out for 3 hours and watching Memoirs of a Geisha, which we both really enjoyed.

- Applied to five more jobs. None looked thrilling, but all would pay some bills!

- Facebooked. Emailed. Read. Made dinner. Read blogs.

So, it's the most adventurous solo day I've had yet. I think I've become so used to having Scott around that I was scared to do things without him, whereas before we were married I think I would have been less timid about just doing stuff alone. I miss him bundles but I'm starting to thank God for some of the alone time I have.

Tomorrow, I'm going to church with one of Scott's family friends. She's a grandma but she says she talked to some 'young people' at church who said I can sit with them! It's the type of thing that I'd usually try to find some excuse to avoid out of shyness, but my Knoxville Melissa was bold to accept the opportunity, and I'm actually pretty excited about it! I've determined to make an attempt with anyone who reaches out socially here. And here's opportunity #1. After tomorrow, I will know more than 2 people in Knoxville!

Friday, July 10, 2009

I found it

I went for a run today, and I found it. I found the intangible reason why I knew I wanted to move out of LA and into Somewhere Else.

Near the very end of my run, I decided to take a detour into World's Fair Park. We're blessed to have a pretty large and very nice park a few blocks from our apartment (after living in LA, I have decided that I always want to live within walking distance of a communal green space). And as I jogged through the park, I came to a huge stretch called Festival Lawn.

And there were children. And they were playing.

Now, this doesn't seem very exciting or novel. But in West LA, where we lived, there were no children. That sounds strange to say, but it's basically true. There were babies, but there were no children. I think families moved to the neighborhood when they were young professionals, had babies, and then moved away to more family-friendly areas. So although I worked with children for a while, I never encountered them in their natural environment.

This park had a huge playground (that looked SUPER FUN... I want to go back when there are no kids there!). It also had one of those fountains that shoots water from the ground so that kids can play in it. It was the biggest one of those fountains I had ever seen.

There were entire families there, just relaxing. The kids were in their bathing suits, running through the water, the playground, and the grassy fields. They were just... playing and dancing and being exactly how kids should be in the summertime. And I realized how refreshing that was. They were not in ballet class or gymnastics class or modeling class or SAT-Prep-For-Elementary-School class. They were playing, outside, at the park, in their bathing suits. I feel like that is disappearing from places like LA, where the focus is so much on performance that kids aren't allowed to be kids.

And that is what I feel like I was after in wanting to move here. It was one of those sublime moments when you really feel like you've made the right decision. I know it wasn't my decision to move here, ultimately... it was up to God, and Scott. But I knew I wanted here. I want that slower life, to sit in the park with my family while the kids are free to run around. The humidity and the beautiful countryside don't hurt matters either.

I'm so glad that I shook the lack of motivation that kept me in the apartment all day to take a run at twilight. It was so gorgeous and peaceful. And I feel like I'm starting to see part of the way that I will be blessed to live here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's not pronounced "Knoxville" , it's "Knoxvull"

Observations on Knoxville thus far

- It is not as small as either of us pictured. It really is a city, with a legit downtown.

- Some of the differences in culture are not surprising, but they are still difficult. Two things we've noticed: friendliness, and speed. People here really are very friendly. Store clerks will just chat with you. Now, in LA, the clerk at the bookstore might make small-talk, but after 30 seconds you start to feel like you're wasting their precious time, and walk away to avoid staying too long and being awkward. But here... they will just sit and chat with you. Several times, I have started to feel like I should end the conversation and move away out of politeness, but I really do think that they are content chatting. That is totally different than what I have experienced in California. It is nice, it will just be very difficult to adjust to. I will have to lose that internal timer that tries to end the conversation, and just become content to stand and chat.
The other thing is speed. We went in to rent a storage unit, and the man behind the desk was in absolutely NO hurry to help us. Sure, he was helpful and very nice, but just not fast. If it was LA, he would have had us in and out in 5 minutes. He had us in the office for half an hour... printing out a page, looking it over, chatting, giving us the page to sign, giving us a packet of papers and pulling them all out and explaining them one at a time... As someone from the phrenetically paced LA, this is frustrating. But I think it will be sooo good for me.

- Tennessee has way more trees and thick vegetation than I expected. It is SO GREEN. I knew it would be green, but it is so tree-y. And humid. Which is fantastic. Just walking around, it smells like outdoors. It is so nice to be out of the miles and miles and miles of concrete that is LA.

- Grocery stores... where are they??
Seriously, I think the closest one to us is 2 miles away. Which isn't much, but it seems like in CA there is a Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, etc, on every major corner. There is a farmer's market close that I want to check out. But either I'm missing something, or everyone is driving to this one Kroger 2 miles away to do their shopping.

- It's not the freeway or the 40, it's the interstate. But I'm still calling it the freeway.

- Gahhh the mosquitos! Scott took me to play disc golf yesterday in a park and I can count 18 bites on my legs alone. See Lori! I told you when you left they would all bite me instead!

- Most of the girls here wear t-shirts and athletic shorts. Most of them are really cute, and athletic looking. And they all walk around looking like they were just playing soccer. Maybe they were, or maybe it's that it is so darn hot that those clothes are just more comfortable. Fine with me! And 80% of the boys are wearing plaid shorts.

- I think I am really going to love living here. But now that I'm 2000 miles away from "home" and most of my family and friends, I miss everyone. I know 3 people here so far (not counting Scott)... Michiko, and some family friends of the Carrs. It's lonely and fairly hard so far. Now that I have Internet AT HOME (revolutionnnnn) it will be so much easier to keep in touch. Send emails/ facebook messages/ blog comments/ IMs pleaseeee and tell me what is going on in your life. Yes, you. I promise I will try my hardest to respond.

Apartment 9203

I can't believe I haven't posted about Knoxville yet!

Well, actually I can. We got here last Saturday, didn't actually sleep in the apartment until Sunday night, and then we could not figure out how to use the Internets. We had no wireless signal that appeared to be the free Internet. So we were forced to try the burger chain Krystal (not worth it...) for their free wi-fi. It was just like living in LA, except we couldn't even walk to the Internet! But then last night, I was laying on the bed melting from the heat, and I looked down and said "HEY! What is that box?? Is that the Internets?" And behold, in true 2003 style, the box on the wall was the Internet. And life has been a lot more glorious since then.

Other than the Internet thing, the apartment has been pretty decent. It's a four bedroom apartment, and each bedroom has it's own bathroom. The bedrooms are pretty small, but livable. There are two other girls living here. The one who lives here year-round is pretty MIA. We've only seen her twice in the five days we've been here, and haven't talked to her at all. She seems ambivalent at best about our presence. But the other girl is darling. Her name is Michiko, and she's here from Japan for two months. We've gotten to talk to her several times. We help her with the English words she can't find in dictionary, and with pronunciation and grammar. We've had such fun conversations with her talking about Japan and sharing our experiences of moving to Knoxville from very different places. She's delighted that Scott has been to Kyoto, where she's from. So we're definitely looking forward to hanging out with her this month!

God's blessed us with a good apartment situation for sure.

Scott is out of town from today until Tuesday afternoon, so I have some serious time to myself this weekend. I took today to be totally lazy and stay in the room and watch TV and read blogs. I'm going to bed early, and then tomorrow morning I am going to wake up and start applying to jobs!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


The Carrs are officially in Knoxville, Tennessee! We rolled in tonight around 9 PM, and had several adventures with getting into the apartment where we are staying. We went and saw the place, but we're staying with Scott's parents in the hotel for tonight. Tomorrow it's off to Nashville for the day to return the car and explore a bit, and then we'll finally get some much-needed rest. I'll post more about our adventure in the next few days, but until then, I'm going to bed. Thank you all SO much for all of your prayers, texts, emails, and love. This has been a crazy and AMAZING adventure, of seeing God's amazing glory in his creation of this beautiful world. None of us would have traded this adventure for anything. We are truly blessed, and so glad to be here!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A message from the husband - Estes Park!

Hello readers!

We are currently in Wind River at the YMCA of the Rockies located in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. The Y was my home for a 10 week span approx three years ago now. I was here with the Navs for a summer training program with about 20 or so other college kids from the west coast. We spent the summer studying John, playing disc, climbing mountains, cleaning rooms, setting up chairs, playing BANG! and all sorts of other fun things.

To be honest, it's quite surreal to be back here. It's kinda like when you or someone special to you leaves and you have a really drawn out emotional goodbye only to see them the next day to pick up that book you lent them... Kinda like that.

So much is the same and so much has changed. When last I was here, Melissa and I had been dating about ten months, now we've been married for nine. Then, I was leaving friends and family for only ten weeks, now I am not sure when I'll be back. Last time I came with a big group who I hardly knew, now I'm here with only three of the most important people to me.

The Mountains are still here. The sky is still huge. The trees are still green. The storms are still powerful. God is still good.

Life is great at 8000 feet.

The journey thus far...

Well, we're 2/5 of the way there! We are currently at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. This is our main detour... Scott spent the summer here 3 years ago and loved it so much that we all had to come see it. It's absolutely gorgeous here. We are at 8000 feet, and every direction you look there are huge peaks around you... up to 13 or 14,000 feet. It's crazy, you'd think we were at sea level from how huge the mountains around us are. They all have snow on them too... in July!

So far the drive has been pretty fun. I have entertained myself by keeping our travel log. I have taken a picture out the front of the window every ten minutes, and have written a blurb for each one in my journal. Between that and navigating and reading some blogs and eating candy, I haven't been bored. I haven't fallen asleep once on the drive, and if you know me, that is an AMAZING feat. I will post a link later tonight to the first of our pictures/journals later tonight, hopefully.

Getting out of LA was exciting... Tom and Lori (Scott's parents) had a nail in their tire, when we were ready to leave. So our first stop was a Tire Depot to get that fixed. But that has been the only ordeal so far. It's been smooth sailing. The first day, LA to Green River Utah, was rather warm. I think it got up to 115 degrees outside or something. But amazingly, our air conditioning worked! That is a huge accomplishment for our car. The scenery in Arizona and Utah were so interesting. I can't even describe it. Green River was fine, although I had heard it was awful. It had a very comfortable Holiday Inn, which was the best thing ever after 700 miles of driving.

The second day of the drive was breathtaking. Up, up, up the mountains. I had never seen the Rockies before, so needless to say I am enamored. It's a majestic area. I love all the rivers and streams. And the best part of it all... the car made it up the hill. We have the car packed so full that you could not fit one more thing in the back or the trunk. It is so low to the ground! The car is so heavy, and it goes rather slow up the hills... but we made it.

We will sleep well tonight, and then off to Hays, Kansas for tomorrow. Now, I will get the Flickr stream up for our pictures!

I miss you all so much!