Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I understand that people have been wanting updates about my adventures on the west coast, so I figured that this might be the easiest way. I started a blog a few months ago when I went to Switzerland, updated once about the trip to New Orleans, then...nothing. Apparently nothing interesting happened between then and now.

But now...NOW...I'm in Los Angeles. And I'm told that that's interesting. So welcome to my new blog! I think I set it so that you can still comment even if you don't have a Google account...just leave your name so it doesn't just say anonymous.

Let me backtrack a bit just so everyone's on the same page... I'm starting as a grad student in Writing for Screen and Television at a school in L.A. I grabbed my trusty sidekick Angela and started the long drive to the Pacific on Saturday, August 22.

We stopped on Saturday night in Athens, Tennessee (a favorite little spot of Morgan's and mine - only this time no one rolled over in bed and woke me up at midnight to ask if we brought the $1250 check to pay the church in New Orleans). Sunday was a short driving day and we got to Vicksburg, Mississippi around 3 p.m. I taught Angela a very important Smith family driving rule along the way - if you can't see the gas station from the end of the exit ramp, get back on the highway and find another. Especially when there's a risk that you'll unknowingly end up in East Deliverance, Alabama...

We stayed with my wonderful cousin and her husband in Vicksburg on Sunday night. We went to the buffet at one of the casinos on the river...it was delicious. Mmm...cornbread and sweet tea... The next morning we were up and out by 8 a.m. to start one of our long driving days. We got some awesome barbecue, or rather Bodacious Barbecue, as the restaurant was called, as soon as we got into Texas. There were seriously men in overalls and cowboy hats walking around. Yeehaw.

After that great experience, Texas betrayed us and revealed its true self: a vast wasteland of nothingness. Nothingness broken only by billboards for three things: booze, adult superstores, and churches. We finally made it to Odessa for the night, setting of the Friday Night Lights book, movie, and tv series. Along the way we happened to discover that a sane person's breaking point comes about 7 hours into Texas. How broken were our minds by the end of the day, you ask? Angela accused me of being a serial fairy killer (not a fairy serial killer, because that would imply that I'm a fairy), and in the hotel lobby I told Angela not to put her bags down because the floor was lava. Lava filled with sharks. Sharks with laserbeams on their heads. Texas will do that to you.

We got an early start again the next morning for another long-ass drive. We thought we'd seen the worst of it...but we were wrong. The scenery was actually nicer as we got closer to the mountains and all that good stuff, and at one point we were pretty much scraping the border of Mexico. Around the time we were passing through El Paso/Ciudad Juarez, we looked at the gps (who shall henceforth be called by her given name - Bernice) and saw that our arrival time in Phoenix was 6 p.m. It was about 1 p.m. at that point and I thought to myself "wow, only 5 more hours!"

Then we hit New Mexico.

Suddenly it was only 12 p.m. Welcome to the Mountain Time Zone. Also of note in New Mexico - they had border patrol set up and were randomly stopping cars. We were of course stopped and asked if everyone in the vehicle was a U.S. citizen. I blame Angela.

Anycrap, we're coasting along through New Mexico, which is not much better than Texas, and we're it rolls around to 2 p.m. and I'm thinking to myself "wow, only 4 more hours!"

Then we hit Arizona.

Suddenly it was only 1 p.m. Welcome to the Pacific Time Zone. Damn time zones.

We took pictures of all the nothingness, but I haven't had time to load everything onto my computer yet.

We finally made it to Phoenix (during rush hour...awesome) and settled in at my wonderful friends' apartment. I had built in an extra travel day just in case of an emergency, but since there were no emergencies we had the day off on Wednesday. We mostly just sat around and watched tv all day. It was glorious. Especially considering that it was 111 degrees outside. Thursday morning we were up and out by 8:30 for the drive into L.A.!

It's about a 6 hour drive to Los Angeles and it's more nothingness for most of the way. We finally started to hit the outer edges of the city around 1:30. The traffic wasn't too bad, kinda felt like the beltway at rush hour...but with palm trees. It was still hectic though just because it was all so unfamiliar to me. Bernice only let us down once, but she re-routed us very quickly and there were no problems. We got to the hotel, dropped our stuff in the room, then made a beeline for In-N-Out Burger. After not eating since breakfast, it was perhaps the most glorious hamburger I've ever eaten. We went back to the hotel and lay around in bed watching tv the rest of the night because we didn't have the energy to do anything else.

Friday morning was another bright and early morning - move-in day! We got to campus by 8 a.m. and did all the check-in stuff (which, by the way, made SU look like the ultimate champion-of-champions when it comes to move in). Despite the chaos and disorganization, we got my stuff moved into my apartment (I'm living on campus) and I got Angela back to the hotel to catch the airport shuttle. So I basically dragged her out of bed at 6:30 a.m., made her lug my belongings through a huge parking lot and into my apartment in 95 degree heat, then made her take a hotel shuttle to the airport for a 6 hour flight that was really 9 hours because of the time change. On her birthday. Whoops.

This post is long enough already, so I think I'll actually stop here and save the next phase for the next entry!

You stay classy, Maryland. (It'll be easier without me there...)


  1. Hey Susan! It's Lauren!
    I'm glad you had a safe trip across the country. Can't wait to read more of your blog. You have earned a bookmark.

  2. I also just remembered that you know a million Laurens (this is Morrell)

  3. 1) Side kick?? I'm not sure if I'm offended or not...
    2)"I think we're alone now..."
    3) Totally NOT my fault that we got stopped by border patrol....
    4) Mmmmm In-N-Out Burger....
    5) Seriously...not gonna lie...not the best birthday ever...


    6) You better update semi-regularly or I will have to fly back out there and smack you.

    You were warned.

  4. Did you say adult superstores?

    I highly doubt you can be more entertaining than Angela's blog from London, but I hope you try.

    My first word verification was bloph. I think that's a sign of swine flu. "He had a fever and bloph."

  5. It is the Bray family tradition that unless you can see the gas station/food sign FROM THE HIGHWAY, you don't get off. I have nearly peed my pants and starved to death using this logic.

    And Susan, you are such a good friend. I can totally see how Angela put up with you for all these years. Oh wait... switch that and reverse it.