We took a few days to drive from Utah to New York. The first day was thirteen hours of driving from Salt Lake to Lincoln, Nebraska. We’d brought our camping things, so we stayed at a KOA camp that we hated. It was so close to the highway and it was way overpriced for our needs. We just wanted a patch of grass to put our tent on for a few hours to sleep, not a pool, a jumping place, a playground, etc. They did have nice free showers, though.
The next day we drove from Lincoln to Nauvoo, Illinois. It only took six hours to get there, but we were excited to arrive. Billy had served a service mission in Nauvoo before his two year mission in Arizona, so he had plenty of fun memories of this place. When we got there we didn’t know what to do first! There was so much to do and see. We walked around and learned about the lives and the history of the early members of the church. Going to the Nauvoo Temple was definitely my favorite part.
We got a guided tour of Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith was martyred. I’m grateful for the church and the sacrifices made.
When it started to get dark we found the Nauvoo Campground and tried to find a place to pay for a campsite. We failed. So then we decided just to sneak in and leave early and hope no one would catch us.
No one did.
The next morning we started driving again. We stopped off at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. It was so cool! It felt just like an ocean, but I knew in my heart it was a fraud. We stood in the waves for a while and enjoyed the day. When we looked to the left we could see the skyline of Chicago and the silhouette of a group of black, ominously smoking refineries. I felt right at home.
This part of the country is riddled with toll roads, which irks my soul on a deep level. No one should have to stop and pay for driving! The eleven hour drive ended with a stay with some family I got to meet for the first time. Nancy and Dave (Nancy’s my mom’s cousin) fed us dinner and we got to catch up on each other’s lives in Monaca, Pennsylvania. I really loved Pennsylvania. The moment we crossed the state line I turned all cheesy and started feeling a connection to this place through my mom. I imagined what it must have been like to grow up here and how different it all must have been then vs now. I wanted to see the house she grew up in, but it was torn down a long time ago. I did get a picture of the church building where my mom was not only baptized, but married as well! It was lovely meeting my relatives and seeing this beautiful place.
The next morning we got up and drove in to New York City. I forgot to mention that since we’d just sold our car in Utah, we’d had to rent a car. We packed said car to the brim with everything we were taking to NY. We were both very cautious the whole way to not hit anything or to let anything hit us because we were brave/dumb enough to think that we could cross almost the whole of the US without any accidents. So as we got closer and closer to the city and the streets got more and more congested I started getting more and more panicky. Luckily for us Billy was the one driving (not that I’m a bad driver).
Crossing the Washington Bridge onto Manhattan was crazy! It seriously gave me a rush of adrenaline to think that this was my new home. I had all these expectations, both good and bad, that I knew were probably mostly wrong but partially right. I was a mix of shaky anxiety and jittery excitement. How many movies and songs and pieces of literature have been created trying to personify this city, trying to capture an essence of the thing that set this place apart from the rest? Driving onto the island was exhilarating, to say the least.
We drove around and navigated to the Manhattan School of Music where we picked up apartment keys from Corinne and Preston. Those two are awesome and I’m going to be mentioning them a lot because they help us out all the time. Anyway, the way it worked out is that they had already moved into their new apartment but they still had their old one until the month was up. They let us stay there, and to say that we lucked out is an understatement. After we picked up the keys we drove over to Inwood and double parked the car since there was no parking available. We carried load after load up the three flights of stairs since there was no elevator. And we had to move fast because there was a group of questionables hanging out right in front of the entryway door. We also got to witness a drug deal, our first hour of being in New York, in front of our apartment.
When the last item was brought up we drove to the Hertz office and dropped the car off. It was so nice to turn that thing in one without a single scratch. And that was it! We were officially moved onto the island!
I couldn’t believe we’d finally made it! We’d been waiting so impatiently since March and now here we were. I couldn’t wait to see what we would do next.