exploring up the west coast (part 2)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

And here is the promised second part to our wonderful vacation, driving up the California coastline. It was a fantastic trip! This little bit here was one of my favorite parts of the trip - it has been on my bucket list for some time! Once we decided we just wanted to drive north and see where we end up, I looked at a map and estimated where we'd be - right in the middle of the Salinas Valley.
You know what else is there? John Steinbeck's boyhood home, and the inspiration in some way behind every one of his novels. So of course we had to go to Salinas (the city) and explore the life of this amazing writer which we love so dearly. I think I particularly enjoy Steinbeck because of the biblical imagery in all of his writings, especially East of Eden. Oh, that is probably my favorite. If I recall correctly, East of Eden was probably the first real novel I picked up and read on my own in middle school - my dad liked to take us to the bookstore every so often growing up, and for some reason this is the book I picked up. It probably has something to do with the biblical imagery in the title alone - see further Genesis 4:16, where Cain attacks his brother Abel and is therefore driven out to a land east of the Garden of Eden. Marshall probably enjoys him more because of the agricultural aspect - he writes about real people and lives during a hard time in the Great Depression era, and knows a great deal about farming and making a living with it. You could see just how far each of his works had footing in the life of California agriculture just by walking through the museum - National Steinbeck Center - in Salinas, California.

I could spend hours in the atrium alone!

This giant Monopoly board game was the neatest thing - It definitely reminded me of Marshall's family who gets really, and I mean extremely, competitive when playing Monopoly. Imagine playing on a board this size! And a game centered around Steinbeck's novels, no less.

I loved this stack of books on the wall! Books galore!

The museum went through each of Steinbeck's novels and short stories.. This part was about East of Eden. I thought the old buggy was pretty neat - just how far technology of cars alone has come!

The lettuce fiasco from the novel, explained in great detail, was actually inspired in ways by something that happened in real life in the town.

This describes me perfectly - never enough books! This week I slimmed three bookcases down to only two in my office, and boy was that hard! Many of those I'm donating to this bring and take event our bible study is having on base coming up in a few weeks.

Letters and journals which John Steinbeck wrote. I didn't realize he went to Stanford!

Cain & Abel from Genesis - the inspiration or basis behind the Trask boys in East of Eden.

Most of his novels were made into movies.. so fun to see older/classic movie posters.

I still need to read Of Mice and Men! We have that one too, so once finals are done you know that's in my reading pile.

An ad for Texaco gas... Reminded me of home since those gas stations are everywhere!

The California coast! I definitely want to make it out to Baja while we are living out here.

I remember reading The Pearl in 7th grade English, but I didn't quite understand it then. I will have to read it again! We also had a diorama art project that I really enjoyed to go along with it, I remember coloring a bouncy ball white and black, half and half, to symbolize the good and bad influence of the pearl from the novel... Love getting crafty!

Books, books, and more books!

The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to John Steinbeck in 1962 for his epic writing. Namely, his realistic, sympathetic, and imaginative writing riddled with great social perception.

He also received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 for his writings!

We have this book and again, I have yet to read it - but am really excited to be able to soon! Travels with Charley - a man and his dog taking an epic all-American road trip. Terrific insight to different regions in this.

Love this quote!
"I nearly always write - just as I nearly always breathe."

The atrium of the National Steinbeck Center! Took this as we were headed out. Also, we just happened to make it to the museum on a free day - free admission! I forgot the reason, but we really lucked out on that! Fun little detour. We had a great time in Salinas and Monterey those few days! Also, there may be a part 3 to this road trip coming up, we'll see! Now for studying... getting ready for finals fast approaching.

The Real Military Wives of Blogland

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I think it's about time for another blog post! I actually just found out about this link-up a few hours ago thanks to posts by Chelsea and Katie (awesome milso blog friends) and decided to go and check it out! This is all about doing away with negative stereotypes you find with bloggers, and military spouses, and especially those who happen to be both. Yep, that's me! Here we are to share about ourselves, how we became military spouses, and something about milso's that others may not know, or something you wish they knew.

Don't know what those negative stereotypes are? Take anything found in this article - we are lazy, snobs, uneducated, entitled, wear our husbands rank, freeloaders, married just for benefits, unfaithful, etc..... This list goes on and on. Forget about all that! Sure, there may be some military wives out there who may fit that bill, but don't let the poor choices of one affect how you view all military wives. There is just something about meeting another military wife, where you can just pick up a conversation out of thin air, like you've known each other your whole life - that bond that comes in living this lifestyle with other couples (no one said it's ever going to be easy) - is hard to find anywhere else. The San Diego Milspouse Blogging Group that I see each month is living proof of that!

So without further adieu, Here is more about the real military wives of blogland:
Mal Smiles
First I'm asked to write about myself.
Let me see... My name is Katherine, and I blog here (obviously). I'm 21 and about to graduate in only a number of weeks with my Bachelor's in Education from Liberty University! I currently work at a Montessori preschool and make a lot of crafts on the side, so... I'm planning on starting an Etsy shop in the summer with my paintings (I'll start taking orders next month hopefully!), and probably getting a second job at somewhere like a bookstore. Trying to stay busy over here! (Also if I were to go for certification in California, it would take longer than the amount of time we have left to even live here... So much red tape at the districts here for out-of-state - Not worth the hassle!)
Next, our military story. Well, to understand you have to go a little bit back in time. I met Marshall my first week as a freshman in college at Texas A&M - he was a senior. He was also in the Corps of Cadets, an ROTC program (yet so much more) and was set to commission into the Marine Corps upon his August graduation. So I knew that, and we went on dating.. Then he proposed spring break, and we were married 2 days after he graduated/commissioned. Because of all that, he had to go to The Basic School in Virginia to learn how to become a Marine. We didn't get orders until the next March, so we just stayed busy living in a college town (we both worked 2 jobs each, and I finished another semester of school). We moved for TBS and were there for the summer, then Marshall received Logistics as his MOS (job), so we moved to North Carolina next for the fall. After MOS school we finally were able to move out to California, where we are now, for his duty station. We have been here for over a year and are now looking at options for what is next after his contract commitment has been met (because time flies!). So here we are!
What do I wish people knew about military spouses? Hmm... Lots of things. As I touched on earlier, there are a lot of negative stereotypes out there. Just want the benefits (tax-free shopping and Tricare), lazy and fat (I guess we eat bon bons all day in front of the TV), uneducated (apparently we are all high school dropouts who were too lazy to find real civilian jobs), and the list goes on. Not true, y'all! Sure, there may be some spouses who keep those stereotypes living, but not the majority of us.
Oh, two BIG things I've noticed: Others are wary of making friends or hiring spouses of those in the military. An employer sees a long resume of jobs in different places kept for months or maybe a year or two at a time, and they think - she sure can't hold a job. I've have many interviewers ask me flat out if my husband was military, and when/if I said yes, they politely asked me how long we will be living there, and then generally asked a few more unrelated questions, told me to leave, and never called me back. I have been to countless interviews, and it's hard to hold a job as a military spouse. Some places even feel that living somewhere for up to 3 years (general length for a duty station) is too short-term to be hired - I've been told that! Know that I understand that to some degree, but when a spouse needs a job, and you need an employee, there should be a willing-ness to take that risk, dependent upon the situation... But I digress. You can see that until finding the preschool I'm currently working at, I've had a lot of trouble in this area. But thankfully, the owner at the preschool was very understanding and wanted to be sure it worked out for the both of us. I love working there!

About making friends with others - it's all about perspective. You are definitely going to make friends with other military spouses who know the lifestyle and understand it - who are living life with you - than someone you know from work, or even your neighbors if you live in town. There's just something about that community and the network of military spouses - like instant-friends, where-ever you go! But one day the question is going to come up (question from a non-milso to a milso) - what do y'all do for a living, where do you live, why don't you have any family living nearby? I've dealt with this my whole life, moving every few years with my dad in the Army, and believe me, this whole making friends thing is just as relevant for spouses as it is with children. Everywhere we lived growing up I had at least one friend at school whose parent was also military - she is who always stuck by me. Same goes for now - It just so happens that all of my friends now are military spouses. Even with working at the public school or preschool, or even just meeting all the dog owners in our neighborhood at the park every summer night, I only hang out with and are true friends with other military spouses. It sure can happen, but it is a little more difficult to make friends with those who live the regular old civilian life (Not saying anything bad about that, but just saying it's a factor). The difference in lifestyles - moving, a big part of it - does play a factor in making friends and keeping friends. Like I said, the bond is that much greater with other military wives, because with friends who don't know the lifestyle, there is only so much you can actually talk about and relate to. (But don't lose hope, I do have a few "normal" friends back home who have been by my side for years! They understand this and didn't just back out because I grew up in this life and chose to marry my husband who also happened to commission into this life. It is possible! Just isn't that common from what I've seen/heard).
So for others who happen to have a chance to make friends with military spouses (or same goes for military kids) - don't hesitate! Because of this whole moving thing, we learn quick how to make friends, open up, and really much of the time would just appreciate someone to talk to! So in all, what do I wish people knew about being a military spouse? We sure can hold a job and a friendship, if you just give us a chance! Don't just brush us off because we live a different life than you. Probably the best at that friendship part - as a milso you learn to make friends where ever you go because you may not get that opportunity if you waited. Before you know it, your time at the duty station will be up and it would be a lot more fun in the process with friends to share it with! 

exploring up the west coast (part 1)

This post is basically going to be a photoblast, because I took oh so many pictures during our Easter weekend road trip up the coast and can't wait to share them. This is a beautiful part of the country we live in, y'all. San Diego has nothing on the Salinas Valley - Wow! We loved it, and I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to take a road trip at least 5 hours up the west coast on highway 101. We absolutely loved it, and Scruffy had a puppy blast too. She loves road trips and being outside with us, and was so much fun to have along for the ride.
There's a lot of Torrey Pines (trees) out here on the west coast; I remember Torrey Pines State Park in the SD area. Such a neat park, and it had a little coffee shop and music stage on the site as well. Perfect for a summer day!

Exploring downtown Monterey - oh, so beautiful!

I said these pictures are a little out of order; This was driving up the coast on the way to Monterey and Salinas. I felt like this picture was just a glimpse of what it feels like to drive through the famous Redwoods further north in the state. I'm hoping for that road trip this summer!

This land is so beautiful! I would never tire of that view; We were in awe of his epic creation during the entire trip.

Something I heard about on a Netflix documentary; Hearst Castle. This is the visitor's center, and because the tour took a few hours and cost more than we wanted to spend on something like that (Only $25 each but we're cheap I guess), we didn't go. But we could see it from the road and it was quite grand - One day I want to go back and tour it! Hearst Castle is part of a state historical monument because of its rich history, designed for a newspaper mogul William Hearst in the 20's, where he lived until his passing in the 50's. Oh, and pretty neat - it's housed guests during his lifetime such as Cary Grant and Charles Lindbergh.

The beautiful view near the parking lot of the estate. We were impressed, for sure. This is prime real estate, y'all.

And then we were off! We kept driving and found a lookout to get some good pictures of this view. We just never tired of it, and neither did Scruffy. Isn't it just beautiful?

More driving pictures! I loved the colors of the flowers on the side of the hill; Reminds me of pictures of the Carlsbad Flower Fields which I really want to go to!


This was a neat stone tunnel that literally cut through a large hill on the edge of the coast.

Scruffy is such a cutie!

More pretty views! Driving up the California coast was amazing. Another check off my bucket list!

Lots of hills and pastures - this definitely reminded us some of the Texas Hill Country.
Wide open roads, green hills and pastures in every direction, all of it is farming and agriculture land... Lots of cattle, goats, and horses too... Yeah, it was neat to drive through!

They are such cuties. Marshall posing for a picture with Scruffy by one of the lookout stops. Look at that water - and those rocks - oh my! We absolutely loved this road trip. Also below is originally via Instagram.


The Monterey Bay. So pretty!

I absolutely love this picture! The bright colors of the buildings on the Monterey boardwalk - restaurants, shops, and tourist traps - reflecting off the water. And then Marshall and Scruffy in the picture - my soul is well. Such a beautiful town ,and our sweet Scruffy Spice loved exploring it with us!

I was itching for my coffee fix, so we stopped for lunch/dinner at a local French-inspired café. I loved the presentation of my cappuccino.

'Merica! We got a kick out of seeing this truck with a flag posted on back. This gave Marshall some ideas for his truck, Dale...
Part Two of our roadtrip - celebrating Easter and another check off the California livin' bucket list - will come soon!

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