From Sea To Shining Sea

Dear Londann,

First LA sunrise

As I awake from my first night in LA I think of you.  Mima (my mom) has been sending me photos of you along my trip and I feel like you have grown so much already and it’s only been five days since I left New Jersey.  I can’t wait to video chat with you and see those teeth!

Last night was tough.  Life keeps serving me a platter full of challenges, but I deserve and devour each and every one.  First, Debbie and I arrive in Los Angeles and do a couple drive-bys of available apartments for rent.  From a distance (that is, behind the screen of a laptop) my mindset has been to find a place I can afford and in a safe neighborhood.  All of that changes once you get inside these prospective places.  You’ll see what I mean someday.  I’ll never forget the smell of the hallway of my first apartment on King Street in Bristol, CT.  Oh my.

Coming up on a time crunch after lunch on Abbot Kinney, Debbie helped (<– I’m gonna need to find a super hero version of this word eventually) me find temporary living quarters as per the “non-plan plan” because (gulp) she was leaving on the redeye back to Jersey.  I have always struggled with asking for and accepting help.  And so the struggle continues.  Remember that asking for or accepting help is not a sign of weakness.  People genuinely do want to help you so you have to respect that.  We just can’t do it all ourselves all the time.

Wind Turbines

Next, I had to say goodbye to Debbie (gah!).  The drive went SO fast.  The once-intimidating size of the US has shrunk significantly in my mind because, after all, intimidation is all in our heads.  But how was it that we are here already, saying goodbye?

We talked all the way from the WB to Knoxville, TN and then again through to Oklahoma City for the second night’s stay.  We missed the photo opportunity of every state sign after “Welcome to Pennsylvania!” on our first day.  Traveling with Debbie was so easy.  I hope you are able to find compatible travel partners in your life because it makes the journey that much more fun and effortless.

Suhair at The Little Tea Shop Memphis, TNWe covered some decent ground both in conversation and distance in those first 1600 miles, bouncing from topics of relationships, friends and family to drugs, dreams and life outlooks.  We met Suhair and her son Omar in Memphis – the Palestinian owners of the oldest restaurant in the city.  And then Jack and Dan in Oklahoma City – an army infantryman and his quiet wingman – in the lounge of our hotel.  You can still smoke inside bars and restaurants in OKC!  Gross.

Welcome to Texas

Perception really is reality.  Our waiter Brad at The Big Texan told us “there’s a whole lot of nothin’ to see after Amarillo.”  But it was quite the opposite for us Jersey girls.  On the east coast we are hardly used to seeing “nothing” along our interstates and so looking out the window into the great wide open was enough to shut us up for miles.  Now I know what is meant by “until the cows come home” because they just roam around for as far as you can see but where there is not a house in sight!


We drank some homemade wine and beer at a the Nexus Brewery in Albuquerque, NM before starting our fourth day on the road where we stopped to be “petrified” and see the Grand Canyon.  

Your dad will appreciate this… I couldn’t help but think about Clark and the Griswold family when they visit the Grand Canyon on their way to Wally World.  🙂

Deb & me at the Grand Canyon
Feeling anxious and motivated after the Grand Canyon we decided to press on to LA that night, but changed our minds an hour later and at the perfect position on the map to detour to Las Vegas.

Nigel in our suite at "THEhotel at Mandalay Bay"

Who knew Mandalay Bay was pet friendly!?

Fifteen years ago, I had won a trip for six people on a contest on Pop-Pop’s oldies radio station.  It’s the first / last time I was there and I was 20!  I brought your dad, Mima, Pop-Pop and my two best friends at the time.  

Night time walk with Jersey at Mandalay Bay

Speaking of best friends, that brings me back to LA on the fifth day of travel and parting ways with a new best friend.  Connecting with people on different and many levels is life-changing.  And I think for the both of us this trip was.

The last challenge occurred when I returned to my hotel room from bidding Debbie farewell.  I couldn’t find Nigel (aka “Kitty”).  Leaving (almost) no stone unturned – even the drawers and refrigerator – I ran down all the hallways of my floor and even knocked on my neighbors’ door across the hall since I noticed they had their door propped open earlier.  There’s no shame in my game, so as a frantic and apologetic fool I tossed kibble around Nigel’s bowl in front of perfect strangers snuggled in the dark in their beds saying “kittyyyy…”  I promised them he was a cool cat if they happened to find him lurking about their room in the middle of the night (can you imagine!?).

Back in my room I phoned a friend (two actually!) for help.  I just drove this darn cat five days across the country and NOW I lose him??  Sitting on the bed having not blinked my eyes in probably 20 minutes  I reached under the mattress edge and felt a space between it and the platform upon which the bed resided.


With sudden Bionic Woman strength I lifted the bed up and looked down underneath – he wasn’t there.  I looked UP into the mattress and there he was INSIDE the cloth sheathing!  CAT!!!

At first I thought what a master at Hide and Seek he is!  But then again… I DID find him.  🙂

Deb & Jersey in the carIf your mom and dad deny your repeated requests to have pets as a child, simply wait and get them when you’re older.  But definitely have them.  I never would have made the trip via car if I didn’t have them!  I’ll save that topic for another letter.  🙂

On to the next challenge!  Finding an apartment!

Schlaf gut,
Your Crazy Aunt Danielle & “Oddmother” xo

DHoff Here


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