With NYC’s incessant spread of COVID-19 cases, O and I decided to temporarily move to LA until restaurants open/I have to go back to the office (the cue that it’s “safe” to roam + work outside) I deeply love NYC; I wanted to stay, push through to save cost and soak in the Big Apple. But after about a week of talking it through, I’ve realized that we should just drive across America (Read the end if you’re that interested) Even with remarkably cheap plane tickets at less than $50, it wasn’t worth risking our health and possibly infect others. Also, a cross country road trip was on my bucket list and something I wanted to check off. What better time is there than when there’s practically no traffic?
[Baby, I got a plan; run away fast as you can…]
Leaving our home happened so quickly; I packed about a month’s worth of clothes, toiletries, as much food and homemade meals, work supplies, entertainment, and my air plants. With 3 packed luggages and bags of various food for the road (1.5 lbs of mozzarella balls, 10 spicy salmon/smoked salmon onigiri, 2 avocados, 2 clif bars, a box of apples, and more) …we left.
With swarms trying to leave NYC as if it was the apocalypse, we took the last car available at La Guardia’s National- a Jeep. I can’t express how hilariously painful it was to ride in it, nor imagine what it would’ve been like driving our 2871+ miles across the country, but fortunately, we exchanged it for a free upgrade later that night to a Mercedes GLA250. Since Trump had just considered closing New York’s borders earlier that day, we quickly packed at least 15 days of quarantine-2 months worth of prized belongings and left New York State by midnight. I don’t know about you, but I deeply didn’t and don’t want to be stuck at a random state during a nationwide season of chaos.
While it would normally make sense to plan an itinerary for a multi-day trip, we had to improvise much more than we’d normally do. Neither O nor I planned any pit stops, nor knew where we’d stay each night because we wanted to leave as soon as possible that weekend to avoid a NY parking ticket and arrive O’s LA home as quickly as possible so that I could rest before working by Wednesday 6AM. While switching off drivers throughout the night might make sense to get to our destination ASAP, I didn’t want to pull an allnighter because that could potentially put us into danger, accidents, and/or more costs. Thus, we began our journey across the United States AKA the 21st century version of Oregon Trail.
Driving from LGA through SoHo and out was surreal and weirdly reminiscent of Star Tours. After we passed the state line, I felt a rush of adrenaline that helped us navigate to a hotel in Pennsylvania by 2AM.
Start Time: 11:58 PM
Time: 2 hrs
Distance: 950 mi
After inhaling some homemade milk tea with mozzarella balls, we breezed through several northeastern states. We passed through West Virginia so quickly that I forgot to even play <em>Driving Home, Country Roads</em>. Because we wanted to check out the Mississippi river and we’d finished about 12 hours of driving, we decided to check into a hotel in St. Louis.
Start Time: 9:48 AM
Distance: 1050 mi
Thanks to Dosh, we were able to stay at the gorgeous Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch for just a small handful of dollars than the cigarette infused motel down the street. While the crime and homicide rate in St. Louis was a little unsettling, I felt really relaxed and relieved in the hotel and woke up to one of the most gorgeous sunrises.
While we did hope to snag some BBQ through Amarillo, Texas, 2 out of the 3 were closed/sold out of food. So, we settled to drive through Crazy Larry’s BBQ. Did it fulfill my cravings for southern food? ..Sadly, it didn’t (I wonder if it’s because I didn’t have baby back ribs) But hey, who knew New Mexico sunsets were also stunning?
Start Time: 9:10 AM
Distance: 1050 mi
Out of all gorgeous views of the sky and everything that we drove by, the ancient petroglyphs at the petroglyph national monument in Albaquerque were the highlight of the trip. I didn’t know what to expect in New Mexico, but stepping out from our car a bit to do a peaceful hike by ourselves while seeing various art engravings on glyphs was so personal and mesmerizing. What were these artists thinking and what was their motivation? What were they inspired by? How did they survive 300+ years? Who knows…
..and along Arizona’s Route 66, we grabbed some of the most delicious tacos + churro (thank you Tacos Los Altos!) and headed for our last stretch to California with some of the most stunning sunsets along Led Zeppelin’s Going to California and 2Pac ‘s California Love.
Start Time: 11:24 AM
Distance: 812 mi
I couldn’t help but think damn, this is why people love California. It never felt so good to be back in masks and to quarantine. With the 4 day car rental of our sweet GLA, GLA’s mileage of ~27 mpg, 9 gas station stops, 4.5 tolls, occasional food/drinks, everything cost about $900. I’m sure if you strategize and plan your itinerary, you could make it across much cheaper.
But would I recommend a cross country road trip? Absolutely-if you have at least 1 fun partner, good podcasts like Conan Needs a Friend, Office Ladies, a singalong playlist that includes Weezer’s Blue Album, Radiohead’s The Bends, and the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack – oh and of course, hopefully a comfortable car like our GLA. Of course, nothing screams Welcome to California more than IN N OUT.
Fast forward to a week after arriving LA-With the whole stay v. leave NYC, controversy, I do understand the sensitivity and extent of “stay home saves lives.” There is so much talk about why leaving NY is selfish, but do I regret coming? No.
I deeply love NYC and left a part of my heart there. I wanted to endure everything and happily cook and paint in my tiny little apartment. At least a handful of us couldn’t even step outside nor order food without wondering if a door knob was infected or a delivery person/groceries/package might be COVID19 infected – which could ultimately lead to paranoia, angst within my building or apartment itself. It’s almost appalling that some residents believe that the truly devoted and selfless New Yorkers are those who stick in tiny NY homes through the hell.
With the ongoing xenophobic “Chinese virus” talk and various assaults happening throughout the country, I also believe that we have to look out for ourselves and our loved ones, which hopefully includes our community. If we have to step out for a few days in a car to be in a larger, brighter home …and that lifestyle that could strengthen my relationships + build new ones, then yes x1000.
Summary of our cross country ride:
Total Distance: 2812 mi
Time: 68 hours
O and I jumped on the bandwagon to check out NYC’s Color Factory after J, one of our bubbliest and inspirational designer friends, highly recommended us to go together as a nice date. She showed us photos from her experience and suggested that we check it out for a nice date. But after visiting the Museum of Ice Cream and 29 Rooms (honestly, underwhelming), I couldn’t help but feel a bit guarded. Because it was J of all designers and friends, I was curious and convinced to check it out.
O was just as excited as I was to start the new year off with it. Unlike other pop-ups where your timing could be a huge factor, the Color Factory did a phenomenal job of not making us feel rushed by encouraging us to make the most out of each room because once we moved on, we couldn’t “go back.”
And yes, I recommend to come as a pair/pairs for the sake of one room being less awkward. Nothing wrong with making a new friend though. People should cut some slack and just chat/get to know strangers if he/she is separated from their S.O., because really – it held up my line and caused one guy from his friend and me from my boyfriend. sigh….
Part way through, we matched with colors that reflect our life choices / personality. And woah. we’re complementary colors, re-emphasizing how we complement each other.
Although it’s best to attend every room with the group we came with based on our scheduled slot, we didn’t feel rushed. I also loved the fact that they gave each and every one of us cards so that we could tap at every exhibition to have our photos taken. Color Factory? Hell yeah. Thanks for bringing me back to our childhood selves.
The ball pit is understandably, one of the most infamous rooms because it’s a vast sea of about 207,000 gorgeously blue balls. Drowning ourselves / soaring like flying fish / playing hide n seek / chucking balls at your friend / taking selfies with aerial photos using the cards they provided are all brilliant ideas. Nonetheless, swimming in that sea of 207,000 balls was magical and everything I needed to start the year.
With the great customer service, all of the interactive experiences, take home photos without us delicious treats (macarons, ice cream mochi, Swedish fish…) and even thoughtful take home gifts, I’d rank it 10/10. Color Factory is officially my favorite interactive (temporary!) pop up museum and I so highly recommend it.
251 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
Boucherie, a French word for “butcher” is a traditional French restaurant chain that specializes in dry-aged steaks, absinthe driven cocktails, and plenty of phenomenal French dishes and wines with Executive chef Jerome Dihui.
All Boucherie owned restaurants except one lie in quaint West Village – and that’s Boucherie Park in Gramercy Park. Among all Boucherie locations that I’ve been invited to dine at: Boucherie, Boucherie Park, Olio Piu, and Petit Boucherie (formerly Dominique Bistro), Petit Boucherie has become O’s and my personal favorite and proved to me that traditional, comfort French food with a romantic touch is still discoverable in New York City.
After dining at all other Boucherie restaurants since December, Miki the manager from Macedonia, invited me to dine with O in July. I was surprised, yet pleased that it was nested at a corner and that Miki recognized me with a nod and smile. When I came in again, he even recognized that I’m an architect transitioning into UX Design. His warm voice, humble and calm character reflects the overall mood and pleasant experience. He happily sat me down at the elegant cool copper bar, and told me to prepare for some Boucherie history 101 as if it were a legend in West village.
He taught me how Petit Boucherie began, how it used to be a lively coffee shop called “Why Not,” that the oomakase room byTatsuya underneath was a jazz bar that bursted with jazz. He explained to me how the signature dishes like Escargots a L’ail et au Beurre (buttery escargots drenched in garlic, parsley, and lemon) are permanent, but they also offer seasonal menu items that change with time, like Salade D’artichaut (Artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, haricots verts, tomato, parmesan & Dijon mustard). I vividly recall Olio e Piu’s halibut being served with beans in winter but noticed that my halibut was served with fennel recently now that it’s summer. From my most recent visit, I highly recommend the Escargots de Bourgogne for the intense depth of flavor and texture, O’s Lenguine Neri (Squid ink linguine perfectly balanced with a garlic cream sauce of shrimp, crab, and chilis), my Moules Frites (PEI Mussels with white wine, shallots, herbs, and French fries). Although they don’t have the quintessential French dessert: Profiteroles (French choux pastry with custard, vanilla ice cream, and drizzled with chocolate) that the larger Boucherie locations serve, their Apple Tatin was a great alternative, as it was a French’s equivalent yet more delicate version of America’s warm apple pie, with a thinner, moist crust and sliver of chocolate.
While Miki reminisced to me about tourists eagerly entering Petit Boucherie after it was listed as one of Tripadvisor’s top New York City restaurants., I wondered if Petit Boucherie was too hidden for the attention it deserves. But I’m also (selfishly) happy to know that this can be the perfect spot for intimate dates and meaningful friendships amongst Manhattan restaurants.
14 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014, USA.
Mon – Thu 9:00 am – 12:00 am
Fri & Sat 9:00 am – 1:00 am
Sun 9:00 am – 12:00 am