Monday, June 22, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY + VEGAN AT ON THE BORDER

Yesterday was day 3 of our journey across America. We left the hotel around 11pm and stopped by a Pilot gas station at almost 1am for midnight snacks and drinks. I got a Dragonfruit Oolong tea, which had caffeine, so I didn't end up falling asleep in the car until almost 4am. I woke up around 6am and saw that we were pulled over on the side of the road. At first I was frazzled, wondering why were we stopped, but then I looked ahead and saw Brianna outside taking pictures of a "Welcome to Texas" sign. I put my sandals on, got out, took pictures of the Texas sing and ran down the freeway to get a picture of the "You Are Now Leaving New Mexico" sign. We also watched the sun rise while we were parked, which was really beautiful as the sky illuminated a bright orange hue.

Around 7am we start to get hungry, but we saw no familiar restaurants to chose from. For most people, this would not have been a problem. It's always nice to try something new, right? Well, not always, especially when you're vegan. With no way to look up what they had on their menus, it would have taken up too much time to stop by each restaurant to ask if they had vegan options. So we decided to keep driving until we saw a restaurant we knew. Well, around 8am, 10am, and even 12pm, already out of Texas and well into Oklahoma by now, we still came across no familiar restaurants! Around 1pm we reached Oklahoma City, where there were plenty of hotels to rest at and various restaurants to chose from! It was such a relief!

In Oklahoma City, we stayed in a Days Inn on South Meridian Avenue, which had the most comfortable beds ever! We unloaded the car, got situated into our hotel, and was off to eat lunch! We were so excited to eat at a Chili's down the road, but on our way there, we saw an On the Border, a.k.a one of our most favorite restaurants ever (besides El Torito)! We hadn't been to an On the Border in about 8-10 years because the one closest to our home went out of business. So naturally, we changed our minds and decided to eat there instead. Kuyuki and I hadn't been there since being vegan and forgot what kinds of items they had on their menu, but we were super excited when we saw they had a Grilled Portobello Mushroom Border Bowl! We both ordered that, without the cheese, plus we added some of the Tableside Guacamole we ordered as an appetizer to our bowls. It was so good we saved some to heat up later instead of eating it all at once. It gave us something to look forward to later in the day. Funny how food can do that. If you're not a vegan, you MUST get their Kahlua Ice Cream Pie. It is literally the best dessert I have ever had in my life! My mom and I talk about how good it is all the time. Even when I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle and told my parents I am going vegan, one of the first things my mother said was, "Now you can't have the Kahlua Ice Cream Pie at On the Border!" My mother and I are so obsessed with it that she asked if I would forget about my vegan diet for a few minutes so that way we can eat one together. Of course I said no, but oh how I wish it was a vegan dessert! After lunch, we went back to the hotel and rested up until it was time to hit the road again around 11pm.

At the moment, we are in Memphis, Tennessee at another Motel 6 waiting to get dinner and are debating whether or not to go to Graceland later...but more on what we did today in tomorrow's post!






Sunday, June 21, 2015

GOODBYE ARIZONA, HELLO NEW MEXICO

Today's post might be a shorter one as I am half asleep at the moment. I am currently in Oklahoma City getting ready to leave this hotel and hit the road again to get to the next. I believe we only have twelve more hours to get to our destination in Maryville, Tennessee, so hopefully if we drive long enough, we will make it by tomorrow afternoon! 

Yesterday was such a long day that I didn't even have the will to stay awake to make a post about what we got up to that day, so that is what I want to talk a little bit about tonight. While my mother and sisters are awake all night during our drives, I am sleeping in the front seat. I woke up around 6am and noticed we were still in Arizona but was about to be reaching New Mexico! I have only been on two other road trips, but I find it so fascinating to drive through all the different states and get excited when we reach a new one. What I've noticed on all these road trips is that the further you get away from Southern California, the greener it gets and the more wildlife you see randomly on the road. 

Around 9am, our mother was tired, so we stopped at the Arizona Welcome Center. To pass the time, Brianna and I walked around and took pictures of landscapes and even took some shots in the streets (while no one was coming of course!). People kept driving up to us asking what we were doing, so finally we came to the conclusion that people probably think we are weird and that we should go back to the car. Once we got on the freeway again, it only took a minute or two to reach New Mexico. 

We started getting hungry around 11am, but not enough for a full meal, so when we stopped at the gas station, we all picked out some snacks to eat in the car. I got a Chia Cherry Lime Naked Juice, as well as a Vanilla Almond and Chocolate Peanut Butter Clif Builder Bars. I don't usually get store-bought protein bars anymore because of all the added sugars and oils, but I had never even seen these Clif Builder flavors anywhere before so I thought I'd try them. I ate the Chocolate Peanut Butter one and it was really good. Can't wait to try the other one!

We found a Motel 6 to stay at in Albuqurque, New Mexico so we can rest up. Once we dropped our cat, snake, and belongings off in our room, we ate lunch across the street at Denny's. I ordered the Fit Fare Veggie Skillet which is so delicious! I get it every time. It comes with potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and normally egg whites, but I of course asked for that to be taken off. Lunch was great and afterwards we headed back to the hotel to sleep. I stayed up though to type this post and watch YouTube videos.

Tomorrow we will be probably be getting to Oklahoma and have about two to three days left until we arrive in Maryville, Tennessee! I'm so excited to see family and friends!






Friday, June 19, 2015

TENNESSEE ROAD TRIP + VEGAN AT CRACKER BARREL

Hello everyone! If you read my last post, you will know that I am on a road trip with two of my sisters, our mother, cat, and snake. I know, a cat and a snake in the car together!? But they have actually been very well-behaved and calm. And the reason we are travelling to Tennessee is because my mother and sister Kuyuki are moving there, while Brianna and I are just visiting until July 28th.

We spent LITERALLY all day packing up the house yesterday and it took us way longer than we expected.  It is also over 100 degrees in California, which is not okay when you're packing and lifting boxes to load up the trailer. A few days ago it was over 114°F! We also had kids coming up to our door wanting to pet our cat and asking for some games and clothes that they saw while we had our front door open. One kid even tried to walk into our house as if it were his own, which was kind of stressful considering kids were everywhere and we were having to dodge them while carrying heavy boxes all while keeping track of all the random kids coming to our house making sure they didn't steal anything. Finally we just started shoving everything in the UHAUL because we were getting so tired.  At one point our mother was so determined to fit as much stuff in the very back as possible that she climbed all the way in there to shove more things in tiny spaces. Kuyuki and I were laughing so hard because all you could see was her feet hanging out the middle of the trailer. We had to be packed and out of our townhome by midnight and we finished just in the knick of time. Boy we felt accomplished once the house was all packed and empty!

Before we left we stopped by a family friend's house, as well as our father and step-mother's house to say goodbye. Afterwards, we stopped by WalMart to get a few snacks, and we were on the freeway at last by 1am. I, of course, fell asleep in the car and when I woke up at 5am, everyone else was still wide awake. 

We stopped around 9am in Kingman, Arizona and got a hotel at the Quality Inn to rest up before getting on the road again. Our plan is to drive at night since it gets so hot during the day and our car does not have air conditioning. I was already rested so I stayed awake and checked social media, made oatmeal with quaker instant oats, banana, and blueberries that I kept in my purse, looked up recipes online, and watched YouTube videos until everyone else woke up for lunch. We ate at a Cracker Barrel nearby our hotel. I hadn't been there since I became vegan, but I was so excited when I saw that they had side dishes like brown rice pilaf, pinto beans, and vegetables, among other things. I ordered the Vegetable Plate where you chose from four side dishes. My first side dish was going to be their pinto beans. I had heard somewhere, though, that their beans had ham in it, so I asked our waitress if she could leave it out, but she said it was already mixed in and it would still have the ham flavoring in it since it has been sitting in the beans. So the pinto beans were out of the question. Then I was going to order the brown rice pilaf. I asked if it had any meat in it, and she said it has a chicken base. So that was out as well. Finally our waitress asked if I was a vegetarian. I told her that I was a vegan and she said that she was a vegan herself a few years back and that Cracker Barrel is not a good choice for vegans, but it is do-able. She recommended the Cucumber, Tomato n' Onion Salad, so I ordered that, as well as their Fresh Steamed Broccoli, Baked Sweet Potato, and Mixed Seasonal Vegetables. My sister Kuyuki, who is vegan as well, ordered the same thing I did, except she got Sweet Potato Fries instead of the Baked Sweet Potato like I did. Their fried okra and hashbrowns are vegan as well, however I do not eat gluten, and do not care for their fried okra anyhow, but I just thought I'd let you guys know that their fried okra and hashbrowns are suitable for vegans for whoever is interested. I feel like I sometimes come across as being picky and demanding, so I was glad that our waitress had experience being a vegan so she was able to help us out and can sympathize with us about the dilemmas from dining out at non-vegan restaurants.

Our meals were delicious and filling and we could not even think about food by the end of it, but we went across the street to WalMart anyway to pick out snacks for the rest of our journey across the states, which was hard since nothing sounded good at the time. We hurried back to our hotel as it was getting extremely hot, turned the air conditioning on as soon as we walked in, and are now relaxing until it cools down enough to get back on the road. I am typing this post in our hotel now while everyone else is taking showers. I see no point in it since we'll be getting hot and sweaty soon after anyway. One random thing I forgot to mention which we all found funny was that on the back of our hotel room door, there are two picture frames with someone dressed up as Ronald McDonald. Just a random fact...

We cannot leave the hotel until after 9pm because I have to register for my fall semester classes at that specific time. Nothing else is going on at the moment, but I will try to keep my blog updated on all our adventures while on the road and once we get to Tennessee. Goodnight!