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From Sea to Shining Sea

Waking up the morning after our epic night in Niagara Falls – one couldn’t help but immediately think – COULD IT REALLY GET EVEN BETTER THAN THIS?!


Even though I’ve been given the title of “Miss Optimistic” since I was a teenager, even I, couldn’t help but wonder what would await us on the road.

Kim and I got up early, to get one last glimpse of the majestic Falls, and crossed the Canadian border around 8:30am to start heading across the States.

All did Kim know, I had quite the adventure in store for us…and we both didn’t know, some of the unexpected surprises and circumstances that awaited us.

Everyday of our journey, I had planned out an envelope for Kim to open every morning when we first got in the car. Every card had a quote on the back, a card with riddles about our day inside and a corresponding present to match. I am STILL trying to figure out (3 months later), just HOW I am going to out do THAT ONE. I guess this is what happens when you are snowed in for months at a time, in the country of Upstate New York, and have time to plan this cute stuff!


Our first day on the road was full of lots of laughter, plenty of story telling, dreaming of the future, and consistent communication. There wasn’t a truly dull moment! We didn’t experience any awkwardness whatsoever…even when I let out farts. There was never a more clear moment than these that we are truly…each other’s BEST FRIEND.

We stopped in Indiana, had what would become our ROA TRIP staple for dinner (crackers, cheese, lunchmeat and lots of pepper jack mustard), and had a beautifully, intimate night – we finally took the opportunity to talk more about the Christian faith and pray together for the first time. Talk about – “all the feels!”

I couldn’t wait to get up the next morning, as our end point destination, was a special one. We left Indiana and headed towards Kansas City. On the road today, we enjoyed using more of our Dunkin Donuts gift card, thanks Aunt Shirley, and had try his first ever Apple Fritter. Let’s just say – it definitely wasn’t his last!

At the end of the drive that day, I had the “idea” to take Kim to Arrowhead Stadium, where one of his favorite NFL football teams, the Kansas City Chiefs play, all did he know…we’d be back right across the street the next morning for a 2 hour tour of the Kansas City Royals baseball stadium.


We had so much fun in the stadium gift shop – and my sweet fiancee even re-enacted our proposal again for me! We we’re so tempted to leave the store with these outfits.

The next morning, I insisted on driving the first half of the day – so I could, of course, pull into Kauffman Stadium. Kim was SHOCKED when I revealed we’d be taking a tour there today! I was the shocked one when I realized how COLD it was outside for our tour – but it was so heart warming to see my man become a kid again and fulfill another lifelong dream of visiting a MLB stadium.


After our tour, we got back on the road, around noon, planning to drive about another 5 hours or so. All did we know the ice storm of the year was just hitting the Oklahoma-Texas line. Even this American didn’t know those states could get THAT COLD!

Kim & I got to work together, driving over large ice blocks, and facing a near crash from a slip and slide, but it truly made us stronger. When we finally got to our hotel that night we even had to work together to push my car into a parking spot, as it kept slipping on the ice. All to say, we slept extra well that night.


We were concerned about the next day on the road and whether how far we could get. 12 hrs sitting in bumper to bumper traffic later, and we had had a day full of a lot of lip syncing, snow ball fights, face-timing family & friends, delivering snack bars to fellow passengers stuck on the road, and enjoying my last day as a LENT!


We spent a freezing cold night in Arizona, and got on the road the next day, Dec. 30, to head towards Las Vegas. The “City of Sin” wasn’t originally on our road trip list, however, after weeks of figuring out the best option for us with our upcoming marriage and my immigration to Belgium, the sooner we could make our marriage legal, the better. So Vegas, here we came!


Kim & I signed the official dotted line that afternoon, at a sweet little wedding chapel, and then enjoy a beautiful and romantic dinner on the Strip at the Paris Eiffel Restaurant. The view was stunning as we both revealed at Bellagio foundations and discussed the beautiful plans set out before us. Besides the incredible conversation and romantic setting, we especially loved the cauliflower steak and intend to make one for Billie, my bonus daughter!

After a spectacular night in Vegas, it was time, on the last day of the year, to end our journey across the States, and drive for another 5 hrs to San Diego where I finally got to introduce Kim to my best friends…my parents.

So many emotions were flooding in my spirit! I hadn’t seen my parents in almost 4 months…and now, I was introducing them to the most important man in my world…the one they would give me away to less than a week later.


Any fear or anxiety was quickly lifted, when walking into their door, my dad, in his typical fashion, made the best impression by leaping into Kim’s arms and wrapping his legs around him. Immediately, it felt like we all had known each other for years. We laughed, talked, and enjoyed wine all night as we rang in 2019 as a family of 4.

As Kim and I went to bed that night, in my small little twin bed & with Humphrey, we both reminisced over what an amazing journey the past 5 days had been. As I was falling asleep in his arms, Kim whispered, and has told me many times now after, “My baby, I wish we could do that ALL over again.”

Oh my love, we will. And with Billie next time. And, across Europe. YES. PLEASE.


Mrs. Cleyman

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