We have officially been residents of Huntington for one week now. Having come from a gigantic city like San Diego where we have lived our entire lives, the thought of small town living was a completely foreign concept. I’ve heard stories about small towns, how everyone is nice and everyone knows each other etc but we really didn’t know what to expect. I used to daydream a lot about living in a smaller town and having neighbors who we would actually converse with and share meals together, where people look out for one another, and just a great all around family oriented atmosphere. We are one week in and I already feel like we hit the small town jackpot. This past week has been a blur but I really wanted to take the time to share our experiences with those we have encountered here in Huntington, Indiana.
When I first launched my Facebook page for our renovation project this past December I had no idea how much it would take off nor how many people would click the “like” and “follow” buttons to watch our journey unfold. In my head I honestly thought just a handful of our family & friends would follow it for updates etc. It continues to blow my mind that there are over 4,000 followers right now & that number is climbing daily. Perhaps it’s the “cool/mysterious” factor of the building itself, or the the thought of this crazy family from San Diego who have never lived anywhere where it gets below 60 degrees and really have no idea what we are doing <insert failed building winterization which led to water pipes exploding on night one here> but decided to take on this massive project “for funsies” allure? Who knows. Regardless I’m so glad each & every one of you are following our story. I have received countless messages from people who stumbled across the page and are eager to watch the renovations take place including people from all over the world (places including Australia, England & Europe). So many Huntington residents have reached out to me long before we arrived welcoming us to the neighborhood and offering help, dinners and friendship; something that doesn’t happen often in Southern California.
I wanted to spend some time highlighting some of our experiences around Huntington over the past week. When we left San Diego to make the pilgrimage across the country to our new home, I was crossing my fingers, toes & eyes that we would make it in time to attend Easter Sunday service at The Well Church. We had such a great spirit led experience when Atom & I were in Huntington last October and attended a Sunday service (more is detailed in one of my previous posts) and we were eager to attend again & from now on regularly, as church & our faith is at the center of our family. Everyone we have met so far at The Well has been so friendly and eager to get to know us. Pastor Josh Kesler was the first to reach out & let us know he was there to help us in any way he could to get settled. He’s the one who organized the Huntington University (HU) men’s soccer team to come over & help atom unload the moving truck. Sarah, also from The Well read my blog (or was it my Facebook page?) and messaged me introducing herself. It was so great to find her (& meet her mom Karen) on Easter Sunday and give them the biggest hug! Making these kinds of connections, especially at church make my heart explode with happiness. God has us here for a reason. He is paving the way and fostering new friendships along the way.
Let’s talk Food. With our first several days being without any kind of functioning kitchen, we ate out a lot. Something we don’t normally like to do on a regular basis, but in this case it was a chance for us to try out some of the local restaurants.
When Atom & I were out here in October we walked to the downtown area looking for a place to grab lunch one day & ended up at Nick’s Kitchen. It’s a small diner that has a warm & cozy feel. Our server was super friendly and the food was fantastic! The pork tenderloin sandwich was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had!
Another restaurant we have eaten at which was also within walking distance is Pizza Junction. It’s another small place right along the railroad tracks. The food here was also delicious and fresh. The mac & cheese was a favorite of our kids and the homemade breadsticks were so good and I can’t forget to mention the pizza was great! My kids got a kick out of watching the trains go by ever so often since we were sitting outside on the patio. Atom ordered a bunch of pizzas from Pizza Junction to feed the HU soccer team when they were unloading the moving truck as well. College guys plus pizza equals happy hearts.
One of our favorites (been there 3 times now) for breakfast is Johnny’s Drive In. It’s a tiny (and I mean TINY) diner just south of us on the other side of the railroad tracks. It was recommended as one of the “go to” places for breakfast by one of the freemasons when Atom & I were here in October. It’s like breakfast heaven. Everything you could ever want for breakfast. And it’s incredibly cheap. CHEAP!! We fed all 5 of us until we were so full we had to be rolled out of the booth to the car for $14. We’re talking good comfort food. Biscuits & gravy, steak & eggs, chicken fried steak, pancakes, French toast, eggs however you want them, grits (made my 9 year old happy- he loves grits), home made sausage, perfectly cooked bacon and the list goes on & on. We were recognized here when we were getting breakfast Saturday morning. The family who recognized me had seen my Facebook page & my video and asked if we were the ones who bought the old Mason lodge. Turns out they live 3 doors down from us. Yay neighbors!
Being from San Diego, we have been definitely spoiled with real, authentic Mexican food. It was a staple in our diets since we were born. Nothing beats a taco from Las Cuatro Milpas or a California burrito (or carne asada fries) from Lolita’s. And don’t even get me started on the fresh, made right in front of you flour tortillas from Pancho Villas. Sigh. Naturally we were guarded when we were told by many locals there are 3 Mexican food restaurants here in Huntington. We went to the one called Los Amigos on Easter Sunday for dinner (no functioning kitchen yet, remember?). The menu had an entire section where things were spelled out phonetically as well as definitions. Something I’ve only ever seen once on a “Mexican” menu when Atom & I were in Ireland (which I can assure you was one of the funniest restaurant experiences of my life. The Irish totally got an A for effort on that one). I chuckled a bit but remembered that we are a long way from the border and words like tostada, chile relleno, and frijoles aren’t exactly normal around here. When back in San Diego most of our neighborhoods & street names are Spanish So I’m sure it is immensely helpful to the locals here. The waiter spoke Spanish which made Atom excited since he is completely fluent and they conversed totally in Spanish. The food. Ok I’m going to be completely honest here. It didn’t taste authentic. At all. However, it was quite tasty! Just not what we expecting or hoping for. Would I eat there again? Definitely. They pretty much had me at white cheese sauce that was on top of my shredded chicken chimichanga (no pollo asada here 😢). But so good. There are 2 other Mexican restaurants here in town that we will be sure to try out in time. Thankfully I know how to make pretty much everything as authentic as it gets in regard to Mexican food. My mom has a killer tamale recipe and Atom makes Carne Asada that is amazeballs. And nothing beats home made frijoles (beans) and Mexican rice from scratch. Oh & Atom & my mom make the BEST salsa! I’m still working on perfecting my flour tortilla recipe but my dear friend Cheryl gave me a tortilla press when we left San Diego so I’m good to go! It doesn’t surprise me that no one here has ever heard of a California burrito (it’s a Carne asada burrito with French fries in it) but I can make that at home easily. Same goes with pollo asada flautas. Mmmmmmm. Mexican food is my soul food. It gives me life. Jesus and tacos are life.
I think my absolute favorite place here in Huntington that we have tried so far is Antiqology. When I first saw the billboard along the highway I thought it was an antique shop. Which half of it is, but holy smokes when we walked in the door I was in heaven! It’s an ice cream/ soda pop shop!!!!!!!!!! (Extra explanation points for my sheer excitement about this place). They have an entire wall of specialty bottled sodas as well as their own root beer and a few others. (The Antiqology root beer is by far my fav!). There are probably 10-15 different ice cream flavors as well that are on a rotating basis. We aren’t talking your normal every day flavors. We’re talking blueberry muffin, salted caramel pretzel (my favorite), raspberry pie, pumpkin, and the list goes on. The prices are great and the scoops are HUGE. It’s owned & operated by Adam and Rebecca Hanson. They are such a sweet couple and do a lot for their community. Just having met them a couple of times now, I can tell they have the most genuine hearts and are people that you want to get to know. And being that it’s only a couple blocks from our house, we will be there often.
Ok enough about food. Let’s talk about the people of Huntington. Being from a super huge metropolitan city like San Diego with 3 million people, we have never experienced the “small town feel” pretty much ever. The people here have been so friendly, we have yet to come across anyone rude. Our neighbors directly behind us, Ben & Kasey Davis reached out to me months before we moved here, introducing themselves in an email & telling is they were excited to get to know us. Emails & messages like this have made our transition here so much easier. Because to be honest, even though we are totally following God’s call here and know He has a plan for us, moving across the country to a place where we have no family within the same town is downright scary! I do feel like we have won the lottery with Ben & Kasey as the coolest neighbors ever. Those of you who know us from San Diego or my personal Facebook page over the years know we were dealing with some less than desirable neighbors for many years. Ben & Kasey invited us over for dinner Friday night & we had the BEST TIME! We laughed until our sides hurt and our kids all played together until we could barely keep our eyes open (after we all walked to Antiqology after dinner because ice cream). We are really looking forward to more dinners and hang out time together (hopefully they don’t think we’re too weird haha) because I definitely feel like we clicked & share similar senses of humor (Kasey if you’re reading this, you are totally my spirit animal 😜).
We were recognized “in the wild” the first time when we were at the Huntington YMCA by the sweetest lady at the front desk (so sorry I forgot your name!). We have been able to shower there this past week until we get our own shower put in (thanks Ben!) She told me she had seen my walk through video and she also attends The Well church. Bonus! All of the Y staff has been helpful and amazing. We will definitely be joining so we can continue to go there more often. We were members of the Y back in San Diego and the Huntington Y is absolutely incredible in comparison. It’s huge and beautiful and they host a lot of activities for kids and adults. Don’t get me wrong, the Y back in San Diego was also amazing and my heart will always be with the Y summer camps as long as I live after attending as a child and then later in life being on the medical staff (I’m a respiratory therapist) for a week long sleep away summer camp for asthmatic kids.
Another person who reached out to me long before we moved here was Emily. She messaged me on Facebook introducing herself and telling me a bit about herself and her family. We clicked immediately and have been messaging & texting back & forth a lot. She also offered for us to use their shower until we get ours put in. I can’t wait to finally meet her in person and give her the biggest hug! I know our friendship will blossom now that we are here.
Our neighbors across the street and down 2 houses brought us some freshly baked banana frosted cookies the other night which were so delicious!
I also can’t leave out all of my friends, specifically my mommy tribe (#nbbadmoms) from back in San Diego. All of their texts and calls checking in with me have helped keep me sane. And my own family back in San Diego as well. I miss you all terribly and we are working as fast as we can to get the building up to par so we can have a guest suite ready. COME VISIT!
Oooooof this post got a bit rambly didn’t it?! Sorry about that! I didn’t want to leave anything out from our encounters with the community in the first week. I’ll be making another post this week updating our progress with the building itself. If you haven’t already done so, make sure to subscribe to my blog (there is a place to enter your email either to the right on your screen or below the posts, depending on if you’re on mobile or your computer) so you’ll get an email alert when I make new posts. And feel free to share this page on your own social media &/or with friends.