Thursday, May 22, 2014


5/20/2014 10:15pm a rest stop right after Boonville, Missouri

I’ve finally figured out the best way to sleep in my car: I drape a pillow over the arm rest and drape my legs over that, so my feet are on the passenger’s seat. Then I have a pillow against the driver’s side door, so I am sleeping sorta sitting up, but it’s also slightly reclined. And the eye mask is wonderful. So I’m sitting like that right now at the rest stop. Hopefully I can get a good night sleep and not be bugged by a squirrel in my car. No sign of him, but it wasn’t a big rodent. Tomorrow I’ll drive into Columbia and get my oil changed. Then I’ll figure out what I want to do in Missouri. St. Louis? Mark Twain National Forest camping? There are options. I could do with some more camping. Two days in some state park that hopefully has a shower…

Anyway! Kansas City! Is a pretty cool city. It has a lot going on in lots of different areas, and woah is it warm. Also: heads up if you are visiting, lots of things are closed on Monday. And Tuesday. The main museum was closed today, but not the contemporary art museum. The Kemper. Kempler. The… that one. It had hammocks outside, and I took a late afternoon nap in one. Not a long nap, thankfully. I wasn’t burned. Interesting art installation to have: hammocks. I say more museums should have them. It’s a good feature. The museum had free admission, which was nice. Not a big museum. I saw some great Thiebaud etchings. I really liked Paula Rego’s Recreation. I found it odd that one of their pieces, the medium was described as “silkscreen ink”. Uhm… There are many kinds of ink that go through screens. Which one is it? Acrylic? Feh.

There was a Jamie Wyeth painting with a whole bunch of whale bones. Interesting bit of repetition in this trip, as there were actual whale bones at the last museum I visited.

My first stop in Kansas City wasn’t the museum, but Hammerpress. The letterpress studio where Karen interned years ago. I didn’t name drop her, I just procured a few cards and looked at all the nice letterpress stuff they had. The guy working the shop recommended I go to “Little Freshie” for a snow cone, which I did! I got the pear green tea cone and it was delicious. I ate it and read a bit of the Hockney biography. I wandered around that area for a bit, then drove on to the museums. I was suspicious of how easy it was to find parking wherever I went. Suspicious in that “can I really park here for free for under 3 hours?” way or the “is this actually a permit area and I’m going to get a ticket?” way or the “is this really a parking lane or are the other cars on the street delusional?” way. But no tickets!

After the museum (and hammock nap) I went to YJ’s Snackbar, at Karen’s suggestion. The dinner special was an hour and a half away, so I got an iced coffee and let my brain solidify after being melted in the heat. I read, I drew, I talked to one of the fellas in the café. It was a great hole in the wall, three tables inside with lots of flotsam on the wall type place. Very charming. The dinner special was a soul food plate: pork, muffin, mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, collared greens I think, rice with sausage. It was the perfect size to consume as well, and I gobbled it up! So good! I highly recommend YJ’s if you are ever in Kansas City.

Once my tummy settled, I hit the road. I opted to continue east on 70, as I was unsure if I wanted to go to St Louis or head down, but both would be options. And Columbia is a major intersection on the Interstates so I’ll figure it all out tomorrow. Once I get my oil changed.

And I should probably wash the bugs off the front of my car. There is starting to be a build up…

5/22/2014 Table Rock State Park, Missouri

Oh man, that night after writing that blog post! What a show. So that mouse (not a squirrel) was STILL IN MY CAR! It started scurrying about at 11 pm. I set out a bag with some candy in it, hoping it would go in the bag and I could snatch the bag and take it outside and release it far, far away from my car. But it didn’t take the bait. It continued scurrying about. I tried to lunge for it with a towel when it was on my dashboard, but no luck. Then I remembered: Walmart. Most are always open, and when I googled it, there was one 8 minutes away! So at 2:30am, I entered in my jammies, looking frazzled and tired and headed for the kill aisle. Traps! Poison! Hurray! I got some snap traps and set them with peanut butter and set them under my seat and on the dash board. And I waited… and the mouse didn’t go for them! I added some Ritz to the traps and set them both in the back, and the mouse did go for it! And I sat in my seat, still and eagerly awaiting the sound of the snap. But it never came. The mouse wasn’t setting off the traps! It just got the snack and … didn’t die! So I returned to Walmart and bought glue traps, because if it was too small to set off a trap, it should be small enough to get stuck in glue. When I returned to my car, the mouse was on my dash and quickly vanished into the steering column!! If it nibbled some wires that I need, I’m going to be so pissed (and hopefully not in a car accident). So I set a trap on the dash, two in the back, and one on the floor. The sun was starting to come up at this point, but I did get some sleep. And I was woken by the sounds of struggle from the floor glue trap. There it was! Caught! I grabbed a bag and quickly put the trap & mouse in the bag and poured out my water bottle into the bag, drowning the mouse and putting it out of its misery. I know there is a way to release a mouse from a glue trap using vegetable oil, but I didn’t want to buy yet another thing and at the end of the day: it was vermin. It wasn’t a lost animal that found its way into my car. It was a pest, it was getting into my dashboard, it would just find somewhere else to scavenge. It wouldn’t go “into the wild”. So I don’t feel bad about killing it.
At 7:30ish I wandered back into Walmart, changed, got a victory doughnut, and drove to Jiffy Lube. I got my oil changed and the Jiffy Lube manager told me that Table Rock State Park is a great park, so that is where I went! Though it was slow going. I had to stop and rest my eyes pretty often. Never got a full nap, but little bits here and there. It’s rough driving on just a few hours of sleep. And I wasn’t about to pump myself full of caffeine for, what, 4 hours of driving? I could take my time. And even taking my time, I still arrived with plenty of daylight.

Branson, Missouri is an interesting town to drive through. All the attractions seem to be family oriented, and run by families. Lots of team shows. Like a PG Vegas, but with no one I’ve ever heard of. I got a chocolate crème pie at a 50s diner and that was a nice cool treat. I drank a bunch of ice water too. Hydration is important! It was a short drive to the park, and there I got a site, returned to Branson and got a 5 dollar Subway footlong for dinner and breakfast, and got back to my site. Set up my tent. Had a lengthy, cherished shower, and then ate half my sandwich, worked on my scrap book and journal, then went to sleep right as the sun went down.

And oh did I sleep. It was warm, not windy or rainy, and just all around wonderful. I woke up 7ish and then just let myself nod back asleep. I’ll take my sleep when I can get it.

I showered once again in the morning, and had the other half of my sandwich. I think I’ll go find another State Park in Missouri camp there, and then go down into Arkansas tomorrow. But first I need to restock my food: bread, PB&J, apples, carrots. Need em! This isn’t a big state, so it’ll probably be only (only!) 3 hours of driving.

3-4 hours: easy no problem, 4-6: oi this’ll take a while, 6+: well, I’ll just plan a day to drive towards there and find a rest stop.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

keep it trill in topeka

Viva coffee shops and their omnipresence. Can always rely on one to be open and for one to have wifi, and if I'm lucky...power outlets. In the past few days I've wandered into several McDonald's just to see they had no outlets and thus I continue on. It's really just the laptop that needs to charge, as the MP3 player and phone can be done in the car. But I can't be self conscious. Gotta own that "I need to let people know I'm not totally vanished into America" attitude.

So here I am at a Starbucks in Topeka, Kansas. The server asked me to spell my name and then he told me it was "baller".

I spent most of yesterday just driving. Getting to and through Kansas. I looked at the map and nothing really stirred me besides Kansas City (Karen was there for a while, if you remember, she told me to see the museum and ask for the daily special at YT's, and as I haven't been to an art museum yet, I think I'll do just that). So sorry Kansas, you are getting a quick pass through. State number 9! 39 to go.

Oklahoma City was nice, but being there early on a Sunday meant that most things were closed/wouldn't open till noon or later. So I walked around a bit. It was foggy and almost rainy. Mist engulfed the tops of some buildings, but it was lifting. But yeah, Oklahoma City reminds me of Tacoma. Like the downtown area that is trying to look nicer and be nicer (and they have a Chihuly collection sooo) and it spreads out.

I tooled around town and talked to Pa about car stuff. Then I got to the Museum of Osteology right as it opened at 1. What a COOL MUSEUM! OH MY GOD! I cannot emphasize how awesome it is. The exhibits were succinct and well compiled and just so various. So many different skeletons. Baboons, tarsiers, they had a SAIGA SKULL!!!, snakes, human skulls, deformed skulls, manatees, giraffe... just so many. It was spectacular. And just across the board wonderful. I killed the battery on my camera taking pictures...and then the battery on my phone. Hahah. And still I feel like I only captured a tenth of what they had to offer.

Just wonderful. Well worth the journey, absolutely.

I went to Wal Mart and got new front tires because mine were worn down. It was amazingly not $400! Now my car has nice tires with which to tackle the road. The endless, ongoing road. This section of America is largely flat, though the greens and yellow of Oklahoma are very nice. I opted to stay at Great Plains State Park. I'm so tired of driving with the wind coming at my car from the side. A nice tail wind would be nice, but nope, constantly driving keeping straight against nature. Still, better than snow.

Got to the park after dark, and the awesome camp lady told me she wouldn't charge me! And Shawn, one of the park workers helped me set up my tent on account of it being VERY VERY WINDY. He even procured some cinderblocks and string and helped me set it up so that it was extra secure against the wind. I didn't bother putting the top on, as that would just blow up and down and against the tent. And I left the windows open (with the mesh up) so the wind would go through the tent, instead of pushing against it. Then I threw on my eye mask (I bought an eye mask) and went to sleep. It wasn't the best night sleep, but I did get some shut eye. Valley of Fire was noisier.

In the morning one of the younger park helpers flirted with me a little as I was breaking down my site. And he blew me a kiss as I drove away. And that guy in Austin proposed marriage to me. And the teller at Starbucks said my name was baller. I guess I'm really appealing in the midwest? Pretty much never got flirted with in Santa Cruz.

I drove through the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Saw some bison and cattle and some nice rolling hills. And then I set about driving north east on 44 and then north on 35 which turned into 135 and then east on 40. I stopped at one of the last rest stops before Topeka and settled in. All was well until it became evident a squirrel was in my car. I quickly put all my food into my cooler so no crumbs were sitting out. I opened all the doors and banged the side of my car. And right when I dozed off (that eye mask I bought was a smart choice, it shut out all the lights from the rest stop) I felt it scurry across me. I repeated the process a couple times. And eventually was able to nod off. I heard nothing of the little bugger in the morning and so I continued on to Topeka. Hopefully he left while the leaving was good.

And now I go to take on a new day and new states and new whatever happens!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

mochlahoma city (I'm sorry for that pun)

I am sitting in Coffee Slingers in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I ordered a mocha. A regular mocha, no iced. It's foggy outside and a bit...Pacific Northwest in general climate. Actually the city reminds me a lot of Tacoma. Have I written up my theory on the familiarity of places?

My thinking (based on a podcast education and sciency tidbits) is that the brain only processes so much new visual input, so a lot of extraneous detail in the surroundings gets duplicated with previous input. Like if you see a big dark building in your periphery, the brain just draws from previous memories of big dark buildings instead of processing all the details fresh. So when you are somewhere really new it's like WOW all this new stuff it's all so DIFFERENT. But then once you've been there for a while, it stops being new input. But also when you are places that are sorta familiar, you are getting recycled data filling in the blanks, so Oklahoma City can feel like Tacoma just as parts of downtown San Jose feel like downtown Portland. It's an idea.

So yeah, Oklahoma City feels like Tacoma thus far.

I don't have much battery remaining. I was up late watching TV on my computer in my car at an I35 rest stop.

I wanted to check out Mondo Gallery before I left Austin, but it didn't open till noon. So I had a slow start. Caught up on internet stuff. The gallery was pretty neat. There is a Mike Mitchell portraiture exhibit up right now. Just nice, dynamic side portraits of Marvel characters.

After that I poured the ice water out of my cooler and hit the road. It was only 5-6 hours to Oklahoma City, but I didn't have anywhere to crash, so I opted to just stop at the last rest stop before OKC. So I took my time and listened to podcasts.

Texas has some REALLY nice rest stops. Like gym equipment, play ground, many covered areas, nice bathroom, full vending machines, interactive displays. Really nice full on rest stops.

But the instant I got to Oklahoma, the scenery improved ten fold. I don't know what happened, but over the border there suddenly were trees and hills and greenery, instead of vast expanses of... plains. Texas has that feeling of going on forever. Which is does. I spent four nights in Texas, and it was a lot of driving to get to Big Bend and Austin and then not so much driving to get out of Austin, but it was still all north on one interstate.

I passed by two car accidents and two flat tires on the way up. I don't know if that is an omen or just Texas.

Oh! And I was only honked at once in Texas, and for the same reason I get honked at everywhere (unwillingness to take a free right on a red) so whoo! No bad experiences in this state. Actually I had a lot of good experiences. Maybe because I went the National Park & hip city route, instead of.... Houston.

But yeah, Oklahoma City. Then Kansas and over to Missouri. Let's have some fun!