Saturday, June 21, 2014

Shenandoah is nice, but Virginia can suck it

6/21/2014 a rest stop in Virginia

I haven’t written anything since leaving North Carolina! I just ended up doing a lot of car camping, and not taking the time to sit anywhere, and when I would have had the time, circumstances blocked me. But now I have the time. It’s 1pm, I don’t know where I’ll be tonight but I’m near Washington DC. Well near being within a couple hours drive. I need to make calls and get in contact with people. I need to readjust my sense of space. Florida really messed up the way I consider distances.

So. Last day in North Carolina:

I slept in. I set an alarm but I hit snooze many many times. But the epic sausage, beans, bacon, toast, and scrambled eggs breakfast Stephen made was still warm! I swear I’ve never eaten so well. I should be their nanny. Seems like it’d be a good gig. Ha. I packed up. Showered. I also signed up for Couch Surfer. I set up my profile, I haven’t really used it yet, but I like that now I have it as an established option. I did shoot out a message when I thought I’d be going to Charleston WV, but it was too short notice for them (she seemed really nice) and I ended up not going there anyway.

We hugged goodbye and when I got- oh! My car tire. It had lost air, but not much. I’ve been keeping an eye on it and it is losing air slowly. I’ve just been filling it up every other day. Dunno what’s up with it, but I’ll keep an eye on it.

Anyway. I headed west towards Asheville, North Carolina. I got there during sunset and put change in a meter thinking it was 6pm (the time my watch is set at) and not well past the time you need to put change in the meter. I didn’t put too much change in before someone clued me in. Ha. I went to Dobra Tea, at Erin & Stephen’s suggestion. I got a pot of a gentle green tea. Well a daiwan thingy. So a pot of hot water which made about 6 little cups of tea. Mmm. It was tasty. I sat and drank and read Lost for Words. It’s a very funny book thus far. Lots of literary and writer jokes within. I walked around downtown for a bit. Asheville reminded me of Santa Cruz a bit in terms of age of residents, but also the Pearl District of Portland in terms of posh boutiques.

I drove North and stopped just across the Tennessee border (what a long state!) and spent the night at a rest stop. It was a very quiet rest stop. This wasn’t the most busy of interstates. The mountains were full on misty in the morning. A nice site. This day I knocked off two states. I’m still hovering at 22, but soon I’ll get to the halfway point and then it’s go go go!

Hold on a second, my tarp is dry so I need to flip it over. It’s all drying much faster than I expected it to! There is a nice breeze coming through and it’s not insufferably humid. Once it’s all dry, I’ll make myself a sandwich. Still trying to think about what to do today.

Where was I? Oh yes! Virginia! Oh shit. It started to rain so I had to hustle to relocate under a covered picnic table. I got it all under just in time but damn this sucks. Now I’m trapped waiting for the rain to stop. My tent is dry enough. I know that I’ve packed it up wetter, but I don’t want it to get rained on while I’m folding it up. Argh. Come on Virginia, give me a break!

Okay my computer is getting moist, I’m packing it away.

AHHHH!!!! I don’t usually swear here but come the FUCK ON! Are you fucking kidding me! The weather went full on rain storm. And it was going sideways. I got my bags into my car and the important stuff is dry. But my tent got wet! Not saturated like it was but I’ll still need to dry it out. And properly roll it up as I couldn’t do that in time. It’s just shoved in a garbage bag right now. Argghhh come on. But at least now the rain has stopped. I’ll give it a bit (and change my clothes, as just getting to my car and back soaked me).

My attitude right now is one big “fuck this”.

So Virginia. Uhhh. I keep getting waylayed in writing this blog post. I cruised right through Virginia to West Virginia. I went to the New River Gorge National River. I did a little loop walk in the forest. It was nice. Humid but nice. Not a National Park, but they did had stamps. Generally anything National has a stamp. Which is why I went way out of my way to the National Observatory Something Something. Which wasn’t park of the park service as it turns out and doing a tour cost money and I didn’t feel like doing that. It was a nice scenic drive up. Very Olympic Peninsula. But just annoying to drive so far but not have it be what was expected, but still. It ate up time. I got back into Virginia and got food provisions at a Walmart. And then drove to the “sleeping in their car” section of the parking lot, finished the last episode of Orange is the New Black, and went to sleep. I just put on my shoes and left in the morning, and changed clothes at a rest stop.

I cruised on up to Shenandoah National Park. Nice to get an early start on a park, and even better when camping is only $15! Shenandoah is highlighted by Skyline Drive, which winds along the ridge. Very high up and scenic with overlooks aplenty. After I got my stamps at the visitors center, I went down to Lewis Mountain and set up tent, not noticing my flat wasn’t closed all the way. The door was, just not the flat which blocks the elements from getting through the mesh.

Looking over the map I made my choices for the day: check out the visitor’s center once again, drive up to the center on the far north part of the road, come back down, take a hike, then go see a ranger program. Driving up north took a considerable amount of time, what with the winding road making for slow going. Still, beautiful. Probably even moreso in the fall when the colors change. I got a guide to tree identification, but I’m still figuring it out. The terminology mostly. What is a “leaflet” and all that. I did identify a Dogwood though, so go me!

I went for the Rose Creek Loop, which is 3ish miles and it goes to the Dark Hollow Falls. I like loops, because it’s all new terrain through the whole thing, but dang once you get past the half way point and you are tired and you don’t know if it’ll be rough uphill or easy downhill…yeah. But the hard part was getting to the falls. Lots of rocks and inclines and uphill uphill uphill. The river was nice. I had three little PB&J sandwiches (little because the bread I bought was little) and an apple and some carrots. The falls were nice, though not as big as I was expecting considering they are called Dark Hollow. The rest of the trail was a fire road, so gentle and easy. There was a cemetery too, with some old graves. Shenandoah used to be populated by settlers who had to booshdonku when the government made it a park.

The ranger talk was at Skyland. There were these twin boys at the talk who were just so precocious. When the ranger said she was from Buffalo New York when they were from New York New York, they said “same state same pride!” and they were so confident in their talking. They’ll be a pain in the ass in 10 years, I can tell. It started to rain at the end of the talk. The fog was heavy on the ride south to the campground, so I took it very slow. Some parts it would open up to just mist trickling across in a very “here there be werewolves” sort of way. It rained moderately on the way back.

And when I got back to my tent, I opened up the door and stepped in a puddle of water. The flap I neglected the shut had leaked. The corner that had the most water lacked any objects in it, and thankfully the only containers of stuff in the tent were plastic. But my mattress pad was still wet. As was my hula girls comforter. And my sleeping bag. My yellow bunny blanket was safe, but my tent was utterly waterlogged and no amount of towels could have mopped it dry (well maybe 100 towels, but I only have four on this trip). So I pulled the half wet stuff out and rearranged my car to accommodate the wet tent in the morning. Everything would have it’s little wet section, and I went to sleep in my car frustrated and upset and pissed off. I like sleeping in my tent! I could sleep in my car anywhere! But at least a campground is quieter.

A camping neighbor, Ray, helped me fold up my tent, and he even gave me a trash bag to put the wet stuff in. I drove out of the park on 33 (thankfully there are a few cross sections on Skyline Drive, it isn’t just North or South entrance). I found a laundromat in Charloteville (or some such place) and got to work. My pillows and sleeping bag dried quick, and my comforter soon followed. The towels I used to mop up a bit of the water took a while, but they in turn got dry. I also did my regular clothes, because why not, I was at a laundromat. It took less time that expected, but I still had the matter of the tent, but then it came to me: I’ll just set it out to dry at a rest stop and boom! Dry!

With a full tank and full tires, I got to a rest stop and it was warm and there was a breeze and it all dried much faster than expected… then at 95% dry…it started to rain. And I think you know how that worked out. So I guess I’ll just try to find somewhere else that is dry…or just roll up the tent as is, and let it dry fully at my next spot. Or I dunno. It’s all up in the air. I’m going to change clothes now. Fish out my umbrella first. Then change.

4:30pm, McDonalds.

Washington DC plans are proving difficult. Person #1 is unable to host me, trying to get in contact with some others. Meanwhile I might go hang out with Anita and Dan in Delaware. Only 4 hours away! That’ll give me some time to rendezvous. And I can just cut back into Maryland. There is backtracking like driving the length of New Mexico to get to Texas after Colorado, and there is driving two hours west to get to DC from Maryland.

So now I’m in a McDonalds trying to coordinate. And eating a burger. And a mocha frappe. Just wanted a regular mocha but I think I ordered it wrong. No biggie.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I finished drawing my east coast map, and in one of my little notebooks I gave each upcoming state its own page. I ordered them in the rough order in which I'll visit. I'll cut across Virginia and do West Virginia, then come back east for the coast once again. Then DC and Maryland and Delaware and New Jersey. New York too, but the coast part. Buffalo and Finger Lakes on the loop back. Some states have nothing on their page, and some have many high lights. Just have to Google and ask around. Tomorrow I head off for Asheville. I'm excited to be heading out again, and to be getting some more locations done. This was a rest rest in North Carolina. Easy driving, good food, company.

I stuck around the house today. Got ice for my car. My rear driver's tire was super low though. Like, 15. No reason why it should be that low. I'll check it in the morning (Stephen helped refill it) and if it is low again...well I guess it has a leak. The back tires are in need of replacement. But still. Whats up with that? Dad, I'll give you a call in the morning.

Erin and I went to Locopop and got yummy popsicles. I got the "mojito madness" which was minty and tasty and hit the spot on the hot day.

Dave, Stephen, and I went to Wimpy's and got burgers for breakfast/lunch. Tasty, tiny place, not elegant burgers. Mmm.

I spent a lot of time sitting doing computer stuff and working on my list. Organizing my contacts.

Dinner was a three course extravaganza. I didn't know it was three courses. But oh wow Stephen knows what is up with cooking. First up was this egg spinach frittata on this slice of eggplant with crumbs. Delicious. Then salad with avocado and celery. Very green and I had several plates, not aware there was a third course (like I said). Which was sort rib that has been marinating and rice with spinach stems sprinkled on top for presentation. Like seriously, damn good! I ate it all with relish.

Now it's late and I have more Orange is the New Black to watch, as well as some prep to do.

Here is hoping my tire is fine!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Beca & Jackie

A day with Beca, 6/15:

Zahri aka Beca aka the third online friend I'm meeting up with on this trip of mine. And thus far I'm three for three for awesome, easy to talk to people! So after breakfast with Erin and Stephen, I headed out west to Greensborough. An hour west of Durham. I got to Beca's before Beca, so I just sat on the stairs and watched Orange is the New Black on my phone. I met Beca's girlfriend Candice who was awesome. A very nice couple, but I can't threaten Candice to be good to Beca because Candice plays rugby so any threat...well I'm not threatening. Still, I waved my finger. I'm protective of my friends. I want all of their lives to be awesome and lovely. And I want to live the good life with all of them. And thus far I've sat back and reflected on how this just really is the good life. I've got food, I've got company, and everything is well in the bubble I am inhabiting for that moment.

Beca, Candice, and I acquired hot dogs and beer (a 12 pack of Yuengling) and went to the pool at this apartment complex Candice had access to. No kids, and yes beer was allowed. So we spent hours swimming and drinking and eating and kicking back and soaking up sun and talking about this and that and Dee (a mutual online friend of Beca and mine). After we had absorbe'd more than enough sun (I'm a bit pink but not burned) we went to Cook Out and I got treated to a burger with cheese and onion and bacon, and a side of slaw and onion rings, and a big thing of sweet tea. Mmmm MMMM! Amazing. Candice returned to the apartment and Beca and I walked around downtown Greensboro. Borough. Boro. Uhh. Whichever. Not much was open on a Sunday, but we got to peep in some windows. But. BUT cheesecake was open. Cheesecake shop. So we splint a slice a cheesecake, my treat, and it was amazing. Like I said, meeting people I'm online friends with has been a good experience. All are people I've met through mutual nerd interests, so we have the baseline of "yeah we are nerds" to bond us all.

Back at the apartment we played Wii Mario Kart and both of us weren't so good, so it was an even game! I was sad to part, but oh what a lovely day!

A day with Jackie, 6/16:

I went to Japan in 2005 as part of a group through Experiments in International Living. Jackie was in my group, and we've kept in touch. She lives in North Carolina. I'm in North Carolina. And she is only 30 minutes east in Carrboro! Easy visit. I met her fiancee Mike briefly, and then we were off! First up was ice cream at this nice little ice cream place. I had the caramel crunch something ice cream and mmm MMM! She works at the Weaver Street Market and they have this special zoning thing where you can drink a beer outside at their little outdoor area. Just one beer. Their outdoor area had tables in the shade and a place for live music, which wasn't happening when we were there but it does happen. Jackie said she often hangs out after work, and that it's a place where everyone knows everyone. Which became evident as the day went on. I had a bottle of Fullsteam Brewery's Carver, which was a sweet potato lager. If you think that sounds delicious, it was.

So we had our beers and sat in the shade and talked about life and relationships and Japan and growing up and change, and all those topics adults talk about when they last saw each other as teenagers.

From there, we went downtown a bit more, to wander up and down the street that happens near any college campus. Restaurants, comic shops, book stores, little hole in the wall music shops. I bought the first three issues of Lumberjanes at Chapel Hill Comics. Lumberjanes is an all lady comic production, and it's been selling super well, so I felt like I should add to thank because viva lady comic makers! It's a hard hustle out there for women in the industry, so we gotta support each other often.

We ran into Jackie's friend Larry, and we all commuted down to Southern Rail aka "The Station" which was a bar that was old train cars and several different bars really. And Ishti, who I met at the porch party, showed up for this open mic that was happening later and he knew Larry. Lots of people knew Larry. Everyone knew everyone it seemed, and they all confirmed that it was the sort of place you can go by yourself and you'll know someone there. The last time I experienced that was Yur's in Portland, Oregon. There needs to be more places like that. Ishti remembered me and gave me a hug and played a song he was working on for Nathan's going away. US won their game, which was evident by after an hour of silence there were loud cheers from the bar area. It was less hot than Florida, so I was doing swell. Still hot and humid, of course. I sketched a bit and Larry and Andi (another of Larry's friends) were pleased to be immortalized in my sketchbook. And the sky was beautiful with perfect hued clouds.

To be somewhere where people are friendly and eager to talk. Where people know one another and remember you. Where comic shops have lady comics and local breweries make damn good beer. I'll be coming back to Durham.

Now Stephen and I are going to head out to a bar for a bit.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

on a porch at night in Durham

What a lovely relaxing day. It's nice to be with friends and to hang out. It seems like a nice place, Durham North Carolina.

Slept in a considerable amount and there were pancakes! Love pancakes! And I got to have a full proper shower and all that good stuff.

6/15/2014 11:10 am

I was starting to write but then I got super tired, so I retired to bed, watched a little Orange is the New Black, and fell asleep for 9 glorious hours.

So! Yesterday there were pancakes and morning conversations. Stephen played a guitar duet with the sounds of the washing machine going shugga shugga. He's such a talented musician! But that is known already. I think we met the second night I was in San Francisco, when I moved to look for work and saw Odd Owl play with their new band members. That was April 2012 I think. A lot has happened in two plus years, but there was a lull in the middle where Santa Cruz was getting me down, when I hoped it would be a place for me to be. But now I'm on the road seeing new places and just enjoying my own company and the company of rad cool people.

We met up with four (well five) rad people and drove down to Eno Beach. The other people were two couples ... whose names escape me now in the dawn of morning, but there was a baby in the bunch. Baby Josie was was just a few weeks younger than my journey has been. A well mannered baby that didn't cry and was sung to by Stephen with his ukulele. It was a nice stroll to the watering hole. I swam a bit and sat and drew Erin and soaked up the sun. We took a different route back, flatter but longer, and I talked with Josie's mum, who was very sweet. Everyone I met today was nice!

I rinsed off at home and then we went to a going away party for this guy named Nathan who was road tripping to Vermont in a week! Everyone is on a journey this year. Also at the party was a David a Dave and... more names I've forgotten. I used to be so good at names, I'm not putting forward the effort like I used to. Anyway, we all sat on the back porch and ate pasta salad and drank beer (except Erin of course) and they sang songs and Nathan played the cello and Dave played the violin and Stephen played the guitar and it was amazing! There was singing and improv and just a lovely flow of everything happening. And it's these kinds of nights one yerns for when on the road to anywhere. Random kind people and good times.

The neighborhood was nice. Just rolling hills and plenty of trees and cute houses all a bit different.

We returned not so late but then I got really tired. Today I'm going to meet up with Zahri (another online pal of mine) and we are going to hang out. Should be fun!