Saturday, August 2, 2014

in the art attic

I'm up in the attic while the ladies are getting their hair and makeup done for the wedding. I've done my own. Eyeliner, fuchsia lipstick, eyebrows. I wish my bangs were shorter, but I haven't trimmed them and it would leave too much hair to do so now.

Megan is getting married in 4 hours! It's so exciting. The venue is amazing. There is a tent over the food tables, and it's a 200+ person wedding. The weather is good. Did I mention it's on Megan's parent's property? So the ample back yard is all the wedding stuff. There is the dance floor. Not under tent tables. All the plates have names tied to the silver wear. There is a full force of people each doing their own task. Mine has been doing the white paint on the signs, while Kalee does the pencil layouts. So she pencils it in and I do the white bits. It's a good team and it cut down the time for that task a good amount. I'm glad I was able to help! I finished the program sign this morning (there wasn't time to print out programs, so we just made a sign with all the names). The rehearsal dinner food was make your own tacos! I had two with lots of filling and chips and guac and beans and rice. At the Westsider Cafe I had eggs benedict and two perogis on the side. There were 8 of us at the table and the table was covered with plates of food. Biscuits and gravy. Sausages. Toast. Chicken and waffles. Just plates of food, and good food, and ample portions, and priced really well! Stefan, Susan, Cody, Megan, Eric, Ivan, and Kalee and me made up the table. I was the first to pitch my tent back at the venue, but now there are about 10 tents. No one is pitched near me though. I was warned against being near the tree line due to poison oak being recently cut & poisoned back. I got back late to my tent after seeing Guardians of the Galaxy (I can't wait when it comes to some movies), and it was cozy and a bit cold, but not COLD cold. I was showered by 9 and got to finishing the final sign. Then I did my makeup and ate some coffee cake and had some coffee. Guardians of the Galaxy was fun! Dialogue a bit weak here and there, and it seems like it could have had 30 more minutes of character establishment, but it was fun and well shot and the actors are so great and holy crap special effects have advanced so far now!

So Megan Fix is getting married soon. I need to start taking pictures of the goings ons!

Friday, August 1, 2014

can I have another pasty, please?

7/30/2014 Interlochen State Park, Michigan

Back on the mitten part of Michigan after two full days of driving around Lake Michigan. After that McDonald’s I continued up. Through the forest, across the forest, up into more forest. It’s very nice and wooded up in northern Wisconsin, and it would probably be nice to camp in, but I went through many sudden rain storms, so it would not be fit at all to camp in. I continued east into Michigan as the sun set and camped in a Walmart parking lot. I’m trying to think if there is anything more I can say about the drive. The roads were pretty good, not rough like Maine. I stopped by a restaurant called “The Stand” which was a drive up sort of place, but they were cash only and I had no cash so I continued on.

Had an okay night sleep. It was cold, which was refreshing. Nice to not be sweltering in a car, because it’s really not safe at all to sleep with the door/window open. In the hotter areas, I just dealt with the climate, but I was very comfortable with my blanket and pillows. Had some very vivid dreams that involved travel and friends. Haven’t had any dreams in a while.

I departed the parking lot at around 7:30 and got to the camp ground at 5ish, though I crossed a time zone, so an hour was lost. Highway 2 across the Upper Peninsula (the UP populated by yoopers) was lovely. The woods gave way on the right to Lake Michigan, with beaches and dunes and tourist towns. And side of the highway shops offering pasties. After passing a few, I finally gave in and pulled in to procure the local dish. I ordered it with gravy, which was a good choice. A pasty (plural: pasties) is a pastry filled with meat and potatoes. Sort of like a potpie sealed up. The serving size was perfectly filling, and I bought a Great Lakes sticker for my cooler. I could absolutely go for another one right now. But I’m in a rustic camp site and it is late at night and I don’t think any restaurant would be open right now. Well.. maybe, but then I’d have to change out of my pajamas.

Filled with warm food, I set out once again. I paid the $4 bridge toll at St Ignace to cross south onto the main peninsula part of Michigan. A little bit on i95/i75/iwhichever and then at Grayling right on 72. Followed 72 for a longish while (lots of 23 miles to the next town signs with many more towns to go) to get to Bear Dunes National Seashore, or whichever it is called. I’ll look at the pamphlet in the morning. The campsites in the park were full, and I felt like camping instead of national parking, so I went on to the nearby but not totally near Interlochen State Park. Got me a rustic site with a view of Green Lake, and I put up my tent. Didn’t set a new set up record, but I came in pretty low. I spent a little bit of time on the narrow strip of beach reading and looking out at the water.

Tomorrow I’ll go see these dunes, probably read some more, then head south to Grand Rapids, where I’ll be for a few days, and then I’ll be booking it west properly this time.

8/1/2014 Grand Rapids, Michigan

I am writing quietly from Megan & Eric’s house. The other six people crashing here are sleeping. I was sober by the end of the night, so I’ve had an easy wake up. I don’t know when people will start waking up. I may head off to the venue and set up my tent there and help out if it seems like it’ll be a while. I don’t know what the morning plan is, I know there is a rehearsal dinner but as I’m not actually part of the wedding, I don’t know what I’ll be up to. Go with the flow.

Back to Interlochen State Park: had a lovely sleep in. No rain, just cozy warm goodness! I packed up and went to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I did the scenic loop and climbed up the dune. How odd to see such big dunes on a lake shore. Beaches, sure, but huge dunes? And I swung by the maritime museum and looked at the old boats and the old house where the lighthouse people stayed while watching to make sure boats didn’t crash.

Then at 2:30ish it was time to depart for Grand Rapids. It was a nice just under 3 hour drive. I arrived at the venue, and gave Cally/Kayleigh a life to Megan & Eric’s as that is where the Bachelor/Bachelorette party was starting from. We were the first to arrive, and Ryan, Lauren, Stefan, Andy, and a whole bunch of other people arrived. There were cocktails and beer and egg salad and eventually sausages and burgers and homemade hummus. I ate and ate and drank a semi respectable amount. I joined the bachelorette party for a little bit of bar hopping, though I didn’t drink as I felt like having my wits about me, and I might be driving later so yeah. We met up at Pyramid Scheme, which is like a mini Ground Kontrol (barcade b/arcade). I chatted mostly with Eric’s sisters, over Megan’s cousins. We walked over to Stella’s and grabbed a table. I wish the TVs had subtitles on, so that I could follow the very weird old school The Incredible Hulk show. Why was he massaging that guy? What was that stuff in the container? I just don’t know. Then we went to Rumours, a club, and I tried to dance on the dance floor but I’m too self-conscious about my rhythm. Still, I tried!

We called a cab (we cabbed in) and the first one to arrive was stolen by another team of people! Boo!

Back at Megan & Eric’s I pitched my tent on their lawn, and after having another serving of food, I retired to my tent. So I suppose I could have drunk more, but I’m glad I’m feeling fine in the morning now as I plan to lend a hand in wedding prep today.

So yeah! It’s August now! The final month of this journey begins. I’ve got a good amount of National Parks to visit coming up, I can’t wait!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chicago & cheese

7/28/2014 6:17 pm, Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin

I’m out on a peninsula that is its own county! Just like home. Except this is a peninsula out into a freshwater lake, so…not like home. The weather has cooled down a bit in this region, which is awesome. I can wear pants, I’m not sweating through everything, and just all around it is better. I am not a hot weather gal. And now I’ve hit 38 states. Ohio was 35, Indiana 36, Illinois 37 and Wisconsin 38! I have two more nights of camping, then come Thursday I set up my tent in Grand Rapids for a few days and enjoy the wedding shindig! Then I shall properly book it west. No more lollygagging! I brake for parks! Also there is only Tibby in Wyoming and BT in Montana and the crew in Portland to hang with. And just generally…being done with it all! I’m ready to retrospect.

I got up and showered in Indiana, had a little breakfast, and hit the road. Only an hour to get into Chicago. I parked my car in a garage that seemed pretty secure (it was in a basement garage and off the sidewalks, so I doubt many hooligans would be scooping in for stealing, and my car was fine at the end of the day) and heading to Portillo’s on Jeff’s recommendation. There was a line out the door, and the line extended far into the establishment, but the line moved fast. There were many people on the grills, and they got the lunch rush system down! I ordered the Italian beef and it was hot and steaming and filling and very good.

Chicago has so many big huge looming building with dynamic architecture. I was kinda amazed by just how big they all were. The sky was blue with moving, fluffy clouds which was just great to see peeking in the skyline gaps. I liked the look of it all more than New York. Pictures will show it better than I can explain. It was just a cool city, and while crowded there was enough space for people to walk about. Though damn the drivers and pedestrians were mental! Everyone was more gungho than they ought to be.

It was easy to walk from Portillo’s to Millenium Park, where I saw the Cloud Gate. AKA that shiny bean thing. The park had lots of interesting sculptures. Good for a city to have an open park with fountains for kids to play in. All city all the time isn’t good. Gotta have some green.

There was a line out the door for the museum and they needed more people selling tickets, but I got through in a generally decent amount of time. I used my student ID again. And it worked again. The museum had the usual: Renoir, Sargent, Monet, Manet, Degas, Picasso. More notably it had Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, which was great to see up close and to look at all the dots and colors and the monkey! Grant Wood’s American Gothic was more textural than I was expecting, and Hopper’s Nighthawks was lovely. The layout of the museum wasn’t all that great, and I found myself backtracking to get to rooms. I like a museum that flows, so I can walk in one path and see the work, and go from era to era, instead of getting thrown out here and there and having to cut across and down and up stairs just to get somewhere else. They do have a huge collection, but still!

There was a Magritte exhibit, though I’m unsure how I feel about Magritte. Surrealism is hard to look at sans contemporary context, I feel. It’s such a different era. Still, now I’ve seen Treachery of Images, The Human Condition, and Not To Be Reproduced. I’m sure there is a 1001 Art Pieces to See Before You Die book, I should get that and get to checking things off. Just for bragging rights.

The Edward Steichen exhibit was neat, but the Taller De Grafica TGP print exhibit was where it’s at. The Leopoldo Mendez prints were so detailed and bold. I also saw some John Sloan, William Glackens, Ferdinand Hodler, Daumier, several Goyas that I nearly had my nose against the glass with, Boucher, Elbridge Ayer Burbank, Thomas Sully, Max Beckmann, and many others! The highlight for me were the Goya prints. And Lautrec’s At The Moulin Rouge. You know, the one with the blue faced lady. That one took me aback. I did not expect to see it, and there it was, and there I was! I love art so much. Seeing that was just such a treat.

And I saw my old buds Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer in the American Art Before 1900 wing, which is fast becoming one of my “go to” wings. I like older, representational paintings. Portraiture.

Oh! And the Mary Cassat painting with the woman bathing her daughter, that was in the museum too! So great to spend time with art.

I left the museum at 5, which was when it closed, and got a deep dish personal pizza at Lou Martino’s Lou Mazello’s Lou… something. Andy recommended it. It was tasty, sure, but I like thinner pizza. I had left overs, which I have consumed today. I was given a table for four, thankfully I arrived when there was no wait because there was, once again the theme of Chicago, a line of people going outside when I left. I returned to my car, and off I went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I could spend so much more time in Chicago. Well a few more days at least, for museums and food and architecture. It’s going on the “must visit for a long weekend” list.

My phone died when I was leaving the city, but I got enough of a charge back to find out which interstate out of the city wasn’t a toll.

Andy was a master’s student at PNCA during my first two years there. Me hanging out with him is somewhere in the archives. His girlfriend Lisa is also an artist, and they had a nice little bed for me to sleep on. They taught me how to play stump, and we played a few rounds (it’s a drinking game involving a hammer, nails, and a stump, and it’s less dangerous than it sounds). We all commiserated over art and collections and snooty people making art inaccessible.

They worked early, and the house doesn’t lock behind someone who lacks keys, so I left early too. But leaving early got me up to Door County (which Stephen and Erin recommended) early, and into my site before 1pm! So I’ve had all day to relax, rest, read, and organize. It was a straight shot up north, with little traffic. Camping was cheap ($17) but then the out of state vehicle fee ($10!) made it not cheap. Come on Wisconsin, give an out of towner a break! You are worse than New York, which only charged $5 for being out of town. Thus far Missouri is still winner for cheap camping and being welcoming to people from out of state. Said it before and I’ll say it again: I’d totally camp in Missouri again.

So today I set up tent, then went to the beach and sat and read and soaked up sun until the sun went behind clouds. It’s yet to come back from behind the clouds. I used the shower facilities. I organized my paper souvenirs into: tourism brochures, museum guides, maps, camping guides, and park pamplets. I should collect more state maps, that would have been a good thing to nab for each state I entered. I’ll make an initiative to do that at future rest stops. State maps are good to have on hand.

So now it is 7ishpm but my body thinks it is 8. I’ll eat something. Read more. Check out is 3pm, which is nice. Dunno where I’m off to tomorrow. Somewhere more north and east.

7/29/2014 3:38pm McDonalds in Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Taking a driving break. I’ve been on the road for a few hours now, though it has been scenic and lovely with many turns. The interstate stretches with no turns for 120 miles are the real drags. Switching it up every 30 miles is much better. It’s raining off and on, so I’m not going to set up camp. I had a dry night out on Door County. Not a drop of rain, though it never did get warmer than hoody weather. In the morning I heard a kid proclaim loudly “WASHINGTON!”. I assume he saw my license plate.

I packed up a bit early (well 10ish) and hit the road. I swung through Sturgeon Bay, dropped off some mail, and went to Renart’s for cheese. I sampled the curds and wensleydale and gouda, all was tasty, and bought some fancy string cheese for $2.99. It was several sticks, not one thing of string cheese. And it was so good. Very happy with my Wisconsin cheese.

I’m heading northwest for a bit, then I’m going to head east into Michigan. Dunno where I’ll stop. Like I said, weather is no good for camping. Two nights till I camp in Grand Rapids!