Friday, August 22, 2014

the good times in the ever changing city

8/18/2014 3:30pm a rest stop on i15 Montana

I swung through Butte and saw BT’s show (BT and Tina’s show). I had to sneak into the gallery a little bit, but Tina arrived and turned on the lights. Sneaking meaning I went in through a back door (the gallery is in a sort of mall space, but not really, but there are other shops in the building and a back hallway opens into the gallery). Anyway, I wasn’t nagged for being there early than opening. The show was lovely! I’ve always dug BT’s type and design. That’s why I commissioned a wall mounted bottle opener from him. I gave him the type I wanted spelled out and said “do whatever, I trust you!”. I can’t wait to hang it back up in a more permanent spot (i.e. Pulali Point).

I left Butte at around 1pm and filled up my tank and got one of those .99 cent Arizona iced teas and ice for my cooler and some Sriracha flavored sunflower seeds. I’ve driven for a few hours, though I’m in no hurry, so I think I’ll hang at this rest stop for a bit. My phone continues to have trouble charging in the car adapter (did I mention it was doing that?) so I’m getting it to 100% here. Same with my mp3 player. Oh, I fixed my L key. I just pried it up and removed the dust blockage and popped it back in. This rest stop has a weather report going on loop, but now I’ve heard it so many times that I’m unsure if the weather is actually going to be good or bad. Rain showers likely. Lows 45 to 50. Chance of precipitation 50%. I should find out what the weather will be like before I camp in Glacier. I’d really like to camp, but again: getting rained out of my tent will suck.

Looking at the map, I’ll enter Idaho through Missoula and… pretty much go right across it into Oregon. I’ll probably just drive on. I’ve been to Idaho before so I don’t really have any intrigue to do something within that state. I just wanna get to Portland and see my pals.

8/20/20143:51 pm a rest stop on i90 nearing the Idaho border in Montana

I am on my way to Portland Oregon! I have many more hours of driving to do, but I have a place to crash so it’s all good. I’m taking some time to charge my phone because it continues to be weird about charging while I’m driving. This rest stop has a large amount of outlets. The previous one had zero that worked.

Sherri and Scott told me to say hi to Kelsey if I saw her in Glacier National Park. She is a seasonal ranger there, and lo and behold she was the one giving the ranger talk that I saw! So I said hi and marveled at how wonderfully small the world can be sometimes.

I departed my lovely little rest stop at 7amish. Filled up my tank and got some tea and then headed west to Glacier National Park! I came in the St. Mary entrance, got my junior ranger booklet and map and hike ideas and set off the make the most out of my day.

Right off the bat: I was correct to forgo camping because the weather was no good. Thunder erupted in the afternoon, and rain & hail came down as I was getting sworn in as a Junior Ranger. And it rained occasionally through the day after that, and when I was heading to Kalispell in the evening, thunder and lightning was seen on my right in the park all through the drive (I took 89 then 49 then 2 when I left, so that I went around the bottom of the park and not through it). It really is a park you could spend a week in, doing all the different hikes. Lots of nice long hikes. I did the St Mary and Virginia Falls hike, and met a nice guy named Daniel who did a through hike of the Appalachian Trail a few years back. We talked National Parks and travel and doing something big when you come up against a wall in your life. Nice fella. I met another nice fella earlier today. I should really go to parks more often to pick up dudes.

Anyway, Glacier! Absolutely beautiful. I loved how the Rockies rose in the distance and continued to dominate every view. Sad to think how the glaciers will be gone by 2030. That feels so soon in my life time. I drove all the way down to Apgar and back up to St Mary and up to Many Glacier for the sunset. There was road construction, so it was two hours to do the ~60 miles of the Going-To-The-Sun road. I got my St Mary stamp first, then cruised down and past Logan Pass and stopped for some photo ops, and went more and more down and down and down into the valley. At Apgar I got another stamp and saw the wildlife Ranger program and got my book signed by Kelsey and learned that deer eat 5.5 pounds of greenery a day! That’s a lot of salad. This was a relatively easy Junior Guide book to fill out. Theodore Roosevelt really made me work for it, with drawings and hike descriptions. I got my badge, and a sticker, and my feet got absolutely soaked by the rain (I tried to avoid it, but the water was a couple inches around my car!). I put on my flats that I’m so going to throw out once this trip is done because they smell and are worn mostly out. They were cheap to begin with, so I’m not surprised they haven’t survived the torture I put my shoes through.

I drove slowly back up and stopped often for pictures. Logan Pass was full of people avoiding the rain. I got my WPA postcards and the Logan Pass stamp. If you don’t know what stamps I’m talking about, I mean the National Park Passport Cancellation Stamps. The dated thing you put in your NP Passport, if you have one. I don’t, I just put them in my travel journal.

From Logan Pass I did the waterfall hike. No bears were seen, but I made sure to jingle jangle my keys as I walked due to the bear warnings that are everywhere in the park. That is where I met Daniel and since we were walking back at the same pace, we struck up a conversation.

The lodge up in Many Glacier is nice. Has a great view of the water and mountains. I got a hot dog and a ginger beer and sat in one of the lounges while the sun left the sky, then I drove on for two and a bit hours. Very miserable hours of driving. It was dark, but that absorbing dark. Not the clear starry skies that were above me when I left Yellowstone for Bozeman. I drove a few hours that night, but they were not bad at all, but this time! And the weather was spotty and the roads varied in condition. All in all, not a fun night drive. But I got to my precious Walmart parking lot in Kalispell, Montana, and slept pretty well, and all the way in to 10! I normally don’t sleep that much in my car. I filled my tank in Kalispell and drove south on 93 to Missoula, then got onto i90 heading west. I stopped at this small used bookstore I saw a billboard for and it was one of the best used bookstores I’ve been on during this trip.

Hypothesis: small town used bookstores will have better browsing selections because they haven’t been picked over like the larger second hand bookstores, which have to also cater to people who buy new books.

At this book store I found two Winslow Homer artbooks for 6 bucks a pop. They are a bit dated, but he isn’t exactly contemporary. One was his woodcuts, the other was a book about him with black and white reproductions. Yes I got them. After frowning at $30-$50 Winslow Homer artbooks present at bigger stores, of course I did. I probably could have browsed more and found further treasures. The basement was a treasure trove of paperbacks, but I didn’t want to stay too long. So on I went clutching my precious books to my chest. Homer and Eakins are two artists that really came to my awareness on this trip, thanks in large part to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

At the previous rest stop I got some refreshments from the nice church people who volunteer to give people coffee and cookies. I’d like to see Atheists do the same thing. That’d be nice. So, onwards to Idaho and Washington and then down into Oregon and Portland!

8/22/2014 Serenity’s in Portland, Oregon

I have some major catching up to do! I got to Portland than I got to hanging out with people and I only just now got my computer hooked up to Serenity’s wifi. The absolute sweetheart has let me call her home my home for the next few nights. And even let me unpack some things into her space in the living room, so my car isn’t so burdened down/obvious target. How wonderful! I got in late to Portland on Wednesday night. 11:30ish and after some chatting got right to bed. In the morning BT picked me up and we went to Pine State Biscuits, where they had cheerwine! Hurray! I got the standard biscuits and gravy and we starting catching up. From there we went to Magnetic North, which is the studio space he and many others occupy in Portland. Wonderful space, it has several presses and lots of room and much art all over the place. No one else was there at that time, though Phil Bone swung by with his brother and dad. BT and I grabbed lunch at the nearby brewhouse and then went to walk Carnegie, BT’s dog. It was great to catch up and also to converse with someone who is also well travelled. And it is just nice to spend time with an old friend. I was returned to Serenity’s at around 6:30 and Heather and Daniel came over and saw the place and we four chatted, then Serenity stayed home and we three went over to Division and The Woodsman Tavern and got some fancy ham and cocktails. Division Street has seen lots of new building and restaurants and development. Money is just being thrown into Portland right now, and the rent is going up as well as many people getting booted from houses because the landlord wants to sell.

So I had a good wonderful evening with the amazing Heather and Daniel. I hope to host them at my place in the future so that they can be all hosted and pampered.

In the morning, I finished The Marriage Plot. Such a good book and an amazing ending! Can’t wait to loan it to Mom.

I met up with those two favorite hooligans for brunch at Zell’s. I got eggs benedict and it got all over my face and a bit on my skirt, which I washed out later at Madeline’s. Tasty food! I loaned them my copy of Lost for Words. I’ll get it back some day. BT loaned me his copy of How To Win Friends and Influence People, so I’ll need to get that back to HIM some day.

After brunch I went over to see Madeline and I hung out with her in the super way of old! Two years have passed, and we caught up and Jackson is taller, and she’s working as a supervisor at Macy’s and working on art and stuff. We watched several episodes of The Strain, which is a super gross show and also SUPER AWESOME! And we went for a walk and walked Pepper and chatted and talked some more and watched Halt and Catch Fire. A good mellow day with a great friend.

Tomorrow I meet the other Trillian and we shall see if the world collapses.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Grand Tetons & Yellowstone

8/14/2014 Chadron State Park, Nebraska

For the conclusion of last night’s thunderstorm…it missed us at the park! There were some light rain sprinkles but I was able to sleep comfortably in my tent! Actually I had to do some yoga before I could sleep comfortably because my back was twerked. Just some crocodile twists and plow position and my back was much better. Unfortunately the person camping next to me was an exceptionally loud snorer. Still, I got some sleep. Proper spread out sleep. I woke up early due to it being REALLY HOT in my tent. Packed up, had some bagel and shmear, showered, and now I’m at the Trading Post using their wifi. Haven’t organized my travel photos since Iowa, so I’m getting on that.

I’ll probably go find an oil change before I head out to Wyoming and Tibby.

8/15/2014 Riverton, Wyoming

I made it into and halfwayish across Wyoming! It was a good long drive, but wow was it ever scenic! Mountains in the distance rose and fell, the clouds were jagged and soft, and in the distance I could see the little spots where it was raining. I drove through those spots of rain and into sunshine. I saw lightning in the distance, then lightning up close, and then lightning in my rear view mirror. I drove past Douglas and Casper. I filled up my tank in Chadron before going west on 20, then north on 25, then onto 20 and then 26. Today I am much in need of an oil change. It will be the first thing that I do in Riverton. Oil change. Then find a post office and drop off letters. Tibby is letting me crash here an extra night, so I’m going to pop up to Thermopolis and check it out and come back down here in the evening.

Tibby and I took an animation class together. She was a semester behind me and I went to her Thesis proposal whilst I was defending that focus week. She works for the local newspaper as a photographer, and freelances, and is generally a badass. She treated me to dinner, which was awesome. I ordered the pear and gorgonzola salad, because helloooo vegetables!  She took me on a little driving tour of Riverton. Reminding me of Bremerton in scale and entertainment provisions. I drove through some towns that had single digit populations listed on their sign. Riverton is around 10k.

I’m wondering if I will be able to camp at the Tetons and Yellowstone, so I’m going to plan to arrive at both in morning times. i.e. drive all day, get close, sleep, get up early and go into the park then. That worked out well for Badlands. And I need to remember to keep an eye on the weather, because Chadron was a close call and driving through minor storms reminded me that hey, the weather is different out here.

8/16/2014 Riverton, Wyoming 8am

I’m leaving Riverton today for Tetons National Park! It’s the weekend and it’s a popular park so I’m planning on not being able to camp. I’ve had a few good nights of rest, so I should be good for a few nights in my car.

Yesterday I went to Walmart and got my oil changed, and my tires rotated, and new windshield wipers. I’ve been needing new wipers for a few states now (well more than a few states). No Jiffy Lube presented itself nearby, and I get free rotation on half my tires because I got them at Walmart. Anyway, that was more morning/midafternoon (took longer than I expected). Then I drove up to Thermopolis, where you can have a free 20 minute soak in this hot sulfur bath. So I did that. Very warm, very eggy smelling. I wandered around the two blocks of downtown and drove on back to Riverton. There is a nice section of the drive that goes through Wind River Canyon (Wind Canyon?). It is a winding road that goes down and through a canyon, which is true to its name: windy. The drivers were nuts! Passing dangerously, and going over the white line to peek ahead to see if it is passable. Thankfully there were many pull outs, so I was able to pull off the road and park for a bit to let people pass.

I mellowed out at Tibby’s (who was gone working) for the rest of the day. Washed a few things. Watched a movie. Generally relaxed. Nice to just kick back on a couch for a day with no requirements for further activities or driving or anything. But now it is the morning and I must hit the road once again! A pitstop is needed to replenish my cooler of ice and food, and then it is off to the National Parks of Wyoming! Then Montana! Then across Idaho and to Portland and then Washington and then I am done…

That came rather suddenly, but then again it is the 16th of August. I have probably two more weeks of travel to do? Week and a half? But I’ll be back in Washington by the end of the month, so that is good on the timing front of things.

8/16/2014 8pm Signal Mountain, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Up at the overlook watching the sun set behind the Tetons. So beautiful. I am in the company of Sherry(Sherri?) and Scott up here. The sky is fading from blue to orange behind the peaks, which are soft grays with mottling of white. The mountains are very jagged and looming. A bit unreal considering how flat the rest of the landscape is. They just pop up in the horizon, and come more into focus. I wish I had a better camera so that I could capture the details. The little trees, the jagged rocks, just the beautiful faces of the range. Can’t wait to come back! Had a good full day today! I got into the park at around noonish. Got my visitors center stamps and postcards, then I drove down to Jenny Lake, ate, filled my water bottle, and hit the path! I did the half way around Jenny Lake walk to Inspiration Point. The walk was pretty flat with a few ups and downs. Inspiration Point was up some fairly steep switchbacks. You can take a shuttle boat across the lake if you want to skip the walk, but I didn’t want to fork over the cash so I just walked the wak. About 6 miles of hiking? At least 5. Took me four hours, though I spent some time sitting atop Inspiration Point hydrating and catching my breath and reading. A good solid hike. I passed a hiker who told me a moose was on the side of the trail, and there it was! Just sitting and munching. I told the next few hikers I passed to keep an eye out for the moose. I did a drive down to the bottom entrance, and then worked my way back up as the sun was going down. I took plenty of pictures, and went up to Signal Mountain The summit faced away from the Tetons, but a point down a ways faces toward it. I struck up a conversation with the others up here, all waiting for the sunset.

I could have camped here, but I opted not. A bit too expensive. Easier to drive to the nearest Walmart. Then I’ll get an early start on Yellowstone!

I wish I had more to say about Tetons. Looking forward to visiting it again!

7/17/2014 6pm Mammoth Springs Visitors Center, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

A wonderful thing happened! As we were saying our goodbyes, Sherri offered up the spare twin bed at their Tetons rental cabin for me to sleep in! I accepted their offer and I had a nice rest in cozy National Park comfort, instead of hours of driving out and sleeping in my car discomfort. What wonderful people Sherri and Scott are! Thank you so much, if you are reading this! I hope you have fun in the San Juan Islands.

And thus I was enabled to roll into Yellowstone early in the day. I came up the south entrance and found out Old Faithful was going to blow next at 10:30 and it was 9:50 when I was in the Grant Village VC. So I drove on to Old Faithful, and I don’t know if it was exactly 10:30 but it was blowing as I was walking up to it. The next scheduled eruption was noon. I hung around the VC, filled my water bottle, got my WPA postcards, and got a chocolate milkshake. By this point time had went by pretty fast, so I grabbed a spot for the noon eruption, which after many false starts blew at 12:13. Pretty great to have the reaction of the many MANY visitors when the little burps of water come up, but not the whole shebang, and finally the satisfaction of the whole thing. Pretty snazzy!

I did the shorter geyser loop, and returned to my car. Onwards towards Madison. I went to the Grand Prismatic Spring, which was indeed grand and colorful. I parked outside of the parking lot and walked in. I do not like the crowds, not one bit! I like to hike and see nature, not crawl through lots looking for the first spot available and then deal with the throngs at the scenic vistas. It’s well visited for a reason, but dang did I enjoy my time at Theodore Roosevelt more largely due to the lack of crowds. This National Park really needs a proper shuttle system.

Anyway, I drove on up to Norris, where there was no parking so I continued east to Canyon Village, where I loitered at Artist Point and checked out the canyon and falls. It continued to be lovely but the hustle and bustle blocked me from really being able to relax. I’ve been feeling antsy all day, like I can’t wait to be done with the park instead of sitting back and enjoying it. Tetons, despite crowds, somehow thinned them out in a more palatable way. Same for Zion.

From Canyon I went north and then west and here I am at Mammoth Springs. It was a glorious drive, and some of my fuel economy has recovered on the way down. I’m going to do some late afternoon hiking around the springs, and then I’ll be heading North into Montana towards some sort of something. I’m seeing more and more Washington license plates every day.

Shout out once again to Sherri and Scott.

8/17/2014 9:24pm an overlook in Yellowstone

After wandering around the many boardwalks around the springs, I found my way to an overlook to watch the sun go down, now I’m waiting for the stars to fully come out. The L key on my keyboard is taking more effort to use than it should. There is a line of cars. The road between Norris and Mammoth is under construction, so I’m guessing these cars were behind a slow/stop person, and they were allowed to proceed.

I made a wish on the first star I saw. The first star that wasn’t actually a satellite.

8/18/2014 8:30am a McDonalds in Bozeman, Montana

The Walmart I slept in was the most populated one yet. There were several clusters of the now very obvious to me campers and over night sleepers. I pulled in across from a truck and near a medium sized motorhome and a truck towing a trailer. Safety in numbers! My phone is having issues charging from my a/c adapter in my car. Really annoying when one is relying so much on their phone, but I knew how to get to Bozeman (really easy, just north on 89 out of Yellowstone then west on 90 when one gets to Livingstone). And I just kept an eye out for the Walmart sign and there it is. So now it is charging and I’m starting the day with 3$ of junk food. I need ice for my cooler. So after I do the internet rounds, I’ll fill up my tank and get some ice and then Butte to see BT’s show, and then upwards towards Glacier National Park. I’m planning on today being a driving day, so that I can pop into Glacier early instead of late. So I’ll be going scenic and slow. Bummer I won’t be hanging with BT himself in Butte, but plans change and one must change with them. I’ll see him when I get to Portand.