Thursday, May 31, 2012

City of Grunge #2

On my drive into Seattle the skies were overcast (go figure) and these lyrics played on the radio as it began drizzling: "Rain keeps falling down, down, down..." It's called "Don't You Forget About Me," by Billy Idol. Although the story has nothing to do with rain, I like that it came on during that time.

According to many, Seattle has the best beer. I'm not sure how true this is (considering that I HATE beer) but this bar is sure selling a lot!
My Seattle host, Krys, and I swapped wardrobes for a night at the karaoke bar "Yen Wor", "better known as 'The Young Whore'," Krys said. She braided my hair and I learned to not make sudden movements or risk the plastic boning stab into my ribs. The bar turned out to be pretty dead on a Wednesday night, and I sang six or seven songs, beginning with Faith Hill's "The Way You love Me," and ending with "Hotel California" (I've gotten very good at singing this song).

There was this guy there alone. He had a wonderful voice, and I invited him to sing "Moondance," with me, which he did. We sounded good, but sometimes forgot where words came in and we pretty much sliced that song into bitty pieces. It was a good time, and there weren't enough people in the bar to be broken up about it. The night was full of meeting stranger-boys and Krys trying to get me to leave, "but I've got one more song!"--and no one danced. I sang "Stray Cat Strut," in hopes that someone would dance. But no one did. I ended up dancing alone for a few songs, but it wasn't the same.

City of Grunge #1

We discussed grunge and music and people who conform to nonconformity yet flock together; but we didn't discuss anyone like this. My host in Portland, Oregon had taken us out to a concert to see a few no-name bands. The second turned out to be all right, but not anything much to dance to for me, since I'm so used to goth music now. Meet Guy-in-the-fake-fur-cap. I didn't catch his name since it wasn't offered to me; my host to the right, Arya, heard his name but she forgot it quickly. I had actually dragged us into initial contact with this guy. He was asking us about clubs in the area, so I assumed he was a traveler like me; not so. He said he was from Portland and didn't go out much, which left me immediately disinterested. He talked about poetry and then he and Arya got into a conversation about South America--she stayed there for five months, visiting Ecuador and Argentina, among other places.

While they talked, I admired the treehouse in the center of the room and the writing on the walls in the bathroom. Writing on bathroom walls, and toilet paper dispensers, and doors, seems to be a passionate passtime for people in the small-town city (Arya's view). It became clear that neither Arya nor myself were interested in no-name-fur-cap, so we got away and left just after the third band got onstage.
We admired the way these boys were touching this pool table. "It reminds me of 'Gossip Girl'," she said, those books with the active images on the cover, waists and legs walking with shopping bags barely visible in the top corners; no faces visible. Everyone at the concert (maybe they don't call it that?) was dressed down, it seemed: baggy t-shirts and sweaters, pants, messy hair and hats; no one was attractive. I felt out of place, and thought that maybe Arya did too, since she was wearing the lowest top in the building. I never asked.

Arya likes dancing, but it seemed like no one else did. I am no longer used to the stillness of bodies in a room blaring music, it seems rude, almost disrespectful in a way. It isn't classical jazz or opera, people, it is music, just live a little! I never would have said something like that before last summer.

Arya studies anthropology in town. She doesn't seem to like it as much as she thought she would, saying that her school is "liberal-arts" based, meaning that there is no doing, that it's all textbooks and studying. However, since she is an anthropologist, and I am a journalist, we got along very well, and talked for hours about everything from major-related studies to our favorite teas. Part of me wishes I had asked to stay just one more night, but I decided to head to Seattle.

Snow Cap Dream


Of all the places Eric told me I should visit in Oregon, I only stopped at the Painted Hills and here: the Timberline Lodge. I went form the slightly-wet, warm base of this mountain, up to the top where fog rolled in like rolls of fat down an overweight man's waist. The wind was biting and fierce, and I swear that it was driving sleet into my eyes. Finding the famous building which was used as the outside for "The Shining," was not easy in the fierce weather.
There were many quirky furnishings in the lodge, but this animal-hide lampshade it one of my favorites.
 This is the upstairs bar/dining area. Every table and chair was wooden, although the chairs were all different and there didn't seem to be any order to where they'd been placed. The stone chimney stands in the center of the room; it's as round as some Sequoia trees.
another suggestion from Eric. I brought my computer and updated my blog while drinking a mug of hot chocolate--specifically named: "Snow Cap Dream." It was hot chocolate with a stick of cinnamon, toffee bits, lots of whipped cream and caramel. It was delicious, although I still can't decide if it was really worth the nearly $5 it cost.

Burn and Release

My beautiful purple blanket got stuck in the jam of my trunk the night before. The trunk would neither open nor close fully, so I turned the rear light off and decided to leave it for morning. In the morning, I went back to trying to figure it out. I had to sit in the rear end of the car, on top of bags of clothes and my blankets, while trying to come up with a solution. I considered cutting the piece from the blanket...but obviously that wouldn't work; the piece would still be stuck around the jam. So, without really thinking about it, I decided the only way was to burn the blanket out.

I had my water bottle close by, and wet the part of the blanket that was caught just to be safe. It took several matches, and several attempts at lighting the blanket down under the latch instead of letting it move up toward my hand, but it worked! The flame burned the corner that was caught and the trunk opened with a satisfying click.

I stayed with Krystine in Bend, Oregon the night I got my blanket caught. She lives in a cute two-bedroom house with her dog Quincy. She has frequent epileptic attacks, and told me not to freak out if she had one in the morning. She tends to fall asleep with the TV on so that her eyes are never completely in the dark, since total darkness can send her into an attack. It sounded scary, and also debilitating. She can't have a license because she never knows when it will happen, and most of her family lives only a few doors away. There wasn't a lot of food in her house since she eats often at work. There was a basket of plastic apples on the counter. On the table there were a few candles that she can't light because of the epilepsy. I wish I hadn't driven for 13 hours and could have talked to her more.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Banks Lowman Road (from Idaho to Oregon)

 The Banks Lowman Road is the route you want to take through possibly all of Idaho. If you like soaring mountains covered in green, with a river running through it, this is heaven. I found it difficult not to take a thousand pictures, and I still wish I'd gotten more.
It might sound dirty, but this is one crack I want to climb. The problem is, it's right along the road, a very bad place for climbing. And I didn't have a partner to belay me.

 I might have been in Oregon for this picture.
 Welcome to the Picture Gorge. Go look it up.
I was upset that I was getting to the Painted Hills at such a late time, but this turned out to be a good thing; with the falling sun and the rain, a rainbow had formed stretching from one side of the hills to the other.
 The deep blush on sand looks so much like a rash or a burn that it's almost painful to look at. But it's beautiful as well.

Back in Stanley

 There are the rugged Sawtooths gleaming with snow. Can anyone question why We love this place?
 This is the trail to Bench Lakes, my favorite.

 Bench Lake # 1. The snow was a couple of feet deep up here.

 Redfish Lake.
 I was merely walking back from the Bench Lakes when a shirtless man came running at me out of the woods. I was terrified at first--but before he got to me the face and running style registered: Eric had followed me to Stanley! It was amazing that he found me, since I frequently change my destination and could have been on any other trail than the one I'd told him about.
 He likes his moss.
Last year the population was 100. This year it's down to 63. My question is: how did they change the sign so fast? And do they do it every year?

Challis National Forest

 The drive from Utah to Idaho was splendid, especially since my GPS decided to send me up 93 through Challis instead of 75 through Ketchum.
 I tried driving to the 21 mile scarp line, the result of 1983 7.3 earthquake, according to the sign. It was somewhere in the Challis National Forest, but I couldn't find it, and found these awesome caves instead. Of course I was incapable of staying in the car, and had to get out to see what was living in this huge holes in the rock.
 That's me, in case you don't know what I looked like.
 This is limestone covered in lichen with mountains in the distance. Yes, there is snow on them.
I was very happy that no other cars tried coming down this road, because one of us would have been stuck backing all the way down.

"Ranger Rick"

 I was somewhat hesitant to stay with Eric this time around, but it worked out well. I stayed for a few days. We had a campfire and hung out for a couple of days.
Our last night together, Eric made healthy biscuits and gravy which is basically the same as chicken pot pie without baking everything inside the crust.


 Bear Lake on my way to Logan, Utah.
Hippy bus in Logan. A rare site. if you look closely, you can see the person sitting in the driver's seat. I want a bus like that, but I think I'd paint it black with bright yellow stars and a crescent moon, perhaps.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blueberry Vodka

 I stayed with couchsurfing host Natalie in Fort Collins on the most uneventful night of the week: Monday. Still, she and her friends, Tom and Victor, took me out on the town. We visited several bars, and the night was very warm, especially compared to Denver.
After several rounds of pool and a couple of other bars, we stopped at this one bar where they make their own shots. They use hard alcohol and let it sit with specific ingredients. For instance, there is rose petal gin, cucumber gin, butterscotch vodka, or--the one I tried--blueberry vodka. Although I'm not a big drinker, it's a cool idea. Upstairs a DJ mixed pop music with dubstep. He wasn't very good, but Natalie and I danced until we couldn't stand it anymore.
These were one girl's shoes. They were so cool that I had to ask if I could take a picture. And that was my trip to Fort Collins. I don't want to get to know it too well yet, since I'll be living there for a while after the summer.

The Church

I took no pictures, and no good ones exist online, so this will be short. on Sunday night I went to a goth night at The Church in Denver. It takes place in an actual church; I thought it was a joke before I saw it. Most of the good music is downstairs; there are two rooms, one for goth and '80s music, and the other for heavy industrial music. When I go back there I'll take pictures and update this entry.

Bouldering in Boulder

I spent my Sunday morning hiking in the mountains in boulder, Colorado, communing with nature. I took the well-known Chautauqua Trail. Within 10 minutes my throat was burning pathetically, but don't let this picture fool you--the path is entirely uphill.
 The Chautauqua Trail is relatively short, (.05 mi, I think) and it splits off. This is the Blue-Bell Beird Trail, and therefore I assume the blue flowers in this picture are bluebells. The trees are Ponderosa Pines; I saw a lot of these among the Redwoods last year, though those were far thicker.
 Some trails were off-limits due to birding season. While scrambling over a boulder field, I saw a sign warning that anyone climbing or hiking behind it would be fined $1,000 and spend a certain number of nights in jail. This giant rock outcropping was behind the sign. Of course, I veered right to avoid any possible fines or jail time.
I lost the trail after climbing through the boulder fields, and started making my own--I just wanted to make it as high as I could. This picture is looking down. I climbed the wall. It was a lot easier and less terrifying than it looks...
 This wall was above that in the above picture. I climbed this too.
 There was a lovely view from the top, overlooking Boulder and other towns.
 I found a real trail and followed it around to the other side of the mountain. I think this trail is known as the second-to-third flatiron trail. This side of the mountain only shows more mountains. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I should leave at all. I wanted to keep hiking until I was too tired to go on. But the sky was cloudy and rain threatened.
This is the third flatiron climbing wall, I think. Much of my knowledge is guesswork, since I had no map or anything on me. I wasn't dumb enough to try climbing this. This wall is a lot steeper and scary than it appears.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Boyling in Thornton (psych!)

It was freezing in Denver, and then Thornton, Colorado. When I was leaving the Wertzs', Kirsten asked me where I was staying, and I said I'd probably be in my car that night. She made a quick call to her friends in Thornton, which is barely a skip from Denver, and I had a place for the night. These are the girls, whose names I can't remember, but I can remember ages. From left to right: 3, 8, 10, 12.

I stayed up most of the night talking to Wendy and Todd while their girls sat on the couches, quietly reading. The family rents a three-bedroom in an apartment complex. For six people, it isn't much, but Wendy and Todd have been to Honduras several times, and they say that it's way more than anyone out there has. They're fixing to start a boys' orphanage in Honduras next to Lago de Yojoa, a beautiful lake. The girls are just as happy to soon be living in South America. All four girls stay in one room together, and the third room is reserved for guests. Well, technically it is the eldest girl's room, but she likes staying with her sisters instead. The family has guests over a lot. Earlier in the day, before I showed up, Wendy's cousin had just left after spending a couple of days in the room.

They had cable for a while, until Todd realized that it kept the family separated; the girls would be watching their shows while he and Wendy watched theirs in a different room. They also don't have any internet. Wendy stays home and homeschools the kids. There are Bible verses pinned to walls throughout the house. She told me a lot of amazing stories that I don't have space here to recount. She seems sad in a way that I can relate to, and enthusiastic with sharing all that she knows, which I think I also do. I notice this because Kirsten told me I reminded her of Wendy.

Monument Rocks

 This looks like a dry riverbed. The ground is dry and cracked, just like the rocks themselves.
 It looms like an ancient city. The road to Monument Rocks was much better to drive than Castle Rock. The only problem was...there were people at this one! But they were okay.
 When I saw these kids climbing down the rock, I realized how easy it would be to climb to the top. The following pictures were taken from there. If I wasn't traveling alone, I might have pictures of me on the rock, but there are none.
 Across the road there's another small city of these sandy walls.
 People had carved names and dates into the stone on top of the wall. I didn't bother taking any pictures of those though.