Leaving isn’t easy for me, though in the last few years given how much I’ve moved around, it probably seems like I’ve got the hang of it.
I haven’t. That part of me that wants routine and familiar faces, comfort and stability, that part of me that allowed me to work in one place for 5 years still exists, even if my desire for adventure had expanded exponentially.
We left Calgary on the 31st of August for several reasons, the major one being that fact that we still didn’t have an apartment. The cost of living was too high, and even though I’d begun to really like it there, we wanted more independence.
So we drove across the continent.
I use the word continent because what started as a simple drive-across-Canada somehow developed into a more complicated, 8700km journey across 5 provinces and 15 states.
Some mishaps like the car outlets blowing, leaving us with no power for our gps, cellys, and computers, as well as my brilliantly forgetting my laptop power cord, I was unable to post regularly on our adventure. Travelling for 31 days and living off of bread, cured meats, yogurt, and coffee, living out of our car and mostly camping was more exhausting than we’d anticipated, but it was still amazing. We fee very fortunate we were able to do it.
We drove to Vancouver, feeling it was appropriate to start at one sea and head to the other.
Seattle happened. Seattle is a horrible place to drive. Don’t drive in Seattle. Ever. But then we saw the Hotel used for the opening credits for Twin Peaks, and the diner used in the pilot, had some pie and coffee (dream come true, luv u 4eva Agent Cooper). That took the edge off the Seattle incident.
Portland was amazing. And full of homeless youth. Apparently, people move to Portland just to live in Portland. No doubt, this is why there are so many (SO MANY) well-dressed homeless 20-somethings living out of shopping carts. The doughnuts were really great, though we couldn’t finish them, and our trips to Ken’s Bakery and his resto Trifecta were great, even got to shake his hand (eeek).
We saw the Redwoods in California. Just go. I can’t say anything else.
Met Dave Miller, famed in bread circles, at the Chico Farmers Market. Considering the drive (along the white-knuckle route 36 through the northern California mountains, 140 miles of roads so narrow and corkscrewed there were often no dividing lines in some portions, no guard rails, highest elevation was 4,077ft — this road is a 3.5hr attraction in itself) and the hotel, these three loafs are likely to be the most expensive I will have ever purchased. Worth it. Kamut, Chico Nut, and Einkorn, his whole grains are delicious and nutritious. I hope to be as good as he is one day.
Reno was not a place we ever thought we’d go.
Honestly, we just went to the car museum (awesome) and had a mediocre dinner. Then spent over a day doing this:
Which was better than Idaho. But we only discovered this when we had 5 hours of Idaho left.
We hit Montana for about 5 minutes. West Yellowstone is an adorable old-timey settlement at the Western entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Experienced a brief but sweet dust storm-rain storm which was confusing but exciting. Bears in a truck and a dead moose? Check.
Yellowstone needs no explanation. It’s amazing and stunning. People approach bison with their cameras held high like zombies going for brains. Darwinism right there, on the other side of your windshield. Wow.
Wyoming was stunning. I’d anticipated a boring drive akin to Idaho, but the landscaped changed at least six times. The most refreshing part of our trip I think. Almost no photos were taken because I knew a camera couldn’t adequately capture the landscape. “Saw” Devil’s Tower, but not really the fog was too thick.
South Dakota interested me mainly because the wild west began there, there is a ridiculous drug store of american-roadside fame called WALL DRUG, and Black Hills National Park, which sounds pretty badass. Sadly the Black Hills are only a small part of a long state that turned out to be a lot like Nevada but flatter, and Deadwood is supported by gaming, which was banned in SD but allowed in Deadwood to keep the city’s history alive. Sadly, most of Deadwood burned down like 45 years ago, I didn’t know that before we showed up.
Wall Drug, however, is insane and kind of awesome. SD also has the world’s only Corn Palace. You read that right. A palace made of corn (apparently it is actually a gymnasium and when we saw it, it was being dismantled to be re-corned, which they do every year — a google will show a more impressive palace than the one below).
On an aside to SD, the highways are a little gut wrenching — almost everywhere an automobile death occurred is an X on a small sign, some of which say simply THINK (to remind drivers to be safe) or WHY DIE? The number of X signs is shocking.
Minnesota is where we realized we’d only seen white people since Reno.
Wisconsin was our next big stop. We were rushing to get to THE HOUSE ON THE ROCK, an attraction built in the 50s by an eccentric collector/architect who built this house on and out of a large rock in the rolling hills south of Madison. Inspired by asian architecture, he allowed for trees and the original rock itself to help bring the natural landscape into the bachelor style home that was mainly designed for beatnik parties.
It was a location Neil Gaiman mentions in American Gods, the main character at one point is overwhelmed by the carousel, which is the largest in the world, swirling in the glow of red and white lights, carved angels hung overhead, booming music being played by an automated orchestra that hangs from the ceiling and walls. The house is interesting, but the collections beyond the original structure are truely overwhelming and an intensive sensory experience. It felt like being inside magic, which doesn’t make sense but if you’ve been to the House, you probably know what I mean.
America is so fucking weird.