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The Loneliest Roadtrip, Day 7

15 Mar

Day 7: California

A member of our merry band had a nightmare that the trees became druids who were watching us sleep, which seemed like the most apropos, relevant tale anyone has ever presented after making the claim that they had just had the “strangest dream.” We made some bad coffee, then continued south toward San Francisco. Detour is my middle name, so we stopped at Legend of Bigfoot, an amazing Bigfoot-themed gift shop/chainsaw carving mecca. Have I mentioned how much I love Bigfoot? I love Bigfoot very, very much. Purchases of Bigfoot souvenirs, ice, and an ocarina were made, and I basked in the sweet smell of sawdust.

A bit further down the road, we found us a swimming hole and picnicked on a felled redwood tree. Jumping off of this rock was a lot scarier than it looks here, but I eventually made the leap after much cajoling and peer pressure. Meanwhile, a child made the leap over and over again like a little addict, as though he was trapped in a rock-jumping causal loop. Look out, there’s a tear in the space/time continuum! Science. You may think watching him behave like that, so carefree and uninhibited by fear, would make me feel like a wimp, but I assure you that it did not, as everyone knows that children are stupid.


The Loneliest Roadtrip, Day 6

15 Mar

Day 6: Oregon, California

A foggy drive down U.S. Highway 101…

Visiting the Sea Lion Caves near Florence, Oregon was an element of my favorite childhood vacation, wherein we made this very drive and I swam at the local driftwood-covered beaches despite the cold.

The sea lions tend to swim around in little groups called “rafts,” and their collective consciousness is impeccable. One moment they’ll all be resting on a rock, the next they’ll simultaneously dive into the water for a dip. Similarly, one leads the pack to a rock for a break, and the whole clan will scoot out of the water, seemingly without communication. This cycle appears to make up their daily goings-ons, and thirty minutes inside the cave gives you the chance to see several rafts’ comings and goings: open ocean, cave break, open ocean, cave break. My trusty point n’ shoot digital camera tried its darnedest to capture the inside of the cave, but alas! Shooting in near darkness is not its strong point. If you pretend like you’re scanning a Where’s Waldo book, you might be able to pick out at least four Steller Sea Lions in this photograph.

On one side of the cave, one can still see the remnants of the original 135-stair wooden tower tourists would use to reach the caves before an elevator was constructed in the 1960s.

Strain your eyes! There is a large raft bobbing in the water near the coastline, I promise.

Where I end and you begin…

Prehistoric Gardens drive-by shooting:

We eventually made it to a campsite south of Eureka, somewhere in the Redwood Forest. This is the point at which driving thousands of miles in a few days time began to wear on me. Frustrated by time constraints, the sudden flakiness of my 8mm camera (which worked perfectly up until we reached the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen…), and the sleeping boy next to me who still can’t drive a stick shift, I turned into the worst possible version of myself. I was the inevitable incarnation of The Rage. By the time we reached our final destination, we had to quietly set up camp in the dark so as not to disturb the sleeping folks we were meeting up with, one of whom was crashed out on the picnic table. This task involved me hissing about doing things myself while tearing the tent poles out of Logan’s hands, followed by the two of us getting into a whisper fight about who could or could not see me peeing. Nobody said 4000 miles would be easy…

The Loneliest Roadtrip, Day 5

13 Mar

Day 5: Washington, Oregon

Left Seattle early and made our way to Long Beach, Washington, the home of Marsh’s Free Museum.

Marsh’s has an amazing collection of curiosities, perhaps more even than Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. It would be bereft of me to ignore their extensive assemblage of antique music boxes, nickelodeons, peep shows, fortune tellers, and other mechanized delights, which had us cashing in dollars like kids at a Chuck E. Cheese. Marsh’s shining star, though, is the king of taxidermied monstrosities, Jake the Alligator Man.

Jake is a distant cousin of the Fiji Mermaid, although his human element seems decidedly more real than that of his compatriots. Research yielded little in the way of speculation as to his makeup, and I suppose that’s one way to keep the illusion alive. In any case, the fact of the matter is that there was a time in recent history when it was okay to sew a corpse to another corpse, throw in some papier mache, put the creation on display, and people would love you for it… and I for one miss that. Jake was celebrating his birthday when we visited, and he donned a party hat to mark the occasion. We failed to catch the annual crowning of Jake’s bride, but just to know such a thing exists is enough to bring a smile to my heart.

Right outside of Marsh’s, we stumbled upon another artful entrepreneur. Regrets, I have but few, though not getting a drawing of myself here ranks near the top.

Pardon my recent tendency to frame photographs poorly. Toy cameras sans reflex lenses plus harried photographer breeds, ahem, ‘experimental’ results. Anyway, I think we can all agree that Long Beach is home to many wonderful things, but I haven’t even skimmed the surface. The town is also home to the World’s Largest Frying Pan and the World’s Longest Drivable Beach. It was a lovely rainy day, and despite the weather I managed to run down to the water, jump into the ocean fully clad, and sufficiently ruin my cheap faux-leather shoes. Adventure! Visions of the Green Meanie Mobile getting stuck and/or floating out to sea and the subsequent issues which would inevitably arise danced through my head, and as such a drive along the stormy beach was vetoed. What was I saying about adventure…? Coffee was in order after that jaunt, and while trolling for some decent espresso (isn’t this Washington?!?), we found the World’s Most Perfectly Named Store:

I really didn’t want to leave, but a pressing engagement in Eugene, Oregon made it necessary. Said pressing engagement turned into quite the series of debacles, but on a positive note, we ate the most wonderful Liege waffles at Off the Waffle. Mine had warm goat cheese and blueberries on it, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wake up occasionally and wish I had a comparable waffle house here at home. Are you listening, Denver?

The Loneliest Roadtrip, Day 4

12 Mar

Day 4: Washington

Seattle: pho, $15 parking spot by Pike Place Market (which was of course closed), one lonely photograph…

…and a visit to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop! I unfortunately felt a little too shy to take any pictures inside the curio palace, but I highly recommend anyone interested in sideshow oddities and unusual artifacts take a gander with the Googles or make a point to swing on by next time you’re in the area. They’ve got mummies, shrunken heads, a walrus penis bone, and some great examples of creature flimflammery (think jackalope, but with extra weird). I’ve always been interested in cryptozoology (including specimens both potentially legitimate and legitimately cobbled together via taxidermy), and recent research has gotten me hooked on a rare creature: the Fiji Mermaid. Half-man (er, baby chimpanzee), half-fish, wholly terrifying! And the Curiosity Shop has three. Get ye there!

The Loneliest Roadtrip, Day 3

10 Mar

Day 3: Idaho, Washington

Fleeting moments spent in Coeur d’Alene…

I passed through some more beautifully enormous iterations of the Rocky Mountains, taking great joy in putting the car in neutral and flying down the incline at high speeds. It’s economical! My joy was only temporary, as suddenly and without much warning the mountains disappeared and Washington turned quite unimpressive. Average at best, really. However, there is a charming thing about driving through lesser Washington, and that is the free coffee they give out at the rest stops, as though they truly, truly don’t want you to fall asleep and get into a fiery auto crash as you make your way across the bland road. Additionally, I welcome their ability to admit that said strip of road is literally sleep-inducing. I appreciate your honesty, Washington! Luckily, it wasn’t long before I reached the coast. As I pulled into Olympia, the Kinks’ “Victoria” shuffled onto the stereo. It was epically perfect timing, I promise.

Afternoon in Olympia was quite lovely: girls selling fresh blueberries roadside, stretching my legs in the lovely, hilly little Priest Point Park by the Puget Sound, and literally stumbling upon my beau and the other members of his band, Bad Weather California, on the way to the water.

The Sound was receding and had uncovered stinky sea treasures and dead guppies.

Downtown Olympia was just about what one would expect from a place known for its link to the birth of DIY music and residents like Calvin Johnson, Kimya Dawson, and Kurt Cobain. The main streets are dotted with shops dedicated to handmade and vintage goods, as well as the usual fare one would expect to find in a place with a large young adult population… like, there was a lot of pizza and stuff. Let’s not forget to mention Olympia’s other cultural connotation: the delightfully bland Oly brew (“It’s the water!”). We happened upon one of the fabled artesian wells which provide said water, and let’s just say it was a bit lackluster in presentation.

Artist’s Rendering:

Actual artesian well:

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Why, that looks just like a pipe unfortunately placed in a parking lot,” you’d be exactly right. Throw in a few transients and hoodlums milling about, and you will have an accurate mental picture of “the water.” (Thanks to OlyBlog for making this artesian well comparison possible!)

And then you have this guy, faux napping in his sleeping bag on the lawn where Bad Weather had their show, peacefully resting as cars drove by and fellow alts trod respectfully past. There seemed to be several available (although visibly spider-ridden) bedrooms inside, but he purposely chose the most prominent spot to hunker down, as if he needed to tell the world that he is tired, and he is going to sleep.

I could continue on about how this seemingly small blip reflected the general “Look at Me!” attitude of the Olympian alt-about-town, and about how the majority of those present at the show were trying their darnedest to out-alt those around them, be it via Salt N’ Peppa “Push It” haircut or sheer kimono. I could complain about how I became irrecoverably disappointed in the state of the scene after this point and spent the rest of the night in a bitter, judgey mental state, but I won’t. Mostly because I’ve already glorified this silliness in posting a picture of it on my blahg, then hypocritically contradicted my points by sleeping in a tent in someone’s backyard the very next night. C’est la vie!

The Loneliest Roadtrip, Day 2

10 Dec

Day 2: Montana, Idaho

Gee Montana! I like you. I like your “Indian Casinos” and your teepees outside your hotels. I like the insane amount of dream catchers in your gas stations, too… heck, I like all of your chintzy appropriations of Native American culture. I like cruising down mountain highways in neutral. Eco-friendly! As I see it, the only thing this state needs is wild horses. Where are the wild horses? I was told there were going to be wild horses!

Stopped in Deer Lodge, which reminded me of all the adorable things I love about my touristy hometown. I want to stay in Deer Lodge!


“A Meter is a yard thats giving 110%” – You couldn’t get any more adorable if you tried. Bonus points for taking the English language into your own hands, folks. Main Street begins with a charming little preservation/recreation of some of the original buildings of Deer Lodge’s downtown. This one is my favorite:


Is that a prostitute? A prostitute who works right over the undertaker? A curious, family-friendly portrayal of life in the Old West. You can always tell your kids that the horrifyingly faced undertaker (too bad you can’t see it in the picture) just managed to snag himself a beautiful, permanently scantily clad wife. And they just happen to live next to the jail and the graveyard! How… sweet?


The reason I stopped in Deer Lodge wasn’t the quaint re-creation of their apparently Deadwood-esque past (I haven’t seen Deadwood, but I’d imagine it involves prostitutes living above undertakers, right?), but their old prison museum (they’re also home to the Montana State Prison…) and, most importantly, the town’s prisoner craft shop. I’d read about the prisoner crafts awhile back, and they did not disappoint: latch-hooked stuffed animals, embossed leather, beadwork, paintings… and most were beautifully executed. Apparently they get a stipend for supplies, they set the price of their products, and the earnings go back into the program as well as into a savings for the prisoner. Best part is that a prisoner runs the shop. He was very sweet, but I had to run when I discovered this fact since I have no tact and feared the string of questions that were sneaking out my mouth (“Ohmygoshwhat’dyoudohowlongryouinferdotheytrustyounottarunawayohmygosh?”).


Apparently Deer Lodge also has a history of UFO sightings. Deer Lodge, we shall meet again.

Hit my first 1,000 miles! Taking pictures while driving at 70MPH is likely frowned upon.


Idaho: short and sweet. Pulled into Coeur d’Alene, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.


Not quite in Big Sky Country anymore, and I failed to take a picture of the big sky in Montana so I could caption a picture with something like “Hey, the sky really IS bigger here!” However, I think it’s fair to say that the sky is mighty big in Idaho, too, so let’s call this one “Very Nearly Big Sky Country, But Not Quite Because That’s Montana And They’ve Probably Trademarked It” Country.


Lovely spot to camp, no? Oh, and it’s worth a mention that car camping alone is a-ok, ladieeees. It apparently doesn’t happen much, unfortunately, since the sweet older campground proprietors called me a brave young lady. I guess so! I’ll take it!


I set up camp faster than the grumpy family of four in the next site over, made myself some grilled sleaze with avocado, and laughed out loud while reading David Sedaris.

Laughing aloud in one’s tent is guaranteed to scare the boogie men/annoying children away. But golly, driving all day is exhausting! I was asleep by 9:00 without much effort.

Better Late Than Never: The Loneliest Roadtrip, Day 1

6 Oct

I haven’t been the most timely gathering this post (see also: entire blog, messy house, time clock at work for further enforcement of my specialization in lateness and laziness), but I think it’s important to record regardless. In August, I took what I call the Loneliest Roadtrip: just me (for the most part… I cheated a bit) in my Beetle, driving across 9 states in 9 days. For some time, I’ve had a dream of shooting 8mm film in every state and compiling it into an old-fashioned travelogue, and this was a trial-run for what I hope to be a singular months-long van adventure. It turned out to be somewhat a bust since my camera was on the fritz about 50% of the time, but I did enjoy getting out and exploring the good ol’ U.S. of A. while spending some quality time with myself. I also got to try out my Diana camera (yip yip!) and catch a few of my fella’s shows while his band was on tour – not a shabby use of time and gas money, if you ask me. Anyway, here are some musings and photographic evidence from the road.

Day 1: Colorado, Wyoming, Montana

Left Denver at 1:00 PM (gulp, late). Pokiness facilitated by locking myself out of my apartment building while loading up the Beetle. After a middling attempt at climbing through my too-high window (at which point BeaCat escaped, urgh), Smokes-a-lot lady let me back into the building, and she did so without getting off her celly or putting down her cig, even in the lobby. My type of gal. Gave the kitties kisses and hit the dusty road. Before I could even escape the city, this greeted me:


It’s really unfortunate that I couldn’t get a picture of the side, which proclaimed “Abortion doesn’t make you unpregnant, it makes you have a DEAD BABY.” America the Beautiful.

Drove through Wyoming on the quick, and somehow managed to miss Little America. How does one miss Little America? Signs bloody everywhere. Saw signs for the Oregon Trail Ruts, and whipped off the road with nary a second thought. My parents took my best friend and I to the historical site (and many others) in 5th grade during our obsessive, long skirt-wearing, Oregon Trail game-playing period, and that remains one of my favorite vacations to this day. It’s still impressive that so many people took this trip in janky wagons that ruts were cut into the rock.


(Note bullet holes – this seems to be a common issue with historical stops across America. Did I mention how much I love our country? No seriously, I do. Charming.)



Look, I’m stuck in a rut! Yuk, yuk, yuck. I thought it would be a good idea to take cheesy self-portraits at my favorite stops, but this was the only one I managed… because cheesy self-portraits make one feel cheesier than any person should. However! this is a pretty good example of how deep those puppies are.




It had already been sprinkling off and on, but as I walked from the ruts back to my car, light rain quickly turned into raucous thunder and lightning, and there was imminent threat of a torrential downpour. Made it to register cliff as it struck, and managed to hop out and admire for a hot second. Love that it’s basically glorified graffiti.



Seconds after I pulled in, the wind picked up and was blowing my umbrella inside out, and I was forced back to the road. Made it to Montana courtesy chocolate-covered espresso beans and Amanda Blank.

Drove through the scariest heat lightning storm, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was one of the most frightening experiences I’ve ever encountered. The lightning would strike, then travel across the ground, then rapidly strike again somewhere nearby. Camping plans foiled. Reminded myself car is grounded. Did not help. Had to stop for gas, at which point I chatted with some bikers who had also been shaken by the storm. One tried to use the Porta Potty, but there was something alive inside. Started to get a massive dehydration headache, which was likely aided by subsiding strictly on cheddar goldfish crackers and the aforementioned caffeine beans. Vowed to make it to the next town, and called my Mom to say my last good-byes, just in case. That fine woman paid for a hotel room. I lived to see another day. Never thought I’d be so happy to be watching an infomercial for Bump It in the Super 8 of Billings, Montana.

Don’t lie, you want a Bump It too.