Day Eighty-five

I AM EXHAUSTED. So I’ll give it to you quick and dirty. Here I am taking surreptitious photos of myself at my desk.

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Here is Kristyn on the bus just minutes after suddenly and violently puking into a bag.

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Here is the bag.

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Kristyn was stunned by this development obviously. And worse, it wasn’t just the type of thing where you cough up a quick hairball. No there was heaving. It was a full on yak and it was in a bus. Poor Krissy. We’re both feeling yakkish, maybe it’s something we ate?

Anyway gotta to to sleep. But let me say that although I am SO TIRED, it is REALLY nice to be making myself useful in the workforce again even if it is only a few month gig. Okay g’nite for realsies.

On the Road, Day Five, SD & NE, part five

Okay, I’ve slacked on telling you the rest of this day. Here are parts
One
Two
Three
Four

 

Once we left Wall Drug and the Badlands, we had to kind of figure out where we were going to go next.  This many stops in one day was kind of unheard of for us because we liked to keep cruising.  BUT we were kind of ahead of schedule and there was a lot to see over here.  We didn’t have to be anywhere particular until September 8th (tell you why later) and from checking the map, we had more than enough time to get there AND take a look around.

We happened to be in the area of another major destination and we didn’t expect the town surrounding to be so populated and touristy.  It was so cute though.

Here is where we went!  This is our first sight of Mount Rushmore from the highway.  It’s mesmerizing.

I don’t know if it’s our city showing but we were kind of dumbfounded to find this place teeming with people.  I guess it’s because you always see a picture of this quiet mountain with it’s carved Presidents so stern and majestic.  I certainly wasn’t expecting this:

But that’s silly because this is obviously a tourist destination and not a desolate forest area haha.

Anyway, it also turns out you have to pay to get in but you can only pay cash.  (WTF.)  We didn’t have any so the nice man just let us in for some reason.  It’s good to be an American?

Here is sort of a close up shot of Mount Rushmore.  Can you even imagine that someone painstakingly DID that?

I mean look at that detail?!  How can you even tell if you’re doing a good job?

Here is Kristyn doing an obligatory pose in front of Mount Rushmore, natch. Isn’t she the cutest?

And here’s my fathead posing with our Nation’s forefathers.

I’ve included a picture of the soda machine at Mount Rushmore for two reasons:

1) It made me giggle at the time.

2) I figured it’s kind of a curiosity.  I feel like it’s akin to wearing a tshirt with your own picture on it (which I have done before and totally do not judge as a life choice).

After that, we drove into Nebraska.  We wanted to cover as much ground as possible to keep on track, especially since we took so much time sightseeing.  In reality, we probably only took about an hour or so sightseeing total but we DID take a detour to get to Mount Rushmore.

Oh AND, remember how I told you that I would tell you something about Buffalo?  We saw one REALLY up close.  We got kind of lost in the woods around Mount Rushmore and ended up on sort of a rural road.  We didn’t see the Buffalo until we were right up upon it.  It was standing on the left side of the road.  A motorcyclist passed within three feet of it and swerved screaming.  We did the same.  The reasons for swerving and screaming around the Buffalo are:

1) They are like six feet tall (at least in my mind they are) and like HUNDREDS OF POUNDS.

2) Therefore they can probably kill you with their MIND if they want to.

3) There are hysterical signs everywhere warning you about your life expectancy should you encounter and piss off a Buffalo.

4) These hysterical signs tell you that in no uncertain terms, you are on Buffalo Property and if you do something to make them kill you, you are on your goddamn own because you have been warned.

That being said, ENTERING NEBRASKA!

See that sign above and the one below?  That’s Nebraska.  Open fields and flat land everywhere.  Nothing around.  Well at least where we were.  We kind of goofed and took what we thought was a highway (and was according to our maps).  It was actually like a SERIOUSLY RURAL AND DESOLATE country road.  Never. Doing. That. Again.  So terrifying.  When I say there was nothing, there was NOTHING.  No houses, no gas stations, no phones…just empty fields.  Now here’s the predicament:

1) The sun is going down.

2) We don’t know where we are.

3) Will we have enough gas to get to wherever it is we’re going? (a side note: we tried to set up hotels in advance but it logistically didn’t work because we could plan to get somewhere in time but what if we didn’t make it and ended up paying for the night in that hotel because we couldn’t cancel until the last minute?)

4) We’re in a rural area so our phones have dropped cellular and internet service.

We were really scared and pretty screwed.  We, for some reason, thought we were getting on a highway that was a more direct route to “somewhere”.  Because in NJ, when you turn off a major artery like the Parkway, there are always a lot of populated alternative routes to drive on.  BIG MISTAKE.  HUGE.

On this road you see below?  We saw a town that you could actually SEE COMING.  A cluster of houses with a sign that told you the population.  The population?  18.  Yes 18.  18 people.  And honestly I doubt that shit.  It was so abandoned looking.  And like Christine pointed out, you KNOW every single one of those bastards probably owns a gun.

But that isn’t even the crazy thing.  The crazy thing is that we came upon another town.  It had a sign that read “Population 1”.  I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to stick around.  I’m not trying to be city-dweller biased against country dwellers because I grew up spending my summers in Upstate NY where it is pretty damn rural.  I have nothing but love for the rural life.  But Population 1 just chills a bitch to the bone.  You KNOW that if a town has one person in it and they advertise it as such, it is because that person WANTS it that way.  Motion is not denied.

We eventually came upon a really cute little town that was not freaky at all. I guess they considered themselves a city because the rates for the hotels were outrageous for such a backwater. I could spend the same and get a cheap room in LA or NYC. But we found a clean place that I cannot for the life of me find pictures of. Shame too because it was one of our better rooms. It had a motel door opening but the room itself was gorg. The animals loved it and it was so comfortable. We were so tired and so hungry and full of adrenaline for being scared for so long that we were just excited to get the funk out of the car. We went across the street and got subs from Subway and housed them. We called our parents and siblings and friends to tell them we were definitely not dead. We gave the cats baths and clipped their nails after days of sweating in the car. We figured they would probably appreciate it once it was overwith and we were right. Everyone was snug as a bug in a rug and we were just happy not to be stuck on the side of the road in the dark.

Day Sixteen for realsies

Okay, I’m up and alert and have had my first barrel of coffee. This means I am ready to post our 365 Face Project pictures from yesterday! That bathroom picture I posted yesterday was from a club downtown called The Smell. Kristyn went to cover a band called The Babies for LA Music Blog but we got there early and caught all of the bands. It was cool/weird to be there.

For our birthdays, we always go away somewhere. Mine is in Septembeer (typo and it stays) and Kristyn’s is in January. We love vacationing off-season so our birthdays make a great time to go somewhere. AND our birthdays are a few months apart so usually we are SERIOUSLY DUE for a vacation after a few months of diligence.

Anyway, we love this band The Gossip and they used to always play in the fall and in the spring on the East Coast. Usually we’d just go to one show in NYC but in 2006 we decided to get tickets for all of their East Coast shows (besides Massachussetts because we couldn’t fit it in timewise). So we got tickets for Roseland in NYC, some little club in Philadelphia (upon further reflection I think it was in the basement rec room of a church), the Black Cat in DC and Ottobar in Baltimore. (Baltimore is TERRIFYING.) We figured it would be a cool road trip with something we want to see at every stop. Also, we’d been to all of these cities besides Baltimore and knew we wouldn’t feel like we were missing anything if we didn’t go sightseeing. The trip was a ton of fun and the bands were awesome. The Gossip had Mika Miko and Erase Errata open up for them on all of the dates. Both bands are all girls. Mika Miko is punk music. Erase Errata is kind of more psychadelic. ANYWAY. We became fans of both bands. In reading up on Mika Miko, we found out that they are from LA and play primarily at a club called The Smell.

So when Kristyn got offered tickets for a show at The Smell, she jumped on them! We’d been intending to go since we got here but we’ve been so broke that we didn’t even look into it. Turns out the shows are really cheap ($5). The venue is an empty building in an alleyway in downtown and actually only like five minutes from our house. I think it’s basically less a club and more an “artspace”. It was funny though because they had a library of books to read, a small candy/soda/water vendor and artwork all over the walls.

A few months ago we found out that Mika Miko had broken up. We were bummed out about it but walking in, I saw two of the gals. As it turns out, they were both playing but in different bands so that was fun. Kristyn said they help run the place which is cool.

Anyway, the show was fun and I took a million pictures of the bands. I’ll post some pictures after Kristyn writes her review because I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.

I took this picture of myself in the parking lot after the show. I don’t know why I look like a wax dummy/mannequin/doll in my expression but I do. My greasy appearance and crazy hairs are due to how humid it gets inside The Smell. Oh, ALSO, that bathroom that I posted a picture of yesterday? Very clean. Plenty of toilet paper and hand towels, just (obviously) no sink haha.

 
And here is Kristyn. I took this picture during The Babies. Good times. Oh another weird factoid is that The Babies are from Brooklyn and moved to Echo Park. We are from Northeastern NJ (about a half hour to an hour from Brooklyn depending on traffic) and moved to Silver Lake (the neighborhood next to Echo Park). This may seem like non-news but it’s always nice to meet someone from your area out here. It’s kind of comforting. I wanted to scream “US TOO!” at them and put up my hand for a high five but I controlled myself and am now taking my exuberance out on you. You are SO welcome.

And here are some Mika Miko videos for you to enjoy!

This one is cute.

This one is actually filmed at The Smell at the start of the tour we saw them on.

This video is cool.

And I just like this song.

Kristyn, Day Five

I picked Kristyn up from work at 9, we picked some stuff up at the grocery store. Then we bitched about some various things for a little while, ate some frozen pizza and then both did a little work. Kristyn did some laundry and I made a calendar for the Craig Ferguson Show. Oh I still have to talk about that. That, Desperate Housewives, the People’s Choice and Peaches Christ Superstar. I actually have like four or so blogs written that are just lazing about in my drafts folder, getting less and less relevant by the second. Speaking of outdated events, I also have a few posts languishing about regarding the trip out here. And there is a LOT more where that came from. Sorry if reading them is boring like looking at someone else’s vacation slides. IT’S FOR POSTERITY FOOLS! Anyway, here is Kristyn and some rude little cat feet:

We’re going to drink wine and play Harry Potter Lego now! (Is it me or do I end every post like that?)

On the Road, Day Five, SD, part four

And here we are driving out of the Badlands.  In case you’re wondering why I show you such mundane things when there are places to be seen…it’s because I know that in reading someone’s blog, it’s preferable to see the people involved rather than all places you have literally NO emotional attachment to.  Can I get a high five?!  At least can I get a “good lookin out”?  No?

Well here’s a tidbit.  We still have the Golden Girls, Frida and all of the good luck talismans everyone gave us when we left in the car.  We are now superstitious that if the are removed, the car will dissect itself and we can’t afford such tomfoolery to happen.

The interesting thing about leaving the Badlands is Wall Drug.  We passed a couple pretty urgent signs commanding us to head to Wall Drug.

The road was straight and had no turns so it seemed pretty inevitable that we’d get to Wall Drug but didn’t mind if we didn’t.

The closer we got, however, the more feverish the signage.  This upped the ante for our own level of interest.  Hmm, maybe there IS something to see at Wall Drug!

Wait, is this Wall Drug?

No this whole BLOCK is Wall Drug.  We hastily parked and hoofed it inside.

As it turns out, Wall Drug is an intense gift shop.

Well no.  Wall Drug is a SERIES of intense gift shops.  All of the shops are interlocking and you pass from one into the next seamlessly driven forward by one curiosity after the next.

Then you reach a hallway where you find more shops.  Wait, what?

Also, you find heads.  Lots more heads.

And this guy.  I’m sorry I didn’t get a clearer picture of this guy.  He was amazing, life-sized and carved from wood.

They even had a narrow, corridor of a chapel.  Interesting.

I would really LOVE to say that the crowning achievement of Wall Drug is this Jackelope.  I don’t know if people in the Badlands watched a shitload of America’s Funniest Home videos in the early 90’s or if people in this area of the country sent in a hilarious home video that resulted in creating something of a zany mascot.  We have a chicken or the egg type situation up in here.  Either way, I parted with some cold hard cash to have a fuzzy bank in the shape of a jackalope.  Yup, yup.

Probably the highlight of Wall Drug was that they offer you free icewater. The day had steadily grown hotter until it was somewhat unbearable. We zipped through Wall Drug, gulped two ice waters and brought some out to the animals which they gladly imbibed.

Off to the next stop!

On the Road, Day Five, SD, part three

Just down the road, we are met by this guy.  We basically knew we would meet him because his presence has already been documented by Katie!

We go in this store to buy “supplies” such as post cards and food for…

Prairie Dogs!  (In case you are far-sighted, the sign reads: Watch Your Step for Prairie Dog Holes.)

Here is Kristyn, ever-dutiful, watching her step.

Here I am, ever-negligent, fooling around with a camera in a jacket called “Liza!”  What?  It was chilly!  You don’t know!

I wish I could take credit for the following two pictures but alas I cannot.  Kristyn took these shots and aren’t they amazing?

Dana, we totally had you in mind because this was during the tail end of your Meerkat Manor days.  I know they aren’t the real deal but they will do in a pinch.

Here I am taking a cellie picture.  I had intended on live blogging this whole trip by taking gorgeous pictures with my camera.  BUT once we got on the road, I quickly realized that I did’t know how to use my camera as well as I thought I did AND that we never, ever had access to the internet unless the phone picked some up.  In order to rivet and excite our family and friends, we kept them abreast of our movements via Facebook via our iPhones.

Please ignore my ratty sneakers and peep how close these dudes let you get to them.  They love them a good sucker/tourist.  Funny little creatures.

At last we arrive in THE BADLANDS!!!

You had to pay a small fee to get in.  Once you’re in, you just drive through the park, stopping and taking pictures as you like.  Just don’t get hurt or like, killed.  They have a walkway out to the edge for you to gawk at the Badlands’ majesty.

These guys were just chilling off to the right.  Who cares about humans?!  Not these guys.

And here is our first real peak at the Badlands.  This is Planet Earth in the good old US of A.  Weird right?

Here is Kristyn and some Badlands:

Behold me and some Badlands:

And here we have a warning to watch out for “rattlers”.  I never thought I’d be in a land where my obsessive and irrational fear of rattlesnakes could possibly be legitimized but I digress.

I think what is going on in the picture below is that we had to kind of haul ass UP the side of a badland in order to look over said badland INTO some badlands.  Make what you will of that sentence but I think that in this picture Kristyn is trying to give me “EXHAUSTION!”

The thing about the Badlands is that every inch you walk further, there is another moment where you go, “Whoooooooooooa…WHAT?!”  If I posted all of the Badlands pictures I wanted, we’d never do anything else ever again.

 

I know this picture of Kristyn is WAY blown out but that’s kind of what I like about it.  It looks like something you’d see in a movie.  The protagonist has taken too much peyote the night before and is coming to in the middle of the Badlands.  He doesn’t know how he got here or who this beguiling woman in a Coney Island Serpentina shirt is nor does he remember his own name.  Only upon focusing on her can he begin to put the pieces back together.  Ya know, or something.

This part was probably my favorite part just because the colors were so rich and weird:

This is a totally separate part of the park.  It’s weird because the landscape changes in order as if it’s grouped like how things are in a museum.  “And now we enter the super weird colored Badland section!”

Here I am just fooling around with my fisheye lens and a Badland.

It takes you probably a little over an hour to drive through the park what with all of the stopping, climbing Badlands and photo snapping. But once you’re done, you just drive on out onto a road. We had actually intended on sleeping in a campground around here the night before. We took too much time in Minnesota and to make it to the Badlands would have tacked on at least three to four hours onto our trip from where we decided to stop. It was getting dark and the animals (and ourselves) needed a rest so we gave up on that plan. Sometimes I’m sorry because I had a whole photographic agenda. I brought the tripod Kristyn’s Dad gave us and wanted to set it up and take photos of the stars. Where else can you get a clearer night sky than sleeping in/around a National Park?

Mostly though, I shudder to think of how stupid that could have been. Once we were actually IN the Badlands…*shudder* No way. That place was wide open and WILD. That is a place where animals live and are NOT second class citizens. You are on THEIR turf and to stay there in a flimsy tent is to stay there at your own risk. I’m sure people do this and survive on a regular but I am not built of such strong stuff. It’s better that we went our own speed and stayed the night at a kindly, crafty nutter’s hotel where the only wild animals were hot glue-gunned to a wreath.

On the Road, Day Five, SD, part two

We drove for about an hour or two and then basically just stopped at the first attraction we saw.  I don’t remember what this place is called (let’s call it “Fossil World”) but it is right before Badlands National Park (which was our intended goal).

Here you have Kristyn being riveted by a tale of Petrified Wood.

That old trailer thing was pretty cool actually.

As was this old, beaten house!

For a nominal fee, you could select your own gemstones but we passed and instead took some pictures of them.

Inside were a bunch of fossilized sometimes-prehistoric animal/dinosaur heads and feet (etc).  It was actually pretty interesting since all of this stuff comes from this region originally.  Wait until I show you what the Badlands actually looks like and you can totally imagine dinosaurs and weird creatures wandering around.

For a vegetarian/diehard animal lover, I do love me some pictures of disembodied heads.

These pictures are actually from the gift shop.  Mom, it was in this shop that I bought you that gold-dipped leaf necklace I sent you with Nana’s Halloween Blanket!  Later on this day, we have an “encounter” with one of these guys.  Look.  At.  The.  Size.  Of.  That.  Goddamn.  Head.  Remember this.

Here I am, triumphantly wearing my Liza hoodie, armed with the knowledge that even trees are petrified of dinosaurs.  Hyuk hyuk.

I swear the pictures get a lot more interesting from here on out!

P.S. Our friend Katie hollerated at us for stopping here. She is the one who inspired us to visit the Badlands after blogging about it on her travel blog Wanderful. Give it a read! Anyway she said this place looked boring and she is mostly right. We were SO EXCITED though and ready to just take a look at everything and anything!

On the Road, Day Five, MN & SD, part one

We got a good night’s rest and got off to an early start.  Typically we would get up at 6am to leave the hotel by 7am.  We wanted to be out of the room before the front desk started rustling and paying attention to what everyone was doing.  We started out on this trip intending to be honest about the animals and pay their way but a lot of hotels way way WAY overcharged to keep an animal in the room (let alone four) and we just couldn’t afford it.  Luck must have been on our side because we were never caught but never fear.  We made sure to erase all evidence of said fur babies and it was as if they were never there!  Here is Kristyn stowing away said evidence.  Let’s title this picture “Cunning/Sleepiness”.

Typically we ate at McDonald’s EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  Before you chastise, we did this because we could get it and eat it in the car with the animals.  We tried to make any separation from the animals as really brief as possible.  Even if it looks like we stopped for long periods of time at places, just know that I have a really serious camera that shoots a lot of pictures FAST.  Ten-fifteen minutes TOPS and thats if we were dawdling.

We pulled over on the side of this road because the view was STUNNING.  I shot a picture of the car because it’s actually Kristyn’s parents’.  They traded ours (well Kristyn’s) for theirs before we left because this one is more reliable.  (THANK YOU!)  I figured it would be funny to see the car on it’s progress cross-country.  Turns out we’d slept just outside the South Dakota border so world, meet South Dakota!

And here is what we pulled over to take pictures of.  These hay bales were rolled up in the fields all over the place.

And here is one so you can get an idea of how large they actually are:

Yours truly was taking millions of pictures of this fence and standing crazy close to it before Kristyn realized and pointed out that it was electrified.  Good lookin out son!

Here’s just some corn and hay.  Pretty and high fructose corn syrupy.

We had taken 80 West when we left NJ.  We followed that to Chicago and then went up to 90 to find Blue Earth (Jolly Green Giant) and Laura Ingall’s crib.

We had no idea what we were driving down into because that body of water wasn’t on the map.  We were using a few maps to get our bearings.  We had a US Map with main highways and arteries on it and then a more detailed state by state book.  We also used our iPhones to navigate a lot but it wasn’t that reliable because, as it turns out, much of the US is not serviced by AT&T! (And if it is, it’s spotty at best.  Seriously us guys on the coasts should really learn to appreciate what we have because it’s A LOT.)

And HERE is my dagger and crocheting!  Lou gave us this little gem of a weapon for defending ourselves against attacks and for cutting off stray yarn when it was time to switch colors on our crocheting projects.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t longer than the width of my palm and strapped nicely to my calf.

When we got to that little city at the bottom of the hill, we found a small little kind of racist quaint town with a Mickey D’s! I believe I recall getting screamed at by the drive through cashier but I guess you can’t say we weren’t asking for it.

On the Road, Day Four, MN, part five

Last we spoke, we were leaving the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. I’d really like to say that we didn’t stay in the Museum for too long resulting in Edith peeing in her cage but if I said that, I would be lying. It was then that we realized that Edith needs pee breaks more often than everyone else. Lesson learned! Also so you know, as a recap, we only drove 8-10 hours and stopped plenty to stretch ours (and the animal’s legs), go to the bathroom and drink plenty of water.

Anyway, we left the museum and it wasn’t long before the sun started to go down. We’d had a long day anyway and decided to get a room.

The room that we got was something of a doozy. This room may not look like much at first but the hotel itself was a total work of art. I think this was a Days Inn or something corporate but the woman at the front desk owned the hotel and treated it like a MAJOR CRAFT PROJECT. She had a really interesting mix of loopy creativity and friendliness. She kept running off to add decorations to rooms. The hallways were FULL of her own paintings!

We smuggled the animals in, roamed the halls for a while and then retired to the room to take pictures, giggle and relax.

If you look closely you can see little crafty “additions” that the owner made to all of the corporate-hotely decor haha.

Approaching, we find our favorite feature of the room.

It’s this! Before you write it off, look closer.

Lions and tigers!

In a hotel in Minnesota! Who knew?

Here are Monster and Elvira chilling on the window sill. The animals understandably loved the hotel rooms. New smells, a chance to stretch their legs, food, good times!

Here is Kristyn in her PJ’s. We were always bone tired when we got to the hotels even though we’d usually retire by like 6 or 7pm at the latest. This night I think by the time we got settled, it was closer to 8 or 9 because we did so many things. It was a good day.

The cherry on top is this picture of Edith. I don’t know what would make one sit comfortably on a bed with your tongue sticking this far out of your mouth but I CAN say that Edith pokes her tongue out when she’s happy and content. I think we can safely assume she was happy to get a lil R&R.

Moving to LA: The Saga Continues

Okay so I started writing posts about our trip moving out here but stopped mid-story. I want to finish this project (for my own memory’s sake and your own potential enjoyment/curiosity). I’m already starting to forget details and I don’t want to because this trip was a huge part of my life as well as a LOT of fun. Before I continue with the story, here is a recap of all of the places we went. Click on the pictures if you want a recap. They’ll bring you to the post they originated from:

I started by showing you the day we left and all the sad pictures of our lonely, empty, pretty apartment (that we still miss constantly since we currently live in a dank shoebox dump).

We left NJ and only made it to about the end of Pennsylvania following Route 80. I was bummed that we didn’t make it to Ohio but we were exhausted and ready to stop. Little did I know we were actually only ten minutes from OH. Haha what can you do?

We drove through Ohio and into Illinois. We stopped in Gary, Illinois to go to the Jackson Family’s original house. It was very small and very interesting.

We got a hotel room just outside of Chicago. We went to the Chicago Diner for dinner and had awesome American-style vegan food. We were dead on our feet after that and just went straight to bed.

The next morning, we drove straight into Wisconsin (cheese country) and stopped at a really cute cheese shop. We took this picture of a cow’s ass there.

We drove into Minnesota and after a few hours on the road, wanted to see something interesting again. So…we went to a taxidermy shop! It was only mildly terrifying but the proprietor was nice so that was good.

We got up in the morning and we were STILL in Minnesota.  That’s okay because Minnesota is seriously a really nice place to be.  Lord knows we spent enough time there.  Anyway here are some wind turbines for your viewing pleasure.

We found an *ahem* GIANT Jolly Green Giant Statue in Blue Earth, MN.

Then we took a detour and drove to Mankato, Sleepy Eye and Walnut Grove. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE OBSESSED AND I’M NOT SORRY.

Here is Kristyn sitting inside Laura’s classroom/church.

Okay, so what I’ve shown you already is only four days into a nine day trip!   The USA is HUGE dudes.