Yellowstone

YELLOWSTONE

It’s Friday morning.  We wake up on the scenic pull-off on I-90W in Buffalo, WY.  Through the open double doors of the van, I peak out of my sleeping bag at the thin snow-covered, gently sloping hills.  Jeff grabs the kid’s snowboard that we picked up at a garage sale in Kentucky and starts bombing hills.  He is much more adept on a board than I am, so while he has a little more fun sliding down the small hill, I have a little more terror.  Afterwards we practice rolling the wheel (kung fu technique), we drive toward Montana.
I told Jeff a couple days ago that if we make it to Montana (weather being the deciding factor), I’m buying a big steak dinner.   Less than 30 miles to the border.  The mountains we are looking at in a complete 360 degree panorama are further away.  The cities in Montana are pretty small and we need to get more memory for Jeff’s smart phone, so we aim for Bozeman, a sizable town about 100 miles west with a highway leading to Yellowstone’s west gate.  At a grocery store downtown, we grab two filet mignons, 2lb of London broil, and bacon before heading south.  Another 80 miles or so to the entrance, and he drives us between the winding evergreen walled road in the dark looking for a place to camp.  A rather large female moose trots out into the road and Jeff hits the brakes hard and swerves to barely miss it.  The animal’s back went about midway up the windshield of the van and we approximate the weight to be around 400lb.

At Madison Junction, we found a campsite and stopped to grab firewood from some down trees on the side of the road.  We didn’t know the rules, so tried to be covert until a Ranger stopped and asked if we were alright.  Yep, just getting firewood.  He says goodnight and we drive back to the camping registration lot with arm sized sticks piled a foot and a half tall in the back of the van.  The sign tells us to pay for the campsite in the morning and checkout time is 11AM.  Jeff parks the van on a gravel shoulder between some saplings and RV’s.

Fire, beer, food.  Jeff sets up the bedding and organizes the van.  I build a 2-ply moat of bacon around each of the beef castles, holding them together with metal skewers and toss them on the iron fold-down grill each fire pit is equipped with.  The giant rectangular London broil accompanies them next forming a laughing robot smiley face.  The filets are pretty rare, borderline raw, when pull them off, and the bacon is perfect.  The broil stays on for a while because it’s so huge.  Imagine a buffalo getting hit in the midsection by a snowplow going 90.  Ok, maybe not that gnarly, but it was pretty big.  This was our first steak meal.

For breakfast, Jeff cooks eggs with steak and bacon.  This is or second steak meal in a row.  We clean up the camp site and hang the van floor coverings in the sunlight on a rope tied between the bright red baby pines surrounding our camp site.  Jeff notices it’s already noon, so we pack up and head out.  I tell the lady at the front that we are very late in leaving and would like to pay.  She only charges us for one night which is $23.13, and we head to the canyon.

Not long after we hit the road, we come across a snaking stream.  Candy colored rocks, green-green Christmas trees, and a mountain backdrop.  I had to remind myself to breathe.  A mile after that, there is a sign for a Gibbons Falls by a 20’ x 100’ shoulder for us to park.  Rolling calendar falls, mist shined boulders, blah, blah, blah.  We help a middle aged man hold his handicapped son, about our age, and then let him go so he is standing in front of the view.  Solid dude.  We continue onward to Yellowstone Grand Canyon, which is about 25 miles away.  It’s getting close to 4 now and time again for some steak.  No heating necessary, it’s like cold pizza, and nothing intimidates other tourists like using your teeth to rip off a hunk of dripping dead animal from your bare hand.  Just remember to flex your neck muscles and hold eye contact. 

A half hour down the road (speed limit is between 25 and 45, which is perfect) we start seeing steam coming out of the ground.  We are at the Norris Geyser Basin.  I always though geysers were natures assholes, but they are quite beautiful.  Crystal blue water and colors I did not know existed in nature.  Jeff and I decide there has to be a place where the boiling hot water from a geyser meets the freezing cold water of the lakes and rivers.  We’ll continue searching for this later.  The falls are spectacular and there is a mega huge canyon with a river about 900 feet down.  We can’t see the falls clearly, but can hear it and almost feel the mist. Back in the van and 50 feet up the road is another pull off for Lookout View.  Now we can see the falls.  Back in the van and we see a sign for Grand View.  This is the recurring theme for the rest of the park.  Just one continuous, unique, literally breathtaking view for about 3,400 square miles.  It’s about 5:00 now, so we skip Artist Point and Inspiration Point, otherwise we won’t make it to camp before dark.

After dark we pull into camp at Mammoth Hot Springs.  We spent the rest of the evening driving around and looking at badass stuff until we couldn’t see anymore.  Yellowstone is a hell of a drug.  Jeff and I do the cook clean routine again and guess what is on the menu.  Double Bacon double cheese steaks motha #()@&a!  Extra steak and some mayo on the fire butter-toasted bread, ya dig?  So much meat it should have been two sandwiches, but we woofed em down like a couple hungry hostages.

After dinner, we looked for further entertainment.  Up the hill of the campsite, was a fire with several people laughing and singing.  Music.  We prepare for the crusade.  Bottle of wine, bag of tobacco, guitar, G and D flutes, lantern, and we ride.  Or walk.  I ask if they want some guitar to go with their singing as we approach the light.  Unanimously welcomed, we pop a squat and my frozen fingers do their best to find chords.  They are pretty lit already (about 8 of them) so the requests are constant.  Great, except I only know a bunch of really old songs, most of which have southern rock influence, and the group we are with are mostly international students attending the university of Montana and we are on the Montana-Wyoming border at this point.  One really cool dude, Brandon, is also from Georgia, so I have something to work with.

They are generous with drinks and we are getting along famously when the Ranger pulls up and tells us there’s been a noise complaint.  That is a win and a loss.  Jeff and I are usually by ourselves and don’t have the opportunity to get rowdy enough to cause a disturbance, but at the same time, we have to put away the guitar and we are supposed to be in the great outdoors.  Lame, but we calm down a bit and carry on at a dull roar.  I make the mistake of pulling out the guitar for some instrumental solo songs, which quickly turn into a sing-song fest and the Ranger returns.  Now we are told to go to bed and get to relive the feeling that a 9-year-old has at a slumber party.  Bed time.  Most of the group goes to sleep except Brandon and Bryan, an Irish exchange student, equally cool.  We are all immediately bros and go back to ourfire pit for more drinks and conversation.  At around 4AM, we all decide reluctantly that we’d better call it quits because we are getting up around 8.  Ok, one more beer.  One more cigarette.  The fire just lit back up, let’s have another beer.  We felt the other side of a 9-year-old at a slumber party, which is: we don’t want this night to end.  Great talks and great guys.  Bed time.

Sunday.  We get up at about 7:45am.  I run up the hill with a percolator and some Denny’s coffee.  The cloudy pains swelling our brains are occasionally broken by casual conversation.  It is a quiet morning and we head to some sights with our new friends before the take the 5 hour drive back to Missoula.  The first attraction is the Golden Staircase, near our campsite.  This naturally formed terrace is made of sulfur deposits from the geyser on the hill and is pretty cool.  Shiny in the morning sun with vibrant greens and whatnot.  The steak diet has finally caught up to me, so I don’t really feel like climbing the side of a mountain.  I chill by the van and wait for the group to return.  Afterwards, we drive around and find a remote stream to do a little nature walk.  It’s pretty relaxing and after an hour, we end up back at the parking lot.  Brandon and the Indian dude (not native American) take off their socks to do some cold water walking.  Rassimus, I think from Sweden, says you either go in all the way or you don’t and keeps his shoes on.  After a few moments of debate, I look at him and say, “you ready?”  I get down to my skibbies, walk into the middle of the calf-deep stream and lay down.  Cold is what I feel, but after getting back in the grass and sun, I feel great.  Either my nerves were shocked or adrenaline was flowing.  I dried off and felt great the whole time.  Rassimus was next, followed by another really cool chick.  She cut her foot, but not bad, so after a little first aid, I say goodbye and we part ways.  I will be back to visit at least some of them in Missoula.

Jeff had been sleeping the whole time and I took advantage of this to see if a girl was still working at a gift shop in Mammoth that mentioned something about hot springs the night before.  She was and I found out exactly where we had to go.  I spent some time in a dining hall catching up on the blog and then went back to the van.  Jeff just woke up and we watched the elk, who just roam around all over the parking lots and roads.  There are first only 2, and a guy with an orange vest is controlling the crowd to make sure no one gets too close.  It’s a full time job and I take my hat off to the dude that looked like he was the real life version of the redhead from Metalocalyspe.  Soon there were dozens of elk (each about 6’6”, 350) wandering around theiryard.  We go up the road 2 miles to the holy grail.

The Gardner River meets the Boiling River.  Not a lot of people are supposed to know about this, because they have become too popular in the past and damages were incurred.  It isn’t on any of the maps and people we told didn’t believe it existed.  This was my favorite moment of the road trip so far.  You park and walk a half a mile along the Gardner River to a stair-sloped bank where you leave your belongings.  The first few steps on the slippery river rocks are freezing cold.  After 20 feet or so, the small waterfalls to your left bring the steaming hot water of the Boiling River.  For the next 30 feet, it is almost unbearably hot.  After climbing a rock ledge, you are in the river.  There is a balance point, where a few inches to the right and you are an ice cube, a few to the left, you are on fire.  Walk this shifty line to the bath where everyone is relaxing.  The hot tub takes me a while to get acclimated, but finally I can sit underneath the waterfall from the Boiling River.  Absolutely amazing.  Best night of my life, again.  We are going back in the morning to enjoy this some more.

n   I’ve seen some amazing things like the Himalayas in Nepal, but I kind of forget after a while.  Pictures remind me, but the lesson I’m trying to learn is have a good time today.  It doesn’t matter if you are waiting at the DMV drinking complimentary burnt coffee, or hang gliding off of the mountains in Tasmania, have a good time.  Have the best time of your life.  Don’t do things that you think are going to be memorable.  Do what you want at that moment.  Live now.  Every day is the best day of your life.  Try to argue that. Beeyuch. J
It is very dark when we leave the hot river (big surprise) and we talk about the Big Dipper on the walk back to the van, hoping that a bear doesn’t make us his pre-hibernation meal.  Coyote howls are a little nerve racking, but I think I’m a little big for their menu.  We go back to Mammoth to camp at the same spot as last night.  There’s hardly anyone there because it’s Sunday night at the end of the season.  As Jeff is parking to go slip the envelope in the late registration box with our fee inside, I ask, “why don’t we just head south?”  Plan change!  We throw all of our plans out the window and turn the van around.  Down we go.

On our way to the Tetons, we pass Old Faithful.  Brandon told us this is a check-it-off-the-list spot, but not really amazing.  Maybe it’s better at night.  I insist we get really, really warm because it could be a 30-100 minute wait and it’s cold out.  We grab a six-pack and some blankets and try to find it in the dark.  The wooden viewing platform is huge and really far away from the geyser, so it must be pretty serious.  I want to walk up to it.  We decide not to, because walking on thermal ground isn’t a great idea, and you can be in a hot tub before you know it. 

The geyser does its thing for about 4 minutes and we just chill looking at the Big Dipper again, which is behind it.  It’s like the architect of the park researched my brain before erupting that volcano half a million years ago.  I’m still itching to see it up close, and stumble up the rocky hill in the dark for about 50 yards.  I dodge some warm water puddles the size of our van and hear the big hollow sound of Darth Vader inhaling.  There’s some slight vibration in the ground and a faint orange glow on the inside rim of the geyser opening.  I use my adolescent Georgia spitting skills to land in the hole while still keeping an 8 foot distance.  I whisper yell to Jeff and convince him to come up and spit in it, too, then we skedaddle.  We sleep in the Old Faithful parking lot and head for the Tetons in the morning.

Post 3 – Great Plains

I want to apologize for being so sporadic and sparse lately on my updates.  Ask Jeff, Steve, Femi, Dubi, or anyone else that has traveled with me and they will tell you I am fanatical about getting the blog updated.  It kills me everyday that I feel it’s overdue.  It’s been 3 weeks since my last update.  The reason it has taken so long is mainly because we suck at relaxing and are always on the go.  The few times we stop somewhere with wifi, it is usually bogged down with 30 laptops all streaming music and uploading photos.  Which means nobody gets anything done because the internet is so slow.  I’ve conferred with strangers and they too couldn’t run AOL 95 on their machines.  Frustrating.  It will be nice when data transfer speed catches up with the applications or programs or whatever.  I feel better now that we’ve cleared things up.

—-

I almost ran over a zombie.

I forgot to mention this in the last post.  We were heading into Indiana for the night (this is before the all-nighter in Denny’s) and driving through an urban area in the southern part of the state.  It’s about 11pm and we just left a Laundromat, where I slept and Jeff washed some clothes.  I’m still a little groggy as I wind the van under bridges on the three lane highway in the industrial part of downtown.  I catch something moving from the left, toward my lane through the headlight periphery.  What I think were white sneakers, blue jeans, a sweat shirt, and a 5-oclock shadow strided across the van’s path, about 45 feet in front.  I was doing about 55 and jerked the wheel to the left, missing the pedestrian by about a chair length.  He had a really good bigfoot arm swing going and didn’t look up from the road for a second.  Now I was a awake, but still forgot to write about this at Denny’s from focusing on the blog and conversation with the waitress.  I was on terminator mode, half asleep, on a mission to finish the next post.

IOWA

Des Moines is a really, really cool town.  Really clean and what looked like a good sized young crowd.  Lot’s of microbrewing (El Bait Shop had like 84 local beers on tap) and the bridges reminded me of northern Europe.  If you are into cities, the indie scene, beer, or bridges at all, you’ll appreciate a visit.

So stoked I got to hang out with my uncle.  I finally got in touch with him an hour after we’d passed the turn to Cedar Rapids, IA.  He was in South Dakota heading to Sioux Falls for a drop off.  After going back and forth with him about a meetup scheme, I decided to just haul ass to Sioux Falls.  I might have driven a bit over the speed limit, but when’s the next time I’ll be in Iowa to see him.  Besides, it’s Iowa.  There’s hardly anyone on the road here.
SOUTH DAKOTA
The prices are pretty sweet in SD.
Weak food, weak attitude.
Humans might just eat to nourish our emotions.  We have big brains and looking at other animals, we eat a lot of really intensely flavored food.  When I am craving a particular flavor, it haunts me until I satisfy it.  I’ve just spoiled myself, that’s all.  They have some awesome comfort food in this part of the country.  Food has become a serious passion of mine.I’m gonna be fat as hell after I hit 30 J  

The Black Hills (dark green)

MODERN INDIANS

A cool chick at a gas station refers us to Wanblee, an Indian reservation because we want some culture shock.  She gave a brief introduction of the people, which basically said they are living off of the government and because of strong traditionalism, are not adapting well to the “real world”.  This is one side of the story and the only information we had at the time.  With limited information, we as humans develop strong preconceptions. 
We stopped at the first store we saw in the land of the red man.  I wanted to talk to some of the locals and ask some questions or something.  I was confused and sheepish.  I think what I really wanted to do was interview some intelligent people of a different culture, but in the pinnacle of my culture shock, I just ended up making a jackass out of myself.  I walked into this store and couldn’t keep eye contact with anyone.  I’ve never been in a grocery store completely filled with native Americans.  They wore the same clothes as me, spoke English with an Indian accent, and just carried on like normal people.  With the ugly behavioral descriptions planted in my brain by the chick from that morning, I attempted to explain to the young girl working the register that we were traveling and talking to people all over the country to show that people think the same.  I’m not sure what rambling came out, but it must have been entertaining because she just laughed and laughed at me.  I deserved it for sure.  I got back in the van and said, “go.”




They love walking. Maybe they don’t, but they casually walk 10 or 15 miles.  We picked up an older native American lady walking down a really long stretch between towns when we went to check out the Indian reservation in southern South Dakota.  I think it is the Nakota tribe down there, but can’t be certain.  There was at least 5 miles of pure nothingness in each direction of the woman who was walking on the shoulder of the highway.  At around 4:30PM, with the wind steadily blowing 20-25 mph, we knew it was gonna get cold soon and she was wearing a t-shirt.  I think we baffled her at first and possibly terrified her when we randomly stopped in the middle of the road to talk to her.   After 20 seconds or so of trying to explain that we were offering a ride, she got in.  She was overly sweet and quiet.  I couldn’t hear a word she was saying to Jeff from the back of the truck, so just played guitar softly to let her know I wasn’t doing something conniving.  It is a blank white van with no windows on the side.  A little sketchy, especially for a couple white devils in red land.   She was walking to get gas for her son who ran out a few miles back.  Jeff talked to her about family and asked if she concerned herself with national or global politics.  As a stay at home mom of nine kids, she said she didn’t focus on much outside of her home.  Probably an awesome mother.  We dropped her off in the next town, where she said she would get gas for her son and walk back to his truck.  She smiled at our offer to chauffeur her back to the truck, and said she would take care of some things in town first.

About  15 miles further, on our way to the town Wanblee, we see a young native American couple walking with a small dog, again on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere.  They did not hesitate to jump in the van baring those bright native smiles.  They liked our van and mission and we gave them a couple beers.  They said we were cool, which we thought was really cool.  Never been told I was cool by an Indian before.  We talked about music and whatnot and dropped them off at the next town.  All in all we saved a total of about 30 miles of walking today.  5 hitch hikers so far.

 the west is with the times

MONTANA

The whole goal of the trip so far has been to make it as far Northwest as possible before the weather fell apart.  The main reason we shot through IN, IL, and IA so fast was because locals kept telling us it usually doesn’t stay nice this long.  We cross the Montana border in the middle of the night and sleep on a scenic pull off.  It’s pitch black outside.  In the morning we open the side doors.

We got there just in time.

The views just never get old.
I am annoyed by my unrelenting tendency to gawk at and photograph the views in this part of the country.  It’s just big.  Big fields.  Big sky.  Big hills.  And it keeps getting bigger and more interesting.  I’m glad we saw the gradual change from east to west, because flying in or going the opposite direction would be more temporary and disappointing, respectively.  I say whoooooooaaaaa, and then take a picture.  I look away for A SECOND and then look back and say whooooooaaaaaa, and take the same picture.  I noticed how frequent I do this after going through my pictures and deleting all of the duplicates.

Like I’ve said a hundred times, I’m gonna get better about updating more frequently.  I have 2 more posts in queue already.  Just gotta get some more solid wifi.  It’s late now, an we’re about to leave for Vegas.  Haha yeah, think about what’s happened between the snow and now!

Road Trip part II

People make simple decisions based on info.  Read and travel to get more info and make better decisions.
I think aliens would think Walmart is a religious installation.  We have a couple more planned stops and then are really on our own schedule.  Dollar General and similar stores are thriving throughout the country.  These were our favorite stores when I lived on the boat.  When I was a kid, it was embarrassing to go clothes shopping at Walmart, now I love discount stores.  Either I never paid attention to their abundance or it is a economic pendulum effect.  Maybe the country is reaching a point where it realizes it has enough resources in circulation already.  Either way, someone is making a killing on these stores.  I see 5 of each discount store for everyone Walmart.  They seem to have gotten nicer in the last year as well.
Some theoretical investment strategies:
In recessions, cheap stores are popular.  In booms, they stockpile junk.  Every 10 years, alternate.
Take junk from one class and sell to another.
Greenville, SC
I believe this is the most lush place I’ve ever seen in real life.
Good vibes for the journey.
Becky and Bruce’s beautiful home and dogs.  Mama, you would love this place.  Lots of German Shepherds.

Spring City, TN

Thanks, Scott, for the cigars, music, brats, books on tape, advice, recommendations, and everything else. It’s always rewarding to learn from you.  Will keep in touch.

Tennessee is with the times.  I never even knew these existed.
Nashville, TN
Never even knew it was called Music City.  It really lives up to this name.
Recording studios literally on every corner.
This town is interesting.  I will be back to explore.
Land Between the Lakes, KY
Empty roads, spread out.  We expect to be hassled every single day.  Trying to acclimate to the lack of tension.
The directions included, “Turn at the 4-Season’s Restaurant.”  It was a small town, so I was a little confused why they would have a 5-star hotel.
Don’t eat these.  They are poisonous.  I said, “Jeff, we should figure out some plants to eat.  They are everywhere and we just need a book.”  I grab some peas and ate one.  Tasted pretty decent and about 2 minutes later I find a website on my phone for eating plants.  At the bottom it says: DON’T EAT PEAS.  THEY ARE POISONOUS.  Right on.  I’m still here so they don’t know what they are talking about 🙂  Just kidding, really, don’t eat ’em.  Getting sick sucks.  I puked my guts out for 2 days on the 4th floor of a hotel in Kathmandu, alone, with no energy to get out of bed and no plan to get more hydrants. You do some scary math, kind of like pizza math, but with survival instead of slices.  Maybe I’ve developed a strong immune system from doing stupid things like this.
I used to think movies are movies and I can’t live like I’m in one.  We did here.  After we finally chilled out and got on Kentucky time (it took about 3 days), we took control.  Full day of chilling, music, reading, cooking, and Kung Fu.  Just before dark, we sparred on the beach.  The cold water felt good to bath in.  Can’t really explain it, but if you lived on an island by yourself, what would you do?
 
Didn’t even think there were seashells in the middle of the country.
Bowling Green, KY
The whole reason we stayed in KY was to go to a music festival.  Starry Nights Sept. 28 & 29.  Mostly locally formed bands, many of which are now world renowned.  This was my first festival.  Go to one.  They are everywhere all the time.  I’ve never felt so unregulated in my life.
There are two stages, so while one is preparing, the other is playing.  I vote Portugal. The Man as my favorite music, although I give stage performance to Cage the Elephant.  There were so many awesome bands that I didn’t even see though.  These two bands were just high on my priority list due to my ignorance and others’ recommendations.  I do dig the music though and will dig deeper.
One of the lead singers said, “Don’t take yourself so seriously.”  Think it was front man for Cage, who by the way is freaking awesome!  This is what I would call a rock star.  He’s 28, so I guess he’s gonna make it, too.

Cool, cool, cool neighbors.  You guys are great!
She leaned in and said, “I’m giving you a tramp stamp.”
With an exclamation point.  Rude, but geniusly funny.
Evansville, IN
Proud of the fact that we used the compass to decide which way to drive out of the festival parking lot.  Their sign numbers go much higher than ours.  Totally floored by this.
Big tree.  Look at the house.

Indiana?  They have a basketball team or something.  Maybe a cornfield, too.  Jeff has a tendency to avoid this state and I can’t blame him because neither one of us knows anything about it.  He pictures it completely flat and barren.  That is kind of my mission for this trip though.  To fill in the blanks in my head.  I will probably never kill the habit of pre-conceptualizing a place falsely.

I am in a Denny’s right now (4:09AM) and just had my mind blown with a 4 hour long conversation with a waitress.  She traveled by herself to Egypt where she met her husband and eventually moved back with him to Evansville.

We victimize ourselves to win arguments or force our point of view.  But the person you are trying to “enlighten” moves in the other direction.  Sounds like relationships and trying to make someone to like you.  It’s tough letting people be free to make their own decisions, especially because we ALWAYS think we are right.  You think you are, but I know I am.  pride

Water to land – FL to TN

PART I – Key West to Tennessee
—  While your subconscious has all of the information and knows exactly what to do in the present situation, your habitually formed conscious mind starts looking for reasons to stifle your urge.  Whether it be a hot chick that just walked by and your hive mind just conferred with hers or an inanimate object that you want to pick up because the energy signature resonating through the universe was just right, you talk yourself out of doing what your body and mind already know is correct and logical.  This is called rationalizing.  We are told it is a necessary defense mechanism, but I find it an inconvenient obstacle between me and what I really want.  It feels like a socialistic leech, draining my energy so that I’ll never be 100% free, happy, or complete.  The minor pains of finding out the hard way are vastly eclipsed by the blanket protection scam that ultimately enslaves you.  —
I tell Jeff, “I’m in.  We leave in 2 weeks.”  This was a week ago when we first left Miami.  
I am helping Steve get settled in Key West for another week and then I’ll make my way up to Jupiter where Jeff lives.  We have some really good days and the mood stays at the tone of “Well, it’s been a hell of a trip.”  
We need a job, because at the time we had an increasingly meager supply of Ramen left and no means of replenishing it.  After walking around the island for several hours in an attempt to clean someone’s boat for cash, I decided that insurance and fear would not allow fruition.  I needed a job job.  So the next morning, I walk into a restaurant that is under construction and ask to speak with the foreman.  He’ll be here at 8:00am.  Ok, I have a half hour to burn, so I look for something to do.  I help unload a truck full of fans and lights.  Someone directs me to the back to help scrape a floor.  A gentle giant with the name Big Brian becomes my immediate supervisor even though I don’t officially work there.  We are cleaning mortar and glue off of an old tile kitchen floor.  I don’t mind the work.  It’s better than walking around looking for work.  When the Mingo, owner of Mingo Construction, shows up, he asks me who I am.  “Hey, I was waiting to talk to you, but I’m not good at standing around, so I started helping people.  I want to work for you.”  Mingo tells me to keep doing what I’m doing and to fill out an application later.
Bike week at Key West.  Pretty wild time.
Later that evening, I receive a small sum of money in my account from an old pending transaction so we are good on cash until Steve gets paid.  
This journey started as an opportunity that I couldn’t pass on.  Occasionally, everyone finds certain things where they just can’t help themselves.  It could be to briefly stop and watch an interview of their favorite athlete on a TV they are walking past.  Or a breakthrough in wireless technology that makes someone leave their teaching job to go do research.  Throughout my adolescent and adult life, I have spent so much time and effort on putting together travel expeditions, that when one is haphazardly put in my path, I have to drop everything and go.  If I didn’t, there would be a number of nights lying in bed wondering what my life could be like.

I don’t usually sleep the night before travelling and not until I am completely out of gas,  I think it is a survival thing which makes me gather information until the point of exhaustion. I hitch hiked and bussed up to Jupiter.  I know, it’s not safe and frowned upon by the authority.  It’s not really OK, but not illegal either.  I did my homework.

Seemingly clever antics just make you look crazy.
Buses are REALLY nice, compared to walking in the South Florida sun.


Code 316.130 (5)
No person shall stand in the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic for the purpose of soliciting a ride, employment, or business from the occupant of any vehicle.

It seems like they are saying you can’t hitchhike, but this just says you can’t do it while standing in the middle of the road.  On the shoulder is fine and the 30 or 40 cops that passed me didn’t seem to mind.  It was highly unsuccessful as I got 2 rides in 5 hours for a whopping total of about 30 miles.  I walked about 15.  So I jumped on a bus and began an overnight trip through Miami and Palm Beach.  I meet Jeff about 24 hours after I started.
 


Jeff is a lot like me.  He has an opportunity to do something he’s been wanting to do for about 6 years.  He just closed on a house, and even though there is more work coming down the pipe, he has a window where he can responsibly take a leave of absence and road trip across the country.  His boss at his part-time job where he’s worked the last couple years told him to take his time and he’ll have a job when/if he comes back.  Who doesn’t want to drive cross country and see the landmarks and parts of the country that people rarely talk about?  There are places so underground, hipsters don’t even know it’s cool yet.






This is a Juicy Lucy.  Big A invented it, unfortunately after someone else named it.
My deepest thanks to the Adams Family for always treating me like part of the family.  Sorry Flow for not stopping back by like I said I would.  I’ll call soon.  Back to burgers.
You fold two patties around your toppings and crimp.
If you’ve never ridden a bicycle through downtown Savannah, put it on the list.  There’s a reason Sherman burned every city in his path except this one.
Mickey, we had a hell of a time.  Marcia, those green beans were exquisite.  Tell Doc thanks for the drinks and letting us jump off his boat.
We have a map.  We have a creeper van.  We have 8 to 10 thousand miles of nicely paved roads which we will use for our own selfish entertainment.  You are welcome to join us of course.  After saying hello to people in Savannah and grabbing another guitar, we drive to Atlanta to drop off a book on Tesla (thank you Molly) and say what’s up to White-dog.  Nostalgic feelings of love and hate tingle my upper spine as we weave through Atlanta’s crazy ass roads.  Memories everywhere I look.  
There is something else I have to take care of while I’m here.  Something that’s been on the corner of my mental desk since July.  Unfortunately, sometimes you have to tackle tasks that are not of the light-hearted nature.  I’ve seen a couple of intense situations in my life, but in terms of depth and daunt, this undertaking is very serious:

Krispy Kreme vs. Sublime Donuts
Microsoft Word doesn’t even acknowledge Krispy Kreme as a valid word; that’s how old school it is.  Of course Dunkin Donuts was not even offered cheap seats tickets to this event mainly because they are a coffee shop that just happens to sell bottom shelf, dry, tasteless, pride-less, sad excuses for a pastry.  Everyone knows a 3-day-old Krispy Kreme is preferable to a fresh Dunkin. 
While Krispy Kreme has some key flavors that have stood the test of time, Sublime maintains taste patents to current and ever growing cultural flavor manifestations.  Oreo, Butterfinger, Reese’s, and let’s not forget the Orange Dream Star.  Sublime Donuts is half tattoo parlor, half donut shop.  Where else can you see your local tatted up skin heads working at the break of dawn?  Their company mission statement is to be requested as someone’s last meal on Death Row.  If you think about it, that is the highest award in culinary arts.  The Orange Dream Star is note-worthy.  It deserves a platinum statue of the donut being held in the air by Cupid with Bob Barker and Chuck Norris reaching for it. 
The bread is a little thick at Sublime, close to the consistency of Outback Steakhouse pumpernickel.  Krispy Kreme has it perfect, because I think donuts are a class of their own and should be baked as such.  Not like a Danish or cinnamon roll or Debbie cake, but like a donut.  When you bite into a Krispy Kreme, your brain doesn’t register that you are sinking your teeth through a doughy, crispy bread, it says, “mmmmmmm…donut…”  The flavor of the frosting matches the consistency of the entire food entity so that the sensation of taste and touch are muddled in a hazy fog of good feelings.
The chocolate frosting on a Custard filled KK glazed donut tastes like a slightly bitter candy that an old lady would give on Halloween that’s been in the back of her pantry since before the Cold War.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, I’m just trying to illustrate how old school the flavor is.  KK sticks to the basics and doesn’t bow down to the customer suggestion box unless it says, “Do whatever you want!”
Sublime is a little more alternative and because of its liberal nature, has discovered great new flavors.  The Orange Dream Star is a kick in the mouth, tangy, orange sensation of virulent freedom, filled with a smooth white cream that puts your buds on a magic marshmallow blanket and flies you through a drunken paradise where it rains feathers.  Really, it tastes good.
In summation I would put a KK regular frosted that has come straight off of the assembly line up against an Orange Dream Star.  They are each glorious in their own unique way, and reach an overall score of “Way better than anything else you have ever put in your unworthy mouth!”  If the Krispy Kremes are more than a day old, I’d have to give it to Sublime Donuts.  Next time you’re in Atlanta, check ‘em out.
—  Stress is there for the release?  Jeff and I ponder the idea that we stress ourselves out just so we can have a culmination and let it all out through rage or another powerful emotion.  Maybe the release has other health benefits.  —
After a night visiting Jeff’s friends in Greenville and Spartanburg, we drive through NC and the Smoky mountains to Boompa’s house.  He and Scott, an old co-worker are the last of the people we wanted to see, at least for a while.  Scott grills us some awesome brats and hooks us up with some movies on tape.  Perfect for driving through the desert because they are old westerns.  With no place to be and no one to see, the trip is really going to begin.  No plans other than drive North and then West.  In the morning we keep the sun on the right side of the van.  After noon, we keep it on the left.
—  This blog is taking waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long to put together.  I am open to suggestions.  I will explore switching to a different blog site that makes putting it together faster and better.  I literally spend at the minimum 6 hours per post, after all the writing is done and pictures are taken.  —

Apparently whining is a side effect of being back on land.