Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Everything you need to know from 24 days on the road!


Best homemade preserves, bread, everything else: Marilyn in Deer Park, WA

Best pizza: Jupiter in Berkeley, CA

Best donut: Voodoo Donuts in Portland, OR

Best Travel buddy: (can I answer this one without offending a family member?) Leann

Best host: I cannot answer this. I was truly, truly blessed!

Best home-cooked “Midwestern” meal: juiciest hamburgers of my life made by Vic in Seattle

Best lunch: Thai (both in Deer Park…Yum! And in Colorado Springs with Dad and Jim…their first Thai!)

Best car snack: dried mango and berries from Costco in Chicago, IL

Best home-cooked breakfast: Marilyn’s pancakes in Deer Park, WA

Best bought breakfast: blackberry pancakes at Wade’s Café in Colorado Springs, CO

Best Groupon: Crepes Francaise in downtown Colorado Springs, CO (it was much more expensive than I expected. We wouldn't have gone with the Groupon)

Best Yelp suggestion: Bridgeview Inn in Chamberlain, South Dakota

Best Couchsurfing hosts: Eric, Kathy, and Blaze in Colorado Springs, CO

Best chain hotel: Courtyard by Marriott in Las Vegas, NV

Best Gas Price: $2.53/gal in Missouri

Best carrot nickname: “nature’s popsicle” from Deer Park, WA

Best unexpectedly borrowed tool: the Garmin that the Browns loaned us in Madison, WI

Best gas station purchase for the car: the 3 in 1 car charger that fit in the cup holder!

Best car tool: the 3-prong wall charger to car charger converter (I could charge EVERYTHING in my car!)

Best world event I was apart of: the grand opening of the new Hoover Dam Bypass in Hoover Dam, NV (it was featured in last week’s USA Today)

Best news I received on the road: Kylie’s birth (my cousin’s baby)

Best “thank you” present I received: the blackberry tea candle from Jim bought in Old Colorado City, CO

Best new friend I’ve made: Wendy in Deer Park, WA

Best late night conversation: Blaze in Colorado Springs, CO


Worst meal: the fly in mayo at Subway outside of the Redwood Forrest

Worst breakfast: grilled jelly and oatmeal at our campsite at the Grand Canyon

Worst gas station snack: dried papaya from Greybull, WY

Worst item that got left behind: huge Costco sized Dove ultra moisturizing shampoo and conditioner in Seattle, WA

Worst case of taxidermy freak out: a little store in Alsea, OR

Worst set back: hitting an animal on the first day (4 hour delay!)

Worst accident when I was in a hurry: the blow out of the bladder of my camel bag on our way to Pike’s Peak…needless to say, we didn’t make Pike’s Peak til the next day

Worst wifi hotspot: the Hilton in Las Vegas (16.99 a day! No thanks!)

Worst Gas Price: $4.59/gal along the coast of California at a little gas station ran by a sneaky little old man (it was a dollar more a gallon than anywhere else around! ie: Santa Barbara was only $3.09)

Worst traffic jam: 4 miles in 45 minutes at Hoover Dam, NV


Most boring stretch: toss-up between Kansas and the Eastern side of Wyoming

Most exciting stretch of road: Yellowstone, WY

Most beautiful stretch of road: the Californian coastline

Most taxing on my body: all the time changes back to the Midwest. Ugh.

Most taxing on my ability to breathe: Jim’s smoking. Ugh.

Most memorable shower: the pay showers at the Grand Canyon campgrounds (8 quarters = 8 minutes!)

Most expensive tolls: Illinois - $4.20 (the only others were in Kansas - $2.50)

Most pointless National Monument: Four Corners (though we’d do it again!)


Favorite people I met: the people of Christ’s Church of Deer Park in Deer Park, WA

Favorite baby: Olivia…the walking cabbage patch doll...I love her little laugh!

Favorite dog: just kidding…you all had dogs, except Jenny…she had cats, super soft cats… I loved them all: Bennington (and the other two), Gypsy, Jessie, Frida*, Buddy, Elsie, & Bristol!

Favorite bridge: Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA

Favorite national landmark: Mt Rushmore, SD

Favorite national park: Redwood Forrest, CA

Favorite mountain to explore: Mt Spokane in Spokane, WA

Favorite volcano: Mt St Helen, WA

Favorite train ride up a mountain: the COG railroad up Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs, CO

Favorite “dam” joke: “You all know our official photograph policy, right? Take all the dam pictures you want. Hehehe…” – our weird little underground tour guide at the Hoover Dam, NV

Favorite animal sighting: bison in the road in Yellowstone, WY

Favorite Museum: tie: the Getty in LA, CA and the Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs, CO

Favorite geek out moment: walking around the soundstages of Chuck on the WB lot in Los Angeles, CA

Favorite Hollywood star: Charlie Chaplin’s on Hollywood Blvd in LA, CA

Favorite city that we drove through too fast: San Francisco

Favorite movie to reference during this adventure: So I Married An Axe Murderer

Favorite Vegas show: Mac King Comedy Magic Show

Favorite slots in Vegas: Mermaids on the Fremont Street Experience

Favorite random sighting: a cowboy herding sheep in Big Horn Mountains

Favorite random sound: seals calling each other from the rocks in Crescent City, CA

Favorite state: Idaho

Favorite picture:

Favorite Souvenir: Geode necklace from the Western Mining Museum in Colorado Springs

Favorite roadside saying: “Raising a teenager is like trying to nail jelly to a tree” a storage unit saying in Washington State

Favorite random Indiana question: “You know that hamburger place that Indiana’s known for? C’mon, you know it… no, no, no…the other one…c’mon…” a guy in a coffee shop in Portland, OR (I ended up realizing he meant Steak N Shake) He also asked me repeatedly if I lived on a farm. I do not.

Favorite place to tell people I was from: “the Midwest” (sorry, I have no specific town or even state anymore. it’s been a weird decade)

Favorite state highway symbol: Washington State (it’s a bust of George Washington, not just a state shape…Kansas is a sun…weird…)

Favorite color of the road: pink

Favorite quiet place: The Writing Lab in Santa Monica, CA

Favorite cd: Megan's random mix

Favorite activity with Mom: driving through the mountains of WY, MT and Idaho

Favorite activity with Catie & Kelly: traipsing about in the Redwood Forrest

Favorite activity with Leann: camping in Grand Canyon

Favorite activity with Dad & Jim: the Pike’s Peak train


Number of water bottles left: 2

Number of boxes of cereal left: 1 ½

Number of pounds of prunes left: 3 (I got on the road and realized they would not actually be a good snack)

Number of travel buddies that didn’t leave something in my car: 0

Number of pictures: 6,955**

Number of state license plates I saw: 37 out of 50 (plus I saw 2 Canadian plates and a couple government plates)

Number of wild animals: 11 (deer, sheep, big horn sheep, cows, horses, buffalo, bison, turkey, elk, pronghorn, seal/sea lions) ... I'm not counting all the unique birds I saw; the number would be much higher... seriously a blue pigeon!

Number different “beware of ______” signs: 7 (deer, big horn sheep, mountain lion, horse, elk, cow, some kind of bird)

Number of wild animal I wanted to see but didn’t: 1 (bear!)

Number of celebrities I saw in LA: 7

Number of sleeping bags I carried with me: 2

Number of tents I carried with me: 1

Number of people who could have fit in the tent: 6

Number of times the tent was used: 1

Number of people in the tent when it was used: 2

Number of days I was on the road: 24 days and 3 hours

Number of states I traveled through: 18

Number of gas station stops: 25

Number of pages in my $ tracking ledger: 6

Everything Else:

Total hours of driving completely by myself: 29 (5 Deer Park to Seattle, 4.5 LA to Vegas, 19.5 Colorado Springs, CO to Kokomo, IN) – this doesn’t count all the alone driving in LA

Longest solo drive: Topeka, KS to Kokomo, IN (10 straight hours!)

Shortest solo drive: my cousin’s house to Hollywood Museum (3 blocks)

Amount left in my checking account: $19.79

Lowest Elevation: sea level

Highest Elevation: 14,110 feet

Average speed: 68mph

Average mpg: 31.5

Starting mileage: 141,955

End mileage: 148,324

Total mileage: 6,369

Well, my dear friends, I think that about sums it up. If there is anything else you would like to know about the past month, please feel free to ask***.

Thank you so much for following this. On the road, I’d think of you all often. I referred to this blog as my “job” though honestly it’s become a job that I’ve loved. Sorry for the blank spaces. I know some of you (mom) were disappointed when I didn’t update. I got the angry texts (mom!) and emails (MOM!). Haha… Sadly, not everywhere is as wifi compatible as they should be in 2010 (I’m looking at you, Vegas!). I hope you’ve been as entertained reading about it, as I have been living it. Honestly, if anyone knows where I can get a job traveling and writing it up, just let me know.

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart…

--the nomad

*I’m ashamed to admit I had to ask for the name of Brent and Martha’s dog. I forgot her name. darn it!

**And the winner is…. Aunt Becky with the guess of 6,839! Hooray! I’ll deliver your prize in person next week. How’s that? J

***I will not be closing this blog. I intend on continually writing in here. After all, what really makes this adventure over? Nothing. I’m saying at my mom’s until the weekend and then I’m off again to Cincinnati for a few days. After that, God only knows…I still wish He’d let me in on at least a bit of it. But, ah…adventure! J

Saturday, October 23, 2010

For the love of mercy, never click your heels.

When Dorothy clicked her heels and returned to home did she really know what she was getting into? Kansas. blech.

After driving through Kansas today, I've decided to never click heels again...unless I can finally master that cute little jump click that leprechauns seem to be able to do so well.

In others ... Colorado was a really nice place. Too nice. I realized yesterday (and then more so today) that I have neglected to purchase souvenirs along this journey. There are, of course, a myriad of reasons for that. 1. Who needs junk in their possession? 2. Why spend on the money? 3. I have all the memories already on this blog and pictures*

That being said, I fell in love with too many things in a little mining museum's gift shop. (I currently have a geode hanging around my neck) That's not even the worst part. Today some lucky gift shop guy scored a big scale. (definitely not "big" by anyone else's terms but my own, I'm sure)

I now have geodes, toys, jewelry, gold flakes and magnets of every state I hit on this trip (18!).
I now have $118 to get home.
I now have worry...

In other, other news.
I got a job lead in Deer Park... so be praying for that.
I got an apartment offer in Cincinnati... so be praying for that
I got to be staying with my momma til I figure it all out... so be praying for that!

Well, dear friends, I believe you are now mostly caught up. oh except for the 4 Corners story but I'll let the anticipation keep building. why? because you will really feel the story when I tell it.

the next post should be from homebase...how weird is that... only a quiet, lonley, ten hour drive stands in my way. (fell free to call...555-da-nomad or my real number if you have it)

thank you so much for following along for the last 23 days. Fear not, this blog is far from over. I have so many things to discuss, pictures to post, and stats to amaze. For instance, I don't think I've ever told you about "the Book of Nerd" or my ledger. ah...the fun that awaits. :)

--the nomad

*stand by for an official photo number on Tuesday. It's staggering. In fact, let's hold a contest... the person who guesses the closest wins something I bought in Colorado. you can even go over. just be closest.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Ohioan who invented the box springs created the COG railway

I saw the coolest thing today...

And it wasn't The Garden of the Gods, Dad and Jim eating Thai food for the first time, Denver's Airport, Sonic's 1/2 priced happy hour, Castle Rock or even the amazing "salsa" (that including cabbage!) at the Mexican resturant...no, that was all yesterday!

This thing happened today.

And it wasn't the salads at Panera, Old Colorado's diverse and sweet little shops (including the Things Jewish shop or the enchanting candle shop), the Pioneer Museum, the cute historic parks, watching Dad and Jim eat French food for the first time, catching dad in a "moment" (snuffle snuffle) when he saw the Big Horn Sheep he'd been waiting a lifetime to see, or even taking a train up Pike's Peak.

...it was...the candle lady making a bow by pulling a string.

I really can't explain it. She had a purple ribbon. She pulled one side and a beautiful bow appeared. I think she's magic. It was really cool...

Oh by the way, did I mention I took a TRAIN to the summit of PIKE'S PEAK today? cause I did.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow holds. But truthfully I'll be tired! I just spent a couple hours talking to Blaze, one of our couchsurfing hosts. That wouldn't have been a big deal but talking lasted from 12 to 2:20 am. oops...

off to bed.

--the nomad

PS> Leave me a message so I know are still around gentle readers. Thank you. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

no internet = no blog posts

Hello friends,

I'm currently sitting on a couch in a strangers' house listening to my sister sleep. Doesn't that sound creepy?

Fear not, I met these people through couchsurfing. All is legit. Try it out yourself. (Don't you wish real life would give you free stuff like it seems to for celebs just for mentioning stuff? That would be great.) Seriously though couchsurfing is great!

Today Leann and I met up with our dads in Colorado Springs. They have been her for two days and they are head of heels in love with the place. In fact, rumor has it Dad has been picking up local real estate magazines. haha...oh boys...

Getting to Colorado Springs (dads) wasn't easy.

First up, we had to leave Vegas. That was hard. Perhaps a little too hard. No one ever wants to leave but seriously only a day there is such a tease. I never got to swim with the sharks. I didn't get to see pirates fight at Treasure Island. Leann never got to go to giant M&M store. ah, such is life.

Secondly, we had to drive to the Grand Canyon. Have you ever done that? Not a horrible drive unless, of course, it's the opening weekend/WALKthrough for the new Hoover Dam overpass. Then, if that's the case, you get to wait 45 minutes to go 4 miles. Thank you 17,000 people who decided to walk over the new overpass on Sunday. (Btw, word of advice, never try to recreate the scene in "Fools Rush In" by throwing a quarter out of the window while passing the state line. You may end up hitting an unexpecting person. I didn't but I came awfully close. oops) After we got past the Dam, it wasn't too bad. It was just another 4-5 hours. We arrived and it was dark. It got dark at 5. We had left Vegas around noon. oops.

Thirdly, we had to sleep. in a tent. in a forest. full of mountain lions. near a giant canyon. Okay, maybe we didn't have to do that to get to Colorado Springs but it sure was a happy perk. :) I loved it. Leann is a camping pro. Good thing because, as this math equation points out: darkness + new tent + rain + no real flashlights + no food except instant potatoes and PB&J = challenging! Now I should point out 2 things. 1. This was not supposed to be a new tent by now. Mom and I were supposed to have used it in Yellowstone. And the girls and I were supposed to have used it in the Redwoods. neither happened. 2. We had cellphones (our Droids are bright!) for light and, after the tent was raised, I remembered we also had lanterns.

After our tent (and fly!) was raised and we had had our fill of potatoes, there was nothing to do but sleep. Well this is about the time I got just enough phone signal for all the texts/FB updates started coming in warning me about mountain lions. Thanks guys. Honestly, it got me a bit shaken, but there as no way I was tearing down that tent after all the struggle we had just put up! Mountain lions or not, I was sleeping outside! (Also, I looked up info and found out how to fight off a mountain lion. Bring it on...)

The sleep itself was pretty good except for the onslaught of rain that continued to hit our tent. However, we were dry. We were cozy. And, most important, mountain lions aren't going to come out in the rain.

When morning came there was a lot of work to do. More than I had even expected or even had the energy for. Instead of doing the things I absolutely needed to do ie: make breakfast (oatmeal & jelly toast), tear down our tent, fold our tent (the worst thing ever!)..., I decided to completely repack our car. I took everything out, laid it on a dry tarp, and set to work. To be honest, I felt a million times better after that. Sometimes a girl has just got to organize.

The fourth thing we had to do before reaching Colorado Springs was take in the Grand Canyon. Oh, take it in we did. I would love to talk in great detail here about the "giant hole in the ground" as I affectionately call it. Sadly, the Canyon is something that needs to be seen. I have some really beautiful shots. We stopped at 3 different viewpoints before heading to our next destination. Perhaps one day I'll upload some shots, until them find them on FB if we are friends.

The final attraction before meeting up the dads was 4 Corners. That sadly, is another story for another day. (because my laptop is dying...)

Goodnight friends. :)

--the nomad

Monday, October 18, 2010

What happens in Vegas... waits a day before being shared with the world.

Alternatively titled: "How to do Vegas (and Hoover Dam!) in a day"

Due to the fact that Leann and I rushed through The Hoover Dam and Las Vegas, I figured the easiest thing to do was to give you an outline of our schedule. Put on your tennis shoes, we were busy! (speaking of tennis shoes, thanks to valeting my car, I got stuck in my brown tennis shoes the entire time I was in Vegas! ugh.)

October 15

1: Leave LA, drive to Vegas

5: Arrive in Vegas almost 6 hours before I was supposed to pick up Leann. oops

5:30: check in to hotel, update some stuff, watch some tv and take a much needed nap

10:30: drive to airport to pick her pick

10:40: arrive at pick up, sit in long line

10:50: sit through line again because Leann hadn't been there when it had finally been my tour

11: pick up Leann and head to find food

11:15: drive the strip

12: finally give up, grab quick sandwich, and head back down the strip and to our hotel

12:45: arrive at hotel. love it (Courtyard)

1: catch up

2: go to sleep

October 16:

6: wake up, shower, dress

7:15: head to our pick up point

7:30-7:55: wait for our tour bus

8: get on the "Comedy on Deck" bus

8:05: find out our tour is cancelled (no breakfast, no Lake Mead boat tour, $20 refund) but they our going to auto change us to the other tour (went into the Dam)

9: arrive at Hoover Dam: go on 2 dam tours (one over, one under), check out dam museum, buy dam pictures, laugh at dam tour guide (he wasn't funny on purpose except once: "Do you know our picture policy? The Federal Govermenet says 'Take all the Dam pictures you want!'" haha!)

11:20: get back on bus, head to Boulder City

11:30: take pictures of Lake Mead

11:45: arrive in Boulder City

12: take Boulder Dam Hotel museum tour

12:20 EAT (Finally!)

12:45: back on bus headed to chocolate museum (uh...it was added on too. lame)

1:15: arrive at M&M Store, Ester M's, and "Botanical Gardens" (it was a cactus garden. uh...)

2:15: arrive at Harrah's in Vegas

2:25: call and make dinner reservations (good thing because we didn't know we had to)

2:30: go to the Mack King Comedy Magic show

2:45: get first drink

2:47: wear first drink (real cool Leann!)

2:49: get second drink

3: Mack King's show (we LOVED it. best thing we could have gone to. LOVE LOVE LOVED it!)

4:30: meet Mack King and take pictures with him

5: try to figure way back to car

5:10 get distracted by MGM Grand

5:20: find lion cubs and take pictures for at least 20 minutes

5:45: debate going to a tv pilot screening

5:55: find car and drive to Hilton

6:15: check into Hilton at the VIP lounge

6:25: quick change for dinner (realize I only have my brown tennis shoes. Freak out a little. ha)

7: arrive at Beninhana for dinner

7:01: get seated with random people

7:02: try to explain that we had a dinner package

7:03: get out cell phone to show dinner package

7:04: leave Leann, go back up to room on 11th floor to get printouts about the dinner package

7:09: arrive back to restaurant, hand confused waiter the printouts

7:11: talk to manager

7:12: talk to head manager at front counter (leave Leann again)

7:13: get sent to VIP lounge to straighten it all out

7:16: VIP lounge understand that they dropped the ball and begin to print out corrected paperwork

7:20: paper jam in printer

7:23: 2 more paper jams

7:30: finally have papers in hand and head back to Bennihana

7:34: show papers to mangers and server

7:36: finally sit down next to Leann as the waiter grabs my menu out of my hand and says “steak or chicken?” Everyone else at the table already has drinks

7:38: received a Buddha filled with some strong mystery substance

7:39: got the delicious onion and mushroom soup

7:40: our chef arrives and sets right to work. (this was seriously the fastest & quietest table I’ve ever been at at a Bennihana!)

7:43: salad arrived

7:44: chef tries to be fun and entertaining. He makes an onion smokestack, whistles like a train, and even flips a shrimp tail into his hat. Our tablemates are not impressed. They continue talking and barely look at the chef. Leann and I clap and smile.

7:46: chef dishes out the shrimp and vegetables he had just sautéed

7:47: as we begin to nosh, the chef begins making fried rice. Leann and I are handed small bowls of white rice by the server. Apparently fried rice doesn’t come with our package. (Can I just say here, we didn’t not get a free meal. I paid a lot of money for this Hilton/Bennihana package. Ugh)

7:52: finishes the fried rice and portions it out to our tablemates

7:53: he begins cooking the main meats as we finish the shrimp, veggies, and rice

8:05: chef hands out the meat, asks if everything is alright, bows quickly, and leaves

8:08: half of our tablemates get up and start to leave. (bills have not been dropped)

8:09: watch server and exiting tablemates discuss stuff and glad that for once it isn’t me

8:11: get asked if we want tea, we decline

8:12: get asked if we want dessert, in the same breath told that we’d have to pay for it because it’s not included but the Buddha mugs were and to take them home. (Seriously, did he think we were poor? He was amazingly and continually rude.) We declined dessert and then left a big tip. (take that!)

8:14: leave the table, confused by all that had transpired and that it all happened so quickly

8:15: take pictures of the cool Japanese pagoda/waterfall in Bennihana

8:17: head back up to our room…(I think it’s time to mention, we were equally underwhelmed by our room. It was supposed to be a really sweet room that my friend had even been sweet enough to upgrade for us. It ended up being smaller than the Courtyard we had stayed in the night before. The beds were not nearly as comfortable. And the showers were probably the worst I’ve experienced this trip, that includes the pay showers at the campgrounds! The “view” was nice but the hotel itself was actually quite far the strip so the view was not what we were expecting or even as it had been advertized. In the end, I was not happy that I had paid so much for this package. However, the point of Vegas is to not stay in your room. This experience certainly taught us that.)

8:22: drop off the buddhas, make any wardrobe changes that needed to be made, whine about brown shoes, leave room, and head toward the monorails.

9:30: get off monorail and walk down strip toward Bellagio

9:50: arrive at the Bellagio just in time to see the end of the fountain water show

10: watch the next water show on the edge

10:10: move to the center and watch another show. (what can I say, I’m an Ocean’s Eleven nerd.)

10:20: walk down the strip to catch the “deuce” bus

10:30: get on bus and head to the top of this lovely double-decker

11: miss the laser lights show because still on bus…boo (spoiler alert: we made the midnight showing.)

11:15: finally make it to Frement Street Experience

(The next few hours are nearly impossible to break down times or even the order so I’ll just list until I can catch back up…and, Mom, remember these things are already over and done so you can’t yell at us!)

  • - walk around staring at the “World’s Largest TV Screen”
  • - take a lot of pictures
  • - gamble and win ($12.50 on $.50 not bad) at 4 Queens
  • - gamble at Golden Nugget
  • - take more pictures
  • - laugh at the people dancing in the middle of the street
  • - get a Mai Tai at Mermaids for $1!
  • - Leann is the big drawing winner at Mermaids. She pulls the lever and wins a whopping $2
  • - Play nickel slots for an hour at Mermaids
  • - Watch the midnight laser show
  • - Find French Toast for $3.99
  • - Find out that French Toast isn’t sold til 2 am
  • - Eat the world’s worst eggs instead
  • - Eat a donut to make it better
  • - Acquire beads
  • - Gamble at Bayou
  • - Walk in and out of casinos left and right
  • - Look for souvenirs at a shop (sorry…I didn’t buy anything. I hate all those tacky thimbles, shot glasses, mugs, keychains, etc…)

(For those of you keeping count: Yes that was a lot of casinos. However, you should know that I didn’t spend more than $20 [19.40 to be exact] in all of the casinos in Nevada, including the ones not in Vegas. I even walked out with some winnings. That’s why I loved the nickel slots so much. Start with a quarter. Win $3 and play it till it’s gone or you’re a big winner. You are only out a quarter.)

1:20: decide to leave Fremont Street Experince and head back to the bus

1:35: bus comes and we hop on -- best bus driver ever

1:45: get off at bus stop still half mile from hotel (Hilton…grrr…) – btw, Leann still claims we got off at the wrong stop and so our walk was even longer. Whatever.

1:46: decide to walk to hotel instead of paying the $8 it would be for a cab. Ha. We are cheap!

2:05: arrive at Hilton unscathed except for our nose hairs. (seriously Vegas smells. We call the aroma “elephant pee”)

2:10: head up to our room

2:15: arrive and head to bed

October 17:

Wake up

Take Shower & Pack

Check out through the tv in our room

Drop keys downstairs

Receive our free $20 chip

Try one round of Black Jack

Lose to the house

Leave Hilton

Wait for the valet to bring our car

Tip the valet

Drive out of Vegas.

Shoo…that was a super long, but fun 36 hours! Next time needs to be days. I want to swim with sharks at The Golden Nugget.

--the nomad

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Have you ever?

Have you ever driven from LA to Vegas?

Have you ever driven from LA to Vegas by yourself?

Have you ever driven from LA to Vegas by yourself averaging 78 mph?

Have you ever driven from LA to Vegas by yourself averaging 78 mph and get bored?

Have you ever driven from LA to Vegas by yourself averaging 78 mph and get bored
so you talk to your best friend on your cellphone?

Have you ever driven from LA to Vegas by yourself averaging 78 mph and get bored
so you call your mom after you talk to your best friend on your cellphone?

Have you ever driven from LA to Vegas by yourself averaging 78 mph and get bored
so you call your mom after you talk to your best friend on your cellphone and in the middle of the call get blown away by the beauty of the mountains?

Have you ever driven from LA to Vegas by yourself averaging 78 mph and get bored
so you call your mom after you talk to your best friend on your cellphone and in the middle of the call get so blown away by the beauty of the mountains that you take out your camera and begin snapping pictures?

Yeah, me neither... ;)

--the nomad

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Oh my gosh, that was Ed Asner!?!" "who?"

Yesterday was another humdinger of a day! (Yes, i did just date myself. Now you all know my secret, I'm really 87 years old.)

I really only did two things yesterday but boy, were they big:
1. The WB VIP Tour
2. Santa Monica pier/promenade

I'm going to talk about them in reverse order so prepare yourself.

Daniel and Naela took me to Santa Monica to watch the sun set over the ocean. Unfortunately, the sun had already set by the time we got there. No matter. It was still nice to look out into the darkness and hear the waves crash into the shore as the smell of salt and fish hung in the air. The pier itself was alright. Apparently, it a world famous pier. I could see that. However, it reminded too much of Navy Pier to really get excited about. I do love Navy Pier but I'm there all the time. (Seriously, though, I love it and it inspired my new love of Tall Ships earlier this year. I love the ropes and knots.)

After walking the pier, we went to the Promenade, walked around, and had dinner. It was cool to be where my Great-aunt Norma had used to hang out. It was funny to imagine a 92 year old hanging in the place filled with street performers, crocheted bicycles, and twinkling trees. Funny but easy to imagine because we were very similar. I'd love to do that at 92.

It was a fantastic Southern Californian kind of night.

Now let me tell you about my uber-fantastic Southern Californian day!!! (Hold on to your hats, people!)

I knew when I headed out here that I wanted to do a studio tour. (Let's face it, I want to move onto a studio!) What I couldn't decide is which studio to tour. Universal looked ok but it was expensive and all about their rides. I wanted a tour. I wanted a deep, dirty behind the scenes, in the studio on the sound stage kind of tour. Paramount seemed to be like Universal. I finally just decided Universal. As I started to leave, Daniel recommended WB Studios. I quickly jumped online to check prices and such. My immediate thought was "I don't want to tour Looney Tunes. I want film and television!" Let is be known, I'm an idiot sometimes. It turns out that not only does WB film film and television but they are currently filming my favorite show: CHUCK! Well, that sealed the deal. No matter the price, I was going to WB. Turns out WB gets better and better as they were tens of dollars cheaper than Universal! With tax and everything, WB was about $50. not too shabby for a 2 1/2 hour tour.

So the tour was awesome! Here are some highlights: (I want to go into great detail but I have to leave soon. :( )

- walking around the town/square from Gilmore Girls.
- driving through "Chicago" and learning they had to dirty it up because true Chicagoans knew is too clean to be real. (ha!)
- walking through a ceiling-less church that can be used both inside and out
- getting shushed and took not to take any pictures to the left because they were actually taping something.
- walking into a courthouse and walking out a fire station. gotta love empty buildings that are just used for their fronts.
- driving past the shop where they build everything
- driving past the studio gas station
- passing Sound Stage 16 and thinking of all the great water movies that have been created in that place
- walking through the props building. I could have stayed there all day. Sadly we only went on the first floor of a 4 floored building!
- hanging out on the Central Perk set from Friends. Yes, I took my picture on the couch.
- walking on a certain set** (we'll take about this a bit more in a minute)
- driving by "La Bamba" from Conan's band
- watching Ed Asner be driven by on his golf cart as I stood by dumbfounded (my tour guide didn't know who he was!)
- walking on the set of the Menalist (then coming home and watching the show...it was my first time)
- hearing people "oh" and "ah" over stuff I've always known: fake walls, no ceilings, hallways that lead to no where, elevators that don't work... ah, the magic of television
- walking through the WB Museum.
- realizing that Pushing Daisies was also filmed there and falling even more in love
- driving past the old bungalows from the stars from way back when
- seeing celebrities names on their parking spaces
- getting sorted by the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter room: Gryffindor! (as if there was any doubt)
- walking through the HP museum
- seeing Heath Ledger's nurse costume from Batman and instantly getting sad
- taking endless pictures of the WB watertower
- hearing old stories about the Warners brother and Warren Beatty and everyone else.

I LOVE TOURS! I want to be a tour guide at some point in my life! (but not a page)

** We went on the CHUCK set! AHHHHHHH!!!!! I tried really hard not to geek out. I was the only person on the tour that even knew of the show! seriously?!? omgosh...I love it!

Not only did we go on one of the sets (without camera :( ) in one sound stage. But we went to 2 of the 3 Chuck sound stages. I walked around the apartment complex that Chuck, Sara, Casey, Ellie, and Awesome live in. I got to explore Chuck's apartment. I love how nerdy it is, even more so than you see on tv. (see, I love props) Then after all excitement. She took us to the Buy More sound stage. The Buy More, of course, looks like a Best Buy. It's funny to see how product placement is out of control at the Buy More.

Okay, so that was clearly the best 20 minutes of the tour. The guide was cool and realized I loved it and even played it up more. sweet. She wouldn't tell me what show was shot in the stage until we got there because she didn't want to ruin the surprise. I love that! haha.

Seriously, it's sick how at home I feel around all of that. I love every aspect. The backdrop creators. The makeup artists. The editors. The set designers. The costume designers. All of it. I would happily do any or all of it... obviously acting is still my first choice. foley is my second. and anything else is my third. :)

So that was super fun but now I'm off to Vegas. uh oh... ;)

-the nomas

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taking LA by storm

Hello friends,

What a day yesterday was! I mean, seriously, whew...

went to a taping of "The Talk"
ate lunch at a cafe in Studio City
visited the Getty
ate dinner at the Farmer's Market
walked around The Grove (as seen often on TMZ)
saw two improv shows (it was "Harold" night) at IO West
and ran into zero celebrities.

not too shabby.

Let me tell you about life as a live audience member. First you have to figure out where you are supposed to be. I ended up in the wrong parking garage. oops. Then, you have to get your colored card and go through security. I don't know what the cards mean, I just know I had blue and that definitely wasn't the best. After milling about for awhile, everyone signs the legal papers and takes their final potty breaks. During this time, I made friends with a lesbian couple who had been together for 20 years. They had lived in LA their entire lives but had visited both Chicago and Indiana. The milling continues as one of the producers walks around and asks if anyone "has just had a baby or is going to have a baby?" and "does anyone have relationship questions they want to ask our hosts?" and lots of other silly goading questions like that. The producer loved the lesbians I was standing by and kept trying to feed them questions to ask. Her favorite kept being some part of "how can we keep it fresh? keep it fresh. yeah, I like that...keep it fresh." (I'm telling you people being an audience member is riveting stuff. ha)

Anyway, finally it's time to line up. We line up by color. Yellow first. Then Green. "Oh...who do we have left? Oh, yeah, how about blue?" (Thanks lame producer dude.) I wasn't the very last. The was reserved for the pink cards. But still....seriously...

I'm going to take a second and mention that we were being herded around by a bunch of pages. It was like being corralled by a bunch of Kenneths. I could not take them seriously as they ran around in their little red jackets.

I ended up being seated in the back, behind the cameras. awesome. Actually, it wasn't too bad. I had a sweet vantage point of all the action, I just probably won't be on tape. You know you don't have the best seats when after everyone is the sat the row behind you is filled in with the pages. Fear not, they took of their jackets. So instead of a line of Kenneths, it was a line of bleached out, white shirted kids. nice...

I think I'm supposed to remark here on how small the studio was. Seriously, it was bigger than I expected. But maybe that's because I understand the "magic" of tv. It was cozy but not too bad. just 6 sections of seats. There were probably 5-6 rows in each section. There were 3 sections on the floor that looked like they were in a pit. (the yellow cards!) Two sections were kinda of like bleacher seats, though comfortable movie theatre style seats. The final section (mine) was directly center but higher and behind everything else.

After we all got sat, the stage guy came out and walked us through everything ("clap" "laugh" "smile" ...) My favorite line: "Remember, if you are clapping and not smiling, you look like a crazy person."

Then it was time for the "live" show. So this show, "The Talk" (CBS's version of "The View") doesn't premiere until Monday. All the shows will be live unless, of course, one of the hosts are sick. Then they will play my episode. I am in the first "evergreen" episode. ("Evergreen" meaning something that will always work and they can throw in at a moment's notice.) Therefore, I'm sorry to say I can't tell you when to not look for me.

The hosts walked out and everything started. The hosts are: Sharon Osbourne (looks exactly the same in real life), Sara Gilbert (SKINNY! my goodness!), Leah Remini (liked her better than I ever had before), Holly Robinson Peete (I don't think she's changed in 20 years but she looks even more like a deer in headlights. stunning and stunned) and Julie Chen (I don't know her, felt like she was the Barbara). Leah and Sara were definitely the most fun to watch. They just interacted like friends who were hanging out. I'm sure they were slightly self-conscience but didn't seem like it. Leah didn't restrict herself and worry about bad camera angles. She just laughed and threw herself back into the couch and blocked shots and did whatever a normal girl chatting would do. She also couldn't stop talking. It was great. I looked it.

Each of the segments went super fast. It was like there wasn't any actual time to talk about anything. I didn't like that superficial feel to the show. Perhaps because it an "evergreen." It was really fast and choppy though. They never even got to the questions that we were goaded for before the show.

The guests were Nicole Sullivan and Eden, a 5 year old pageant star. So maybe they weren't the best guests but it was fun to watch the hosts lay into her mother but try to be nice about it. Also Leah's face while the little girl was performing was priceless. I think even Holly looked a little jarred.

During the commercial breaks, they threw out t-shirts and stuff. I ended up winning a Starbucks gift card for know the product that the slogan "They're GRRRReat!" is from. (Thanks, Grandpa!)

All in all it was a pretty fun set up. I'd do it again. Though I'd rather be in front of the camera, then way behind.

Oh, one last tirade, during the show they were talking about vanity sizing and mentioned that "10"s and "12"s are plus sizes. Now, I'm not saying 10s and 12s are ideal but they are the average of the country. So while trying to have a segment about trying to love your body and not worrying what girls in magazines look like, it's ridiculous to then ridicule the majority of your audience. just saying. perhaps they don't know what real people look like. But seriously, I've seen the stagehands, pages, and all the others working on set. They look normal, not "Midwestern normal" (here's looking at you, 16), but probably average an 8-10. sheesh, hosts, look around...

Alright, well I'm off to a lot tour at WB. I hear they are currently taping Chuck. *squeal* I love Chuck. It is my not-so-secret desire for Zac Levi to realize I'm the love of his life. After all, he does love Jesus. And I love Jesus. That's a start. Maybe I'll lead with that...

I'll let you know how it goes.


--the nomad

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The road to no where

I'm tired. exhausted really. The phrase "road weary" finally has meaning in my life.

I've been on the road for 12 days. (technically there is a few hours more but Mom says I'm not supposed to count those...) I still have another 13ish.

So far, I've:
hit an animal in Wisconsin,
admired wind turbines in Minnesota,
slept in a super sweet mom and pop motel in South Dakota,
watched bison walk in front of my car in Wyoming,
driven over mountains in the dark in Montana,
been amazed at the beauty of Idaho,
left my heart in Washington,
conquered Pike's Place in under 2 hours in Seattle,
got VD in Portland (voodoo donuts),
heard seals in Northern California,
stood in trees in the Redwood Forrest,
ridden world famous coastal curves in Central California,
and walked the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

Currently I'm in a writing lab in Santa Monica, CA. This is the first silence I've had in weeks. I'm enjoying every bit of it. I'm also, unexpectedly, getting a lot of work done while typing this blog. Batteries are charging, thank you notes are being written, pictures are being uploaded, and breathing is happening. hooray!

Oh, I should mention Catie and Kelly are at LAX waiting for their flights. It was good having them with me. I'm glad they were able to come. We had quite a few laughs, most of which over meals (sorry about that, Kelly!). We had really only one major fight and only a couple scuffles. not too bad, if you ask me. I have decided though, adding people adds stress. I'm glad it's just Leann when she joins me in 4 days.

During this journey, laden with adventure, I have still not forgotten my goal. I am constantly straining to hear God's voice through all of this. I'm seeking wisdom everywhere I turn. I'm asking questions and listening to the answers. However, I must admit, at this halfway point. I'm more confused than ever. I fear other things have become distractions in my mind.
There are three things I need: housing, job, and healthy, healing church. I have discovered this:
Chicago - job
Cincinnati - housing
Kokomo - church

hmm... so maybe not any of those options...well, then things really get hairy.
New Zealand? I tried not to think it's "God's will" every time I hear an accent or see a NZ t-shirt (there have been a surprising amount).
Deer Park? oh, I'd love too but I feel this one is out of my hands.
LA? no thanks. I've been here 20 hours and I'm done.
Where else? I don't know...

I know what the answer is. The answer is pick somewhere, anywhere. Plant yourself and do God's work. The rest will work itself out. I know that's the answer. It has to be. That is what everyone says. Besides doesn't God call us to just be content?

I picked up the Bible and opened it as we were speeding down the coast yesterday (it seemed fast, it took over 10 hours!). I decided to let the Bible fall where it fell. It fell open in Job. It was one of the passages where his friend is telling him to give up. After reading that, I skipped ahead to God's response. I just kept thinking two things over and over. 1: "I love God's sarcasm. This guys cracks me up." 2: "I know I'm not wise. I know nothing. So what now?" I still don't have that answer.

Do you?

--the nomad

What ever happened to predictibility? The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV.

I sang those lyrics on the Golden Gate Bridge today.

I thought of Phil Hartman & Mike Myers while staring at Alcatraz today.

I tried not to imagine puking up the San Francisco treat while going almost straight down a hill today.

Ah, what a good day (hour?) in San Fran.

I'm sad to sad I did not wear flowers in my hair or even leave my heart there.

but I'm glad I went.

Monday, October 11, 2010

3 sisters + 2 days of straight driving = 1 crazy adventure

Hello again friends,

I'm writing to you from the backseat of my faithful Ford Focus. She's a beaut, she is! (I like to refer to her like she's a boat. Also, sometimes I refer to "her" as a "him", never, ever an "it".) I began the driving today around 9 am and, aside from Catie's hour drive in the Redwood Forest and the hour of my life I'll never get back thanks to Subway, finally traded drivers about 30 minutes ago. It's currently quarter to 6 pm. That, my friends, is a long day!

The day has been a good one. I was able to cross off and thing or two off of my bucket list. We awoke in Cresent City, CA and started down the coast.

I'll let you guess if we spent the night in a tent.
Here are some hints.
1: It was raining last night and this morning.
2: We heard seals from our sleeping quarters.
3: It was cold and dark.
4: I didn't care.
5: We did not camp in a tent.

The coast was breathtaking. Yesterday was a day filled with the Oregon's trees and coastlines. I'm fairly certain we squealed the first time we saw the ocean. We learned yesterday 3 reasons why no one would ever leave Oregon.
1. It's gorgeous!
2. They pump your gas and it still costs less!!
3. No state taxes!!!

Sadly, even though we learned these things, we still left. (Fear not, we didn't leave before we took Catie to 3 different stores to find an Oregon keychain. ugh. Everyone ask to see it, please.) Leaving Oregon was rewarded by entering California. I'd love to say it was all sunshine and rainbows but yesterday was a day of dark rain clouds. The Oregon coast was lovely but gray. And once we hit California the clouds outside did been replaced my own grey clouds. What can I say? I like my space. Actually I can say more. Please humor me...

This paragraph can be skipped because it doesn't deal directly with the trip but more me as a person. Feel free, I won't be upset...ok? .... .... Okay, that was your warning: So I have a problem. I can admit it (at least most of the time). I'm a performer. constantly. a constant performer. This means sadly that even with my family and close friends I often feel like I have to be "on". Truthfully, while this is second nature (first nature?), it is exhausting. And when I get exhausted, I get snappy. And when I'm exhausted and hungry, I get extra snappy. This happened last night. We didn't eat dinner until about 9 pm after being in a car cracking jokes and throwing silly dance parties for/with 2 people for 8 hours. Needless to say, it was a lethal mix. I got quite mean over the fact that I no longer have conditioner on this trip because someone else had used mine and my big, beautiful, Costoc-sized Dove shampoo and conditioner got left behind in Seattle. sigh. It's not a big deal. It's not a big deal. It'snotabigdeal. I just wanted craved alone time. Thankfully (?) my sisters didn't listen and drug me to dinner. (Though honestly, at that point I don't know if they really wanted me to come along or just my debit card.)

After dinner at The Apple Peddler, where I had the waitress rolling, thankyouverymuch (especially when I compared Catie's head to a goldfish bowl that could hold 3 goldfish), we went to our hotel. It was a lovely hotel. We were given the bay side and could, in fact, hear the seals from right outside our door. Not bad for $70. The weirdest thing was the television that would automatically turn itself on and automatically switch channels. Oddly enough the remote would change channels but not turn the stupid thing off. ugh. Needless to say, I fell asleep with the tv on but the volume way, way down. Who wants to get out of bed at a hotel?

Oh, I should include here that I'm slightly freaked out at the idea of bed bugs. I don't care if they bite me and I'm not "afraid" of them. I just don't want them in my stuff. It can cost tens of thousands to get them removed. I don't have tens of thousands. This issue is so big that I've included it on the list of questions that I ask potential hotels (along with "Do you have any taxidermy", of course). Last night, I stopped and asked a hotel clerk if they had any. He basically laughed at me and told me they were a made up things that parents used to scare children. I corrected him on this matter post haste. He then told me I was welcome to look in the rooms and show him any if they had some so he'd know what they'd look like for the future. Needless to say, we stayed in a different hotel. That's not to say I didn't dream about bedbugs last night. yuck!

This morning, once we got on the road, we continued our drive down the 101. (We discussed the 1 and all decided we'd rather a shorter trip with redwoods, then a long trip with beach...we'll beach it later.) I'm so glad we spent the night in Crescent City last night. Everything was more beautiful this morning. The sun was actually out. We were able to see the beach and rocks and trees.

For the sake of time, I will skip ahead to the Redwood Forrest. I love trees. When I was 6 years old I convinced myself that my best friend was the tree in my front yard that I stood by/talked to everyday while waiting for my little first grade bus. I cried the day it was cut down. Ask my mom. It still pains me to see a tree get preened. And, yes, I have been called a tree hugger more than once in life. All that is to say, those redwoods are amazing. I wanted to hug every one. Honestly, reflecting back, I don't think I hugged one. I did, however, hug a bear made out of a single tree. I also took numerous pictures with trees, by trees, on trees, and even in trees. I want tress back in my life. There aren't really trees in Chicago.

I drove halfway through the Redwood Forrest and then Catie took over. She was a rockstar. This was her first time driving on the trip and she could handle those wooded curves with ease. The thing that really, truly makes her a rockstar though is the fact that she (the only one of us!) drove through a tree! She is my hero.

I feel I need to quickly clear up some Redwood confusion.
Are they big? yes!
Are they tall? yes!
Can you drive a car through them? barely.

The opening for your car is only 7 ft wide and 7 ft high! Catie, like an expert, guided my car through the tree. It fit like a glove. She will always be the-girl-who-drove-my-car-through-a-tree to me. And I will always be proud!

We left the Forrest and headed for the first exit we saw. (I'll skip a major sister fight here. Kelly was smart and just went inside as Catie and I duked it out.) Little did I know as I entered that Subway/gas station that this was about to be the most adventurous hour of today's trip.

So...to set the scene: Catie and I aren't talking to each other, Kelly is trying to stay out of it, there is one guy working at the counter, and a group of people all ordering footlong subs. As I get into line this is the first thing I hear:

"No, sorry we are out of meatballs"

"They're out of meatballs!" "Oh man, I wanted meatballs. Okay, how about Ham and Swiss"

"Uh...sorry we're out of swiss" Then someone in the back room calls out, "We're out of steak too!" The sandwich maker adds on "oh, and we don't have a toaster."

Already I can tell this is going to be awesome. By "swiss" Catie and I had apparently made up because we were snickering at each other. It just keeps getting better and better as 4-5 different people keep coming in and out with this order, all passing down the same, "they don't have ____" information. Seriously, this went on a long time. So long, in fact, that I took out my Droid and begin yelping for other places around Garberville, CA. Unfortunately, neither "Nacho Mama" nor "Getti Up" held any appeal of any of us. So we waited...for about 25 minutes.

Finally it's our turn. Kelly's up first. By this time, two workers come out. Still no idea why only one guy was making all of the footlongs. She orders a tuna sandwich. "We don't have tuna." He quickly adds, "but we could make some." Off goes guy number one to make Kelly's tuna fish salad.

Catie is up next. Oven Roasted Chicken with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Hers gets put together nice and easily. Some may even say "fast."

By this time, the first guy is back with Kelly's tuna. The second guy is finishing Catie's. And third guy is finally ringing out the big order.

My turn has come. After staring at the board for the past 30 minutes, I'd realized that the club was cheaper was turkey. "What's on the club?" I asked when my turn finally came.

"Turkey, Roast Beef, and Ham"

"Can I get it with no Ham. I don't eat eat pork."

"Sure," and then, no lie, he whispers "are you a Jew?"

"No. I just stopped eating pork in 5th grade. It's gross."

"Okay, because, I mean, it would be ok"

"Well, sometimes I tell people I'm a Jew but I'm not really..."

This conversation continues as I tell him, in my ridiculous, public, effervescent way, that I want all of the toppings except the hot ones, like peppers. So he was chatting about the fat cucumbers that had been hand sliced so they were too big, and I was making stupid jokes about it being redwood country so every thing's bigger, when he asked me what sauces I wanted. "Light mayo and spicy mustard."

As he lifted the mayo, I could see a dead fly on the bottom on the bottle. ugh. Before I could even say anything, he squirted it on the sandwich...dead fly and all! blech! I froze. Kelly yelled out, "hey, there's a fly!"

He looked down, "Where? I don't see it."

Seriously? It was easily one of the biggest flies I've ever seen. I'm not accustom to seeing flies in mayo on my sandwich so perhaps I'm exaggerating on the size a bit. But it was a HUGE horsefly. ugh. yuck. yuck. yuck!

Thankfully, he quickly made me a new sandwich as he apologized and apologized. Apparently, he was legally blinded and didn't like to wear his glasses. uh...what?!? At any rate, I got a free sandwich, which I barely had the stomach to eat (but I did because it was well into the 2 o'clock hour and I had been waiting for it for 45 minutes!).

And that, friends, is the perfect way to get over a family fight. After a disgusting adventure like that to bond other who can even remember who started what about what? no one. We are just all happy to get out alive. Oh, and I almost forgot about the creepy guy who was telling Catie he was going to go get drunk for the first time in 12 years because he was tired of getting high. He even showed her the 12 proof substance he was going to use. Oh, northern California...

So after the Subway fiasco, I continued driving toward Oakland, CA. We are spending the night with a college friend's best friend. I will let you know all about San Fran next time we meet here in the cyber world.

- the nomad

PS> At the insistence of others, I added ads. What do you think? I'm I now a sellout? Can you be a sellout if you've only really been a blog writer for two weeks?

PPS> Happy 10.10.10

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Couple of Days with Strangers

Hello Friends,

Please forgive my tardiness. The past two days have been filled with all kinds of adventures and no kinds of wifi.

Yesterday, Catie and Kelly joined the trip in Seattle. I drove over in the morning from DeerPark. Twas only a mere 5 hour drive. ugh. This is why the entire trip is not by myself. besides I get distracted too easily. :) "Does that say beware of rattlesnakes? sweet! I need a picture!"

Thankfully, our super kind hostess of the evening, Vic, was able to pick the girls (ladies? women?) up from the airport for me. We reunited in a fantastically, beautiful house right on Puget Sound (or as I call it "the Sound"). These wonderful people, who I had never met, were in their late 50s and had a wonderful black labrador, Jessie. She, the dog, was hands down the best part of Catie's trip so far. The lady of the house was my former college professor's wife's best friend in nursing school. It was a great, fun way to meet a safe new friend.

After reconnecting, we took Seattle by storm. We headed straight to Pike's Place and, after figuring out that Vic had left out an important street, made it without too much trouble. We sampled and then bought some wonderful Turkish Delight. (Strawberry! yum!) We tried to watch the fish mongers throw. We ate mini donuts. A bird attacked Catie's head. We walked around the entire place looking for deals. We got awesome parking (and Catie paid!) I took pictures, some standard, some "corny" (just wait til you see it!). We gazed at the ocean. When we were finished at Pike's Place, we headed to the Space Needle. We didn't go up. We decided it would be cool but not $18 a person cool. Leaving the Space Needle was probably the worst part. My Driod and Garmin kept trying to get me to turn where I wasn't allowed. ugh! technology...

When we got back to Vic's (Jessie's!), she had dinner for us. A "midwestern meal" as she called it. It was sweet. And though it was hamburgers in the land of seafood, it was free and QUITE delicious. Thick, juicy, perfectly browned hamburgers win every time. Why, yes, I am midwestern. Why do you ask?

After dinner, we just hung out and enjoyed The Office together at Catie's gentle insistence (it was the Sweeney Todd episode, after all). Then we all started to fade off and head to bed. The sleepiness is starting to catch up with me. I don't know if it's time change or the go-go-go attitude but I'm getting tired.

Anyway, we woke up today and, after a major setback of not being able to find my heart medicine (we finally did!), headed out toward Mt St Helens.

Mt St Helens is beautiful. However, there are a few things you should know:
1: It is a much, much longer than you would think.
2: If your gas tank is at a half a tank when you start, stop a fill up before heading up the mountain. There are no more gas stations and it is at least 60 miles.
3: There are bridges. You aren't a baby if you scream on the first one. especially if you are the driver. and someone tries to pass you. and you hate bridges anyway. not saying that happened but if it did, try not to scare your passengers too much
4: the roads are windy, don't worry about trying to hit 55 it won't happen. Because when it does, the sign will then read 25
5: it's better to let someone else drive.

Seriously, though, gorgeous views! Catie may have developed a photography complex. Poor girl had to shoot while I was driving. I may be a tad bossy about shots. maybe.

At the top of volcano, after you had parked your car and walked to the top and stayed away from migrating toads, they want you to pay $8 a person. We snuck away. silly rule.

So Kelly drove us down the mountain (way easier!) and into Portland, Oregon. Talk about your bridges!

Portland has been a lot of fun. Tonight we are staying with Nathan' best friend, Brent, and his wife, Martha. They have been showing us a good time. We started everything off with Thai food at a place called Jade. yum! It was Kelly's first Thai experience and I think it left her loving it like all the rest of us.

Everything there was perfect except a slightly problematic money situation. What situation you ask? Well...I left my debit card in the car. As I started back for it, I remembered that I had my other bank card on me. no problem. I went back inside, ordered the food, and handed over the card. After one swipe, she handed it back to me explaining that it was expired. oops. That explains why the parking meter wouldn't read it at Pike's Place. I looked down. sure enough. dang. Thankfully, with Brent & Martha's help, I could scrap together enough cash for our delicious meal.

After dinner and a quick stop by my car to pick the card, we headed to a Christian/community coffeeshop where she works. It was delightful and reminded me of my best friend's coffeeshop. At "the Living Room", there was a very talented laidback guitarist/singer. We could have listened to him for hours...which I think we did. I even left with his cd.

At this coffeeshop, I was a bit of a rockstar. People kept coming up to us saying different things: "You're from Indiana?" "You're a comedian?" "You do look like that girl who smells her armpits (Molly Shannon in Superstar), I can see it." "Have you ever eaten at the Steak N Shake in Indianapolis?" or they would just sing the Beach Boy's "Kokomo" lyrics at us. It was a very funny, though slightly surreal experience. Apparently, Indiana is like India to these people.

When we finally left, we scampered off to do true Portland things. Thing 1: Visit Powell's Bookstore. Things 2: Eat at Voodoo Donuts. I got a Tango Mango. Kelly got a vegan oreo. And Catie got (please excuse the name) the Old Dirty Bastard. They were all delicious.

Now we at back at Brent and Martha's. Everyone else is asleep. I'm about to join them. Tomorrow were driving down the Oregon coast! beauty await!

--the nomad

PS> Sorry if I don't post tomorrow. We are camping in Redwood Forest! :)