How was my trip, you ask? So. Freaking. Awesome. We're on the home stretch now, laid up for a day or two in C.'s home town of Las Cruces, NM, getting high and watching a special on poisoning on the History Channel with his boyhood friends. After 19 days of hiking, driving, and camping, it's a pleasant lull. I was planning to bring my laptop with me and update you periodically, but my harddrive failed again about fifteen minute prior to departure, so I guess it was not to be. But no fear -- here for your edification, Grace's Pocketbook Guide to the Great American West.
Compared to most of the rest of Texas, the Hill Country is pretty, especially when you are driving through it at 75 mph in an '85 VW Westphalia bus with a cute guy and a chocolate-dipped cone from Dairy Queen.
Colorado's San Isabel National Forest is a green and pretty place to spend an afternoon. The Rifle State Park just outside Rifle, CO has gorgeous canyons along the Rifle River, and some neato rock-climbing paths which we didn't take because we don't know how, but plan to learn. There is also something call the Ice Cave which is drippy and mossy in early August but probably looks badass in winter.
The Travelodge in Lander, Wyoming has renovated it's hot-tub room. When we stayed there two years ago, the room was pine-paneled and shag carpeted, but now it's all respectable white plaster and gray paint. Oh, well. We'll always have the memories.
Thermopolis, WY is not for lovers. C. and I were lured there by promises of the world's largest hot springs, which turn out to be housed in a sort of weird retro family waterpark. The Blue Thunder, the park's three-story waterslide, is satisfyingly scary and the Vapor Cave does not admit minors for good reason. C. and I received official reprimand for rubbing noses in the mineral pool in front of children. They don't stand for that stuff in Thermpolis.
Yellowstone National Park is mind-bogglingly gorgeous, and, on the main roads, very crowded. There is a tiny traffic jam every time an elk wanders in sight of the road and a sign next to every natural feature that you're supposed to take a picture of, but the smaller hiking trails are pretty much empty. Thank you, America, for being a bunch of lazy pussies. My boyfriend and I really appreciate having all the coolest stuff to ourselves. Like the Roosevelt Tower Falls, and the little cabin by the beach on the Colorado River, and the alpine meadows with the glassy little lakes and the wild rasberry bushes.
Ontario, Oregon is right on the border between Wyoming and Oregon. According to my frantic scribblings on the atlas, we must have spent a night here, but I don't remember anything about it.
Southeast Oregon is way flatter and drier than my mental picture of Oregon. At one point you are driving through a scrubby desert and then there's a vast, inexplicable, sky-blue lake and flocks of seagulls. Weird.
Jacksonville, OR and surroundings used to be all wierdos and survivalists but has suddenly become she-she wine country. We camped in a state park that felt like somebody's orchard -- wild blackberries everywhere.
Word up to Crescent City, California. This is where our AAA-approved tow-truck driver took us when our van died in the parking lot of the Redwoods National Park Visitor Information Center. He also took us to a convenience store to buy beer and firewood, and dropped us off at the campground where we had reservations. Thanks, Mike. Thanks also to Doni and Jenny, the lovely couple at the campsite next to ours who lent us the cushions from their RV so we didn't have to sleep on the ground while the van was in the shop. My highest recommendations on Ken's Auto, where they found our starter did not need to be replaced, but only taken apart, blown on, and put back together. They charged us $15. Also, the Good Harvest Cafe where they take breakfast as seriously as I do.
The Redwoods are one of my favorite places on earth. You'd think there'd be a point where that wide-eyed Damn-That's-A-Big-Tree feeling would wear off, but I never seem to get there. If you do, you can always hike down to the coast, which is breath-taking.
At Buckley's Thrift Store in Laytonville, CA C. bought a pair of shiny patent leather shoes and I got a sweet vintage garterbelt for amazingly cheap prices.
San Fransisco is the only place we stopped where I was not amazed by the general obesity of the resident population. C. and I had some awesome curry at the Thai Stick and went to a strip club that turned out to be a brothel.
Coastal Highway One is a great drive. Big Sur is the name that everybody knows, but the view is amazing pretty much all the way down. The road is winding, though, so Yours Truly was carsick as a Labrador Retreiver for most of it.
Los Angeles. Blah. C. has a remarkable fondness for this place, but I tend to feel it looks best from the freeway. Except when the freeway is shut down for the filming of an ambulance chase scene, or when the traffic is back up for forty minutes because EVERYONE must slow down for second and third looks at the flaming Jeep pulled over on the shoulder.
When we were there, Eastern California was in the grip of a dust-and-thunderstorm that resulted in a spectacular sunset. Arizona has Saguaros, which are the cactuses that look like cartoon cactuses. It also has The Thing, which is advertized by billboards for 150 miles in either direction. C. was sucked in years ago and says it isn't worth it.
And that, in a nutshell, is that. Tomorrow we're going to Juarez, Mexico with some friends of C.'s, and I'm going to try to buy a velvet painting of a naked lady. A day or two after that, we should be leaving for Austin, a nine or ten hour drive from here. But now C. is doing the leg-jiggling thing he does when I am boring him by hanging out on the computer too long, and somebody has just popped a beer for me. Hasta la vista.