Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wyoming, Montana, Washington

We left Deadwood in sunshine, noting that the area was logged but very quaint. The buildings downtown were all very old and geared towards attracting tourists to them. We did not stop once we left the motel, though. I was glad to have downloaded the voice of Herbert, the aged pedophile from Family Guy, into my TomTom, as it'd been his voice directing us for most of our way thus far.

Wyoming took forever to drive through. It was very hilly, and the hills eventually gave way to the Big Horned Sheep Mountain range, which we had to drive up and over. That took about an hour longer than we thought it would, because mountains are kind of scary. We eventually reached Yellowstone, which was mountainous and dense with trees. There were bison who would graze right next to the road, daring you to stop and take their pictures with the danger of possibly charging your vehicle. To travel through Yellowstone is to travel through both forests and snowy mountain tops. Lake Yellowstone is enormous and covered with ice most of the year. There are steaming geysers everywhere and the smell of sulpher lingers in the air. It's terribly exciting, really. We stopped to look at some geysers and boiling puddles of mud before heading to the campground to ensure that we'd have a spot to rest for the night. While informing Deanna about the park regulations, etc., I watched the woman carefully go over the fact that this was BEAR COUNTRY, emphasizing it in every other sentence. She was so conscious of telling us that it was BEAR COUNTRY that she circled the picture of a bear at the top of the page. We both found this very funny.

We saw Old Faithful erupt while listening to a large group of Japanese tourists yell and squeal excitedly for the hour or so we spent waiting for it. There was a large hotel that had been built right next to Old Faithful that reminded me of the Animal Kingdom hotel my family and I took a peak at last summer. Everything, to some extent, feels like Disney World, or that Disney World has sucked some of its essence out. I don't know whether or not to feel annoyed or impressed with Disney, but I'm leaning towards being impressed. We, however, were not staying in a super-overpriced inn. We went back to our campsite and I had Deanna put away the food in the trunk and throw away the trash while I set up the tent (which, contrary to what it said on the outside, is NOT 6ft by 5ft...more like 5ft by 3ft). And then we bundled up and slept. It got down to about 20 degrees. Not an extremely pleasant evening, but it was cheap and that's what we wanted.

We got up at 5am and hit the road. I put AG's first mix to me on and it was absolutely perfect. Followed by Grizzly Bear, which was also perfect. Montana requires slow music. That's not just because the speed limit hangs around 55mph for most of the way through. We went through a series of sloping hills next to various rivers and streams and pastures. Gas stations were relatively sparse for a while because "real" towns were few and far in between. Maybe just long enough to make us nervous because we needed gas. But we survived. We ended up going through a series of canyons, which also took much longer than Google had predicted, because NO ONE should be going 65mph down a winding mountain/canyon.

Eventually we hit Washington, which was a lot of mountains and relatively clear until we reached Seattle, which was just slightly overcast for most of the day. Seattle was, in my opinion, wonderful. We got there in the evening, checking into our hotel and then hitting Capitol Hill, the city's gay district. We went to a place called Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen, which was essentially like Laughing Planet and The Vid rolled into one but waaaay overboard. Every surface was covered in Mexicana decor. It was awesome. Then we were walking around and looking at shops and clubs while heading back to the car when all of a sudden I stopped to take a photo of a bar called "Unicorn" and a drag queen standing on a box behind us next to an ambiguous establishment's door accosted us. "Hey, you girls looking for a place to get drunk all night and watch slutty naked ladies?" Deanna was, of course, put off, but I smiled and said "maybe." So she started talking us into coming inside. She was advertising a vaudeville show she co-starred in: The Vaudevillians. So I dragged Deanna inside, and it was brilliant. That drag queen was EXTREMELY talented. There were no slutty ladies, and I was perfectly content with that. Then we went home.

In the morning, we went to Pike Place Market, in which there were a ton of flower stands and fish markets with employees who would shout things in unison to make it interesting. I sampled some fresh smoked salmon that was not yet three days old and it was some of the most delicious salmon I've ever eaten. There were also quite a few artisans. I kept seeing dichoric glass stands, but no one's jewelery was as good as my mom's. That's not biased opinion. It's fact. Then I found that I had lost Deanna, so I decided to continue wandering, because we both have cell phones. I wandered into a book shop called Left Bank Books, only to find that it had quite a few gender studies books upon entry and in the back had a bunch of 'zines (including a bunch of stuff from Microcosm!). That's when I realized it was the Seattle version of Boxcar Books, and that all of its workers were also volunteers/anarchist punks. I took my hoodie off to reveal my Boxcar Books shirt in time for one of its volunteers who was eating lunch and kind of reminding me of Steven to say "hey, nice shirt! I've been there-it was years ago but it was really cool." We struck up a conversation about volunteering in these kinds of bookstores and about how it really sucks to leave them, because she herself was about to leave Left Bank. She was interested in hearing my story and gave me some suggestions about where we should go while in town. I bought Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and a Left Bank shirt before high-fiving her and awkwardly leaving.

Then I found Deanna and we went to a place called Piroshky, Piroshky, that serves an array of Russian pastry food (namely piroshkies). It was really delicious. Then we went to the Space Needle and saw some stuff. Then we went to the Underground Tour and went on a tour of the streets and what Seattle was before it made its 8-30ft high streets above the actual ground level. Seedy, interesting beginnings. Then we went to Ye Olde Curiosities Shoppe and saw an impressive array of dead things. Then we went to the Ivar's Fish Bar so that I could eat some fresh deep-fried clams and fries on the pier while being aggressively squawked at and eyed by some enormous seagulls. Then we went to a giant Asian grocery store in the International District that was surrounded by light posts with statues of Chinese dragons slithering up them so that Deanna could get some sushi (they say the sushi in Seattle is the best next to Japan). Then we went and saw the Troll under the Aurora St. Bridge and took a bunch of photos. Then we went back to the hotel and passed out.

We woke up this morning with just enough time for me to shower and for us to pack up the room and leave on before the official check-out time. We went to Aberdeen mainly just to take a token photo of the sign and for me to take a photo of the Wishka river, where half of Kurt Cobain's ashes were scattered. Then we turned around and drove back to Olympia, where we are now, sitting in the Spar Cafe & Bar, which looks like it's straight out of a noir film, just as my Let's Go! USA guide book suggested.

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