Sunday, April 26, 2009

The end/the begining

Fifteen thousand, five hundred, twenty and four tenths; that is the reading on my odometer as Pam sits behind the house in Morgantown, WV.

Asheville, NC proved unexpected in many ways. We found online that there was a swing dance happening on Friday night. So we left Memphis, TN on a mission to get to Ashville in two days. We drove trough Nashville, ate at the coolest Whole Foods that I have ever seen.

-I am not a big fan of the Whole, however, when you eat the way we do and you are travelling, they can be a safe haven of wholesome goodness at the price of selling out, still coconut and blueberry sorbet is awesome.

We filled up on E85 and headed east. Knoxville is nothing more than a footnote, I think might have gotten fuel there.

We got to Asheville, NC in the late afternoon stole some WiFi,found some cool vegan, healthy restaurants and went downtown to get some food. There was a huge drum circle in a park, a guy in a nun outfit riding a really tall bike and a store filled with belt buckles. The food was awesome and the belt buckle store was closed.

We went to the dance, which was at a church. As it turned out, it was a church fund raiser for a rescue mission, and not organized by the swing scene, so no dancers. Great live music and awesome dances with Natalie! We left and slept in a home depot parking lot.

In the morning, we drove to the other side of town to Warren Wilson College. A friend of Nat goes there. Its a cool college where you have to work on campus as part of your education. We got a tour of an awesome garden/farm and got all inspired.

We went with Misha, Nat's friend, to downtown to check out the health food stores and local wares. I was headed for the belt buckle store.

For quite some time, years it feels, I have been wanting a cool belt buckle, but I could never decide on one I liked well enough. A few months back, Natalie got me into BSG(Battlestar Galactica...the reimagined, not the 1978 version) and I discovered that they made some really cool BSG belt buckles back in 1978. I didn't want to get one on Ebay, 'cause thats lame. So I have been searching for one since.

We go in this belt buckle store, which is actually a custom sandal store($400 custom sandals). They also sell handmade belts and vintage buckles. Wouldn't you know it, on the sale table a vintage 1978 BSG belt buckle, waiting for me. Natalie, being a BSG fan longer than me was jealous, but behold, two vintage, 1978 BSG belt buckles. So we scoops them up. Awesome.

Excited over BSG belt buckles and organic farming and on a bit of a sugar rush from some kick ass chocolate (from a chocolate shop in downtown Asheville) we bid farewell to Misha, got some E85 and headed North. We powered through Virginia and southern West Virginia. Into the night we drove and got to Morgantown. Coincidentally, we arrived the night before my cousin's baby shower. So the house was full of family.

My 3 year old nephew, Parker, woke us up nice and early. We had buckwheat groats for breakfast and helped with the shower. It was nice, but we crashed for about an hour and half at the end, sleeping through everyone leaving. Now the real adventure begins. Mowing, tilling, planting, bridge building. But first....unpacking the truck.

Thoughts on cross country driving:
When we do this again....
-We will have living space IE a camper
-We will get better mileage
-We will stay more than a day in most places
-We will not be moving at the same time!!

For the mathematicians out there, 4958.8 miles total.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When I'm walking in memphis

We decided to bounce from KC without dancing. We headed south to Arkasas. Getting too tired to keep driving, we pulled off and searched for a place to sleep in Neosho, MO. We found a precarious strip mall and parked there.

We got up every early, no need to be sleeping when the business opened. Springdale, AK was our next destination, if only for e85, but we pulled off at a gas station to cook. Some of the best juevos rancheros I've ever had.

$1.49 a gallon is what we paid for E85 in Springdale, I wish we hadn't filled up so recently.

One of Natalie's best friend's father lives in Hot Springs Arkansas, so we thought we would pay a visit. We ate at an Ecuadorian restaurant, heard about the book he is writing and slept on a pull out with a grandmother clock that chimed every 15 minutes. Interesting night of sleeping. Our hosts where getting ready to travel the next morning so we headed out early to let them pack.

The only diamond mine in the US is just outside of Mufreesboro, AR. It is the only place in the world where you can pick up diamonds from the ground and keep them. So we thought we give it a go. I should say I thought we would give it a go. About 15 minutes in the hot sun and 45 under a pavilion in the water trough area was all my attention span could take. Nat and I were hungry and overhearing conversations from other diamond hunters about how they have been there all day and were planning to come back the next day was getting depressing. Although I have devised a simple set up that will made for rapid processing of dirt which may contain diamonds. If I ever come back I will build it. Work smart not hard...thats the engineer way.

We left the mine and headed to Little Rock, Whole Foods and e85 was our aim. We got to see a bat which has lost its way while shopping for gluten free products. First live "new" (one I've never seen before) animal I've seen since the antelope in Colorado. Though were are up to 16 dead armadillos.

We had trouble finding the e85 in the Rock so we headed to Carlisle, AR and got some e85 there. Then headed down the highway to a rest area for some shut eye.

The morning brought scrambled eggs and a walk in the prettiest rest area that I have seen in a while. Then back on the road east to Memphis. A short hike at a little state forest gave a break from the road, but soon we were in West Memphis, AR planning our attack. Whole Foods, then dancing at the Rumba Room. Memphis is hot, the dance scene is small, but we had fun. And we got our first dance related, extra bed offer. If it were not so hot here, Jaredan would have trouble getting rid of us. A super comfortable bed and awesome water pressure. That is all that matters when you have been on the road for a while.

We are heading to Ashville, NC next. There might be a stop in Nashville for dancing.

Thoughts on the bible belt:
Jesus saves...for his retirement
- John 4:01k

Thoughts on the Mississippi:
Its not as big as I thought I would be

Sunday, April 19, 2009

There are two Kansas Cities

The Oz museum was a bit of a let down. They didn't have all that many movie props, but they did have a lot of Oz paraphernalia from the years. We cooked some groats in the parking lot of an IGA and headed off to Topeka.

In the state capitol, which has seen more happening times, we found a cool whole-in-the-wall food coop and went to an Old Prairie Town. The tulips where in bloom and we got some "Tulip Time". We left Topeka and headed to Kansas City. Kansas City, KS...not to be confused with Kansas City, MO.(Kansas City is on the border that divides Kansas from Missouri. You could consider there to be one KC with half on the Kansas side and half on the Missouri side.)

It rained the past few nights, and rain drops on fiberglass do not make for pleasant sleeping. Several nights of limited sleep and fitting illness prompted us to go see a movie. We saw "I love you man". Pretty funny. We parked in a side street of a neighbor and packed it in for the night. Another rainy night. The rain subsided in the wee hours of the morning and this allowed for some late sleeping.

Finding the glory that is the Kansas City Whole Foods was a great way to greet the morning/early afternoon. We are now left with a dilemma, stay and dance tonight or head to Arkansas for some diamond hunting. (Its raining in Arkansas now, so I vote dancing, despite our collective under-the-weather-ness)

Thoughts on Kansas:
It is entirely underrated as far as scenery. The flat areas have awesome skies and the eastern part of the state has some cool hills. My dad says that everyone should be required to drive across the country at least once, I think Kansas is a must for any cross country drive.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I got a google map going

We are in Wamego, KS. The home of the Wizard of Oz Museum. Nat is sleeping and does not feel well. My stomach has been better. Tomorrow we hope to feel better, go to the Oz Museum and enjoy the Wamego Tulip Festival.

In the mean time check out my map.,-96.292419&spn=0.127224,0.219727&z=12&iwloc=000467ca08ce0ed7cbeb4

Wes, this on is for you

We got up in the morning, ate some allergen free granola and headed back out on the road.
Kansas is windy. We had been running from a lightning storm the night before which could not keep up with us and, while it made for some pretty skies the night before, dissipated before too long.

Still we had a whole lot of Kansas ahead. Hays, KS was the next big "city" on our map, and it made for some fun thrift shopping. Nat got a shirt and I got a sweet three piece suit and a cool jacket. We also went to a museum of natural history with a lot of fossils and such. One of the most photographed fossils, the fish-in-a-fish fossil is in Hays. Did you know that Kansas was once under water?

One common thing that people ask you if you are driving around the country is if you are going to see the worlds largest ball of twine. My brother Wes was very excited about this aspect, and while it was not in our plans, a map of Kansas pointed out that said famous ball was only an hour or so out of our way. Cawker City here was come.

Cawker City does not have much, especially at 6pm. But the twine was....worth seeing? They have a yearly Twine-a-thon where you can go and add twine to the ball.

Leaving sleepy Cawker City and heading back to the main highway brought E85, dinner time, night fall and Salina, KS. We cooked and set up shop in a city park, which we later found out to be a frisby golf course.

Morning brought rice cereal with rice milk and poor Nat apparently with the same aliment that hit Mom, Wes, Ali and a few others in Colorado. Good thing it only lasted one day for the rest.

We are heading out towards Tulsa and perhaps the Wizard Of Oz museum.

Thoughts on Kansas:
What the Sunflower State lacks in topography, it makes up for in awesome clouds.

Good times in Colorado Springs

There is a whole branch of my family that lives in Colorado Springs, CO. Basically, my Mom's cousin, Patty, and her kids, and her grandkids. They are always trying to get family to come to see them. Well I have been saying I would visit for probably ten years, and for at least five lamely making plans and having them not happen. Well I made good on my word. And if we did not have plans in WV, Natalie and I thought about just setting up shop.

Thanks to Lisa and Stewert for putting us up for almost a week and for letting us use your kitchen and shower. Also for playing tour guide.

My soon-to-be sister in law also lives in the Spring and since it was Easter my brother and mother and soon to be in laws all flew in for some family time. I got to see my new nephew. We made some awesome vegan-esce food and didn't do a lot of thing.

We didn't drive through the garden of the gods, sorry for jinxing your car Lisa. We didn't got to the top of Pikes peak, hope Mom and Wes are feeling better. We didn't have gluten free pizza; why did they run out of gluten free dough? We didn't give Lisa a second how-to-make-pasta-from-scratch lesson, maybe next time.

But we did do a lot. We walked around the garden of the gods (on the second attempt). We tasted crazy spring water in Manitou (while Wes was getting sick) and we made gluten free pizelles (a little messy, but good). We also went dancing in Denver (the Mercury Cafe:natural food and great lindy hop).

Thanks to all of the CO family; Patty, Lisa, Julie, Buzz, Stewert, Ali, Robert, Morgan, Jim and Gieda( i hope I spelled that right). We hope to see you in July.

We headed out of the Spring on Wednesday and went East. We drove on the flattest ground we have seen since Barstow. Eastern Colorado looks like you would think Kansas would. Not much to tell. We cooked at a rest area just pasted the Kansas border and slept a few rest stops later.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lessons in serendipity

You can call fate, coincidence, kismet...I prefer serendipity.

A series of events lead to us learning some valuable pieces of information.

While looking for an autoparts store based off of a google search, we were inspired to pull off in a shopping center plaza and park. The reason being a vintage vespa with a sidecar at a neighboring scooter shop. (if you do not know, I am a scooteristand love vintage scooters) As it turned out, the vintage vespa siren responsible for our detour was actually a Stella (a modern reproduction of a vintage vespa) but very cool anyway. In the shop, the shop girl noticed the quote on the back of my shirt. "Dance first, think later, its the natural order" And commented that she danced. I mentioned that we were Lindy Hoppers and she got all excited. Apparently there are swing dancers in Santa Fe and one of them owns a scooter shop.
The owner came out and chatted a bit (as scooter shop owners tend to do). They let us know that we missed the Monday night dancing in Santa Fe, but should not miss dancing in Albuquerque an hour south.

We left the scooter shop headed to the Local Community Rec center for a shower, thanks to the directions given by the scooter folks. Stopping for a gas cap at a Napa first, we then headed to the nicest rec center that I have seen. We were inspired to go for a run at the indoor track and took showers. Feeling energized and excited we headed to Albuquerque.

In Albuquerque, we realized that neither one of us had payed close enough attention to the instructions from the scooter folks and did not know where we were going. Ending up at the Albuquerque convention center, which rang a bell for both of us prove we had bad memories. Some advice from local guys on fixed gear bikes, looking through the local paper, and finally stealing some WiFi from a pizza place, we found our location. The Heights Community Center. Some driving, missed turns and turning around and we arrived at our destination. Dancing proved fun, though lindy hoppers were scarce and the music was funky. Natalie danced with a guy and mentioned that we were on our way to the Denver Area. He inquired if we were going to the Mile High Blue Festival in Denver this weekend. We looked into it months ago, but forgot about it.

We slept on the street outside the Community Center, got up early and hit the road for Colorado Springs. I have family there and good Denver dancing is on Thursdays and Thursday dancing the day before a dance event is going to be great.

We powered through eight hours of driving. Stopping for E85 and a walk around Toas, NM. We arrived at cousin Lisa's house in the dark, stayed up late catching up and slept in a real bed. Thank you Lisa. Now we are chilling, doing laundry, planning a dancing trip tonight and figuring the semantics of visiting family. My mom is in town, my future sister-in-law is too with my new nephew along with other cousins. Looks like we might stay in Colorado Springs for a few days, my brother is coming in tonight and Easter is Sunday.

Yeah for showers, beds, and Family!