Saturday, January 26, 2008

on the road (volume 10)

The day after I last posted, I woke up early to get Court to the Airport for a 7 a.m. flight. There was very little traffic, and the moon was full over the still lit up city. It was nice. After saying my goodbyes, I headed back to the apartment and went back to sleep. Garrett and I had decided to leave that day and head to Portland because we still hadn't heard a thing from Court's friend, and felt weird being in her apartment without her there.

Before leaving, however, we went on one last adventure to the UPS Store to ship Court his phone (which he'd left in my car). We ended up in this really amazing little section of Seattle called Fremont. It reminded me a lot of Northampton, MA. We found the store no problem, and I got a chance to ship James all the little goodies I'd been collecting for him as I traversed the land. We then enjoyed some very delicious Thai food, did some people watching, nursed my stomach ache, and headed back to the apartment. We napped and packed and hit the road just as the sun was setting.

We stopped at a motel in Vancouver, WA to regroup before heading into Portland. I was feeling pretty intense about the whole thing because, after all, this is what I'd been waiting for since leaving Massachusetts. We rested up, and confirmed the details of our sejourn. I found out about this site called where you connect with people from all over the world. You can network with and befriend people and then they offer you a free place to stay (and someone to show you around the city). So, we made plans to meet up with some people in Portland and crash on their couch. It was a really great experience, and I recommend this site to anyone and everyone who travels. We'd been inadvertently couchsurfing this whole trip, it just happened to be with friends of friends or moms of friends or just friends.

Anyway, we arrived chez Ben in the early afternoon, and he told us all about where to go, what to see, and which bus routes to take. We set off with the intention of visiting the Chinese Gardens, but realized they closed in about an hour. Instead, we headed straight for Pioneer Square, into the Tourist center to snag maps and routes and coupons. This old Irish guy took a fancy to me, and started handing me maps, and pointing me certain directions. Funny that all the restaurants he recommended were Irish. :) Anyway, he gave me this coupon for a 2 for 1 lunch at Kell's (an Irish Pub, of course) for the next day. Then he told me he would have invited me to his house for dinner if he hadn't thought that Garrett would want to come along. It was wicked funny, and I got free lunch out of the deal.

Afterward we wandered around the city, into Chinatown, ate at a Chinese place, wandered down to the Pearl, and spent hours perusing in Powell's bookstore. It's a whole city block of bookstore. I can see myself heading to Portland just for that.
Anyway, we got home and crashed pretty early. Walking around in the wicked cold, strong wind of a city is tiresome. The next morning we got up early to hit the Gardens. Our first stop, however, was Voodoo doughnuts, this really off-the-wall little doughnut shop/wedding chapel. They have donuts with oreo crumbled on top, voodoo doll shaped ones with a pretzel through the heart and cherry filling, and many other crazy cool doughnuts. Also, they perform wedding ceremonies there. For $25 you can get a noncommittal ceremony. For a couple hundred, you can get the whole shebang. Anyway, doughnuts in hand, we arrive at the gardens just in time for the free tour. It was so peaceful and beautiful and calm (and COLD) there.

The guide mentioned how the water in the ponds just flowed without struggle. When water hits up against a rock, it doesn't freak out and wonder what it will do next. It just flows. The point of these gardens was to have a place where you could stop thinking. This resonated so much with me... the idea of hitting a rock and just flowing. After all, that's kind of how my life works anyway so it's pointless to stress.

After the Gardens, we headed back to Powell's to geek out a little more, then met up with Ben and his lady Holly for lunch at Kell's. It was very yummy. :) Then we wandered around with them for a little while, got some cofee, chilled out, and headed back. We wanted to try to go dancing, but apparently the scene in Portland is such that it supports live music much more than the stuff I enjoy dancing to (electronica/industrial). So much for that. The lack of a great dance scene was a big turn-off, actually. Anyway, we were exhuasted. I was done with the city at that point. Not that it wasn't wicked cool, because it was, but so was everywhere else I had been. I was tired of the cold, for one, and second, I don't know anyone there (well, now I know Ben, but that's different). We decided to leave the next morning. After ruminating over the many options of places I could go, (I was running out of money, but lots of my friends had offered great things) I decided to book it back to the warm, sunny climes in Tucson. I spent the next two days driving a distance I had previously taken 3 weeks to traverse. We hit two horrible snow storms, and a lot of sunny California.

So, today finds me in Tucson, sitting barefoot on the porch where I have spent most of the day sucking in sunshine, being so glad for t-shirt weather. I intend to stick around here for a little while to let the worst of the winter pass me by, and to figure out what in the world I want to do with my life (if anything other than just this very thing, of course). Garrett nailed this whole thing on the head when he said that Portland was just my Emerald City... not my Ithaca. That's exactly it. My Emerald City. And I'm so incredibly greatful for the chance I've had to make it there, and for every experience I've had along the way. The adventure doesn't stop here. Only now, I have a place to rest my weary bones.

Sending you plenty of Arizona sunshine.

Until next time.

on seattle (a photo addendum)

The Puget Sound:
The city from the Sound:
More of the Sound:
The city from inside the library:
The rain at the bus stop:
Space Needle:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

on the road (volume 9)

Well. I must say these past several days have been quite incredible. Regretfully, my camera battery was dead for the majority of the time, so I only have a few pictures. Fortunately, however, I took pictures with my phone, but until I can get them uploaded to here, you will have to use your imagination. I'll have to post an addendum to this entry at a later date.

Let us begin by leaving somewhere South of Portland on Thursday morning to head north to Seattle. We awoke to gray skies and cold rain, precisely what I'd expected for the area. The cold felt surprisingly good after having been out of it for so long. We partook of the continental breakfast, filled up Thel's belly, and headed out. We found ourselves viewing Portland's skyscape very shortly thereafter, and I was glad that I had decided not to stop there at all that day. I took in the feel and the scenery from the highway. The architecture was really cool, but it looked cold and gray overall.

Anyway, I would be spending days there later on, so there was no need to think too much about that. The rest of the drive was pretty much city-less, and the landscape was flat, green, and beautiful. A three and a half hours later, we start seeing the exits for Seattle. We had no idea where we were going, as we were planning on staying with Court's friend that he was visiting there. His plane was landing just as we arrived, so we drove around the city waiting for his friend to pick him up from the airport and give us directions. We drove around most of downtown, and got a general sense of direction. I wanted to explore while we waited but every parking spot was minimum $6 for half an hour. It was hardly worth it since I had no map and didn't know what to see anyway. We ended up sitting in the parking lot of a 7 Eleven with a great view of the Space Needle until we could get directions.

After a lovely reunion with Court, and finally meeting his friend, we set out to find some food. His friend hasn't lived in Seattle for very long, so she wasn't too keen on directions, either. We were going somewhere 10 minutes away, and it turned into a half hour tour of the other neighborhoods of Seattle, which was wicked cool. We found a place to park, and decided to eat at this Indian restaurant advertising authentic cuisine. They weren't kidding. The servers couldn't even speak English. Or their own language, apparently, because they got our orders so wrong. We had to repeat things 5 or 6 times, and no questions could really be answered. It was so funny. Finally, after waiting for what seemed like forever, they bring the food, or everyone's order but my own. I ask about it, and he seems so confused. He doesn't understand what I'm saying, so I ask for a menu making a book-like sign with my hands, and finally point. He gets it and apologizes profusely. Apparently he mistook me saying "malai kofta" as me ordering "garlic naan." Even if you mispronounce that horribly, it sounds nothing like garlic naan. But, alas, we were laughing so hard by the end of the night, it was well worth the wait.

Bellies full, we hit the streets. There are tons of cool shops and places to explore, and we find ourselves in a wonderful bookstore full of wood shelves and half a dozen lofts. We spent the better part of the evening perusing through the volumes. It was certainly delicious.

At this point, we are all pretty tired, so we head home, and have a rather lovely evening together. The next day, the three of us are on our own because Court's friend has to work. We start by trying to figure out the bus timetables so we can get around. We decide to go to the Market and to Chinatown. We think we've got it, and we walk down the street a while to a bus stop, and hop on the 17. We're on for a while, and the driver finally says, "my route is over, where are you guys trying to get off?" We tell him and quickly learn that we've hopped the wrong bus. The driver, luckily, is nice enough to drive us to our destination anyway. We snag some maps and hit the market.

I wish I had pictures, but you can google it if you want. The Pike Place Market is wicked cool. It's pretty much a sensory overload, a maze of shops, in fact. There are vendors pushing their wares for floor after floor. There are bookstores, food shops, fruit stands, jewelry stores, crafts of all kinds, international treasures, record shops, toy stores, and I could go on and on. My favorite shop was this Egyptian store that sold a ton of wicked cool bellydance attire.

After the market we (successfully) hopped a bus to Chinatown, which was rather unimpressive. We walked around, and left shortly thereafter. We found a coffee shop (which, in Seattle, is just about the easiest thing to do) and sat down to enjoy ourselves. We were all pretty tired because this place requires a ton of walking. We wanted to get some food, but the places are "mediocre and overpriced," according to a Seattle guidebook. So true. We finally got a bus home and ordered Chinese food. It was absolutely delicious.

The next day was Garrett's birthday, so we pretty much wanted to do whatever he wanted. We planned to head to the top of the Space Needle for sunset. We left in the late afternoon, thinking we knew the right bus route and the right stop. We wound up having to walk for what seemed like forever, and crossing underneath the highway to get to it. It was certainly worth it.

It was dark by the time we reached the top, but we spent a couple hours absorbing the city lights.

Next it was off to one of the more popular restaurants in Queene Anne (a cool and very posh little neighborhood) called the Five Spot. Every 6 weeks or so they redo the theme entirely. This time around it's New Orleans style. I had honey fried chicken and endless sweet tea. Mmmm... a taste of home. This meal was delicious, and I highly recommend the Five Spot to anyone heading to Seattle.

We headed home with every intention of going out dancing for Garrett's birthday. We got home, researched some clubs, finally found one we felt would be worth trying, and realized it was 12:30 a.m. The club was open till 6, so no problem there, but the bus route ended at 12:50. We headed out the door only to realize we'd just missed the bus. At this point, we call up the transit system and they give us the address of another place to catch the other route. We go back inside to google where the stop is in relation to where we are staying, and head out. Suddenly we are heading toward a really shady dark abandonded underpass. I got a horrible feeling about it, and so did Garrett, so we went a different way. We walked forever, and had to use the GPS on Court's phone to figure out where to go. By the time we found the stop, another hour and a half had passed (we have no idea how) and we had missed that bus as well. We tried to call a cab, but one number didn't answer the phone, and the other number we had was some guy whom we woke from a deep sleep, apparently. This was getting frustrating, and we were dead tired because almost the entire walk had been up this really steep hill. We finally decided to just go home. We couldn't figure out what bus to take at 3 a.m. to get us to the club in time to get $10 worth of dancing in by 6 a.m. Oh well, we would have been too tired to dance anyway.

The next morning (this morning, actually) we awoke with a hunger, and successfully bused ourselves to IHOP (by this point we are proud of the fact that we can work the public transport system). We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Market and walking along the waterfront. It was very beautiful. I have more pics on my phone, and like I said, those will be coming soon. Anyway, I totally dig Seattle and the whole scene around here, though I could do without the wind and the cold. We'll be heading to Portland tomorrow or the next day, so I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

on the road (volume 8)

First of all, I'd like to take a sentence to thank all of you who are reading this. I am beyond thrilled to know that my adventures can be shared. So, keep on reading. :)

I last left you in Hollywood, with every intention of partying (like a rockstar). Well, I did, indeed, have quite a blast. We walked a little less than a mile down Vine Street to Avalon Hollywood, a pretty popular club for the DJ/ electronic music scene. We had to wait in line for maybe 20 minutes, but it was well worth it. In spite of the fact that the cover was $20, it was $4 to check my jacket, $8 for a drink, and $5 for a bottle of water (which, by the way, I still have because I couldn't bring myself to throw away a $5 bottle even though it's empty), I got to hear some great music. I was surprised at the dancing, though. It seemed "uncool" to let lose. There was a huge Asian crowd that was rocking out, but everyone else seemed inhibited, which is way uncool, in my opinion. It didn't affect me too much, though, because I danced till my feet hurt too bad to walk (literally). It was really fun, though the walk back to the hotel was wicked painful. After a short but sweet sleep, we partook of the continental breakfast, and hit the road, trying desperately to snag a shot of the Hollywood sign on the way out of town.
We headed back to the coast, to see what we could see. The next stop would be San Francisco, but we knew we wouldn't make it there that day. I honestly don't have words for how amazing the coastal highway is. There were a thousand miles and a thousand sharp curves of ever changing landscape and constant ocean. My soul feels at home that close to the sea. Being able to look out the window at any given moment and see her there, so stoic and constant and fickle and ever changing... it was just... breathtaking.

We spent all day driving and stopping and loitering on beaches, and when the sun finally set we found a place to camp just beside the ocean. I got really cold that night, but being able to hear the waves crashing all night long was very worth it.

The next morning we continued along the coast, with more and more never ending breathtaking beauty. Around 1 or 2 we made it into San Francisco, where I missed the exit into the actual city and wound up driving us across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then back across so we could actually stop and see the place. There's no toll going northbound, but it's 5 dollars going south, so just because I missed the exit, I had to pay to go back. Oh well. Frankly, I was unimpressed by the Golden Gate Bridge. Maybe it's just way too built up because it's such a tourist attraction, or maybe seeing the Pont de Normandie spoiled me. It also could have been the smoggy skies surrounding the whole area. Whatever the reason, it was just a bridge.

Rolling through the city felt a little surreal. I didn't much care for it. It seemed dingy and dim. We found a place to park, and wandered around Fisherman's Wharf for the afternoon. It was cool seeing all the boats, and all the buildings you hear about. Also, Alcatraz is visible from there, so I geeked out a little because I know how much my dad would have loved that. At least I got to send him a postcard. Well, I didn't want to stay in San Fran, so we hit the road again. We finally found a cheap enough motel in Cloverdale, CA. The guy at the desk told us the best and most beautiful route to take the next day to get to the redwoods, so it was well worth being there just to get that little tidbit of information. In the morning, we hit the road, following a little scenic highway out of Cloverdale to get back to the coastal highway. This scenic drive was absolutely enchanted. The landscape was unlike anything I'd ever seen. It made me feel like I was in the land of Faery. On top of that, there were dozens of wineries all along the way. This area was absolutely ripe for grape cultivation.
After a while, we connected back to the coast, where I got to placate a little more of my addiction for the Pacific Ocean. We stopped a couple times so I could blow kisses to the waves. :)
We finally made it north enough to enter the land of the giants: Redwood country. They say it's magnificent, grand, breathtaking, unfathomable even, to be close to one of these trees. They are wrong. There are NO WORDS to describe this feeling. These majestic trees are so tall and so wide and so abundant, and they exert such a powerful energy that you just want to be one of them. So, we drove along and took the Avenue of the Giants as well. I was thoroughly impressed by the whole experience.
By the time we were back on the highway, it was getting dark, so we started trying to find a place to park the car and sleep. Sadly most places along this part of the state post $1000 fines for overnight parking and camping. A bit ridiculous, considering. Well, we finally pulled into a larger town, and parked at this seaside overlook. I fell asleep and awoke to a cop shining a light in my face. She told us we couldn't park there because it was for day use only. Whatever that means. So we moved the the parking lot of a grocery store and got some shuteye.

That brings us to this morning. We started driving right after sunrise, back on the coast. I seriously couldn't get enough of that ocean, and that view, and how the coastline changes so drastically but you can always see the waves. The farther north we got, the more trees sprouted up. These beautiful tall evergreens became abundant. We crossed into Oregon a couple hours later, and along the coast we started to see these huge rocks. They were everywhere, and the waves crashed against them with such ferocity. I've never seen anything like it.

A couple hours after that, we headed inland to find Interstate 5. After driving for almost 8 hours (the most I've driven in a single day on this trip yet) I found myself 50 miles south of Portland and exhausted. I'm now sitting in a hotel room at that exact location. It feels weird to be so close to Portland. Portland is my Ithaca: my dream of moving there was the whole reason I left Massachusetts when I did, then the whole reason I left Utah. Now I'm so close to it, and I don't even want to see it. Somehow seeing it will feel like the end of something.

Tomorrow we head straight for Seattle where we'll meet up with Court again for 4 or 5 days. After that, I'll head back down to Portland... saving it for last, you know. Once I get a feel for the place, I'll have to make my ultimate decision: To live there or not to live there? That is the question. And only time will tell...

I'm sure I'll have some wonders to tell of from Washington, so keep your eyes peeled.

Love and light.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

on the road (volume 7)

We left Tucson a little after 1 p.m. It was really kind of hard to leave. I kept putting it off because I was learning and feeling so intensely much there. It was wonderful, actually. So upon leaving, we sort of went through this weird state of withdrawal. We made it into Yuma about 3 hours later, where we goofed off for a while, found a place to crash, ate some food, and passed out. During this time I managed to google Yuma and find out that it is "the sunniest place on earth. Of the possible 4,456 hours of daylight each year, the sun shines in Yuma for roughly 4,050 hours, or about 90% of the time" ( So, of course, we woke up in the morning to a very sunny day. We drove through Yuma (at this point, all I could think about was the movie 3:10 to Yuma) and into the sand dunes. This part was incredibly magical. Part of Star Wars was filmed here. It's the perfect stereotype for the word desert. Sand as far as you can see, in big golden dunes. We parked on the side of the road to play in it. The sand is so fine it's like silk through your fingers. It was breathtaking. I've now added to my list of things to do before I die: go four-wheeling in Yuma's dunes.

We headed on to San Diego from there. On entering California, we had to stop at an inspection station for the Border Patrol, and believe it or not, we saw a car pulled over with a Mexican guy curled up in the trunk. I'm totally serious. It's exactly what you would have expected to see at the U.S./ Mexico border. Crazy.

Anyway, the drive was very beautiful and the scenery changed a whole lot. We headed through San Diego straight to the end of I-8, and on to Ocean Beach. We ate a DELECTABLE Mexican meal for lunch, and browsed in the shops along Newport Ave. We walked down the pier at the end of the road (which was a cool pier, by the way) and it got so foggy while we were out there, we couldn't even see the shore from the end of the pier. It was incredible.

We left Newport to head even further west to Sunset Cliffs. The intention here was (obviously) to watch the sunset. We drove all alongside the ocean where the sides of the roads were packed with cars and the ocean was packed with surfers. I can't really put into words the feel of the places, but it was gorgeous. There were palm trees on one side of the road and rocky cliffs on the other with the ocean just beyond. We came to the end, parked, and walked out to the cliffs. We sat admiring the ocean for a while, walked around on the cliffs, and settled in to watch the sun set. It started getting really foggy again, and we thought we wouldn't get to actually see the sunset, but just as it started to sink, the fog receded, and we were privy to a (yet again) indescribable beauty.
Now it was getting dark, and we were staying at my friend's mom's house, which we needed to find. It was back the way we came, so we set forth. It got dark pretty quick, and we were sitting in freeway traffic. I can't see well driving at night, and I freak out trying to find my way in big cities with lots of traffic, so this was quite the intense experience. We got pretty lost thanks to google map and the lack of exit numbers in California. We spent a good hour and a half getting somewhere that was only like 20 miles away. By the time we got there, I had a headache and a ball of stress in my... everything. We wanted to go out and dance or at least go to a bar in San Diego, but I wasn't even close to being up for that. We pretty much went straight to sleep. In the morning, we planted ourselves at Starbucks to partake of some wi-fi, figured out our route, and set out. We hopped over to the Coastal Highway (which is really cool, by the way) and made for Long Beach. After driving around here for a while, we got some food and had a little picnic on the beach. It was so nice I couldn't believe it was January. I took off my shoes and socks and ran around in the sand and water. It was cold, but it felt SOOOOO good to be near the ocean. I could feed off that feeling.
From here, we made our way into L.A., specifically Hollywood. There was a ton of traffic, so it was kind of slow going.
We made it to the hotel with ease. We are staying on Vine which is less than a mile from the infamous Hollywood & Vine where the star walk is found. The Hollywood sign is visible just by looking up the road. I also got to see my great granddad's star:

Now, I'm about to go clubbing in Hollywood. The club is just down the street. I'm so excited. I feel like a rockstar. Who knows what tomorrow will bring...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

on the road (volume 6)

I last left you with the itch to dance in Phoenix. Well, I can say with gratitude that the itch was scratched. We headed down to Mill Ave., which is apparently the place to party in Phoenix. We walked all around, and the streets were lit festival style. It was pretty chill.

After passing bar after bar after bar that failed to have a dance floor, we finally come to the Cherry Pit: a perfect hit. It was a really posh club-ish place that had decent music going and a relatively cool dance floor. It felt so good to dance. My only complaint was that I got hated on by the girls in there. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because I was wearing a t-shirt and sneakers while they were all dressed up... or maybe it was the mere fact that I can dance. Anyhow, it was wicked fun.

We awoke the next morning to head south to Tucson. The drive was short and we got caught in a couple of intense rain showers. Upon reaching the city, we started exploring. We found a bunch of little shops, had some rice bowls, sent off a few postcards, and then met up with Court. He took us to this really great feeling tea house called the Casbah, where the waitress was also the house bellydancer. Her style was one I'd never encountered before, so I was certainly happy (not to mention the fact that I was drinking spice chai).

After that, we rolled on over to a pub called the Surly Wench. How can you be in Tucson and not go to a pub called the Surly Wench? There was a giant depiction of the girl on the wall. Hehe

After a couple Blue Moons, we grabbed some pizza and went home to have our very own dance party in the living room. Yay for that a million times.

The next morning began with a delicious breakfast at a place called the Hungry Fox. As I was devouring my biscuit and gravy, I notice to my left a curtain depicting a jar of something called Leslie Salt. Intrigued, I snagged a photo and am still pondering what this could possibly be. If you know, please tell. Otherwise, expect a jar of Leslie salt on your next birthday...

Another must see in Tucson is Biosphere 2. If you are unaware of this, google it. It is AMAZING, and I couldn't do it justice trying to explain it on here. Anyway, on the way there, we ran into Paul Bunyan (he's kind of hard to miss).
Then spent the afternoon touring the facilities there. I was blown away, to say the least.

The next day wasn't quite as eventful as we were planning on leaving the following morning. We ran some errands, and the most exciting part of my day was seeing (for the very first time) live and in person, a church of scientology!!! Haha. Props to L. Ron Hubbard.

That night we decided to go dancing. Sadly, Tuesdays are not the best time for this. We went to a place called Asylum, where we were 3 of the 5 total people in the club. At least we danced. And when I say danced, I mean it. They were playing goth/industrial music and I cried myself into my dance. It felt goooood.

We had every intention of leaving this morning, but over breakfast found out that we had forgotten to go partake of Old Tucson, the old wild west town used as the set for so many famous Westerns. I couldn't resist. Off we went.

We drove through something I'd never encountered before... a never ending vision of saguaro cacti. I don't know if it would be considered a cacti forest or a cacti patch (hehe) or what, but I was astounded. I am developing a certain obsession with cacti.

Anyway, on entering Old Tucson, we fell privy to a can-can show!!! I wonder if I could ever score a job this sweet: pretending to live in the old west and getting paid for dancing in a saloon!!!
The whole town was a blast. They were playing that cheesy kind of western music through loudspeakers the whole time so you really felt like you were in a film. We also so a gunfight and a thousand million photos of John Wayne.

Cacti were still abundant, so I snagged my dream picture:

Afterward, we wandered around Tucson. We tried to go to this art gallery, Solar Culture, that Brian told me about, and though the hours were posted and it should have been open, it was not. So, we continued our debauchery, walking through the snake bridge (the whole thing looks like a rattlesnake, tail and all, and its eyes glow at night and it even makes sounds), where I was devoured by the snake after clinging for dear life to its fang.

We wandered around 4th avenue, gawking at the windows, and I felt like I was in a dream. I really adore Tucson. I think I might be falling in love with it, actually. Tomorrow we head to San Diego via Yuma. Yum.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

on the road (volume 5)

Yet another chapter in the adventures of Leslie Ann has begun. This time the destination is Portland, Oregon. The time frame is within the month. The intention is unclear. The plan was to leave New Year's Day in honor of the symbolic force of beginning at the beginning. Plans, however, tend to change when one procrastinates. I spent that particular day packing up my life (once again), and running errand upon errand to "prepare" for this. Ironic because the task is impossible. Needless to say I managed to get the car partially loaded, spent one more night in Ogden, woke up, loaded everything else, and hit the road.

It was relatively cold when we (I say we because Garrett is accompanying me for an undetermined period of this journey) left Ogden. We started driving (Thel getting used to the load one again) toward Moab. Now I've been wanting to visit Moab since I got to Utah because my dorky self wishes to view, up close and personal, the famous Delicate Arch, which is such the emblem of Utah that it is planted distinctly upon my license plates. Furthermore, I've heard of a tribal belly dance troupe who claims Moab as home. The drive was gorgeous, and I expected no less because Southern Utah and Northern Arizona are my favorite areas of the country. By the time we rolled into Moab, though, the sun had set so completely that my night vision (that is, the lack thereof) had thoroughly kicked in. We had no idea what to do at this point as the time was a mere 5:30 in the evening. We sat in a parking lot attempting to catch some wireless Internet. With no luck, we wandered into a local grocery store, picked up the paper, got some green tea, and asked the clerk what there was to do at night. At this point several people that heard us broke into simultaneous laughter. Eh, so much for that. We noticed a hostel listed in the accommodations section of the paper, at a lovely $9 per night (I have yet to mention that Moab was a good deal colder than Ogden, and camping seemed on the dangerous side). We groped our way around the town until we finally found this place set back behind some storage units. Driving into it seemed like the perfect set-up for a really bad horror flick. Upon entering we found a wood stove with a (warm, thank god) fire blazing. The guy behind the counter was a total hippie, and the place seemed to be full of the hippie- hipster type. We talked for a while with him and other guests about where we had travelled and where we were headed. Then we got the key to this cabin outside that was supposed to be equipped with a fully functional radiator that would warm it up in "half an hour." We cranked it on high, and ended up wearing coats and hats and making pb & j sandwiches with frozen fingers which we warmed up hobo style over the radiator (that never actually heated up the room).

At this point it's now about 8:00, and we've nothing to do. We crawl into our sleeping bags, read some faery tales aloud, play shadow games on the wall with flashlights, and finally get to sleep. We wake up when the sun does, pack up the car, and are thankful for the heater that finally warms us up. It's off to see the sights. We cruise back through town to Arches National Park. Enter a faery tale. Red rock is magic to me. We saw many gorgeous formations. And, of course, the Delicate Arch.
We get a free dinosaur bone from a local rock shop, get some food (for us and for Thel) and hit the road again. It's Grand Canyon or bust this time. Yet again the drive is gorgeous, and I can't explain how amazing I feel being on the road again. I live for that feeling... to know that the world really is at my fingertips. I could go anywhere and do anything. It's all for me.

By the time we get into the Park, the sun is setting (what'd ya know?). So road trips in the winter take a little tweaking, especially if you can't afford a hotel room every night. It's $25 to get into the park, so we're hoping to get to camp. However, the season apparently doesn't allow campers as all the campgrounds are closed. We don't want to backtrack, and I don't want to go through in the dark. The lodge is out of the question, so we park and get ready for a long night in the car. We talk and Garrett tells me a story or two, then by about 8:00 I'm falling asleep. I awake sporadically to passing cars and bizarre dreams. I awoke at one point to a sky full of amazingly clear stars, and I was gazing realized I was witness to a meteor shower! How incredible. It wasn't too bad being in the car all night, besides getting wicked cold a couple times. We awoke with the sun (again) and made our away along the South Rim to gape and the grandness there.
It was, of course, as beautiful as I recall, only it was much colder and snowing most of the time. Anyway, we hopped back in the car and made our way to Flagstaff to grab a bite to eat. Flagstaff, as always, was heavily congested, but we finally found our way to 89 which would take us straight into Sedona. This drive was amazing as well, as we drove through Kaibab and Coconino National Forests, and various terrain from heavy snow to dry desert. We hit Sedona by noon, wandered through the many little shops, loitered on the sidewalks, grabbed a map, and drove down 179 to see Chapel Rock, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, etc... I love how this place feels. I keep going back. I would have liked to have hiked, but as winter as it was, we were unprepared.
Rolling out of Sedona in the afternoon, we made our way to Phoenix. I've never driven this far south in Arizona, so I was in awe of the landscape changes. The further south we got, the bigger the cacti, until the outskirts of Phoenix which actually felt like Florida to me because of the palm trees. This is a good thing because it also got warmer, and I shed the snow boots and thermal shirt in favor of a t-shirt and my good ole sneakers. We were meeting up with some of Garrett's friends who live just south of Phoenix. They took us to a pretty chill brewery where I was surrounded by a group of geeky animators who are working on a star gate game. It was pretty cool to listen to these people geek out about their passions (though I had nothing to add). I was so tired and so thankful to be able to stay in their house where it was warm. Also, showering was pretty amazing after not having done it for a while.

This morning we ate some authentic Mexican for breakfast and headed for the zoo. It was nice weather, though a little rainy. They say this is the cloudiest Phoenix has been for some time. Anyway, I enjoyed the animals thoroughly.

After that, we got to see the studio where this whole stargate game is being created. I respect these guys so much because I have NONE of their skill. :) Tonight we are going to try to go dancing, but I'm not sure how that'll turn out. Anyway, we leave in the morning for Tucson. I am, of course, loving every minute of this.

Until next time...