Saturday, November 28, 2015

On the Road Again: Cross Country Drive

I left at a relatively early hour to begin my journey eastward. I had a fair amount of ground I wanted to travel. All of Washington, a bit of Idaho and then on into Montana for my first day of driving. I'd never really gone to the eastern side of Washington, and was surprised how the landscape changed once the Cascades were behind me. All these very round mogul-like hills. Sort of like oversized golf balls cut in half and then placed right on top of each other over and over again. This is a thing I saw outside of Pullman, Washington.
I'm  fairly certain this is Idaho.
This, too, is Idaho. I do believe. I would have loved to see a number of these things in the spring or summer when it was green instead of brown. I also drove past a number of fields that had the remnants of sunflowers decaying and dried up, which I imagine would have been fairly spectacular to see when the flowers were actually in bloom.
I took major highways for a bit, but eventually dropped down onto smaller roads and eventually got on Route 12, which went through the Lolo National Forest and along the Lochsa River.

My final destination was Lochsa Lodge. Its website says it's in Idaho, but Googlemaps says it's in Montana, so I'm a little confused about the whole thing. I stayed in this little cabin, which came complete with a nice little stack of wood on its porch, which I totally dipped into in order to enjoy the wood burning stove within the cabin. The lodge had a little restaurant where I had dinner. A nice funny spot for an evening. I wish I had more time to explore, but, alas, I had to get up early the next day to continue the drive.
This is terribly blurry, but after a couple of hours I finally was definitely in Montana and stopped at a gas station to refuel and get a cup of coffee. And just hanging out near the pumps? One million turkeys. Also referred to as a rafter of turkeys.

I drove across Montana all that day. Wishing that I had the time to stop and actually get a bit of a better sense of what was off the highway. Alas, alas, alas.
This is either Montana or South Dakota. Not clear which.
I tried to get a better photo of this truck, because it had some weird shit going on. A blow up doll of the female variety, with hand cuffs, peaked out of a set of bars at the back...and then there was a lot of writing that I couldn't quite see. Weirded me out, that truck. Not funny.
This might be in Crow Agency, Montana. I took some smaller roads to make my way to my next destination, and boy did I see a lot of poverty. Not to mention horses totally unfenced in, grazing in the parking lot of a restaurant/casino. My destination on this day was Deadwood, SD. I stayed in a historic hotel in the center of the town. The room was dated but in a kind of neat way. The old lobby was just a warren of slot machines. I had some food at a nearby restaurant, but it wasn't particularly good or worth discussing.
And then I woke up super early to start off on another long day of driving. I made a few detours. First to Lead, SD to see a pit.

A mining pit. The morning started out looking quite beautiful. Sun in the air, not too cold. I had polled my Facebook network on whether I should bother seeing Mt. Rushmore, and the consensus was that I after Lead, I began driving to Mt. Rushmore.
It was a pretty drive, but the clear skies disappeared and a fine drizzle and foggy low hanging clouds became the norm.
So much fog/cloudiness that the below photograph is my Mt. Rushmore experience. Couldn't see it at all. Zero percent visibility. I was a little annoyed that the Mt. Rushmore folks wouldn't warn us before we paid that we wouldn't be able to see anything. Just seems a little rude. Yes, we will take your $11 but what we won't tell you is that you won't be able to see a thing. I didn't even bother with any of the museums or gift shops. Just laughed at the ridiculousness of it and then made the even more questionable decision to see if Crazy Horse would be any more visible.
The upshot of going to Rushmore was that as I drove away, I got to see mama and baby mountain goats doing their thing along the road.
So fuzzy!
Crazy Horse was, of course, equally invisible. But the dude at the pay station let me turn around instead of charging me to see his fog.
Then I stopped at Wall Drug. A thing I guess I'm glad I did...but a thing I don't think I'll really ever do again.
And then I stopped to see a corn palace, which was unbelievably not worth my time. Seriously.
There was going to be a rodeo in the palace later that evening.
My thoughts on the palace.
I meant to get farther down the road than I did on this South Dakota day. I meant to get to Des Moines Iowa, but with the Mt. Rushmore/Crazy Horse side track, and then kind of crappy weather, I just didn't have it in me. So I stopped in Sioux City Iowa for the evening. I had some okay Thai food and then befriended a German couple at my hotel's very small bar. And then I went to bed and woke up super early and began driving again. This is the sunrise in Iowa.
I enjoyed driving through Iowa except for the copious anti-abortion signs in all the yards. My destination for that evening was Chicago.
And to Chicago I did go. I went and looked at the building I last lived in during my Chicago era. It was for sale and I could see that there were new windows and other updated/repaired features to the place. I lived on the second floor. Such a great apartment.
Then I made my way to Lake Michigan.
And after Lake Michigan I met up with a few grad school folks for dinner and conversation. Oh Chicago.
And then the next morning I woke up a bit later and made my way to Columbus, Ohio to see Cuz K. and family.
No trip to Columbus would be complete without a trip to the Book Loft. Basically my favorite bookstore ever. I had a really lovely lunch at Lindey's after buying a few books.
After hauling ass for five days, I stayed put in Ohio for an extra night or two to spend time with the family and the pups, and to just take a break from hours spent sitting in a car.
We celebrated my uncle's birthday one evening.
Cuz K. was more pregnant than when she and A. came out to Whidbey in the summer, and I'm fairly certain she's even more pregnant now. A. also has a bun in the oven...but it may be a literal bun;) Cuz K. is due to have her baby girl in the next two weeks and I am super excited about this.
And then I was on the road once more. I wanted to stop at a Zanesville pottery store that my mother and I always stopped at when driving to Ohio, but I left too early and it wasn't open yet. This is an antique/junk store just down the road from the pottery place.

And this is me somewhere in Pennsylvania. This was my last day of cross country driving. I managed to get myself to Brooklyn in a relatively good time frame.
I've said it to countless people, and probably written it too, but I really am doing this whole 'cross country' drive thing wrong. I had a hard deadline for getting to New York (a wedding to be featured later) so I really couldn't take my time and explore or see much. I feel pretty hardcore about the ground I covered, but I do wish I could have been a little more spontaneous. Maybe hiked something. Or camped somewhere. Or driven only 5 hours a day instead of 8-12. I'd also like to do the drive with a friend at some point, which I am fairly certain would make it a bit more entertaining. All that grumping done, I do enjoy spending time driving up to a point. I had plenty of podcasts and books to listen to, so my mind was engaged. But for every photograph I did take, there were a few that I would have liked to take, but didn't stop to do so. America is a pretty big country.

I will also gripe about how my fitness level has steadily declined since leaving the farm. I knew this would happen, as it happened last year too, but it's amazing how getting a little softer/gaining weight while losing muscle impacts my overall sense of self. One could argue that I could still keep in shape even off the farm, and that is a solid argument...except that I hate having to try to be fit. I like just having to work and the repercussions of the work being relatively toned arms and less of a gut. Wah wah wah. It's true though.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Some of My Best Friends Are Dogs: Farm Times in Late Summer and Early Fall

I don't know what it is about gardening. I know it might seem as if I'd be very into it as a hobby or way of life. And I do believe a garden should be a part of my life, but I seem to be lacking almost any hue of green in my thumbs. My toes, elbows, knees, ear lobes, tip of my hose and any other part of me is equally free of any hint of the green color spectrum. Except maybe my veins? But let's put that aside. My veins have nothing to do with how well I may garden, or how much I want to do it. I took horticulture in high school as a senior elective. The teacher was  a very enthusiastic man. Generally always looking to engage with his students. It verged on being over the top and almost strange, but Mark Wiley was certainly memorable for his desire to connect with his classes.  He was also my teacher for the required freshmen 'Hydrology' class. A way of being introduced to the many arms of science through the unifying theme of water. I'm not sure I've really retained many of the science lessons offered in that year. But at 33, literally 20 years later, I do recall the following:

1. Watching Waterworld and his incredulity with the basic premise of being able to turn urine into water in the opening scene, but finding no way to do a similar thing with the salt water  of the movie.

2. His telling us about watching a friend parachuting, and his parachute not opening, and the teacher watching this man fall to his death.

3. There was a unit on the Hoover Dam. Or maybe not the Hoover Dam. Some dam. And it was an activity that demanded that all students play a role in a sort of improvisational debate on whether it should be built. There were military experts, scientists, witnesses, etc. The desks were positioned (I think) in a horse shoe with a committee as its removed third side, a few feet away. One boy, playing the military expert and voice in the drama, was incredibly fascinated with the military and, independently of the assignment, already had a full military costume, which he wore for the duration of the mock debate. I forget if I was assigned, or if I requested it, but I was the local news journalist covering the proceedings. If I recall correctly, I created a daily newspaper covering the 2 or 3 days of testimony. I recall being rather light on facts, and including stray "articles" about the goldfish in the classroom. Or maybe I only thought about doing that? In any case, Mark was great to let me do the least science-y thing one could do in that situation.

3. He never pronounced my name right. Always Caro-linn as opposite to Caro-line.

4. During that horticulture class he found a nest with some eggs in it, which seemed to have fallen out of a tree or otherwise been separated from its respective mama bird. Mark randomly suggested that I take the eggs with me to my dorm, put them in some sort of container with some kind of insulating material, keep a lightbulb on them, and see if they would hatch. This is then a thing that I did. I forget the container, but I think I swathed them in a teeshirt or washcloth. I was pretty diligent about the lightbulb too. It was just a regular desk light lamp, but I positioned it what I thought was at the right distance to emanate heat and warmth without air boiling the eggs. I think at least two weeks passed. Maybe a month? Maybe longer. I have the habit now to put things off for huge swathes of time. Truly astoundingy in appropriate amounts of time. So it could have been two weeks, but it also could have been two months. In any event, some period of time lapsed. No baby birds pecked their way out of their egg encasing and into my haphazard man-made nest on the desk. Eventually I began to worry that the eggs might be rotting. I was fairly certain that there were not baby birds to wait for. I don't know why I didn't just throw them in the trash. A fear of the stink that could potentially emerge if broken and lingering in the hall garbage can? Hard to say at this point in time. But the solution to whatever reason that wasn't an option was to throw them out the window into the grass below on a night where it seemed likely to rain. The rain, honestly, may be something I just hope I thought of as opposed to actually having done. I didn't throw the eggs at the right speed and they ended up hitting building and pavement. I couldn't see just how bad the damage was, or if there was a stink to worry about, as I did this after our dorm's curfew. The next morning I awoke early and went down the flights of stairs and out a back door with much apprehension. Turned out that while the eggs had smashed, there was no offensive olfactory situation to feel guilt over. The eggs had landed close to the basement entry way to the school's day care, but had spared its stairs, so I didn't have to content with the feeling of shame that would have been caused if the day care people thought someone had tried to egg them. I should also mention that while they didn't smell, there also weren't fetal baby birds that I had sent to death. I don't know what lesson or outcome Mark Wiley thought would come out of sending me home with those eggs, but I'm sure I learned something. Not to throw eggs out of a window?**I started writing this in Ohio, got almost immediately sidetracked by writing about Mark, and then didn't even start to really write about anything related to the photos. Now I'm going to leave this unfinished rumination, which really was just a long reflection on the potential causes of my ambivalence about gardening when it seems like I should really like it. A large part of it, I think, may have to do with my the guy I dated one million years ago and his own good works in the gardening world. But let's not blame him.***

In any case, here is a video of Rodo and Coco being friends.
Oh, maybe my gardening rant had to do with this photo. Garlic was pulled and L. showed W. and L. how to braid it.
Rodo looking up at me while before I hoisted him up to the tent platform down at the beach.
View from my tent spot.
Morning tent sunrise view.
Rodo riding shotgun in the old truck.
Me holding the pelt of Mary Jane, whom we sent off with a number of others for slaughter. In about three months it will be tanned and soft and lovely.
L. and I went to a thrift store one day and I tried on some ridiculous dresses just for the fun of it. This reminded me of Belle's dress from Beauty and the Beast.
The ferry coming in one morning.
Me, post-farmers market, on a particularly windy day. Actually I think this was the day that it was so blustery that the market actually ended early out of fears of tents being blown asunder or trees crashing down on us all.
I returned to the farm then went to a party.
The painting I made for L. Her likes were space and bats and her dislike was moths.
The sheep swarming towards me and the hay-full tractor.
Lovely ladies sitting on a porch.
A delightful breakfast.
Another good bar/letter writing night, featuring an especially scrumptious burger.
Filsa either got a gnarly scratch or allergic reaction to something, which made her eye swell up something fierce. I gave her some meds and about a week or so later her eye was back to normal. She looks like such a bruiser.
Rainbow sheep.
Rodo and his boy on a sunny afternoon.
Playing cribbage with Coco.
Hanna, who was an intern here last year, returned for a visit and it was so lovely to see her.

Whitney holding up Coco like Simba.

The ten year old made Rodo a hammock and became just a head.
Another photo opportunity before Hanna departed, with bread.
Yup, all my best friends are dogs.
I used some blue coat on a sheep at some point, and accidentally got it all over my arm. Tattoo idea.
A pretty place I live indeed.
Danny, Matt and I did some feeder moving and sheep wrangling at some point. I had a sheep in my lap, Danny had a sheep in the back, Matt drove, and one million dogs followed us.
My view.

On another day I went to Seattle to pick up a large amount of processed lamb from the butcher. While I waited for the meet time, I went to a dim sum joint and ate myself some tasty dumplings.
Another view from the ferry.
And after a farmer's market, I enjoyed a few happy hour oysters.
Pretty flower.
Whitney was housesitting, so I came over, we grilled ourselves some dinner and played Cribbage.
I took the Christmas lights and paper cranes that Hayley had strung up in her place. I think it adds a nice added layer of ambiance to my life.
We put the rams in with the ewes to start the hump party and get them all knocked up. We put paint on the ram's chest so we can gauge who has been humped, and when.
Another wine and letter writing evening, with Clare's hand giving me a fake fuck you.
It's official. Washington State is where I live.
We had some baby bunnies born in September. Unfortunately they didn't make it.
Pretty freckled Paisley getting her eat on.
Stan and I took apart the panels he had put together on one of the trucks so he and Lynn could transport a ram from Montana to the farm.
Tasty, tasty hay.
In the final days before my departure from the farm I had many things to do, but I took a moment to enjoy the sun and beach and to more properly list all the many things I still needed to do.
In the last week or so of my time on the farm I made chile rellenos. They were pretty good, though a whole heck of a lot of work.
Lizzie and the Buddha chilling on the porch.
Ping pong times in the ping pong room.
They are friends.
Close friends.
I'm not entirely sure what this was about.
Nor why I am covering my face.
Oh Rodo, my most faithful of farm friends.
I asked Whitney to watch my fish while I was gone, which meant I had to drive him to her place. I took a small detour for a small session at the beach, which I thought the fish might also enjoy.
Rodo came with me too.
Because he is basically my best friend. Ha ha. He is a dog.
And then suddenly I had only one last night before my cross country journey. W. and L. and I went to Prima together for some wine and tasty treats.
It was a lovely evening and a good way to wrap up a good season on the farm.