Well, how about with the beginning?
Ben and Emily stopped in for a visit during their road trip up the east coast and helped Evgeny and I move everything out of my apartment- and thank god because if they hadn't, Ev and I would have been at it for hours past midnight. Saturday we all went into the city and met up with all my GREAT friends. Had a wonderful night of dancing and talking and laughing with them. I'm so glad I got to see them all, they're so wonderful- I miss them already.
On Sunday I got off to a late stop since my TomTom needed some updating- something I kept putting off until it really did inconvenience me. Oh well...
The drive to Ohio was beautiful. The winding roads through the mountains in Pennsylvania were much more gorgeous than I expected. I went through a couple of flash thunderstorms- you know, the ones you can see coming up the road as the road is dry in front of you and soaked only yards away. Those were fun. I listened to "Dirt Radio" for a while through the static- It was the only station my antenna would pick up: a talk radio channel dedicated to people talking about all things soil, top soil mud, plants, gardening and fertilizer. I actually learned a few things... and heard the best radio advertisement ever. Something about a hick voice vowging for a soil company made me want to never buy from a different company again. hahaaaa.
I arrived in Ohio right as the sun went down... A persistent raccoon kept me spooked for I hadn't head that animal noise in years. They sound like rabid dogs about to attack. That brat really wanted my soup. It was drizzling and I didn't have a mallet to get the pegs in the ground, so my first night was a little rough.
The rangers were nice though, one reminded me of my friend Sean, so I left feeling happy and ready. Stopped at a Walmart to pick up more bug candles, reusable bags and A MALLET (amongst other things).
Fully prepared I arrived at the Indiana Dunes state park around dusk. Set up camp and made my pasta dinner before sunset. It was full of RV's with children and old birds- But the next day I made friends with my elder neighbors who told me where the beach was. I biked over and hiked up a 20 foot dune- THAT was hard. Got to the top and had myself a nice moment. Went back down and enjoyed the beach- my first fresh water beach experience. There were beautiful little rocks that I took a collection of with me. I interacted with the life guards and some families, then went back for lunch. Headed out into town for internet. The elder lady, Sheila, that I made friends with had invited me to come to their camp fire later after sunset, but while I was out a biig ol storm started to brew so I didn't rush back. On my way back to camp I saw a dad and little girl walking in the park- during a severe thunderstorm. I asked them if they were okay and apparently they had gone on a cute lil hike together earlier that day but got turned around and ended up walking for miiiiles on trails they didn't understand. They came out on the opposite end of the beach and had to treck all the way back to the park. Got caught in the rain more than once and were a 15 minute walk away from their car. I cleared my front seat and gave them a lift. The little girl was such a tough cookie, I told her good job for getting through it. She was about 8.
Sheila gave me a slice of pizza in the morning before I left for Wisconsin. The drive there was pretty boring but I arrived before dark. Set up camp and while I was getting my dinner ready, I met a guy named Kyle. Probably 22. He was with a forest restoration group a few sites over. After dinner I met up with him and another member of his group, a girl I don't remember the name of. Their group asks its members to try to quit smoking so they were puffing on an electronic cigarette, looking at pebbles on the ground. They invited me to their site late for guitar and harmonica playing-maybe even some cards. I left happy and went on a trail ride, then hiked a bit to the top of a hill where I stumbled upon a huuuge awesome rock formation I'd seen on the park's pamphlet. I took a few shots and walked around it then headed back as it was getting dark.
On my way to camp I met a girl named Chrissy who was walking her mother's dogs. We were kindred spirits for sure. Talked about everything... The world, the environment, world politics and the love of nature. She lives out of her car with her doberman- grey hound mix in Arkensaw. I never head good things about that state but she swore it was her home of homes because of its beauty. She is a kayaker and told me if I'm ever in the state to shoot her an email and we'd go floating down the rivers together. I can't wait until that day. She's amazing.
I went to the Wis-Corp's camp site after making some tea and watched them play rummie, a card game I learned last summer from Becky while we were in Yosemite-but the rules I forgot. I talked to them about their goal- which was to chain saw down a bunch of the pines in the area to let the naturally growing oaks thrive again. Apparently Roosevelt, though he was an amazingggg man, created jobs during the great depression by having people grow pines in WI and other states not native to the trees, so now the naturally bussy landscapes are being taken over by fast growing and spreading pines. They were doing hard work 8 hours a day. Despite all the rain, despite all the ticks. Go them!
I left for Eggerts Landing early, finally before 11AM. It was a boring 6 hours until I got off 94 and joined up on the scenic high way of the area. OMG can I just tell you that the rolling green hills of North Dakota are GREAT!?! Ahh the livestock scattered around in groups, the rocks peaking out of the hill sides, the grass swaying in the wind- and the beautiful wind mills... I got to see so many, and up pretty close too. I am a FAN of wind energy, those mills are honestly a huge plus to the landscape. I can't wait til they are common sights to see one day. I got to the address the internet told me was Eggert's landing and found myself on the wrong side of "Baldhill Dam". I asked an epic older lady biker which direction I should head and went for it. Using a very non specific map and some SHOTTY directions given to me by a slow talking, anti social camp host, I made it to my site.
As I put changed my shoes I struck up conversation with a family sitting on the grass in front of the swimming area where their young kids were playing. One of the toddlers walked up to me as I approached the moms and handed me a Coors Light!! No kidding! I said, "this is the most welcoming child I've ever met! May I?" So I sat with them and their awwwwesome all white Great Pyrenees- a breed I haven't seen in person since I had once of my own as a kid. Oliver was my first dog... a masterful companion. Gosh, that was suuuch a blessing, just metting that dog and drinking that crappy beer.
I set up camp and enjoyed some spagettio's as the sun set on the lake right next to my site.
The next day I got allllll prepared for an epic day hike. Totally ready, I hiked out and found myself at the end of the trail in less than 30 minutes. Bummer. So I went to another, this one was slightly flooded with tall grass around... I didn't mind since my boots are water proof- wah wah!
I came back, slightly bummed to not be completely exhausted. I sat down in my tent and put my boots and socks right outside it. A few minutes later I looked at the socks and saw dozens of ticks!!! AHHHHH I panicked a little, as my brother has limes disease and I have a new found fear of retrieving it myself. After some clever thinking I irritated the ticks from my boots and socks, thinking all the while they were the only ones- that my sweat on the socks attracted the ticks. Ohhhh how I was wrong. Of course, I got the ticks on my hike, and of course they were all over me, and of course that means they were also all over my tent. Good god did I have a hard time getting myself calm after trying to get all those ticks away.
Later I went for a drive to get away from the noise of 4 pre teen boys who'd recently arrived with their mother who did not rear them at all. They had terrible language and manners and were seriously annoying me.
I'm so glad I went for that drive though because I've never been so awed by fields, birds and the sky before. I parked my car on the side of the road (not in any way of traffic), got on top of it and gazed as the sun moved down the sky. Thank you dad, for giving me your binoculars. They were wonderful and I'm so glad I have them.
I left a little late and am not about 2 hours away from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. While at this rest stop a truck driver came in, obviously frustrated and obviously needing to speak to someone. He and I talked about his marriage, which is rocky. It's sad when one person knows that being right has no purpose and the other can only focus on how right they are. I believe in marriage, and their marriage. I told him this and that the truth needs no defending. When we defend the truth, we are simply defending our ego. He gave me his number- I might text him the title of the book I believe his wife should read. "A new earth" by Eckart Tolle. Or "The power of now" by the same man.
I'm truly enjoying this trip. I am comfortable by myself. With my taser (thanks page) on my hip, hidden under my shirt, I feel safe. Being alone has never bothered me, though I worried this trip might challenge that truth. It hasn't, and I'm glad.
I can't wait for Evgeny to arrive, I just passed the exit for Billings, so I'll be coming back this way in a week or so to pick him up. He will love it. The drives, the parks, the sunsets and rises. We'll get to see Yellowstone and the Tetons together. I'm glad most Americans have cell phones these days, since I usually have some kind of signal to call him and everyone else with.
I welcome ANY reader to give me a call and chat me up. I am meeting new people and talking to them- but the value of conversation is greater when both people know each other. So hit me up. We can talk about anything.
With love and affection.