The NorthWest [Montana, Idaho, & Washington]

Thanks for keeping up, friends. Here’s our latest progress:

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August 12: We did our fair share of exploring the beautiful town of Helena, Montana. Our friend Kellea gave us a tour of the Montana Club, a member’s only historical club with a more than chilling basement bar. On her advice, we also checked out the Fire Tower Coffeehouse (whose manager was both Iowan and Norwegian) and MY FAVORITE so far: the BlackFoot Tap Room. This gem shocked us with great beer, social atmosphere, and free popcorn. 🙂 I recommend the Saison IPA. We thought it was funny that Montana State Law limits individual consumption to 48 oz. per day at a brewery, so everyone’s going around with these check mark cards making sure they don’t go over the state limit. This brewery would be my favorite even if it was situated amongst my other faves in London. Way to go, Helena. url That night we ventured past Idaho and into Spokane. Passing through Idaho got me thinking…Washington and Montana both sound cool to me. Why does Idaho not? It’s a tiny strip of land in between. I challenge the marketing department of Idaho to step their game up.

August 13: The next day was a rush to see the amazing Julia in Seattle. A day filled with driving and then the reward: Char & Julia happy in their amazing apartment in Capital Hill (a REALLY cool neighborhood in Seattle). Julia cooked us steak and Char tempted us with ice cream, and they were just generally and predictably entertaining and hilarious. It was good to see faces from home, not to mention a very exciting night of excursion into Seattle, which we found out upon arrival was the prominent gay neighborhood (which is a good sign you’ve found the right place). Rune took this picture of me as part of a series of me eating cheesy snacks in different cities and countries. True story: once in Barcelona I had my hand inside a bag of cheetos and then I slipped on dog poop (doop?) and if he wouldn’t have caught me I would have lost my life to that doop. Hi Rune’s friends and family who I haven’t yet met! This should be a great introduction. IMG_4656

August 14: We bummed around the city for a while before heading to a nearby state park for more camping. We’re pros, by now. Seriously. I’ve got my ears open for any camping olympics. Or if anyone wants to challenge us to a camp-off…we’re going to beat you.

August 15: We hopped on the ferry to the beautiful San Juan Island Archipelago(Orcas Island, disappointingly not pronounced like the plural of Orca, but more like orcus. But they’re not fooling anyone). Ferries are insane. You drive onto a boat and then they take you to an island and then you drive off. I thought this would cost a thousand dollars but only like, 30 each way. WOW, Washington. Way to figure this out. And Norway, I guess, who I’m told…has also figured this out. But I have yet to see proof of that. IMG_4657

August 16: We’ve spent most of today regrouping, planning tomorrow’s whale excursion, and working online in local cafes. For anyone who doesn’t know, we’re psycho about Orca Whales and we’re going on a boat tomorrow to try to see them jump around and maybe into our arms to take home. The dream was that we could maybe pitch a tent on the beach and they would nudge us awake, but so far we’re mostly being woken up by Oregon kids practicing Harry Potter spells with sticks.

Wish us whales!! I’ll leave you with this lovely photo Rune captured of me on the ferry. A gift for photography, that man has. IMG_4662

The NorthWest [Montana, Idaho, & Washington]

The NorthWest Trip

Hey! Here’s a quick update of our lives if anyone wants to keep up. We’ve embarked on a journey of sorts, mostly engineered by Rune due to his need to see every inch of the world, which we’ve done a pretty good job of so far. One of our goals is to leave ourselves as much freedom as we can so we can do freelance work, read, and stay or leave a place as we please. We find camping pretty conducive to this lifestyle because unless we’re trying to camp in a National Park, we don’t need much planning involved. That’s been fun. Here’s the day to day:

August 3: We left Sioux City, Iowa for Sioux Falls, South Dakota for some reconnection with old friends and teachers.

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Thanks to hospitality all around, we’ve been coming and going from this nice place throughout the past time in Iowa (Thanks Kari & Lori!). Half way to Sioux Falls we realized we left our tent behind…but Dr. Cole kindly lent us a (6-person!) tent.IMG_20150805_075655

August 4: In the morning, we headed for the Badlands, which has been our longest drive yet (give or take 5 hours?). Of course, at least 10 people had told us about how South Dakota dramatically changes at Chamberlain, but nothing could have quite prepared us for the planet transplant that the Badlands is. All I can say is…Mars with Buffalo. Rune got pretty excited about something called Prairie Dog Town. We were also recovering from the shock of exchanging civilization for the hundreds of thousands of bikers now accompanying us on a pilgrimage to Sturgis, SD for the annual biker rally. They were surprisingly friendly. This was our first day camping, which went pretty well, although we hadn’t quite gotten to figuring out the food situation….so we headed to Wall, SD and enjoyed some Subway. There wasn’t water at our free campground, so we felt a lot like actual pioneers, who crossed the same path not so long ago in history.

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August 5: We ventured early to Mt. Rushmore where we saw the Black Hills and also a biker man propose to his biker lady (there were a lot of bikers). This day was a lot about figuring Rapid City out (a notable coffee shop called Alternative Fuels). We managed to track down a camping stove and some taco ingredients and headed back to camp to enjoy what would be the real excitement: a gigantic thunderstorm. We cooked in the tent as the rain and wind hammered the sides and threatened to uproot the tent. It lasted from our dinner until 2 in the morning and managed to collapse half the tent. We didn’t sleep much, and found out that the Badlands are basically a wind tunnel.

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August 6: We woke up to a messy, half-collapsed lake of a tent (most of our stuff managed to stay magically dry).  And spent the morning trying to clean and dry everything. Looking back now, I can’t believe how much smoother camping has gone since that day, which was definitely a low point in our belief that we could manage versus the weather. I blame my American Literature classes for the fact that during that thunderstorm, I couldn’t stop explaining to Rune the literary movement of Naturalism, in which some authors contended humans continue a futile struggle to control the world around them….anyway, we thought we were clever for finding clean and suitable showers along with the afternoon’s entertainment at the Rapid City Public Pool. In our bravest moment, we decided to drop on by the Sturgis Bike Rally out of curiosity. After about an hour, we felt like we had seen everything there was to see of Biker culture. Saying goodbye to the South Dakota, we trekked on through Wyoming to marvel at Devil’s Tower (which kept sneaking up behind me in the car’s mirror’s and scaring me like a suspiciously sentient landmark…. Let’s just say it’s weird and amazing and whoever named it is a genius, and I completely understand why Native people regard it as sacred land.

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August 7: We left Sheridan Wyoming with hopes of Montana. Rune had his first Buffalo Wild Wings experience in Billings, (“it was good.”) and we spent most of the day looking at the horizon as we drove. Which, I must admit, was not something to complain about. When we got to our AirB&B in Paradise Valley, Montana (we were taking a short break from camping to dry out our stuff and renew our rugged spirits), we were greeted by a cowboy who gave us a giant, “historical replica” TeePee to ourselves. The guy gave us an enrapturing lecture on the volcano that is Yellowstone and got us pretty anxious to set up camp the next day on yet another strange planet: Yellowstone National Park. We caught a local beer in a nearby saloon (they call it that) and had a nice long talk with the bartender who gave us some advice on how to see wildlife but not get eaten by it.

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August 8: We finally set up camp in Yellowstone Park. We had to get there before 11 AM to get a spot in one of the park’s campgrounds, which we did (surprisingly) successfully. The campground was extraordinary and we spent most of the day setting up, getting organized, and pointing at birds and elk. The wildlife is not a joke in Yellowstone…it’s actually a semi-dangerous place, so we had a lot of rules to follow that involved keeping food in safe places and disposing of dish water in specific ways, etc. The punishment to breaking these rules could be an actual bear attack, so we were careful. We never saw any bears (happy & sad about that), but plenty of other wildlife. In the evening we jumped in a hot spring and hung out for way too long. It’s moments like those that make me argue with the Literary Naturalists.

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August 9: We took the lonngggg driving tour of Yellowstone Park, which can only be justified by pictures (if that). Rune’s favorite was Old Faithful (why?) and mine was the concept that we were hiking around an overdue underground volcano that could erupt at any moment surging the earth into the next ice age.

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August 10: We splurged on a horseback riding tour, which was very worth it.

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August 11: Saying goodbye to Yellowstone was sad, but we trekked through the rest of Montana to hang out in Bozeman and then Helena, which are extraordinary. We found so much local life (not to mention breweries everywhere) but the highlight was getting to the Nichols’ home, who welcomed us with Elk Spaghetti and a very enthusiastic history of Montana which completely won us over. Their mountain view didn’t hurt either.

Stay tuned if you’d like! We’ll be at it for a few more weeks and hopefully keeping good track.

The NorthWest Trip