Friday, December 31, 2010

Fall 2010: Ridin' Dirty

Well, I will be surprised if you read the past two of those blogs in their entirety, but I am going to keep moving forward with story telling and hopes that someone is being entertained out there somewhere.

I get to experience many falls in terms of the season. Fall in Alaska starts in late August and peaks only briefly before everything goes brown. I stayed in Denali a little later this season because I decided to volunteer with the trail crew, as I had been throughout the summer. I enjoyed working outside and learning how to cut down trees and break trail. I got to see the snow fall in the park and had to try to dig up frozen dirt everyday I volunteered. It was cold but fantastic. I tried to talk pictures of Jupiter on a clear night and found that the sky moves awful fast that far north. Holding an exposure open for even 10 seconds causes a descent streak.

That frigid cold and brown was kind of depressing so I was pretty excited to land back in Portland where I was graced by a whole lot of warmth for the first few days and the leaves were still partially on the trees. It didn't quite feel like a good ol' Midwestern fall, where you could rake up the leaves and play in them. The rain kind of destroyed all the crunchy goodness. I got to experience one more fall when driving through California in December. December! An old friend from college had just moved to Portland and suddenly I was exploring Portland with new gusto with a new/old friend. I participated in the Thrill the World dance where I joined a few hundred folks dressed like zombies to dance to Thriller downtown. Then went on the zombie walk.

I'm one of the people lying on the ground

You can see me in this video. I am front right, but not all the way right. I have an off-white long sleeve top and a black skirt, my hair is down and frazzled. It's just like where's Waldo in a slew of zombies, good luck!

Scaring people on the public transportation
And out for a bit to eat after

My only really awesome adventure in “Fall” was my road trip from Portland to the Midwest to San Francisco to Portland. Remember that cute green car I drove out of Alaska? I drove that same very one on this trip too, and let me tell you, it's a junker car so how incredible she has made such an amazing journey. I was so proud I photoshopped a map of her biggest distances driven. The line in blue is when her first owner drove from New York to Alaska. He then sold me the car and it has been history from there.

Red and purple lines running East/West are the route from this road trip

I drove from Portland to Missoula (couchsurfed) to South Dakota (stayed with friend) to Minneapolis over the course of six days, taking my time, enjoying the sites and people. Minneapolis I got to see old college friends, old high school friends, my brother, and even a buddy from Alaska. Walking around Minneapolis, a place that was my home for three years, brought mixed feelings. The place was as familiar as it was unfamiliar. I recognized the smell, the city noise, names of places, and even had an bummed feeling that went along with the sloshy dirty snow on the highways and constant overcast that was a reminder we are in the dead of winter. As much as I was happy to have left the Midwest January 1st, 2008, I actually began to miss this place a little.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota. This marks the 7th National Park visited in 2010, not including Denali

 I guess I have a thing for animals that scratch themselves

Sunset in Badlands National Park

I then drove to Wisconsin and stayed a week there between my dad's new home in Mosinee and my friends Ann and Jeremy's home in Stevens Point. It was wonderful to see family again at Thanksgiving. It had been just over a year since I had been back, so this was a long over due reunion.

I packed my car up with things I planned on bringing back to Portland, picked up my long time buddy Dann and headed towards San Francisco. Dann and I met when I was 14, and he was 15 so we've known each other for a good 13 years. He recently moved out to San Francisco from Chicago to change things up and I called him before we all merged in the Midwest to see if he wanted to road trip back to California. Thus Bakken and Porrey's excellent adventure came to be. Our motto because "Ridin' Dirty".

We drove to Minneapolis first and stayed the night with Colleen, another high school friend. I had injured my back lifting heavy boxes and was crippled and barely able to move, sit, be a functioning member of society, etc. I had never felt that kind of pain before. Slow stretches helped, but for the most part, I was useless. Dann took shifts in the morning and we would stop occasionally at rest stops where I would find benches and things to stretch on. When there weren't any I would hang myself on the stalls and let my feet dangle to pull my spine straight. There is no explanation to give when someone walks on you doing that. You just shrug and give them the look like “yeah, you just caught me doing something weird” and go on with stretching. But despite the pain Dann and I still had a good time jamming to tunes and answering deep questions about life.

 We stayed in Nebraska after driving through the most amazing storm ever. It lacked the spectacular lightning I so very much love, but seeing the ominous cloud ahead and suddenly have rain hit your windshield as such force it sounded like marble pellets were smacking the glass. Thank you Rain-X, I didn't need to use my wipers at all! In Wyoming we drove through such high winds it blew fluffy snow around causing pretty patterns on the road, but mostly creating “white out” conditions that got us screaming in amazement and fear at the same time. In Salt Lake City I got bit on the foot by something mysterious causing horrendous swelling of my big toe. So aside from walking like I have a metal pole for a spine, I got to ad a limp to my battered body. Salt Lake City was beautiful by the way, very very beautiful. I also happen to come across something kind of ridiculous fake bullet holes shaped like a Jesus fish on the back of the vehicle of a Packer fan from South Dakota. I found it ridiculous to see mini vans sporting these fake gangsta bullet holes in the first place, but then to see them shaped as a Jesus fish? What message does that give exactly? Gang violence is the bees knees, as long as you're shootin' for Jesus!

Driving into the white out:

With Dorthia Salt Flats, Utah

I gambled for the first time in Reno and broke even. Drove through the Sierra Nevada Mountains without a hitch and arrived in San Francisco at last. I saw Dann's play and we played on the beach by the golden gate bridge. I went to see some Alaska friends close to Santa Cruz, California where they lived amongst redwood trees and so close to the beach we went hunting for sea glass one day. I imagined with each tiny sliver I found of blues and reds and greens that these were once a part of a bottle that touched the lips of a pirate somewhere in yesteryear. Last stop was with one more Wisconsin friend in the Berkeley area before I drove north. Driving through the heart of central California is where I saw trees with their leaves turning brown. I was blessed with foggy crazy weather that created some neat views, or no view at all. Getting to Portland was matched with an arrival of one of the worst rain storms they have ever had, and here I just thought I was back to the norm. There was immense flooding everywhere in the city. Welcome home. This was the most amazing, self discovering, emotional, laugh inducing, adventure having, good time road trip I have ever had. Thank you Little Skittle for being such a tough little car.

Border of Utah and Nevada
With Dorthia in Reno

At the hotel in Reno

With Dann at Golden Gate Bridge Park
Alaska friends in California
Space museum in Berkeley
I'm surprised I managed to get this out before the year was up. Congratulations to everyone who read. The other night I spent re-reading old posts. This blog really picked up in 2007 into 2008 and I wrote on a farewell post to '07 that I was looking forward to the new change in my life (Alaska) and the adventures in my future. I have had many in the last three years for which I am very thankful. I don't where I will be, or where I am going, or what I will be doing in 2011, but I will continue to find adventures, be a more productive citizen of the world, and like Chris McCandless I will continue to “engage in unconventional living” and hope for the best. Happy 2011 everyone, and good luck to all of you in the New Year.

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