Sunday, August 31, 2008

The BL

Written 8/31/08
Hello from a little cabin in the badlands. I left wall around 10 this morning and drove the 10 miles to the park entrance. From there it's an hour long drive to go through the park. It's pretty incredible here. A lot like the desert. In fact, the two places it reminds me of are the Negev in Israel and Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. There are cacti here and the ground is sandy and rocky. I spent most of the day driving around, feeling like a wuss because I was too scared of heights to walk out onto the rocks. Between the wind and the height (and the people looking) I just couldn't do it. A few miles later, however, I hit a back country hike that was actually down on the ground. I was woefully unprepared in some respects, (it was only after I had hiked in for 15 minutes or so and realized that there was NO one else for miles that I decided the first aid kit or more water would be useful), and I certainly discovered that at the end of the day I'm a city girl, but the hike was incredible. The only other person I saw the whole time was up high on a rock in the distance. The sun was shining (I think it's close to 100 here today), there was a strong breeze, and the clouds streaked across the sky. It was me and the boulders and the rock and... the rattlesnakes. Every time I walked through tall grass I heard rattling. I'm not lying. Forget the Maine rattler; this one's for real. I was proud of myself for doing the hike and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I have to say I was certainly grateful to see cars again when I got back. I can't do alone in the middle of nowhere for too long. It freaks me out.

The loop ends at the ranger station and there I found out that there's a powwow going on tonight not far from here. I'm a little intimidated by the drive home in the pitch black but the ranger assured me I would be ok so I'm going to hit it up.

I have more photos but think that I will upload them on flickr and then post the link.

Lots of love,

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Moving Along (SD)

If you can't tell, I have internet access right now, so I'm trying to get all my blogging in about the past few days.

I left Minneapolis around 10am this morning, winding my way down through Minnesota. 169 South is a highway but every 20 miles or so it slows down to a stop to let people on and off. Suffice it to say, it was a slow drive. Three hours later, however, I hit 90w (yes, the same road I've been on since Massachusetts) and entered South Dakota. I had been warned that this was going to be a brutally boring drive, but I was actually blown away.

South Dakota isn't quite flat. It's rolling hills that extend forever in all directions. So far, in fact, that the wind rushes at full force across them. Everywhere I looked there were sunflowers and hay bales and cows. The speed limit was 75 but few were speeding as the wind pushed the car gently to the right (north, i guess?). Every so often, you could hear the wind go under and through the tires; loose wisps of hay spun across the highway and over the car. I certainly felt like I was in the center of the country, no ocean in sight. Dave and Alicia had recommended that I take a break in Chamberlain by the Missouri River. It was well worth it. After seeing nothing but land land land, it was crazy to see this giant river.

Even if I had to contend with this:

Four more hours of driving went by surprisingly fast (good music helps), and next thing I knew there were boulders emerging from the ground. I had hit the badlands. I took sneak peak and will explore them for real tomorrow.

Tonight, I'm in Wall, South Dakota watching Blazing Saddles. Tomorrow night, I'm in a cabin in the park. I think that will round out the experience.

Here's what I call "motel at sunset." Jen, I wish you were here to take photos. Mine just don't do it justice.

Lots of love everyone. I miss you.

Love, Tamara

Minneapolis recap

Look! It's Minneapolis. When driving from Wisconsin, you go through farms and farms and farms and then all of a sudden you see a skyline! It's not actually Minneapolis. It's St. Paul. But you're close. I had a wonderful couple days in Minneapolis. Drew and Kai and Dave and Alicia showed me a wonderful time.

On Day 1, Kai and I walked around the U and then over to this area:

Apparently, Minneapolis was a big flour mill town. For years and years the mills would overheat and explode. The city would rebuild and then the mills would explode again. Eventually, they figured out a tunnel system to cool the system down but by then it was too late; the mill's heyday was over. What's left is the gold medal flour mill and the area around it. The city left the ruins but built into them a whole glass structural system. I think it's a museum now. The area around the mill is an amazing mix of new and old architecture. And then surrounding everything is a park system of trails and bridges. Minneapolis seems to do somethings right.

Other things, on the other hand, are a little more suspicious.

Yes, it looks cute on first glance. But what exactly are we doing here? Interspecies erotica, perhaps? These little sculptures are in front of the courthouse. I wonder what that implies.

On Day 2, Drew took off work and we drove out to Minnehaha Falls (HA HA). He claims that it's the tallest waterfall east of the rockies. It's not. But it's pretty.

And... the Luce Durham shirt made it for the ride!
Then we drove around the Lake district, stopped at a bowling alley/bar for lunch, and walked over to the Walker Art Institute. Their sculpture and flower garden is free and open to the public. The weather was perfect so we just wandered around for an hour or so.

By the time we were done, I was overheated and exhausted. We stopped at Gang Chen's for two for $5 dollar beers (the price hikes haven't reached the midwest yet...) and then met Kai for a late dinner.

The last treat of the evening was from Kai. He is crashing at a friend's place downtown. This place has roof access. So we finished the night leaning over the rails, watching the fireworks from the Minnesota state fair crash down over St. Paul. I'll end this post the way I began: with the Minneapolis skyline. This time, at night.

Some photos from Milwaukee.  

Books I've read/reading on the road that you should read too:
Salmon of Doubt, by Douglas Addams: HIGHLY recommend this book.  It's billed as the lost manuscript of the last hitchhiker book.  It's not.  Instead, it's a collection of eulogies about Addams and essays that he wrote.  Even if you're not a fan of the hitchhiker series, I'd read it.  It's a little more accessible to those not into the whole sci fi genre.
Travels with Charly:  John Steinbeck takes to the road.  I know some of you (well, three of you) own this book.  Funny and insightful, it's worth picking up and reading.   

Meanwhile, I can't get my photos to work right now so I'm going to log out and log back in later.

Greetings from South Dakota.

Love, Tamara

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moving Along

Well, I've hit Minneapolis. It was a five hour drive from Milwaukee but harder than I thought. Somehow it's the trips that seem short on paper, that seem long in actuality. I find this when flying to Australia as well; the leg from NY to LA is more difficult than the leg from LA to Sydney.
Rural wisconsin was beautiful. Lots of rolling hills and farms. And there was a crazy rock formation along the side of the highway. I wish I could have gotten a photo. Has anyone else ever seen these? It was a like a huge, overgrown, totem pole. I looked out for some sign explaining what it was or telling me to exit off the highway to see the archaeological dig but there was nothing.

I'm enjoying Minneapolis. Drew and I walked around the city last night. I didn't get too much of a feel for it, but it has enough grit to make me feel at home. Today, I'm catching up with Kai and seeing an old YES Ambassador. On Saturday, it's on to the Badlands.

No photos for you today but will try to have some next time

Love, Tamara

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Milwaukee day 2

Backtracking to Ohio. I'm hoping you can double click on this photo and enlarge it. Farther down the road was a sign, "No walking dogs. Please exercise your dog in the dog exercise area" or something like that. The dog exercise meanwhile had a sign "Dog exercise area. Please keep your dog on leash." I'm not sure walking your dog in a gated area 10 ft by 6ft counts as exercise... The midwest is odd.

In general, driving has been fine. I looked back over my maps and it seems like this last haul from Buffalo to Milwaukee will be my longest. Not bad. I've taken to parking as far away from the buildings in the rest stop area so I can force myself to take at least a small walk... I know, this kind of "exercise" goes into the Tamara and Maggie exercise category (walking around town drinking a slurpie.)

I'm staying with Robin and her husband and kids in Milwaukee. Here's a before of Baby Zoe:

Here is baby Zoe today:

Awfully cute. We spent the day tooling around by the river, the older kids finding tracks through the woods, while Robin and I attempted to push the stroller over roots and through sand. We eventually ditched the stroller and settled down on some rocks, just hanging out. Sydney called it "the best day of her life" and Ben corrected her that the day she was born was the best day of her life. Now we're sitting around watching television. I'm exhausted. Early night for me as tomorrow I have the kids.

I miss you all. Wish you were here travelling with me.

Lots of love,



Just a heads up that I made it to Milwaukee. Somehow I can't get my computer to connect to the internet so can't share the one photo I took along the way. It's of a "dog exercise area" at a rest stop in Ohio. Quite exciting.

I did get a surprise trip to see my friend Carla (oh, YES Ambassadors) who lives in South Bend, Indiana. And I also learned that NY drivers don't know how to "drive right, pass left." Instead, they drive at 70 mph most of the time in the left lane and then slam on their brakes every time someone switches lanes. It doesn't make for easy use of cruise control.

I'm in Milwaukee with Robin and family until Wednesday. Will try to give a better update if I can get my computer to work.

Lots of love, Tamara