The Great Plains and beyond!

On our third and final leg of our road trip adventure, we are conquering the West!  The best word I can think of to describe the West is “epic.”  Not only is it literally bigger that the other parts of the country, its landscapes change more dramatically, and its natural wonders and more …wondrous.

We started our westward journey through South Dakota on totally flat ground, mostly farmland.  What made driving through this flat farmland different from driving in Wisconsin was that everything was more spread out and sparse.  South Dakota is in the bottom five states for population density along with North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska.  Driving though South Dakota is pretty dull.  With hardly a curve in the road, you drive west on 90 seeing the same scenery again and again, and the same billboard for Wall Drug over, and over, and over again.

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Oh my god, oh my god it’s WALL DRUG!! Don’t forget to stop at WALL DRUG! Whatever you do, don’t miss WALL DRUG!!!!!

The monotonous drive felt completely worth it once we reached the Badlands.  While the rest of South Dakota we had driven through was repetitive and tedious, the striking landscape of the Badlands was totally bonkers!  It felt like we could be on another planet!

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South Dakota… or MARS?!?!

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Walking on another planet.

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Bison, more bison!

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This was soon after Kevin almost stepped on a rattlesnake.

On the same day, we saw both Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.  Though these two structures are actually quite different, I have grouped them together in my mind.  For some reason, I have always wanted to see Mount Rushmore.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint shimmy over the presidents’ faces in North by Northwest.  Or maybe it’s because as an homage to North by Northwest, in Macaulay Culkin’s 1994 chef d’oeuvre Richie Rich, there is a chase scene over the family’s own Mount Richmore, a reconstruction of Mount Rushmore with the family members’ faces.  Whatever the reason is, I was a bit let down when I saw it.  I realize that it is impressive and all, but it was a lot… smaller than I expected.  It was still pretty cool.

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North by Northwest

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Richie Rich

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Mount Rushmore… yay?

While I was initially excited to see Mount Rushmore, and quickly let down by the sight of it, the opposite happened with Devil’s Tower.  Maybe it was because I had just experienced a big let down that my expectations were so low.  Kevin described Devil’s Tower to me, and I was not impressed.  It took me all of a millisecond after seeing the tower itself to realize how wrong I was!  When we walked around the tower, we saw a couple of (crazy) people climbing to the top!  I think that might be the definition of badass.  We camped nearby with a great view of the tower, and witnessed a beautiful thunderstorm with lightening that lit up the tower.  It was epic.

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Flippin’ sweet!

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Our beautiful campsite by Devil’s Tower.

Surprise!  Wyoming is pretty flat too!  But wait… the road curves!  Are those mountains in the distance?!  Wyoming was a … strange place.  Devil’s Tower was amazingly beautiful, but the rest of Wyoming that we saw was either very industrial or sparse.  During our travels, we often go to a coffee shop to use wi-fi for blogging, catching up with people… figuring out where we are sleeping that night…  Usually we find a nice little local coffee shop with mediocre coffee, but the coffee shops (if you can call them that) that we found in Wyoming were… different.  The one we ended up going to was an “espresso shop/ laundry mat/ Basque gift shop.”  Weird, right?  This wasn’t the exception to the rule, either!  The only other coffee shops we saw were part laundromats, and occasionally just a drive through coffee place.  It was strange.

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Flat but beautiful Wyoming.

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Is it a coffee shop or a laundromat?!

After driving through South Dakota and Wyoming with the promise of mountains in the distance, Montana finally brought the promise into reality!  Glacier National Park is the real deal—mountains galore!  It was beautiful.  Before we could really appreciate the beauty of the national park, we had to make our way through the hoards of tourists that don’t go beyond the terrible little village located a stone’s throw away from the entrance to the park.  The village has ice cream parlors, kitschy souvenir shops, burger joints, and other equally appealing places to waste your money and pretend to be “out in nature.”

Even though I was kind of terrified the whole time we were at Glacier that we were going to run into a grizzly bear, I had an amazing time.  We went on a great hike up to a lake created by glacier run off, which meant gorgeous, clean, and clear water.  We also went swimming in an equally pristine looking (probably not as clean… due to the motorboats and whatnot) lake right next to our campsite.  It was the clearest water I have ever swam in.  It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!  We also met a really nice couple, Alyssa and Alex, who were going on an adventure of their own, moving back to Tulsa, Oklahoma from Portland.  Sometimes I lose my faith in humanity but then it is restored by the kindness of strangers.  Alex and Alyssa fall into the faith-restoring category.

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HIKE

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TIME

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In front of the lake where we swam.

After leaving beautiful Glacier and stopping though Whitefish, Montana (shout out to Will Erickson!) we made our way back to our beloved route 90 to make our way out to the coast.  After a shaky start (due to the copious amount of caffeine consumed on empty stomachs), we made it to Idaho, and camped in a cute little campsite in Coeur d’Alene National Forest.  I must admit that I always forget about Idaho when I am trying to name all 50 states.  I feel bad that Idaho has been neglected in my mind, as it turned out to be quite a pleasant place!  We even saw a moose… but all I managed to capture was a picture of its butt.

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The fire guru.

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10 points if you can spot the moose butt!

Well, the road out West has been good to us!  I guess you’ll have to stay tuned to find out what happens next!!  Is the anticipation too much?  I thought so.

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Home in Oak Park, Appleton, and Minneapolis

As Kevin wrote in his last blog entry, we have recently begun to truly value the importance of having a home.  While we are on the road, our home is wherever we are at any given moment.  We have been so lucky on our travels to be welcomed by our friends, family, and the great outdoors, who have all shared their lives and homes with us.

Some of you may remember our questionable decision to drive nonstop from Montreal to Oak Park.  If you don’t, that is acceptable.  It wasn’t the most fun part of our trip… by a long shot.  We followed up that unpleasant drive with a wonderful week in Oak Park.  I always feel so welcomed by Kevin’s family.  They are great people to be around!  We have been traveling hundreds and thousands of miles away from home to see new things and have adventures, and sometimes we forget that there are really cool places so close to home!  When we were in Oak Park, we traveled just a little over an hour to go canoeing on the Fox River (different from the one in Appleton) and hiking at Starved Rock.  While we were in Oak Park, we also played a TON of Settlers of Catan, had fires in the backyard, went into Chicago to visit my friends Ashley, Jake, and Colleen, hung out with some of Kevin’s friends from high school, and celebrated Kevin’s 25th birthday.  He’s an old man now!

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Canoeing on the Fox River!

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LaSalle Canyon at Starved Rock

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Starved Rock on Kevin’s birthday!

In the months leading up to our travels, I was so ready to get out of Appleton.  Maybe it was the terrible endless winter that made me so eager to get the heck out of there.  Our most recent visit in August has completely renewed my love for Appleton, and I will be very sad to no longer call it my home.  We have so many wonderful friends and ties to the community in Appleton.  It will be hard to move somewhere new and start over.

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Mark came to visit too!

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Adventures with my mom in eastern Wisconsin!

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Roughly 1/3 of the hippest new band,… Holy Sheboygan! Check them out right away!

We set out from Appleton once again to Minneapolis to stay with Kevin’s friend Jake.  It had been a few months since we were last in Minneapolis (remember the April blizzard?) but it felt like we started right where we left off!  It’s always a fun, relaxing, semi-indulgent time when we visit.  Those boys are so wonderful.  When we have a home of our own, you boys are welcome to stay as long as you’d like!

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Bevies with the boys in Minneapolis!

When I started writing this blog entry, I was really missing having a home of our own.  Though I do still really look forward to that day (not too far in the future now), writing about Oak Park, Appleton, and Minneapolis has made me realize that we will always have amazing homes in those places as long as our friends and families are there.

Not to be all cliche or whatever, but Kevin was right in his last post to say, “Home is where the Heart is.”  Word.

On Appleton and Having a Home

It has been over five months now since we left Appleton.  That feels like a long time to be away from the place that I have lived what is essentially my entire adult life.  It is a long enough time for things to change.  It is a short enough time to miss the place dearly on a regular basis.  I especially miss Appleton when I am craving the feeling of Home, of having a home, keeping a home, having roots in a community and in a place.  It was an experience of many colors, then, to return to Appleton recently. 

What struck me first was a looming feeling of this is not home.  I have no home there anymore. We crashed in our good friends, Chris and Elyse’s lovely basement for the first few nights of our visit, pushing us deeper into the unfamiliar experience of being a guest in a place we know so well.  Despite my excitement to return to such a lovely place, this feeling of displacement dominated my first few days in the Little Apple and overlaid them with a sense of melancholy and doubt.  Doubt about leaving, doubt about what I am doing (or not doing) with my life, and general uncertainty about the overall wisdom of my decisions.  Fortunately or unfortunately, I was able to drown some of these feelings in the frenzy that was Mile of Music, an impressive, weekend-long music event, taking place all over Appleton’s downtown.

A smorgasbord of musicians graced the bustling metropolis with their original works, and people came in to the city from far and wide (relatively speaking) for the event.  The timing was coincidental, but I was very happy to be in town for such an event.  Regardless, I was very relieved when the weekend was over.  Big crowds, you know, I can only take for so long.

The interesting thing that I experienced as the week progressed was that I started to feel quite at home, but that my sense of home had very little to do with a specific house or apartment, as I often visualize when I think of the word ‘home’.  I just felt that sense of belonging come back very strongly.  Interacting with close friends and feeling like I could walk through town, run into people, have meaningful interactions, and have places to go along the way, helped me feel like I was fitting in again.

I draw a lot of inspiration from trees, and their wisdom in taking what is given and making the most of it.  We too need roots to survive and to thrive, but our roots can branch out in infinitely complex ways, along pathways unavailable to such a physical and grounded thing as a tree.  Home, then, is not really a physical place at all, as it may seem that it is to a plant.  It is a state of mind.  It is the feeling of safety, of personal space.  It is a feeling of connection and belonging.  This explains why I can feel so much at home when visiting a friend in a place I have never been, or on a mountain I’ve never climbed before, or in a city that I used to live in, but in which I no longer have a bed to call my own.  My roots can extend through space and time, into the consciousness of a community, the cracks in a sidewalk, or the words of a friend.  How lovely that as a physically mobile being, my roots can extend through so many dimensions of reality, and nourish me wherever I am!

In the end, I left Appleton feeling ready to get back on the road, encouraged about our travels, and our relocation, and so very grateful to have such a wonderful, loving community of friends in such a delightful town.  Thank you to everyone for helping me feel this way!

I have been trying to collapse these thoughts into some sort of catchphrase or something.  I was thinking something like ‘Home is where the heart is.’  What do you think?  I was hoping to print it on all sorts of household items and capitalize on the whole thing.

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Ketchup time!

Kevin and I are a bit behind on our blog posts. We have decided to sum up everything that has happened between the time we left New Jersey and arrived in Appleton… in ONE blog post!?!?! Here we go!

After leaving Princeton, we drove along the treacherous, congested, smelly North Jersey highways to visit our friend Natalie in Nyack, NY. Natalie (barista extraordinaire) works at a fantastic coffee/donut shop called Gypsy Donut.

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Natalie is a badass.

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Post coffee cupping.
We made it onto the Gypsy Donut wall of fame!

We camped in Nihman Mountain State Forest, a little ways outside of Nyack. We climbed a fire watchtower on top of the mountain, and had a close encounter with a potentially rabid deer.

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There was a bit (understatement) of a mixup about our next destination… I meant to lead us to New Canaan, CT (where my mom lived when she was a teenager), which was right on the way from Nyack to our next destination. Unfortunately, I looked at the map wrong, and switched a few letters around, and brought us to New Haven, CT instead. Woops! We did end up making it back to New Canaan, where we slept in our car outside of some very, very nice homes.

On the way to Providence, we stopped through Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, camped in Burlingame State Park, and stopped in some town with funny crosswalking methods. In Providence, we saw my friend Alana who lived 8 houses down from me in New Jersey. We used to make potions, put on plays, do detective work, make treasure maps, and be the only members of the coolest club on the block. It was really cool hanging out as like… adults… or something!

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Rawr! Boats!

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This is where our tent was.

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Safety first when crossing the street.

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Then and Now

After stopping through Providence, we stayed with my dad’s cousin Peter, his wife Margaret, and their kids Ian and Louisa in Cambridge, MA. They are such welcoming, lovely people. We had a wonderful time with them! We went swimming in Walden Pond… well, Margaret and Louisa swam… I mostly just flailed around and realized that I am not a very good swimmer anymore. Margaret took us to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, where we saw this amazing exhibition of graffiti artists Barry McGee’s work. We walked around Boston… er… Kevin walked, I melted. We had delicious dinners and excellent conversations. Margaret and I bonded over the fact that baseball makes us tear up. We ate gallons of gelato. We never wanted to leave! You guys are the best!

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Barry McGee’s work in the ICA.
I want to do this!

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Margaret checking out Barry McGee’s television tower.

Also in Cambridge, we got to see my friend David who I haven’t seen in far too long! I met him when I was living in Dublin for a bit after graduating from college. We were the only two people waiting outside of Whelans before it opened to get tickets to see the Frames. It was awesome catching up with him and seeing what he is up to on this side of the pond. Look out for his new band Courage and the Bear!

After Cambridge, we headed up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Kevin repeated a hike up Mt. Jefferson that he had done with his family when he was a kid.

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Gettin out the binocs.

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Our perfect (free!) campsite in the White Mountains.

From the White Mountains, we headed to Portland, ME, a lovely seaside city. We met up with some friends from Appleton, Rick and Faith, who have recently relocated to Portland. You know those conversations you have with people that leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed, excited about life, content, and encouraged? That is exactly how we felt after having drinks with Rick and Faith. They are so darn hip!

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They have part of the Berlin in Portland… what?!?

We stayed in our first KOA (Kampgrounds of America… they can’t spell) in Augusta, very close to Portland. It was weird. There was minigolf… and a pool… and screaming children. Not our favorite campsite…

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Our classic camping foods…

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KOA

Next stop… Acadia National Park! Holy cow, was it beautiful… and touristy! We hiked, and watched the sunrise at one of the most eastern parts of the country.

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On our way from Acadia to Quebec, we did these things:

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Quebec City was a mix of wonderful and terrible. I know that Kevin and I are technically tourists when we are visiting a new place, but we would like to think that we are different from the stereotypical tourist. And boy, were there a LOT of tourists in Quebec city. That was the “terrible” part. We don’t wear vests with a billion pockets (for your passport, maps, guidebooks, a kitchen sink?), we don’t back up into the middle of the road to take photographs of god knows what, we don’t go into the kitschy shops that sell items “unique” to the area we are in (all of them sell the same stuff with a different city name plastered all over it).

The wonderful bits of Quebec City include the lovely hostel friends we made, the beautiful architecture, and the country’s support for the arts. One of our hostel friends informed us that Cirque du Soleil was having free performances down by the river, and I am so glad that we went! It was freaking AMAZING.

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Looking down from the walled Old City

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These homes reminded me of Galway

We were pretty exhausted by the time we made it to Montreal, so mostly we just walked around checking out sweet graffiti, and went to the same restaurant twice, where we ate some delicious food.

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At this point, Kevin and I were pretty tired from traveling and aching to get to Oak Park. And so, we made the questionable decision to drive straight from Montreal to Oak Park. It was a very long 18 hours in the car. I think we might be too old to do that again.

And now… what you’ve all been waiting for… NEW JERSEY!

A month and a half ago, we got to Princeton… and that is how far behind we are on our blog.  Woops!  We’ve got to be better about writing more frequently.  It’s kind of hard to write about something that happened over a month ago, but here goes nothing!

I thought that going home to New Jersey would mean that we would have a ton of time to relax, catch up on sleep, cook a bunch, and enjoy doing nothing.  I was wrong.  Of course I was also really looking forward to seeing friends and taking some day trips, but I had no idea how little time there would be left for the art of doing nothing.  I always think that there will be significantly more time to do things than there really is.  Yes Kevin, I am finally admitting it.  This is why I am usually a few minutes late for everything.  Sorry guys.  (Note to potential future employers: I promise I’ve learned my lesson.  The first step is admitting the problem, right?)

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My cat TJ is the king of doing nothing. What a pro.

After a 5 hour (or so) drive from DC (we took the scenic route) we arrived in Princeton, only to leave 20 minutes later to catch a train into New York City where we met up with Kevin’s friend Jake and his family, who were visiting the city for the weekend.  We found them at a bar called Tonic in Times Square.  As a native New Jerseyan (I looked it up… it’s a legit term), I grew up going to the city frequently, and so, I do not consider myself to be a tourist there.  Because I am not a tourist, I have only been to Times Square when I absolutely have to walk through it to get somewhere else.  So, going to a bar on a Friday night right in the middle of all of the madness was quite the shocker.  If you are planning a trip into New York, skip Times Square.  It’s dumb.  Once Tonic made the transition from sports bar to nightclub, we quickly high-tailed it off the beaten path to a lovely Scottish pub a couple blocks away.  At the pub we met a Scotsman who said to Kevin, “You stole my seat, but I’m going to let you stay because you’ve got the best beard I’ve seen in this whole city.”  And then he bought him an Irn Bru, supposedly the most popular soda in Scotland… it was gross.

It was wonderful getting to see a lot of my Jersey friends!  While in Jersey, we went out for dinner with Marissa and Lisa Ann to Triumph Brewery, where they enjoyed sweet, sweet microbrews and nice meals, and where I ate RIBS!!!  Oh my god… if you ever find yourself in Princeton, New Jersey with a hankering for ribs, do yourself a favor, and go to Triumph!  Best.  Meat.  Ever.  After dinner, we headed over to the Ivy Inn (if it’s possible for Princeton to have a dive bar… that’s the one), where we met Nathalie!  You know you have good friends when it feels like no time has passed since you last saw them, and you pick up right where you left off.  My friends are pretty awesome!

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With Sophia and Chelsea outside of Sacred Chow, an excellent vegan restaurant right by Washington Square Park in NYC.

On another day, we went to the JERSEY SHORE with Chelsea, Lisa Ann, and Linzy.  It was a bit… brisk.  We started out on Island Beach State Park, which is pretty darn nice for being a part of the Jersey Shore.  It was fairly clean, not too crowded, and the waves were big.  After a nice wholesome time at the beach, we took Kevin to see the boardwalk for the first time at Seaside Heights.  I grew up going to the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore, so I am never surprised by it.  The arcades, kitschy tourist shops, mediocre restaurants, fudge and salt water taffy stands, the over-tanned and underdressed, hermit crabs for sale, bad music coming from every direction, the carnival-like games and rides… I’m used to it all.  For Kevin, it was an eye opening experience.

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A brisk and windy day

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Hurricane Sandy did a lot of damage to the Jersey Shore area. A lot of Seaside Heights was still under repair. The boardwalk in this photo is all new.

We stayed with Chelsea for a few days in New York and it was sweet!  You can refer to Kevin’s account of the city in his blog post, “Cities” from July 1st, where he writes beautifully about the overwhelming nature of New York City, also referred to as, “the Beast.”  While I too can feel overwhelmed by the city, I also have a sort of energy and excitement that runs through me when I am there.  I almost feel like a different person.  I haven’t mastered it completely, but I’m pretty good at getting around there.  There is definitely an art to it—between weaving through the masses, remembering which trains go where, acting like you belong there—I enjoy getting caught up in the motions of the city.  Kevin might liken these motions to being herded like cattle or a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off.  I, on the other hand, like to look at the motions in a more positive light.  Times Square is a different story—it really is like millions of headless chicken tourists.

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LOST!

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The native New York squirrel.

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Sweet graffiti in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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Crossing the Williamsburg bridge back into Manhattan.

While in New York, we saw the musical Once and a great art exhibit.  The musical was based on the 2006 film of the same name, written and directed by John Carney, starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.  At first I had trouble separating the musical from the film, but as soon as I did, I really started to appreciate the way they adapted it.  It was kind of like Spring Awakening in the sense that (for the most part) the actors stayed on the sides of the stage where they sang harmonies and whatnot, and the music was all played live onstage.  The difference was that instead of having a live band, it was the actors who played all of the instruments!  I really enjoyed it.  The only thing that I couldn’t get past was that Glen Hansard’s character was super whiny and wimpy.

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The view down the stairwell from the top floor of the Flat Iron building!

The art exhibit we went to was at the New Museum.  Half of the exhibit was AWESOME, and the other half was… not.  We all really enjoyed the artwork of Llyn Folks.  He was fantastic!  I could try to explain his work… but this blog post is getting way too long.  Check out some of his paintings:

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We went on several day trips while we were in New Jersey.  We went into Moorestown to see my cousin Carly and her husband Josh.  I am so excited for them… they are having a BABY really soon!  I don’t have any siblings, but I always thought of Carly as a sister, and I’m pretty excited to be a kind of auntie person!  We also went to Medford (right by Moorestown) to see my grandma.  Man!  I will be lucky if I have a third of her energy and memory when I’m 30!  Grandma, I am impressed!  When we were at my grandma’s, she had us draw the path of our travels so far on a map.  It was really cool to see!  Here’s the result:

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Our route as of the beginning of July.

My dad and Maggie took us to Lambertville to see the Levon Helm documentary, Ain’t In It For My Health.  One of the producers, Mary Posatko, did a Q & A after the film showing.  Being someone who enjoys not just watching films, but the process of making them, I really loved hearing her talk about how the film was made, what it was like to be around Levon Helm, what kind of troubles they ran into making the documentary, and how they overcame them.  If you like The Band, Levon Helm, or… music… I highly recommend watching this documentary!

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Also… we went to Philly for a day.  This is the one photo I took when we were there.  I’m weird.

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United Steaks of America!

On the 4th of July, we went to a Trenton Thunder game.  There were fireworks.  It was sweet.

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Trenton Thunder!

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Kevin and I went to the Princeton Battlefield one night to check out the fireflies.  So many!  It was ridiculous.  We had fun taking some long exposure photos.

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The end.

Glen, Chuck, and Barry

It probably comes as no shock to most of you that I really like Glen Hansard.  “Like” is definitely an understatement.  As luck would have it, he was scheduled to play a concert in Raleigh, North Carolina roughly around the time we thought we might be passing through.  Obviously, we decided to get tickets and finagle things around so that we’d be sure to make it!

If you have no idea who Glen Hansard is, I’m sure you’re pretty confused right now.  Let me enlighten you!  He started out as a busker (street musician) in Dublin before starting the Frames in the early 90s.  He became better known in the United States after starring in the film Once with Marketa Irglova, with whom he formed the Swell Season.  Within the last year, he has come out with a solo album, which is what he was touring with when we saw him in Raleigh.

Here is a video of Glen Hansard performing fellow Irishman Van Morrison’s song, “Astral Weeks” for the French online magazine, Le Cargo:

The show was amazing (as his shows always are… I’ve been to several).  I’m always impressed by how much energy he has and how much power his voice has.  The funny thing about this concert was how many middle-aged women were there.  When I saw the Frames play in Dublin and Belfast on their 20th anniversary tour, the crowd was split about evenly between men and women, though Kevin and I were probably on the younger side of the crowd.  This was most definitely not the case in Raleigh.  It was a pretty funny sight seeing dozens of soccer moms rush the stage with their fancy cameras, giggling and fawning over him.

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Watch out Glen! The ladies are coming to get you!

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He plays with the other members of the Frames, even during his solo tour.

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Just around the corner from the concert, there was a gun show… that we did not attend.  I was very relieved that we didn’t see anyone packing (their newly acquired) heat.  We didn’t stick around Raleigh for too long after the concert.  After one night there, we headed up North to Charlottesville, Virginia, our northernmost, Southern destination.  While in Charlottesville, we enjoyed some good old Southern porch sittin’ with our friend Sophie, and some epic thunderstorms.

Oh, and a woman tried for roughly 30 minutes to save us and accept Jesus Christ as our savior… even after choking on a bug that flew into her mouth.  That woman was dedicated!  While she was talking at us, all I could think about was the Chuck Klosterman essay, “How to disappear completely and never be found,” from his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.  In this essay, he writes:

There is something undeniably attractive about becoming a born-again Christian… There are no other subjects, really; nothing else– besides being born again– is even marginally important.  Every moment of your life is a search-and-rescue mission:  Everyone you meet needs to be converted and anyone you don’t convert is going to hell, and you will be partially at fault for their scorched corpse.  Life would become unspeakably important, and every conversation you’d have for the rest of your life (or until the Rapture–whichever comes first) would really, really, really, matter.  If you ask me, that’s pretty glamorous.

This woman was definitely not discouraged by my blank stare or the extra protein from the bug she choked on…

After Charlottesville, we headed up to DC to see Kevin’s good friend Will, who he hadn’t seen in 5 years!??!  I have really enjoyed meeting each of Kevin’s friends from high school.  They are all such kind, good people.  Will’s roommates and his girlfriend Liz were all awesome and great to hang out with.  We arrived kind of late at night, so Will’s roommates weren’t exactly aware of our presence until they came downstairs early the next morning and found a girl sleeping soundly on their pullout couch, and a hairy man in their kitchen.  It was very fortunate that they assumed that we must be friends of someone in the house and not raving loonies.

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Crazy people.

We had a great time walking around the city.  I’m pretty sure we walked at least 10 miles every day we were there.  I am very glad that I invested in good shoes.  I have most likely clocked hundreds of miles in these babies already.  DC was a much more accessible city than I expected it to be.  Usually I am somewhat confused and overwhelmed when I enter a city that I am unfamiliar with, but I did not experience these feelings in DC (unless you include that one time we made a wrong turn and unexpectedly ended up back on the highway in Virginia.  That was confusing).  DC is definitely in my top 3 cities that we have visited so far in our travels… the other 2 are top secret!

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Outside of the White House, hangin’ with Barry.

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The Washington Monument is… tall… I guess.

Some cool things we saw at the museum:

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100 days party!

Today marks our 100th day since leaving Appleton!

P1000032We though it would be fitting to

take some photos this afternoonP1000035 

P1000041 while hanging out and playing 

croquetP1000042

P1000044with Bill Murray.

Thanks to the guys atP1000048

P1000053 Truly Sanctuary

for sending us these great shirts!P1000056

P1000058And thanks to Bill

for joining our celebration. P1000060