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My US adventures 2011 - Part Seven: Road trip to Portland

Friday 12 August

Due to no one checking in luggage because no one was working until 4am, I was in for a lot of waiting around for my flight at LaGuardia airport in New York. However luckily I spoke to Holly for over an hour on the phone, my sister for a bit and a lady at the airport for awhile. She was a bit fragile but fine to talk to someone different for awhile, until she started pushing the word of the lord etc onto me. The phone saved me, thanks Louie! By the time 4 am came around I hadn't slept or done any work I had hoped I would catch up on. Then I caught a shuttle bus with another lady (who has a vegan daughter in Europe) to the actual area where we would board our flight to Chicago. The 6am flight couldn't come soon enough and I slept the whole flight to Chicago.

I arrived at O'Hare airport about 7:30am, got my bag and waited for the shuttle bus to take me to my rental car place, that was closer to Midway airport than to where I'd flown into. I had already booked my ticket to Chicago by the time Peter and I realised that it was better timing for him to fly from Seattle to Milwaulkee (instead of to Chicago) and the car rental from Milwaulkee was more expensive than from Chicago. So, I had to use all of my adventurous spirit and drive by myself in another country on the wrong side of the road from Chicago, Illinois to pick up Peter in Milwaukee in the next state North, Wisconsin. I drive interstate all the time when back in Brisbane, so I was sure I'd be fine. I made up a Jimmy Eat World MP3 mix CD, I knew the car was an automatic and I would just take my time as I wasn't in a rush.

So I picked up the Aveo, Chevrolet on South Archer Avenue and left around 10:30am. I merged onto the I55 then the I90 and I94 to Wisconsin. I had a few beeps from a few cars, normally something I would ignore, but as I had the windows down with the wind caressing my hair, I was able to ask one of the truck drivers why he was beeping me. He said it was because I was going to the right a bit over the line. Noted. Did my best to fix this. Finally picked up Peter (I made it!) at around 12:30pm at the General Mitchell airport and he took over the driving.

We drove to Madison where there's a WholeFoods, Peter knows where every WholeFoods is supposedly. We ate our lunch in a park nearby before we drove to the beautiful Indian Lake park. Here's the view:

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Due to both of us not sleeping for much over the past day or so, we ended up finding a spot at the park and slept for a few hours on the blanket we'd bought at a thrift store earlier. If you want to find out more about Peter's activism you can check out his website Voice of the Voiceless and see our mutual friend, Gary Smith from The Thinking Vegan's interview with Peter. I also interviewed Peter last year when we hung out at the Animal Rights Conference in Washington, DC. Here's a photo of Peter enjoying the lovely flowers (just before he freaked out about a bee!) and scenery near where we slept:

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Around sunset we started our travels again, this time we found a place around Dodgeville that had a huge plane, known as the Don Quinn that was stationed outside an inn:

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Here's Peter on one of the wings:

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Inside the plane was quite amazing. It's a Boeing C-97 built in 1952 that was used during the Korean war for transporting people. 150 people could fit in this plane. Due to the economical (not to mention environmental) issues of burning 600 gallons of fuel per hour, the plane was no longer needed by the US government and Don Quinn (the Inn) purchased it in 1977.

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Here's a photo of me at the controls:

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And a great pic of Peter:

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Peter wanted hash browns and as we didn't find them at the inn near the plane, we found a casino on board a boat that was quite a miserable place. I abhor gambling in all forms, plus add in some inside smoking to the equation and it wasn't that great a place, but something I can at least say I've now experienced. When we were driving on Highway Number 18, making up silly songs about heartbreak and the road, we saw a baseball game at a park somewhere in Cobb so decided we'd check it out. I'm not really into sport much at all (except for Australian Football League - AFL) but we had a great time watching the locals throwing and hitting at balls and trying to work out the rules.

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We played on the swings and other fun things at the park where the baseball game took place, continued our trek on Highway Number 18, with more heartbreak songs created and found a place near Spook Cave, McGregor to stay the night. It was a beautiful night with all the signs of tomorrow night's full moon and even though it started raining early in the morning and the land owner almost drove over us with his tractor, we had a good night to an end of a long couple of days. I really want to be woken up by a deer licking my face. This didn't happen.

Saturday 13 August

In the morning after the tractor incident, we parked for awhile at the Spook Cave campgrounds for Peter to catch up on some more sleep and for me to explore a bit, have a shower and breakfast. Then we headed to Pottsville, Iowa where Peter had read a book on the Jewish community who ran a slaughterhouse in the area that was meant to be abandoned. It didn't seem to be abandoned to me at all, and we later found out that the slaughterhouse had been reopened by another Jewish company, luckily it was the Sabbath and no one was there. One of us was scared of the rats in the ceiling... and it wasn't me. Just saying. We then drove to Charles City where we stopped at a lovely coffee shop to catch up on computer work. The guy there played some wonderful music such as Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and other of my favourite standards, it was a great place to stop.

One of Peter's friends in Des Moines, Iowa, Adam owns a great lil' film store, Best Place Ever on 24th Street. Due to us coming through town, Adam decided to organise a screening of Denis' film, Bold Native (Peter has a small part in) so that Peter could answer some questions after the film. First, though, Peter was a guest on Brisbane-based Carolyn Bailey's ARZone a website that has weekly live guest chat interviews with vegan activists. I have wanted to take part in the Q&As at ARZone but due to them being Sunday morning (Australian time) I normally have plans, don't want to be near my computer or am sleeping in. So it was great to see how the live chat works and how many people get involved. The whole event was very long though, over two hours in the end. Read Peter's ARZone transcript.

It was great to watch Bold Native again, see many of my friends with big and small parts and just enjoy a really good film. Adam's Best Place Ever store holds regular screenings and events, so drop by if you're in Des Moines. Bold Native is also now on NetFlix, so check it out if you haven't. I interviewed Denis about Bold Native on my road trip with him to New York last year. After the screening, Peter and I headed to a local Vietnamese restaurant with Dan who ended up being a FaceBook friend of mine (small world, love it!) and Dan's friend, Ryan. Ryan orderd the Cha Gio Chay - spring rolls US$2.50:

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along with the Com Chien Duong Chan Chay - fried rice US$6.75:

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Peter ordered the Com Tau Hu Xao Hanh - stir fried Mongolian tofu with crispy noodles and steamed rice US$6.75:

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I ordered the Com Tau Hu Xao Cai Ngot - stir-fried tofu and yo-choy with steamed rice US$6.75 which was just what I needed:

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Dan ordered the Com tan Hu Don Chay - stuffed tofu with tomato sauce topping and rice US$7:

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Peter and I were staying at his friend, Justin's place that night, but didn't feel like sleeping just yet, so we parked the car at Justin's and walked around the town of Des Moines a bit, through the park and college where we found a rabbit just hanging out on the grass. She/he let me get up pretty close for a photo. Cute:

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Peter and I walked back to Justin's and slept well.

Sunday 14 August

In the morning I had a shower, made some banana toast and painted my nails until Peter woke up. Adam and his partner, Amanda came over to tell us about the Iowa State Fair and the Butter Cow - a cow carved out of butter - that had caused a bit of controversy with local animal activists sticking a Go Vegan sign earlier that morning onto the cow:

Go Vegan sign on Iowa State Fair Butter Cow

The media really embraced this story, with the Des Moines Register article being the one most people quoted from, plus a poem An Ode to the State Fair Butter Cow Battle, and the story even made it to the NPR morning edition. Peter and I copied the fair entry stamps (from Adam and Amanda) on our wrists as I had to experience at least one fair when in the US and there was no way I was paying for it! The four of us headed to a local coffee shop where Justin met us and then Peter and I said our goodbyes and went to the fair.

Now, this fair is meant to be the biggest in the US, but it didn't seem that big. Maybe it was due to it being after 5pm on Sunday when we finally got there, but it was even smaller than Brisbane's Ekka. Here's a photo of the view on the monorail. It was fun. Peter doesn't like heights.

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When we were walking out of the fair, Peter spotted a jumping castle that seemed to be vacant. I had to get footage of him going to the middle and back, then I was meant to do the same. Fortunately there was nothing exciting in the middle, I couldn't actually jump over the first bit, and some kids came along so there's no footage of me, only Peter. Hehe ;)

Late that night when we were somewhere in Nebraska, Peter gets very excited about somewhere he wants to show me that is a huge surprise and I will be very excited about. A big company. "Google headquarters?" I ask. "Umm, no. Wrong state." Whatever. Don't think much else related to companies will excite me, but anyway, what? "It's a surprise." So, after driving around for ages we get to the PayPal headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska which is not exciting in the slightest bit to me, but Peter is ever so excited which makes it somewhat exciting. Peter forces me to take many photos of him on top of the PayPal sign. Now this is amusing:

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We drive for a bit more until we get to York, Nebraska where we stay the night at a truck stop.

Monday 15 August

We stopped at a coffee shop in the morning for Peter to get his caffeine fix and for us both to use our laptops then headed to a Goodwill store in North Platt, Nebraska where I bought 3 great dresses for about US$12 total. I was also very excited as the lass at the checkout counter checked my US$20 bill for counterfeit with some sort of magic pen that was similar to a pen I had when I was younger that you drew over the other coloured pens and the colour would change and/or disappear. Fortunately or unfortunately (hmm, not sure which one...) the pen used on my US$20 dollar note did not a thing so I was able to leave the store knowing my notes were not counterfiet as well as that the North Platt area were in safe hands. Peter said that these pens don't actually proove anything, something about the acidity and paper.

Back on the road we go when we come across a truck with 9/11 Truth written on the side of it. "Get a photo, get a photo!" yells Peter excitedly to which I'm sure I gave a look of uncertainty as to why I would want a photo of a truck whether or not it had 9/11 Truth on the side. By the time I worked out Peter was serious, he had sped up alongside the truck and I went to take the photo, the truck braked fiercely and was not within shutter sight. Fortunately however, soon the truck overtook us and I managed to get a photo. Excited yet? 

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We were then on our way to Boulder, Colorado where a fan of both mine and Peter's (have you seen his website Voice of the Voiceless?) had offered for us to stay at her place. Ashley always shares my FaceBook and Twitter updates and both Peter and I were looking forward to meeting her. Peter was having a snooze in the car when I was driving to Boulder. Ashley gives amazing directions and we were at her place in no time. Peter and I were hungry so Ashley took us to Sun Deli Pizza and Liquor for dinner where Peter had the basic cheese steak: grilled baked tempeh steak with Daiya cheese served on a wheat roll US$7.49:

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Ashley and I shared a small Pesto Chicken pizza: pesto sauce, red bell pepper, garlic, Gardein chicken and almond ricotta US$17.99:

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This is a photo of the bathroom as it's obviously pretty impressive. There was mosaic glass and mirrors on all four walls and fairy lights!

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And here's a grasshopper friend who wanted to hang out for dinner:

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I bought some Hemp I Scream and spoke to the hippy couple who made the ice cream. They were on their way to HempFest in Seattle to meet their son and they had a great travel vehicle. After dinner we walked into Pearl Street mall, the main area of Boulder where we wandered around, watched some roaming performers, including a guy who juggled knives and did acrobatic tricks on stretched wire. Me oh my. He had quite a crowd. Ashley and I ate the ice cream. Peter said I would love Boulder and I do!

Tuesday 16 August

Not only is Ashley great at giving directions and a great tour guide, but she also cooked us breakfast! We may not want to leave... This is Ashley's scrambled tofu, yum:

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The three of us walked around Central Park and headed to the local library where one of the areas looks out over the stream running through the town. Lovely. There was an amazing photographic exhibition of William Corey who I found out later is a Japanese gardens photographer who passed over in 2008. The below photo of his photograph is of Kogen Ji:

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this is what William Corey has to say about it:

I can hear the steady flow of water, running in soothing waves over the rocks under the waterfall. Then, the sudden splash of an ageless carp feeding in the pond. From somewhere in the distance comes the sound of children laughing and the steady clip-clop of wooden sandals returning home.

I work slowly and carefully and as the composition takes shape my anxiety has turned to determination. As the image becomes real in my mind, the making of the photograph moves almost thoughtlessly. When what I see, what I feel and what I want all converge-at that one clear moment-what was chaotic and strange is now tranquil and harmonious, a realized composition. Now, I make the photograph. See more of the Gardens of Yamagata.

The below photo of his photograph is of Byodo-In (The Phoenix Temple)

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here's what William Corey has to say about it:

A pink blossom dangled from a spider web on a branch far out over the pond, catching a divine light each time it revolved. It was as if a tiny revolving door were floating in the heavens. I gazed at it, wondering what world would be opening beyond its fragile beauty each time it turned. Perhaps, as it revolved in the gentle wind, it would give me a glimpse into another world, another life, if...

I kept looking...

The vivid colors of the leaves and flowers glowed like a mosaic in the dazzling sunset-cherry, maples, tea shrubs, dwarf cedars, daphnes, azaleas, camellias, pines, box trees, bamboo. The colors seem to hang around me in clear, blowing sheets. A trance was upon my eyes; I saw up, down, ahead, and to both sides without moving my head or eyeballs.

Sizing things up...

Beyond a profusion of tea bushes were the red buds of an oleander. A single plum tree bloomed white in the midst of the cedars. Blue dew-flowers dotted the path, and delicate traces of greenish lavender sprouted among the leaves. The white spears of dwarf bamboo among the steppingstones repeated the white light from the sky above the wooded hills. Through the branches the sky shone like a string of blue beads. The entire garden seemed to be standing on tiptoe and stretching upward to reach the sky. See more of the Gardens of Kyoto. I will one day go to the gardens where both of these photos were taken.

I wanted to meet some prairie dogs and Peter wanted to hang out in a coffee shop with books, so I drove Ashley and I to Arapahoe Road where we saw some real cuties like this:

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Prairie dogs are mighty fast and we were a bit scary I guess, so it was all about taking quick photos and hoping for the best. I took quite a few! After hanging out with the prairie dogs and even a few rabbits, Ashley and I drove up Flagstaff Mountain where we looked over Boulder:

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We stopped a few times along the mountain

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Here's how Boulder looks from the mountain:

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Here's a pic of me right at the top of Flagstaff:

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How cute is my dress?! It's definitely my new favourite and only cost me US$4.25 at the Goodwill store in North Platt, Nebraska where they checked my US$20 bill for counterfeit (see above - Monday.) Here's a photo of Ashley and I atop of Flagstaff Mountain with Boulder in the background:

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It was really a lovely drive up the mountain and looking at the scenery. I love to go on road trip adventures back home, just drive and see where the road leads sometimes. My sister and I went on a great trip the Sunday before I left for my US adventures to Sirromet winery where we wandered around until it got cold and met so many wallabies hanging out near the grape vines. On the drive down the mountain, Ashley spotted a mother deer and her baby on the side of the road. Here's a pic of the baby deer, how cute!

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And here's a photo to prove I actually was driving!

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Later that afternoon, we picked Peter up and drove to Denver to have dinner with fan/friend of Peter's and mine, Michael who I'd met at last year's Animal Rights Conference in Washington, DC and who was the first friend I made at last year's ARC. Michael was absolutely devastated when I first shaved my head in March (it was quite a harsh look and a shock for a lot of people!) but after my Twitter talk at ARC he seems to have warmed to it a bit ;) It amuses me how attached to my hair a lot of people are. Shaving my head was one of the most liberating things I've ever done and you know, hair grows back! I believe the growing back stage is all part of my life lessons in patience. Here's a shot of the trip from Boulder to Denver:

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We met Michael at Watercourse restaurant along with Peter's friend, Courtney and her daughter, Erica. We waited about half an hour to get a seat as Watercourse was full and very busy. At least by the time we sat down we knew exactly what we would order. Peter ordered the Burrito US$10.25: whole wheat tortilla stuffed with brown rice, grilled vegetables, asadero (vegan queso cheese) and chorizo (vegan sausage). Smothered in green chilli, topped with shredded lettuce and pico de gallo:

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Michael ordered the sweet chilli "egg" rolls US$8.25: cabbage, tofu, portobello mushrooms, carrot and green onion stuffed in a crispy vegan wrapper, served with sweet chilli mango sauce:

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Ashley ordered the blackened tofu US$11.95: spiced tofu with coconut cream sauce served with brown rice, broccoli and avocado:

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I ordered the macro place US$11.95: crispy tofu with teriyaki ginger sauce over brown rice served with steamed greens, arame (kelp) salad and home made pickled cabbage:

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Ashley and I shared a Chocolate cream pie US$5:

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So about this time, my camera decides to stop mostly due to the fact that I'd shown Ashley a lot of my animal photos on our drive to Denver, plus played her the video of Peter going on the jumping castle (see above - Sunday.) So the photo below of Michael, myself and Peter is from Michael's phone camera:

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Wednesday 17 August

In the morning when I woke, Ashley let me know that I'd missed out on seeing a deer in their backyard - how exciting! I saw her photos. And, Ashley had told me previously that someone she knew had a baby bear in a tree somewhere around us. I still haven't seen a bear yet... I caught up on some computer work, before leaving the lovely Ashley to settle into her new house with her new flatmates before she started study at Naropa. Most of my friends asked me if I would live in America and where I'd like to live, up until now, I'd never been to somewhere I could see myself living (maybe LA, just because most of my friends in the US are there) until I fell in love with Boulder. Here's a photo of myself, our wonderful host, Ashley and Peter:

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Then Peter and I left my new home, Boulder, Colorado and headed North to Wyoming.

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We stopped at the new Wholefoods on Pearl where we got some takeaway for lunch/dinner. This is what I bought:

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Then we drove around for awhile, here's some scenery:

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One of our petrol/gas stops was at Cheyenne where I was finally able to buy a redneck sticker for my friend (since year 6) Benjamin that was a shooting licence type sticker. I was told to get the more redneck the better. Also, at this rest stop along with a huge selection of redneck stickers perpetuating every type of stereotype you can think of, there were the My Family stickers that are quite popular in Australia. Peter had previously told me about some sort of wild creature native to Wyoming, the Jackalope, which is supposedly some type of rabbit with antlers! Initially I'm, like, how can a rabbit get antlers? plus Peter had that look in his eyes when I know that what's being said is not entirely truthful. But, anyway, at this rest stop, I see a postcard with a Jackalope picture on it! So I apologise to Peter for not believing him in the first place.

Peter wanted hash browns and coffee, so we stopped later at the Outpost Cafe in Lusk where we ordered hash browns for only US$2.50. In Australia, our hash browns look like this, so I was a bit confused when we got what is pictured below. I got in trouble for putting tomato sauce on my hash brown, but it's a love heart!  

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We also saw an Antelope on our trip around dusk:

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 Here's some deer on the side of the road, this was a common scene at dusk:

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Here's a photo of one of the sunsets that Peter and I shared each day of our adventures, lovely:

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Devil's Tower is where we were headed next where Close Encounters of the Third Kind was filmed:

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Getting closer:

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I'd only seen photos of Devil's Tower online, in person was much more spectacular. When we drove into the area, there was a tipi near the carpark. Both of us said in unison "That's where we should sleep tonight!" The tower is very majestic. Here's the view:

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Peter and I sat on one of the rocks near the base of Devil's Tower and had a picnic for dinner with the food we'd bought from Wholefoods when we were in Boulder. It was a lovely, peaceful night, clear sky, wonderful energies until some bats flew over us when we were lying down on said rock. Now, instead of just letting the bats fly by, safe in their travels, Peter absolutely freaks out, sits up towards where the bats were flying past, freaks out even more, then grabs his stuff and runs away. Peter account is somewhat different, in that Peter states the bats flew at him/attacked him, of which there is no proof to this version of events. I'll let you make up your own mind on that.

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We lay out underneath the stars on our blanket until the temperature dropped and we moved into the tipi. We may or may not have played truth or dare, great night at Devil's Tower.

Thursday 18 August

In the morning, we moved into the car when the masses of tourists, hikers and climbers started to arrive with the sunrise. I slept for a bit more before getting up to explore the area. I went to the information area where I read about Devil's Tower and found out that the Native American Indian tribes prefer the name Bear Lodge to be used also that they don't want people to climb it as it's like climbing Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia's Northern Territory. The Indigenous Australians compare climbing Uluru to desecrating a church if you're religious, I'd say this would be the same for climbing Bear Lodge. Most white people have no respect for Indigenous cultures. There's a quote at Uluru: the white man goes there to take pictures rather than going there to listen. Which brings me to the photos I took:

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I went into the tipi we'd slept in (below), did a Tarot reading (King of Pentacles, Swords VIII and Cups Ace) and had some breakfast.

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When Peter woke up, we walked around the base of Bear Lodge with a lot of others on the 1.3 mile Red Beds trail. Here's some of the scenery:

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The rock is just so majestic:

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So I took quite a few photos of Bear Lodge:

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From all sides and angles:

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Then we went to the Prairie Dogs Town close by so that I could get some more photos of prairie dogs, this time standing up:

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Look at him/her coming towards me:

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And with a friend. Cutest:

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Here's what I call a perspective-based photograph of the bogan sort featuring Peter with Bear Lodge in the background from the prairie dog town:

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Just so you know, I was encouraged to take the above photo, I didn't do it of my own accord. Here's some more cute pics of prairie dogs:

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I have way more that I haven't uploaded onto this bog!

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Another beautiful view from our adventure:

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We stopped at a co-op in Bozeman, Montana for dinner before making our way to Helena where Peter's friend, Laura was staying with her then-partner, Matt at Matt's family's property. It was quite late when we arrived in Helena; Laura and Matt met us in town and we followed them to the property on the outskirts of Helena. We chatted for awhile, Matt's sister, Annika and her friends arrived home from partying to entertain us. Peter and Laura stayed up for awhile catching up and I went to bed.

Friday 19 August

Today was Annika's 25th birthday and as she was having a party with a Eurotrash theme, Peter and I decided to stay an extra night. I caught up on some computer work before heading to town with Peter, Annika and Laura. Peter and I hung out at a few thrift stores whilst Laura and Annika had pedicures. We then ordered takeaway burritos at Taco del Sol (of the Sun) with black beans, rice, salsa fresca, lettuce and no cheese so they gave me extra guacamole. 12 inch for US$4.50:

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I also really wanted a horchata drink but they didn't have a non-dairy version. We went back to the house, and while the family were preparing for the party, Laura, Peter and I went on a walk around the property. Laura and Matt's family had told me that there had been some bears around the area, so if I was to finally meet a wild bear, it would happen here!

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The walk was pretty intense. Peter stopped part of the way along our journey and Laura and I continued up the hill a bit. There's been a beetle infestation affecting the pine trees on the Robbins' property and other properties that surround. Matt's Dad, Jim Robbins is a published author who also writes for the New York Times environmental section, here's an article on the pines turning red from the beetles. Can you see the red trees below and how it's effecting a lot of the area?

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Here's a photo of a eagle or hawk that was circling around when Laura and I were almost at the top of the hill:

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Deciding not to go right up to the top of the hill, Laura and I collected Peter and made our way back to the house. Peter and I worked on our outfits for the party. I borrowed some clothes from Annika for my Eurotrash look, Peter didn't have to borrow anything. Just saying. Here's a photo of some of the party attendees (pic by Jim) with the birthday girl, Annika standing in the caravan/RV door. From left: Matt, Laura, Peter and I along with Annika's friends.

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It was a fun night, I spoke to a lot of Annika's friends as well as got to know her lovely family some more. At night the weather dropped quite a bit, it was the coldest I'd been for my whole trip, not good.

Saturday 20 August

After a sleep in, computer work and getting the directions for a hot spring from Matt and Jim, Peter and I said our goodbyes to the lovely Robbins family and headed towards Idaho. Here's a photo of Laura, Peter and I before we left:

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Montana, and especially Helena are very picturesque.

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We stopped off at a thrift store in Helena that reminded me of the Smart Tip back home. We were driving along for a bit, about to run out of petrol/gas when we came across the Rock Creek Lodge - their claim to fame is their annual Testicle Festival, where (I quote:) the festival feeds over 2 ½ tons of bull balls to its many hungry revelers. Not only can you get a taste of these yummy delicious deep-fried bull’s testicles, but while you’re there, you’ll no doubt want to participate in the bull-chip throwing contest, the wet t-shirt or hairy chest competitions, and bull-shit bingo. Hmm... Obviously we were devastated that we wouldn't be around when this festival was taking place! The petrol bowser had a really dodgy sign saying that the amount the bowser shows was not the correct amount you paid for petrol, rather it was more expensive, and to come into the bar to ask for petrol. So we headed over to the lodge where there were so many redneck and offensive stickers on display all over the front of the building, plus a sign stating No Wimps Allowed. At a lot of these in the middle of nowhere places Peter and I walk into, everyone will normally look at us when we come in, you know, new people they don't know. Everyone is really friendly and accommodating, these people were not. The whole bar turned around, stopped talking and almost glared at us. I asked about the petrol to which the bar tender replied to go down the road to get fuel as it was cheaper (!!) I've never heard such a thing! Fortunately a couple of dog friends came over to say hi and it took the edge off a bit, but we couldn't wait to get out of there. Also, let it be known, that this would be one of the best ways to gather bodies if you were a serial killer: people almost out of petrol, tell them to go down the road to the next gas station, there isn't one close at all so you have someone waiting there to pick up the people when they run out of fuel, they're in the middle of nowhere not knowing where they are but you do etc. Fortunately for us, there was a gas station quite close with much cheaper petrol - US$1 less - and we're still alive to tell the tale. This was the most uncomfortable situation I'd been in all of my US adventures.

Peter and I drove along to Missoula and had lunch at the Good Food Store then we drove towards the hot springs at Weir Creek. Weir Creek was along Post Office Creek near mile marker 142 at Clearwater National Park, Idaho. Here's a short VIDEO someone took of their own trek to the hot spring which was about a 30 minute hike up some steep hills.

I asked some people camping for some specific directions as everything looked the same: we were to look out for the white plastic pipe. A family walking back from the spring advised us not to put your whole body in. So, of course I did immerse myself fully and completely overheated myself and had to lie on the board (see below) to cool down! I had never been to a natural hot sping before, it was really beautiful, calming, therapeutic and really hot with the temperature around 103-110 degrees Fahrenheit (39-43 degrees Celsius.) . Here's a photo of the Weir Creek (granite pool) hot spring that sits about 50 feet above Weir Creek:

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See some more PHOTOS of Weir Creek from other travellers plus some of my own (below) when we walked back:

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No bears though.

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Then we started the drive towards Oregon, I believe that these photos are all from around the Three Rivers, Washington area:

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We stopped for a look at the Three Rivers Resort where there was a lovely deer who came to say hi:

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We drove around for awhile before finding a place to stay along the highway after Walla Walla near the wineries and before Pasco, Washington.

Sunday 21 August

So, I am excited to report that I have been to 14 out of 50 USA states! There's a heap more I'd like to explore, obviously, but I think that's a really great start with just two US adventures (as an adult) under my belt.

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Peter and I stopped off at a Taco del Mar for brunch that was somewhere in Oregon, maybe The Dalles. I had a taco, the weather was really hot here which was great. We were on our way to our friend, Brittyn's place in Hillsboro, Oregon where I would be staying for most of the rest of my stay in the US. At about this stage I started to relaise that I was running out of time on my latest US adventures, a fact I was not too pleased with.

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There were a lot of wind turbines on our mid west adventures, like the photo below:

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Peter and I stopped at the WholeFoods in Portland to get some snacks before driving to Hillsboro where Brittyn had made us some food and where Peter and my mid west adventures came to an end. Peter and I drove from Chicago to Portland in nine days which was a total of 2121 miles (3413km). There aren't many people I can handle for more than a couple of days, let alone travel with. Peter and I get on extremely well; we have the important stuff in common and then the rest we balance each other out really well. We always have fun together and I missed him as soon as he left Brittyn's. I had such an amazing time on our road trip! My next adventures however await: hanging out with Brittyn in Portland, Oregon and the Vida Vegan Bloggers Conference - can't wait!

PS. A friend in Portland, Mark informed me that the Jackalope (see above Wednesday) is in fact not a real creature at all. After arriving home I did some more research on the topic and Peter Young: I TAKE MY APOLOGY BACK! I should have trusted my initial instinctual response and NOT believed you!

USA_Adventures_CoverMy USA Adventures - the Book by Leigh-Chantelle (ISBN 978-0-9808484-2-7) is now available to purchase in paperback on Amazon US & Amazon UK, Barnes & NobleEspresso Book Machine and other online retailers. Wholesale info for Retail Stores, Libraries, Colleges, Schools, Universities: Ingram Books.
See HERE for more information.



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