Road trip part 1
On August 1st, Q and I left from my Aunt’s cabin in the Adirondacks of New York and began our journey across the country to Los Angeles.
This path had been determined by the collision the brought my lonely star into a binary orbit around Q, by my increasing self-confidence, and by the envelopes addressed to Q bearing those familiar accepted/rejected/wait-list tidings from many of the top law schools. Q wrestled with financial, cultural, and logistical considerations before sending his own letter off to UCLA (much to the consternation of my dear mum).
We zoomed out to LA first in early July to scout out the place and get an awesome apartment before all the other UCLA students combed through the offerings. My dreams of a cute bungalow by the ocean were smashed by the $$$. Still, I am now typing from a clean, well-lit if structurally boring apartment not far from beach and university. Packing up all of my belongings in bubble-wrap and cardboard was a strange feeling that I didn’t try to think too hard about. Once I wrapped up school and Q wrapped up work we began to stay goodbye to Ithaca. A short week’s vacation with my family at aforementioned Aunt’s cabin was relaxing and sleepy. Then the landscape of the US of America was scrolling under Todd’s tires. Todd is Q’s car– so named because he is somewhat sporty-looking but actually somewhat dorky. This is not intended to be a censure on Todd or anyone named Todd, because all Todds (1) I have met are very pleasant.
We took I-90 and 1-15 for most of the trip. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana (didn’t expect that, but check out a map), Idaho, Utah, Arizona (also not expected), Nevada, and finally California.
The first day of driving was fifteen (!) hours. We are beast. Q mostly.
We stayed in Chicago with friends. They live in funky redone office building. I think they are on the 15th floor or something and you can see Sears Tower from their huge windows. Every apartment in the building has the original business lettering on the front door. So you can be the apartment that was Mickey’s Grocery or something like that. Very cool. We left early and it was a Sunday morning, but we still couldn’t find parking in the city to go to a cool cafe and bakery. Sad. We went to a Taco Bell instead. Bad choice.
Northern Illinois was surprisingly beautiful. Rolling hills and clear light, that was difficult to capture from a moving vehicle. So be satisfied with an interesting angle.
We crossed the Mississippi and Iowa was cornfields. And soybeans. I actually drove in South Dakota because the were so few cars on the road. We saw a lot of motorcyclists on the way to Sturgis in Western South Dakota for the big convention. Most weren’t even wearing helmets. I guess bad-assness outweighs stupidity. And they did look badass. We stayed in the incredibly South Dakotean town of Chamberlain. All hotels were very full because of Sturgis so we had to stay in a room with a hot tub. Oh man that was tough.
South Dakota is beautiful and the people are kinda strange. I mean no disrespect. There are a lot of strange people where I am from as well. But Wyoming has the cowboy thing, Minnesota has the dairy thing, what does SD have? Motorcyclists once a year? Wall Drug? We read a lot of posts on the New York Times advising the Frugal Traveler Matt Gross to visit Wall Drug, so we did. It is was a drug store I guess. Now it is a huge gift shop. With lots of odd photo opportunities.
I guess we should have mixed up the sexes, but this is how it happened.
It was crazy.
We also visited the BADLANDS. Les mauvaises terres a traverser as the early French trappers said. The park’s guide has it well put:
peaks and valleys of delicately banded colors– colors that shift in the sunshine,…and a thousand tints that color charts do not show. In the early morning and evening, when shadows are cst upon the infinite peaks or on a bright moonlit night when the whole region seems a part of another world, the Badlands will be an experience not easily forgotten.
We saw prairie dogs and fossils and colors and light. We want to go back and camp. This park is a reason to trip out to South Dakota. And while you are there you can visit the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming, and Yellowstone. Why does this corner of the globe have such a market on incredible?
Q’s family reunion in Wyoming and Part II will be coming up.