we have begun
The past 9 days have felt both really fast, and yet like a whole month. I've driven over 3,000 miles at this point and I'm finally at the part of my trip where things will slow down and I can start taking some time to do what I've promised!
We arrived in Portland this afternoon, got settled into our hotel, ran a few errands, went to Breakside Brewery for some dinner, and came back to the hotel to do some work and wedding prep (my friend Julia gets married tomorrow!!)
I've said this in a few different ways already, but I'm really grateful and amazed at the generosity of the people in my life (and a few strangers!) Thanks for believing in the things I want to pursue and make. Life and creative pursuits don't mean nearly as much without people to share them with, so I feel lucky to be surrounded by so many supportive people.
It's 12:16 PST, and about time for some sleep, so I will leave you with these few pictures from my first night on the road, spent in a campground in Sandusky, OH.
Okay. Let's work backwards...
A little Gilmore Girls déjà vu in Ohio.
Day 2 7.2.22
What do you do when you wake up in an RV park in Sandusky, OH?
I mean, I think the answer is obvious. You pack it up, shoo the dear away that is getting uncomfortably close to your dog, and head to Toledo for some coffee.
We had a little more wiggle room this day since we were only going from Sandusky, OH to Chicago, IL.
This was when the *magic* started happening. But before we get there, here are some pictures from our Toledo adventure.
This toast with bacon jam was amazing, and yes, I did get a coffee there and one for the road because I like doing the right thing.
There was this super sweet and eccentric woman in the coffee shop. She came in, left her plant cart outside, and ordered a coffee. She was wearing flowing clothing and had long hair. She said hi to Novie and just had such a gentle way about her. After a little while, she asked me for the time and left a few minutes later.
We found our way back to the car and continued on our way to Chicago.
I had booked a stay on Hip Camp at an "urban farm" in the city that said a lot of musicians came through there.
The owner greeted us and she was so friendly and kind. I told her I was planning on heading to a brewery, but she mentioned that maybe if I was back that evening, we could play some music. She told me to make myself comfortable.
The fence my tent was a few feet from backed up to some sort of small access road, behind which was a railroad track that was pretty active (which was mentioned on Hip Camp as a bit of a warning). I set the tent up under a tree with the hopes that the shade in the morning would keep it from being too hot, I freshened up and changed out of my "driving clothes", looked up some dog-friendly breweries in the city, and we headed out.
Remember I said something about magic?
This is where things started getting interesting. We had finished up at the brewery (I ordered food to be delivered there since their kitchen was closed) and headed back to the campground/farm/backyard/thing.
When we got back (is it weird that I keep saying "we" even though it's me and my dog?), I found that the owner had some friends over, so I sat down and joined them at the table. I find Novie to be a nice ice breaker. I tend to feel awkward at times, but she makes for an easy first topic when meeting new people.
We sat for awhile, they offered me a beer (which I gladly accepted), and we talked about all kinds of things, but eventually landed on the topic of music ... which eventually led to us going inside where the piano was.
They were a really interesting and fun group of people. When COVID happened, they decided to host small outdoor concerts in this backyard.
What I find striking looking back on this was how easy it was to be around these strangers, and how I found moments in sitting with them where I felt accepted. There's this mode I find I click into in certain social situations, and it's interesting because I really like this version of myself. She's witty and can make people laugh and she's honestly just a good time. Is that arrogant to say? I'm not sure. She's the me I could see doing stand up comedy.
This may be strange, but sometimes I walk away from those social scenarios thinking, "I killed it". And it's especially funny because it's not that I'm being someone else or putting on an act. It's almost like being in a state of flow (if you've never heard of this concept, look it up ... it's fascinating). It's something I want to explore more because there are moments I don't feel like that person and I want to start noticing if there's a pattern. I think in a lot of ways, I feel even more like myself in that state. I don't have any conclusions here, just observations.
I will be posting a video of the musical stuff, but I need to land here for tonight. Enjoy these pictures of my new friends in this magical setting.
Day 3 7.3.22
I realize I am WAY far behind, and I apologize for that. I think I've said this before, but I underestimated the time commitment of doing ALL the things I wanted to do. I'm sitting here on day 25 writing about day 3 and that's pretty ridiculous. But anyway...
We woke up in the tent next to the train tracks in Chicago.
My new friends had offered coffee in the morning, but I was anxious to get on the road and had woken up early enough that waiting another hour with nothing to do before leaving seemed silly.
They don't let dogs in Millennium Park.
You can't get a picture with your dog next to "the bean". Unless you break the rules ... which I did do by accident by taking Novie into the park bathroom and changing before I was told that dogs weren't allowed.
So a picture from a distance was the best we could do. That reflective thing in the background is "THE BEAN". You've seen it before. You don't need to see me right next to it.
You've gotta get comfortable asking strangers to take your picture when traveling alone. Generally, people are pretty nice and don't mind doing it.
So, we headed out in search of coffee and breakfast, and found Metric Coffee. I bought myself 2 drinks because 2 is better than 1, and a kolache, which I had never heard of.
The kolache didn't survive long enough for a picture.
Oh, and Novie made some friends, as she does everywhere she goes.
After not getting a picture WITH the bean, we headed back to the car.
We hopped in and headed toward Coralville, IA, where my friend Rachel lives.
When we arrived, we got settled in, met some new friends, went to a rehearsal for the gig the next day, and I played ... wait for it ... Dungeons and Dragons for the first time.
It was actually pretty fun and not exactly what I thought it was.
I'm realizing more and more on this trip how much more fun and full experiences are when you are open to new things, flexible with your time and plans, and nonjudgmental of things that are unknown. That makes all kinds of space for unexpected things to take place. It's honestly where the magic happens.
Day 4 7.4.22
4th of July Gig.
Coralville, IA. It was sweaty out there. But we did it. I played a (paid!) set, and then my friend Rachel and I sang on a couple things with the band.
Part of the way through the band's set, I headed out with Novie because they were shooting off rogue fireworks in the middle of the day (???) and she was not a fan.
This felt like the first actual pause in the trip. It was my first time staying two nights in one place, which was good because I had to sit down and plan where I was going next.
After leaving the gig, I needed ... well, I needed a shower, but first, I needed a refreshing coffee beverage (obviously). We went to Press Coffee, I got a PB+J latte and it was amazing. I had a really fun conversation with the barista about how she had gone on a cross country roadtrip with a friend and stayed in all these older motels. She seemed like someone I could be friends with, so I decided to go back and give her a card in case she wanted to follow along with our adventures.
Day 5 7.5.22
Ok, maybe I'm reading in, but look at my sad, scared dog.
Once we got through the storm, it was on to Mitchell, SD. Obviously.
Because. Corn palace.
If you don't know what it is, it's a fancy building on the outside, decorated entirely with corn in a different theme each year, and a warehouse/gym on the inside, with corn-themed items.
We went there on one of our cross-country trips when I was a kid, so I had to revisit. Though now, all I can think of is the "it's corn!" song.
My corn pal.
After the Corn Palace, we headed for the hills. The Black Hills, that is. And not without a trip to Wall Drug. Unfortunately, they were closing when we stopped by, so we had to wait for the trip back to get the full experience.
We stopped in at a dog-friendly bar in Rapid City for some dinner, and headed to the campground.
This was a sleep-in-the-car night, so set up was quick with no neighbors, the showers were nice, and soon enough, we were tucked in for the night.
Hi, I'm still here, and still out to do what I said I would do.
The truth is, and I'll tell this story later, but I got a new job while I was in Washington, so I sort of hit the ground running when I got back. Ya know, like learning how to do a new job and working a bunch and whatnot.
But, like I said. I'm still here!
Okay, so July 5th. Let's travel back in time. Remember July?
Sweating all the time, driving through that storm you thought you might not live through?
I left Coralville, IA, said goodbye to my friend Rachel, and headed out with Black Hills, SD as my destination for the day. It's about a 10 hour drive.
That is, without driving through torrential downpour and tornado warnings.
And with that, I give you, an embarrassing video of me crying under and overpass.