Travel 1999


Week One: McMinnville, OR to Minneapolis, MN
From McMinnville, we drove to Walla Walla WA to stay with my best friend Amy, at Whitman College. On the way we stopped at Multnomah Falls, the Maryhill Museum, and a fake Stonehenge. The next day we drove down into Oregon to a tiny town named Milton-Freewater to meet up with Courtney (another RA from UO) for breakfast, then returned to Walla Walla to buy me a camera, because mine broke … We also hunted EVERYWHERE for Walla Walla souveniers, of which there are darn few, let me tell you! After this escapade, we headed off for Missoula MT, stopping in Spokane for coffee (Starbucks!) and Coeur D’Alene to search for a bit wooden boardwalk, which we did not find. We arrived in Missoula and found our way up to the beautiful log cabin belonging to relatives of another RA from UO, Alex. We spend the night admiring the view of the city and watching permanent midnight, which is a good but depressing movie…

The next morning we ate at the Friends Café (absolutely NO relation to the TV show), tried to fix my antenna with a plastic fork and some duct tape (this did not work), and headed off in search of more souvenirs. We said goodbye to Alex but actually ran into him again a few hours later, while looking for the perfect hatpin. I added a few new bumper stickers to Charlotte: “Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History” and “I Love Missoula”…

Finally we headed off towards Yellowstone National Park. On the way we drove through Butte, MT, which has a very big hole and a very white statue of a “mother” as it’s claims to fame. The rest of the drive was beautiful, lots of fields and huge mountains. Yellowstone is beautiful too, packed with people, and due to bad directions we drove a good hour in the wrong direction to the wrong hotel, only to find ourselves headed in the opposite direction at 1 in the morning… too fast, according to the nice officer lady who handed Naomi a speeding ticket and gave us a lecture on driving safety.

We spent Friday in Yellowstone. I’d been there once before and unfortunately this time it was much less impressive. Still amazing, though. Entirely too many people a little too excited about the wildlife, though. There were insane traffic jams…

We barely made it out of the park by dusk, and then encountered a terrifying road, under construction… dust and changing lanes in the pitch black: not fun. We drove all night to Worland, WY, stopping only to let Naomi change to pajamas in a truck stop. Unfortunately I was not able to stop for the cat that ran across the interstate in front of me… My first auto fatality. Not even Dave Matthews on VH1 helped me feel much better that night.

Next morning we ate HUGE salads in “Ten Sleep”, WY (actually a pretty large town), and admired fields and red hills all the way to Devil’s Tower. Then over the Rockies, where we encountered bikers, Madonna’s “like a virgin”, and snow at 9,000ft, before entering Rapid City, South Dakota. My distant relative, Karen, wasn’t supposed to be home, so we decided to hit Mt. Rushmore first, then go to sleep. Imagine her surprise when we moseyed on in in the middle of the night! But she was a perfect hostess, and she let us check our email and gave us a gigantic bed to sleep in. The next morning she cooked us a wonderful breakfast and sent us on our way towards Mitchell to meet more of my relatives.

We stopped off at Wall Drug, which is a big… place… with stuff to buy.. in the middle of S. Dakota, just before the entrance to the Badlands. Yes, I took my picture with the 6ft. rabbit, and we drank some free ice-cold water. Then we headed down into the Badlands, which were insanely hot but very beautiful. Just before descending, Luke called my cell phone and asked if I could find a fax machine so he could send me the lease for our new apartment… This had to wait until we got to Mitchell, though, because trust me, there are NO fax machines within several miles of the Badlands.

Unfortunately, on the way to Mitchell Charlotte started leaking a LOT of oil, so I missed meeting some of my relatives. But we made it there safely (yay) and stayed at the home of my great aunt. The ONE auto repair place that fixed foreign cars agreed to look at Charlotte the next day and they replaced the front seal and sent us on our way by that afternoon. In the meantime we found a fax machine (at the local grocery store) and I signed a 12 month lease (with visions of Ana’s sad eyes as she said goodbye to me). Then we took a tour of the Corn Palace (Mitchell’s claim to fame) and a museum dedicated to the art of the guy who used to design the decoration of the Corn Palace. I tried to say that better, but I can’t…

Sunday night we left from Mitchell and drove to Minneapolis, MN to meet my oldest internet friend, Lauren. We’ve known each other for YEARS, and it was amazing to finally meet her! She has an accent, it’s the cutest thing! She and her wonderful roommate kindly let us stay in their apartment for two days while we explored Minneapolis. The first night I’m pretty sure we just fell asleep, but the next day we went to the sculpture garden (to see “Spoon Bridge with Cherry”, of course) and the Mall of America (which is, although huge, really not ALL that exciting). That night we had ice cream in a thunder storm.

Week Two: Minneapolis to Michigan

The next morning we snuck into a college (on incoming student day, so they kept offering us credit cards and cups) and used their computers to check email before heading for Menomonie, WI to meet Naomi’s longest penpal for lunch. From there we drove to Green Bay to see the Packer’s stadium and check out the gift shop. I’ve never seen Naomi so excited!!! She’s a HUGE fan, so I’m glad we got the chance to see the ACTUAL SITE where they sell cheese head hats.

We ate dinner in Oshkosh, where the only postcards we could find were from the Walgreens, and then we drove all night to Madison. In Madison we drove around in circles looking for the elusive hotel-we-can-afford. It was an awful experience. The capital building is pretty at night, but it’s only really impressive the first 3 or 4 times you pass it…

We found a place to stay (whew!) and the next morning we hit the shopping areas downtown where we ate REAL Wisconsin cheese and sat on the promenade to relax for a while. While we ate breakfast in an IHOP, the biker family next to us informed us that there were “two seasons in Illinois: winter and construction”. This didn’t exactly make us excited about our next drive, but we managed to survive the trek to Chicago with relatively little trouble. Lela, a dear friend from high school, was living outside Chicago with her boyfriend for the summer, so we got to stay with them for two nights. We spent Friday in downtown Chicago after going in with Lela and Rob. We took a tour, saw Eyes Wide Shut on opening day, took a million pictures of cows, and later met up with Rob and Lela to climb the Sears Tower and have dinner in a classic Chicago pizza joint (where they let you write on the walls). Rob stopped the car on the highway so we could take a picture of the “welcome to Indiana” sign. Thanks, Rob!

The next morning we headed for Lansing, Michigan to meet our co-worker Dani who was working at a camp for the summer. There was a bit of trouble with the whole time zone thing, but after a rousing concert by some would-be rockers in the mall, we met up with Dani, went shopping (of course), and then headed out to find some dinner. Alas, there were two seats & three people and an insane number of cops on the road, so I got to hide under a towel while Nae and Dani drove forEVER looking for a hotel and for dinner, and Naomi and I started getting pretty nasty. Dani, if you’ve read this far, I am so sorry you had to put up with us!! But thank goodness we finally found somewhere to eat, and we found the capital building, and we found (after a lengthy search) a hotel. But the room we got had urine on the carpet… ick..

It was this night that we found out that Kennedy Jr. had been lost in a plane crash. It’s very surreal to find out you’ve been clueless about the biggest news of the year for the last two days.

We survived the night, and the next morning Dani left back to camp and Naomi and I headed for my uncle’s home on the border of Michigan & Ohio. They fed us, and took us out on their boat to see the fireflies (they can look a lot like shooting stars, darn it!), and the next day they sponsored us for a trip to Cedar Point, a Six Flags amusement park. Even though it poured rain and stopped the rides for a half hour, we had a great time there. Since it was a Monday, the lines weren’t too long, which meant we got to do all of the biggest roller coasters.

The road buddy relationship was on the rocks at this point (if our night in Lansing hadn’t made that abundantly clear already), and Naomi and I spent some time discussing whether we wanted to continue all the way to the East Coast, or just split up in Cleveland. Even though we continued to drive each other crazy, I’m really glad we decided to stick it out and finish up the trip.

Week Three: Michigan to Boston

Tuesday morning we left for Cleveland, making it to my Aunt Diane’s house just in time to turn around and spend an hour at the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame. Elvis was there, and a really interesting collection of Linda ex-Beatle’s photographs. We got kicked out at closing time (can I just say that although it was interesting, it was NOT worth the ticket price…) with a bumper sticker, and ended up in Little Italy where we ate pasta dinner on cobbled streets. On the way back we stopped at my grandparents house for a while. I’m so glad I decided to do that, since it ended up being the last time I got to see my grandfather…

We spent the night at Diane’s, and then the next morning headed for Niagara Falls. This was our 15 minute drive through Pennsylvania, as well. Niagara was beautiful!!! We got soaked, but it was definitely worth it to see the power of the water spilling over. New bumper sticker!

After Niagara we drove east til Utica, NY. Upstate New York is so pretty! Looks a lot like Oregon (no, I am not biased). All these rolling hills and hay fields and big barns. When we hit Utica, however, there began to be warning signs for traffic due to Woodstock ’99… another news event we’d been missing out on. Luckily we managed to find a hotel and get Chinese delivery, and the next morning we didn’t encounter too much traffic, but we were scared for a while.

From Utica we drove east a while, stopping to go see a cave (very cheesy – along w/cheesy bumper sticker) and drive through the back roads (through Lawyerville, NY). Then we turned north and drove up to Lake George to stay with my Aunt Joanne and her husband, his brother & his wife. It’s so amazing up there… very green. We stayed three days with our VERY generous hosts, and went canoeing, swimming, and basically lazed around. We left with them on Saturday and drove eastward, across the ?? Lake, into Vermont. We drove north to Burlington, went shopping there for a while, then headed to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory (YUM) where I still contend we had come from as far away as those people from Sweden. We bought ice cream & a bumper sticker…

We drove into New Hampshire and spent the night in Littleton after driving down to see the “old man of the mountains” (some rocks in the shape of a guy’s head). We had more hotel problems and ended up paying a lot to stay in an “inn” where they fed us “breakfast” the next morning. From there we drove south through the White Mountains, stopping for lunch and to photograph covered bridges before driving Charlotte to the TOP of Mt. Washington (which at 6,000ft is the tallest mountain in New England. Mt. Hood is 11,000ft. This makes Mt. Washington seem like a hill… but a very WINDY hill!!). They have the “worst weather”, and it certainly was cold and windy when we were there. We got a cool bumper sticker that says “this car climbed Mt. Washington”. It’s especially cool on poor old Charlotte…

We spent Sunday night in Bangor, Maine. Next day we headed to Portland Maine, after stopping off for our first view of the Atlantic Ocean. We went to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park and stuck our toes in the water. We also had our first East Coast lobsters for lunch.. for $10. Yum… Portland Maine looks an awful lot like Portland Oregon – I guess they are both big port cities. We had really good Thai food for desert…

The next morning, Tuesday, exactly 3 weeks after leaving Oregon, we left our hotel in Portland and headed for a mechanic to get the car fixed (a turn signal was out). While we waited for the car to be fixed we happened upon a stray dog (Tucker) and sat around waiting for the dog catcher to come get him. Our good deed for the trip! We headed south for Boston, driving the scenic route.. we stopped in Kennebunkport (home of ex-president’s summer homes) and had $70 lobster (and I SWEAR they were no better than the ones from the day before..)… about 9:30 we arrived in Boston and encountered the Big Dig for the first time. Luke gave rollerblader’s directions and confused us, but we finally found a place to park and voila!

BOSTON AT LAST…


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