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Hermosa Pier

4 Sep

The night we arrived we managed to summon enough energy from the full moon to walk down to the Hermosa Beach Pier. Besides making movies, sunshine and leftover hippie vibrations, we came to LA for the fish tacos. We feasted our eyes on the beach and the tanned and nearly nude volleyball players. There were some crazy people, for sure, but unlike New York crazy people they were nice, and happy! They mumbled sweet gibberish to Yogi and winked at him as they meandered by with their 40oz in tow. Tiny children glided on skateboards and people ate dinner in board shorts, not suits. For 30 bucks we had 4 pints of Blue Moon and two huge supplies of the freshest fish tacos our taste buds could handle, while Yogi got love from nearly everyone who passed by on the streets.

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Driving into Los Angeles

3 Sep

As we drove West through the desert and the California foot hills I felt like a kid before the first day of school.
Excited. Apprehensive. Curious. I’ve lived in a variety of places, in a variety of countries but there is something powerful about arriving to your new home via a long road. There is a certain finality to it. Every other place had an expiration date tied to it, except for California.

We passed ghost towns and 50s diners but the highway continued to widen.
We got on Route 66 because that’s the only way to drive into LA but in my excitement we drove nearly an hour in the wrong direction. After a variety of hours and highways and on and off traffic we pulled over a hill in Hermosa beach and saw the Pacific Ocean. We opened the door to my car in my cousins driveway and we all rolled out with gumby legs.

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Buffalo Bills Casino (and “resort”)

2 Sep

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After the shimmering lights of Vegas, we road silently in the dark. The plan was to camp in the Mojave desert which meant we wouldn’t reach our campsite for another two hours and it was already dark. G stopped the car to pee and was flocked by a heard of Mosquitos that then lingered in the car for the next 20 minutes. We were slapping ourselves in the face when we passed a city called Primm, all aglow with neon casino signs and the artificial promise of- fun! Buffalo Bills casino advertised very cheap rooms and had a roller coaster on the roof. In a moment of weakness we decided we would camp in the Mojave another day. We ate sandwiches and drank our last bottle of wine on the bed as we watched all the news of the world we had been oblivious to
for the last two weeks. Yogi meanwhile, spent two hours sniffing the room, which I found a bit disconcerting. We woke up and walked to a gas station to get some coffee and realized that in a 24 hour town 8am was still the late shift. We decided we needed to get out of this town.

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Zion National Park

31 Aug

We drove through Zion National Park which was a pretty rock star sort of place. Would be fun to get lost there for a few days but they were dog discriminatory so we were restricted to the car. From Zion we drove south on highway 15 to leave Utah and briefly enter and exit Arizona (which incidentally turned out to be a rad drive).

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Sand Dunes

31 Aug

We climbed the coral dunes in the daylight and marveled at how exotic this landscape was. Kudos to the topographical diversity of America. Wow!! G tried to roll down the hill and got a mouth full of sand trying to amuse me.

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Animal foot prints

30 Aug

In the morning we woke up in the desert and found we were surrounded in little animal tracks that had been busy all night. I love that the ground is a critter playground even if there is only evidence left in the soft desert sand.

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Southern Utah

29 Aug

We woke up alive from the motel and hit scenic route 24 and onto 12. We ate at a surprisingly delicious and gorgeous roadside cafe called “El Diablo” that made posh Brooklyn food look silly. The waitress recommended a campsite called Calves Creek near Boulder (Utah). The drive in was so so beautiful. The best yet. We drove through Bryce Canyon. Red walls with white stripes and checker board sides. The campsite we went to was on a pretty little stream which provided a lush little landscape in the midst of the desert red rock. We watched bats swoop in the fading lilac sky as warm drafts of desert air rustled our tent.

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Deskunking Yogi

28 Aug

Deskunking Yogi in our motel bathtub was a pretty fun time for all parties except Yogi. However once he realized that the awkward substance being massaged into his fur ball self was delicious tomato sauce, he was more game.

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Playing Yellowstone Tourist

27 Aug

Saturday morning, the 25th, we woke up with the shivers and leapt into the car to relocate to a new camp ground that was first come first serve. We arrive there at 7:30 and took the only available spot. We were sore and dirty and tired and all around not in the camping mood but never the less we did our touristic duties. We went on a hike down “Specimen ridge” which sounded promising but on account of we had to leave Yogi in the car (strict no dogs on trails rule) we only walked a couple miles and never spotted critters, though we did both have communal moments with nature.

After, we drove back down to canyon village to do a few short hikes and see the grand canyon of the Yellowstone, pretty neat. However, there is something surreal about an experience when you are behind fences and have a few dozen tourists shouting excitedly in asiatic languages all around you. The views are magnificent and the power of nature impressive but unless you have the freedom to spend some time on the trails alone, the park feels a bit like a zoo. We meandered around most of the day. Spending some time quietly sitting in the woods and trying to summon animals to little avail.

We made it back to camp, Tower Falls, pretty early and spent a gorgeous afternoon sitting on rocks in an idealic little stream. Guillaume brandished my good chopping knife by his side “just incase”. Despite his Frenchness there seems to be a strong neanderthal presence waiting to bite bear necks just below the surface…

Back at camp we (mostly I) managed to make a delicious tinfoil-a-la-campfire quiche with a dozen eggs that I had been delicately lugging around for G’s birthday (long story). I don’t think I could ever get tired of campfire food. We also finally made ‘s’mores and Yogi told us his new favorite food was roasted marshmallows.

After some deliberation we climbed into the tent with a new game plan. We managed to squeeze into the single sleeping bag all zipped up, with yogi and the rest of the sheets piled on top. We slept rather decently, certainly the coziest burrito in Yellowstone.

‘Ello Yellowstone

26 Aug

We woke up at the crack of dawn on Friday, part of the camping routine I guess, and had a funny breakfast with the B&B hosts. The other couple, from Texas, was enthralled as the whole conversation centered around the missionary work of the host family in the Middle East and all of their converts. It was interesting. We packed our saddles and got back on the road and headed on highway 14A to cross the Bighorn Mountains. The scenery was terrific. The windy downhill roads were stocked with places to “rest you breaks” which we neglected to do until they started smoking. After momentary panic we calmed the situation and decided we weren’t going to die. Between the Bighorns and Wyoming not much else happened besides dusty small towns and mountain tops that look like red ant hills. Our caffeine and candy bar addiction was at an all time high.

We passed through the town of Cody, home to Buffalo Bill, and soon after entered the Shoshone National forest. The drive was beautiful but haze faded every mountain range giving the whole thing a strange, dream like quality. Everything started to increase with size and I had the feeling we were entering Jurassic Park.

The entrance to Yellowstone does feel a bit like a Disneyland entrance. We smiled broadly when they handed us pamphlets on how to act casual when you see a Grizzly at the entrance gate. We passed by Yellowstone lake which is truly breath taking. With high winds, the waves on the water made it really look oceanic and miles and miles of burnt pine trees standing naked in front made the few even more dramatic. We continued inwards and passed all the usual stuff you already know about Yellowstone, steaming geysers smelling of sulfur, more herds of Bison, more herds of people with cameras, big trees, big valleys, big mountains. We headed into Canyon village where we had managed to reserve a campsite for the night. It was the least romantic campsite as of yet, there were lots of people and not a lot of privacy, but that’s okay- we were going to get to see bears! We were thrilled at the idea of having to use bear boxes </em to store all of our food and Guillaume gave me a stern talk when I accidentally dribbled some sunflower seeds onto the ground. This was after all wilderness. After our campfire feast we headed over to the amphitheater where a real live park ranger was going to talk about animal stuff. He was adorable. I’m sure if it wasn’t freezing out he would have been wearing very tight and very little shorts. He thrilled us as he spoke to us about how dangerous everything here was. He said even chipmunk here were fierce. We believed everything he said, he was wearing a very smart hat and badge, after all. He made us grunt phrases like ” steep cliff dangerous” to get us in touch with our cave man instincts.. I guess. G and I were clearly the best in the class. He told us about he and his cat watching Bison from the window and we almost died in a fit of giggles. I don’t know why.

We went back to camp with our teeth starting to chatter and dove into the bed. Worst night ever. The tempurture dropped to 34F and the three of us with our one sleeping bag and a few sheets spent the whole night in a shivering heap.