Lookin’ for America

I took a few days vacation to turn my 3-day labor day vacation into a 6-day vacation. I went on a road trip with my friends Matt and Joel from Minneapolis to San Francisco, and it was amazing.

In South Dakota we had a few good times. At the first restaurant we stopped at we asked our waitress about the abortion ban in her state. I’m not going to get into that other than to say it was fun asking her about it and hearing what she had to say. Not long after that we got pulled over by a state trooper and got both a $120 ticket (I was not the driver!) and directions on how to take the scenic route through the badlands. Expensive directions, but once we saw how beautiful the badlands were we totally forgot about the ticket. Joel knows how to sing Islamic prayers, and he sang one from a cliff in the badlands during sunset. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen/heard.

Montana was gorgeous. The whole state. I pretended to have to pee a few times just so we could pull over and get out of the car. After driving through the whole state we stayed with a bunch of rustic biologists in Missoula, in their house which was also inhabited by a bunch of somewhat-dangerous hobo spiders. It was really cold at night, and only the basement of the house was heated (go figure). Luckily we had been out to the Missoula bars and that helped with the temperature. I still slept wearing a parka, on a mattress pulled from a dumpster, and Joel ended up sleeping curled up on top of the basement stairs, completely covering his body with clothes so as to not be eaten by the hobo spiders.

In Idaho we stopped in Coeur d ‘Alene. The city was even more beautiful than anything I’d seen in Montana, but under the surface it is a little ugly – or so I hear. Apparently there are a lot of white supremacists there and the picturesque lake is awfully polluted from coal mining. We didn’t see that side though – the people were friendly, the lake was beautiful, and the food was good. We had a really friendly waitress who drew us a map to the local CD store where I picked up a copy of Fugazi’s “13 Songs” – best album I’ve bought in a long time.

In Washington we stayed in Seattle with some friends of mine that I haven’t seen in a while. We pretty much just walked around the city and went to bars, we didn’t have too long to stay there. It seems like a really cool place, especially Capitol Hill, I wish I had more time to explore there.

When we left Seattle we stopped at Sleater-Kinney road in Lacey, WA, because how can 3 Sleater-Kinney fans not stop there. This was the scene of the most disturbing experience of the trip. Our waitress, maybe 25 years old, on Sleater-Kinney road, did not know of the band Sleater-Kinney which is named after the road. What. The. Hell.

In Portland we went to Powell’s books, a really really big book store. I have never seen anything like it. If only every city had a Powell’s! That night we went to a bar and sang karoake – Joel substituted his own lyrics for a song or two and that led to the bartender trying to get him cut off. She clearly had no taste in music, because Joel is obviously a lyrical genius.

Portland was pretty much the end of the line. The next day we drove all the way to San Francisco, where Matt and I spend a lot of time so it wasn’t much of a vacation any more at that point. The night after returning Matt and Joel played an awesome show in Oakland at somebody’s house, and the lead singer of the other band grew up about 5 blocks from where I live now in Minneapolis.

There are so many other enjoyable and funny things that happened during the trip, like A&W root beer and the waitress who invited us to a wild kegger birthday party in the back woods of Oregon after chatting with us for maybe 2 minutes (we didn’t go, no time). However, I don’t have the energy to write about it any more.

9 thoughts on “Lookin’ for America

  1. Good work hitting Sleater Kinney Rd.! Them’s my old stomping grounds, though they’re none too impressive–Lacey’s kinda stripmall-ey. The Eastside and Downtown Oly are the cool part of Olympia/Lacey/Tumwater.

    And Powell’s rocks my socks forever.

  2. Josh, I enjoyed your thoughts on your road trip — it reminded me of when I drove from Kansas City up through South Dakota and along I-90 to my current habitat, Seattle. I long for another road trip.

    Also, having spent quite a bit of time in Coeur d’Alene (which is where half of my family lives), I’ll agree that beneath the surface of a friendly tourist town, it has it’s ugly points — but not just for the reason you mentioned. It is true that there are large groups of white supremists up in that area, but having stayed up there for extended time with a few of my non-white friends, we didn’t run into any trouble (that we knew about).

    Additionally, in the past few years (probably more) more and more Californians have come up to that area, which gives it less and less unique feel to it (unfortunately) and more of a … “Californian” feel. Apparently the word got out.

  3. You partied great! sounded like fun except the whole missoula thing- Things you missed along the way Mt.Rushmore- touristy yes but amazing, and whats more was Crazy Horse- beautifull!so is the drive to it- a back way to Denver from Rapid City- You missed Gillette, Wy-where people are real people and welcome everyone also one of the richest per capita city in the U.S and you can still get a job and where well off people are still real not plastic barbie and kens. You missed Shi Shi beach in WA(peninsula) great backpackers spot. Get a salmon and drink of choice in Sieku hike in, eat a wrapped roasted Salmon and potatoes (you know hot stones buried in the sand deal) drinkin watchin the sunset laughin with friends- GOOD TIMES! sleep right on the edge of the drift wood so the water is right there and when you get up 50 feet from you is a huge tide pool of starfish and octopus and awesome mountains and rock and arches on each side of the little protected crescent of soft sand where you dont wear shoes cause its so clean. You also missed Mt.Rainier and Mt.St.Helens- at least you got Portland in but you missed Multnomah falls up the river and Walking Man Brewery in Stevenson, WA for world reknowned Barefoot Brown. It’s religious! Wait a second that means you missed out on Bend, Or. and Bend Brewing-no way! DoppleBach is one of a kind. Did you at least see the Redwoods in northern Cali, or wait did you stop at the sign Welcome to WEED! wonder what they grow there- Well next time maybe. If your ever on a quad… well there is so much more to tell! Girl on a Quad!!

  4. Oh by the way- I live about an hour from olympia and I didn’t know that history about the names-but I do know who your talkin about-did you know that Walker Texas Ranger lives in the area and quite afew live in Eatonville. Did you also know Mark O connor world famous and #1 world champion fiddler for 7 years grew up in longview and Olympia. Who Knew! One more thing Kurt Cobain was raised in Aberdeen, WA, believe it.

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