8/25/13 – The Calm Before the Storm
Stay tunes for pictures and updates on “Gas Debt & Beers” (A 3-week, cross country road trip ill be doing with my friends Alan Union (scott finlayson) and Gregory Court (matthew davis)
We leave tomorrow!
8/26/13 – The Beginning
The S.S. Shakes-a-Lot is officially on the road. We picked it up around 2pm and “David Bean the rv machine” showed us the ins and outs. It came complete with a kinda clean fridge, some worn out tires, and a bunch of other minor blemishes. What would an classic ‘merican road trip be in an automobile without a little character….
It’s 10:45. We are in upstate New York and its been pouring rain for the past couple hours. After a few spontaneous rv dance parties and some singalongs we’ve all settled down a bit for a long night of driving. If all goes well we will be in Chicago by tomorrow morning.
8/27/13 – Chicago
After a long night of driving we reached Chicago at about 10am. We parked and headed out on foot to explore the city a bit. We visited millennium park, grabbed breakfast and bloody mary’s, then wondered around aimlessly enjoying the much needed break from the sweaty rv. On our way to check out Brendan’s Pub we spotted a beach on Lake Michigan and pulled over to go for a swim and wash up. Eventually we hit the pub, shared a drink with Brendan’s dad, then got back on the road.
We stopped to fill the fridge after a while and grab some necessities to make our ride a little more bearable. At this point the list of problems are: chunks of the rv breaking off randomly (handles, trim pieces, etc…) tv doesn’t work, plugs don’t work, ac doesn’t work, and the front tire wobbles uncontrollably.
Annddd…we’re flat. 1 mile after food shopping. We’re making the best of it. We set up lawn chairs on the side of the road and we are trying to get truckers to honk at us. Fun times.
8/28/13 – Badlands, SD
After the flat last night we decided to pull of an get a few hours of decent sleep. It was muggy and with no AC falling asleep was pretty rough but we all managed to get a few hours. Matt woke first and got us back on the road at 3am. I woke at 630 to Scott behind the wheel cutting through thick fog in the endless corn fields of Minnesota. We stopped to grab coffee which quickly escalated to a full blown breakfast when Matt noticed the diner inside. We sat at the mini bar, ordered coffee and breakfast, and chatted with a local who explained that, “the town was really nice until the Mexicans” breakfast ended up being incredible! Farm fresh eggs and delicious homemade sausage.
We weren’t back on the road for 15 minutes when we were inundated with buffalo billboards. Needless to say we were distracted. We stopped at buffalo ranch to try and buy a skull to fasten to the front of the SS Time-bomb. we ultimately decided against it but we got to see some sickly buffalo which was pretty cool!
Badlands here we come! Until the next semi-appealing billboard anyways…
The Missouri River was irresistible. We decided to wash up. Now we are driving through sunflower fields.
I just turned the week over to Matt after a 6 hour, 350+ mile stint in the captains chair. It’s 12pm our time (not sure what time we are on anymore) and its been an incredible day. Badlands, South Dakota was our first national park and it was amazing. We stopped at the first scenic overlook we came across to soak in the drastic change in landscape(it’s been fields and flat for most of the drive so far). We only lasted for about 10 minutes at the overlook because what we saw made us antsy to start our first hike of the trip. We packed up some beers, laced up the hiking boots, and started up a short but strenuous trail through the park. Hiking here is much different than home. There are some poles that show you the suggested way up but it’s pretty much a free for all. No one is watching you and nothing is off limits. We climbed to the top of the trail designated trail then found an fairly easy path to the highest poi t around us. When we reached the top we were walking on a ridge about two feet wide with cliffs on either side. It was one of the best views I’ve ever seen.
As we departed we began to encounter wildlife. It was my turn to drive so I crept down the windy road through the rest of the badlands so we could all take it in one last time and snap off our final pictures of the park. The road flattened out a bit and we noticed some prairie dogs running at the site of us coming down the road. We hadn’t really seen any wildlife yet so everyone was eager to get involved. I pulled off and we all jumped out. There were hundreds of them! Holes everywhere with nervous scouts squeaking to warn their friends about us. We couldn’t get very close to any of them until Matt discovered the sole brave prairie dog. This guy almost ate out of our hand so we hooked him up with a pile of trail mix right outside of his hole. He seemed pretty excited about all the m&ms and raisins.
Excited from our prairie dog encounter we loaded back into the rv and continued on down the road.
Suddenly….a wild goat family. So we pulled over again to check them out. They came right over and did not seem the least bit concerned with our presence.
Riding on a wildlife induced high we got back into the rv yet again and got on the road. Unfortunately we weren’t interrupted by anymore awesome animal encounters. Just hours of driving into the night. We are all excited to get to glacier national park ASAP and continue the journey.
8/29-30/13 – Glacier National Park
Temperatures cooled off last night so we all got our first sweat-free decent nights sleep in the rv. We hit a Denny’s for breakfast then a Walmart to grab camping necessities for our stop in GNP. We took time to clean, organized, consolidate, purge the rv in the Walmart parking lot and left all our leftovers, including the nasty egg crate from the top bunk in a shopping cart beside the rv. A small old Spanish man with no teeth asked me and Matt for $3 dollars. We declined. Back on the road!!
When we reached the windy back country road leading up to the park we decided to take advantage of some of the toys that we have been dragging across the country. Scott and I suited up with gopro cameras and got the longboard and a bicycle ready for a cruise. Scott took the board first. The road was pitched perfectly. With one initial push he could’ve coasted for miles. He carved the scenic road with me chasing him on the bike and Matt chasing us both in the rv. After a while, when the hill got steeper he bailed by flying up a dirt path on the board then jumping off and running off his speed. A recipe for disaster but he handled it flawlessly. Next was my turn. The road was steep so I had to drag my foot on the wheel and the road the entire time to keep from picking up an uncontrollable amount of speed. Even with my foot dragging it was tough. When the road really started to drop off I bailed before I lost control. It took my a while to run off the speed. My shoe felt funny. Dragging my foot ended up melting the wheel on the board and almost burning completely through the sole of my shoe. We packed everything back up and finished our drive to the park.
We arrived and went into the visitors center to speak to a park ranger about our stay in the park. We explained our somewhat limited time and what we were looking to do. He suggested Gunsite Lake trail. There were two options: Hike 1.3 miles and camp next to a creek or hike all the way up to the lake and camp there(about 6 miles). Matt and I were admittedly overzealous and were all for the long hike. Scott was ready for the trek if that’s what the majority decided but cautioned us that 6 miles was worse than we thought. We ended up choosing the 1.3 mile hike because fires weren’t allowed at the lake sites. Also…before you enter back country they make you watch a pretty In-Tents video about how to react if you see or get attacked by bears. Or what to do if a mountain lion stalks you. You know…just the normal camping stuff…yikes! We almost bought bear spray after the video but decided against it cause it was $50.
We drove the rv as far into the park as it was allowed then prepared our packs. A tram pulled up just as we were finishing up and we ran to catch it. As the tram took us to the trailhead we were amazed by the views. It looks nothing like the mountains back home. Naturally…as we reached our starting point it started to rain. We got off at our stop and a road construction worker warned us that the forecast called for torrential rain and 50 mph winds tonight. Yes! Perfect!
We started down the trail anyway. At that point I was pretty happy that we picked the shorter hike and that we were allowed to have a fire. The rain picked up as we hiked. Scott “the voice of reason” Finlayson made us stop and think about spending the night dry in the rv and just doing the hike tomorrow. We cracked a beer and decided to go for it since we were only here for a night. We met an older couple who were on their way out. They warned us that they had just had two trees fall right in front of them and that hey had encountered a grizzly on the trail up near the lake.
A bit further down the trail we came across a cool little waterfall and went to take a closer look. There was a 20ft cliff into a crystal clear pool. Scott couldn’t resist despite the fact that the sun was nowhere to be found and it was raining. He jumped first. Neither Matt or I are the type to let a friend swim alone so off the cliff we went…. The water was freezing but the experience was worth it.
After a bit we loaded back up and finished hiking to our site. We set up tents that walked over to the fire/food prep area to warm up and eat. Scott cooked incredible burgers as the 3 of us hung out by the fire. We were beat and exciting to sleep anywhere other than the rv. We hung our food and headed to bed.
We woke up early excited for the hike up to Gunsite Lake. We all bathed in the creek and chef Finlayson cooked an amazing breakfast consisting of peppers onion eggs and sausage. Delicious!
We got together some snacks and drinks and off we went. The trail was narrow and all the leaves and brush were soaking wet. The legs of my pants were soaked within minutes. As we got deeper into the park the views got better and better. No picture will do it justice but here are our best efforts…
As we continued on we passed a young couple coming down from a night at the lake and they said they had to scream and hell as loud as they could to scare two grizzly bears away from the food hanging area so they could get their stuff down. Matt and I were pumped! Scott has a much more appropriate/realistic opinion of having to deal with this type of situation….he wanted to avoid it. As we hiked on we started to break the treeline. It was like something you see in movies.
As we passed the Gunsite camping area Matt and I couldn’t resist our urge to see some wildlife so we walked over to the food prep area to see if the grizzlies were still around. The ground was absolutely shredded. Someone must’ve spilled something or washed a dish and dumped it on the ground. The bears had dug huge holes and tore through the ground looking for dropped or spilled food. The holes looked fresh but the bears weren’t around. Scotty “Muscles” McGee wasnt too keen on having to protect Matt and I and thought we were nuts for trying to seek out an encounter with a grizzly. We never ended up finding them but we were at Gunsite Lake which was equally as incredible. We found a small path that lead to the shore. Walking through the bushes and into the small pebble beach was like walking into a picture. We stayed here for a while eating our snacks and having some celebratory tequila.
After we had our fill of the lake we began the trek back to camp. The day had been pretty cloudy so far with occasional spots of sun poking through but it started to clear up on the way out making the views we had already seen on the way in look completely new on the way out.
When we got back to camp we were pretty beat. Scott cooked up another road of what we had for breakfast while we packed everything up and got ready for the hike out. Since we never know when our next bathing opportunity will be we all washed up in the creek before we left. Scott located another little cliff jump and we both did gainers into the little pool. Mine was a little sloppy but hey…I’m taking points for going for it. The hike out was pretty rough. Matt and Scott plowed through without much hesitation. I was exhausted, my packed seemed to way twice as much as the walk in and I felt terribly out of shape. Their pace motivated me to get it done. My legs felt like jello as we road the tram back through the park. We unloaded out packs at the rv and started out for Seattle. This is a hard place to leave knowing how little of it we actually got to see.
On the way out Scott spotted a dive bar as we rolled through a small town. We got involved. It was pretty dead when we went in but things escalated quickly. The top of the bar was lined with pages full of names. When we inquired about them the bar tender/owner, Marie, explained that those were the people who had been banned from the bar and the ones with black lines through them were dead….
After a round or two people started loosening up and the bar started filling up with locals. That’s about when we met Mr. Upham. He was the bar tenders boyfriend and he came over to introduce himself. Within minutes he jokingly had Matt in a headlock and was getting us shots. Stopping here was a game-time decision we are very happy we made!
8/31/13 – Seattle & Portland
After the trailhead saloon shenanigans I fell asleep while Matt and Scott took turns at the wheel. They woke me in the middle of the night because the night sky was so clear and full of stars that it was worth pulling over to see. I was half asleep and barely functioning but it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. There were millions of starts, not a cloud in site, and absolutely no light pollution. I was beat from the national park and fell right back to sleep as soon as we got going. Apparently Matt was dodging deer all night and had to slam on the break a couple times, I was out cold so I didn’t notice. At some point we pulled over and slept on the side of a mountain road.
I woke up at about 6am and got us back on the road. As the sun rose I passed tons of deer and a few rough road kill scenes. Deer in these parts tend to watch you approach for hundreds of feet then jump in front of you at the last second like they have a death wish. It made for some interesting driving and perfectly explained the marks on the road where deer had exploded after cutting just a little too close. When the boys woke up we did our daily morning breakfast stop at a gas station diner. After a scenic drive through mountain passes and lakes we arrived in Seattle around 3pm. Matt had a friend (Shawnee) who suggested parking at the zoo because it would be easier with the RV. She pickled us up and tour us into the city. We were starving and we left the food selection to the local. Shawnee brought us to Alibi, a dimly lit, hole-in-the-wall, bar right across from the famous gum wall. The food was delicious! Shawnee had family coming in that she had to meet up with so she left us with some helpful tips and suggestions and we parted ways. After lunch we walked to Pikes Market and watched them toss fish around. One of the employees got a little over zealous and ended up hitting some lady in the face/camera with a flying fish. We were heading to get kid day “Spanish coffees” at a bar called Pink Door but never made it. On our walk through some alley full of stores markets and bars, we ran into some friends that we had been introduced to briefly on our walk into the city. We stopped to have a beer with them. After a round of beers and trying to figure out all our mutual connections we decided to break off and continue our journey. We grabbed a cab and headed back to the RV. Wish we could’ve spent more time here Seattle seems to have a lot to offer.
We got back on the road and made it to Portland in a few hours.
Megan from Portland had hooked us up with a place to crash. Her friend Brian who we had never met had agreed to let us crash at his place for the night while he was out of the country. No words can describe how appreciative we were to take real showers and sleep in something that wasn’t bouncing down a road. We pulled up to a house with awesome music going and a huge projected slideshow of nature images being played on the wall. Megan ran out to greet us with an enthusiastic welcome! We chatted for a bit, she showed us around, and then she headed home to get ready while we did the same.
When everyone was ready for the night we unloaded the bikes from the RV and made our way into town. Our first stop was Prost, a German beer garden style bar complete with huge boots of beer. Megan’s roommate Nicole joined the gang. Matt almost unknowingly broke house rules by putting the community boot on the table before the beer was finished. He was yelled at by the waitress just in time.
We hadn’t eaten since lunch so they suggested Bar Bar for our next stop since they had great late night burgers. This place had a great atmosphere, some weird old alien movies were being projected on the wall and they served us possibly the best burger I’ve ever eaten.
Next stop was the Red Fox where we met Lucius the king of suggestions. He persuasively laid out some suggestions for almost the entire west coast. We loved the guidance. After Red Fox we headed a bit deeper into the city to finish of the night. The bars that they wanted to hit were closed so just winged it and we into some random tiny bar. Portland has great nightlife. We stayed until last call then headed to voodoo doughnuts for a sugar fueled night cap. We were spent and headed home to rest up.