Thursday, October 29, 2015

10,000 Miles

I'm in South Lake Tahoe now (left), no particular reason aside from that they had $25 a night hotel rooms with free breakfast and  I asked Facebook where to go and someone said "Tahoe is pretty." I needed somewhere to lay low while figuring out my next move. While I have some down time, I'd like to do a 10k recap, as I realized while I was in Yosemite, that I had gone 10,000 miles. A milestone, if you will...

Going into this trip, I honestly didn't know exactly what to expect. Although I did have a few expectations that were not met. I thought: I'd sleep in more Wal-Mart parking lots, there would be a bigger sense of community at campgrounds, there would be more bugs still out, and that the weather would still be much warmer with a lingering summer heat.

 My plan going into this, aside from chasing music and visiting my two sisters, was no plan. In my opinion, plans stress people out because all you can think about is the next place you have to be. Instead, I planned to meet people along the way, ask them questions, and go where they suggested. So far, that idea has served me well: Teddy Roosevelt Park was a suggestion of a man in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Minnesota, and so far, that's been a favorite.

I have come an incredibly long way from the girl who spent 30 minutes trying to set up her tent in her front yard  in DC, unsuccessfully, before my roommate came home and found that I had just shoved the poles into the ground, in turn shoving them full of dirt - completely unaware the pegs of the tent go into the holes of the pole. That's how incredibly green I was before I began this trip. I didn't even having a sleeping bag - which I needed from the very first night.  In retrospect, perhaps I can understand why everyone was so concerned for my life before I left.

However, despite my naivety, I seemed to have prepared for every possible scenario in my preparatory purchasing and packing. Meeting up with the guy in Yosemite - who was trying to teach me everything I needed before I got there, only to get there and I kept having to supply him with things out of my car - made me feel quite proud about my planning and packing. (I will give him credit for being the one to insist I buy a sleeping bag though.) But, despite my six months of preparation and psuedo-planning, nothing could have prepared me for everything I have learned thus far - including little hacks I've picked up along the way:

  • No man is an island. It's okay to ask for help. Struggle is normal; just keep going until it gets better.
  • Gas station coffee creamers and condiments packets - always wear pockets into the gas stations. (I always buy a small coffee when filling my purse Sophia Petrillo style, so who's to say I don't put relish packets, chopped onion packets, or 15 creamer cups in my coffee?)
  • North Dakota hates Ginger Ale; good luck finding it in that state.
  • Put If lost, Contact information in your wallet. (Oddly, this had never occurred to me before I dropped my wallet in South Dakota.) I also added an If found, please email wallpaper on my phone.
  • Along those same lines, I learned to spread out my credits cards when traveling and hide cash around my car. Putting all of your sources of money in one tiny, easy-to-lose package is pretty dumb.

  • Call for student loan deferment; no run around with paperwork. They will give you three months if you just call in and say you're having "financial hardship."
  • Hotel coffee packs are the best for camping/cooking out of your car. They come in a little filter pouch, so all you have to do is boil your water and throw in the coffee pouch. (Plus, they're free!)
  • Most national parks let you pick up wood off of the side of the road for firewood (unless otherwise specified) - in fact, they encourage it. Don't buy it; find it.
  • BLM land means free camping. Bureau of Land Management land is basically just back country dirt roads. If you drive off of the main road, unable to be seen, you can camp for free on many of the west coast states. (Some require a wilderness permit though, but apparently this isn't strictly enforced.)
  • Even though I ended up picking up a Year National Park pass, getting in and out of national parks for free is fairly easy. Simply enter after the ranger gates close for the night/before they get their in the morning; you'll also have to exit using these same rules. (Entering and exiting the Teatons via Yellowstone's south gate will be free.)
  • Reusable water bottles need to be washed out regularly. Remember when I thought I was getting sick in Yellowstone? Looked at my bottle in Denver and discovered mold growing. Cleaned it out; better immediately. Whoops - and ew.

10K Favorites:

Pre-Trip Purchase: Coccyx Pillow (that thing has saved my ass -- literally! my bum used to ache after two hours driving; now I can drive for 10 without issue)

Trip Purchase: Foo Fighters hoodie (with thumb holes!) at ACL

Lesson(s): Self reliance and that humanity is better than humans give it credit for (or would it be vice versa?). Also, that I cannot be trusted alone in a small space (e.g. car) with Sun Chips or Salt Water Taffy.

Songs on Rotation: The Fear by Ben Howard, Vagabond by MisterWives, The Captain by Guster

Also learned: Your dash will take on an interesting look after
a week camping at Yosemite and 'showering' in bathroom sinks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 55: Taking Back Yosemite

This morning I took a shower in Camp Curry - a more civilized section of the park. This, after I have taken one 'shower' in the Merced River, three sink showers (in either the gas station or park bathroom) and one $12 shower at the Pilot truck stop over an hour away from the park (below, right). I drove down to Fresno two days to get an upgraded ATC for repelling (J said I needed) and a shower (and also to get/give space post the pink elephant's arrival).


That's the last time I listen to the information of a know-it-all someone else before finding the truth for myself. Turns out, I didn't need to do either of these things and wasted a half a tank of gas and a day out of the park on the advisement/information/bullshit of my 'friend.'  After the incident the other day, I grabbed all of my stuff out of his car and haven't seen him since. (I'll be returning that ATC.) And last night, I found showerhouses, headed over this morning with my shower stuff, hacked the keypads (which really was just a guess - and one guess at that) and I had a nice, warm, free shower - with soap to boot! My lesson on this day has been learned: I shall not simply trust the information of another person and should seek out the facts for myself. I'll be much cleaner - and happier - this way.

Leaving Yosemite is a much finer experience than the E-grade meat that was packed into the middle. It goes to show that traveling with a partner - eh hem - is certainly sometimes far lonelier than not; traveling alone has its wonderful merits. Instead of leaving the park after my lowest point, I decided to tent on the side of the road and reclaim the park for myself. Why let one fool person tarnish the my memories of an otherwise beautiful place? To do this, I camouflaged myself as a rock outside of the gate where I had been previously bunking in my 'friend's' SUV. 
I think I blended in well.

The following day, I took a look at the Yosemite paper as I entered the park (after my first night posing as a rock on the side of the road). Quickly, I turned around, realizing I had left my phone on the rock that was outside of my tent, but luckily it was still there. Whew. When I re-entered the park, I took a look at the paper for what to do and saw there were art classes for $10 run by the Yosemite Conservancy. While writing is nice, I had been finding myself envious of those who were painting and sketching around the park, so I was excited to partake. And as an extra bonus, the class was on water color - and travel sketch water color at that! Perfect. I have always had a serious curiosity about the medium (I was a studio arts minor in college, but watercolor wasn't a class offered) and what better place to learn?!

I got out my bike and road around a bit to soak up the morning sun around the Valley, bought a mug, and then headed over to the art center. The woman who ran it, Elaina, was lovely and we - and Clive, an art class regular from Fresno - entered into a long and random conversation about a multitude of things (including the various kinds of cows, both sterile and fertile). Clive left and I learned that Elaina taught a intro to watercolor class that day. I expressed had I know I would have loved to have taken it and she smirked and said, "well, I could be talked in to messing around instead of writing this recommendation letter." And so, I got a free intro to watercolor class from a new, fleeting friend. Then, back on my bike to catch the sunset.

So, I need quite a bit of practice. : )

In Ahwahnee Meadow

At nightfall, I headed back to my spot by the river and set up as a rock again next to the river. The night sound of it was amazing. What a lull to sleep. I treated myself to a Not Your Father's Root Beer ($1.96) from my shower gas station down the road and a movie on my computer I'd bought weeks  back for $3 - my dash, the entertainment stand; the driver's seat my couch. ("Rendition" is not a good movie, by the way, but if you're living out of your car and haven't see a television in weeks, it's a treat none the less. Sometimes, just to hear the voices in the dark of the night.)

That  is a TASTY beverage, folks.

I woke up, wrapped up my 'rock', and headed the 11 miles back into the park Valley. At this point, you may be asking yourself "why in the hell is she sleeping outside of the park by the river?" and the answer to that is simple: The campsites were full and it's illegal to sleep in the park without a permit. And even if the sites weren't full at that point, posing as a rock was free. And in that spot, I knew I had a spot I could hide beside the road (a few others were car camping there) and a toilet with running water a mile away. Besides, did I mention it was free? And free is my favorite price.

After a sink shower at the restroom - with no warm water to speak of - just inside the park gate, I took my watercolor class; first sketching outside around half dome and then inside to try painting. I had a few conversations with my classmates, exchanging our stories of how we ended up where we were (one a teacher with her students out on a hike and another a new employee to the park's youth nature program). I love hearing other people's stories (just not an hour about their job - ha.) During this, I learned more about BLM land and (legal) free camping. 

After, I walked around, visiting the museum and found the shower that I scouted to use this morning (while on the hunt for an outlet for a PC charge), I took some photos of the full moon that rose out of half dome last night (and the image on top) - a really beautiful thing to watch and then back just on the other side of the gate to pitch my rock for the night.

So here I am, sitting on a rock overlooking Sential Field and typing my words before I head east on 120. Apparently Tioga pass is not to miss and it's suppose to rain tonight. Probably not best to sleep by a river when a drought state is expecting rain (that's when I most expect monsoon like events) and Tioga pass snows when the Valley rains. So I'm off. Happy that I stayed as a rock for two extra days to reclaim this moment for myself. Yosemite is mine again and I'm very happy with my experience here now - despite the bruises in the apple, the rest is quite delicious. This is an incredibly important lesson for me to have learned, along with learning that 1. You can get brain freeze from the outside of your head (when washing your hair in glacial run off), 2. I can shower in a gas station sink to hold me over a day or two 3. California and Nevada let you camp off the road - in defined dirt road/BLM areas, and 4. that leading thought that I need to discover facts for myself and not just trust others' (mis)information.

Very important stuff here, Yosemite. Thanks for the bumpy, then beautiful. Time to go now before it fades into night before I find my night campsite...though I'm not sure where I'm going from here...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Day 52: I Need Some Rope

I should have known it was going to end like this when, two days ago, as the Foo Fighters came on my iPhone through his car speakers, he asked in all seriousness,  "Is this Nickelback?" 

There's nothing worse than spending 7 weeks, starting out nervous and green, rising to a feeling that you can do damn near anything - and by yourself - only to have someone (who invited you, by the way) tell you that you're not good enough to do something you know damn well you can do, but you need their rope to do it. Thank you, J*, for ruining this portion of my trip. For belittling me and my confidence - like you know me better than myself. I could climb that fucking rock. Instead I'm going to free climb this one I(left) alone and hope I don't break anything...

Yay!, she types from below the rocks in the sand at the foot of her climbs. About 25 feet, two different formations, twice. Trusting the shaky formations would hold my weight the second time - for pics. If someone had asked what the worst time had been on the trip, I would have said the few days after Yellowstone. I was just ready to see people I knew (and stop losing stuff). But I realize it's much more lonely in the wrong company than it is alone - yet again. I used to think that was just relationships, but no. The worst moment is building myself up only to have one person gut punch a hole in my newly found feelings of personal pride; power.

Months ago when I posted I was going on this journey, I had half of my family and some friends tell me I couldn't or shouldn't and slowly they warmed up to it. I have since spent the past 50 days feeling more empowered by my life than ever I have before. Coming to Yosemite - because I was invited to hang out and climb - tore to pieces that self confidence. Or, perhaps more accurately, frustrates me to pieces that someone with a bit of rope can't see in me now what I feel: that I can do damn near anything I put my mind to. Including climbing rocks. When he invited me he said "come meet me in Yosemite and climb some rocks" what he should have said was "come meet me Yosemite to be my backup in case I don't find someone better than you and if I do you can just watch us do what you want to do." What a prick move. I'm actually a decent climber.

How fucking small he made me feel today, telling me that he an his brand new friend were going to climb a rock, suggesting I just be a rock bunny hanging out at the bottom; watching happen what I wanted to be doing. How powerless, all for a bit of rope. I am not comfortable with being told that I can't do something - and especially now. It lights a fire that would burn down this park. But I can't even prove to this moron that I can move mountains because he has the tool I need to move it without the threat of breaking if I fall down it. (Not all success begin w a triumph. It's that threat of falling but keeping on that defines success.) I think, then, what I need now is some rope. 

And it's so odd; he used to be this cool, super chill dude. And now he's a self righteous old man touting nonsense as wisdom. Useless puff pieces of knowledge grounded in nothing and absolutes; telling people what they are (not) capable of and what they need to do, like he has any idea what he's doing. It is no one's place to tell people sure of themselves that their self confidence is baseless.

I am stronger than five mile mornings and one hundred push-ups. And I am smarter than a foolish pride in not paying student loans and credit cards and thinking everything is better with a partner. It's least as a woman. Learning to trust myself enough to not fall down a rock when no one would find you: That's not better than a partner. Or any length of rope. I've gone 10,000 miles alone when many doubted me. I can do anything. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 50: Suffocating in your Exhale

Oct 17: "Are you going to to be OK," she asked in the parking garage as I was about to leave. 

"We'll see" I responded, hiding a quiver in my voice. I'd been staying with Lisa for a week. And it took until 5pm for me to actually work up to leave today. Every time I stay with somebody doesn't get any easier to leave. I'm on adventure, but the comforts of (a) home never stop being comfortable in the kind words and embrace of people that I now know is always a necessity. It's been this sort of kindness that has blessed my journey with ease.  

my office meadow...

Oct. 21: I arrived in Yosemite to some kind of reality check. With 5 days alone after Austin I, again, got used to the beat of my own drum. I enjoy the stops and couches to surf and the hospitality and friendly familiarity of faces from my past, but meeting someone in park turned out to be much different. There was a fleeting warm welcome from a familiar face - we'll call him J - before it took approximately 41 hours for us to step on one another's toes.

Here's something I might regret being open about, but if you want me to get steamed fast, top 3 topics include: 1. Money, 2. Uninvited relationship "advice" and 3. My intelligence - although that one isn't as much as a subject as it used to be. Ironically quitting my job taught me just how much I know - which turns out to be a lot. Also, in recent years I've become very comfortable w the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, I know nothing. So perhaps three is off the list, but can be replaced w people who talk about their jobs ad naseum. You are so much more interesting than your means of making money, world. Which leaves money and partnerships, which my latest companion decided were the things to talk about on our hike today. First, that I need a partner; "traveling with someone is so much better than traveling alone ... and it's cheaper." Which then moved on to full blown (terrible) financial advice, which, at first, I tried to entertain to be polite.

To be fair, we talked it out afterward and he was excited about a thought he had which came off as aggressively touting his personal views to push onto me after multiple instances of "you need to..." - which he also later explained was his way of suggesting something. Seems odd to use need as an ought and you as a general, but anyway. He is a friend of a friend, I suppose those kinds of things get twisted when you don't ease into sharing the back of an SUV as a bed. 

 But 41 hours? Really? That's it? Am I that short tempered? Or annoying - as the fallout exchange would suggest? I try to be as considerate as possible. Okay, I can take a while to get ready, that's fair, but I'm in no rush - and I didn't know he was. And my femininity decided to check in again yesterday (after just 19 days), so that I'm dealing with that while sleeping in a car and peeing in the woods, I'd say is mildly impressive - even with the extra minutes. (To suggest that my body is confused as to what the hell I'm doing, I think would be an understatement at this point.)

I begin to consider that maybe I'm alone too much now. Too used to being by myself and now I can't properly function with other people. But that doesn't sound like me at all.

At the moment, he's falling asleep next to me in his sleeping bag, I atop mine. We are on the side of the road, just outside the gates. I can hear the Merced River - in which I washed my hair this morning and learned you can get a massive 'brain freeze' from pouring cold water on your head - to the left, just below us. 


And yet, instead of enjoying this kind of serene moment of dark and all quiet but the running of a river, I'm mulling over snafus in personal relationships. Is it always that they follow us like this? Do personal interactions supersede even the most amazing of places and moments in time? I don't like it. 

I try often not to get in the way. To keep everyone happy; environments and relationships copacetic. Bite my tongue and honestly say "whatever you want to do," but we all have buttons and reach a tipping point. And as much as I wanted to bite my tongue at the peak of that beautiful place, I snapped for a moment: "but I don't have money!" What a fucked up conversation to have in one of the most awe inspiring parks in the world...and with someone currently unemployed and living out of her car. (I mean, voluntarily, but still.)

I climbed yesterday. J lead trad with his gear. And I picked up the cams along the way on my first multi-pitch. After 3 pitches and climbing 300 feet of rock, I felt pretty good. And he was so kind and gracious and proud, I think - telling me how well I did.  And I appreciated it. I made a nice dinner - as nice as you can cooking out if a car - as a thank you. During, he went on about his job. One of the very reasons I left DC: everyone there defines themselves by their means of income. I asked him if perhaps he could choose a new topic - I guess he didn't like that, I found out in the fallout. Regardless, it was a good 40 hours and yet, the negative moment in a 30 minute conversation, that will likely never matter, is the item weighing in. The nagging little gnat. And it kind of just makes me want to leave (which I nearly did today) just to get away from a situation that feels uncomfortable; unwelcome; tethered to someone else's words, wants, dislikes, etc. None of these feelings exist in solitude. 

But then, I think, if I leave, the stupid nothingness wins (and I'm completely alone for six weeks. My moms flying to Cali for a few days in December), plus I'm out free 'lodging', so I stayed - for now. I hope it gets better and the pink elephant waddles away for a swim or something. I don't really need any more elephants. I'm not sure if I'm a good pack animal anymore. 


Oct 22: The day following the fall out: I got up early to be out of his car so he could be on the schedule J wanted: 7am and I was kicked out of his car and into mine. I took the morning to myself; him to himself; I took a gas station 'shower' in the sink, blogged a bit, mapped my route so far, did some work on a potential freelance job - and in the best office possible: Sentinal Meadow, overlooking half dome. We met up again at noon and hung out; he did some bouldering and I just laid back. We had a lovely chat with a New Zealand couple and their son, Rocco, wrapping up their six month trek of the US. (Now I'm envious. They got sick of the 9 to 5 too and decided to travel the US.)

There's clearly still an elephant swinging about in this situation, but I'm hoping it will wear off. I think we're both making an effort not to In the car tonight, nestled in our bags, he said he was going to crack the windows - as I requested the first night based on, you know, oxygen and C02 - "so, you don't..."

"Suffocate in your exhale," I finished his thought. 

"Ya," he laughed. 

"That would be a great title for the blog I wrote last night," I said, then admitting I'd written about our whole clash. He seemed displeased, but, honestly, I don't think confrontation is a bad thing so long as you get over it. Any friendship that means something has to overcome challenges here and there. Here's hoping.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 47: Route 66

Originally, I said I would be in Yosemite by Friday; my friend who invited me arrived on Monday. I liked Austin enough that I delayed leaving and pushed my date to Saturday, so I could stay an extra day. Plus, my gut told me not to rush to get there - despite my friend checking daily when I would arrive. Then I looked up driving directions and was really surprised (and also not; geography is not my strong suit) to learn that Yosemite is 1,600 miles from Austin -also known as 25 hours of driving - instead of the close neighbors east coast me had incorrectly assumed. (East Coast people generally have strange and un/miseducated assumptions about anything west of the Mississippi River.) I updated him that I would get there Sunday. 

Once I got to Fort Worth, I decided to really take my time along Route 66 getting to Yosemite. I mean, it's Route 66 - they sent Karl Pilkington on that shit; I wanted to see it too. So, my plan was: I would drive up to Oklahoma and then over to Yosemite via Fresno to make the most of the trip via the historic route. I wanted to get to Yosemite, but I didn't see a problem in delaying it a bit more to enjoy the trip. Despite my friend's mild insistence I join him, something really told me to take the time I wanted to get to Yosemite and enjoy the ride along the way. So that's what I did.

And being sick, I stayed in hotels all along the route, which was fun - most were historic hotels; the energy in some rooms was palpable. My route went as such:

Day 44: Fort Worth, TX > Tucumcari, NM via Oklahoma: approximately 520 miles, 8 hours. I stayed in an old school hotel along Route 66,  Room 111 (strange to me; I see triple numbers a lot and definately felt some energy in this one), but I had some Ramen, slept well and started to feel much better come morning.

Make-up makes even sick people living their of their car look passable. 
First time I've made Ramen in a coffee pot. With the assistance
of a microwave - and paper coffee cups - not bad. This with
half an leftover avocado was my dinner. Fancy, I know.

Day 45: Tucumcari, NM >  Winslow, AZ: approximately 450 miles, 8.5 hours. I made some stops. I was going to camp out this night, but I was still feeling under the weather and decided to grab a hotel when I found the campground was $28 a night. I stopped off at Safeway and bought $100 worth of food since my friend made me panic that I didn't have enough for two weeks in Yosemite. The most I have spent in one trip since I began and two weeks' worth of my food budget. Although, now that I think about it, I don't know why I went overboard, every time he told me to get something, my response was "I have it." Like, yes, I know tuna is a good camp food - I have 6 cans of it and try it a Knorr Rice side with canned veggies. Maybe it was the afteraffects of not being able to find a grocery store in either of the DakotasAnyway, I was now officially prepped and ready for Yosemite.

Do we have time for a morning photoshoot?

Look at that; so graceful. ::chuckles::

Day 46: Winslow, AZ > Laughlin, NV: approximately 270 miles, 6 hours. I took a weird detour to Grand Canyon before I changed my mind, plus miles for driving via Old Route 66 and stopping off at a small town. I liked the small towns built up around the historic route; they were really cute and fun. So, I didn't make it very far on this day and it would come back to bite me to get to Yosemite by Monday, but the hotel was $21 so to me it was worth the 7 hours driving the following day. I was going to pay penny slots and then I took a shower and couldn't be bothered to do anything but blog and listen to the television.

Historic, Old Route 66, Arizona.
Taken by sticking my phone/hand out of the moon roof at ~50 MPH and hoping for the best. :)

On of the historic sections of 66, Arizona - also taken out of my moonroof, while driving. ~30MPH.
Stopped train along Old Route 66, Arizona
I got a little lost on my way between Old Route 66 - you have to drive off of 40 to catch it a lot - and trying to get to California. I think I was on an Native Reservation at this point and headed towards an unpaved road. The sunset was incredibly interesting though and eventually I found civilization and chose to stop early in Laughlin before I got lost again. That, and the hotel price. 
Who knew Nevada had a baby Vegas nestled in the south corner?

Day 47: Laughlin, NV > Yosemite, CA: approximately 500 miles, 9.5 hours. What was supposed to be 7 hours turned into nearly 10, thanks to a mudslide shutting down part of Highway 58 near Mojave. On this day, I discovered that 10 hours is too many and my limit at this point is probably 8.5. I also discovered that Yosemite's switchbacks at dark aren't the best for night driving. But hey, I made it. I found my friend in the (Yosemite) Valley. And I'll be curious to see what the day opens up that I couldn't see arriving in the black of night. Time to set up camp, which, for now, means side by side sleeping bags in the back of his rented SUV on the side of the road outside the park (because car camping isn't allowed in the park and sites are full.) Upgrade!(?)

And then, as a mean trick, it was another 35 winding miles
to the Valley (the main part of Yosemite).
But I'm here now! Let's go (to sleep). hehe

Thursday, October 15, 2015


"Oh...are your allergies bothering you too?" he asked in the antihistamine aisle at the CVS in downtown Austin. 

"Oh yes," I responded with a sniffle. "Are you from around here," I questioned, wondering if it was just a pollen all of the sudden in Austin and abnormal for a local or something that might get me in trouble should I choose to move there.

"No, I'm driving across the country," he said with a nervous snicker like it was a weird thing to do.

"Oh!" I said, excited to meet one of my own. I'm doing that to. Where are you from?"
"Raleigh. I'm going to San Jose for a job and I took two and a half weeks to drive there. How long are you traveling for?"

"Four months. I'm looking for a place to live and San Jose is on my list. You'll have to tell me how you like it." 

His name was Micheal. And this truncated version of our conversation went on for about 30 minutes and 2 aisles - I also needed mascara. I look children of the corn terrifying without mascara; look knows why he even bothered to talk to me. Allergy commiseration, I suppose. We exchanged numbers. I said I'd ping him when I got to San Jose.

This was on Monday. It wasn't until Wednesday after both kinds of allergy meds I took failed to work and my sister in Nashville posted on Facebook that her third and youngest child (the only one that wasn't sick when I was there) was now sick, that I considered that, perhaps, it wasn't allergies, but illness. I had been trying to blame it on the cats of my host family and post-festival fatigue, despite feeling tired and weak. But when I got to Fort Worth tonight, after finally leaving Austin a day late and at 5pm (I didn't really want to leave), and I was no longer near cats or Austin air/pollen and still felt blah, I admitted to myself that I was, indeed, sick. My intuition had been right; my trip to Nashville ended in illness. Luckily, my foresight which led to chugging airborne staved it off until after the festival. (Dear awesome host family, I'm so, so sorry if I got any of your sick with my "allergies.")

Regardless, Austin was a blast. My host family was the best. (Which was my yoga instructor from DC who just happened to move to Austin just across the street from Zilker Park - where ACL takes place - 6 weeks prior. Hi Lisa!) They showed me around the city as best they could in what they learned in the time they were their and made me feel right at home. (Thanks, guys! You're awesome fun! ...And that bean dip on butter good.)

I wonder if their company influences my opinion on Austin in that I really liked it - enough for it to be a very serious contender of a place to live - or if I just like Austin that much all by itself. I mean, music does seem to be a huge part of the city's character. And it doesn't rain. And, best part, Bulliet bourbon is their well liquor. WHAT?! Like, I liked it so much I convinced myself that I wasn't sick until I left and finally was willing to give up the fun in exchange for my health. The only part I didn't like was that when I went out with my friend I went to ACL with and my host family's daughter (who graciously shared her room with me; my air mattress took up her entire floor. Thanks, Anna!) and we met a guy selling street art who was pissed that all kinds of new people were flocking to the city and when I said I was considering moving to Austin, he said something to the affect of "Ugh. There are too many people here. People need to find a new city to move to." Not quite the welcome I felt in Bozeman with everyone selling it to me and singing: Come on over, the water is fine!

But, you cut the bruise out of the apple and the rest of the apple is good to eat, right?. Austin was fun. Spunky. Warm. Lovely. Fun. Bourbon. Cornhole at a rooftop bar. (You now how often you have to fight just to get into a place with a rooftop bar in DC?) And a natural spring water public pool. And bats under the South Cap bridge that eat all the bugs?! WHAT?! Yes, no more bug bite ridden legs for this insect amusement park. (Blondes get bit three times as much as any one else, you know. True story.) Plus, I already know three awesome people that live there, a rooftop bar with corn hole and a sweet, sweet music festival. Also: Central Market butter tortillas and Topo-Chico.

So all in all, Austin was great, despite the allergy/illness. But I'd better get to sleep to try to get rid of this sickness, which means a hotel for the night in Fort Worth in the cheapest hole I can find. (I made myself a promise not to camp when I'm sick. Hotels are cheaper than healthcare.) Sweet dreams, Texas. I very well may be back - time will tell. 

Sandy's got some big burgers. Heh.

this is their public "pool"!

Dear Santa, For Christmas I'd like a water bicycle.

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