Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Like Laura said, New Mexico pretty much ruled in its totality. While we were driving from Roswell up to Albuquerque we decided to stop in Truth or Consequences and hit up one of the natural hot water mineral baths. The one we ended up visiting was across the street from a trailer park and operated by a quiet-talking woman who looked like a cross between Mia Farrow and David Bowie. Us being newbies at this specific type of hippie activity, we opted for a half-hour stay in a room at around 100 degrees. We had no idea what we were in for. We've both spent a fair amount of time in jacuzzis and saunas in our lives, but the level of heat and humidity in this place was borderline unbearable... but in a pretty good way. Think about how long it takes to get into an unheated pool, it's about the same pace as it took to get into this one. After about ten minutes it literally was making my stomach lurch; it also made Laura's heart start beating quicker and took both our breath away. When we finally got out we both tookice cold showers, only to start getting dressed and realise we were still sweating and took another freezing shower. It was an interesting and weirdly refreshing experience.

After staying in Albuquerque, we went on a hike to Macauley Springs, near the Jemez Pueblo. We loaded up our packs and hiked in through some gorgeous and huge rock formations and small mountains to do some back country camping. The path wasn't all that clearly marked but somehow we found our way to a series of clearings and warm springs. It was surrounded by Ponderosa Pines, more of the bucolic stones and best of all completely devoid of other people. It was far and away the most magical (yeah, yeah it's a hippie word) place we stayed. We inadvertently set up camp next to a boneyard of an elk skeleton and ate a great Laura-prepared dinner after I took half an age getting a fire going successfully. The next morning we actually went down to the springs. They weren't exactly hot, but they were warmer than the air. Laura being the braver of the two of us got in first and was the first to get acquainted with the hundreds of tiny minnows living in each pool. I loved these guys. When I eventually settled in and found a good place to stand still these fish would swim up and start to nibble. The best way I can describe it was like feeling a tingling sensation all over. I don't mean to make it sound like it was a swarm of piranhas or anything like that, it was more like a feature in some Japanese spa where some aquatic life exfoliates a customer. I missed those fish as soon as I got out of the water. Anyway, it was a totally awesome experience in an unexpected "nature, you creepy and pastoral simultaneously" way.

i call this one "SUNSHIIINE".

i know, i know, i know.

it has been a long while since the last update.

we ended up spending a few more days in new mexico than we factored in, because new mexico is so damn beautiful. we went on this amazing backpacking hike to a place called macauley hot springs, which i wont write about since aaron has plans for that.

we went to some ghost towns along the turquoise trail... though i have a hard time not putting ghost town in quotes. if you have a petting zoo and gift shop, can you be a ghost town? i know there's a formula out there somewhere for how to figure out if a town is a ghost town versus just dusty and filled with hippies, but i can't find it.

from there we went to the grand canyon (north rim, as i can't be trusted around the combination of screaming midwest children and vast canyon expanses that the south rim promises). the trail into the canyon was lovely when it wasn't, literally, streaming and steaming with piles of mule excrement.
also notable were the signs (with pictures of braying, sinister mule faces) warning you not to touch, talk to, look directly at or make any sudden moves around the mules. shit. i spent a good portion of my adult life without the knowledge that they were fundamentally unstable creatures. i guess there's a reason that they're sterile. that is mules, right? i'm too lazy to look it up.

our first night near zion we tried to find a campsite that wasn't a trailer/rv park and ended up stopping randomly at a motel in orderville, utah called the parkway motel. IF YOU ARE EVER IN UTAH PROMISE ME YOU WILL STAY THERE.
the proprietor was unsure whether aaron and i were boyfriend/girlfriend or brother/sister (he later asked aaron) but he still offered us a special on the "Fallin' in Love" room. the room, people, oh my god. it was decorated with gold trim and fake branches glued everywhere. the bed was supposed to mimic a treehouse and was thus elevated about three feet off the ground, putting us approximately 12 inches form the MIRROR ON THE CEILING. i need to post the pictures from this place because i'm seriously not doing it justice. trust me, it was grand.

incidentally, i later saw the owner pantomime whipping his 6 year old son, who was riding belly down in a wagon in the middle of a driveway with his arms outstretched. i think they are probably both geniuses.

i think the zion hikes were my favorites (again, i'll let aaron write in depth about those), even the narrow river hike was great in retrospect.
river hike...i think that i have great endurance; that i am a fairly athletic person... apparently that goes out the window when i am cold and wet. i ended a six hour hike laughing uncontrollably. i was, for real, standing in a river, shaking and cackling so hard that i almost urinated on myself. people were staring at me and i just laughed. my knees were locked up and i couldn't walk effectively. it was kinda great.

we're more than likely going to be home tomorrow. then we're moving into a house. then we're going to san francisco. then i'm taking pictures for McSweeney's (!!) (and a thank you to Miss Sumerton does NOT seem sufficient, but THANK YOU AMY).


Monday, July 6, 2009

They don't look like New Mexicans

I'll apologize at the start that we've become a little lax at updating this thing. We've been spending a lot more time out in the woods and in the desert these days than we have in swanky internet cafes and hotel rooms.

Right now we're at Hotel Blue in Albuquerque getting ready to head to the National Museum of Nuclear Science before we hike and camp near Jemez Springs. Laura and I both agree that New Mexico is thoroughly amazing. We've spent four days here so far. The first day we camped out in the middle of the desert off an unpaved road. There was no one around for miles and aside from the occasional prolonged yip yip of a pack of crazed coyotes it was actually really peaceful. We went to Carlsbad Caves and saw the bat flight in which hundreds of thousands of bats flow out of the caves biggest opening like a cloud of smoke. We also took a walking tour, which in comparison to the crawl-on-rocks-bruise-everything tour we did at Mammoth Cave was super tame, but we both enjoyed it. It's an incredibly beautiful thing to see.

We headed up to Roswell after that. Their annual UFOfest was going on and we arrived just in time to catch the "parade." It consisted mostly of a firetruck, a bunch of kids and adults in very homemade alien costumes and a car with the Grand Martians of the parade: Jefferson Starship. I'm not even kidding.

The Fourth of July was spent mostly at White Sands National Monument, which is a nature preserve in the middle of a stark white desert. It's also in the southern portion of the missile base where many of the atomic bomb tests took place. We didn't run into any irradiated nature that I know of, although we did see a lot of creepy albino lizards and who knows maybe we've become radioactive ourselves which is what I've been really hoping for.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A few days late.

Hey guys,

This blog was written a few days ago, but we've been away from internet contact for awhile.

New Orleans was a grand place. I loved every second of the time we spent there and like Aaron said in his blog: the hotel was amazing. The town itself features a wealth of squat, loaf shaped dogs (corgis, dachsunds, etc.) and even the dogs belonging to street people were glossy and well-kept.
We met a man in a bar that organizes a Husky rescue in New Orleans, and he has his two with him. Here’s a picture of Aaron dancing with Frankie Blue Eyes, at his owners insistence.

There are a lot of odd people in New Orleans, which I’m certain comes as a shock to no one. We saw overly tanned twin-guys that looked like Gary Busey, drunken swaying karaoke singing prostitutes, old men in flowered hats and a lady with fish scales tattooed up and down the entirety of her legs.
One day we walked down to the Garden District to find Jim Russell’s Record store, which turned out to be closed. We did get a chance to stop in a place called the Abstract Bookstore and Café, which appeared from the outside to be a bookstore or café, but inside was filled with chain-smoking drug addicts who smelled slightly of diaper. Turns out that the Abstract is a non-profit center that serves the homeless drug addicted males of New Orleans and we, essentially, walked into their living room. This (understandably) upset one of the gentlemen, who attempted to express his displeasure vocally but was having trouble doing so, as he apparently lacked a tongue or any ability to speak a language.
So that was nice.

I think we could have easily stayed a few more days, but I kept spending money and we had to get the hell out of there before I spent up my college fund.

We drove from there to Austin, where we stayed with Adam and Karyna. They took us to four amazing bars, one of which was in a haunted hotel and we also saw the Hangover at the Alamo Drafthouse. If you haven’t heard of this place, it is essentially a really nice movie theater with a full bar and restaurant and service at your seat. I kinda fell in love with it.
I got to sleep on a couch with Maxwell (one of Karyna’s giant cats) for the first time in over a year, and I spent a good hour rubbing his chin this morning.

It’s notable that upon our arrival in Texas were were almost run off the road by a total maniac with a super-disturbing facial disfigurement (it involves enormous amounts of purple and swelling and jiggling, and trust me, that’s all you want to know).

I’m loving the desert landscape and vegetation as we drive through West Texas, and I’m really excited that the moon is getting full. It ought to make for some gorgeous pictures out in Carlsbad and White Sands AND I can’t wait for Aaron’s transformation into a werewolf to be complete

Right now I’m watching a cloud that looks like a killer whale meander across the giant Texas sky and there is not a chainsaw or mutant hillbilly in sight. All is right with the world.


(In the intervening days we've been to Carlsbad Caverns, which was amazing. We camped under the moon on on huge deserted stretch of national land and saw the bat flight and walked the caverns. We took a two mile hike today that didn't seem like it was going to be strenuous, but we did not factor in the fact that it was 96 degrees, uphill both ways in the direct sun and we hadn't eaten since 9:30 in the morning.
We then went to Roswell and saw the 4th of July/UFO celebration parade, ate some nasty Mexican food and I barfed 4 times on the side of the highway... onto my own boots, no less. I feel better now and we are going to spend the night in Roswell at a posh joint called the International 9 Motel.)

Monday, June 29, 2009


The taco consumption isn't quite moving as well as planned. I'll probably have to eat about 15 for every meal we're in Texas. I am prepared to make that commitment.

Humide toujours.

America's Wetland. Every state has a motto and that's Louisiana's. Truly this is the wettest, sweatiest state I've ever been in. We rolled into New Orleans in the mid-afternoon on Sunday and checked into Hotel Provincial. It's in the middle of the French Quarter and is very quaint, very authentic.

Neither Laura nor I had ever been to NOLA previously, but it's pretty much an American equivalent to Amsterdam. The closest touch point's we've come across so far have been the douche district (pronounced "doo-shay") and the sex district (so many beads with penises). At the corner of Douche and Sex (actually Bourbon St.) a drunk hillbilly dude-bro came up to me and our interaction went like this:

Him: Is your name Lucky?
Me: No.
Him: Yes it is.
Me: No.
Him: *muttering nonsense to his nasty entourage as I walk away*

After dinner we spent a minute at a bizarre karaoke bar that Laura swears was completely staged because no natural environment could have been so strange. Over the course of the hour we spent there we saw a bunch of drunk lawyers bump and grind to various disco hits, teenage Gary Busey, a drunk girl who kept groping her blond friends (she left her friends of darker hair colors alone) and a cop on a horse stumbled in through a door momentarily. On the way back home we passed a ghost tour. The "guide" was drinking a beer on the street and rambling to his group while pointing to a nondescript second floor apartment. I want this job.

Right now it's thundering outside so we're holed up in our room waiting for a break in the clouds so we can traipse around one the nearby above-ground cemeteries. It's going to rule.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Like the surface of the sun if the surface of the sun contained hillbillies.

Oh hi,

I’m writing this in the car on the way to Louisiana. We spent last night in Birmingham, AL where we went to a bar featuring the most pregnant lady in the world drinking a glass of wine. Keep it classy, Alabama.
Aaron and I decided to have a relatively loud and protracted discussion about fetal alcohol syndrome which culminated with me saying, “I think it’s cool in European countries to have a glass of wine while you’re pregnant.”
Aaron then said, “Well, I certainly hope her baby’s going to be a European.”

Maybe that baby will grow up to be a German raver, which is technically the same as being retarded.

The two days prior to that we spent with my family in Tennessee. We stayed (in separate beds, ya’ll) at my aunt’s house in Knoxville. We managed to visit pretty much every relative that I could think of with the exception of ANYONE approaching my age.
My family lives on the side of an honest to god mountain. I got a picture of the most startling drop-off which ,despite being paved and really well maintained, manages to make you feel like you are going to go careening to your death at any moment.
All the ladies in my family love Aaron… like, awkward love him. My 96-year-old aunt tried to pull him onto her lap and told me she was “keepin’ him”. It has been discussed and agreed upon that he is handsome, a real sweet boy and much too skinny. I think implied therein is that I am a total failure because he is not fat.

I won’t write much about the cave tour we took, because Aaron summed it up really well. It’s notable that Aaron’s bruises are the most spectacular thing that I’ve seen.

I believe the Garmin and I have reconciled. It gives me such clear and accurate directions that I have decided to start having it make all of my decisions for me.

“What should my advanced degree be in, Garmin?”


“That makes no goddamn sense, Garmin.”

Let’s see… we’re currently driving through Mississippi. Mississippi sucks a little bit. I like that every tree here manages to look like a pine tree of some sort, but there are a lot of really tanned, really southern looking people here and that bothers me somewhat.
We ate at a Mexican restaurant just a minute ago and the couple next to us was very tanned, very southern. The lady (about 5 years younger than me, no less) and her husband had four totally white children and one small bi-racial baby.

In closing, it is 102 degrees Fahrenheit and the demon sun is reflecting like a light bulb in a mirror off of the white-paved expanses of this god forsaken state of child brides and illegitimate brown babies and burning my delicate undercarriage.


Friday, June 26, 2009

There's no such thing as a Cave Taco.

The drive down to Kentucky was, for me, pretty uneventful. We stopped at a Goodwill in some tiny Ohio town for a minute. They had a Fleetwood Mac LP from the early '80s I thought of getting. Knowing that it would turn into a pile of melted vinyl as soon as we shut off the air-conditioning detered me.

A couple days before we left I watched Duel, the made-for-TV movie by Steven Spielberg from the early '70s. It's about a traveling salesman who is constantly chased and almost killed on multiple occasions by a psychotic semi driver. It's decent pre-Maximum Overdrive big rig terror and I had a couple OH GOD moments since the semi to car ratio was about 3 to 1 in Kentucky. This included one guy who would not stop riding my ass and flashing his brights at me. I lost him on a big hill somewhere. Also of note in Kentucky: Louiville has 21 locations of Cox's Smoker's Outlets. I'm just saying...

It's been about 90+ degrees all day both days we've been camping at Mammoth Cave. Starting and tending a fire in this heat has been pretty ridiculous. Wednesday night we scrounged up some moldy, worm-holed wood left scattered at the campsite which burned awful. Also I broke the hachet we brought with us hacking up some poor sapling. At least the total fail of a fire yielded grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and s'mores.

Thursday we did the Wild Cave Tour at 10am. Laura got up early and started a rage/lighter fluid fire to heat up coffee and oatmeal before we left. It was a good choice to get these things in our systems because we were underground for about 6 hours. Not only did it wear me out physically, but it bruised probably 50% of my body.

It really ruled though. We climbed up huge boulder piles, down water-carved canyons and crawled on knees and elbows through incredibly small spaces -- the smallest of which was about 9 inches high. Although I'd never faced anything to prove or disprove it, I'd thought there was a tiny chance I was a touch claustrophobic. Getting wedged into these places again and again and not even coming close to losing it has me thinking otherwise.

Currently my forearms two big purple masses and there's a deep red line across my abdomen, but nothing hurts much. This might be thanks to the endorphines or the vodka and Tang we're drinking. *Addedum: everything's a LOT more sore today, but it's that good kind of hurt. Except when it's the hurting kind of hurt.*

Laura made some great tacos for dinner. (A side note: I told her I was going to eat 50 tacos on this trip. She's supplied me with 3. Things are looking good.)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Upsetting the Garmin.

Hey folks,

We left this morning on our grand world tour, after getting our Annie Palmer Special (white Toyota Corolla) at the local Hertz/drug- front.
The guy that rented us the car didn't even check to see if we had insurance, I passed their credit check with no problem and there was a dead palm tree and water dripping from the ceiling... all signs point to that place not being there when we get back.

We're now near the OH/KY border and our GPS is trying to kill us. We asked it for a Panera bread (on account of the free internet) and it led us four miles through a very low-rent area where we saw a lady with no limbs riding a motorized wheelchair down the street.
It has also told me to turn around and go home, drive into oncoming traffic and park sideways across three lanes of highway. I swear. Ask Aaron.

I fell on my tailbone and broke the cooler (those events are related) already, so that temporary health insurance I purchased is seeming like a superb idea. Incidentally, my car and my body now both have a $500 deductible.

We're on our way to Mammoth Cave and from there we're going to visit my family in Knoxville.

More later,