Friday, June 29, 2007

Seeing is Understanding

I started reading Annals of the Former World by John McPhee tonight. What a remarkable writer he is! The book starts off with a topographic map of the United States, and now it's really easy to understand why Illinois bothered me so much.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Road Ruminations

Total miles traveled = 6400 miles

I do not understand 65 mph speed limits. I understand even less those who obey 65 mph speed limits.

Radio across the Midwest goes like this: country, Christian, classic rock, Christian, country, Christian, classic rock, Christian, and (bizarrely) disco. I had the opportunity to see Greg bop to "Staying Alive" more than once.

When I would hold doors open for people in the Midwest, there was no "thank you" or any other acknowledgment.

I could spend a lot more time in the following places: Ozarks, Black Hills, Madison, the Twin Cities, and Boulder.

Next time, I will bring Tapatio.

Every time I visit a National Park, I want to become a Ranger. Do geology tours during the day and sky tours by night...that is the dream.

I just love, love, love this country. Every roadtrip brings me closer to the land, yet reminds me how much more there is to explore. Must plan another roadtrip. Where to next?

My pics are at:

Greg's pics are at:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Back Home Again

Woke up in Santa Fe, had brunch in Albuquerque, ate dinner in Flagstaff, wrapped myself in my robe and drank cocoa at home in Tempe. I had so much fun on this trip and I could keep going for at least another week. But, alas, reality intrudes. Can't wait to plan the next roadtrip, though.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


This morning, we bid a fond farewell to Boulder. It's an area I love and plan on returning to over and over again. But I couldn't be too bummed about leaving, because our destination for the day was Santa Fe. Santa Fe reminds me of San Francisco in the ease of finding good food. I'm now full of lovely spicy southwestern treats. Another aspect of Santa Fe that I enjoy is how it blends into the surrounding environment. You could almost pass it by without knowing the city is there. Normally I'm a proponent of building up instead of out, but Santa Fe seems to have controlled both. I also like the laidback vibe, and it's the only place in the world where Southwestern-themed decor doesn't piss me off.

Now back to the hotel, where a bubble bath, dessert, and pleasant company await me. Not a bad way to end the day.

Today - 420 miles

Tomorrow - traveling across the desert Southwest

Friday, June 22, 2007


Greg and I spent the day up at Rocky Mountain National Park. Having gone there three out of the last four years, I never tire of this beautiful park. I especially love being above the treeline, in the alpine tundra, which is an otherworldly environment. The awesome beauty leaves me feeling inspired and grounded at the same time. I'll post some images soon.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in Estes Park (if you're ever there, check out the view from the Starbucks) and the evening on Pearl Street in Boulder. Just a lovely, lovely day.

Today - 170 miles in RMNP

Tomorrow - back to the desert

Thursday, June 21, 2007


We started off the day at Mount Rushmore. I thought I'd find it to be goofy, but instead I found it beautiful. The surrounding Black Hills are also lovely. After seeing eastern South Dakota, I didn't think I'd warm up to the state, but the southwestern part of South Dakota is lovely, and I'd return again. We also stopped off at a site in Hot Springs, SD where there are mammoth specimans being excavated. That was wonderful. Then our route took us through Wyoming, into Colorado, and finally into Boulder. I will now think of Boulder as being the place where my Mexican food drought ended. I hadn't had Mexican food since June 6. All of you should be grateful I've had a burrito.

Today - 400 miles

Tomorrow - more Boulder

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bad Land

After a most pleasant time in the Twin Cities, Greg and I headed across South Dakota today. The eastern part is much too flat, but upon entering the Badlands, I felt like I'd returned to the West. Oh, don't get me wrong... the Midwest is pleasant enough and I enjoy the green fields and the wild rivers, but I miss the majesty of the West when I'm away. This evening finds us in Keystone, SD, one of the most awesome goofy Wild West towns ever. I've seen fake shootouts, had dinner in a saloon with flocked velvet wallpaper, and have strolled in fresh mountain air whilst eating an ice cream cone. Ahhh...contentment.

Today - 630 miles

Tomorrow - heading back out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Toured the Cathedral and Summit Ave. in St. Paul with Greg this morning. I must admit, I am fascinated by the Cathedral. I do have an affinity for domed structures. We also took a stroll down Nicollet Mall and by the Mississippi and had a good meal at an Irish pub.

I'd only visited the Twin Cities once previously, for a AAS summer meeting a few years ago. Overall, I've decided I like the Twin Cities area quite a bit. I've apparently been lucky, though; I haven't been here in winter nor mosquito season. I'll have to come back in the winter some time to see just how bad it is, because this area in May/June is close to perfect.

Tomorrow - onward!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sing with the Wind

Poked about Milwaukee a bit before heading out. Find a nice coffee house with good cocoa, pastries, and free wi-fi. Success! Then we got into the car and headed to the west, singing in the car. Eventually we ended up in Minneapolis, where we attending a reading at Dreamhaven Books, a great science fiction bookstore. It was nice to see Dave again, and I met Haddayr and Kristen and Alan and just generally had a lovely evening.

Today - 340 miles

Tomorrow - more exploring of the Twin Cities.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Today I picked up Greg at the Marblehead ferry. Hadn't seen him in a week! Sounds like he had a great time at the workshop, and I had a great time on my own, but I'm happy to have my travel companion back for the last leg of our roadtrip.

The drive to Milwaukee once again solidified my loathing of Illinois. Just can't help it. Now to do some laundry and get some sleep!

Today - 380 miles

Tomorrow - Minneapolis!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On the Road Again

On Friday, I left St. Paul and headed to Iowa City. I stayed at a great hotel (thanks for the rec, SarahP!) and very much enjoyed exploring the town and the University of Iowa campus. I also made it to Prairie Lights, because I have to see the cool independent bookstore in a town. I would have liked to have seen more, but I wasn't feeling all that well and the humidity was irksome. Hope to get back there sometime.

Today I drove to Sandusky, Ohio, so that I can pick Greg up from his workshop tomorrow morning. I've decided that I do not like Illinois. Just don't. Too flat. More hills please. At least the toll roads in Indiana and Ohio are civilized - obtain a ticket at one end of the state and pay a varying rate depending upon when you exit. That's works. Stoopid Illinois.

I had a very tiny cup of soup and a very large hot fudge sundae for dinner. I had to give in after walking into the restaurant and seeing all the kids eating ice cream, having to crane their heads up to reach the level of the dish. So cute!

Friday - 305 miles

Saturday - 500 miles

Tomorrow - heading out again with Greg!

Friday, June 15, 2007

St. Paul, Part II

Thursday in St. Paul was another mellow day. Started off with breakfast and touring the Univ. of Minnesota campus with Philip. Then I drove around St. Paul some more - I really like the neighborhoods quite a bit. Much playing with the dopey doggie occured. Corresponded with colleagues and students. The day concluded with dinner and a walk along the river with Philip and his new girlfriend, whom I liked quite a bit. She bought me excellent chocolate ice cream, so we're friends for life. ;)

My time here in St. Paul was relaxing...just what I needed...and that was thanks to Philip. I have no clue how we became friends, but I'm grateful for him.

In a few minutes...back on the road! Yay!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

St. Paul, Part I

Let's see...I explored a little bit of St. Paul on Wednesday. Philip lives in a good neighborhood with lovely homes and access to many stores, so I poked around there a bit. I also went to the Science Museum of Minnesota. There were a lot of summer camps touring the exhibits, and it was interesting to observe the kids and what demos they were drawn to from a science educator's point of view. They loved all the medical stuff - getting their pulse and blood pressure, etc... Enjoyed the weather demos. Very few students were doing any of the physics experiments, many of which were just too darned wordy. I also took a brief walk along the river before the humidity tried to kill me and spent the rest of the afternoon working (hey, it isn't vacation without work) and playing with the dopey doggy. Wednesday concluded with eating fried cheese and a burger at the Mall of America with Philip. Oof. There was also an awesome Lego display...I could have spent so much money. But, no.

Thursday...still stationary. After that meal, I'd have to be!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reference points

Tuesday started off with me walking around downtown Madison a bit more. I was getting really annoyed with the whole "Capitol Loop East" vs "West", etc... until I finally found a map that showed that these designations were NOT exactly aligned with the true cardinal directions. The names didn't match the sky! I really felt, um, astronomical.

After lunch I hopped in the car and headed towards St. Paul. I listened to ESPN Radio most of the way because the NPR stations have zero range and I didn't feel like listening to music. Strange, huh? Met up with much beloved Philip for dinner outside in the lovely evening weather. Now I'm in a truly midwestern house - two stories, plus a basement, plus a detached garage - with Philip's dog sleeping at my feet. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday.

Today just a mere 270 miles covered. Next few days, I'll be holding fort here, experiencing why us folks in the southwest like to declaim "at least it's a dry heat."

Monday, June 11, 2007


Today started off with the best chocolate croissant of my life. Then much walking, sunshine, reading, eating and some working ensued. I really like Madison and am very glad I spent the day here. I'll post some pics at the end of the roadtrip - it's a lovely town and let's just say the Student Union at UW-Madison has a nice view.

Tomorrow...on the road again.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Greg ditched me to hang out with his writer buddies, so I've fled Ohio in a westerly direction. I saw so much roadkill driving from Columbus to Madison that it was similar to plague scenes from movies. (I'm particularly reminded of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.) Northern Indiana and Illinois are very flat...too flat. And driving through Chicago was a pain, adding about an hour to my journey. I wish they would let you buy a "turista pass" at the beginning of the tollway so there aren't so many stops. Or that they would tell you the amount of the next toll in advance. I was getting more than a little irritated by the time I finally entered Wisconsin - yay, a new state for me! Then the landscape became pretty with gently rolling hills again. I like how Madison is completely invisible from the interstate when approaching from the east. And such a lovely city!

500 miles today. I look forward to exploring Madison tomorrow.

Speaking of roadkill, how about those Cleveland Cavaliers?

Saturday, June 09, 2007


We spent a pleasant morning exploring Columbus. Seems to be a nice town. This afternoon and evening featured a cookout (thanks, Paul and Stacy) and a book-signing, surrounded by many interesting writerly folk. (I finally got to meet SarahP in person!) Tomorrow, I'm back on the road with more exploring ahead, but it was good to be in Columbus today.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fourth State

This morning, I veered across two lanes of traffic upon sighting a 24-hr Starbucks just outside of St. Louis. I hadn't had a hot chocolate since Monday! We'd only seen (emphasis on seen) one Starbucks since Oklahoma City - that's about 500 miles! How do these people deal? ;)

Missouri possesses the most pleasant natural landscape I've seen so far, but St. Louis itself looked very appealing from the road. Old brick buildings, the Mississippi, sunlight gleaming off the Arch. The ride through Illinois, Indiana, and into Ohio was lovely, too. I have to say, though, the official Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere in Effigham, IL, doesn't look nearly as impressive as the one in Texas. What was impressive? Steak N Shake. That could be addicting if closer to home.

530 miles today. Stationary tomorrow, to be social.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Don't think I saw a single tumbleweed today, but I did see the largest cross in the Western hemisphere. (Only in Texas, ya know.) I also received a free soda from a clerk in Oklahoma, which partially offset the amount of tolls racked up just driving across the state. In Missouri, I travelled along a stretch of road labelled the Edwin P. Hubble memorial highway, so I satisfied my geek quota for the day. Missouri is a very lovely state, but the people here don't seem very happy. Hmm... The Ozarks also confuse me. Beautiful, but the tallest point is only about 1700 ft about sea level. The hike I did in Flagstaff recently had an elevation difference of about 2300 ft. Um... that's just wrong.

650 miles today - whee! More tomorrow - yay!

(edit: apparently that cross is now just the second-largest...I guess I'll leave seeing the largest for tomorrow.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


How windy was it in the Southwest today? Well, I saw a jack-knifed truck block I-40W (hope nobody was hurt) and a billboard fall down. While gassing up, sandy bits of New Mexico impaled me. And the many tumbleweeds...

First 760 miles are done. More tomorrow! Yay!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Useful and sweet

Found a nifty option on the NPR site tonight - NPR Road Trip. This will be useful this week.

Don't know if this is useful or not, but it is intriguing - Vosges Bacon Chocolate Bar. I don't quite know how I feel about that, but I'd try a sample. I mean, it's two of my basic food groups united in one item!