A Travellerspoint blog

Attack of the Mosquitoes

Crater Lake was truly beautiful. I have never seen water that color of blue. It was surreal. The lake is almost 2,000 feet deep at it deepest that and the temperature must contribute to its hue. The lady who runs the campsites at the lake told me this years snow fall was the largest since the 60's. It was amazing the amount of snow still on the ground in (almost) July. All this snow made for a lot of pools of water where our friend the mosquito could breed wildly. I have spent a lot of time in the woods and this has to be one of the worst encounters I have had with the little blood suckers. You couldn't go outside for 10 seconds without being drained dry of blood. Awful!!

On this trip I have had a chance to visit many national and state parks and one thing has become glaringly clear. People must be stupid. There are signs like "Falling may cause injury or death, keep back from the edge." Really?? if you fall off a cliff you could be seriously injured or die?? "Buffalo are dangerous animals keep your distance". Duh. The thing is if there are signs like this they must be needed. Some people must really have to be warned to stay away from wild animals or sheer cliff faces or the number of other dangers that proliferate the wild. How we as a race survived sometimes baffles me.

One of the other things I have discovered on the road is the difference between hikers and tourist. The primary difference I have seen is courtesy. A perfect example of this happened yesterday. I was crossing a snow field that there was a small chance I could have slipped and fell. These tourist saw me there and walked away. Had the situation been reversed or had they been hikers I/they would have waited to make sure the other person made it safely. Another difference I have notices is gear. While a tourist will have either the most expensive gear or whatever was on sale a hiker will have the most useful and efficient gear, sometimes even home made stuff. Finally there is friendliness. Hikers are used to being out alone for long periods of time so when they run into someone they are friendly and usually engage in some kind of conversation. Tourist are used to being surrounded by people so they will ignore anyone around them even if they are in the middle of nowhere.

Today I drove down from Crater Lake to the sleepy little beach town of Newport to visit some old friends. It really reminds me of home. The way it nestles up against the beach with all its little shops set up to bilk the tourist out of their money. The smell of the air is like nothing else. I haven't seen the Pacific Ocean in 3 months and when I got here I just had to stop and stare. It actually made me home sick. I have about three days left and then I will have completed my circuit around the US. More to come.

Posted by JustJ 14:20 Comments (0)

Idaho in my rear view mirror

Disclaimer: I don't mean to insult anyone from Idaho. This is only one mans opinion.

I finally got my fix! I was able to find a ranger that directed me to a worthwhile hike. I had a chance to hike about 14 miles round trip and enjoy the beauty of Yellowstone. Unfortunately since it is the busy season I did run into about 15-20 people on my hike but I was still able to spend some quality alone time with nature. It was wonderful.

Leaving the park was a total pain. Some people just decide to drive at 25mph through the hole park and there is nothing you can do about it. What would be an 35-40 minute trip turns into an hour and a half! I headed west and on my way to Oregon. I fully expected it to be a long two day trip and it was.

Idaho is not my favorite state. I have been there a number of times and I have never had a good time there. It is an ugly, flat state with little or no vegetation or hills. The people I have met are consistently rude and ill tempered, I would bet it comes from having to live there. To compound matters driving through a state like that makes the trip seem even longer. The only semi-nice part I saw as a small stretch around the Snake River, which I bet has incredible fishing. I am very glad to put that state behind me. I will add it to the states I never have to visit agian.

I have been to Oregon a number of times and I never knew there were parts that weren't beautiful. Well I stand corrected. The long stretch from the Idaho border to over the Cascades is nothing but high desert. More flat, ugly land with nobody in it and when I say nobody I mean not a person for miles. It was kind of culture shock to come from the crowds of Yellowstone to the desolation of the high desert. There were periods of an hour where I saw no one. Although I must admit there is nothing cooler then driving along thinking you are seeing an approaching car only to realize it is a jet flying nape of earth near the freeway. I love that kind of stuff.

Today I leave for my last National Park. I am off to spend a couple of days hiking around Crater Lake and (hopefully) enjoying the solitude of the wilderness. I will keep you posted. More to come.

Posted by JustJ 09:44 Comments (0)

Here I sit

On the side of the road in my car. I have to give a plug for my Verizon wireless Internet connection. It really is true, anywhere your phone works you can access the Internet.

South west South Dakota and Wyoming are probably the most beautiful states I have been in so far. The rolling hills covered with wild flowers, he huge sky with the most incredible clouds. The sky here is like no other part of the country I have seen. I plan to come back and spend at least a month just traveling around these parts and just enjoying the great outdoors, in the summer of course.

I was once again surprised by the size of a monument I visited. Mt. Rushmore is always shown in movies as this huge monument, in fact in "North by Northwest" I think the protagonist climbs into one of he carved ears (not possible). It is impressive though, a beautiful monument that literally will stand the test of time (according to the History channel). I much more impressive monument to visit is the Crazy Horse monument, just west of Mt. Rushmore. When it is completed it will stand 563 ft tall and tower over all the landscape that surrounds it.

From there I headed west to Yellowstone. I am amazed over and over again that when I have a set of expectations fate has a way of correcting that. Yellowstone is truly beautiful. It is a national treasure but it seems everyone and their brother knows this fact and is here right now. The overwhelming number of people here is too much for me. These people have obviously never seen a wild animal because they will block the road to stop and take pictures of elk and buffalo (which are everywhere). Speaking of buffalo, I knew they were large but understanding and knowing are two different things. These animals are gigantic! Mean too, there are sign all over to make sure the unsuspecting tourist doesn't get himself gored trying to pose with a wild animal. Apparently this is a commons occurrence and I am not surprised considering the idiocy I have seen here. I am really looking forward to Crater Lake, I hope that it is not as impacted as it is here in Yellowstone. More to come.

Posted by JustJ 09:23 Comments (0)

How'd I end up here?

Driving out of Chicago was a nightmare!!! It has to be some of the worst traffic I have ever been in. I would say it even rivals the traffic of the Bay Area. Once I got far enough away from the city things picked up and I was able to make good time. I managed to make it into Minnesota last night late and find a cheap hotel to crash at. This morning I got up early and finished the rest of my 990 mile trek from Chicago to end of South Dakota. Tomorrow I see the Custer National Park, the Sitting Bull Monument and Mt. Rushmore, then it is off to Yellowstone.

Minnesota is about as flat and middle of no where as you can get. There was almost nothing to see on the way here. Once you hit South Dakota everything changes. It is a truly beautiful state. Green rolling hills covered with wild flowers and a sky that is huge and filled with the most breathtaking cloud formations. The storms here are like nothing I have ever seen before. It is so big and flat (ish) here you can actually see the rain coming at you before it gets to you. One area of the sky will be clear and blue while another holds a set of black clouds dumping rain in sheets, really amazing. It is a drive I hope to make again someday.

South Dakota must also be the billboard capitol of the United States, I saw more advertisement along the roads in South Dakota then many of the other states combined. I am going to list the ones that caught my eye for you to ponder then address them separately. Dollhouse Museum, Stay where the buffalo roam, Cabin Fever Motel, Bear Country USA, Abortion the choice that kills.

Dollhouse Museum??? That sounds like the creepiest thing I have ever heard of. Can you imagine moving from room to room with all those little eyes following you. Is it me or does there seem to be a number of horror films that use dolls as their antagonist?

Stay where the buffalo roam. Ok that actually translates to: camp in a cow pasture! I don't like cows and buffalo are just bigger, smellier meaner cows. According to everything that big nappy coat they have smells atrocious. I have had the displeasure of walking in a cow pasture and not only does it smell but the pasture is filled with many (many, many, many) cow pies to step in, so in short no thanks!!

Cabin Fever Motel. There isn't much more to say to this. Not only was there a terrible horror movie made with a very similar title (got to be good for business) but the name itself just isn't good marketing. Enough said.

Bear Country USA. Huh. I like bears, I think they are wonderful animals. From a long distance. This is an animal that is almost as smart as a human, a couple of times stronger and faster and is hungry all the time. It just doesn't seem like a good idea to be getting close to them. I am sure many people do but I won't be one of them.

The last sign. It is very apparent from my journey that South Dakota is very pro-life. I saw 10 of these sign (all with different phrasing but the same idea) if I saw one of these.

I have about 10 days left on my trip before I have driven all the way across the bottom half of the US, up the Eastern sea board and back across the to of the US. I am going to put myself out there, I would like to invite the people that read this blog to comment on my writing. I am looking for constructive criticism please. I would like to improve my writing style to make it a more enjoyable and entertaining for the reader. Thank you all in advance for your help.

Posted by JustJ 19:05 Comments (0)

From OH to IL, traveling back in time

I haven't had a chance to add to the travel log in a number of days so this will be a little convoluted. As I was driving out of Cincinnati I was struck by the hugeness of the sky. It was open and covered with puffy little clouds. I rolled down the windows and was struck by the smell of the country side. It smelled very similar to the inside of a HomeDepot. I don't know why but that is what it reminded me.

When I was driving in Cleveland I was sure that they were some of the worst drivers I have ever encountered. As I continued through Cincinnati and the rest of Ohio became convinced it was the entire state. Once I had driven through Indiana I became convinced it was the entire area. I don't know what the problem is, the water, the air or something else; they are the worst drivers I have seen since Salt Lake City. I haven't decided which was worse but either way they are terrible drivers.

On my trip through Indiana I saw a sign on the road advertising dairy farm tours. HUH? I don't know about people in other parts of this country but that doesn't sound like something I would want to do. Cows are stupid and they stink, I can't imagine paying money to see cows.

Traveling through Ohio I notice that that state had more road kill than any other state besides the state of Texas. The shear number of deer was overwhelming. I had heard that the state of Ohio does a lot of hunting and now I can see why.

The traffic in and around Chicago is atrocious. It has to be as bad as the Bay Area, I spent an hour and a half to travel the 20 miles through and just outside the city. What a great city! I know why everyone who can uses mass transit. The trains and L are easy to use and not very expensive.

The first day in town I just decompressed from all the driving of the previous days. The next day was my day to tour the city. I went to the top of Sears Tower and was truly impressed by the spectacular view of the city and the lake, very nice, I highly recommend it. After that I visited the Art Institute of Chicago. They are renovating the museum and 75 pieces were on loan so most of the Monet and a number of impressionists were gone. That was a little disappointing.

Today I went and saw the WhiteSox play. It is a very nice stadium. The seats are little funky though, they don't face toward homeplate so you have a kink in your neck by the time the game is over. Tomorrow I am off to see the Cubs and Wrigley Stadium. I will be on the road directly after so the next time you hear from me I will be all the way across South Dakota. More to come.

Posted by JustJ 17:21 Comments (0)

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