But it was not the end!

Hello!

It’s been two years, and Will and I have been on a few adventures of the regular life sort. But long story short, this summer, we are reprising our cross-country road trip, more or less. As I’m writing this, we’re nearing the end of a one-week journey from Boston (my home) to Berkely (Will’s new home). Since we’re driving straight through rather than taking a week in each new place, I will one hundred percent not be writing live updates, but I will be writing up some points of interest about our travels in the next few weeks.

Hope you’ve had as interesting a two years as we have!

The End?

Hello friends and family!

I’m happy to announce that I have accepted a job as a data analyst for TCAM, a low income housing real estate consulting company in Boston, Mass. This is very exciting for me personally, of course, but it also means the end of our peripatetic lifestyle, and with it, this blog. I’m touched by how many people read it, either regularly or sporadically, and how complimentary people have been about it. So, thank you for taking your time to read about how we’ve been spending ours. It means a lot to me.

I’ve enjoyed this blogging experience, and although I’m no longer looking for professional writing work, I’m hoping to start a personal blog in the next month or so, when I’m a little more settled into a routine. If and when that happens, I will be sure to let you guys know, either on this blog or another mode of communication.

Ironically, given how long it’s taken me to write this post, we’re actually headed back on the road tomorrow, to honor some reservations we made when we planned to still be traveling, so perhaps a coda will appear next week.

Denver Vignettes

Since this week has been  the wettest one of our entire trip, Will and I have spent most of the week working and playing video games respectively, so here are a few things that have happened this week.

We went to Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop, which was a sort of overwhelming experience. It’s a store filled top to bottom with candy and soda, most of which I had never seen before, including about 8 actual bathtubs filled with bulk candy, with a heavily retro soundtrack featuring the theme song from Gilligan’s Island. We both bought some candies we’d never seen or heard of before.

I got a chocolate bar with entire mini-marshmallows and almonds in it, which is actually not as good an idea as it sounds, because the bar was of a normal thickness, so they stuck out and the scoring on the bar was completely useless in terms of being able to break it into even pieces. Will got a bag of very strong sarsaparilla drops.

We also went to Noodles & Company, which, for those of you not in the know, is a noodle-based chain restaurant that can be found in the midwest, and, apparently, west, about which I am perhaps disproportionately enthused. Though they no longer seem to offer completely customizable dishes, they still have a great range of noodle dishes from a variety of flavor palates, and pick your own proteins. Will says he tempered his expectations from my florid praise and had a pretty good time.

We also went to Blue Sushi Bar & Grill, which was amazing. I tried something called tofu sashimi, which turned out to be slices of silken tofu with sauce and shredded nori on top. It was delicious, but I’d been expecting some rice or something. Their sushi was great, including something called the cowgirl roll, which has fried pickles and possibly barbecue seitan. I love avocado rolls, but it’s nice to go places with vegetarian sushi that has protein in it.

This hasn’t been our most exciting week, but it’s been a good break. Also, tune in next week for some exciting news!

Hot Springs, South Dakota

On Sunday, we drove across most of Minnesota, and pretty much all of South Dakota. At nine hours, it was by far the longest single day of travel for us, and I’d say it felt like it. When you talk to anyone about driving across the country, inevitably the subject of interminable cornfields will come up, and while there were some in our drives in Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin, this was definitely the day of endless fields.

I don’t know much art history, but in one lit class I took, we discussed the aesthetic of the sublime and looked at some paintings. Of particular relevance, we looked at some paintings with endlessly repeating things like columns and arches. I’m sure you can see where I’m going here. The endless repetition of furrows, and on a larger scale, of fields, telephone poles, and ads for Wall Drug Usually when people talk about driving through the breadbasket of America, they describe it as something like “boring.” While I can’t speak for states further south, I can say that “boring” doesn’t do this particular drive justice.

Anyway, we’ve been spending the week in Hot Springs, which is a very small town near Rapid City, notable for being the home of an enormous, well-preserved deposit of mammoth and other prehistoric animal bones. There are a few abrupt, red stone hills in the town itself, so you need to walk up these enormous flights of stairs to get to some neighborhoods.

We wandered around a residential area that was on one of those hilltops to watch fireworks for the fourth, which was nice. Supposedly there was a town-official display somewhere, but if so, it was pretty indistinguishable from the various people who seemed to be setting off fireworks. There was a particularly good set going on the high school football field, but it still seemed to be just a couple people setting them off. The problem with that, though, is that while we got partial views of several fireworks displays, but didn’t actually get a good view of any of them, so we headed home to pack, because tomorrow, we’re driving to Denver!

Minneapolis

We’re really only in Minneapolis for a day, so though I’d like to say more, this part of our trip is more rushed than we had originally planned. More on that later.

I finally had fried cheese curds last night. They were pretty good, but not as good as I’d built them up to be in my head. The curds themselves didn’t have as much taste as I’d hoped, and were mostly just salty. It’s possible I’m getting too old for fried cheese. The rest of the food we had, though, was delicious, and I’d like to particularly plug Gigi’s cafe, where we got brunch. They bus your tables for you there.

My friend Anna, whom we’re visiting, uses Nice Ride bikeshare to bike to work, so we used that to get around a little bit. Minneapolis has this thing I wasn’t aware of called the Greenway, which is a limited access bike road that goes below street level. In addition to making me feel like an elf every time someone said it, the Greenway eliminates most of what I find terrifying about the idea of city biking: though it’s fairly well-trafficked, you’re not competing with cars or pedestrians. Add to that the actual greenness of the slopes between the Greenway and the buildings it’s behind, and it’s much calmer (at least at the non-peak times we were on it) than I expect from city transportation.

According to Anna, biking for transportation is really popular there. I’m impressed with the intentionality of design of the biking infrastructure, because it means that even relatively casual bikes (me, definitely) can comfortably ride, unlike in a denser city like New York where it at least seems to be a fairly extreme sport, best left to the professionals. I’m sure the geography helps–there were more bike lanes than I’m used to in Madison as well, and I imagine there’s a bigger bike lobby in places with fewer hills generally, but actively creating limited-access bike roads is something I’d like to see in more places in the US.

Minneapolis was the first place we’ve been on this trip that I’ve really never  been to, or been anywhere around, and it was definitely different from other cities I’ve spent more time in, but South Dakota, where we are now, is definitely another order of magnitude different. Stay tuned for that entry later this week!

Madison

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So, we’ve been in Madison, Wisconsin for a week now, and won’t be leaving until the end of this one, and man has it been great to just be in a place rather than traveling every few days. We’ve had Babcock Hall ice cream a couple of times, once on Union Terrace, and once at the Monona Bait and Tackle, which is a charming fastish food place on Lake Monona. I recommend both, although the Monona Bait and Tackle is pretty off the beaten path.

We haven’t had any fried cheese curds, unfortunately. We were thinking about getting some at the Madison Farmer’s Market, but that ended up feeling like a little too much, though I guess fried cheese is always kind of too much.

The farmer’s market was very pleasant though: it takes place in the block around the capitol, so there are some nice garden areas opposite the stalls. We seem to have arrived in the middle of pea season, because we got some incredible sugar snap peas. It seemed like all the farms had mountains of them. If we were staying til Saturday, I’d get some more for the road.

As this is another place I’ve been visiting for many years, we’ve also been back to some old favorites, notably Monty’s Blue Plate Diner, which is a great diner in, I believe, an old gas station. It has a wonderful vegetarian selection, which is a big deal for me, but Will and my Aunt Nancy also vouched for some of the meat dishes.

When I visited Wisconsin as a kid, my brother and I would each have a night when we visited Aunt Nancy by ourselves, and she and I would often go to Monty’s. It was sometimes a struggle for a very picky eater (as well as a vegetarian) to find things to eat at my Grandpa and Grandma’s retirement community in Milwaukee, so I was always excited for the meatless loaf of the gods, or pancakes for dinner, or more of their great menu.

As pleasant as it’s been to rest here, I’m also excited to get back on the road, heading to Minneapolis!

Chicago and/or Self Reflection

As you might have noticed, Will and I went to way, WAY too many places last week. No doubt relatedly, we had something of a mismatch in terms of expectations of how our time in Chicago was to be spent. It’s possible I may have said something to the effect of “well I guess we’re not going to do ANYTHING in Chicago!” in a moment of great personal unreasonableness. I wasn’t at my best.

Then, after an afternoon of walking along the lakefront, I had a moment, just started laughing and couldn’t stop, because we couldn’t figure out what we were going to do. In the end, we walked along the lake for a while, I went to the Art Institute, and Will hung out with his friend Alexander, and my fomo was assuaged.

And, since it’s been a week now since we were actually in Chicago, I’m going to leave this one as a baby entry so I have some time to write one on Madison before we leave!