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Published: July 22nd 2007
This post is a little late in the making, but this May I went on a great big ol' roadtrip as a present to myself for surviving the hardest semester in the history of the world. Megan, Corbin, Phillip and myself took off from Fayetteville bright and early May 14th on a 5,000 mile journey that would include Yellowstone National Park, Seattle, Portland, Olympia, Denver, and Vancouver (x2), among many other sites along the way.
Yellowstone was probably my favorite part of the trip. It's sooo incredibly different from any other place I've been to before. Everywhere you go the ground is smoking and boiling, and the wildlife calmly mosies across roads and through campsites without the least concerns for the humans encroaching on their territory. I mean, seriously, I saw hundreds and hundreds of bison, and on several occasions they were only about three feet away from me. Being the animal lover that I am, I loved this, and even though I wasn't suppose to, I feed a prairie dog type thing a craisin.
Possibly the worst part about Yellowstone was how incredibly cold it was at night and in the morning. It got
down to about 28 degrees Fahrenheit during the night, and it was slow to warm in the morning. Actually, we drove in through the Grand Teton National Park (which is way more beautiful than Yellowstone. It was sooooo pretty--great big snow covered mountains and crazy tall skinny lodge pole pines) where we saw a frozen lake! And even in Yellowstone there were chunks of ice and snow along the roads. Keep in mind that we were sleeping outside in tents and sleeping bags. The first night I woke up for a long time b/c i felt like my feet were freezing off. The next night I slept with five pairs of socks on, seriously. The afternoons were pretty nice, though. Cool but pleasant with a jacket and long sleeved shirt.
After a few days in Yellowstone we headed on to our second destination---Vancouver, Canada. The area directly to the north of Yellowstone is sooo beautiful. Lots of bubblings rivers winding through grassy fields with big green mountains on all sides. The rest of the drive between these two places would have been very pleasant, except that my car was acting up and shaking violently. I was really really really
worried about this, considering that I don't have a lot of money to spend on car repairs and also because I didn't tell my grandparents I was going on this trip (haha). Eventually I decided that something had to be done, so we stopped in Coure D'Alene, Idaho and I made a very sneaky call to my grandma and found out that all I needed to do to make the shaking stop was get my tires balanced. That was easy enough, but my back tires were pretty dead by that point in time so I replaced those, too. Because of these delays we barely got to our hostel in Vancouver on time, but we made it.
Vancouver was a really beautiful city. Its only a few hours north of seattle on the western coast, and it combines beautiful beaches and shores with easy access to stately snow topped peaks, the best of both worlds. I found out that Canadian culture is considerably different from American, though in no way overwhelming. Like many other foreign cultures that I have been in, they are less inclined to adopt an attitude of "the customer is always right" and bend over backwards for
their customers. not a big deal, it just means that they're reluctant to split the bill four separate ways in restaurants, basically. some of the highlights of Vancouver are Stanley Park (North America's largest urban Park. It was super huge and like a wilderness inside this place!), the University of British Columbia (which I am considering for grad school), the beaches, and chinatown (where our hostel was located). Corbin especially loved Vancouver.
We only spent a day in Seattle. We had planned to spend a whole day there, but we picked the wrong day to cross the US/Canadian border twice. Unbeknownst to us, our Seattle excursion was planned on Victoria Day, which I think is somewhat equivalent to our fourth of July/Memorial day in how much traffic it creates. So where it took us about 15 minutes to get into Canada the first time, it took us 2 hours of barely crawling to get back into the United States. Matters were further complicated when some fancy machine at the border misread my Arkansas lisence plate as a British Columbia plate, causing the border guy to think that either my passport was fake or I had stolen some nice Canadian's
car. We finally got into Seattle in time for a late lunch of fresh seafood with an unimpeded view of Puget Sound. Despite all that I've heard about Seattle, the weather was sunny and pleasant, making the water look all glittery and pretty. I had never been to an aquarium before, so I basically demanded that we go to the one in Seattle. I was not disappointed. After that, we looked at a few shops down by the piers and then headed back up to Vancouver, with a quick stop at the outlet malls near the border.
Next on our itinerary was Olympia, Washington. More than I wanted to see this city, I wanted to see someone who lived there---my good friend Lindsay Solise. I did indeed get to see Lindsay, but I also found out that Olympia is a pretty cool place. Its very hippy and environmentally friendly and quirky with a homey feel. It would be a fun place to live for a while, i think.
A few hours south of Olympia was Vancouver, Washington, where I caught up with my best friend from adolesence, Sarah Willette (Syring). we slept on her floors and went into
Portland while she stayed at home playing WoW. It was a nice break from all the hardcore, fast paced travelling we had been doing.
After Vancouver came a 20 hour drive between Washington and Denver. Megan was a real trooper, driving all night long, and Corbin was, too, driving for a few hours even when he was sick. Denver wasn't that fun, really. We were all kinda pissy and tired at that point. We took a nap as soon as we got into our hostel (which was very nice, I thought) and then went and had a look around a mall (where I bought a pair of really ill-fitting shows) and a really big book store (the third bookstore we went to. I managed start and almost finish a whole book by jumping from bookstore to bookstore during our trip). we had dinner at a cute diner, and the next morning we were up and headed back home bright and early.
the drive home wasn't very much fun. Eastern Colorado was flat and boring, Kansas was flat and boring, and Oklahoma was Oklahoma. the most exciting part of this stretch was driving through a flooded town in Kansas.
I forgot to mention that all the people we talked to in Idaho and Montana were unbelievably nice.
I also went to Bonnaroo this summer. It was really really hot, but I saw a bunch of bands. I'll probably put up a couple pictures of on here.
In about a week I should find out whether or not I have been approved for a student visa in England during the upcoming year. Everything else has fallen into place, so as soon as I get that visa, I will know for sure that I will be spending next year at the University of York. If this happens, I will be most unfortunately missing Kim's wedding (i am seriously am bummed about this), but think how lucky you guys are to have another NINE MONTHS of travel blog entries from me!
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