Chimney Rock Park

I woke up earlier than normal and decided to get breakfast and find Chimney Rock Park to do some hiking. It was beautiful out, but a little on the cold side. The last time I was at Chimney Rock they only had half of the trails open. I was really looking forward to doing the Cliff trail.

On my way to the park, I was experimenting with driving. All through the Blue Ridge Parkway I was able to coast along downward stretches of road. On Hwy 74A, it's a very long uphill climb to where the Eastern Continental Divide is posted. Once I hit the top of the climb, I threw Smurfette in neutral and watched the odometer. I managed to coast for 8.7 miles before having to put her back in gear! All said and done, I managed 38 mpg of a whole tank of mountain driving.

I got to Chimney Rock Park and was a little disappointed that there were more people this time (duh). Not much was different on the actual trail except for the waterfall. When I was there in December, there wasn't much of a falls. This time was beautiful. I sat down on a rock in the middle of the stream right before it drops 404 feet. With the sun shining and the water bubbling around me, it was easy to fall into a brief meditation. I wish I could have stayed there all day, but I had a 5 hour drive ahead of me to get to David's.

I hiked for about 3 hours and was completely worn out by the end of it. Unfortunately, the last leg of the last trail I did was about 8 flights of stairs back up to Chimney Rock itself. BOO!!
I dragged myself back to the car and proceeded to drive straight to Charleston. I got to David's at about 9pm and we sat up and talked for a while. His house looks AMAZING! He completely flipped it and the feel of the place is so great. Unfortunately, he had got some unpleasant news earlier in the day - but was happy to have me around, especially since I was knowledgeable on the medical issue he was diagnosed with.

Today I spent most of my time catching up on this blog and doing laundry. I found a grocery store and bought myself some lunch and then went out with some of David's friends when he got off work. It has been a very nice visit.

Appalachia: How to Fit In

I've been trying to get mapquest and yahoo maps to make an image for me of the route I took through the Blue Ridge Mountains, but neither of them are being very cooperative. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I drove the Blue Ridge Parkway from Roanoke, VA to Black Mountain, NC. It took ALL DAY. I'm not kidding. I got on the parkway at noon and made it to Black Mountain at around 10pm. I had planned on camping in Mt Mitchell State Park, however it started raining again so I spent the night in my car.

The scenery was beautiful. I have not very much else to say about it. I'll just put up as many pictures as I can to give you the idea.

I'm going to backtrack a bit here. The night prior to driving through the mountains, I stopped at a rest stop in Troutville, VA. I parked under a light and locked my doors like I always do, gathered my pepper spray and hid my valuables. The whole time there was this creepy guy standing by the vending machines watching me. So I decided to not put my pajamas on, and just sleep in my clothes. I bundled up in the back and fell asleep. I kept waking up with this awkward feeling. I couldn't shake the image of the guy staring at me. I had a restless night. I woke up quite early, groggy as hell, and decided I wasn't going to have much sleep. I sat up to rub the sleep out of my eyes and was face to face with a different creepy old man peering into my window. Literally, he was looking into the back from my driver side window. He was an employee of the rest stop (so was the creepy guy from the night shift), but it didn't make me feel any less violated.

I had been half-joking with friends for the past 6 weeks that I wanted a knife. It was this waking up to an old man staring into my car that made me decide to finally get one. So adventures at Wal-mart in the south began that evening. I had to search out an employee to help me with the selection (although they do sell knifes, they don't openly display them). The guy that came to help me didn't normally work in the sporting goods store. He was joking the whole time about who I was planning to kill and blah blah blah. As I was looking at one of them, neither of us could figure out how to close the sucker, this other customer walked up and was showing us what the trick was (there was an automatic lock on the opening of the knife to keep it from closing on you while you were cutting things). He then gave me a quick tutorial on what knives were best and how to hold them (which I did already know about). His slow southern drawl and methodical explanation on personal safety and why carrying a knife clipped to your pocket was not a concealed weapon gave me a bit of the creeps.
The regular sporting goods attendant came back then and was trying to help me out. He was taken aback when he realized I wanted the knife for defensive purposes, but quickly adjusted his sale pitch accordingly. Pretty soon there were 3 or 4 more employees gathering around, gawking at the lone girl checking out the knives. They were all cracking jokes about guys trying to take me out on dates and such. It was actually pretty funny.
Anyhow, I found the knife I wanted and paid - then walked out feeling a little less sophisticated than when I walked in. Such is life.


I Feel Awful!

I have been driving the Blue Ridge Parkway all day (from Roanoke, VA). I'm almost to Asheville, NC and I've been having a wonderful day. It's so beautiful, and the last 20 miles or so have been loaded with wildlife. I just took pictures of 6 deer all grazing on the side of the road.
Needless to say, I've been driving cautiously. Firstly because I'm on the crest of the mountain range, and secondly because I don't want to hit anything. I just came around a hairpin turn and a deer literally jumped onto the hood of my car. I saw it's head hit my windshield and I turned around to see it on the side of the road jerking, and then stumbling to get up. It managed to scramble across the road back to where it came from, but I could see it wasn't using one of it's hind legs. I just burst into tears. I had to pull off the road and let myself cry. I love animals so much and I can't bear to think that deer may suffer for so long because of my car. I feel terrible.
I just checked on my car... everything is alright. There are a couple more chunks of my rusted hood missing where the deer hit (and I had to clean up the spit and hair that he left on my windshield). My headlight casing is cracked, but otherwise fine. I know I'm super lucky because hitting a deer could easily kill both parties. This is why I drive carefully.

I know this sounds silly, but please say a little prayer for the deer so it doesn't have to suffer long.

Rain, Rain Go Away

I'm at a rest stop somewhere in Virginia. I really wanted to spend some time in the mountains again, but it's raining and foggy and nasty. I can't even see the mountains. Boo!!

Yesterday I drove through DC and took pictures from my car. That's about all I could be bothered to do. DC makes me so sad. The majority of the city is disgusting. It's similar to the north side of Milwaukee. Litter everywhere, boarded up and barred windows, homeless... it's quite sad. But the second you get into the proper downtown area things are gorgeous. Everything looks bold and proud.

I drove down to Alexandria to meet up with Matt and his friend Scott who were getting their hair cut by Debbie. I had never been to that old town area before and it was super cute. Debbie was really rad. Scott's hair turned out pretty cool - good thing too because he's doing a photo shoot for her and the salon today.
We went to O'Connells for dinner where we were served by an actual Irish man named Reece. I had fish n chips (which is strange because I don't like fish). But my body was craving the protein. It was quite good. Matt's dad was in town from Idaho and he met up with us. He was sweet and offered to help me get a job in DC doing computer work. If things don't work out in Florida, maybe!

I then get in the car to come to the Appalachians. I was having a sort of sad day and wanted to be by myself. It's hard to be surrounded by people constantly and talking about things over and over. It was nice to have some time by myself in the car. But now I want to be hiking or camping or something, but it's poopy! Oh well, can't always get what I want...



Yesterday was so good. Corinne and I went to Emily's baby shower. I had never been to one. It was very surreal to see Emily with belly. Not to mention with HUGE boobs :)
The coolest thing was that I got to see all of my old Philly friends. It's so amazing that they are all still around and still friends. For a second it felt like I was transported back to 2002 or so.
The food was yummy (that's about as much of a 'restaurant review' I'm going to give, Em). And in the game "my water broke" I won a little purse (that has lions on it!!).

Corinne and I left because she had to work and I had to pack up my car. On the way out, I jumped out of the car to pick some lilacs. I *love* the way they smell. I put them in my car to give it a more pleasant odor (you can imagine how it starts to smell crowded in there when it heats up). We got back and I took a quick nap before loading up and hitting the road.

On the way down to DC, I stopped at a rest area to get something to eat. There was a salad bar so I was able to buy a big bowl of veggies!! I swear this was the most populated rest stop I've ever been to. It was like trying to walk around Oxford Street during the Christmas season. Seriously. The weirdest part was that they had fresh flowers in the bathroom. hmmm...

I got to Matt's place around 11pm and he had a party going on (or rather his roommates had a party going on?). It was quite funny listening to some of the drunk girls (corn cob). I met some of his cool non-drinking friends and we pretty much stuck to his room reading the Guide to Getting it On and talking shit. Everyone left and then Matt and I played catch up until about 4am.

All said and done, it was a fantastic day.

PS. Thanks for the donations! Especially any anonymous ones. You have no idea how gas prices are killing me!



LOST returned today after a 6 week hiatus. Liz and I had previously bonded by sending text messages during episodes of LOST this season. It was super awesome that I could actually watch the show with her. I ran a bunch of errands earlier in the day because I knew I was going to leave straight after LOST. While I was out, I caught this sign on a business. Yeah, I'm totally obsessed with the show. Everything reminds me of LOST.

I was in search of a Target because I was going through withdrawals from the store. I drove to this place called Green Acres Mall (which I later found out they refer to as "Black" Acres Mall - and is notorious for stabbings and shootings). I found a bunch of little stuff to give to Kaitlyn and Claire (who's birthdays are today and tomorrow). I also bought a thank you card for Liz and Claire's parents.

I got back to Liz's and she immediately told me that Kaitlyn wasn't busy and we were going to go grab a pizza and head to her house. On the way there we passed a gas station that shares my name! We got to Kaitlyn's and she has Rock Band. I am a total Rock Band (and Guitar Hero) virgin and had a dream about it recently so Liz decided it was time to deflower me. HOLY CRAP is that game fucking fun! Good thing I don't have a place to live or a TV because I would go out and spend the rest of my money on an Xbox and Rock Band. Don got some action shots of our band "Picking Scabs" but hasn't sent them to me yet. I'll post them when he does.

We were having so much fun that we lost track of time and then realized it was less than 20 minutes to 10. We totally had to haul ass to make the start of the show. Oh gawd how nerve-wracking! My brother called to make fun of us along the way. He kept saying "It's on!!" when we still had 2 minutes. Liz pulled into her driveway and we both ran up to the house and up the stairs to turn it on. Safe! I promised I wouldn't post any spoilers - so I'm sticking to that - but I just have to wonder why I still watch this show religiously... I mean every week it's a bigger WTF. gah.

We were able to have our quality LOST bonding time, and then I had to leave. I packed my stuff in the car and began the drive to Philly. The only thing I have to bitch about is the $10 toll on the Verrazano Bridge. JESUS! What on earth am I getting for that money? Entrance to Staten Island?? So not worth it.
The drive went so quickly. It felt like I was driving Milwaukee to Chicago. All of a sudden I came over a bridge and there was Philly. Wild. It's a good thing I have such a small car because otherwise I would not have had a place to park last night. Corinne met me outside and we unloaded my bike and important stuff into the house. She went up to bed, but came back down within a few minutes because she couldn't sleep. We sat up talking for quite a while. It's really good to see her. Their new house is gorgeous, and she can't get used to the fact that they own it. I think I would feel the same way. I don't believe I'll ever own anything!

So now you're caught up. Tomorrow I'm crashing my friend Emily's baby shower and then driving down to DC to see my friend Matt. Then hopefully to Richmond, Mount Airy, and Charleston in the following days. I should be in Florida by Thursday and I will make Saara watch LOST with me whether she wants to or not.
That's all from me. Hope everyone enjoys their day!

Never on Time

I had bought a ticket to see a band at the Highline Ballroom in NYC on Wednesday. Eisley was the headliner, and there were 3 opening bands - The Myriad, Vedera, and The Envy Corps. I was super excited because I just got discovered the Envy Corps a couple weeks ago. They were supposed to be the first openers. The doors were at 6 and show was set for 7. I didn't want to spend much time wandering around the city beforehand because I have so little money, so I kept putting off the time to catch the train. Finally I asked Liz if she could give me a ride to catch the 5:05. As we were pulling up to the station, I realized I had forgotten my phone. I was supposed to meet up with Caitlin, so I needed to have it. We went back to get the phone and I said I would just catch the next train. They run every half hour from Merrick - Except for the hour between 5 and 6.

I sat down on the platform and started to cry. I was so frustrated with myself. I can never remember anything. My phone, my keys...whatever. So the next train was at 6:05, which would put me in the city at 6:50 - then I would have to take the A train down to 14th and 8th and then walk to 16th and 10th. There was no way I was going to make it to see the first band. I was SOOO frustrated. I called Shana and James and they helped me to not beat myself up (for spending $40 on a ticket to not see the band I wanted to see)... I got on the train and decided to watch some MUSE videos on my iPod to make me feel a little better. It helped.

Everything went smoothly as far as transferring and walking, and I got into the Highline Ballroom to see a band performing that was not the Envy Corps. It was only quarter past 7 so I knew I didn't miss them. The first band was called Vedera. They were from Kansas City. The girl had this amazingly angelic voice and she looked like a pixie - very small, cute features. They very pleasant to listen to. I grabbed the free cd sampler from their merch table after they finished, and while I was there, I asked when The Envy Corps were supposed to play. The guy working merch said "ahhh... they had to drop out of the tour in DC because their label is in the UK and the cd just came out there so they had to do a tour in England." FUCK. Everywhere still had the band listed - Time Out, the Highline Ballroom website, the ticket... I got all crazy and beat myself up for being late to see a band that wasn't there. BOO!!

So anyway, I decided to enjoy myself. The Myriad were slated to play next. The band climbed onstage and first lit half a dozen sticks of incense. A mysterious intro began rumbling through the bass and keys and exploded into a massive all-encompassing sound. I actually stepped forward from the wall and went to stand closer to the stage (which is unusual for me). The bass continued to vibrate throughout my body, pounding out every note like it was a part of me - melting into the music itself. The dark and beautiful atmospheric sound is reminiscent of Hope of the States, Martin Grech, Pure Reason Revolution, some of Radiohead's more abstract stuff and Mew. It was a complete musical journey that left me engrossed in the sounds, unaware of the time and space around me. That's a magical moment when I feel spiritually connected to the creative energy at hand. Amazing.

I left shortly after Eisley started. Caitlin had texted me and said she wouldn't make it to the show before they were finished so I should just meet her at the Good Times Diner not far from where I was at. I got to the restaurant and saw a few of my new friends. It was nice to say hello and hang out for a little bit. I then went and grabbed a slice of pizza (the diner is really expensive) and made my way back to Penn Station to get the train to Merrick. It was such a beautiful night out. The breeze was warm and comforting. I didn't mind the walk back to Liz's house because it was so gorgeous. I wish it were like that all the time.

Too Tired to Think

I will update the last 2 days in the morning. I just wanted to let people know that I made it to Philly safely, and I am at Corinne's house at the moment. We just sat around and talked for a very long time. She is one of the people that inspired me to start traveling again.

Anyway, I'm here. I have fun stories to tell. I just need to sleep first!


Advanced Planning

I'm sorta wacky. They announced the dates for 2009 SXSW festival in Austin, TX yesterday. I booked my hotel room right away. I've always wanted to go to SXSW. So I figured if I booked a room, I would have to save money and actually go this time, right? Ok. So I did. I tried to get into the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown, but the whole place was already booked. Can you believe it!? So I'm at the Holiday Inn on the Lake and it's ridiculously expensive, but I've got 11 months to save.

Other than that, I haven't anything exciting to share. I spent yesterday in my pajamas watching tv with Liz's family (yay!). I'm going into the city tonight to see Eisley and The Envy Corps. I'm pretty excited because I just discovered The Envy Corps a couple weeks ago. Should be good times.

Maybe I will have an exciting story to tell you when I get back tonight. Until then, the most exciting thing I have to say is that LOST is on in 34 hours and I had a dream about Dominic Monaghan (Charlie). Oh yeah, and I tried on the shoes I want at Aldo again - this time I snapped a pic in the mirror.


No Pizza!

This is the first time in the history of my existence that I spent an entire day in New York without having a slice of pizza. I feel like I should have imploded already - that I've violated some major universal law. I'll have to make up for it and have pizza for breakfast.

Anyhow, I woke up at 7:30 this morning to catch the train into the city. Liz said that the train station was only a few blocks away, so I planned accordingly. Well, a few blocks was more like at least a half mile. I just rounded the corner as I saw the train off in the distance already pulling away from the station. BOO!! So I was late to meet up with my friend Caitlin.

After dropping my stuff off at her apartment, I went to Union Square (as always) and wandered around Forever 21 and Strawberry. I bought an orange and had my free Starbucks sandwich on the steps. Of course I went into Virgin Megastore, and this time I actually picked up an application. I am sticking around for at least a week so I can help Caitlin move. I figured I should probably try to earn some money while I'm here. I would *love* to work there. I may just stay all summer if they hire me.

I wandered around for a while longer before meeting up with my friend Lauren. She's so awesome. She took me back to her dorm room and gave me dinner. On the way, there was a guy in the subway singing blues songs. He had an amazing voice, so we walked up closer to where he was. He totally sang to Lauren, it was hilarious. We then went to a cafe and she was going to write while I read. It reminded me of when I was in college and used to spend hours at coffee shops with my friend Kathryn. She was the best study partner I ever had. I completely miss being in school.

I'm now back at Caitlin's and we just ate an entire bag of popcorn (the kind that's already popped) while watching this silly movie. I'm so tired.
Oh yeah, if you are reading this and live in the area, Caitlin could really use some help moving next monday (the 28th). She just had knee surgery and is worried about hurting herself moving things. Get in touch with me if you can offer any of your time.
Thanks for reading!


Long Island

I drove last night until about 6am and stopped to take a nap at a rest stop. I woke up at 9:30 sweating my tits off because how warm and sunny it was. I got a hold of Troy's girlfriend and told her I was going to come to her house. She had a big hug and a hot shower waiting for me!

I took a brief nap, and then her friend Kaitlyn showed up with pizza and garlic knots (which were awesome!). We went to make spare keys for my car, and then to get Italian ice.

I'm already trying to figure out ways to stay in the area and save some money. Liz thinks she may be able to get me a job at FYE while I'm here. That would be super cool. I'm hurting for money and I haven't been able to get a hold of my friend in Florida to find out when the job there starts. So for now I guess I'll just hang out on Long Island.

Tomorrow morning I'm meeting my friend Caitlin in the city, and then I'll wander around until she's done with work. If any of you are out and about in NYC, give me a call!

The Ocean State

So I pretty much proved to myself beyond a reasonable doubt that I am in fact retarded. Let me explain.

I packed up my bed and bathroom stuff from Jen's this morning and called Jeff to come meet me and get the key. As we were leaving, he said that if I forgot anything, I should call him. I swore up and down that I checked more than twice and I collected everything. I then drove down the block to the laundromat. I reached for my jacket to get the quarters out of my pocket when I realized I had no jacket. hmmm... So Jeff came back and let me into the apartment so I could sheepishly retrieve my belonging.

I did my laundry and walked down the street to say goodbye to my new friend Pete. I ended up spending $8 on a rock (don't ask - it's shiny). I got my stuff out of the dryer and was all set to finally leave New Hampshire.
Everyone kept telling me how cool Portsmouth was, and I still haven't seen the ocean (even though I've been on the east coast for over a month)... so I decided to head that direction before going to Rhode Island. I didn't really know where I was going, but I figured if I kept driving east, I would have to eventually hit water. Finally, I did... I pulled off the road into the first parking lot I saw and grabbed my camera. I was so excited to see the ocean! I took a few pictures and returned to my car when I realized that I LOCKED MY FREAKING KEYS INSIDE!! So I start laughing and this old man walking a little fluffy white dog turned and looked at me funny. I told him I locked my keys in my car and then asked him where we were. I could call AAA but what would I tell them? "Hi, I locked my keys in my car. I'm at the parking lot to the ocean. Come find me" uh huh. So he had no idea what the road was called. He said he thought we were in the town of Rye, but he couldn't be sure. He said there was a Science Center up the road a bit and I could probably find someone to call the police there. I thanked him and walked up the road. Mind you, on one side of the road is the frigging ocean. On the other side there is a stinky marsh. Not really anything around.
I got to the entrance to the state park where the sign said the Seacost Science Center closed at 5. Great. It was 6. At least I had a point of reference. I called 411 and stumbled through asking for the local non-emergency police number. Luckily enough I got an operator who knew the area, and confirmed that I was in fact in Rye. She connected me to the police, who were super nice and said they would send a squad out to help me (who knew some towns' police still did lock-outs??!). However, their 2 squad cars had just responded to an emergency call and it may be a while. I sat down on the pavement and soaked up the warm sun.
An hour later, an officer pulled up. He was amazingly sweet (and totally hot), and tried for quite a while to get into my car. Nothing seemed to be working. After getting out the slim jim (unsuccessfully), he got called away to another accident. He apologized and wrote down a number I could call to get a tow truck, and explained exactly where I was at. Thank you hot cop!

As he sped off with lights on, a kid walked across the lot asking what all that was about. I told him I had locked my keys in my car, but the police couldn't get in and now I had to try to call AAA. My phone was dying. This scared me, so I asked him quickly if he would mind hanging around with me in case my phone did die because I didn't want to get stuck. What a trooper. We sat and waited another hour for AAA to respond. It took the guy quite a while to get in. Note to self: MAKE ANOTHER SPARE AND GLUE IT TO YOUR BODY.

I was finally able to get back into my car!! John (my new friend), suggested we go get something to eat. I was starving, and my plans of making it to Philly were shot since it was already 8pm. I followed him back into Portsmouth. What a cool town! It was entertaining to make fun of the scene kids and wander the streets. He gave up on going to a reggae show to hang out with me. How sweet! He was my personal tour guide. We walked through this super old part of town that reminded me of Brighton, England. We walked through the first settlement in New Hampshire, "Strawberry Bank," and took spooky pictures. He offered to help me find a place to stay, but I had the feeling if I didn't leave New Hampshire right then, I would never leave. The state has been trying to eat me, I swear.
So John, the gentleman that he is, offered to lead me to the freeway so I would not get lost. It was an amazingly random evening - and I'm really grateful for all of the friendly people that helped along the way.

I am now sitting in a park and ride in Rhode Island. I made it! Now I've only got 3 states to visit - Louisiana, Alaska and Hawaii. Awesome. I was almost convinced that Rhode Island didn't exist. Somehow, I ended up driving in an enormous circle before getting here. I missed the turnoff for Providence, and kept driving to Boston. I was wondering how I ended up on 93 instead of 95 and I thought I saw that they joined up again south of Boston, so I kept driving. I had stopped at a rest stop at 11:45 to get some water. An hour and 20 minutes later, I was at the same rest stop for a second time. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone again. I had no idea how that happened, and even sitting here looking at a map, I can't quite figure out how I made that circle. This is why I'm convinced I'm retarded (other than the fact that I lock my keys in my car and forget really important things).

One thing I noticed: a bumper sticker on the back of a van that said "Masshole" - this made complete sense to me. I said before that Boston reminded me of London, and that I've never particularly cared for Boston. But it's not the city I don't like, it's the people. And really, everyone I've met from Massachusetts... They are complete Massholes. Rad.

I think that's about it. I love the fact that my gas tank isn't leaking anymore. I've driven 195 miles on less than a half tank of gas (this almost makes up for the fact that I drove for an extra hour and a half on the same stretch of road).
Thanks for reading!!