Sitting in a Tube, Floating Down the River

Days of hiking and nights of dancing are the best way to spend a summer.  I was having a wonderful time hanging out with Seth and making new friends. The star gazing was absolutely amazing and I never wanted the sun to come up except then I got a bit chilly and changed my mind on that, I’m not the most warm-bodied person there is. Thank the beach gods I managed to plan my trip for the exact week that the one and only Beach Boys had also planned to visit Big Sky.
Completely unintentional.
Completely awesome.
It also led to the meeting of even more new friends, who then invited us to go river floating with them.  I had heard this was a thing to do in Montana, but assumed that I would just be in Big Sky the whole time.  These guys were from Bozeman, the city an hour away where the airport is located. Unfortunately Seth had to work….
Side note tangent: the fact that everyone I visited had work at some point made me feel like I was behind in the job game, but then I was like, hey, there’s time for that in a couple months, and then everything was ok. Yes I know this was slightly/mostly irrelevant…that’s how I roll sometimes.
(cont.)
…the next day, but one of his coworkers did not and was very interested in going. His name is Riley and he is one heck of a good-time singing machine. He has no shame listening to his ipod and singing along with Fergilicious and I respect him for that.

We get there and are invited to go shoot some shotguns for America. But actually.  I have never experienced anything like this. Sadly while we were on our way to that adventure we got a call that people were leaving to river float so we had to go meet up with them.

It was almost the most complete American Fourth of July EVER…almost.

But I mean, there was still river rafting.  Meaning we bought a lot of beer, threw it in a cooler, which then went into the back of a pick up truck along with every inner tube and inflatable object we could find, and we were off. We got there and I realized that this is a very popular thing to do considering the sides of the dirt road were covered with cars, all packed with people and inner tubes. It was almost like a ride in the sense that everyone would situate themselves in their respective tubes, then make sure the beer was ok, then grab a beer and drift into the current, reaching out to form one mega-float of people.
And then you quite literally just go with the flow.
Sometimes your butt gets caught on a shallow part. Sometimes you start drifting away and have to double-time it back. And sometimes you misinterpret a small rapid, scramble, and get flipped over.

The big finale to it all? Bridge jumping.
Yup, that story is one for the books.

My activity level is at an all time high…

So here’s what I’m thinking.
I blog every few days and only talk about the good stuff. This method worked very well in El Salvador, mostly because I only had a few days with Internet to begin with, but I myself am already tiring of just repeating what I do.
Where’s the excitement?
Where’s the action?
Where’s the drama?
The storyline of blogging needs to be similar to the ups and downs or a steady heartbeat-like rhythm with plenty of highs, not a slowly rolling kiddie ride at a carnival.

Summarizing in short sentences is more fun for me anyways. And even if I can’t get that heartbeat going I still consider getting some writing in a small success for the day.

The last few days have contained a crazy amount of hiking and eating good food, and that’s really all I could ever ask for.

Sunday Nate and I hiked along the dungeness spit in Washington, 5 miles out to the lighthouse, eating yummy homemade ciabatta sandwiches as soon as we got there, and 5 miles back with the mountain range in clear view. I must say it was slightly tormenting being able to see the lighthouse and feeling like you were getting nowhere near it…very tricky that spit is. We were sure to replenish with some of the perfectly crispy pizza in port Townsend. And then I was taken to a food co-op where I had the hipster moment of getting excited about finding kombucha brewed in Washington in a snazzy blue bottle. It was called Kombucha Town and it was most refreshing. I will disclose that I have these moments fairly often, I think it’s from living in the Bay Area, or possibly some side effect of being a girl with short hair…

After another night in Poulsbo, a morning run, and a heartfelt goodbye I made my way to Big Sky Resort in Montana on a small plane that I boarded from the runway. I’m staying with my friend Seth until Saturday and spending a majority of my time hiking in the mountains.
And I am really not kidding when I say a majority of my time. One hike shortly after my arrival, 2 hikes yesterday, a run this morning, and most likely an evening hike. This also means that food consumption is at an all time high…also a win.

Big Sky resort reminds me a lot of Mammoth Lakes, if you don’t know about Mammoth I encourage a trip as soon as possible. Both places are known for skiing, more in Big Sky(I have seen multiple bragging posters about the resort having the most and best skiing in North America), but are so beautiful year round that they might as well keep up the money making. The amount of nearby trails is insane, and it seems like there are always people trying to get out there, something I am very grateful for. Big Sky is basically its own little village/town with some buses connecting the upper and lower parts. There are cabins and vacation homes, concerts in the lower meadow(the beach boys are playing this week), hotels, small shopping centers, and little restaurants and bars. And as much as it blows my mind to see the elaborately designed vacation homes with floor to ceiling windows, as much as I wonder about how awesome parties there are, I would still prefer to be in the small dorm like room I’m in.

Why? Because it would be a lot harder to leave a beautiful home like that than this room.

Seattle is Melting

The front page of the paper featured a story on the 80 plus degree weather. It’s actually being called a heat wave and no one knows what to do about it. I will admit that even I was feeling quite warm despite the fact I usually love the heat.

It was Friday morning(still haven’t entirely caught up), meaning I had been in Seattle for less than 48 hours but it honestly felt like it had been 5 days with all the things I’ve done. And Friday was another filled day. Featured stories will include a visit to the Seattle Art Museum and Capitol Hill festivities.

I had another period of time to wander the city by myself, Katy dropped me off near Seattle University, where my other friend Adrianna was staying and thankfully was available to let me drop my duffel off in her apartment. Having the duffel wouldn’t have stopped me from wandering the city streets, but it sure would have been a struggle navigating crowds.

Before heading to the SAM I walked down to the waterfront to enjoy the sunny day (and more free samples). At the SAM I was ever so pleased it find out that no one can tell that I am no longer a student, I didn’t really imagine I would be interviewed on the matter, but you never know.

It turned out to be a great way to spend 2 hours, walking through the 2 floors of art that provided a great combination of classical pieces and contemporary interpretations and new pieces from all over the world. As usual, the modern exhibit made me want to go back through my preschool finger painting books and see if I could sell one for thousands of dollars….if only.

Next up on the Seattle experience was Capitol Hill.

That is one hip place, my friends.

You can tell by the amount of people sporting dreads and tattoos, the prevalence of thrift shops, and most importantly the number of small bars and restaurants. I realized how great happy hour really is, I had never really thought about taking advantage of that, but after going to a few places with Adrianna and Jim (the people I knew the most) and some of their friends/my new friendsand seeing the couple dollar beer and food specials, including a $2.50 burger and fries special (my mind was blown too), I was tempted to explore even more bars and restaurants to try everything. I don’t imagine this would be good for my wallet or my waistline. Then it was mandatory post happy hour resting period before heading back out to the bars for the pride weekend celebrations. The night summed up involved this: dancing, and lots of it. After stopping by a bar called Unicorn for the fruitiest, sugariest (i think thats a word) drop shot I have ever and possibly will ever drink, we went to Havana (or maybe it was Havana’s) for the dance fest.

Then it was time for switch number 3 as I met up with my good friend Nate Saturday afternoon for the pride street festival. Jim joined us as we walked around the booths of sparkly clothing, food samples (I’m telling you I am the queen of finding those), some drag queens, awesome outfits, all topped off by some shady time in the park, and a gender reversal rugby game featuring men in dresses of all shapes, sizes, and colors of the rainbow. It was quite the site, especially since there was also a kids band there for family pride in the park singing songs about bubbles, making pancakes, and not having pets. I had never really had a problem with kids bands before, but now that I was seeing them performing live it became a bit funnier.

And now onto the highlight of the day, its about food, as if that should surprise you. First, Nate and I went an oyster bar called The Walrus and the Carpenter, named after a poem I have memorized and recited a few times (if I weren’t so lazy/using my iPad to type this I would attach a link to the poem, but for now just know its a wonderful poem). The oysters were delicious, and the drinks were STRONG. I had a hankering for gin so I chose the guiding light: gin, lillet, orange rose blossom water, absinthe. I was under the impression that lillet was some sort of flavoring, them after using the smartphone to do some smart things I realized that it was wine.

So I was basically drinking alcohols mixed with some fancy water.

The price of the places didn’t encourage too much food to be bought, meaning my stomach was maybe not quite full enough to take on that drink. But it was finished and followed by a walk to…wait for it…wait for it…

I said wait for it….geez.

THE BEST MOLTEN LAVA CHOCOLATE CAKE GOODNESS/FLAVOR EXPLOSION TASTINESS YOU COULD EVER WANT IN YOUR LIFE. T

The name of the place was hot cakes, and it specialized in just that, little molten chocolate cake and caramel sauces and alcoholic dessert beverages and even butter beer (which I had thought was alcoholic but I guess JK Rowling didn’t want to make all the students look like they had a drinking problem). I ordered a peanut butter cup lava cake. The tiny mason jar filled with half-baked cake came on a small wooden platter covered with peanut butter caramel sauce, a scoop of ice cream sprinkled with peanuts, and little cube-like things of peanut butter. If you’re mouth isn’t watering right now, you need to change your dessert preferences. The entire thing was devoured with a chorus of moans and groans and looks from the people passing by (Nate and I were sitting at a few small bar seats in front of the window), and finished with some jar scraping and plate licking.

I am not ashamed in the slightest.

Why Do I Not Have The Feeling Of Surprise About Me?

Because as soon as I stepped onto the streets of Seattle it started raining…
Classic.
But then it got really nice for a bit. So it’s all good.

It took far too long to figure out how to get on the light rail out of the airport. And by that I mean I walked past the exit to get to the light rail not once, but twice.

As long as I convince myself that every day is a learning experience I am ok with looking lost all the freakin time every now and then.

Good news though, I managed to be the most efficient I have ever been in my packing skills. This is highly uncharacteristic for me, a person who normally takes on the “well I might need it so I’m going to pack it” mentality. I give myself kudos on that one (does anyone else remember the actual kudos bar that was just a granola bar with candy pieces in it? That’s all I can think about whenever I hear that word, and then I get hungry…).

Aaand now I have an entire day and half of Seattle travels to catch up on because I was too busy doing things I want to blog about than actually blogging, funny how that works huh?

So after navigating the light rail out of the airport I knew I had planned to meet my friend Nate for the few hours in between when my other friend Katy, who was housing me for 2 nights, would pick me up. I am one in the minority of people that actually love libraries. My mom is a librarian and we would often take trips to our public library’s children’s section when I was little, I remember they had small aquarium tanks there with TONS of colorful fish, and books too of course. And as a little kid I guess that’s all you can really ask for, colorful fish and Dr. Seuss (even better when they merge in the form of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish).

The Seattle Public Library is something else, after finding my friend, he took me on a little tour of the 8 floors, modern styling, seating areas, computer resources, and the red hall. The library’s outer walls are all glass, so the natural light (or cloudiness) illuminates the stacks. I imagine that if I was left on my own in there I would get lost as a result of finding too many interesting books and the fact that the architecture can be slightly confusing. But the red hall was a surreal experience, definitely felt like I was in the middle of A Clockwork Orange, with less phallic imagery though.

We hung out, I started up the blog again, and when we heard music from outside we went to check it out. There was some sort of public announcement going on regarding the Supreme Court rulings. It was really great to see the community gathered outside in supports of marriage equality, and I stood there feeling hopeful and excited for what is to come.

The rest of the day just consisted of a reunion and then dinner and then bed. Thursday was more eventful and therefore I will skip to that. Katy was working until 1 or so, giving me the morning and part of the afternoon to relax and do some more reading and writing. Understanding my love for running, she had also suggested a trail not too far from her house that I should run on to see some sights. Her mom graciously drove me to the start of the Burke-Gilman trail (only a mile or so away) and from there I was off! It was so green and the weather was just under uncomfortably muggy, which is pretty good. I lost track of time and next thing I knew I had gone out quite a ways and I had to get all the way back to my friends house. But I did just in time for burger lunch with Katy’s mom and sister, and then Katy was off work we ventured to Lake Union (which I accidentally called union lake a few times in a series of “I’m not from here” moments) and kayaked around gasworks park until our arms and shoulders were too sore to go any further, at which point we had to make it all the way back. But we could see the city skyline, some elaborate houseboats that probably throw awesome parties, those duck tours boats that can go on land AND in the lake (one of the more popular tourist attractions from what I could tell, those quackery were all over the place), and some good ole cloud coverage.

Next was a mini campus tour of the University of Washington, which already made me want to go back to school. And another library stop! (I promise I don’t normally make it a point to see libraries where I travel, Washington just has some cool ones) This time we went to the UW reading room, which basically just looks like its straight out of a Harry Potter movie, which I loved.

And then came a jaunt around the downtown area, to the famous Public Market, past the first Starbucks ever. Note: the line outside this treasure is always out the door, and there are about 4-5 other perfectly functional Starbucks within 100 meters of the first, but I guess saying “I got coffee at a Starbucks near the first Starbucks” doesn’t have quite the same effect.

After seeing the famous fish throwing act and making shameless tourist sounds of “ooh’s” and “ah’s,” Katy and I met up with her parents at Ivar’s Salmon House for dinner. Beer and salmon never tasted so good. Along with trying red chowder made with smoked salmon, I also had grilled salmon skewers with peach currant chutney, cornbread pudding, and a IPA.

How I Survived Graduating College/The Beginning of “Real Life”

Days 1-5: Sunday-Thursday

Pack up ALL belongings and have really emotional moments when remembering that the beer bottle you’re saving was consumed on one of the greatest/awesomest/spectacular-est (just go with it) nights of your life, or that you got that tapestry while studying abroad, or wow all these pictures captured some great times and great people that you may or may not see again.
And then pack more and ask why you own so much stuff…
And continue emotional about everything….
And maybe shed some tears….ok definitely shed some tears.
Then start determining all of the people you HAVE to say goodbye to before leaving, because seeing everyone just become so overwhelming. Then think about all the great times you had with those people.
maybeshed some more tears.
Actually say goodbye to those people.
Tears.
And finally, EAT ICE CREAM.
This is how it has to happen. There is absolutely no other way around it.

Day 6-9: Friday-Sunday

Realize your life needs to be spent doing things other than packing, crying, and eating ice cream and that you are about to go on some crazy adventures. Then decide to get the heck away from campus and go visit a nearby friend in Santa Cruz.
This turns out to be an excellent decision. Beach time, running along the beach time, barbecue time, and just enjoying the company of others turn out to be all you need when trying to one with the reality of graduation.
But actually, Santa Cruz is a wonderful place and the hippie in me really comes out when looking at all the little local shops, restaurants, and whole foods-like grocery stores, advertising fresh, organic, local, super healthy foods and whatnot. The runner friendly beach bike path and the fact that it was sunny rather than foggy made it fairly difficult to leave. And obviously the wonderful people I was staying with added to the awesome-factor, along with many great life conversations. In the end, Santa Cruz really seems to get me, and those 2 nights really didn’t seem like long enough.

Day 9 (part 2): Sunday

Take a journey by yourself. Get in the car and drive for multiple hours. Listen to some good music (Lord Huron and Hospitality did the trick, along with some jazz inspired by the Midnight in Paris soundtrack because its my favorite movie and who doesn’t love feeling like they’re in France eating a croissant when they’re actually driving down the California coast). Make pit stops. Eventually end up at home.
An 8 hour car drive down to SoCal really gives you some time to think. And driving by yourself gives you tons of freedom. This is excellent for a person who is frequently distracted by sites seen from the drive… Frequent thoughts: “Oo! A fruit stand!”, “hey, that place looks kind cool, I wonder what they have in there.”, “I need to turn off at this vista point because this vista is on point.”, and obviously many other musings about all of the different food places.
But for the first half of the trip I really only had one food place in mind. Splash Cafe of Pismo Beach has been one of my family’s favorite places for clam chowder and road trip food stops for years. It never disappoints, there’s always a line, and its always worth it. First I stopped at a little coffee shop for a pre line-waiting pick me up and then I established my place in the line that was already wrapped around the building. Even though I was by myself I hesitated for 0.00 seconds to order 3 entrees (leftovers for the family, right?).
Combined line waiting then food waiting preparation time was around and hour.
Yes, still worth the light-headed ness feeling I was getting from drinking coffee on a nearly empty stomach.
And with a happy stomach, the second half of the drive went by surprisingly fast even with the unavoidable traffic that defines SoCal. I made one last pit stop to see my grandma, spent some quality time with her and my uncle before saying goodbye for an indefinite amount of time.When I pulled up to my house I felt comforted but also a small amount of unease as I realized this would be the last time I’m staying here for a while. And the next time I’ll be around I will hopefully have a job and a clearer plan for the future.
To avoid switching into a depressing tangent I’ll just leave it saying I got a little sentimental, and then I snapped back and realized that thinking about that was not going to be useful in the next couple weeks.

Survived graduation? Check.
Ready for life? Eh…
On to adventure? You betcha.

PS I’m still desperately playing a game of catch-up with these posts. Time does not permit long and detailed stories, but I am already in Seattle and already have stories but have already lost time. I’m sure this means next to nothing considering readers are few, but I will pretend like everyone is waiting to be updated on the life of another college graduate.