Friday, August 26, 2011


So, I left San Francisco with the feeling of being on top of the world. While there, I had forged not so much a collection of specific memories as one overarching impression that there was something intangible in the light and sounds and smells of the city that I couldn't help but start to miss long before I was even back on the freeway. I think, on some level, I had fallen in love and still had the vague scent of her deeply trapped in my clothing and skin. It was going to be a long trip northward.

The drive eventually had me surrounded on all sides by long, rolling hills of pines, every shade of green.
I stopped at Lake Shasta in northern Cali to swim and bathe for a while as I hadn't gotten a chance that morning. It's difficult for me to conceptualize scenery more picturesque than that from the shore of the lake.

I couldn't help but imagine that the rest of my trip would easily be as dreamlike as my last week had been. Why wouldn't it? How couldn't it? Things had gone so seamlessly thus far that I conjured up these images of myself single-handedly demolishing any potential future roadblocks and effortlessly brushing past any person or situation that might hamper my adventure like some wild, lanky grizzly bear.

Then Portland happened.
Let me preface this by saying that I didn't hate the city itself, but holymotherfuckshitballs, the traffic and congestion is easily the worst I've ever seen in my life. I'm convinced that it's the only American city that's decided to not only have its roads designed by catatonic, down-syndromed Michelle Bachman lookalikes, but that it's required that half the population is in a similar unsound state of mind (and face). Why, oh WHY, do bicyclists have to ride their bikes down the center of the road, or use an entire lane of traffic for their own sadistic, environmentally sympathetic whims?
My first day had me so overwhelmed in frustration that, by the end of it, I decided I immediately needed a break and so I drove west toward the coast to fall asleep near the beach. I'm happy to report that God had a sense of humor through adding just a bit more spice to my melodramatic overreaction by making certain that there was a light rainstorm hitting the coastline just then and that I pulled up to the ocean's edge just as midnight rolled around. Really, all that was missing was an eyepatch-wearing, long-lost evil twin holding the map to the Pugh family's hidden goldmine.

After sleeping and calming down, I spent my next day meandering through the outskirts of the city and eventually into a state park that is split by the Willamette River. Wandering aimlessly long enough into the river, onto an island and through the brush revealed exactly what I needed to enjoy my second day in Portland after such a disappointing first: a very hidden, very nude beach. Jackpot.

After spending a warm evening sunbathing with my ever present array of homespun cocktails, I decided that I had been too hard on poor Portland. The people weren't ALL awful monsters, and it's not as though I was in a rush to get anywhere in particular, so whether or not the traffic was continually cataclysmic shouldn't be an issue, right?

And then it was time for me to start driving again....Fuck...FU-Gah! Ahhh! BLEERGGHH!! MOTHERFUCK!!! GODDAMN SHITSTORMRANDYNEWMANASSWIPE!!!

Yeah, no. Traffic is disgusting. Ruining my entire day isn't going to difficult for it.
I figured another day and a half tops before I have to move on. The city was going skullfuck my sanity until I broke free from its grasp.

What was left? Powell's City of Books, the largest bookstore in the world, for one. It certainly gave you the feeling of being the most intellectually insignificant piece of flesh walking the earth, anyway. Three floors, encompassing an entire city block and books lining the shelves from the floor to the warehouse-high ceiling. Holy. Shit. It was like walking into the library at Hogwarts. I found and bought a couple books while there and left rendered totally speechless by the massive amount of information that must have lived inside this colossal coliseum.

What else? Well, I definitely stumbled into what is apparently a well known secret to Portlandians (Portlanders? Portlandites? Port-o-Pots?) known as Voodoo Doughnuts. I cannot accurately express the happiness that shot through me following my first bite into a tiny doughnut voodoo doll.

The Portland Art Museum? Surprisingly well rounded, with both classic and modern art spread throughout the building.

Finally, though, I decided it was time to move on, and move on two days early at that. Portland wasn't for me in the long run.

Here's hoping Seattle's legendary rain can wash the hipster smell from my shirt.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hills and Lights

A bumpy start into California: I was definitely required to stop at a California border guard station, open my trunk and hand over my clementines before entering the state. Tried to tell the bastard that I bought them at Trader Joe's and that if the ones I had in my car had pests on them, they were undoubtedly already everywhere else in the state, but to no avail. Fucking eco-friendly Gestapo.

I had set up an account on and found a host gracious enough to put up his couch for me to sleep on for four nights in the heart of the Castro district. I couldn't believe my luck!

San Francisco is one of many cities around the world with the claim to have been originally built on seven hills. In that regard, it joins the ranks of Rome, Athens, Jerusalem, Mecca, Prague and (even) St. Paul.

I was surprised at how quickly I became accustomed to an environment that had me walking vertically upwards two thirds of the day, but I'm confident I could crush a child's skull in between my calves at this point and pro.......

Hang on a second. I definitely just rediscovered a short note that I had typed up in a coffee shop a few days ago after getting hopelessly lost and walking around for eight hours in the heart of the city.
I think it probably does a better job of summing up my experience than any regularly scheduled longwinded, gushing, verbose blog post.

...Also, fair warning: substance(s) may have been involved in the creation of this piece. Enjoy!

It was seen as a wonder on a hill. Seven hills, originally. San Francisco.

The city was beautiful and mysterious. She had become complicated by not just age and glamour but the nagging feeling in most of her inhabitants that she had many other lovers than just him or herself.

Again, you have to understand that I didn’t come to San Francisco to visit. I came to her to pretend, instead. I wanted to know what it was like to be a San Franciscan. That’s why I wander the streets and get lost in amongst the burrows and smoke in the park and lay on the hills. I wanted more a glimpse of the life being lived here than to see a tourist attraction.

I think I was looking more for a long romance than a quick fuck.

I had this conversation with my host while I was here. What counts as where you live, he asked. If I am in Germany and I travel to stay in San Francisco for three months, in which would you tell people you lived? The answer, I had responded, is the feeling of the traveler. Do you feel more at home in your native city or in your current? You’re always living at home, I continued, whether you’re spending three months or your life there. I don’t know that everyone finds their home, but there’s certainly no confusion in your head as to where you live if you do find it.

Visitors want a kiss, lovers want the rest. It’s easy to tell who the outsiders are but it isn’t always especially easy to tell which hipster college student or elderly Asian textile store owner is really living in their hometown or is just traveling through. The real lovers and those who only can only hope and pretend are so oftentimes so close in appearance and demeanor. Both the beauty and grief of the situation is that no one ever truly knows whether anyone else they pass on the street is actually having an affair with the city or just dreaming that they are.

Hm. Ever had a waking dream, where reality and surreality blend and swirl together for seconds or minutes at a time? I was left in that state for my entire four day venture. I think, for this particular city, my memories should remain my own =)


Saturday, August 20, 2011

San Francisco.

Today is my last.
Poetry down every drag.
Music surrounds me.

(Something less concise to come)


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Salt Lake City

What a picturesque, cozy city. To be surrounded by mountains day and night and to watch lighting strike them during thunderstorms, clouds scrape past them and snow slowly build up atop them must all be pretty mesmerizing sights.
I decided to only to spend the day here, because I wasn't confident I'd find much for an extended period of time. Really, I figured I just deserved a break after tenderizing my ass in the car seat after however many hundreds of miles of interstate.

Let me preface my mini exploration of the city by saying this: I probably only know as much about SLC as any other layperson (that being that its two claims to fame are a giant salty puddle and that Joseph Smith is liek so kewl, there). So I figured I'd hit up what I knew.

The Lake (as I'm going to assume it's called by the inhabitants there, because why the Hell not?) is about what you'd expect in a mountainous, arid landscape: watery. I guess.
Really, though, the scenery there was pretty spectacular.

The only problem I really had was the actual trek from the end of the beach to the water. This was marked by arduously stepping into and making a scene of pulling out of the mud/muck/sand/what I can only hope isn't biohazard waste with my flip flops for about a half a mile.

"Well, why not just go barefoot, Sean? I mean, it is the beach after all."
You know what? Shut the fuck up. Besides the grime along the way, there were very definitely billions of SWARMS of what I later found out to be brine flies hovering around the giant puddles and sand along the way. Upset one and they literally all moved in one giant, nauseating wave in another direction.

"Well, flies aren't that bad, Sean. Besides, I looked it up and brine flies are tiny and harmless. What are you, a 12 year old girl?"
I SAID TO SHUT THE FUCK UP! Brine flies weren't the only problem, here. There's also the matter of the dead birds. Yeah. Everywhere. From freshly dead to bones-picked-clean, and everything in between. That's right, man. I found out where seagulls go to die: The Marina's beach on The Great Salt Lake. Remember that opening scene in Saving Private Ryan? Yeah, this was the feathered version of that. Ever seen a beak without a face attached? I have, man. I have.

The water was gorgeous and shallow. It's ridiculous that you have to trek through the Seven Layers of Hell to get to it, but it was (almost) worth it. It was as though you could walk on forever and ever into it before you even had to think about actually swimming or staying above water level.

Also, on the way back to my car my flipflop came loose and I cut the bottom of my foot open on some pretty gnarly rock.
Luckily, I come (ridiculously, almost comically) over prepared.
I found one of the bottles of rubbing alcohol I brought and dabbed it with some paper towels and set a bandage over it. But, of course, it being both on the bottom of my foot and bandages in general being super retarded, it wasn't planning on staying put.
Solution? Gorilla tape =)

Cub Scout skills in practice, bitches!

Afterward, I headed to Temple Square, the headquarters of the prophet Joseph Smith's Church of Latter Day Saints and magic underwear ("Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum").

In all truthfulness, I certainly have no problem with any kind of faith (or non-faith) but there were still very definitely parts of the place that made me giggle, just a little.
The most striking were the giant paintings that they had hanging up about the the area depicting different bible portions/verses, in addition to ones depicting part of the Book of Mormon.
Now, I understand that the whole 'Jesus isn't a white dude' thing is sort of a half argument, because who cares? If you want him to look lighter or darker or with a giant goddamn hairy mole on his forehead, then that's whatever. Respect, yah? I guess, though, I never expected him to be portrayed as quite so...well, Aryan. Seriously, he looked like a thinner, paler Fabio. I don't think any one other person in the painting were ever looking at him so much as they were looking at his long, luscious, golden locks of hair and muscley arms. I would have snapped a picture but I wasn't sure the Mormons would have appreciated my chuckling AND snapping photographs as I moved from painting to painting.

Easily the best part of the trip to the Temple, though, my being approached by two LDS missionaries: Sister Somethingoranother from Pakistan and Sister What'sherface from Malaysia. It wasn't so much that they both spoke very broken English, or that the Malaysian missionary very obviously didn't know where either Minneapolis or even Minnesota was when asking where I was visiting from ("MeeeneeeAHpohlus! Ohhhh!"), or even that she asked me if I had seen or visited all of the LDS monuments they had in Minnesota (wtf?), but that they were apparently both dead certain that they were well on the way to my conversion to the point where they offered to walk me around the grounds and through the other visitor centers personally to teach me about about the Wonderful World of Polygamy that made me decide to cut my trip to Crazy Town a little short.

For realz, though? I'd visit again. It's a pretty area and, from what I heard from a non-LDS'er I met there, it apparently has a pretty poppin' nightlife.

Okay, yeah: Your beaches stink a bit and your missionaries are a a little pushy but, Salt Lake City? Totally got your back, man. Maybe I'll see you again.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Road Trippin. Day One/Two.

"I have to start early."
This is what I told myself, anyway. For a person with no set agenda or schedule for something nearing the entirety of this half-country jaunt, I certainly made it my business to stress out about when I had to leave to get nowhere in particular on time.

My plan was leave by 7 or 8, but of course I was just dragging my bony, lazy ass out of bed by 8:15.


Oh well. I was on the road by 9:30, doing double, triple and quadruple takes around my room beforehand, digging through the clothes, blankets and books strewn around the area, convinced I would forget something I'd be willing to drive 500 miles back to retrieve.

Stopping really only for more gas along the way (mental note: holywhoa. this is going to add up quickly), I drove south through Des Moines and then straight west, through the entirety of the longest part of Nebraska, convinced I was going to slit my wrists along the way out of boredom.

God heard my wails though, apparently, because I received all of the momentary distraction I needed in the form of a text.
Here's the situation: I've received calls on my cellphone asking for a Felicia for about a year now. No idea who the bitch is, but it takes more than a little convincing with whomever is calling that A) I'm not Felicia and, B) no I don't know where she is or how you could get a hold of her in regards to her car or her computer or her job or her test results.
NEVER, though, have I gotten a text meant for this elusive lady. Until now, anyway. What follows my brilliant scheme to bring Felicia into ruin (or at least get her to give out the right goddamn number) by pretending to be her, completely unedited and true to form:

? ~ Hi felicia! Its dove...r u wrkn tomorrow morning or night?

(Me, as Felicia) ~ oh hay girl! im workin tomorrow nite! wat bout u?!

? ~ U don't wanna wrk morn?

? ~ :(

(Me) ~ i can't! i have a brunch date with this super hott guy named maxwell! thinkin i might give up my goodies if he plays his cards rite!

? ~ Ohhh! Well in that case, have fun! Don't give your goodies away for nothin! Lol! C-ya tomorrow!

(Me) ~ haha hes way foxy so i might have to give them up for nothin! you know how i be! see you tomorrow!

Bitch better learn quick.

I ended up parking in a vacant parking lot and passing out in my car in the outskirts of Wamsutter, Wyoming, a town of apparently 260 people. Was I afraid I was going to get raped and murdered in the mountain range of the US? Maybe. Would it have been worth it? Definitely.

Today I sit in in a little local coffee shop in Salt Lake City called Beans and Brews, looking for a non-trucker public shower that I could use before exploring the rest of the city...Hm. Maybe I'll just soak up some sun in front of the lake instead. You get the vague feeling of being in a dry, humid snowglobe while here because giant what-I'm-assuming-are plateaus nearly envelope the city entirely. I'm just waiting for some colossal child to peer down at me from the sky and shake the entire enclosure for his twisted little pleasure...I don't blame him. I'd probs do the same.