It blogs again!

21 Apr

Greetings readers!  Many moons have passed since I have last written and I am finally ready to jump back into the thick of blogging.  It took me about a week to drive from Columbus, Ohio to Seattle, Washington, and was without internet for another week or so and thus extending the hiatus.  I tried to access free wifi after I got here, but apparently Seattle Starbucks do not offer free wireless.  I then attempted to use the wireless at the public library, but for some reason couldn’t connect to the internet.  And now that I have internet at home, my wireless is still not working.  I seriously can’t win…but I’m not surprised though because my laptop is becoming increasingly senile and uncooperative so I foresee a replacement in the near future.  At any rate, although it has more to do with my personal experiences rather than dance, I thought I’d share a little bit from my westward journey from Columbus to Seattle.

The first few sections of the trek are hardly worth noting because I only stopped to see family, spending the first night with my cousin in Urbana, Illinois.  We ate my favorite Korean dish (beef stew!), played a board game (Settlers of Catan) and my cousin showed me some amazing pictures from Yellowstone National Park, which was on my list of places to go.  After brunch the next morning, I drove to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, breezing through Iowa (although I did stop in Des Moines, where I had issues finding a gas station of all things).  Next was probably the worst part…driving through South Dakota, which was utterly miserable.  The only time I ever felt drowsy was during this section of the drive and it should be noted that audio books and dried, unsweetened mangoes saved my life.  Were it not for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and the constant noshing on leathery strips of tropical fruit, I would have been bored out of my mind.  I also started The Hobbit somewhere along that drive and while I enjoy the story immensely there are many songs in the book which became irritating when sung in character by the various dwarves and elves.

The weather was a little temperamental when I arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota so I settled for just checking into a hotel and crashing for the night.  I devoted the entire next day (which had perfect weather) to Badlands National Park because I’m a nature geek and had high expectations, which were met, exceeded and blasted to the moon.  I am absolutely in love with the Badlands…they are a wonderful combination of stark and pristine and I couldn’t believe the moments of complete tranquility I felt out there.  At some points it was completely silent, such that you might even think your ears popped but it’s really just the environment.  In other areas, a chorus of melodic birds filled the air and it was like nothing I had ever heard before.  I can’t remember ever feeling so at peace…which was aided by the fact that there were hardly any people there.  I literally could have run around naked and nobody would have known, but knowing my luck had I done so, that would have been the one moment a park ranger would have driven by.  I hated surrendering to practicality, but the last thing I needed was to be arrested with my life packed in a car.  I settled for playing in the Badlands instead and snapped a couple of pictures of me…dancing!  Check it out:

Not bad for no barre.

I spent all day in the Badlands because I wanted to see the sunset and almost didn’t get it because at the last minute a storm was rolling in over the horizon.  The weather had been perfect all day and then in the penultimate hour it became chilly and gray.  However, I am more stubborn than the weather and despite ominous conditions I waited it out—and was rewarded!  A sliver of sky cleared and allowed the sun to come through, burning the sky with beautiful amber tones.  It didn’t last very long…but ephemerality is no stranger to patrons of dance.

Nothing like a Badlands sunset!

Next was Mount Rushmore (among other things) in the Black Hills National Forest west of Rapid City.  Apparently it had snowed the day before (the storm I saw while at the Badlands I believe) but I guess nature was on my side because that cleared everything the next day and the sky was pure azure.  Mount Rushmore is a fairly short trip; you go, you see, you leave and pay $10 to park there.  Oddly enough, the parking pass is good for an entire year which is strange because I can’t imagine visiting Mount Rushmore that often so if anyone out there wants to go, let me know and I’ll mail you the parking pass.  You have all of 2010 to comply.  At any rate, always cool to see a national monument in person, and look who else was there:


After spending a little too much time in the Black Hills and heavily debating whether I should have bought one of the beautiful (and expensive) tipi dream catchers from the Crazy Horse Memorial gift shop, it was on to Livingston, Montana, near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (by this point I was now on Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods in my audio book queue).  Unfortunately most of Yellowstone was closed because April is the tail end of their winter season but I did get to see the Mammoth Hot Springs and a couple of other things like Undine Falls (the mythology of Undine spreads!).  Like the Badlands, hardly anyone was at Yellowstone but it was colder so I didn’t feel much like playing (the hiking around was a workout by itself!).  I wish I could say more about Yellowstone, but will have to do so another day when I’ve seen more of the park.  The geology geek in me is desperate to return and soak in the whole experience to the fullest.

Mammoth Hot Springs...we'll tango again.

From Yellowstone I drove to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a surprisingly delightful city where I stopped for lunch at a bakery/café called Pastry and More.  I didn’t buy many baked goods so I suppose I had more of the More rather than the Pastry, but it was immensely delicious (here’s a link to a review I wrote on Yelp).  From Coeur d’Alene it was pretty much a straight drive to Seattle and after a week of sight seeing, hotels, audio books and Lady Gaga, I had arrived!  Since then it’s been a mess of shopping for groceries, furniture, walking around and getting lost then finding things again.  There will be much to discuss in the days to come, including the illustrious Pacific Northwest Ballet’s All Balanchine Program, which I will see this weekend.  Going from never having seen a Balanchine work live to an evening that includes some of his signature pieces is an exhilarating welcome to the city to say the icing on the cake?  I can walk there!

I love this city.

4 Responses to “It blogs again!”

  1. Hilary April 26, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    Steven. These photos are phenomenal!!

    • youdancefunny April 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

      It’s easy when these places are all so photogenic!

  2. karenashg May 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Is the parking pass offer still good? My mom and I will be going to Mt Rushmore on our drive back to Seattle (the planning of which has been a great way to ignore homework that I have to do…)

    • youdancefunny May 10, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

      Sure! I can send the AAA books and maps I used along the way too, if you like. The books have short descriptions of a bunch of attractions in each state, noting which are “gems” and other stuff. They came in handy when internet wasn’t available. Message me an address and I’ll send whatever you need.

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