by Kaspar Heinrici and Ali Filippelli - posted from home in Amagansett
[click to HERE to see full gallery]
Wait this road trip has an end? We didn't want it to end. We had told ourselves that once we had done the West Coast we would take 5 days to just "zip" across the country to Amagansett, NY where we would prepare to go to Asia, but it was hard to get out of road trip mode. We had to adapt our strategy and become more like the people in the recreational vehicles popping up all around as the weather got warmer. No more hanging around to, "get to know the place" and go for a hike. It was pretty much pull over, take a picture and move on. We did, however, continue to stay with wonderful people along the way, which made the long days of driving bearable and we crossed the country in 8 days, not exactly zipping, but not exactly leisurely either.
Day 1: Eugene, OR to Spokane, WA
Somehow we did not get a single picture of this drive, but we did catch up with some dear old friends. You can tell we pretty much drove straight through because my budget tally for the day reads "redbull," "coffee," and "gas." During our travels an old high school friend reached out on Facebook to say that she lived in Spokane in case we came through. In my typical style I texted her the day we planned to arrive excited to catch up after 20 years (did I mention we missed my 20 year HS reunion in Eugene?). Sara is now married to Lucien (another friend from high school) and they have 3 adorable children. They are as chill as ever and just moved back to Eugene actually. They also had some good advice for our upcoming trip as they went to SE Asia for a long stint before they had their kids. Their advice was, "to bring as little as possible, no really, pack what you think is not enough and then take less." As we prepare to leave tomorrow we have taken that to heart, we are not going prepared to camp out or anything, we are taking only the essentials and we will get what else we need on the way.
Day 2: Spokane, WA to Bozeman, MT
Another great day for the budget where we bought gas for $19.15, doritos for $4.29 and gas again for $20.16. When we arrived in Bozeman my old friend from Mount Hood Ski Academy Jasper and his wife Caroline (who went to Carabassett Valley Academy and knows many of the people I went to college with) had prepared to get a babysitter and took us out to an amazing dinner. As you can see from the pictures they have an amazing view from their house and the most extensive garden that we saw on the trip. I cannot state enough times how awesome all these gardens are. We left the next day with our igloo mini car fridge loaded with radishes, greens, and strawberries for the drive ahead and some great advice on the route to take through Yellowstone.
Day 3: Bozeman, MT to Gilette, WY
Heading south into Yellowstone the views slowly opened up - flowing rivers, greens fields with roaming bison, mountains in the distance. I can see why it is one of the most popular visited national parks. We quickly left the visitor center (Ali needed to get her passport book stamped and purchased a sticker for the thule) and the throngs of people gawking at practically domesticated elk. We stopped off at hot spring and then found this great swimming hole at a pull off on the road.
Coming up over Beartooth pass at 10,000ft. was pretty dramatic and probably the most scenic drive you can take with high peaks, snowfields, crystal clear lakes and bison. We descended through Red Lodge where we ate at Bogart's and had huge sugary margaritas before covering as much ground as possible and trying to find a place to camp.
Day 4: Gilette, WY to Kilen Woods State Park, WY
This was no longer the coast of Oregon or Califonia or the beautiful wilds of Yellowstone. We camped in a private campground in the middle of the town of Gilette (we pitched our tent next to a parking garage). It was certainly a low point in the trip in terms of accommodations, so we got up at first light and started driving towards Mt. Rushmore.
Mt. Rushmore is an amazing achievement and the politics behind deciding to deface an entire rock face as a monument to our forefathers is certain to spark lively debate at any dinner table. It was fascinating to read through the letters written at the time seeking funding or forming alliances or airing petty grievances in an effort to bring Mt. Rushmore to life and maintain its legacy. Ali and I discussed the irony that at the same time that the industrial revolution was at its peak in the late 1880s-90s is when National Parks began being designated beginning with Yellowstone in 1872. The battles were fierce between those that saw all the potential of the natural resources as something to be exploited versus those that saw them as something to be preserved.
Close to Mt. Rushmore is the Crazy Horse Memorial that is still underway. They charge $22 per car for entry (to support the non profit overseeing its construction), we immediately exited. It is a carving commemorating the Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse that was commissioned by chief Henry Standing Bear. Apparently he told Korczak Ziolkowski, the sculptor, who worked on Mount Rushmore under Gutzon Borglum that, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too." As I think about this statement I wonder if Henry Standing Bear got caught up too much in cultural politics.
After spending time in Tofino and reading about how indigenous people there would select a tree for canoe making (see post #9) I wondered how it was possible that a Native American chief would commission a mountain to be carved up as a memorial. Upon further digging on Wikipedia (see below) there is in fact controversy over the notion that sacred ground be decimated for the celebration of Native American culture.
"Elaine Quiver, a descendant of one of Crazy Horse's aunts, said in 2003 that the elder Standing Bear should not have independently petitioned Ziolkowski to create the memorial, because Lakota culture dictates consensus from family members for such a decision, which was not obtained before the first rock was dynamited in 1948. She said:
'They don't respect our culture because we didn't give permission for someone to carve the sacred Black Hills where our burial grounds are. They were there for us to enjoy and they were there for us to pray. But it wasn't meant to be carved into images, which is very wrong for all of us. The more I think about it, the more it's a desecration of our Indian culture. Not just Crazy Horse, but all of us.'"
Continuing East we dipped down into Badlands National Park and stepped out into the blistering heat for these great images. The buttes and spires were endless and in some areas the stone was colored as if the sun were setting on it. After 12+ hours of driving we found a campground near a lake in Minnesota in a sleep deprived delirium.
Day 5: Kilen Woods State Park, MN to Lake Charlevoix, MI
Except for a quick stop in Minneapolis at the Sparrow Cafe we raced through Wisconsin, up to the upper peninsula and over the Mackinaw Bridge to Horton Bay. Chris (mother of my college roommate) was there to receive us with a fantastic (midnight) dinner, great conversation, and add some beaver chew to our growing collection of natural curiosities.
Day 6: Lake Charlevoix, MI to Detroit, MI
The next day we had enough time for a quick dip in the lake and exploring the sights in Charlevoix. We bought some anis infused maple syrup at Harwood Gold Cafe and we got some smoked fish sausage from John Cross Fisheries. It was a straight shot to Detroit where we got the platinum VIP tour from Greg and Kristin Verras. Kristin is a Texas native and Greg was a designer at Fossil for a time before moving home to Detroit.
Day 7: Detroit, MI to Portland, ME
Through Port Huron where I got to unearth my high school knowledge of the Port Huron statement for Ali's benefit (not the compromised second draft). We stopped at the Magnotta Winery in Canada to stock up. Our route from Detroit to Portland was much debated but to Ali's great delight we went through Niagara Falls - as a native new yorker it had always been on her bucket list. Then it was a long slog through upstate NY where I actually ate a slice of Sbarro's pizza and Ali read through a wikipedia page on the list of objects that have gone over the falls in the past 100 years.
Day 8-10: Portland, ME
We stayed with our good friends Matthew and Janel and their wunderkinds Hazel and James. It was good times with magna tiles, making pancakes and getting buried in the sand. The best part about visiting Portland was that we have both friends that I went to college with and a friend that I went to high school with, so we got to mix it up with all of them and all their kids at one great party with Anand's dank beers and Rosa serving the bubbly. The next night Amanda and Adrian hosted a pizza party where Ali and I continued our course in relating to children 101.
Seeing how all our friends are raising children was one of the most rewarding parts of this trip. Everyone has a different approach and honestly no one has that kid that you wonder about or think, "I hope they are just in a phase." The children's personalities all vary with various combinations of spunky or quiet or loud or serious or silly or shy or reckless or thoughtful, but they are all precious. We had so much fun on this trip getting a taste of how rewarding it is to play with children and see the world through their eyes. As I start to read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight I am reminded of how he sees "Play" as the secret to happiness. It is a simple idea, but one that is easily forgotten as people try to grow up and be responsible and mitigate risk and collect a paycheck and wait...what is life all about again?
Day 11: Portland, ME to Amagansett, NY
After filling up on friends, donuts, and lobster rolls we were finally headed to Amagansett on the Cross Sound ferry to see Ali's family. Having both spent a good part of our childhood summers out on the East End we were really looking forward to spending 4 weeks out there. We got to unwind in familiar territory, celebrate Ali's 32nd bday and prepare for the next 12months abroad!!!