Friday, July 29, 2011

A Big Day

It's only my third day in Washington, but it feels like much longer, because each day has been very full. Full of phone-wrangling Craigslist flakes, checking boxes on insurance company web sites, and driving around Tacoma ("The Oakland of the Northwest") touring used car lots. But I've finally squared away the largest and most troublesome purchase of this entire venture: a vehicle.

I'd initially wanted a little pickup truck with a camper shell, in no small part because I used to have a little pickup truck with a camper shell, and I like their scrappy looks. But after comparing many makes and models, I did what any good Vermont girl would do when faced with buying a 4-wheel-drive, cargo-friendly vehicle:

I got a Subaru.

Attention stalkers: The plates are temporary. I will upload photos of my permanent plates as soon as they arrive.

It came with an Indigo Girls album pre-loaded in the CD player.

It's ten years old, getting up in miles, and could use an upgrade on the tires. But it runs beautifully, was immaculately maintained, and has no mechanical issues. The price was fair, edging toward good. It took calling in a favor from my uncle, but I also managed to secure inexpensive insurance at an address across the country from my permanent residence.

In addition to the auto saga, today also brought us a bike ride, a nature walk, a drive to the boonies to get a glorious view of Rainier on a rare cloudless day, getting lost in said boonies, buying 3 pounds of beef jerky at a locally famous meat market in said boonies, going out to Thai food in Olympia, buying my dad a cheesecake (it's his birthday), and eating it around a bonfire.

I'm just about asleep.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fantastic Shopping Opportunities!

Aaaand I'm off! I finally emptied my room, packed my final suitcase, and made the flight from Boston to Seattle (uneventful, save for the delightful discovery that Sun Country airlines [based out of the famous Sun Country of... Minneapolis] gives you FREE HOT DOGS during the flight). Things are great here; my uncle's spread outside Olympia is a beautiful place with horses, a bountiful garden, a scalding old-school hot tub, and a lovey dog. My uncle's a fantastic cook. My dad can't wait to get out into Olympic National Park.

Except that right now, I'm spending nearly all my time shopping for a used car. Which means I HATE EVERYTHING.

Monday, July 18, 2011


The focus of this blog is about to shift from logistics and preparation to a travelogue. One week from today, I fly to Seattle to stay with my Uncle Doug and start my journey. I haven't been blogging too much of the final preparation, because most of it involves taking care of things here in Massachusetts rather than preparing for things out there--and you probably don't care how long I spent on the phone with Verizon getting our internet access switched over to my roommate. But barring emergencies, things are in place for me to take off.

My plan is to arrive in Seattle/Olympia, along with my dad, and hang out at my uncle's for a bit while I buy a vehicle and outfit it as needed. I've never been to the Pacific Northwest, so I'll want to see my uncle's homestead and all the Seattle sights. Dad and I have as-yet unspecified plans to hit up Olympic National Park, and possibly the North Cascades. After that, it's over to the Mountain West to see as much of Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton as I can before arriving in Flagstaff, AZ for the beginning of my Grand Canyon trip on October 6.

(Oh, one preparatory detail that might be interesting: I bought those weird toe-shoe things as water shoes and possible light hiking shoes. They make me look like I have hideous gorilla feet, and I was a bit skeptical until I went on our second island trip of the summer; walking through the woods in those things is revelatory. It's like being barefoot, but without the worry of broken glass, thorns, or sharp pebbles. You can feel and grip and flex on every surface, plus they are eerily silent. I felt so in tune with nature, man!)

But the real purpose of these last few summer weeks in New England has not been preparation, but to hang out with my friends and family once more before I leave. I've sung karaoke, seen shows, met my new niece, dropped my phone in a lake, gone out for dinner, gone swimming, developed a bit of an honest-to-god beer gut, and generally done all the fun, ordinary things people do in the summertime, with the added poignancy that I won't see these awesome people again for several months. I'm very excited to travel, and solitude is part of the appeal, but what I'll miss most is the people I love.

When I describe the trip, many people joke that I might have so much fun that I stay out there forever. But I'm happy to know that the people I care about keep me tied to my real home.