New York State & Home…

Day Fifty-six:

After grabbing my last “double-double” from Tim Horton’s, I traveled east on the NY State Thruway. Within a few hours, I arrived at the Great New York State Fair. I have fond memories of the fair from high school and college. During my two hour visit, I saw plenty of farm animals, wolves, Kelly Pickler perform two songs, a butter sculpture, a calf that was two hours old, plenty of fried foods, a Dr. Seuss sand sculpture, and lots of people.
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Not long after departing the fair, the skies opened up. For about forty miles, I drove through torrential rain. It was white knuckle driving, as I could barely see ten feet in front of me. Thankfully, most other drivers knew to slow down.

After arriving in Albany, I spent the evening hanging out with David and Katie. We had many laughs, as usual. It was wonderful to see them and their home. Although the visit was short, it was sweet. I look forward to the next time I get to spend time with them.

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Day Fifty-seven:

I left the house with David and Katie, as they were both heading off to work. After a quick stop at a local food co-op, I drove the hour and a half to Poughkeepsie. The fun began as I entered Kristen and Vince’s home. The kids showed me their toys, and I got the tour of the home.

For the past seven years, my good friends have lived outside of St. Louis and in western Oklahoma. Although I’ve managed to make brief visits to both locations several times, it is comforting to know that they are now just a few hours away.

Kristen made sticky rice for lunch. After inviting myself for a visit, I dared not ask for sticky rice. I think Kristen knew from our days living in the Brunswick house, that sticky rice would be greatly appreciated.

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After an unsuccessful nap time, we headed to the Children’s Museum. It was so much fun to see the kids enjoying the experience. “Uncle Greg” was sweating bullets by the end trying to keep up with them.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent watching Frozen. It was a good movie and deserved the hype it got. Someone wanted to watch the movie with me.

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It was nice catching up with Vince when he got home. It’s a good thing the home was move in ready and he didn’t have any stories to share about prepping the home.

Day Fifty-eight:

Kristen’s parents arrived around 7:30. We went to breakfast and were joined by one of Vince’s best friends. Before heading out, I managed to pull off the running to the “bathroom” to really pay the bill trick. (Sorry, Frank!)

The whole gang traveled to the Dutchess County Fair. Q wanted to go to the carnival end of things right away. We all took turns going on the rides. Uncle Greg was chosen first!

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After running out of tickets, we grabbed lunch, then went to see the animals.

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When we returned to their house, I said my farewells and hit the road. I stopped along the way at IKEA to get some ideas for my new place. My parents and Leslie were awaiting my arrival. It felt good to be back.

Final Thoughts:

After spending the last few weeks traveling back across the continent on my own, it felt great to spend a few days with friends. Throughout this trip, I’ve been able to share and make memories with family, friends, and people I’ve met along the way. The scenery and destinations were breathtaking, but the interactions with others were the really special part of this trip.

I will create one more blog entry for this journey in a few days with trip numbers and my overall reaction.

Ontario & Niagara Falls…

Day Fifty-one:

After a night of heavy rain, breaking down camp was messy. I drove back into Thunder Bay to update the blog and research the upcoming stops in a coffee shop.
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I made several stops along the way. Nothing was planned, but I just went where it looked interesting. I drove past a sign that referenced pottery. I’m so glad I did. The work that Tim, the artist, created was just my aesthetic. I picked up a new mug for my apartment. I enjoyed talking with Vivian (or is it with an “e”?) about the pieces on display, as well as teaching. From my last full semester at Cortland, I have such fond memories of working with clay. I’ve looked into taking a course at Stony Brook several times, but time conflicts always seem to get in the way of registering. (If any LI people are interested, let me know!)

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By late afternoon, I had reached Neys Provincial Park along the shore of Lake Superior. The temperature was quite cold, and after a walk on the beach to take photos, I decided to build my first campfire of this entire trip. Reading by the campfire was useless. All I wanted to so was just watch the flames flickering and moving.

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Day Fifty-two:

I continued my trip around Lake Superior the next morning. As my drive wasn’t terribly long, I took my time between stops. Wawa was a wonderfully wacky way to waste some time. In fact, I spent an hour sipping my “double-double” coffee from Tim Horton’s as I took advantage of the free wifi. Afterwards, I visited several places that were recommended by Vivian. The stop at Agawa to see the pictographs along the rocky cliffs was a highlight. Luckily, the lake was calm and there were no issues walking along the edge. Apparently, several people have been swept off their feet by waves and have drowned trying to view the artwork. As the woman from Coyote Buttes said, “It’s just a rock formation. It’s not worth your life.”

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After arriving in Sault Ste. Marie, I was able to get some much needed laundry done. The KOA was by far the nicest one that I have ever stayed in. While my washes were going, I sat in the comfortable lounge area and read some more about Toronto. Dinner was going to be a simple soup, but the bugs were very annoying, and I decided that with it being my last night of camping, I’d go into town for a bite. I wound up in an all-you-can-eat sushi place. I figured that a full parking lot and an okay review online, I’d be somewhat safe. It was fine, and I actually had a fun time trying to determine how much would be the “just right” amount without being overly stuffed. When I eventually returned, the bugs were gone and I was exhausted.

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Day Fifty-three:

A long driving day.

I made my way towards Toronto, despite the heavy construction that was taking place every few miles.

I stopped in Parry Sound to stretch my legs and walk around.

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I arrived in the Toronto region during rush hour. Luckily, most the traffic was heading the opposite direction. I managed to drive to a parking garage near by hotel, dodging many pedestrians and bicyclists along the way. By the time I got settled, I decided that importing dinner and relaxing was far better than exploring the city at night.

Day Fifty-four:

I love museums. I always have, and I always will. After getting coffee, I walked to the Royal Ontario Museum which was more of a hike than I realized. I spent about four hours wandering around what seemed like a nice mix of the Met and Natural History Museum from NY.

Some highlights:
-Coffins from Ghana. (I had seen these on CBS Sunday Morning.)

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-The architecture of the museum:

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-Dinosaurs:

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-Poutine for lunch:

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-The 100 facts for the 100th anniversary celebration:

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-The million dollar gold coin:

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(When I began collecting coins a few years ago, I purchased a few from the Canadian Mint. I had actually seen when this was offered online. The Mint made five of these coins. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to add one of these to my collection.)

When I got back from the museum, I was beyond tired from the wandering and reading. A twenty minute nap turned into a two hour nap. When I eventually got up, I strolled past the CN Tower, and made my way to the Harbor. The evening had perfect weather. A cool breeze made the walk so pleasant. I had a late dinner at the Loose Moose. (I couldn’t resist that name.)

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Day Fifty-five:

Departed Toronto with an overcast and drizzly sky. I stopped in Jordan Village along the way to sample a few Rieslings. Quite good!

Less than twenty minutes later, I arrived in Niagara Falls. The Canadian side frustrated me when I visited while in high school. My frustrations are still the same. The over-the-top commercialization is just everywhere, and detracts from the overall natural beauty. I left after an hour only to spend nearly an hour creeping over the bridge to the NY side. The border crossing was uneventful.

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I ate at the Griffin Pub which was nowhere near the falls. (Once again, thanks Tripadvisor.) I had the chicken and chive waffle sandwich.

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Driving back towards the Falls took about ten minutes. After finding parking, I began exploring the NYS Park which is a much more natural setting compared to the Canadian side. I chose to take the Cave of the Winds tour. I’m so glad I did, as it was such a neat perspective. The interesting part is that the decks are dismantled every year before winter, and rebuilt the following year. I really enjoyed the experience. If I didn’t have the Nikon underneath the yellow poncho, I would have spent more time on the hurricane deck being pelted by the water. As I saw people completely soaked up top, I decided that the light mist was more than fine.

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Final Thoughts:

I enjoy noticing the subtle differences while visiting another country. When I first entered Canada, I had to determine what several unfamiliar traffic signs meant. Additionally, the conversion of the metric distances to miles and mph took some extra focus while driving. I also love using another country’s currency. There are so many other little things that I enjoyed making mental notes about.

Minnesota & Thunder Bay…

Day Forty-eight:

My car was scheduled for an oil change early in the morning. My alarm went off, and I didn’t feel like getting up. I turned the tv on to help wake me up, when I heard that Long Island was experiencing flooding. How scary?! The pictures of the Southern State were shocking. Hope everyone was safe.

I spent a little bit of time at the Hyundai Dealership in Fargo. My dealership at home could learn a few lessons from them. Kari was extremely friendly and helpful. (You’d make an excellent teacher!)

My drive through Minnesota was quite enjoyable. The forests and lakes were amazing. I arrived in Bemidji around lunchtime. After posing with Paul Bunyan and Babe, I grabbed lunch at Tutto Bene. What an incredible meal! There were multiple lunches I wanted, but decided on the potato gnocchi with trumpet mushrooms, chicken, pancetta, and cheese. I was shocked at how good my lunch was.
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After lunch, I couldn’t resist stopping in this store. (Any KP people slightly jealous?)

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The drive continued through amazing forests until I arrived at Voyageurs National Park. From the beginning, I knew that this was a boater’s park, as 39% of the park is water. I stopped in the visitor center, watched the park film, and walked around the shore for a bit.

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Instead of one night of camping, I decided to check into a small, retro motel in International Falls. (Thanks, again, Tripadvisor!) I’m sure we have all heard that city’s name on the weather report during winter. I couldn’t resist being able to say that I’ve been there. After taking a nap, I went and got some average Mexican food for dinner.

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Day Forty-nine:

Coffee is always a must. Drove into town to get coffee before heading to another section of the park that has more trails. I hiked through the forest for almost four miles, clapping every ten seconds to alert any potential bears in the area. The lake view at the end was worth the scrapes and mosquitos that were encountered along the way.

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The remainder of the drive took longer than planned due to major road work. By the time I arrived at Grand Portage National Monument, I had about forty minutes to explore before it closed. I wasn’t expecting much from this visit, but I absolutely loved it and wished I had more time. The historical part of the park recreates the trading post that had existed during the Voyageurs era. (Think: fur trade)

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Day Fifty:
When I had set my alarm clock the night before, my phone was locked on eastern time after switching over at the monument the night before. As my hotel had no reception, I turned my phone to airplane mode. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn off the wifi feature when it wouldn’t access the wifi at the hotel. At some point in the night, my phone switched back over to central time. As a result, the leisurely two hours to get ready for the boat tour turned into a frantic one hour scramble to get ready, pack, checkout, and get to the boat. I made it and even had five minutes to spare!

Isle Royale is a National Park situated in Lake Superior. It’s the largest island in the largest lake in the world. The 22 mile ride to the island was calm and perfect.

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As we got closer, the captain pulled up alongside the shipwreck of the America. It had hit ground and gone under in 1929. The boat can still be seen just under the surface of the lake.

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The four or so hours on the island were just perfect. After getting a brief orientation, I visited the Windigo center to learn a bit more about the park and see the only moose I was able to spot all day. (Thank goodness for that sighting in Glacier!) I hiked a trail that gained some elevation and provided an elevated view. Along the way, I met a couple who were originally from LI. She was from Stony Brook; he was from Huntington. At the top, I also met Joe and Jan. (Or is it Jann?) They are both retired teachers, and we had lots to discuss. After that 3.6 mile hike, I took another 1 mile hike to see a moose exclosure to see what the island vegetation would look like without the moose population. Before long, it was time to head back.

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On the return trip, I sat at the front of the boat with Joe and Jan, a guy who had just spent a week camping on the island, and another couple. At first the breeze was nice, and occasionally we got a light spray of water. Jan and I had a really nice conversation about teaching and books. We both laughed about how sixth grade teachers are a special breed of teachers and people. Along the way, the wind and waves picked up. We were all SOAKED! The belly laughs that followed were just wonderful. With about thirty minutes left, I retreated inside. I’m glad I did, as the waves continued to increase. There were major whitecaps in the middle of Lake Superior. After docking, I shared a roll of paper towels with my new friends, and changed into dry clothes before crossing the border into Canada.

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After setting up my tent, I went to the movies to see The Giver, which starting showing that day. Upon leaving the movies, it was pouring. I like the sound of the rain on my tent, just not the mess when breaking down camp the next morning.

Final Thoughts:

I feel relief and gratitude towards the makers of the film. Although some elements were changed, the respect that was shown to the essence of the novel is commendable. The Giver is a novel that holds a very special place in my heart, not only on a personal level, but a professional level as well. Unlike any other novel, it engaged my students and sparked the most genuine and thoughtful conversations I’ve ever experienced in the classroom. I’ve always felt that Lois Lowry has never insulted or doubted the intelligence of young readers. The topics are not without controversy, as it’s one of the most banned books in the country. When I made the switch back to teaching math and science, this was the one experience that I had to actively let go of. My fear was that the film would miss the point. It did not. As with any book-made-to-film, the book is able to go much further into depth. The film, though, did a remarkable job of providing stunning visuals. Jeff Bridges’ facial gestures exuded the torment and emotion that I’ve always imagined while reading the book. For those who haven’t read the novel, I strongly encourage doing so.

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Montana & North Dakota…

Day Forty-four:

I departed Ellensburg and headed east. After about two hours, I arrived in Spokane to have breakfast at Frank’s Diner. I’ve always enjoyed the old rail car that has been turned into a diner.
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After crossing the border into Idaho, I couldn’t resist the urge to visit where my aunt and uncle lived for some time. Coeur d’Alene completely surprised me! What a really neat town with the most beautiful lake. If I hadn’t been feeling a bit under the weather with a mild cold, I would have rented a kayak for an hour and paddled about. I did manage to walk along the longest floating boardwalk. At one point the waves from the boats stopped me dead in my tracks so I could hold on and wait for the rocking to subside.

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I continued to drive towards Glacier NP. Passing Flathead Lake made me remember the times I’ve whitewater rafted near there. Around that time, Jim Gaffigan came on Sirius XM, at which point I began laughing hysterically. At one point, I needed to pull over to wipe away the tears from laughing so hard. With my cold, I began having some trouble breathing. I’ve been fine with all of the hiking on the trip. Put on a hilarious comedian, and I almost needed my inhaler.

Glacier NP has always been on my “must visit” list. Some climatologists predict the glaciers will be gone from the park by 2030. I was glad to be arriving well before that time. I set up my campsite, which was just steps away from a beautiful lake, and got settled for the evening.

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Day Forty-five:

The sun was just coming up as I woke up. After taking a few pictures, I packed up camp and began the drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. My goal was to reach the top of the road early, as everything I read stated how much of a pain parking is as the day progresses. Even though I was early, the lot was already 3/4 full. I hiked to Hidden Lake, which was about 1.5 miles away. The highlight was seeing mountain goats up close. On the return trip, I spoke with two guys on an unconventional bachelor party/trip. After the hike, I walked around the area as I didn’t want to give up my parking spot yet. (It was a parking nightmare now, with people yelling at each other.) I met a nice retired couple who have traveled all over the world. We shared our experiences, and they offered travel suggestions for me since I’m so young. (I always laugh when I hear people say that.)

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The drive down the eastern side of the mountain was a bit shorter and led me to my campground. I relaxed a bit, and then headed towards the Many Glacier section of the park. I got a coffee at the hotel on the lake, and wrote postcards. On the way inside, I saw a grizzly bear on the side of the mountain. (Thanks to the guy for showing me the photo he took with his massive telephoto lens.) Unfortunately, I didn’t have my bigger lens, and the bear was just a tiny brown dot on the camera.
After an hour, I drove to the end of the road and hiked a short distance to a lake. When I arrived, a cow moose and her calf were on the other side of the water. The people there said I missed four other moose, including a bull moose, by five minutes. It was my first time seeing a live moose ever.

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Day Forty-six:

With a long day of driving ahead of me, I decided that I would get coffee on the road. On the way out of the park, I couldn’t resist pulling over to capture the pink sky and the remainder of the “super moon.” I stopped in Great Falls for coffee and quiche.

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This photo captures the essence of the remainder of my day:

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When I arrived in Miles City, I had my first of many My Cousin Vinny moments. The people at the KOA desk starting talking about NY with me. The guy mentioned how he drove through there several times when he drove a truck. He asked how I liked living there. I gave my “everywhere has positives and negatives” explanation. The woman said that she wouldn’t like it at all and would never go. I began telling her of all of the great things that NY has to offer, and she said that it wouldn’t be good. (Has anyone seen that commercial with the guy who doesn’t like almond milk, even though he’s never tried it?)
I set my tent up, during which a million gnats swarmed me. The 95 degree weather didn’t help, either. You know it’s bad when wandering around Walmart is an enjoyable experience.

My second moment came in Walmart when I interrupted two employees to ask where the tissues were located. Blank stares. I made a gesture of blowing my nose. One of the women, with an attitude, asked if I meant Kleenex. When I got to the aisle, what did it say on the aisle list… tissues.

When I returned, I took a dip in the bug infested pool. Nobody else seemed to notice. The bugs were still everywhere in the air. Cooking dinner would be scrapped and I decided to head back out to grab a bite to eat after doing laundry.

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My favorite connection was when the train horn sounded multiple times during the night. Each time, at least six horns blasted from somewhere near the campground. I actually found it funny, as the My Cousin Vinny thoughts came to me the night before. This just made the parallel even better. (This was my least favorite campground to date.)

Day Forty-seven:
I arrived at Theodore Roosevelt NP after driving a few hours. The park film was nice, and explained how the region influenced his career and preservation beliefs. The 36-mile scenic drive was a great way to take in the scenery with such a limited amount of time. Bison are some of my favorite animals, and I enjoy being near them. (Though I get a bit nervous when they decide to cross right in front of me. I always envision the males charging my car.)

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I continued driving and stopped in Jamestown to go to the National Buffalo Museum. I remember reading about this location years ago when a white bison was born. After viewing the exhibit and looking out into the pasture for awhile, I was disappointed not to see the bison I was hoping to see.

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I decided I had some extra time, as my drive to Fargo was only an hour and a half or so. The decision turned out to be a good one, as twenty minutes later White Cloud was there when I looked again.

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On the way out, I drove up the hill to see the largest bison in the world.

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Fargo had always been planned as a stopover location and as a place to get my oil changed. (I did the same in Carlsbad. For those wondering, I’ve driven 9,400 miles so far since leaving NY.) Also, Fargo is a movie that I’ve always enjoyed. I was beyond excited when I learned the wood chipper from the movie was on display. If you’ve never seen the movie, these photos may be a spoiler.

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Final Thoughts:

The U.S. and Canada decided to join the two parks along the border in the early 1930’s to form an International Peace Park. If there could only be more peace parks in the world.

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The retired couple in Glacier were seasoned travelers. When I mentioned how I was mostly camping to keep the budget within check, she explained how they did the same thing at my age. I began to say that I know I could have saved more money by staying home, when she interrupted me with the funniest question.

Have you ever seen an armored car following a hearse?

I laughed a few times throughout the day thinking about that question. I’ve never heard it explained in those exact words. I’ve been really good at budgeting, but I’m also happy to be spending money on this trip. The memories and experiences will motivate me even more to save up for future summers.

Arcade Fire…

Day Forty-three:

As planned, the morning and afternoon were relaxed and task-based. Much was accomplished that will make the next few days easier. Eventually, I grabbed a bite to eat and strolled around Ellensburg. My ongoing search for items for my apartment yielded a ceramic bowl and a “grab bag” of old National Geographic maps. It looks as if there are about eight of them in the sealed bag that cost me $9. I’ve decided not to open it until I get back. Here’s to hoping one will be able to be framed.
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The drive to the Gorge Amphitheater took a little less than an hour. The venue itself has an impressive backdrop. As one woman told me, it is an “epic” sight.

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There were two opening acts. The second was wonderfully weird. It is hard to describe how he performed, but beautiful and fun noise would be a good start. He instructed the pit to form a circle to have a dance off, and then divided us to follow the movements of the ever changing leaders. Quite entertaining and joyous.

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Arcade Fire is honestly one of the best bands that I have ever seen perform. I’m intrigued by how the band rotates instruments constantly. Debra and I saw them put on one of the “secret” shows last fall. I dressed up as bacon for that show. This time I decided to go wearing regular clothing. Tonight, it was such a mixed group in terms of clothing. (The band had requested formal attire or costume.)

The show itself was mesmerizing. The highlight was singing along to “Wake Up”. I’ll go back and add a few links to this post when people begin posting videos from tonight’s show.

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Final Thoughts:

I’m too tired for final thoughts. If I wasn’t, I’m sure they would say how much I appreciate live music.

(Video links to follow)

Mt. Rainier

Day Forty-two:

The morning was very low key. I grabbed breakfast in the kitchen at the Ace hotel. I then went back to the room and watched tv for an hour. I’m pretty sure that was the longest span of time that I’ve done that for in 6 weeks. In fact, I can only think of three other times that I even had a tv on. Afterwards, I took a walk to get some more coffee and managed to walk through the market again.

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I left Seattle around 10:45 in the morning. The drive to Mt. Rainier NP wasn’t as long as I expected. After walking around the Sunrise Visitor Center and talking to a very nice person behind the desk, I grabbed a quick lunch before hitting the trails. I originally thought that I would do a short 1 mile hike, but I kept thinking that I wanted to go farther. Before I knew it, I had gained 1,200 feet of vertical elevation and was setting myself up for a 5+ mile hike. That’s when I decided to turn around. The cloud cover made for some very dramatic sights and photos. (Although the cloud free view of Mt. Rainier from the Space Needle was impressive.)

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I got back to my car around 4:45, and set off towards Ellensburg. I’ve been calling the past few days to make sure the campground hasn’t closed. The fires in the region have been extremely hard to contain. After driving a few hours in the car, I decided to turn off to a viewpoint only a few miles out. As soon as I rounded the bend, I could see where the fires are burning strong. It was actually shocking to see how close they are to the valley floor and the city below. Very scary.

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After arriving to the campground and setting up, I drove around the town for awhile. The college campus looked nice, and it appeared that they were having an orientation session. (The games they were playing on a lawn looked quite similar to those that I used to lead while working as an OA at Cortland.)

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Tomorrow is a “taking care of business” day. Laundry, cleaning, shopping, calling utilities for the new apartment, and organizing will need to be accomplished before heading to the Arcade Fire show at the Gorge.

Final thoughts:
The nice young lady at Mt. Rainier who gave me some resources explained how she is interested in becoming a middle school science teacher. She informed me about programs that exist that allow teachers to serve as park rangers. I expressed how the job is rewarding and challenging at the same time. In fact, my mind is already starting to think about the new school year. No matter how much I fight it, I’ve come to realize that the last few weeks of summer are critical for me to wrap my mind around the physical return to school. Without this mental preparation, it is that much harder to get back into the routine. On my drive today, I called my teammate (Sorry to drag you into my preparation!), thought about back to school night, thought about a few new procedures, figured out that my bulletin boards will be national park focused for the fall, and determined my game plan for the classroom set up when I get back. Not too bad for a few hours in the car.

Now that I’ve shared a positive perspective, please allow me to share a gripe. Washington drivers have kept me on my toes this past week. I don’t want to draw any conclusions about every driver in the state, but I’ve seen things that I’ve never seen anywhere! Here are some of the winners:
-People laying into the horn for me to turn on red when there are large signs saying not to do so. (2 separate occasions)
-Someone cutting off a tractor trailer only to slow down. They almost got crushed.
-Several drivers on mountain roads going 1/2 the speed limit. When I tried to pass on straight sections, they increased speed so passing became a chore.
-The woman driving completely on the other side of the road on the way down from Mt. Rainier. She nearly hit two other cars, and caused a bicyclist to swerve. Honestly, one should realize that there are no guard rails. Don’t endanger everyone else because of your driving fears. After about three miles, I decided that I needed to document the recklessness. Yikes. Rant over.

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Mt. St. Helens, Olympic NP, and Seattle…

Day Thirty-nine:

Departed the Portland area and headed towards Mt. St. Helens. As a child, I was fascinated by the images of the event that took place a year before I was born. Seeing the houses along the road that led to the park reminded me of how many people had front row seats to the geological event.

The Johnston Observatory was very well organized. The exhibits, displays, and films were informative and interactive. After viewing the two films, I was invited to help “create” an earthquake by a little kid. Others joined in, too. (The platform registered our movements on a seismograph.)
While outside, I took many photographs from the various viewpoints. (Surprising, right?)

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By late morning, I was heading towards Olympic NP. After arriving, I set up camp, cooked dinner, and strolled along the misty and cloudy beach. At eight in the evening, I attended a Ranger Talk by Ranger Lee. The presentation focused on Destruction Island off the coast of Olympic. The ranger clearly loved what she did. The topic would have been very boring for the many children who were there, but Ranger Lee used voices, props, and asked for many kid volunteers. It’s always a relief when you attend a Ranger Talk and it turns out to be dynamic. By the time the presentation was over, the sun had gone down.

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Day Forty:

My first stop in the morning was at Ruby Beach. Once again, the Pacific Ocean keeps amazing me on this trip. The tides were not on my side with my timing. I didn’t get a chance to see any tide pools.

How could I possibly miss the chance to hike through a rain forst? Seeing the moss, ferns, and towering trees were a great way to continue my day. (Meeting Jenny and Jordan helped to make the walk more enjoyable, too. Hello if you’re reading this. I’d certainly want to be your friend if we lived in the same region. Don’t forget to smile in those pictures!)

I stopped along the way a few times to photograph the steel grey/blue river. No matter how hard I tried, the color would simply not be captured by the camera as it appeared with the naked eye.

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The majority of the campgrounds in the park are first come, first served. I feared that I wouldn’t find a campsite. I guess Tuesdays aren’t too bad. The first loop I visited had a few open sites. After quickly setting up camp, I drove to Hurricane Ridge. The sweeping panoramic views reminded me of the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain NP.

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Day Forty-one:

I’m beginning to find waking up before five am quite comical. (At least it gave me a few extra hours in Seattle.) I drove the 80 or so miles to the ferry to Seattle. The sky was overcast, and the Space Needle eerily disappeared into the clouds. As I arrived well before check-in, I had plenty of time to walk around.

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I’ve visited the Pike Place Market several times before, but I still find the various booths and vendors intriguing. I couldn’t pass up the first Starbucks again. (My goal is to find a smaller independent coffee shop in the morning.)

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More wandering…

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Several years ago, I had a raw oyster. It was not a good experience. When I knew I was coming to this region of the country, I knew that I wanted a second chance at eating one. Let’s just say that I’ll stick to sushi. The experience was neither good or bad.

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The Ace Hotel is just cool. With smaller rooms, and shared bathrooms, it’s not for everyone. For me, it’s the perfect balance of form and function.

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The first evening stop was the Space Needle.

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Right next door was the Chihuly Glass and Garden Exhibit. I’ve always been astounded by his creations, and the exhibits did not disappoint.

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Earlier…

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Later…

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Earlier…

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Later…

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Final Thoughts:
I finally found an article based on the report of the man falling at Crater Lake.

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The creativity of Dale Chihuly is powerful and motivating. I found myself looking at each work of art in awe. I’ve had my sketchbook and various drawings utensils with me the past few weeks. I’ve been more focused and excited to take pictures on this trip. I suspect that I’ll draw based on some of those photos when I return.