"It's a butte, Clark, its a butte!"

June 24, 2010 - Rock Island, Illinois, United States

Okay, well here we are.  Rock Island, Illinois.  We're almost back on our "Northeastern States" map.

Since we last talked, we drove up California to Vancouver, and then across to here.  Here I go:

I found San Francisco to be both one of the most hopeful and progressive places to which we've been, as well as one of the most unhealthy and desperate.  There's all this hippie peace and green busses and mindfulness, at the same time as... well... what seemed like the antithesis of all that.  On a bus, we ran into a woman who had violent outbursts every time someone (including Kelly) sat next to her, and later on a streetcar, I saw a man who literally just screamed at the absolute top of his lungs "I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS CITY!".  Maybe it was a coincidence, but I started to wonder what it was about the city that generated both sides.

Last night, we drove for 31 hours.  It wasn't as bad as it sounds, at least now that its behind us...  We drove from Butte, Montana (hence the title of this post- a play off some movie I've never seen but which for whatever reason Kelly and I have quoted back and forth for years) to Rock Island, Illinois, with a detour through Yellowstone national park. I've been to three national parks in my life, and for some reason have felt somewhat unsettled by all of them.  They were all really beautiful, but maybe its some latent sort of "don't tell me what to do!" that kind of rebels against the whole idea.  It's just kind of odd to be like "okay, now its time to appreciate nature".  Like having it in these boundaries.  I dunno.  I do realize thats a pretty ridiculous complaint- national parks are really fantastic ideas, and I "dig" it (as Keiran would say).  Nonetheless, I was struck by my unsettledness in all of them, and of course had to come up with at least one plausible reason.  Having said that, though, I was DEFINTELY just absolutely floored by some of the things I saw in the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.  In the Grand Canyon, it was... well... the canyon.  In Yellowstone, we encountered this pack (?) of buffalo crossing the street.  They totally just stopped traffic and took their time and did their thing.  They weren't aggressive or anything, but it was definitely obvious that they were in charge of the encounter.  The really interesting thing that I noticed was how protective the adults were of the babies.  As they walked along the street, the adults always made sure they kept between the babies and the humans, and they even growled a couple times at people who got close.  Reminded me of when we used to ride our bikes as a family and mom and dad always biked between us and the traffic.  Parenting is no joke.

My statement about how wonderful it is to see people you know was reconfirmed during this past week by Maia and Victor, and I'm looking forward to seeing Lola, Paula and Sinclair.  It's been really great to have friendly faces sprinkled throughout this whole thing.  Strangers, though, have also been just... totally awesome.  In Oregon, we stayed with the parents of a friend of Kelly's who neither of us had actually met.  They were both totally gracious and awesome to stay with, sort of giving us some much appreciated parenting for the too-short time we were there.  Like I said, parenting is no joke.

In Vancounver, we explored a place called Whyte Cove (I think that's what it was called, at least).  Kelly already mentioned it, and all I'll say is that it was awesome.  We only climbed around on this huge rock for most of the time, but it was just... so good.  That's all I'll say about that, because it sounds pretty boring to actually describe just wandering around, but something about it felt a little bit like restarting a computer when it's gotten a little slow and bogged down.  You forget how smoothly it runs until you do it.  Haha, the computer equivalent of a spiritual experience.  If computers do have anything of a consciousness, that must be pretty disorienting.

We also sailed in Vancouver- Kelly and I were both talking about how cool it was that our bodies just remembered exactly what to do.  I didn't even think about things and realized I was doing them.  It's been years since we've sailed 420s, but it was instinctive, like riding a bike.

On the long drive yesterday, we encountered a few wild deer in the road during the night.  Let me tell you, those deers stopped in front of us like... well... (That reminds me of a McDonald's billboard we keep seeing: it has a picture of a stack of pancakes and the text says "our hotcakes are going like...")

Speaking of the long drive yesterday, I was all prepared to bitch about what a complete pain in the next the entire state of Wyoming was... it seemed like the whole state was undergoing really poorly-conceived roadwork.  And then it had to go and give us the most amazing sunset of the entire trip (photos to come), and totally undermine my annoyance.

Speaking of Wyoming, we went through a town that on its sign said (I kid you not): "Population: 10".  In Wyoming, metropolises like that even get mentioned on the map!  Gotta fill up the space somehow...

As for the plan for the rest of the trip, tomorrow we're driving from here to Chicago, where I'm getting out to stay with Lola (for those of you who don't know, Lola is a Milito cousin, or technically "first cousin once removed").  She's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it.  From there Kelly's continuing on to Cincinnati to stay with Katie, and I'm going to head up to Toronto (fyi, its surprisingly inexpective to get from Chicago to Toronto).  This is a piece of serendipity, because Paula happens to be stopping through with Sinclair on here way back to Whitehorse from Guatemala.  For those of you who don't know about these two, they are the last two of a household that contained us as well as Victor- my first of several permutations of a Halifax family.  Lucky me getting to see them all in one week!  : )

Anyway that's that.  Kelly's been putting up various counts at the end of her posts, and I think its a good idea, so I'll do the same.

Countries: 2

States: 28 (I think... yep.)

Provinces: 1 (soon to be 2!)

(Kelly's friend told us about a few guys who went to all 48 contiguous states in one long weekend.  Insane)

Speeding tickets: 1 (mine...)

Parking tickets: 3.5 (the .5 was issued by a private company and not a state...)

Parking tickets we are appealing because we can't figure out what it was for: 1

This isn't actually a specific number, but its number related, so I'll share it here:  We've been taking turns paying for joint things (like gas and oil changes... speaking of which, we should get an oil change soon).  Anyway, we've been saving our receipts and keeping track of who's paid what in a spreadsheet.  The other day, we entered what we had, and realized that we were three dollars away from each other!  Pretty amazing, I definitely got a kick out of it.

Discount you will get at a certain Butte motel for being a AAA member: $0

Secret discount you will get a certain Butte motel for being from New England when the woman working is from upstate New York: $I'm not exactly sure, but it was more than $0, and at least I think this was the reason we got it.


Susan Tourgee:
June 25, 2010
Visited Yellowstone last summer.....an incredibly beautiful place. Check out some of my pics on FB sometime. We also have "buffalo stories" as well as others..... :-)

Very true....parenting is no joke!
LD (a.k.a. Lia's Dad):
June 25, 2010
Very nice post, and thanks for the parenting comments. Always good, if not a bit surprising, to learn that your kids were paying some sort of attention in their own way!

See you guys soon.
Lia's mom:
June 25, 2010
Glad you are getting to see Paula, Lia. What a nice coincidence! Glad that tickets are the worse thing that has happened!

How are you going to count provinces and states you have traveled if you both were not there together? Food for thought.....
mom of bigfoot
July 20, 2010
so?? did you make it back? your readers are anxious to find out.
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