Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Westward Expansion

Loyal Readers -

We apologize again for the long wait. We know you’re all sitting by your computers for the next post, or (for the lucky few) sitting by your phone for a brief call. We’ve been on the road again after our residency at the Lake House in Nisswa, MN. Its been over a week since we left the lake house and traveled into the beautiful Twin Cities to meet up with Kate’s friend from studying abroad in Bolivia, Tressa. We had a wonderful afternoon swim, a delicious outdoor barbeque, and an evening bike ride complete with our own Tommy and Ben sharing a tandem bike! The next day we went to The Tap to watch the Women’s World Cup heart breaking loss. But, our day was salvaged as Paul unexpectedly ran into another study abroad friend, Leah, from Costa Rica. After the penalty kicks and reconnecting chats, we hit the road to Badlands National Park in South Dakota (emphasis on the bad).

We had an 21 mile backpacking loop planned in the Badlands, but struggled to find the appropriate backcountry map (with no help from the Park Service. boo). Fortunately, Paul had printed two miserable, yet passable copies of our loop. The five of us geared up and headed out into Badlands with close to 90lbs of water to brave the 110 degree heat.

Despite good planning, the heat, lack of a good map, and shrinking water supplies forced us to turn back after just one night in the back country. Fortunately, we all lived to tell the tale of those bad, bad lands (even after our run-in with a baby rattler).

After leaving the Badlands, we desperately needed to clean ourselves, so, of course, we stopped by the Wall, South Dakota fire department for a little hose down.

Oh yeah, and we hit Rushmore (without paying the $11 to park for the 11 minutes that we were there, shhh don't tell).

Our next stop was to cross the beautiful state of Wyoming on our way to see a Williams alum, Will aka An aka Gill Pettingill. Halfway through Wyoming, we stopped in the dead of night to sleep off of an old Forest Service road in the Big Horn Mountains. When we awoke, we were greeted with the most gorgeous view of a few snow-capped peaks.

Despite the amazing view, we had a date with this “An” fellow, and made our way to Victor, ID. In Victor, we checked out the Grand Teton Brewing Company, and the best small town event in the U.S., Music on the Main! The town of Victor throws down every Thursday night, and everyone comes out for some good funky music, sweet vendors, and craft beers. Unfortunately, we had to leave Victor the following day to get all up in those Grand Tetons. The loop we had planned was too snowy and required ice picks, so we decided to take some friendly advice and check out Phelps Lake and hike into Death Canyon.

Despite how trecherous Death Canyon sounds, the hike into our campsite was very enjoyable. We hiked all day along a raging river of snow melt and arrived exhausted at our home for the night. After an awesome dinner of veggies and cous cous (the food so nice they named it twice), we hit the tent for some sweet card playing and bed. While we slept we were visited by some mysterious intruders. I could type you this story, but I would rather have Tommy sing it to you. Take it away.

We spent another night in Death Canyon, now more aware of the salt hungry wildlife. However, the next morning we had some welcome visitors in our campsite, a Momma Moose and its child. On the way out we also saw a red fox and a coyote bear its teeth at Ben. Road Trip Wildlife Day continued as we drove north through Yellowstone and saw many more moose, elk, and bison. Old Faithful was a BLAST (zing), and we even got some ice cream and a bumpersticker.

We drove just out of the park to enjoy some camping for the price of free.99 rather than paying an arm and a leg to be corralled in with the riff raff. The next day we took the plunge 328 steps down to check out the glorious Yellowstone Falls, which beat out our buddy Niagra by a mile to be crowned the best waterfall of the trip.

We left gysertown, USA to head towards Bozeman and prepare for the big day of the 26th of July, a day that will go down in history. Our very own Thomas Channing Hester was invited by John Harwood to be on the NPR show On Point to talk about the loss of our dear friend Brendan Ogg. The show went swimmingly with help from our friends Deb and Gil at the world class Peak Recording studio (we even got freshly baked cookies, hot coffee, and a sweet bluegrass CD for the road. best. studio. ever). Check the audio at http://bit.ly/o2Jnzm. We are currently in the Bozeman library basking in Tommy’s newfound fame and glory and planning to hit up Costco for some free samples. Wish us luck. Until next time (which might be a little while because we are off to Glacier, Banff, and Jasper), take it easy America (and all of our international friends).

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