Sunday, August 10, 2014

From Rainy Hikes to the Rodeo Nights

Our two month van-aversary has officially come and gone! Before our adventures in Wisconsin with Cheryl, we spent a little time in Minnesota. We found a job via Craigslist gigs, working for Magic Bounce, an inflatable ride company that needed people to work a small township fair. At first the job was fun and easy — we started out working a little inflatable slide and quickly realized we were not actually supposed to enforce any rules in particular. Under 48 inches? Eh, go ahead. Only one ticket, but no one's in line? Ride five, six, ten times! No one cared about much of anything.

But the second day we were stationed at the biggest ride in the area, a four story water slide and that's when things got a little...slippery. Our 12 hour shift included next to zero instruction, lot's of criticism for our grumbling old man boss, who was incapable of actually answering questions, lot's and lot's of mud — essentially standing in a mud pit for hours on end while trying to wrangle children and clean kiddy pools that were supposed to serve to clean kids' dirty feet before they got on the ride, it included horrible parents actively encouraging their kids to ignore our instruction, forcing their too-small kids to climb up the ride, even when they'd failed to do so three times previous and ended up in tears, incredibly rude children and ultimately a soggy, filthy, disgusting sense of loathing for all humanity and especially for everything related to inflatable water slides. We both concluded that we preferred a rice-only diet and perpetual constipation to this kind of horeshit employment. Thanks but no thanks, Magic Bounce. Instead of working our third shift, we went to Minnesota and stayed with some wonderful humans at a cooperative in Minneapolis, took some hard-earned showers and enjoyed a musical potluck.

After our adventures in Wisconsin, chronicled in our guest blog by Tressa's mom, we turned back West and re-entered Minnesota. This time we headed to Duluth, a cute little town where we stayed with a wonderful grandmotherly goddess named Gene in a magical colorful house full of treasures and treats. Gene talked to us about her huge family and her many adventures, she fed us, gave us wonderful thrift shop suggestions, and sent us on our way with beautiful stones and even a hearty plant to replace some of our more miserable succulents.

We continued West from Minnesota and met up with Evan (Tressa's boy) and his father, who were on a big fast-paced road trip around the country together. We joined forces for a little trip to Yellowstone, where we were rained on relentlessly, but still enjoyed the vast and beautiful national park with its incredible plains, and its colorful and smelly mud pots, hot springs, and geysers. We spotted elk, moose, more bison, and lot's of other small critters. It was fun joining up with another traveling duo, sharing meals and sharing stories, even in the rain.

After we parted ways, the two of them continued into the Pacific timezone and we two meandered into the Grand Tetons where we took a gorgeous and rainy lake-side hike and spent some time with a goofy looking moose before heading back into Idaho.

We broke our record for not showering, 5 days for Tressa and 6 for Kelsey, but were lucky enough to find another great host in tiny Twin Falls, Idaho. Tasha had a super creative space, filled with handmade art and thrifted knick knacks, and we were able to make some new friends, both human and animal. We also got a chance to meet with one of Kelsey's mom's childhood friends in Twin Falls, and did some more Burning Man thrifting. Kelsey even got a  bike, which is now haphazardly bungeed and bike locked to our roof!

Kelsey's cousin Riann lives in Idaho, so we scooped her up on our way into Logan, Utah, where we got our first taste of the rodeo, a rowdy experience made all the stranger by the fact that Utah is so vehemently anti-alcohol that you can't even get beer at the fair. However, junk food was in hot demand.

Now, we're spending a relaxing day in Logan, working on all our various projects before we do some more CouchSurfing. We both feel quite strange creeping our way back towards the West Coast, knowing we will eventually be less than four hours from home, but that our journey is only a third over and we will not be re-entering California for a long while yet.

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