Lewis and Clark Eat Your Hearts Out!

17 07 2009

Many and many a year ago a couple of outdoorsy guys named Lewis and Clark went from some place out east, west to Napa Valley and back looking for refined wines and tan babes. They had half of the dangers we have in the modern world, yet they lost half their party. Priscilla and I did almost the same thing last week and no one died. I can’t believe they got paid for that and we didn’t. Anyway, (que flash back music) it went a little something like this…

Me in the bad lands.  ...I don't know what I'm doing either.

Me in the bad lands. ...I don't know what I'm doing either.

We wanted to go out to Denver to visit our good friend Steph.   Since the government outright refused to commission us to do this, we decided to pay for it ourselves. After months of foreknowledge of the trip, we started planning on Tuesday night- the night we were leaving. We decided to drive to Sioux Falls, SD the first night. Our friend William Shatner helped us negotiate a deal on a room at the Sheraton last minute, which was nice of him. And now we just had to get there in one piece…

Evil bull that guards the road to the Bad Lands.

Evil bull that guards the road to the Bad Lands.

Looming over our heads was the bat-shit crazy  prophecy of some  lady Priscilla works with. She told her that she has a recurring dream where Priscilla and I die in a horrible car wreck and they also find that Priscilla is pregnant with our first child. She followed that zinger up with several other stories about how she’d dreamed things that had come true, concluding happily that she’s always right about these things…  (I kind of feel like, if you don’t have anything nice to prophesy about, then don’t prophesy about anything at all.)

We arrived at the Sheriton at about 1am and we went to sleep.  The morning had harsh news waiting for us.  There was no continental breakfast.  I know we only paid $50 for the room… but normally it was $129.  I expect breakfast with anything I pay that much for.  But, we didn’t throw in the towel- not on reaching Denver, and not on eating breakfast.

This room cost $90... wtf

Later we stayed in this crappier room that cost $90... wtf

Before we continued on, we need to get a new camera, so we set out looking for a department store.  The rural west is like some national park where endangered department stores like Pamida and Shopko hide from extinction.   We came upon a Kmart in a desolate parking lot.  We were able to get inside before it saw us and ran away.  There amidst the Jacklyn Smith collection we found the stores remaining electronics and bought a camera. CNow wer were ready to face the long blah of South Dakota.

Here’s a red flag questions for states.  Is everything valuable, desirable, or bearable significantly closer to an adjoining state than to the interior of the state itself?  If so, it’s likely that state blows.  Case in point: South Dakota.  (For further examples please see Nebraska, Illinois, or Kansas.  If you are unsure of where desirable parts of your state are, try googling your state.  If you reside in North Dakota, then google the state you’re planning on living in when you move.)

These are the Black Hills

These are the Black Hills

To get to the ironically named “Bad” Lands and “Black” Hills of South Dakota you need to drive through several hundred miles of utter crap.   Rolling fields of nothing.  The only thing to do is just take the car to top speed and surf the Internet to stay awake while you drive.  The best parts of the state lay on it’s meaty west side, close to the frightening Montana.

In the bad lands we took video on our cell phone of me running into a field of hundreds of prairie dogs trying to chase them, but all you can see is my blurry head moving back and forth with lots of ambient wind noise.  I’m not going to include it.  However, I feel it’s important to note that I did that.

After chasing prairie dogs, climbing out the clay edges of the hill things, and purchasing potato chips for an inebriated native who asked us for a ride to the next town, we’d seen every thing South Dakota had to offer. We were ready to get to Deadwood.  Also Walldrug sucks- It just sucks.

We finally got to Deadwood and I won $100 from a dealer who was a jerk.  Which was good because William Shatner was no help with the hotel rates in Deadwood.  We payed $90 for a queen room.  …this was the smallest hotel room I had ever seen; like someone crammed a queen bed into the bathroom.   What’s worse? No continental breakfast.  I was really starting to get irritated by that…

This is a log cabin we found later in the story at 13000 feet.  And ancient race of spider people lived here.

This is a log cabin we found later in the story at 13000 feet. And ancient race of spider people lived here.

The next day we woke up and got ready to go to Bear Country USA!  Bear Country is this zoo type place where all the animals roam free, and you drive through and look at them.  They can walk up to the cars- I even heard that a few toddlers got killed there!  We were pumped.

We exited Deadwood and were back on the open road.  An hour later we saw a welcome to Wyoming sign.  The realization that we’d made a huge mistake flooded over us the same way it floods over most people who find themselves reading that sign.  In our case, the mistake was that we were trying to get over by Mount Rushmore, south east of Deadwood, and instead we went south west and ended up in another state.  Fortunately, the road we accidentally took did happen to go to Denver, so we decided to keep going and leave Bear Country for another time.

Priscilla in Wyoming.  I was looking for my binoculars, and came to the realazation that they were in the car before it was broken into... Great, they took my grandfather's binoculars that were worth ten bucks. I cursed the theaves here on top of Big Sky Country.

Priscilla in Wyoming.

Wyoming is big and it has hills.  Hills kind of vary state to state.  Minnesota has river bluffs, which are steep and cliff like.  The black hills are pretty steep too, but they’re not following a river and there aren’t really cliffs.  They are pretty much all pines too, where as Minnesota sports a greater variety of trees. Wyoming has these really slow slopping  large hills with lots of scrub brush on them.  I know this whole paragraph is really boring… this was the best I could come up with for the five hours I was in Wyoming.

Wyoming people are scary.  This mother and son have identical massive man-butts. ...creepy.

Wyoming people are scary. This mother and son have identical massive man-butts. ...creepy.

Eventually we got to Colorado, and shortly after that we could see the Rocky Mountains.  The looked just like the Coors can.  Denver’s elevation is about a mile from sea level, so they call it the mile high city- not to be confused with the mile high club, which is something else.   We found our friend Steph, and went out for fish tacos- the second time in a week.  It made me nervous and awkward, but I did it.

This a the cake Steph made to celebrate our arival!

This a the cake Steph made to celebrate our arival!

The next day we set out on a mission to cross the continental divide and hike deep into the Rock Mountains. We drove for several ear popping hours west and up. One interesting thing we noticed is that all the trees were dead. Steph’s boyfriend Glen told us that some mutant beatle had been feeding on the trees, and due to global warming, it doesn’t get cold enough to kill them in the winter anymore. I suggested burning them out, but in retrospect I guess regrowing the whole forest after the fact should probably be a last resort. Anyway, I could the spirit of John Denver singing about planting trees all the way.

The cake cutting cerimony

The cake cutting cerimony

Steph and Glen like to go hiking, and they’ve both lived in Denver for years. So they took us to a mountain slope they knew and we stared up. I was pretty worried about cougar attacks because they are on the ‘remotely possible’ spectrum of things that could happen, and I’m on the ‘very much so’ spectrum of paranoid. It’s just like Kurt Cobain said, ‘Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean I’m not after you.’ …and in this case I think that applies to mountain lions.

Hidden Valley, home of ranch dressing, is on the way to the spine of the world.  So is the Coors place, where beer comes from.

Hidden Valley, home of ranch dressing, is on the way to the spine of the world. So is the Coors place, where beer comes from. ...and the whole town is also sideways, it wasn't the photo editing. ...*whew* he he suckers! Just saved myself the 30 seconds it would take to fix that!

I was watching my back pretty closely, and bravely refusing to let Priscilla carry up the rear.  (Is that the correct phraseology for that?  ‘Carry up the rear?’) Cougars, as we all know, like to attack from behind and from above if possible.  Naturally they also go straight for the jugular.  If you see a cougar in the woods, the only reason you’re seeing it is because it’s stalking you. They’re a no nonsense killer.  Not at all like the all too common brown bear, which is known to be pretty much a wuss.

As we hiked, something changed about my brain.  I started to care less and less about the enormous killer feline that was probably right behind me.  I started to feel a little woozy.  My legs weren’t tired at all, but I was out of breath and my heart was beating a mile a minute.  Priscilla must have been feeling the same way because she was complaining even more than usual.  Steph and Glen seemed just fine.  Then it struck me, we’d caught the Rocky Mountain High.

The Hobbit Priscilla on her way to the slopes of Mount Doom with the Ring of Power!

The Hobbit Priscilla on her way to the slopes of Mount Doom with the Ring of Power!

Aside from a pretty mediocre song, it’s also what happens to you when the elevation reduces the amount of oxygen in the air.  Also known as ‘elevation sickness’ and ‘tennis elbow.’  Even though I diagnosed this, Steph and Glen kept right on moving at a normal pace up the mountain, presuming we were pansies.  They’re like the creatures from Superman II who come to earth and find that they have super powers because of the yellow sun and their super dense bodies.  …only it was like the reverse, and we went to their planet and could no longer use our laser eyesight.  It totally sucked.

Eventually it started to get dark. We were at about 13,000 feet by then, only a few hundred from the summit.  The trees were thinning and snow was on the ground in spots.  We were on a clear mountain lake next to the ruins of a small encampment with log cabins that were probably a few hundred years old.  The road to the summit started to switch back after that, so it would have taken too long to get up to the top and back down again before dark, so we decided to go home.  And then, my phone rang.

This was almost as high as we got, around 13,000 feet

This was almost as high as we got, around 13,000 feet

Yes, at 13,000 feet, on the side of a mountain, my cell phone rang.

Phone: *ring ring*

David: “Hello”

Chris: “Dude, what’s up?  We’re watching this video of this old show from high school for Todd’s band, and you were running sound.  You totally suck at running sound…”

David: “I’m at 13,000 feet on the side of a mountain”

Chris: “Huh?”

David: “What?”

Chris: “What?!”

David: “On mountain, reception bad”

Chris: “You want to talk to Todd?”

David: “There are lions here.”

Todd: “What’s up man?”

David: “One ate my hand.”

Todd: “Huh?”

David: “I’m on a mountain at 13,000 feet, I can’t talk”

Todd: “Yeah, we’re watching this video from high school”

David: “I can’t hear anything, I’m on a mountain.”

Todd: “So what are you guys doing?”

David: “I’m on a mountain, I can’t talk Todd”

Todd: “Ok, well I should probably let you go.”

Thanks Verizon, for letting me share that incoherent moment with someone 1000 miles east, and 12,000 feet down.

"Hello?"

"Hello?"

Anyway, we went back down, and no one was eaten. The rest of the trip I had a splitting headache, which I later learned was also part of the Rocky Mountain High.  So, to combat feeling hung over, we went to a winery.  I knew nothing about wines.  I knew they were color coded, and that was it.  The biggest surprise for me was that these little taste test things with wine and cheese and crackers are free.  Free!  Yeah, you go to the place that makes the wine, and they just give it to you.  Then they serve you free snacks.   I also learned I prefer Cabs to Shiraz and Merlot; and I prefer the cheese and crackers to wine.

This is a picture of Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings movies, home to the dark lord Sauron

This is a picture of Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings movies, home to the dark lord Sauron

After that we went to an art show, then to the obligatory performance.  Jason wasn’t with us in town, but the good people of Denver still wanted a show.  So Priscilla and I played a short acoustic set at The Hi Dive.  When it was done, we promptly said our good buys to Denver and our friends, and hit the road.  By the time we were edging dangerously close to Nebraska we decided to stop for the night.  We went to this cheap joint that I’m positive several people were had been murdered in.  And, wouldn’t you guess it, no free breakfast.  I could have screamed.  Instead I peed in the courner of the room.

Priscilla and I are playing guitars on a stage.

Priscilla and I are playing guitars on a stage.

We awoke with the heavy weight of the length of Nebraska in front of us.  The first sign we see entering the freeway: DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS, FEDERAL PRISON NEARBY.  Well.  Ok then.  We didn’t encounter any escapees that we know of, but we did encounter boredom.  Can you imagine if you had to ride through that crap on a horse and it took you weeks? I’m sure that all the stories surrounding the loss of life on Lewis and Clarks trip were made up. They all killed themselves in the great plains.  Again, I saved my sanity by surfing the net while I drove.

Aren't we cute when our brains are depleted of oxygen?

Aren't we cute when our brains are depleted of oxygen?

When all hope seemed lost, we reached Iowa.  We took a wrong turn there and found a car turned into a spider.  …yeah.  We left pretty quickly.  At 9pm central standard time we finally got home to St. Paul, MN.  …and then had to go to work the next day. Puke.  That’s about that.  …also, no one really died on the Lewis and Clark expedition… one dude got sick and died, but sources say it was related to a methamphetamine addiction.

Seeing is believing.

Seeing is believing. ...I think this guy was in the Lord of the Rings too trying to eat Frodo.

David

Oh, and when we got back we found a small pirate costume on our bed… We called Laurel who was appartment sitting for us, and she said she brought it over to try and put on our cat.  …but it didn’t work out because Leeloo resisted.  Well, Priscilla and I had a talk with Leeloo about how she treats guests…

This is Leeloo.

This is Leeloo.

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Treasures at a Garage Sale that Even the Internet Doesn’t Know!

11 05 2009

Rummage Sales. I love them at and hate them all at once.  Usually you go to these things, and everything smells.  Or it’s pointless and over priced for the garbage that it is.  …but, every once and a while you find something totally cool.  This is a tale of the latter.  The elusive cool rummage sale.

So this was a few weekends ago.  …or one weekend ago, I have no idea.  It wasn’t yesterday though, that much I’m sure of. So I wanted to go to this hot rummage sale I was tipped off to by a guy I know.  It’s once a year up by 394 and Penn Ave (Minneapolis)  It was supposed to be big.   Lovely day, super nice out, and there were like about a trillion people there.  Hot dog stands, mini donuts… it was a tripped out rummage circus.  …and there, at the very first place I went to was… an amp.

Ok, so we all know that I’m in a band, right?  …if not, I’m not sure where you’ve been, but you should probably check us out before someone makes a lot of fun of you…  Anyway, so being in a band usually means you’re also a gear nerd to some degree.  …usually the more of a gear nerd you are, the crappier your band actually is.  …which makes sense because I’m not a HUGE gear nerd or anything.  I don’t really know why anything does anything… I just play things, and find out what I like and go with that.  I’m not ever going to get into some lame conversation debating brand names with people.  Gear talk is like Magic the Gathering talk. …Or Harry Potter talk.  Lose-lose situations.  I went to the latest Star Trek movie.  I loved it. So what?  Am I going to talk about the nuances of the new actors performances when portaying our original heros?  No.  Not much. Seriously.  …So, I am not a gearhead nerd guy.

..but anyway, I saw this old amp in the corner of this garage… price? $10.   …So I was all like, ‘Hey, does this thing work?’  …and this grungy hippy lady told me that she thought it did… or at least that dude who left it in her garage said so.  …hippies… Anyway, it was a rhetorical question anyway.  Here’s my gear know-how and advice.  If it’s old, it’s worth more than $10 when it comes to all musical gear, and Star Wars toys that have all the original pieces and are in 9+ condition or better.  …and of course still in the package- regardless of the condition of the package really.  The toy inside would likely be worth at least $10 if it’s old.

(I used to work at this place that sold Star Wars toys- and at that time, I would have been considered an expert in that field. …We sent out cataloges and I convinced the boss to let me write little articles in them.  They were all really funny.  …except for this one, where the boss’s brother who was the “editor” because he was in college or something… changed my whole story around because he found a typo that didn’t make any sense- so he retyped several sentences to make them make more sence, and in doing so, also made me sound as though I wanted to rape a fictional cartoon character.   My revenge would come a few years later when I ditched my post at the Mall of America to go meet William Shanter…)

So The amp was a Jordan.  The model was Trouper J120.  And me typing that into the internet doubles the online articles that mention this amp.  This is the odd part.  Jordan made amps from 1966 until sometime in the 70s, and they were used by some of the top artist of the time.  The Doors, the Mama’s and the Papa’s etc… huge acts.  And then, the two clowns who ran the company went to work for Rickenbacker and disbanded Jordan… Now, here in the future, the things are super rare because of the short amount of time they were on the market.  I’ve talked to every freaking guitar expert I can find, and they all say the same thing.  “Oh yeah, heard of those- never seen one come through.”  …so, at first thought, this might make you think that my $10 amp is worth a small fortune. …and if you’re thinking of buying it from me, then you’d be quite right.  …but if not, it’s actually really hard to tell… there’s no supply- but also no demand.  No one is looking for these, or knows anything about them, so judging a value is though.  BUT it sounds amazing!  So, for $10 it will sit in my place and make me happy for now.

Later that day I also found a Darth Vader mask that changes your voice when you speak into it.(Yes. You read correctly.  It makes you sound like Darth Vader.  …I know, deap breaths. ) You have no idea how many parties I will wear that to this summer.  Like, two or three. Seriously.  …because I wasn’t really to stop getting cheap things, I also went on to craigs list after seeing an organ for sale for $250 and I realized you can get these things for next to nothing. …so I bought an organ for $10 too.   It makes all sorts of annoying sounds, and has the notes labeled for fake musicians like me who need help with the more “technical” aspects of playing instruments.

So, for $27 cash money I got, a vintage amp, a vintage organ, and a Darth Vader mask.  Naturally I went out rummage saling the next weekend as well. …and naturally I found loads of smelly over priced garbage like toddler clothes.  Eh, you win some, and you lose some.

Food for thought: I’m thinking about working brief little reviews of other bands music into my stories about nothing… FYI.

Live long and prosper,

David








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