San Antonio to: Seattle

The vast journey began on June 14th when I ended up in Austin Texas. A pleasant city and one I would travel to again, despite the price of downtown luxury. Austin is an epicenter for Texas, gathering up young entrepreneurs and turning them into fine southern capitalists. I have heard good and better things about the Texas public education system, and I have great faith in it. The businesses in Austin proper do not offer you plastic bags when you purchase items. The lack of warning on this subject can become quite infuriating at a cash register, so consider yourself warned. Honestly, Austin isn’t enough though. Our plastic and garbage problem is massive, and eventually everybody will need to be doing their own part, or else. While in the wonderful city of Austin, I took to the river on a kayak with my girlfriend, who was basically my tour guide for the entire city. It was a slow river, but compared to Bradford Beach near where I hail from in Milwaukee, it was a gloriously clean section of water. On the way into Austin we made two stops, but both were out of the ordinary. The first stop was a place called Bucees, and in my opinion it sets the bar for a gas station, world-class if ever there was one. With over 200 gas pumps, a dedicated section for Go-Pro gear, and quality polarized sunglasses, as well as a medicine aisle offering the ever-expected singular overpriced eyedrop option, it was quite a store I was shown. I was later quite surprised to find they are only found around the Austin, Texas area. I expect you will begin to see Bucees pop up in your area. Since it won’t be a capitalization on food, I don’t necessarily expect a decrease in product quality or customer service.

The second stop we made was at Con Madres, a taco truck located directly off of the highway. It was a good place to eat, and I wanted to order more but there was so much I wanted to try in Austin. We also ate at P. Terry’s and Torchy’s Tacos, the latter being set upon a pedestal of expectation before I ate there. It was a decent taco I ate at Torchy’s, don’t get me wrong. But except for the sweetcorn, which was a fair offering, it seems expensive for what you get. I may even go as far as to say the food is overpriced. They do seem to funnel their profits into their community and in positive generally positive formats, which is admirable. I am interested to see what the future brings for Torccy’s Tacos, as I saw one in Denver as well. Go there with an open mind and be ready for great tacos, but much like a casino, don’t bring more than you are prepared to lose. Before tacos we ate P. Terry’s, and it made quite the opposite impression on me. Cheap food, to the point I was suspicious, but this suspicion became a wash as I realized the quality of the food was substantiated and my only mistake was ordering a burger, fries, and a drink instead of just three burgers.

I spent a single hour within the confines of the kayak with Danae, paddling with occasional ferocity the same water which runs through the Grand Canyon, and it was a calming experience. We chose the two person kayak, which took some discussion because I wanted to race. The spot was in-between the 1st street and Lamar Blvd bridges, and the water was moving gently enough to paddle up or down the river with ease. It was $15.00 for the rental, which was worth the experience. I had been in a canoe many times but never a kayak, and I do quite enjoy the more agile kayak quite a bit. So far the order is Buccees, Con Madres, used the bathroom in Voodoo Doughnuts, continued on to eat at P.Terry’s, took some photos at Graffiti Park, kayaking, thrifting uptown, and then we drove back to San Antonio where my girlfriend lived at the time.

Once in San Antonio we received two days of poor rest before setting onto the real drive. An 8 day journey from San Antonio TX, to Seattle WA where we are currently residing at the Green Tortoise Hostel. I will speak about the hostel later on. We set unto our traverse the morning of June 16th, a fine and sunny day for all that we saw. In fact the weather was fairly temperate for the entirety of the journey. Our first day was by far the longest. We left San Antonio at roughly 07:00 and reached our intended target near Buena Vista, Colorado at around 21:30. The most unique site seen about our journey was the bounty of magnificent ambitions; a highway covered in boulders the size of sedans making the northbound lanes completely impassable. Traffic was diverted onto the southbound highway, which was separated into a two lanes temporarily. I am disappointed to say I did not take a photograph of this wrath mother- nature concocted, nor can I find any information about it after fifteen minutes online. The first day of driving took us through hill country in Texas, the northeastern corner of New Mexico, southern Colorado (boulders), and then finally north-west off of the main highway into the depths of the mountains, only to get lost and return to a quaint town called Salida Co.

Overall things did not go well for us the first day. We reached our final destination just as darkness set in. Our phones worked in select spots on the way to Lenhardy Cutoff, but the people we were trying to get in contact with could not make contact back, as they had already arrived. On our final approach we drove up a mountain, on a forest service road, after dark, in a 2012 Nissan Vera, but it was one path west of our intended target. After substantial effort applied to finding our friends, we gave up. Looking back at the event, it was certainly a bad idea to attempt driving the car off of the road, and my girlfriend was far from pleased about my encouragement to continue. We risked doing damage to our vehicle as well as suffering injury on treacherous driving trails at night. Still, we made it fairly far up into the mountain before turning back. In the end we drove nearly an hour back into Salida and slept in a Hampton Inn parking lot, which was uncomfortable to say the least, but we thank Hampton Inn for their hospitality.

In the morning we awoke to find the mountains all around, blinding us with eastern sun. Unaware of how cold it would be in the mountains, we quickly changed into more suitable attire and drove to a nearby McDonalds, only to find mostly ineffective Wi-Fi. After an overly saturated but anticipated breakfast, we made our next stop at an AutoZone. It was in this parking lot that I changed the oil in our vehicle, making due with no oil filter wrench. It went quite well and the mess was minimal. I thank AutoZone for their continued hospitality and expertise. Furthermore we stopped at a local Walmart for provisions and following straight away we left Salidas, heading back toward Lenhardy Cutoff. It was now hot and we were overdressed. Once arriving to the proper Forest Service Road, we parked and within ten minutes our friends met us where we would be leaving our car overnight.

The camping trip to Lenhardy Cutoff was unlike anything I had experienced. I had been to Colorado the previous year and seen a real set of mountains for the first time in my life, but this time I had a more personal view of the mountains. Our home during the trip was a Marmot Limelight 3 person tent, and it satisfied every expectation I had of it. We were kept warm and the tent was easy as pie to set up. Nestled between two trees, we slept on a $15.00 air mattress and it was a more than good enough. Camping in the mountains allowed for glorious views. With constant vigilance, I would advise anyone interested in the view to seek Lenhardy Cutoff. Once we woke for breakfast in the morning, we were sent back to a reality in which we had many more days left on our journey.

Back in motion, we headed to Denver. The bright skies and thin air make the city memorable, and the second time we visited the city was just as magnificent as the first. We stopped at SAPP Brothers Travel Center for a shower. We stopped at a Love’s in Washington later on, and SAPP Brothers had the better shower with far superior pricing to boot. After the shower we supped. I made a mess of the Shamrock Burger as Sam’s no. 3 and Danae had a Buffalo Burger and Chili Cheese Fries. I finished my fries before digging into hers. Impressive service and atmosphere both visits I had. The servers have been interesting and also efficient. The food has proven itself irreplaceable and Sam’s will receive my continued dedication.

The drive north ended in Greely Co, a city we had been in prior. Staying at a friend’s house the third night put us behind schedule, but it was unavoidable with the sun setting, plus they have cats. We watched Ace Ventura and celebrated. I buried myself into my iPad looking for where to camp the next night of our journey. Big Horn National forest was still the intended target, and we simply took the loss of one day total in exchange for the shorter drive. I called the National Forest office and a nice lady directed me too a road called Sourdough. We camped on a river, where we roasted jalapeño sausages over a fire and for the first time in our lives, we saw a Moose. It was large, but less than I was expecting. But this was Wyoming, I later found out Moose in Alaska are much larger, so this may have been what I was picturing. I nearly walked right up to the Moose, before he moved his head and I noticed him roughly twelve meters away. Danae had recently been in the forest where I spotted the giant, so how close she got to this animal is information lost to time. Mr. Moose came out of the forest soon after, and strolled off across the river, eating everything on the way. He was within our sights for about forty-five minutes and 100 yards. Wyoming brought to us the perfect camping experience.

Day five began cold, but it was still an excellent morning. We left roughly at 09:30, and we were in Billings Montana soon enough. We ate at Great Harvest Bread Company, and it was impeccable. We bought two sandwiches, a scone, and a loaf of honey wheat bread. We drove through the rest of the day, stopping several times for gas, and ended our day at Norton Campground in Montana. We ate Tuna with smiles. I also beat Danae in Chess for the first time ever this night. The following morning we saw several Big Horned Sheep on our way back to the highway, which was pretty exciting. We arrived in Missoula Montana for breakfast this time, and ate The Catalyst Café. I had chorizo because it was the special, and it was good, but Danae got The Heap and it was better from the bite or two I had of hers. On we ventured for the remainder of the day, first through Idaho and then into Washington. We stopped at the previously mentioned Love’s, and then The Green Seed in Moses Lake. The service was good, and the prices were decent overall, but they were changing locations and I would be interested to see what the shop looks like a year or so, it has great potential as I see it.

The sixth day ended for us at the first campsite we found on national forest service road 3330 in Cle Elum Washington, right next to Taneum Creek. We took a brief walk to explore just a small portion of the state we would be staying in for the next two months, and then we ate tuna. We slept well, which had been consistent inside the tent at this point. Very satisfied with Marmot. Washington in the morning was very cold, and we packed our tent quickly to move on. We drove directly to Mt Rainier National Park and arrived at the section named Grove of the Patriarchs. I bought the $80.00 pass, allowing me entry to all National Parks in the U.S. until June 2018. We traveled around by car and on foot all day through the southern end of Mt Rainier. We ate tuna for lunch, and we hiked to Comet Falls, which was more difficult than we anticipated. As night approached we drove back the way we came, and then headed south for Packwood, Washington. We ate great burgers and then headed out of town to find camp. I am disappointed to say the only litter-covered campsite we stayed upon, was the one we found on my birthday, June 22nd 2017, on NF-52 outside of Packwood. We set up the tent before darkness set in I fell asleep quickly, filled with disappointment about the litter.

The final morning we spent in our tent was cool, but not as cold as the previous night. I took pictures of the garbage and we left. Off to Seattle we set. We stopped and ate Mexican food for lunch, it was no better than average, but the service was good. Arriving during rush hour was not a very gratifying way to end our quest, but it’s what happened. We parked in a tall structure close to our destination and took our first of three trips inside carrying our belongings. The Green Tortoise Hostel at 105½ Pike Street, Seattle WA. Just a single door in the side of short building. A Target next-door and a Subway across the street both feature downtown pricing, which is something I soon came to grasp the true meaning of. We were shown around the hostel and then to our room by a short and spry gentleman named Rod, then we loaded our stuff into the locker under our bed and returned to the car twice before settling into the room. We laid on the bed and took in the comfort it offered, which was gracious. The sheets, pillowcases, and privacy curtains are all green. Our room has four queen beds and two single beds, as well as a sink and mirror. The window overlooks the Hard Rock Cafe on Pike Street, and it has been open since our arrival. We walked around the city before falling asleep hungry for our first night in Seattle.

We arrived on a Friday and we were not on the work schedule until Monday, so we spent our first full day in Seattle, a Saturday, exploring the city and parking our car. We went to this place called Cycene for a truly outstanding breakfast sandwich and some phenomenal grits, I definitely intend to return. Afterwards we walked back a different path and explored the Public Market. I ate smoked Salmon at City Fish Co, which is far too expensive to consistently buy, however delicious it may be. We ventured into a store selling commercial quantities of spices, and a bookshop, but somehow have yet to see the first Starbucks. Soon after, we left the market and moved onto the task of parking our car. We settled into a parallel spot in the Capital Hill district, where we could only leave the car until the following morning. Walking back to the Hostel was good exercise, but not something we wanted to do forever. Within a week we found a free place to park our car, which is a short transit ride away.

It is currently the first Friday after our arrival, and much has happened. We have made numerous friends and many co-workers, including a handful from our home town oddly enough. The work can be tough in its own way, including every kind of cleaning and then some general housekeeping, there is a laundry shift, and Danae and I helped cook for our first shift. The City is dense with people and I have spent a lot of time walking around the downtown. The homeless people are abundant, but mostly harmless in our area. I have seen masses of pigeons and rats, two things new to me. We made a trip to the international district and I bought ginger. Coming to Seattle has proven an exceptional decision.

This blog is not strictly dedicated to my travels. I intend to focus on Climate Change and Fiscal Responsibility, as two separate entities, as those are just two passions of mine. At the time of this posting my website is in a state one would consider ‘under construction.’ I myself am still searching for meaning, and subsequently my website administration and blog captivation may be lacking, but I will continue to post. I hope to grow a community here at HeartOfZeus.
-Chris 7/2/2017