Sunday, October 3, 2010

From W to East: Yellowstone

Every time we get used to one place, we feel comfortable and at ease with the people around us, it is time to leave, but knowing that our life for now it is like that. I contacted two host for the next part of the travel and we started to drive towards their place. One of our hosts it is found in Twisp, a small town in Washington State. Once you cross the mountains of the east you find yourself in a much hotter environment. The temperature rose easily to 39•C. The nature gets drier and the grass is a gold yellow. I was surprised how dry it is because I always thought the north of Us should be greener and lush, thinking that it is much more north on the latitude but just looking at the Atlas I realized it is actually close to the same level as the Balcans. In Twisp, Debbie was waiting for us. She is a 40 something years old women, recently separated after another failed relation ship. She decided to move from Portland to this small town and start over although she complains that in such a small town it is quite difficult to meet man. She also left the type of business that she was doing in the last years which is buying old house, renovating them and after that reselling at a higher price. It seems that for a while it worked for her like that but now she feels tired and wants to buy a piece of land and start farming maybe. She is an emancipated women trapped in a society where you have to choose between love and success. Also Debbie started a life plan and a rejuvenating diet and she feels quite happy with herself although I could read in her eyes that this maybe is not the path that she desired in life. Anyway, she showed us Twisp, had dinner together and showed us great hospitality by offering us her own bed and she slept on the couch. Next day we walked to the butcher, bought some meat and cabbage so I could cook a Romanian dish and in the evening she and Jan went to the small theatre of the town where they enjoyed a play. I wanted to do a bike ride through the area so while they were doing that, I took the bicycle and hit the road but the big problem in USA is that they do not have a good infrastructure for cyclist so it is actually quite dangerous to go on the road with all the cars speeding next to you and no proper road for cyclists. The same night, we have been invited by a friend of Debbie to come to her house and watch the rain of meteorites. It was amazing to sit in the grass, with no lights around and watch this phenomenon. After almost two hours we went back to her house to sleep while she spent the night in the field. After two pretty relaxing but host days, usually at this time of the year the afternoon tend to be pretty hot and suffocating even up north, we started driving towards Colville. Almost at the border between Idaho and Washington State you find the small town of Colville, made mostly of farmers’ houses and woods.

Through Couchsurfing we contacted Angie and her family that live in a farm. Arriving there was not difficult and one of her daughters Clarissa presented us the farm and the multitude of animals they own. I have never lived in a farm and never took care of animals, so for me being close to this kind of life it is quite difficult. I know I am a town girl but it is not just that, the fact that I do not understand animals and their needs makes me very frustrated and afraid. Coming to the farm helps me understand and appreciate all much better. Angie is in her late forties; she is at the second marriage and has 4 children: two twin daughters from the first marriage and two from the second marriage. She is a very strong women guiding her life according to the needs of her children although some of the ideas she is preaching are a bit far from free thinking. She is not the adept of any church but believes that if you follow what Jesus Christ said you will reach heaven. She is following the the bible but without the interpretations that one priest or another gives. We have been very well received in their house, with a very friendly and open environment.

The kids have been great and during our 3 days stay we ate delicious dishes hand and home made. I enjoyed a lot the fresh night air and the family spirit but after these days it was time to continue with new energies our trip around US. Being on the road in USA is great because you get to watch the spectacular landscape that unfolds in front of you. Early in the morning we decided to start driving towards Glacier National park, one of the main attraction of North America. Glacier National Park is located in the U.S. state of Montana, bordering the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Glacier National Park is dominated by mountains which were carved into their present shapes by the huge glaciers of the last ice age; these glaciers have largely disappeared over the last 12,000 years. We’ve been in and out of the park for 2 days, Jan having the opportunity to walk to the main glacier while I had rested in the picnic area. When we started this new part of the travel I have promised myself I will enjoy much more and I will worry less and I will just take life easier. Glacier National Park has some spectacular views and its really worth the while but the most beautiful yet to come is Yellowstone. To be able to reach Yellowstone you need to cross about 700km of deserted hills . The landscape is beautiful especially when its cloudy and the sun goes through the clouds and makes shadows on the earth. These lands are inhabited also by some tribes of Indians. Its so uninhabited that you do not see people for 15-30 km. The lands in general are not cultivated because of the climate with strong winds and the dryness of the land.
It took us about two days to reach Yellowstone, one of the most visited parks of United States and probably one of the most beautiful.
Yellowstone was the first national park in the world, and is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is dominant.

We decided to take our time in the Park, visit everything slowly and enjoy its beauty. The thing we do have in this travel is time and this place is amazing. We needed 3 days in order to fully visit all the main attractions of the park and it was worth. The first two days we were mainly in the north part and we slept on the east entrance. The temperatures dropped dramatically in the night to -5 degrees. We have been surprised unprepared by such low temperatures but we were lucky we did not have to repeat such cold. Besides the gazers with the colorful hot waters, in Yellowstone you can find a large variety of wild life, from elks to grizzly bears…but we did not have the opportunity to see any grizzly but we did enjoy the close presence of wild bison. The best gazer was GREAT FOUNTAIN GEYSER
Temperature 202°F Interval 8-12 hours. Duration 45-60 minutes. Height 75-150 feet. Great Fountain Geyser is one of the grand geysers of Yellowstone.

The activity of the gazers is due to the fact that the park is located on top of a mountain volcano that might erupt at some point because it is just dormant, its caldera would include almost all the park. Caldera's are large basin-shaped volcanic depressions more or less circular in form.

The second day in the park and also our sixth day camping, we decided to go to Jackson , Wyoming, where a host from Couchsurfing was expecting us. Dan seemed to be a nice guy, he was living in a nice house in this very touristy town and shared his place with two more guys. He also plays the piano very good but something made him weird. The same evening that we arrived he looked normal, had dinner together and while at dinner he started to present us his life story. He told us he is originally from Texas, that he comes from a family with strong religious background. That he has actually been a member of a Christian sect all his youth, doing things that right now seemed horrible for him. His family is made of strong believers but they moved here because the sect decomposed due to the fact that the new lider of the sect wanted to follow mainstream Christianity. He did not really tell us the name of this sect but he definitely entered into some more personal details, explaining to us the fact that besides the general brainwashing, he has also been sexually abused by one of the members of the sect and that right now he was dealing with his past. All this could be taken as fare and square but the behaviour he had during the next two days made him a very psychically labile person and we ended up leaving his place faster than programmed. The same night that we arrived there, we decided we cannot sleep in the house due to the amount of dog hair that was everywhere and that made both me and Jan feel uncomfortable. Jan has a chronic allergy to almost anything and I think that for him sleeping in this kind of environment would not be healthy, and for me…well I do not mind a few dog hair here and there but I do mind the immense quantity that was in this house. The same night, Dan left with a friend for some drinks. He called this girl (that he said is a friend but the next day he was calling her fat and ugly and desperately in love with him) and next morning we find the girl at his place, with no car and very angry that he left with her car and dumped her in the bar. We did not really understand the situation but later in the afternoon we went to pick him up from a park fair where he was modelling for two old local artists. While in the car he was rambling about how great guy he is ( he always expressed these great opinions about himself) and how he things one of the lady artists, well in her 60s is dead inlove with him and that he is going to have a cougar. (Noun. A 35+ year old female who is on the "hunt" for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, propped up against a swanky bar in San Francisco (or other cities)waiting, watching, calculating; gearing up to sink her claws into an innocent young and strapping buck who happens to cross her path. "Man is cougar's number one prey").
As you might think, all that i am telling you can seem funny at first sight and innocent but little by little it was being built a scary portrait of this guy that seemed to be or schizophrenic or bipolar but he definitely had some problem. The same day he convinces us again to go with him to another place in order for him to meet some friends. We accept because we wanted to do something fun that day. We arrive to this ski resort place that had the gondola open for free and on top of the mountain there was a restaurant. Little by little the weather was changing dramatically and soon after we arrived at the top of the mountain and we took a seat with his friends on the terrace of the restaurant, a strong wind started to blow and soon a very strong storm came that made even the gondola stop. It was really scary outside and I honestly thought that we will have to get refugee on top of the mountain for the whole night. Finally the wind and the rain decrease a bit in intensity and the gondola starts working again so we take the chance and go down but it was moving so much while going down that they stopped it at least 4 or 5 times. When we got to the car Dan decided to go with a friend of his and we left with our car towards home. Again he did not come back that night. We started to feel that he has some problems because no one gave him the car, he could not drive so we think he had some DUI ( driving under influence of alcohol). The third day was the maximum. In the morning we came to the house to have breakfast and as early as ten o’clock he started to behave very strange, I thought he is on drugs( something very powerful) but later he admits he has been drinking a whole bottle of Rom that same morning. He was screaming nervously than laughing nervously, changing thoughts and words and having no coherence, throwing his stuff through the house. At a certain point both me and Jan felt this cannot go good and we need to get away from there. We packed the little things that we had around and as soon as one of his flatmates came to the house we told him we will go and that he is in a very bad condition. The guy was ok with it also adding that it seems to be a common behaviour lately. Probably Dan was dealing with his past but not in the most advisable way. I do not think he is a bad guy but I do think that he got beyond the limits of common sense and that we do not need this kind of things during our travel. I felt better being out in the fields camping than close to his house. This kind of people consumes the energy of the people around them and by having this behaviour they just spread bad vibes.
After doing some shopping in town for the next few days, we started the road back to Yellowstone because we still had some things to visit and honestly that evening was the most relaxing I had after the weekend we have spent in the proximity of Dan.

We could take our seats outside and I read all the afternoon while Jan walked a bit around. The landscape was nice, close to a river and in the night the whole ski was inundated with stars. The more you spend time in the nature, the more you realise how many things we lose or we do not know or appreciate anymore because we live in the city. Next day we woke up fresh and with more energy than ever and we finished our visit in Yellowstone with wildlife watching ( a herd of bisons).

From here we will be crossing the plains of Midwest towards Ohio, where Amanda and Mark are waiting for us!