A brief interlude into a form of nature.

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Immediately after work we packed the Subaru. The meals were already prepared, the sleeping bags and sleeping pads rolled up, the tent rented and ready to be set up. My dear Mum had brought some firewood and a handy hatchet into my workplace for me to take later (“Is it okay for you have a hatchet here?”).

We hadn’t been camping in some time, and it was only our second time this summer. I wish I didn’t type that sentence, but it is true!

We drove down to Yellowstone, through the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, past a river running very low and lots of houses tucked away into hillsides that we mused would be quite nice to occupy. The sun was going down, fast. We have been lulled into the idea that it would stay up with us and allow us time to make it to our campsite before it departs, but no. Summer is almost over, and those long, almost endless Montana summer days shorten with it.

We make it into bustling West Yellowstone by sundown. Tourists and visitors who don’t use crosswalks in a timely manner (“Get the fuck off your phone while you’re crossing the street!” I remember hissing as Logan sat there calmly as ever) make their way to “rustic” bars and shops. We pull into a gas station and buy a bottle of beer, a lighter (we forgot matches), and a can of bear spray. I have never forgotten my bear spray before and cursed the nearly $40 price tag for a new canister but relinquished because bears, man. Bears. Before we leave the older cashier calls Logan a “tall drink of water”.

We finally make our way into the park. Logan flashes our park pass, replete with regal polar bear, and we zoom into Yellowstone which has somehow become Mordor. The fires in West Yellowstone are visible from the road- red, orange, and pink glow from active fires, and we gape, our mouths open. The smoke gets bad, and we surmise that this trip may be very uncomfortable for our respiratory systems. We drive slow- the dark is heavy, like a wool blanket, and we don’t want to hit any critters. We drive by rivers and they look like they are made of mercury, the metallic sheen of them illuminated by what little light remains.

We finally make it to our campsite. It is dark. We have one headlamp and one flashlight between us, and our campsite is right across from the washrooms, but at the end of the campsite complex, so we are at least somewhat close to something natural. We begin to set up the Marmot 4 person tent I rented, and are pleasantly surprised to see how roomy it is. Logan figures out how to set it up faster than me, which quietly makes my Montana cred fall a bit. I mentally blame my parents who had such complex, old tents that when I go to set up a tent I form a battle plan rather than just roll with the quick, well-planned contraptions now available (sorry Mum and Dad). Logan uses the hatchet to tamp down the stakes, and we high five- we have a tent!

Logan gets ready to start the fire and I go up and say, “Uh, so I know I’m about gender parity and division of labor and things, but I’m going to go be domestic and set up the sleeping bags and things” to which he laughs and responds he’ll do the manly thing and make fire. We do both of these things- I blow up the sleeping pads, unroll our sleeping bags, put the bottle of water somewhere we can both find it. I come out of the tent and find happy flames licking the dry pieces of wood. The satisfying crackle feeds something deep in my soul or maybe my genetics. Fire means warmth, safety, security. A warm, happy, well-fed fire cares for you, and makes you content in a way few things truly do.

We open the bottle of pub-style ale we bought in West Yellowstone and cheers to a successfully set up campsite in the dark. The stars twinkle overhead. Logan makes soup with antelope burger and we drink it out of mugs. We brush our teeth in overly bright washrooms with running water and discuss anything and everything, and go to sleep in our ultra-roomy tent. I wake up in the middle of the night to the eeriest noises, which I swear are wolves calling somewhere nearby. I relish these natural sounds, the unfamiliarity of it. I am so cushioned, shielded in my everyday life and here I am in the semi-woods semi-camping and I get to hear animals make noises in the woods where they live. I am a guest on this magnificent Earth and it feels so right to be humbled by these few seconds of noise.

We wake up to the sun. It is about 7:30, and we have no cell service, and this is not a bad thing. Logan makes breakfast, a delicious scramble of potatoes, eggs, and tomatoes. We wash the dishes, pack up the tent, and drive a little ways to the river to swim. We apply sunscreen diligently and wade in. It is cold- very cold. The river is higher than I remember and I am loathe to fully immerse myself. We swim up the river a bit into the canyon and I start to get nervous. We are both strong swimmers but the canyon is thin and the rock walls are sharp- I’ve skinned my toes and banged knees many times before. We swim up a bit and float down and then get out. It is too cold and fast for us to enjoy ourselves, but it is amazing to see the canyon walls and feel our fingertips grip the rocks. We revel in what nature does, but decide to let her do her thing.

We drove through the park and saw no animals. Road construction and fires likely scared them into more remote parts of the park. This was the first time I had never seen a bison in the park. Usually a cocktail of critters emerge or are spotted, but this time- nothing. It was odd to be in a park where there was no animal life to be seen, but I knew they were just doing their thing out of sight.

The Boiling River was too full to stop by, and we drove into Gardiner for ice cream. The drive back was long but we made it. What a good little weekend foray.

Turkey legs/”No I’m not Neil Young”

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These images have been a long time coming.

Ella, Logan, and I piled into the Subaru in Helena, then made the quick, windy drive into Butte.

The first sign you’re getting close if you come from Helena is the massive piles of leftover, contaminated dirt that block your view of the city. This reminder of Butte’s legacy is a dirty one. Then, you get a view of the 1980’s strip mining scars on that side of town. Then, finally, nestled in the valley, hugging steep hills, you see the sprawling city.

Butte’s steep streets provided us with exercise aplenty all day. Ella and Logan had to fight to keep up with my ridiculously frantic pace (sorry guys). We ate all kinds of food, but the hightlight was when those two decided to split the consumption of a massive smoked turkey leg. The thing was so damn salty and massive, yet looked amazing. I stuck with my pork chop sandwich and whatever other food stuffs I decided to try that day (it was over a month ago! I am so bad at this blog!).

Overall it was a joy to be in Butte that day. We ended the day in the Silver Dollar Saloon, a dark and cozy place where we listened to a guy who looked like Neil Young (“No, I’m not Neil Young” he made clear before he started) before we walked back to crash on Kristin’s floor (thank you!).

 

Botticelli and thoughts on what’s to come

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I’ve had this blog for years…and years…and years. As my friend Cody said, “How does it feel to have your blog be one of your longest relationships?” Thanks dude. It’s awesome. 

In all reality, this blog has been feeling stagnant for a long time. I used to review movies, discuss feminism, talk about art, and generally put up good content! What happened?! Um, my life. Grad school. My love of photography but inability to sit down and create good text.

I’ve been considering taking this blog in several new directions. If you have any feedback leave it here! (I expect the internet version of crickets, but you never know).

-I want to interview people I find interesting, whether they be business owners, friends, academics, artists, or people who just have a certain angle to them that I think is worthwhile. I would like to photograph them and post a bit about their stories and start showcasing humans other than myself and my small, close circle of friends and loved ones.

-I would genuinely like to start posting more food/culture pieces. . I would like to get more into discussing films, art pieces, shows, etc. and other little artistic corners of the earth I love.

-Discuss the realities of grad school, being a woman, etc.- more topical pieces, less a vague visual diary!

Honestly, when you have a blog that’s been around for so long, you’re bound to get frustrated with the content, with the style, etc. but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I want to feel like this is a place for fresh content and good conversation.

We shall see! I need to seriously focus on my thesis but I feel like right now I am surrounded by so many interesting creatures I want to explore and know more about them and share their awesomeness with readers!

Grumpy hiking and lamb lunch

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We parked the car in the two story parking area at the base of Mount Helena. My allergies, vicious as they were, matched Logan’s misery as he was getting over a cold. Two congested, miserable souls, eager for exercise, climbed the dusty, hot 1906 trail. It felt like an odyssey.

“I think they re-did the trail” Logan joked at one point. We were mouth breathing, disgusting creatures who agreed that we’d stop once we reached the cave. Thank god the cave wasn’t very far up the trial. We went back down and ran errands, buying droll things humans need to continue existing, like mascara, carpet cleaner, bleach, allergy pills, and Mario Badescu Silver Powder.

Logan did enter an Ulta with me for a few minutes. I told him it was my version of church, and it was fittingly Sunday. As we entered my particular branch of religious worship, I led him to the cologne section. We went deeper into the store. Shiny displays, lit up shelves of $30 lipsticks, blotting papers, blushes, and makeup in every shade of the world, all hemmed in with massive bottles of shampoo, conditioners. As I asked somebody if the Mario Badescu Silver Powder was all gone, Logan looked around, and from his high angle, surveyed the store. “This is a strange place…” he muttered to himself. Thankfully, they had my powder, and we left, me triumphantly beaming. (What would be the male equivalent of an Ulta? Perhaps one of the reasons I love Ulta/Sephora/etc so much is that they are very feminine spaces, and people who identify as women are welcome and there are very few intrusions of male identified persons. I am, when I walk into an Ulta, free to look at cosmetics, hair products, skin care products, etc. and not be surrounded by curious eyes of people who don’t value makeup or cosmetics in the way that I do. I am surrounded by people who likely share my interests, and I automatically am much calmer in said space.) 

After running errands, we went back to the haus. Logan chopped rosemary, garlic, and parsley, and I got out the little cuts of lamb he’d purchased. Making a little sauce from yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, and some other ingredients, we also lit the grill and washed watercress (which I had never had before!).

Logan laid the lamb on the grill with sliced, garlic laden zucchini and we opened some Haufbrauhaus Pilsners, which I learned were very similar to the beers that he drinks when home in Brazil. The lamb and zucchini came off the grill and we devoured our meal with zest. Immediately after, we went and took a nap in the park. Fine day, Sunday.

Saturday in the park

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I had been craving sushi for a few days by Saturday. My coworker had discussed eating a massive amount of it, and after work and watering a massive garden, I convened with my partner in crime while we collected raspberries in a friend’s yard.

We never get a lot of sushi. We could both consume massive amounts of it but that’s not the point. So, getting 3 rolls and some sashimi is usually how it goes. This time, we ate on a spare sheet in the relative coolness of some shade in the park. We both brought books (Aldous Huxley and Amanda Littaeur authoring the works, respectively) and unpacked our to-go order. I was wearing a brand new dress covered in kittens that I was so excited to wear! I always forget how awful it is to wear dresses for picnics though- you cannot truly just relax. Regardless, as we ate in the shade and heard birds flutter in the branches above, I felt really goddamn happy. Later , I posted a picture of our picnic on Instagram with the hashtag #idyllicasfuck and let me tell you that’s pretty accurate as to how all of this felt.

I hope all of you had wondrous weekends!

 

 

Last summer: Iceland nostalgia!

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Rain, rain, and more rain. Waking at 3 am, confused by the lighting, thinking it was breakfast time. Jostling through the crowded grocery store, hearing Icelandic and understanding not a single word. Eating as much skyr as my stomach could handle, and devouring bags of chocolate covered raisins we picked up at the gas stations. We drove and drove, dodging sheep and seeing mist, fog, and soil in colors that didn’t seem natural.

Right now I find myself so engulfed in nostalgia for going elsewhere that my mind is constnatly dredging up memories. How tired, completely wiped out we were, after driving 12 hours all the way from Hafnarfjordur to Hofn and back in one day. We picked up hitchhikers, stopped and saw icebergs, listened to sea birds, sunk our feet in black, warm sand, and escaped a fast coming high tide while wandering in some rocks.

In my dream world I go back for several months, living out of a car, exploring and photographing this magnificent country more.

I wish I could dance and other Folk Fest things

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When we saw Mwenso and the Shakes featuring Brianna Thomas there was a couple dressed in 1940’s garb swing dancing their hearts out, and I thought I really wish I knew how to dance. Thoughts of horrid, hyper self-conscious line dancing in middle and high school gym class came forth- sweaty palms, limited eye contact, and my inability to pass over control to my awkward dance partner. I never, ever have been a decent dance partner for this reason- I cannot let somebody just put their hand on my waist and anticipate their moves.

While I was bemoaning a certain lack in a specific skill set, we watched this incredible group of musicians make exquisite sounds. The Folk Festival is all about several things- running into people on the steep Butte streets, eating at the food stands, catching whisps of different sounds on the air as they travel from the multiple stages, and learning more about the world we live in. The fact that we get to do this in Butte, Montana, is awesome, and somewhat random. If you were to tell me that musicians and artists from all over the world in the 2000’s were going to gather in a former mining town as famous for its copper as it was for its red light district and fill it up with global sounds I would have said you were crazy.

Yet, knowing Butte, it makes sense. Butte reveled in its immigrants- Serbs, Croations, Chinese, Irish, Germans, Russians and Poles all made their lives here. The very foundations of Butte are steeped in multi-faceted cultural exchanges, and the Montana Folk Festival is all about continuing this tradition. What a good weekend! I have multiple rolls of film coming, and I cannot wait to put them up.