Monday, May 31, 2010

What We See From Our Car Window

We will be back stateside tomorrow tonight which means we will have greater access to internet (via our phone) and can finally catch you all up on all of the fun we've been having in Canada and the northeast U.S.! Until then, I thought I would share some of what we have seen while driving.


Not all of them, dear.


What is blocked out?? And why block that thing out and keep "Variety"? Doesn't "Variety" imply that they are selling the thing that they blocked out? I'm so confused.


Gas Bar. So many interpretations, all of them kind of weird.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

End of the Road

We have 38 days left in North America. Here is the tentative schedule...


Date Day Night



MAY

29 Ben and Jerry's Tour and Drive to Montreal Montreal
30 Montreal Montreal
31 Drive to Quebec City Quebec City



JUNE

1 Quebec City and Drive to Acadia NP Acadia NP
2 Explore Acadia NP Acadia NP
3 Drive to Portland and Salem Near Salem
4 Boston Boston
5 Boston Boston
6 Boston Boston
7 Boston to Cape Cod Cape Cod
8 Cape Cod Cape Cod
9 Drive to Philadelphia Philadelphia
10 Philadelphia Baltimore
11 Baltimore Baltimore
12 To DC DC
13 To Roanoke, VA Roanoke, VA
14 To Knoxville, TN Knoxville, TN
15 To Chattanooga, TN Chattanooga, TN
16 Chattanooga Chattanooga, TN
17 To Asheville, NC Asheville
18 To Cary Cary
19 To Cary Cary
20 To Cary Cary
21 To Cary Cary
22 To Cary Cary
23 To Cary Cary
24 To Cary Cary
25 To Cary Cary
26 Boeke Mini-Family Reunion NY
27 Boeke Mini-Family Reunion NY
28 Boeke Mini-Family Reunion NY
29 Boeke Mini-Family Reunion NY
30 Boeke Mini-Family Reunion NY



JULY

1 Lexington Park MD
2 Lexington Park MD
3 Lexington Park MD
4 Lexington Park MD
5 To NYC NYC
6 NYC NYC
7 To Holland and beyond In the air...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Worst Border Crossing EVAH!

Security Theatre, In Three Acts.

Act I



Video Here

Ellen: [Observing the rapidly approaching stop sign.] Stop.
Jon: [Failing to stop completely for my license plate close-up.] Whoops!
Ellen: Ooops. (I warned you...)
Ellen: [Handing me the passports.] Here you go.
Jon: Hello! (In a great mood this time. Ready for a quick and easy crossing!)
Dude: (All business.) Put the vehicle into park.
Dude: Just two of you?
Jon: Yes it is.
Ellen: Yeah.
Dude: Where's your... (piece of crap) van from?
Jon: Ah, Arizona.
Dude: Turn it off for me.
Jon: Sure.
[25 second pause] (which is a looooong time at a border crossing)
Dude: Mr. Ah... Is it Boek?
Jon: (It's cool. That's what most people guess, Dude.) Boeke.
Dude: Tell me your citizenship.
Jon: U.S.
Dude: And, Ellen, what's yours?
Ellen: (Dude, what kind of passports did we just hand you?) U.S.
Dude: What are you guys doin'? What the... reason for your travels?
Jon: Ah... Vacation.
Dude: Goin' where?
Jon: We are going to... (all over the big wide world) ah... (but let's narrow it down for you) well, actually, Vermont is our next stop.
Dude: And where have you been outside the United States. Like, Canada. (Really? GREAT GUESS, BUDDY!!!)
Jon: Ah, through Toronto.
Ellen: And Vancouver. (TMI, Ellen.)
Jon: We came in through Windsor.
Dude: What was the reason to go to Toronto?
Jon: Vacation. Just visiting.
Dude: Well [ignore voweled], I mean like, some people take a vacation in Russia or China. Why would you go to Toronto? What... Why would you select Toronto as a vacation destination? (Really? Oh, my. Our Canadian friends are going to LOVE this!!!!!!  So, so choice dude. Seriously. Because nobody vacations in Toronto?)
Ellen: We've never been. (Do we honestly need a reason?)
Jon and Ellen: [laughter in disbelief of the question]
Ellen: We're driving across the country and we want to see parts of... Canada. [TMI, again...]
Dude: What's your occupation. (...you jokers...)
Jon: (Oh! I can answer this one!) I'm a computer programmer.
Ellen: (I love answering this question, too!) Writer.
Ellen: I'm a writer. (Seriously. Check it.)
Dude: Like, paid? Or is this, like, avocation, or you earn a living from it?
Ellen: A little paid, yeah.  (Exactly $10.98) I mean we earn mostly...
Dude: How do you earn your living? What's...
Jon: My... I do contract computer work.  Consulting.
Dude: You have children anywhere? (Perhaps in the black box up on the roof?)
Ellen: No.
Jon: No children. No. (But we reserve the right to get busy.)
Dude: Describe what you have in the van here. (What you got in that van? What in the world's in that van?)
Jon: Ah...  There's a bed in the back. (You know, for sleeping and making children.)
Dude: Mm Hm. (Don't I know...)
Jon: And, then, under the bed is, like, storage for clothes and we've got, like camping gear...
Dude: Do you have any goods or merchandise?
Jon: No. (*sigh* You just interrupted me AGAIN, dude.) Nothing, ah, I don't think we got anything in Toronto, did we?
Ellen: Mm Mm.
Dude: Do you have any plant products, seeds, flowers...? (Damn hippies.)
Jon: No.
Dude: Anyone have prescription medications? (Medical marijuana?)
Jon: Do you?
Ellen: Hm Mm.
Jon: No.
Dude: Everyone's healthy on board? (Well we did just come back from a country with universal health care. Am I right?)
Jon: Yep.
Ellen: Yeah.
Dude: All right. [Returning passports] Hold on to this.
Jon: All righty. (Great advice... I'll be sure to hold on to our passports.)
Dude: You're gonna pull up here. We're gonna examine this vehicle.
Jon: K. (Crap.)
Dude: Leave your, uh, flashing light on here.
Jon: What's that? (Huh? Turn signal?)
Dude: Put the blinkers on for me.
Jon: Where do I...  Where am I pulling up to?
Dude: Hold on.
[changing camera batteries for Part II]


Act II



Video

Ellen: Something feel weird? A little... (I hate this van.)
Jon: Hm?
Ellen: ...tires? It just felt like it was running a little...
Jon: No. (I know you hate it. It's almost over.) Just there were some... cross...  [Addressing Dude 2.] Up to the line?
Dude 2: Up here and, uh, turn right.
Ellen: Turn...   right? (Genius is pointing left.)
Jon: Hello.
Dude 3: Hi. See that van down there?
Jon: Ahhh.... Which one? (There are, like, 20 cars over there.)
Dude 3: See the purdy flashing lights?
Jon: Ah, yes I do.
Dude 3: See that line of cars?
Jon: Ah, yep, with the blue one in the back... or the slate? (I know my colors.)
Dude 3: Yep. You're gonna park right behind that car.
Jon: All righty.
Ellen: For crying out loud. Don't they know they can cause seizures with that? (Fact.)
Dude 4: K. That's good.
Jon: K.
Dude 4: In a few moments we'll have you leave your vehicle. You'll go behind the orange barriers over there. When we're done you'll depart and head out that way. (So that's the 100th time you've said that today, eh?)
Ellen: Ok.
Jon: All right.
Dude 4: You can turn off the vehicle for...  if you wish. (Oh, I wish I wasn't being treated like a criminal in my own country.)
Ellen: Should we turn the thing off? (Authority figures make me nervous.)


Act III

We were unable to film this part of the border crossing. I really tried.

After pulling out my camera, I was told to put it away and if I took any pictures he would have to "smash my camera." Stay classy, USA.

Here is what happened next. The vehicle with all the flashing lights that you saw in Part II actually has a big-ass X-ray machine inside. It slowly went down the line of nine lucky, randomly chosen victims and then back down the other side again.

Turns out that nobody had any seeds, flowers or plant material in their vehicles.

And yes, for you, humble readers, I asked if I could get a copy of the X-ray image for the blog, but no such luck. The guts of the van shall remain classified.

Thanks for the warm welcome home, USA!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Roaming...



We are in Canada.

There is no Verizon service in Canada.

If you don't hear from us for a couple days, blame Canada.

UPDATE: We are a day behind schedule and TOMORROW (May 29) we will be in Canada. I guess that's what we get for setting up pre-scheduled blog posts too far in advance.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Of Planes and Pancakes

In addition to some wonderful historical story telling and really cool historical planes such as Bockscar,


the U-2 spyplane,


and the (not a plane) Titan II missile,


 the National Air Force Musuem also has a few oddities.

Parachute Dogs


Reaction Propulsion Pistols


and...  yes...  Space Pancakes.

If your travels ever take you near Dayton, Ohio, go visit.  It will be worth your time and it is a great choice for budget travelers - - FREE!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Bit More Bold

After seeing our post about Glacier NP, certain readers demanded that we be a bit more daring in our adventures.  And so, while spending a day at Grand Haven beach, we decided to oblige.



Movie Link

Recorded water temperature was about 51 degrees. Probably not glacier-water temperature, but it's a start.

Adding to the excitement, we were also attacked by a kite.



vid

The pilot was incredibly talented. He could stop and turn his kite on a dime. We enjoyed watching him gently drag the kite-tips through the calm Lake Michigan water and bring his kite within inches of other beach goers.

Thanks for the fun day at the beach, MI!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Growing up in G-Rap

Last week, I gave Ellen a guided tour of my hometown: Grand Rapids, MI.

It was her first visit to Michigan and I was very excited to show her all about the city in which I grew up. But I need to thank her for putting up with some of the less exciting landmarks that I pointed out. "My brother worked there." "My dentist was somewhere in that building." "I played basketball in that school once."

I'll filter that stuff out and give you just the highlights.

Downtown.



Video Here

Grade School.



High School.



And, my childhood home.


Whoops!  How could I forget Yesterdog!  Definitely a highlight.


While much remained the same, I was really impressed by the development in the downtown area. Old, decrepit buildings were re-purposed into living spaces and art galleries. The neighborhood in which I went to high school went from slightly shady to reasonably hip. Good job, Grand Rapids. To the rest of Michigan, take note!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Diamonds Are Forever

Sometimes you have to travel across the country to discover gems like this*:


Oh crap! This whole time I've been loving my husband based on what an awesome person he is and how he loves and supports me no matter what. I totally forgot that I'm supposed to value him for his ability to buy me jewelry.

Honey, in case you forgot, I prefer princess cut.

~~~
* Pun not intended...

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Tale of Two Calders

Our travels took us from this big orange sculpture on Tuesday...



...to this big orange sculpture on Wednesday.


The second one is in Grand Rapids and we'll talk about that city a bit later. Today, we'll recap the first city: Chicago.

We had the opportunity to spend some time with my oldest brother and his family who live north of town. We visited during the week and so we were able to watch my two nieces and nephew participate in a play...



Video

and some baseball.


It was particularly exciting to see my nephew, while pitching, catch a line drive and strike out the two remaining batters. In his next game, he hit a double bringing home a runner on third.


We were also treated to some Lou's. My favorite Chicago pizza. Yum!


While the family was away at work and school, we wandered around downtown and took a self guided architecture tour.

WrightRoosevelt

DecoManhattan

Have you heard about the Chicago Club? Interesting stuff.

CClub

For lunch, we stumbled upon Miller's Pub. If you're there ask for Ann. She was full of great stories (we sat in the same booth at Vince Vaughn!) and she also convinced us that we absolutely need to visit Morocco. Thanks for the tips, Ann!


And thanks for the hospitality, Chicago Boekes!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pure Michigan

We are in Michigan! Birthplace of Motown, auto unions and my beloved.


Yes! Michigan!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's in Your Backpack?

I'm on a roll in the advice giving department so I'm going to keep going and pass along another hard-earned tip.

This time the topic is clothing and the secret that I am about to share with you is HUGE. It might just save you money and months of psychic distress.

The topic is travel clothing and the secret is...

Pack the clothes that you like to wear.

I know, I know, this may seem like the most obvious advice ever, kind of along the lines of Save Money, Live Better or Drink Water, Be Less Thirsty. But preparing for a long trip alters your brain. You get excited and in America, getting excited makes you want to buy things. Things like special anti-microbial underwear. And jackets that stuff into little pouches. And moderately ugly but extremely comfortable walking shoes.

So you start your trip with your new purchases and with some durable, casual clothing that you feel will hold up to the rigorous experience of being washed in someone else's washing machine. You congratulate yourself on how comfortable you are and how that blob of ketchup on your black skirt is totally not noticable.

And then reality sets in. You start to open your bag with despair*, knowing that there is absolutely nothing in there that you actually want to wear. You dream about the clothes you left behind. That awesome blazer that goes with everything. That high waisted pencil skirt that makes you feel like you're from the 20's. Those gorgeous red heels that are really pretty comfortable for heels.

Because the reality is that when you leave on a trip like this, you don't change into a new person. If you wear clothes that you think are "impractical" for life on the road, leaving them behind won't make you happy. It will make you sad and then it will make you poor as you spend all of your montly allowance buying new clothes that are just like the ones you left behind.

Just so we are clear, you will still wear the durable, casual clothing from time to time. Traveling days, camping days and hiking days will not be conducted in red heels and a blazer. But life on the road is more than constant traveling, camping and hiking (oh, the blasphemy!). Bring what you love. You won't regret it.

~~~
* The exception is obviously you lucky folks (read: Jonathan) who normally wear clothes that would be considered travel clothing. The only thing you will experience when you open your bags is satisfaction in having exactly what you want.

~~~
Photo courtesy of Udo Springfeld

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm So Vain

Remember when I told you that I was going to leave my vanity (and makeup) behind? Hahahaha! I just love it when I make predictions about how my future is going to be and then put them in writing so I can look back and see how wrong I was!

It turns out that I may be the teensiest tiniest bit vain. And unable to leave said vanity behind.

Here's what I now know about myself:

I can go forever without makeup while physically traveling, in National Parks or in other rural environments. But get me in a city or out on the town with friends and I just want to look less...splotchy. So I caved and while in Minneapolis (at the Mall of America, no less), purchased something recommended to me by my fabulous friend Kim: mineral foundation.


Holy crap, this stuff is amazing! It takes about two minutes to apply and makes me look like I have really good skin. I would venture to say that it may be the perfect traveling makeup. Of course, I've been using it for less than a week and thus a prediction like that may be considered premature and unwise. But what I lack in ability to learn from my mistakes, I make up for in enthusiasm!

Mineral foundation is awesome! You should try it out! It will change your life!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Mighty Mississippi Up Close and Personal!

Remember when we visited the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle?? Remember how exciting that was?!

Well, yesterday we got to go THROUGH a REAL LOCK on the MISSISSIPPI!!


Video here

So. Totally. Awesome. Thanks, Mike and Jenni!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

When Eagles Cry (or scream)

After two days in Minneapolis, we are on the road again! Stephanie took great care of us and it was so nice to hang out with her, Kara and Steve.

We will leave you with a souvenir from our visit: Kara's eagle scream.


Video here

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bread and Circuses

We've been moving pretty quickly since we left Canada.

We cooked in the cold.



link

At Little Bighorn, we saw some dead soldiers with simple headstones.


At Rushmore, we saw some dead presidents with heads made out of stone.

Jefferson had a runny nose.



Lincoln was crying.



Maybe because of the Bad Lands nearby? (rimshot)



link

In Wall, we fell for the hype.
 

And at Mall of America we got taken for a ride.



link

But now in downtown Minneapolis, we're relaxing on rooftops.
 

And visiting good friends.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Most Beautiful Road in the World

On our second day in Alberta, we traveled to Banff. We had seen beautiful pictures of the impossibly turquoise Lake Louise and of the surrounding area and so we had set our hopes pretty high for the day.

So, um, nobody told us that the lake freezes over in winter.




Our plans for a long hike around the lake shattered*, we stopped into the Chateau and perused the info pamphlets.

Oh, look, this one proclaims that The Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper is "The Most Beautiful Road in the World." Sure, why not, let's give it a spin...

Ho... ly...  Wow....





These Canadian Rockies just dwarf their US counterparts. And they go on for miles and miles. We traveled nearly two hours north from Banff and still hadn't reached their end.

I tried finding ways to visually capture the scale of these mountains. Take a look at the two-lane road going through the first panoramic shot or maybe try to find the skiers paths on the left side of the second one.

Maybe a video will help. 



Video Link

Nope. I took nearly a dozen of these windshield-cam shots, but none of them do the mountains justice.

After driving to the visitor center... sorry...  centre... near Columbia Ice Field, we learned a bit more about the mountains and glaciers in the area. Here comes the science. Just a little. It won't hurt.


The ice field towards the top of this picture is really, really deep. Three Calgary Towers (or Statues of Liberty) could fit underneath. It feeds six major glaciers around it, including Athabasca, pictured here.


If your travel budget allows (ours did not), you can take one of these bad boys out onto the glacier itself.


While at the Centre, we hugged a Mountie and asked a helpful ranger for a nearby hike suggestion.


The ranger recommended Stanley Falls. Perfect.




Video Link

We finally got our beautiful turquoise water.

Moral of the Story: Sometimes unexpected turns lead you to the most memorable places.

-----
* The avalanche warnings didn't help either.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Limited Visibility

More snow! And fog! In May!


Video here

But you have to admit that it makes Devils Tower look more mysterious and beautiful.

Before:


After:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Making Friends on the Road

We spent this past weekend in Alberta and stayed two nights with our Couchsurfing friends Terry and Jen, their adorable daughter, Ellie and their two sweet dogs, Hayden and Tokaji.


We will tell you all about what we did in Alberta in another post but first I want to explain how we got to know Terry and Jen and explain how you can get to know them as well...or at least get to know people like them.

We've mentioned Couchsurfing before but never really explained what it was. The short answer is that it is a fun way to meet cool people, both as a host or as a traveler. The long answer from their website is this:

"CouchSurfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using our system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding."

And hospitality they do provide! Terry and Jen not only provided a bed and shower for us but cooked for us, gave us a tour of Canadian beers and even gave us a book and some music and comedy CD's. They pretty much rock!

Among the delicious food they provided were some yummy cookies. Check these babies out:


They are more like energy bars and come with a disclaimer: women in advanced state of pregnancy should be careful eating these as they have been known to induce labor! The first time Terry made them was on the day that Jen went into labor with Ellie. They were that good!!

I would recommend making them as soon as possible...and also signing up for Couchsurfing as well!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Terry's Labour* Cookies**

2-1/4 c. oatmeal (not instant)
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/4 c. flax seeds
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2-1/4 tsp sea salt
1 pkg. chocolate chips
1-1/4 c. craisins


1/4 c. water
1/4 c. molasses
3/4 c. canola oil
1 c. milk

Mix dry ingredients (from oats to craisins) in a large bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a larger mixing bowl.  Add dry mixture to wet a little at a time until it is all incorporated, but don't overmix.

Portion cookie dough using a 1/3 c. measure.  Gently flatten cookies before baking @ 350F for 24 minutes.

Yield:  24 substantial cookies

~~~
*Those crazy Canadians spell words funny ;)
**Recipe mostly based on the Cosmic Cookie recipe from Planet Organic

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Washington Recap


We left Washington last Wednesday without saying a proper goodbye on the blog. Much more than just beautiful beaches, locks and interesting cities, here is the rest of what we left behind.

Rainforest! Enjoy some photos and videos from in and around Olympic National Park and Snoqualmie Falls...

Kalaloch Trillium Brown Fiddlehead Hail



Pink Flower Nurse Tree Marymere Falls Drop



Green Fiddlehead  Spring Bud Pipe Quinault Nature Trail Walk



We also got a chance to spend some time as honorary aunts and uncles. Thanks to Dayna, Gary, Jen and Aaron for letting us live vicariously through your parenthood.







We already miss you WA, but we have this feeling that we'll be back soon!