Fog

We’ve been in Seattle for 2 full days. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to pack up all of our groceries and clothes and stuff them into the Prius tomorrow morning. It’s nice to stay somewhere for more than 2 days.

While I do enjoy traveling–particularly avoiding tourist attractions, favoring bookstores and small vegan cafes–a significant chunk of my favorite kind of life occurs in the security of some kind of private space. A room where I can wear slippers and sit by the window, cell phone on silent; a booth in a coffee shop by an outlet; my bed, toes warming. It’s harder to create these spaces while traveling.  You always have to be hooked into something: maps or weather, traffic forecasts or which one-way street had free parking before 6pm.

Seattle is wet-cold: the kind of cold that I know well growing up tucked between ocean and river. Winters in Wilmington are wet, cool, and breezy. Magnolias and pine trees persist through whatever semblance of a winter actually occurs (a solitary frost, a half-inch coating of powder canceling school for a week).

When the fog breaks, you can see the Space Needle from different parts of the city. Today Chett and I learned that it was unveiled for the 1962 World’s Fair. Typical post-Sputnik American phallus worship. Yet it’s charming. It looks out of place, alight and still sporting its Christmas tree zenith (at least until Wednesday). Like it’s from a future we haven’t reached. (Still waiting on my jet pack.)

Can’t wait for my monthly bus pass to activate in 2014. Time to do some real exploring.

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SLC Punk?

But where were all the punks? I saw lots of Mormons and their hundreds of children. There was a yummy Chinese restaurant with lots of vegetarian food that stayed open all day on Xmas (thanks!), and a movie theatre with an espresso machine.

But no punks.

Chett and I stayed in our teeny tiny AirBnb all day and watched movies. We gave each other some presents (Octavia Butler for me, a book on Native American mythology for him) and I tried to ignore the Mormons.

The views made that a lot easier.  The mountains ringing SLC are stunning. We drove in at night like we did in Denver, and again awoke to glorious snow capped vistas. I called them vistas; it might be the only accurate thing to say of the Utah Mountains.

Other than that, it’s a total wasteland out there. Thus further defending my theory that cultural centers must be founded and maintained by water (trade routes, long-term survival).

In Boise now. Already been to the two places in town that know what vegan food is. Looking forward to Seattle. I’ll leave it at that.

Denver

It has snowed both nights we’ve been in Denver, and each morning, the sun comes up and melts all the snow, no matter what the temperature. I think this is a pretty ideal way to experience winter, as every morning is a frosted, cheery event, and the day that follows is bright and unbelievably blue. It could be worse.

Denver has a homelessness problem. There is a stark contrast between the glittering glass facades of the shopper-friendly downtown and the rows of bearded men wrapped in threadbare winter coats. Being vegan seems incredibly bourgeois at times like this; all of the vegan-friendly places (here and everywhere) are just as shiny and into recycling as the strips of chain restaurants downtown, and they cater to the rich white people who “diet” as a verb. 

I like to think that my veganism is much more than a diet: a part of my feminism, my activism, the way I try to live my life participating in as few horribly harmful things as I can manage. When veganism becomes a tourist attraction (which it has in Asheville), a commodity for neoliberal REI-wearers to buy and feel good about, then I start to get annoyed. What else can be commodified?

The things that we place value on are the things that can be purchased; those who cannot purchase (people in poverty and/or experiencing homelessness) are excluded from the ideological basis of so much of American culture. The folks without places to sleep here in Denver mar the natural beauty that I can capture on my iPhone and post to the internet.

Sometimes things become so contradictory that I just want to take a nap.

Truth: Denver is gorgeous. It sparkles like an ice cream cake. The mountains behind the city loom and shadow. I am drinking tea and ate a vegan croissant and I am working on my grad school writing sample. Chett is the best travel buddy (but don’t ask him to carry your leftover pizza). 

Yesterday we were cold and wanted a drink. We went into the nearest bar and lots of TVs were showing sporting events. Chett and I watched some football and drank beer. Go Broncos!

Colorado

Now in a part of the country that I have never seen. Looking forward to awakening to massive snow-capped ridges tomorrow, not to mention the all-vegan bakery and cafe that I intend to camp out at to finish my grad school application.

Snowing charmingly.