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HERBIG IDEA is a creative studio comprised of WHITNEY LYLE and SAM HERBIG. Whitney is a designer who loves to create books, packaging, and do more crafty projects in her spare time. Sam is a film electrician who loves to take photos tirelessly, while finding time on the side to create maps in various mediums (a long-standing hobby, starting with his 3-d topographical map of his hometown, Tübingen, Germany in elementary school).

Together, Whitney's big picture ideas and Sam's impeccable attention to detail, they pull prints in a print shop or set-up a makeshift photography studio. They love to generate ideas and find ways to execute them. 


We're chronicling our travels around the states on this blog. Check it out, if you're bored and sitting on an apple box (you can also check it out from home or the office).

Filtering by Category: Exploring

Where all the Extremists go

Samuel Herbig

Real paper maps will be back ... at some point. Pinky swear.


Following the last post we really just had a lot of driving to do. Originally, we'd intended on staying a night in Jackson, WY (Whitney had told me all about the antler gates and such) and we did stop there if only for a milkshake but then decided to keep pressing on. We kept going mainly because in a tourist destination such as Jackson, rooms aren't exactly cheap to come by. Secondly, we wanted to make progress towards the South, to reduce the driving in the following days and seeing that we were traversing Wyoming and Utah, we didn't exactly have a lot of "cities" to choose from. We picked Evanston, right at the southwest corner of Wyoming at random.

By the way, we did need to stay at a motel that night. Not necessarily because we wanted to sleep in a bed. I'd like to think that we have gotten pretty comfortable with the whole camping setup. It was more that, as Whitney so gracefully put it, "we've had two more [expletive] milk shakes than we've taken showers in the past three days." That argument seemed to hold water.

We crashed in Evanston, ate the two most depressing meals of the road trip (dinner and breakfast), and got out of there as quickly as we could.

Fun side note: apparently the motel we stayed at got a lot of visitors from Australia in the winter season. So much so, that the front desk had a local time, Athens time and Sidney time clock on the wall. No one could explain the Athens time one though. Hmmm.


From Evanston we had booked two nights at the Lazy Lizard Hostel (turned out to be a "hostel", more on that later) for a bottom dollar price of $30 a night in Moab, UT. Now that I think about it, we really had intended on staying at Moab Basecamp while we were in the area, but their pricing and our budget didn't match up unfortunately. If I'm ever back there, I think I'd try to get out there though. Sounds like a heck of a cool place to visit.

Moab became more of a focal point mainly because of it's proximity to Arches National Park, which came highly recommended by Whitney's aunt Ronnie (whom you'll get introduced to later on, right after Denver). If you come from the North as we did, you'll likely approach Moab on Route 191, which is pretty unremarkable. It's flat, sandy, with low brush and grasses on both sides of the road. It's white, beige, yellow, brown... that kinda color spectrum reminding me of New Mexico and southern Texas. Then about 45 minutes outside of Moab, the road turns and starts to drop. Quickly, the large red walls that define this region started to rise all around us. The road drops off even steeper until you roll across the Colorado River and into Moab itself.

Extr-EHH-me sports!

Immediately, we started seeing signs for bouldering classes and climbing gear stores. There are signs to the nearest airport for skydiving and advertisements for SUV tours of the countryside. The main street was lined with big trucks, jeeps and ATV's. We were in and (almost) out of Moab in less than 10 minutes.

We checked in at the Lazy Lizard just at the other end of town and settled in. When I wrote about it earlier I put it in quotes, because it really seemed more like the house of a guy whose family had moved on and he decided to rent the rooms out as hostel rooms. Our room door barely closed, the carpet and furniture was a colorful mumbo jumbo of whatever was picked up at his friends place that wasn't needed anymore, etc. Considering that *everything* else in Moab starts at $100+/night it wasn't surprising, I guess. Just the same we were glad to have a room with a door and a place to take a shower.

Aside from exploring the area a little bit for it's striking formations, we also had laundry and some blogging on our agenda. For the evening program we wanted to try to do a little bit of both and set out to get up to Arches National Park for a first impression before sunset.

Late afternoon sunlight

We hopped back into the Omimobile and back tracked up 191 to the National Park entrance. Equipped with our America the Beautiful park pass, we only had to wait behind three Winnebago's that were paying with credit cards (sigh), had a chat about where they could drive with their monster-wagons (eye roll) and probably asked how the weather's been, just to be friendly (grumble). We had some sunset light to catch, people! Whitney, by the way wasn't sighing, eye rolling or grumbling, unless of course you're accounting for her disdain of my comments on the Winnebago's slow progress.

In order to get into the park, the road takes you up a relatively steep grade with multiple switch backs. Once you've made it up the first steep climb, you enter a plateau of sorts. It's flat, rocky or sandy, and covered in brush, bushes, lots of grass and shrubbery. Right before the road turns away from the valley you can actually get a pretty neat view over Moab. Immediately, huge red stone formations start to rise out of the plateau. They stand there like big chess figures or groupings of giant men and women (one of them is in fact named the "Three Gossips"). The road winds it's way along and it just becomes an awesome highlight show. 

Formation #1

With the sun setting the shadows of the rocks started to reach farther and farther towards the horizon, while the color of the rock started to change to a gleaming golden red in the sun and a purple violet on the shade side and although we had talked about it before, we both knew that we at least had to *try* to get in some painting time while we were here. We stopped here and there, so I could take some pictures, including this extr-EHH-me one of Whitney, look:

Oh my!

I'd meant to get a good tour around the park done in the evening, to get a feel for the park and what we wanted to do perhaps, when we got back up there in the next day or two, but Delicate Arch ended up being our turnaround spot. While the sun set behind us, we slowly cruised back towards Moab, trying to pick out a spot or two we might be able to paint at.

Back in town, our stomachs were grumbling and we picked out the Moab Brewery. It wasn't anything particularly special to be honest. The food and beer was fine enough. Carrying on with the extr-EHH-me theme that Moab operates under, the place was full with Kayak's suspended from the ceiling, advertisements for rafting and TV's alternating between a video about cycling and hill climbing.

The struggle is real

Right after we popped into the grocery store next door to pick up some beers. That's at least the way we thought this was going to go down. Pop in, pick up a couple of beers, pay and leave. Only, that even though we were in Moab, we were still in Utah and what they sell as beer in the grocery store is... different. The fact that the sign above beer fridge said "These beverages contain alcohol. Please read the label carefully." should have been a giveaway. Long story short, there's no beer above 3.2% at grocery stores (which all the big brewers go along with apparently, including some international companies), so we went back to Moab Brewery to pick up some "real" beer. Overall, we agreed that we'd had better beer. The packaging and labels were nice though.

Once back at the Lazy Lizard we each hammered out the text for a post. We probably would have enjoyed doing that in the common room or perhaps at the kitchen table, but unfortunately there was that guy. In this case that guy was an older, thin hippy with short white hair, standing at about 5'5" or 5'6". That guy was a talker and had finagled himself a young, and judging by the topics of discussion, naive kid to impart his wisdom to. I think that guy also gave the poor kid cookies. Yikes!


After a good nights rest we woke up late-ish to finish the posts before heading out. Finishing in this case meant selecting and editing, then exporting and inserting the pictures into the blog drafts before we publishing them. In all honesty, even though I'd really been working on cutting down on the time I spend selecting and editing the pictures, it still takes quite a long time to get everything to work the way you want. From that point of view, I see how blogging can easily become a full time job. Whether that job deserves compensation or not is a different story, I am just saying that it takes an awfully long time. 

Being back in a hot and dry climate, reminded us of the wonderful time we had had at Hamilton Pool and Balmoreah and had in fact found ourselves another swimming hole to check out. En route we stopped at the Peace Tree Juice Cafe for an afternoon snack. They had one of those fancy misting patio's out front we'd seen in San Antonio and elsewhere in the Southwest. Whitney usually let's me choose where we sit whenever we eat out, so out to the patio we went. I'd like to point out that I'm not the only one that gets excited about those misters. While we were sitting outside a very upset little boy was walking by with his mother and sister. He was upset because the misters were too high up, so that the breeze would carry away the cooling water droplets before they reached him at about 4 feet above ground level. Totally unfair, I felt that kids pain. Didn't stop me from having a nice time though :-).

This. Is. UTAH!!!

We hopped back into the car and drove through a couple of neighborhoods out the east end of town, turned left onto a dusty one lane road and after a few hundred yards came to a little gravel parking lot. We parked, put on our bathing suits and sunscreen, I took a picture of myself in the reflection of the hubcap of a Ford F650 and headed on down the trail. Compared to Hamilton Pool this one really felt like a swimming hole. You didn't have to pay, the legality was somewhat questionable and you had to walk along a not always clear path for about 15 minutes which criss-crossed the stream multiple times before you got to the pool.

How YOU doin'?

Similarly to Hamilton Pool, we could hear the laughter and screams of delight from about 300 yards out, before we came upon it. In line with the extr-EHH-me theme, people were doing flips off the rock cliffs surrounding the pool from about 20-25 feet up. Another couple of guys had anchored a tight rope on either side of the pool and then switched off gingerly crossing back and forth. We learned later, that a loosely formed group of locals deepen the pool each year, by digging out the sediment and building a wall where the stream exits the hole. This way they said they get the pool to be another 4 or 5 feet deeper.

Both of us took the long walk around to get to the top but in the end opted to jump of the lower cliff only. I like to think that we did that because we were smart (I made solid contact with the ground when I jumped in), but you can feel free to call me a wuss.

This might seem like a weird time to bring this up, but a number of people have actually asked us about how prevalent religion was in public in Utah. Specifically, "aren't there a lot of Mormons everywhere?" was asked a few times. The answer as far as we're concerned is "no". We didn't see a lot of Mormons, there weren't a ton of religious symbols or churches or any of that stuff. As a matter of fact the only time that we encountered something that could have been an event based on religion was at the swimming hole.

Mill Creek swimming hole

A group of about 30 parents and kids were hanging out, in what seemed to us like a church group outing. The parents were encouraging the kids to jump off the lower of the two cliffs. One of the kids, he seemed to be around seven or eight years old, was trying to convince himself to jump in. At different points of the afternoon he literally had the entire assembled public cheering him on. While people were shouting out helpful hints such as "You can do it!", "You just gotta take three big steps and don't stop!" or "Just jump!" he was rocking back and forth peeking over the edge trying to just jump. On a number of occasions he actually started, only to stop himself just shy off the edge. In a way it was a magnificent performance, how he kept pulling people back in over and over again with his portrayal of a tortured soul trying to convince himself to just do what everyone knew he must do. In the end he was a real tragic hero and didn't jump. He left with the rest of the church group with his task undone. I really hope this isn't the way this story ends, and that in the next act he finally jumps and then maybe gets the girl (if the church allows it).

Hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop...

Anyway, we had a real good time. We both jumped a few times. We walked up along the stream for a little bit (above the pool the stream actually flowed across multiple large stone troughs making it seem almost like a large bathtub). We cooled off by sitting in the water and eventually walked back to the car.

Roadtripping isn't all fun and games though, and at the end of the day we still had to find a place to do laundry. We googled and found Moab Laundry Express LLC, backed the Omimobile in, walked over to Gearheads asked for quarters (Thanks!) and loaded up three big washing machines of laundry and headed across the street to grab a bite for dinner at the Moab Grill. We got there just in time to witness an argument that went something like this:

Customer: This is bullshit! I don't buy it. There's no way that's a law!
Manager: Sir, I'm sorry but that's the law in the state of Utah.
Customer: I'm not buying food just so I can have a beer!
Manager: Sir, you'll have to purchase a food item. It's the law. Here, we have Texas Toast on the menu for just a $1.75.
Customer: This is the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard!
Customer exits and tries to slam door for emphasis. Door doesn't cooperate and closes slowly and quietly.

Oh, it was fantastic dinner theater! Afterwards, we went back, picked up and folded the laundry, stowed it in our handy dandy storage system in the trunk and went "home".


Arches National Park day! We tried our best to start early, because we really had two big things we wanted to do: number one was to go on a hike (Sam's wish) and number two was to paint (Whitney's wish).

Though we really try to spread the love when it comes to eating out, we went back to the Peace Tree Juice Cafe for a second meal. Part of that was certainly that we had a very nice time there the first time around, but because the activities took priority going back to the cafe also saved us the time and effort that sometimes comes with trying to find a good eatery. 

I think it works in black & white

After eating we sensibly decided that since I am the more important person, we would go and do the hike first. I had heard and read about that one of the more spectacular areas in Arches, was Devil's Garden with it's many arches and rock formations all accessible with relatively little effort. There I had in mind that we would start to hike along the trail that leads all the way up to the Double O Arch and just see how far we would make it without settling on a final turnaround point. The map at the trailhead estimated the roundtrip to the Double O Arch as about 2-3 hours.

This is also the moment when Whitney started to rethink whether or not I was the most important person and whether it really was sensible to do the hike first. See, at the beginning of the road trip we'd set a goal to do some painting. Since at least Austin, we were traveling with four blank 18x24 inch canvases and we'd brought with us a storage bin of each paint brushes and acrylic paints. Though neither of us are painters we had spent a wonderful weekend in Vermont some time ago and done a painting each that time. We both had enjoyed that experience so much that bringing painting supplies somehow had always been the plan.

Especially when you're a novice, painting something big and interesting is perhaps easier than to paint something more mundane. I'd wager that it takes considerably more skill to get something ordinary just right. That's exactly what these arches were: huge, both vertically and horizontally, with a distinct and bold color palate and they were interesting looking. Also this was likely one of the last opportunities for us to paint this kind of spectacular scenery, since we hadn't taken advantage of Big Bend, Grand Canyon or Zion.

And that's why Whitney wanted to paint the arches.

Now that we had an official estimate for the length of the hike, Whitney became more and more concerned about the timing of our painting session. On one hand we both agreed that sitting in the blazing afternoon sun wasn't a particularly bright idea, on the other hand Whitney didn't think that squeezing in perhaps two or three hours to paint was going to be enough time. Perhaps we should have tried to paint on two days instead of just one?

Landscape arch in landscape

And so the hike through Devils Garden became a negotiation-in-motion. Regardless we got to see the Landscape, Partition and Navajo arches. They're all very, very different something I wouldn't have expected. Landscape arch is the most spectacular, just because it is so narrow and long and so high up. What makes Partition arch special is the view you gain, when you look through it. It's more of a window in a rock, I guess. And finally Navajo arch is a massive arch, that's low enough that you can really get a sense for scale. Walking underneath the arch is more akin to the feeling you get walking through a short tunnel or underground passage. You know what I took some pictures. Why don't you click yourself through them and perhaps that'll show it a little better than I can explain it?

After we visited Navajo arch, we decided to turn around because we were hungry and because we wanted to give ourselves a little bit more time to look for a spot to paint later. But since we were already there we figured we might as well stop by the Tunnel and Pine Tree arches. Tunnel arch is special because of the viewing angle. It really reinforces the notion that everything is a matter of perspective. You're only able to get a good view of the Tunnel arch from a certain distance. Go any closer and you'll lose the view of the actual hole. Pine Tree arch was one of the arches that you could easily walk up to and walk through. It was also perhaps the most literally named arch: there were a lots pine trees.

Mini people!

We left the park for the 2nd time and decided to grab lunch and margarita's at Eddie McStiff's (the margarita's were very good, says Whitney). While in town we also picked up ice for the cooler and gas. Then we returned to the park and while Whitney was questioning the rangers in the station about where we were and were not allowed to walk as well as about possible picturesque places to paint, I called my Omi to check in.

Armed with new information (walk anywhere you like, so long as the ground is rocky and don't crush the mini ground people!) we headed back up the serpentines and into the park. We'd spotted a place to paint on the first day and wanted to see if that would work out, but in the end there was no real place for us to set up. So we drove further and further into the park and perhaps more out of desperation then anything else decided to drive by the Windows section.

Fish eye in the desert

We parked, got out and walked up to the Double Arches. This was better. We could get right up to them and they were big. It was in the shade. After we looked around for a little bit, we both settled on a spot. Next we trucked our supplies up to the arches and found ourselves a rock that would serve us as easel and soon enough we were painting in peace and quite.

Or so we thought.

Our painting sessions ended up being a lot more interactive then anticipated. Our very first visitor fittingly was a professional landscape painter! He gave us some friendly tips and after hearing that we were trying to get a painting done before sunset slowly shook his head and murmured something about "not enough time". So no pressure at all.

After that we were visited by a steady stream of hikers and tourists. It's interesting how you feel like you can feel people looking at you. Okay, well and it also really doesn't help that due to the acoustics you can hear the mother whisper to her son: "Shhhhh! If you're quiet you can look. Just walk around behind them so you can see the paintings, but keep your distance honey, okay?".

We however were not to be deterred from coming home with colorful canvases and after about three hours our efforts seemed to pay off. Whitney wasn't very satisfied with her work, but I really think that it's pretty nice, right?

To say goodbye to the park, we climbed up into the Double Arch shortly before the sunset and looked out the other side. It was a short but pretty tricky climb, because the rock face at first seems to be offering so many opportunities to hold onto, but once you're a little ways up the rock the steep angle makes it hard not to keep your balance.

In the middle of the night in Cortez, CO

Then we packed up and got on the road. After all we still wanted to grab dinner (Buck's Grill House, try it... it's good), before heading out to our next roadside stop at the El Capitan Motel in Gallup, NM. By the way, we didn't do a whole lot of night driving on the roadtrip. That was mostly intentional, because night driving is more strenuous and also it's dark and you know it's hard to see stuff. This however was an exception and I'm glad about it. It was one of the more surreal drives in my mind because we were driving through reservations for long stretches at a time. We stopped once at the Handy Mart, but most of the drive was in the pitch black night with only a brilliantly clear night sky above us. If I was into hard drugs...

P.S.: I'm back to my old tricks and uploading all additional pictures to flickr again. Have a look!

Interlude and Update from the Reunited City

Whitney Lea

So, it has been awhile since we posted about the road trip. We actually have the post for Moab drafted and half of the Lightning Field post done, but never got around to putting everything together. It's not that we wanted to stop the blog with an entire month of the roadtrip left to write about. We got behind and then hit the ground running when we got back to Virginia. And mark my words, we will finish blogging this trip. Sometimes life has to come first, though.

After the trip my sister, Mary, got married to her awesome husband, Eric. We went to Virginia Beach with the Lyle side of my family and Sam's older sister Elisa joined us there with her family. Then we had a few weeks to get everything organized, sort through plans, emotions, money, possessions, celebrate a big win for our favorite sports team (World Cup Victory for the DFB!) and suddenly we were on a bus with our stuff in suitcases headed up to New York. We went to one last wedding, for Sam's cousin Nate and his bride, Audry. And then we checked into our transatlantic flight with tears in our eyes. The lady who checked us in at JFK took pity on us and put us in seats with extra legroom, which was actually very nice.

We have been in Berlin for a month now, and I can definitely say I really love this city. My friend Julia gave me the idea to take a photo every day and send it to my mom (via google hangouts!), so I've been trying to do that. I haven't taken one every single day, but have definitely done it for most. I decided that to celebrate our first month here I want to share those photos here as well!  This will be a long post. The photos are all cell phone pictures that I've taken so the quality isn't comparable to what Sam can do, but they still give a nice impression of our lives here so far. I am only going to apologize for the poor quality of these photos once though!

My first few days (weeks?) here I was a bit numb and overwhelmed. I saw this while Sam and I were on the way to the bakery on our first full day in Berlin. I'll call it a call to action.

We have been staying at Sam's brother (Leo) and almost-sister-in-law's (Franzi) place since we arrived. It's an awesome apartment in the neighborhood of Friedrichshain. We have our own room and they are really nice hosts. When we got here they already had a bed, couch, desk, and clothes racks in our room for us. On our second full day we went to ikea and bought a shelf for 36€ (in wood behind me there!) and that is where we store our clothes for now. It's actually much more accessible than a dresser and I'm considering keeping it as clothes storage even if we get to ship our stuff over. Dressers aren't that common here for clothes anyway.

Above is from a walk we took to Prenzlaur Berg on our third day, a neighborhood north of Friedrichshain. I like color. Can you tell? I think that's why Berlin and I can be friends.

This is Mauer Park. We visited the massive flea market that happens there every Sunday (flea markets here are nothing to eff with). I'd love to print a series of cards or postcards and set-up at table there sometime. We will see how that materializes. The rest of the park was full of musicians, including a full orchestra and opera singer. They are down there in the photo, though it's really hard to see them. Look for the bass in the middle of the photo. The crowd was so big we couldn't get a better view, but the sound was great. They had just finished a cover of The Monster by Eminem, with Rihanna's part sung by the opera singer.


I love the contrast of old and new that you can see everywhere here. Buildings that survived the war, buildings that were created while the city was divided, and the rush of new buildings now. That layered with murals, grafiti, plants, signs, architectural elements, and color everywhere make this city feel so lively.

Bonus photo from the same day.

And another. This is a building on our street where people (including kids!) create chalk graffiti instead of the real deal stuff.

In former East Berlin the crossing signals are these little dudes. Cute, eh? They are different in former West Berlin. This photo is looking down our block. If you examine it closely you can see a small crowd on the corner in the distance. More on that later.

One thing Sam and I have been doing a lot of is walking. We're getting a clear map in our heads of the area around us, we get the blood flowing, and our minds get to work on whatever we're thinking about. We've always done our best thinking on walks. Walks in Berlin are New! and Improved! Now With Beer™! We went to a reddit meetup in the neighborhood of Neukölln one night and decided to walk home over the Oberbaumbrücke. It was a fantastic time.

Another low-quality photo, but NOT low-quality food. Everyone here loves Döners. Everyone but me. Luckily, many Döner places also offer roasted chicken. This place is one of my favorites. Their roasted chickens are spectacular. We got a Döner, that half-a-chicken mit pommes (fries), and that beer you see there for a little less than 9€ ($11.65). That's a tasty dinner for two and then some. Take that McDonalds!

Another thing that is eye-catchingly different here are the playgrounds. The are usually enormous, have super steep slides, the obligatory wooden "Pirate ship", crazy swings, and climbing walls. This photo only shows about half of the playground at Hasenheide Park. Just to the right of this photo were some 7 year old kids playing "throw the dart at the balloons tied to a tree" for someone's birthday. It's like pin-the tail on the donkey with less accuracy and a shorter reaction time. I like that Germans seem to trust their kids not to break their necks because I never liked the all-plastic playgrounds that took over schools as I was growing up. But the fact that I see rear-facing infant carseats strapped into the front passenger seat more often than not here bums me out. It's definitely interesting to see the cultural differences though. When it's all said and done the playgrounds here are really cool.

From another one of our walks. This is a view over the River Spree. The modern green building on the right is an office that does fashion design. Beyond that is Viacom Germany (for MTV and Nickelodeon). The sculpture is called Molecule Man. In the distance is the Fernseheturn (television tower). If you look closely there is a dark brown brick bridge in the distance with two little towers, the Oberbaumbrücke. The masonry on that thing is exquisite. 

I was suffering from a little creative block and lack of direction when I got here. Oftentimes I try to find little projects to keep the juices flowing. Leo and Franzi have a great big kitchen so I spent a lot of the first month hanging out there cooking. I went to the store almost daily and have started to adjust to the differences between groceries here and there. Produce is pretty seasonal. I couldn't find asparagus if I had to, for example, but the variety of mushrooms are great. The lettuce and tomatoes have been so incredibly fresh here. The store sells at least 100 kinds of jarred and pickled vegetables, but only one kind of black beans (canned or dried). Canned goods just aren't common. The sausage here is spectacular and freshly made. The fish is always frozen. The dairy section is enormous. I can get a half pound chunk of good quality camembert for less than 2 euros (there are hundreds of types of cheese and salami). They have at least six different dairy products that are similar to sour cream, and an entire aisle full of different of kinds of yogurt. None of it is Greek style. Tortillas are only available in burrito size and only in flour. The American section of the international foods aisle has Ranch dressing, popcorn, Swiss Miss, barbecue sauce, sundae toppings, and a few other junk food type things. A decent bottle of wine is 4 euros. 

I made a big batch of my grandma's sugar cookies, which are basically crack. I've attempted Shepherd's Pie, succeeded with roasted tomato soup, made spätzle mit linsen, and Sam has done several dishes as well, including Swabian Pfannkuchen (different from Berliner Pfannkuchen that I'll talk about later!). One night when it was just Sam and I, i decided to get experimental with dinner. Above on the left we have a salad with grapefruit, cucumbers, red onion, walnuts, and feta, with a honey vinaigrette. The dish on the right is salmon with pan-roasted tomatoes, shallots, and olives, with polenta. The sauce is "Balsamic crema" that you can just stroll into the store and buy for 4 euros. The salad was killer. The salmon had great potential.

The image above is Sam holding our scanner. My mom performed a huge love service to us and shipped our iMac and scanner to Germany ahead of the rest of our stuff (which is hanging out in storage). That way I can get some heavy duty design work going without having to wait for months. The iMac got held up at customs for a few days, but just this morning Sam set it up and it's ready to roll!

On the 26th of August a group of refugees who are also activists posted themselves up on the roof of a hostel around the corner from our apartment. We came home that day and weren't quite sure what was going on, aside from the fact that Police had blocked off a street on our corner and there were some left-wing student types hanging out. By nightfall there was a march around the neighborhood with at least 200 people. It turns out this protest was just another chapter in a bigger story that has been happening in Berlin this year. The men on the roof were refugees who are being threatened with deportation despite Germany's reputation for having pretty open borders for refugees. The Berlin senate had offered a deal in order to bring them down from a different roof they had been occupying earlier this year and then reneged on their end of the deal. That protest went on so long that the police themselves quit trying to control the hundreds of protesters that turned out.  This time the police strategy was to block off the area in hopes of starving the refugees down from the roof.


In the days that followed, our corner was occupied by lefties who hung banners and camped out in support. The banner above is an example. All-in-all I was impressed by how dedicated protesters were, as well as how civil and fair police seemed to be in contrast to police I've met in the states. They were clearly working but I sensed none of the militaristic air that many police in the states seem to have. They could have been workers at home depot or the post office. The refugees remained on the roof until September 9. During that time the protesters created more banners, the refugees continued to shout slogans and blow whistles from their post on the roof, cars honked their horns in support regularly. There were two more marches and there was even a right-wing counter-demonstration that had a whopping TWO people show up! Very exciting stuff.


Another evening, another walk. This time we were in the neighborhood of Kreuzberg and suddenly heard loud banging noises. It's not uncommon for drunk and or bored kids to shoot off bottle rockets in sewer holes here just to make loud noises, but we came around the corner and realized this was a legit fireworks show for no reason clear to us. Everyone on the street had stopped and people were walking out of restaurants and cafes to watch. The only time one has fireworks here is for New Years and they're always just bottle rockets. 

One night our friend Gunner invited us to a party that was in the courtyard of an apartment block in our neighborhood. The hosts had hung origami, streamers, balloons, paper lanterns with LEDs in them. There was a DJ playing electronic music (the Berliner soundscape as far as I can tell), and there were maybe 50-100 people there. When the cops came to ask people to go home everybody cheered as they left peacefully. Gunner explained that parties usually go like this: the cops come the first time around 11 and ask the host to turn the music down; the second time they come around 1 and say "alright, wrap it up." and at 2 they make their final visit and chase everyone out. No searches, no arrests. We got there around 11:30 so we only saw their second visit and decided to stroll slowly home after that. 

One mission we had was to go to a bakery in Pankow to try their pfannkuchen. A few years ago when Sam asked, Franzi told us that these pfannkuchen were the best in Berlin. What is a pfannkuchen, you ask? Well remember when JFK said he was a Jelly Donut because a Berliner is a Jelly Donut in Germany ("Ich bin ein Berliner...")? It's not true! People in Berlin don't call jelly-filled fried dough Berliners. They call them pfannkuchen (FAN-koo-hen). Germans in other parts of the country do, indeed call them Berliners though. Across the street from the tasty bakery was this gorgeous mural. The front of the building had architectural elements painted on to match.

Later that day we decided to visit our favorite biergarten across the Spree from the Chancellory. In this photo Sam is sitting closer to the Chancellory that one can get to the White House (without a tour). The weather was probably 70°F and we watched tour boats float by and listened to a pretty talented steel guitarist play some nice music. He opened with "When I'm 64", the song that Sam and I used for our recessional when we got married. We smiled and added money to the hat.

At some point the police made the protestors move back from our corner to a park nearby. By then the protestor's encampment had grown to be about 40 people overnight and over a hundred during the day. I think it was a tactical move by police because the move meant that the protestors couldn't see the refugees on the roof and the refugees couldn't see the protestors who were there to support them. The other effect it had though was that it brought the protestors closer to a big commercial intersection so many more people would see the demonstration. This banner is made from old broken umbrella fabric and it looked great. The black umbrella uses a common chant, "No border, no nation, stop deportation."

Another example of how Berlin layers the new and old. Look at that ironwork. There are so many different great doorways here.  And all the tags create extra texture and accent the old world artistry of the door. I think many people would hardly notice this building if it didn't have some of this graffiti.

You know what is awesome here? The weather. That's right. It's been between 85-65°F, but mostly hovering around 70° during the day this month. I think there were only 3 days that didn't have a short rain shower, but maybe just one day that I would call rainy. There's enough sun to get vitamin D but not so much that I have to wear sunscreen to avoid a burn. I like the weather and I love the colors of the sunset. The photo doesn't do justice, but it's a start.

So that's the life in Berlin so far in photos. Additionally, Sam is working tonight (and has 2 more days scheduled!). He made a great resume when we got here and then went on a mission cold-calling gaffers and turned up some work. I am so proud of his determination. For me,  I just finished my first week of German class. I'm the only native English speaker, which I think is exciting. The class has people from all over the world. Peru, France, Russia, Syria, Madagascar, Vietnam. And me. Three hours a day, five days a week for five weeks. At it cost 150€ at the Volkshochschule (like a community college). Heck yes. 

The be all end all

Samuel Herbig

No more flyers!

Day #58 of our journey was going to take us to the famed Yellowstone National Park. What I knew of the park was mainly wildlife (read: bison) and geysers (read: old faithful). I knew that it was big and I knew that it was mountainous and that's about it. Particularly in the few days before driving down there Whitney kept saying, "if we don't see any bison, I'm gonna be really disappointed." No pressure Yellowstone.

I'd vote for Bugs any day

I'd already been feeling pretty shabby, so much so that Whitney had been doing a lot of the drive from Brownies Hostel, which had taken us through Browning, MT (at that time seemingly consumed by a fierce public office election) and across vast stretches of prairie. As I was drifting in between my two co-pilot states of napping and taking pictures we traversed the big sky country for endless hours. The ridges of grass green hill chains bobbing up and down in front of the windshield, with puffy white clouds overhead. All the while we were being accompanied by the mountains of the Lewis Range to our right. Signs of open ranges continuously warned us of roaming cattle and the biggest hinderance to our progress was a road construction site which we were lead through by a truck with a Follow Me sign on it.

In Helena, we stopped to load up on groceries for the next few camping nights. Since neither of our sinuses were feeling particularly groovy, we decided on chicken soup for the evening (NOT from a can). We also grabbed some granola and other supplies that had worked out well for us in the past and then continued on our path towards the park.

Coming down south along route 191/287 we entered the park from the West, with the end goal being the campground at Madison Junction. You'll think this is crazy, but we actually had enough time to set up our tent, and then make the roundtrip to the visitor center near Old Faithful. All during day light!

Of course, we saw bison galore already on that very first drive through the park. I mean it's pretty tough not to. They are big, they are slow and they make a funny huffing noise when they're grazing. Reminds me a little bit of the times growing up when we would stay on farms in Switzerland or the Landwirtschaftspraktikum (yep, that word is street legal in Germany) when being around 2000 pound animals was a daily occurrence.



Tempting as it was, we didn't spend too much time away from the campground, because we still had to make dinner and wanted to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

We woke up the next morning to Whitney feeling the effects of a worsening sinus congestion. So after just making a bit of tea, we intended to set out to get Whitney to a shower, so she could hopefully drain her sinuses to relieve the pressure. Due to a series of unfortunate decisions and events, we didn't make it to a place with showers until Evanston, WY! We started with the best of intentions on a trip clockwise around the Yellowstone park.

One of the thoughts Whitney and I would discuss later at length regarding Yellowstone is, that it was perfect for a sick day or two. The reason is simple: Yellowstone is laid out to be explored by car. Sure there are hikes and most of the attractions of the park can't be seen from the road directly. However, almost all of the spectacular sights and amazing nature can be enjoyed from your car or otherwise after a very short stroll from the parking lot. So if you're not feeling well, which neither of us were, this park is about as good as it gets.


The first time I pulled over the car, was at Gibbon Falls. They are tame in comparison, but it set the tone in terms of what we could expect for the rest of the day. Not necessarily regarding the kinds of attractions, but more the company we'd be "enjoying". It's certainly a busy park and more than once I asked myself, how the park service was ensuring the proper preservation, when the crowds were already so thick in late May?

Snow and hot springs: one day

We drove up to Canyon Village, got gas which was surprisingly not over priced (I know, right?) and then I wanted to go up to Dunraven Pass and Mt. Washburn. Naturally, we weren't going to go on a hike with Whitney feeling worse for the wear as the day continued. Still, I wanted to see the other side of the park, but realizing that it wasn't all that I had hoped it to be, I soon turned back to continue our loop around the park.

I dragged our poor Whitney out of the car again and again: "Do you want to see the Yellowstone Falls?", "Should we go to Inspiration Point?", "I'll take the South Rim Drive out to Artists Point, okay?" or "How about the Sulphur Cauldron or the Mud Volcano?"

Ladies and gentlemen: no words!

Over and over again, Whitney said "I'm really not feeling so hot, but I want to get out of the car anyway." I was really glad that she did, because she'd let me know about the different things she recalled from coming to the park the first time when she was 9 years old. That time the family had travelled out with her grandparents. That's important to note, since Pop-pop (amongst many others) has been a driver of our artistic expression, and I never even met the guy. Also, at Painters Point she sneezed like a four year old. You know, snot hanging by thick threads out of her nose all the while she's looking back at me at least as shocked as I am looking at her. It was funny, you had to have been there.

Pop-pop himself was a painter (oils and water colors) and going through his catalogue a couple of years back in order to make a book of his work, turned into a learning experience of sorts for us. Looking back, it was around that time that we, and certainly I, felt compelled to get back to creating more art from scratch. With my hands. With paint.

Whitney recalled going out to Artist Point with Pop-pop and showed me the colorful earth and rocks surrounding the Yellowstone River Canyon, just below the water falls.

A little later we stopped at the Sulphur Cauldron and Mud Volcano (the names!). It was the first of many stops along the parks famed thermal elements. If you have any inclination of going, just go. I can tell you all about it here, but it's just incredible to see the sheer number of different springs and pools and geysers, and mud pots and so on. The park service was also quick to illustrate that the thermal features were constantly in flux and could change at any point. Hot springs slowly moved over hundreds of feet. Geysers go dormant and reemerge. As a matter of fact the area surrounding the Mud Volcano had completely changed in the 1980's due to a number of earthquakes. A sharp increase in the ground temperature following the quakes has been killing the trees along the hillside ever since.

Finally, our loop took us by the grand stage of the Old Faithful. The area around the geyser is completely built up with shops, the visitor center, restaurants, you name it. It is a bustling complex ready to handle many, many tour busses filled with tourists from far away countries and loads of minivan's filled with vacationing families form not so far away. The geyser itself is surrounded by a large circular boardwalk, which has conveniently placed benches along the edge to view the geyser. Considering, that people used to throw logs and rocks and handkerchiefs into the geyser back in the day, the boardwalk it probably a sound idea.

Regardless of the commercial noise surrounding Old Faithful, it is a fantastic experience to watch it explode into the sky. We were particularly lucky, because just before the eruption a rain storm had moved through, darkening the sky and making the steam and white water shooting from the ground all the more visible against the sky. I wonder what it would have been like, to see the geyser back when none of the buildings were there. Back when you had to take an expedition many weeks long to get out there. What it would have sounded like, just the rushing of the wind in the trees, and the water shooting into the sky...

The end of the show

The end of the show

We treated ourselves to milk shakes at one of the restaurants (which were delicious!) and got back in the car to get back to the campground. You see, before we left in the morning we were sure it wasn't going to rain, but because you're an attentive reader you remember the "dark sky", right? We were worried that the rain had gotten into the tent and we wanted to either deal with it, or prevent further soaking. Luckily, though the tent had seen a sprinkle, nothing seemed to have gotten wet.

On the way back from Old Faithful I had also spotted a bison herd near the road and I really wanted to get some good pictures of those guys. Whitney relented and back out we went to get Sam some bison. Not far down the road was a little off shoot of the main loop where we found at least a couple hundred bison grazing.

Bison, not buffalo (don't be a European!)

Bison, not buffalo (don't be a European!)

From a distance, we were able to see big bulls, nursing calfs, play fighting youngsters and more. It's a marvelous thing to be able to get in such close proximity of such large mammals. That these guys were mercilessly slaughtered isn't easy to stomach, but considering their relatively peaceful demeanor it isn't hard to imagine either. Anyway, I got my pictures!

Back at the campground we made another simple dinner, and then headed up to the "amphitheater" to hear a ranger talk on the parks history and flora and fauna. Whitney and I were quickly getting to like these talks and if you're the National Park visiting kind, it's worth checking them out. I for one really liked getting context for my visit and being able to ask some questions afterwards (i.e. "What's it really called, a bison or a buffalo?"). Tired but satisfied we went to sleep, soon after.

The next morning I was starting to feel better, but no such luck for Whitney. Despite our honest efforts to rest well, drink plenty of tea and to feed ourselves the way Sue would have, Whitney's throat was still hurting and her sinuses stuffed. Being on the road however meant that we could only do so much and Whitney was being a trooper. While in the park, we wanted to visit as many of the thermal springs and geysers as we could, before we had to leave later in the day. So we broke camp, loaded the car back up, made sure that we had all the lozenges and a thermos of hot tea within arms reach and set out.

Whitney self medicating... tsk, tsk

The park has just tons and tons of thermal features. The most famous of them, after Old Faithful, is the Grand Prismatic Spring, but there are so many others! As we headed south along the loop towards Grant Village and the South Entrance of the park we first steered the Omimobile into the Firehole Lake Drive. I guess, because none of the drives features are as bombastic as others in the park it wasn't as crowded, which suited us just fine. Along the route we stopped at the Firehole Spring, Surprise Pool, Great Fountain, White Dome and Pink Cone Geysers before finally arriving at Firehole Lake and Steady Geyser. That's a whopping seven geothermal whatchamacallems! And they're all very different. Some are still steaming colorful pools, others gurgling mud pots, others again spout water high into the air. While I was busy clicking away, Whitney was lamenting the fact that she wasn't able to jump into one of the hot springs. So she did the next best thing: at each spring that was particularly hot and steaming she found the perfect spot to stand in the steam as the wind carried it away from the pool. Even sitting here on the soft bed at an airbnb thousands of miles away, I can still smell the sulphur with each breath as I think back.

As the expedition photographer I wanted to go to the Prism Pool of course. Interestingly, you really can't get that famous overhead shot you always see very easily. You'd have to go on a hike, to gain enough elevation . . . and then hope it's warm enough out that there isn't too much steam coming off the surface of the pool. Still, we got to walk around it and see the other pools as well. It's a neat place and the colors are amazing. It's terribly crowded though with tour bus after tour bus arriving, so we left before too long.

On our way out, we once again stopped for a sandwich at the Old Faithful Visitor Center and (accidentally) saw the geyser erupt for a second time. Not bad! With a little bit of food in our tummies we finally bid the park adieu and began our long treck to Moab. Hang on! We saw some more elk on the way out. 

Elk end

Elk end

In hindsight, I wished we had more time at Yellowstone (as was the case in so many other places). I wouldn't have minded being able to do a hike or two. That being said, with some time and patience and a camera you can explore most of what's there to see. There are also many more pictures from this part of the trip, that didn't make it into the post, but I'll do my best to get them uploaded to Flickr soon. 

What do you think of Seattle?

Whitney Lea

Last call for the Northwest

I consider myself an expert at making snap judgments. I am not saying they're ever accurate. I'm just saying I'm good at being judgmental on a time crunch. Additionally, we get asked to judge what we've seen all the time while on this trip. "What did you think of Blablahsville?" "Is Such-and-such-istan really so liberal/conservative/pretty/relaxing/boring/cold/dusty?" And really, these posts are meant to record our impressions (read judgments) of a city. It can be fun, but seeing so many places has made me reevaluate my super judgey approach to travel because no place is ever one thing. Our time in Seattle was quite a pinball machine of different opinions and helped me to step back and realize that this roadtrip can't be painted in black and white (or red and blue as the case may be). I'd like to use this experience to illustrate what I mean. So let's get our snark on and make some snap judgments, shall we?

We took a nice little car ferry across the bay from Bainbridge Island to get into Seattle. We ate some of the last contents of our cooler on one of the decks while listening to two guys talk about trying to find time to cut their next record and where they wanted to tour. They definitely thought they were a big deal so we played New Yorkers by ignoring their attempts at attention pretty successfully. After that Sam tried to take some cool pictures of the Omimobile on her first voyage on this trip. My impression? Glad we took a ferry in for the novelty of it. But Seattle musicians clearly thought too highly of themselves. They get an eye roll. Seattle was Kanye.

When we arrived in Seattle proper we cut into the downtown grid just a few blocks and soon enough we were near the city market, the bustling tourist center of the city. To our slight horror we discovered our hostel was one block away from this tourism mecca. Central is good. Smack dab in the crowd is a little overwhelming. Ok, so Seattle is really touristy like Times Square, or worse yet, Macy's.

I ran up to the front desk to ask them about parking tips since there was nowhere to park on the busiest block in the city. We then found out we could park the car in a protected garage one block away for *just* $18 a day! We consulted an app to see if we could find better within a mile or so, but no dice. We had to backtrack to the "cheap" garage and it took awhile during rush hour. The traffic also rivaled Times Square. As we traced boxes on the GPS we realized how steep the hills were. Believe it or not these put San Francisco to shame! Sam just kept his foot on the gas at a few red lights because the car would roll backwards if he only used the brake. Seattle is a seriously big hill!

As we got closer to our parking garage Sam mentioned that he thought the homeless population seemed more prevalent than we had seen in other cities. A moment later I looked out the window to see a girl staggering across the street wearing a pajama tank top with disheveled hair and a hospital bracelet who was sporting the most remarkable track marks I had ever seen. And they were all over her arms. She yelled to a guy who looked like his mind was a million miles away. They both seemed lost in their own world. I shuttered and suddenly felt very sad. How could drugs, mental illness, and homelessness be so bad that they were more noticeable than in any other place I had ever been?

We parked the car, loaded ourselves up with clothes for the next two days, our overnight bags, backpacks with valuables and made our way downstairs to confirm with the garage security guys that the hostel's discount would apply. At first they closed the booth's window as Sam approached in his hoodie and started to talk to them. He tapped on the window and they looked at the two of us in a concerned and alarmed way. Did I mention we hadn't showered in two days because there weren't showers at Olympic National park? We could hear people incoherently yelling at each other around the corner, mumbling, could see them walking back and forth. Suddenly I realized the security guys thought we looked like a part of the homeless population Sam had mentioned. We walked out into the street and passed at least 10 people who seemed deeply mentally ill or deeply drug addled on the one block walk to the hostel. Seattle was totally strung out.

The grand yet surprisingly yellow "Green Tortoise"

The grand yet surprisingly yellow "Green Tortoise"

I spent a good amount of time searching for explanations and articles that would discuss the problem. The question has come up in the Seattle subreddit and the community there was generally defensive, mentioning that the problem seemed just as bad or worse in San Francisco, which was far from my impression. I did find a good article that discussed how the city is trying to address multifaceted problem of homelessness and it gave Sam and I something to turn over in our minds a bit as we were there.

We bathed so we would look brand new and then went to have a beer at Pike
Place Brewery
, home to some gorgeous beer label designs. The beer was good too! After that we headed to dinner where we brought our seafood kick to an end with mussels and salmon. Sam swung by a park on the waterfront for a few pictures and it was inhabited by people who seemed to plan to stay the night there.

"Water front"

"Water front"

I was still feeling very sad and confused about Seattle's homeless population and kept trying to understand what the heck made it this way. We went back to the hostel for a night of serious blogging. Seattle, how could I like you if you had so many people living in misery all over the place?

I wanted to see what it was that made so many people like this city and I woke up the next day determined to get away from the tourist district to see a few different neighborhoods. There is no way I would have liked New York or New Orleans if I had only spent time in Midtown or in Bourbon Street. Maybe Seattle was the same way. We took a bus to a bakery and coffee shop in Phinney Ridge and I started feeling nostalgic for Cafe Madeline, my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn. We had some tasty coffee and lots of fresh-baked carbs with sugar on top (our favorite!). The coffee thing is true. It was tasty no matter where or how we had it in Washington State.

She's excited – so, so excited!

She's excited – so, so excited!

We walked along quiet streets with nice little houses and spectacular gardens. Everyone who was coming and going seemed so happy and very distant from the intensity of Pike Street.

We decided to walk into Green Lake Park so we could make our way to Schmeltzers Sporthaus soccer store to get ourselves some world cup schwag. You see, we remembered to bring almost everything on our trip except for our Germany jerseys, which are the required uniform for fans of Die Mannschaft (in case you aren't aware, the world cup is going on and we'll still be on the road). We debated about what to do and how to properly show our team spirit. We knew that for years now the Seattle Sounders FC has had the best fan base in the MLS so we placed a safe bet that we could find a soccer store in Seattle. Luckily Schmeltzer's was perfect (and shares the surname of one of my favorite – albeit currently injured – German defenders*). When we arrived at the store a soccer game was on and Sam realized it was the champions league final! We had made sure to watch live from the beginning last year – planned our entire day around it, actually – because two German teams (and really most of the star power on the German National Team) were having a showdown for champion of commercial European soccer. This year two teams from the Spanish league were playing for the same title. We picked out some slick looking DFB (Deutscher Fußball Bund) t-shirts and hightailed it to a bar to catch the last 3/4 of the game between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Did I mention they are not only from the same country, but the same city? Yeah. That would be like the Yankees vs. Mets in the world series. We asked the young guy at Schmeltzer's if he knew of a bar nearby that would show the game. He said any of them probably would and when pressed, didn't have a favorite. I now realize that he was likely underage, so he wouldn't be able to offer a good tip. We walked down the Street, back towards the park and came across Über.The bartender was welcoming, the wall art was clever and original, and it was a fun place to catch a game. So glad to know that Seattle is a soccer city!

Likely in it's worst light

Likely in it's worst light

After the game we knew we needed two things: a stroll through the Seattle market and a nap before beginning or evening activities. The market was as crowded as you would expect on a Saturday but the produce looked beautiful and fresh. There were tables and tables of gorgeous flowers, booths of fruits and veggies, and a fresh handmade pasta booth in addition to the famous fish. I had been prepared for a market chock-full of tschochkies and was surprised to see so much fresh food. We arrived at an Italian dry goods and wine shop at one end of the market and looked for a nice bottle for the night. The clerks were so well informed on every region and type and were super helpful and friendly. I thought the market would be purely a tourist trap, but I am pleased as punch to say that isn't the case at all. If I lived in Seattle I would brave the crowds to get some of my groceries there. Seattle's tourist center still served its original purpose.

So after the aforementioned nap it was time to get our night on the town started. We walked at a lively pace to Honey Hole, which was supposed to be a bar with food. We were short on time but knew we would need to eat. Little did we know Honey Hole was having its 15th Anniversary party, complete with huge crowds, cheap craft beers, all sorts of decorations, and the highlight if it all: The Country Lips.

Colorful affair

We squeezed into a table next to a few other people and ordered our food and then remained transfixed by the band as they played. You can hear them on their website, but the live act was a few magnitudes better sounding and more entertaining to watch. They had the energy and the sound of the band at Robert's in Nashville, but the room was much, much smaller so the music wasn't as amplified and was thusly easier to hear. Seattle really did have a music scene and we didn't have to even try looking to find it!

Before we knew it, we were done eating and it was time to head to the Oddfellows building to see Bring It!, a fundraiser show for the Seattle Burlesque Hall of Fame competitive team. Sam and I are both pretty big fans of burlesque, having spent many a night in Coney Island USA for Burlesque at the Beach, the Parkside Lounge, and the Slipper Room when we lived in New York. It is definitely one of the things I will miss most about living there. We've dragged many people to shows, even my mom! Burlesque (or neo-burlesque) nowadays is closer to performance art and has really gained popularity all over the country. I've seen acts about bedbugs, Plaxico Burress, cheese, surviving cancer, the Grinch, an entire show about the Marx brothers, and a number of other things too weird to describe on this blog (I'll gladly go into it over beers though!). I think a little part of the increasing interest in neo-burlesque is due to A Wink And A Smile streaming on Netflix. A Wink And A Smile is a documentary about Miss Indigo Blue's burlesque school in Seattle, so naturally I was psyched to go to a show that she was hosting. It was in effect a fundraiser to help their burlesque team fly to Las Vegas for the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, where acts from all over the country perform and compete against each other. That meant that the performances we saw at Bring It! would be the acts that the Seattle team was doing for the competition. The show itself was really fun and it was enjoyable to compare and contrast the style of acts and even the burlesque community in Seattle vs. New York. The costumes in Seattle were of a quality beyond anything we had seen in New York. Amazingly gorgeous. The acts themselves tended to be much more tame conceptually and less about clever humor, though Ernie von Schmaltz did an interesting Lord of the Dance act and Scarlett O'Hairdye and Bolt Action did one of the best robot acts I've seen (youtube!) (and I've seen many) while managing to have subtle and well-timed humor. Beyond that, the show took itself fairly seriously. I've always loved New York's ability to laugh at itself, particularly in that community. Overall though, the show was a great way to spend our evening and Seattle's burlesque scene was more than I'd imagined. We walked back to the hostel and I felt like I had a much more varied impression of the city of Seattle.

We left the show, Whitney winking and me smiling

Our last morning was spent getting groceries for the next few days and then we went to Nollie's for a tasty breakfast and to tie up a few loose ends. Our next few days would be in Montana and we knew we wouldn't have cell phone signal or access to wifi so we called family to let them know. This is an important part of road tripping because once or twice we've come back from having no service and received concerned voicemails from loved ones. In this case my sister, Mary, was due to have my nephew over those next few days and I wanted to make sure all was well. I also started to iron out details on some freelance work that was offered a few days prior (the slow pacing of the blog posts lately has been because I was hogging the laptop to do some actual design work for this project!). After that, we strapped ourselves in for a full day of driving. Our next stop: Flathead Lake, Montana.

So, at the end of it all, there were things about Seattle that were tough to see and things that were really great. It lands on a spectrum just like anywhere else. But if this were a buzzfeed quiz what would I say about Seattle? It's Portland's strung out, yet justly self-assured, artistic older brother.

*Not exactly correct: The store is actually named "Schmetzer's Sporthaus", thus loosing the similarity to the authors darling player (red).