all the in between

I covered a lot of ground between Nashville and the Badlands.  But here’s the thing - to some extent, I really felt that this trip took on a whole different feel once I headed West.  The landscape is so vastly different from anything I’ve seen in so long that it’s left an incredible impression on me.  So, I’ve decided to kind of gloss over a good chunk of time - about two weeks, so that I can try and start writing from the present and have the time to put all of these thoughts down on paper - real or electronic.  That isn't to say that those two weeks weren't amazing: I got to see my man in Pittsburgh. I got to see my girl Erika, her husband, Nate, and meet her new babies in Michigan and Chicago. I got to have dinner with my best friend, Amy, from high school and hang out with her husband, Fred. and cute ass toddler. I got to see my old friends, Toy and Merrick, and finally meet their son Maurizio in Chicago. I was surprised by one of my closest friends, Kamau, in Chicago, being able to spend a night hanging around the city with him.  And got to see all kinds of nature and beauty and architecture and...well, you get the point.  

So, this is a post of a million photos of my time between Nashville and the Badlands - camping in Ohio on the way to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, camping in Ohio on the way to Lake Michigan, Lake Michigan, Chicago, camping in Minnesota and South Dakota on the way to the Badlands.  This will be the visual storytelling of those few weeks.

Sunset over Caldwell Lake - Scioto Trail Campground - Chillicothe, Ohio

My campsite at Scioto Trail Campground-  Chillicothe, Ohio

My campsite at Scioto Trail Campground- Chillicothe, Ohio

And then the morning view over the lake - Scioto Trail Campground - Chillicothe, Ohio

This guy rode a bus for 8 hours to meet me in Pittsburgh and I was real happy to see him

The room yarn weavings of Chiharu Shiota at The Mattress Factory.  This was probably my third favorite installation at these row houses that have been repurposed into a contemporary art museum.  My favorite was two of the three James Turrell light installations, which don't translate to film.  The other favorite is below.  

More of Chiharu Shiota

Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Dots Mirrored Room - this was my second favorite.  Isaac clearly knew what he was doing with his light sources.

Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright, Mill Run, Pennsylvania - I was really looking forward to seeing this, but balked a little at the $25 admission fee.  I'm glad my good sense took over and we went.  Whatever you do, see this if you are in the area.  It has made me a huge FLW fan.  It was stunning to see his creative thought process put to life.

Another view of Falling Water

Shirt dichotomy.

Campsite in Findley State Park Campground - Wellington, Ohio 

Oh the road to Lake Michigan

This is a lake.  Lake Michigan to be exact.  Like, there are several cities on the other side of this, which one cannot see - Grand Beach, Michigan

Erika and Nate took me to Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan.  It was a super cute little destination spot where they serve up some good little food to keep you from getting too drunk while they make you cocktails.

The war room at Journeyman

This is Hadley (left) and Parker (right), the (not so much anymore) brand new twins of Erika and Nate.  It was really pretty incredible to be able to meet them at such a young age and see them as tiny babies.  I'm sure I'll obnoxiously remind them of this as they get older.

I got to finally see my best friend from high school, Amy's, Chicago digs and spend some quality time with her and her family.  That's Harper (her baby girl) and Fred (her husband).  And this was a terribly blown out family photo because I didn't think about taking a photo of them until it was dark outside.

Harper showing me how she takes off her shoes

One of Jaume Plensa's gigantic sculptures in Millenium Park, Chicago

Me in Cloud Gate (aka, "The Bean") - Millenium Park, Chicago

Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion - Millenium Park, Chicago

More of Juame Plensa - this time at Crown Fountain, where projected video of different Chicago residents' faces occasionally spit water at excited children - Millenium Park, Chicago

This is Maurizio Brown, my friends, Toy and Merrick's, kiddo.  I've known the Browns for god knows how long and I have watched him grow up on social media into a curious, inquisitive, and all around rad kid.  I was so excited to finally get to meet him and he proved just as awesome as I anticipated - Millenium Park, Chicago

Toy clued me onto the Move Your Body: The Evolution of House Music exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Chicago is a place where they have a goddamn exhibition on house music.  Chicago is fantastic.

"What does house mean to you?" - Chicago Cultural Center

I got to finally see my first live show on my trip in Chicago - Nikki Lane.  This is a real shit picture, but I felt I had to document it for the people.

Chicago street art

It's not where you're from, it's where you art.

On my way out of Chicago, I stopped by Oak Park on the recommendation of our family friend, Laura, who knew how much I'd enjoyed Falling Water.  Oak Park is the neighborhood where Frank Lloyd Wright began his career.  There are 25 structures in this suburb of Chicago that he designed either at his first architecture firm, Adler & Sullivan, or after he left them and went out on his own.  This is 318 Forest Avenue.

210 Forest Avenue - Oak Park, Chicago

333 Forest Avenue - Oak Park, Chicago

Campsite at Great River Bluffs State Park Campground - Winona, Minnesota.  I was only supposed to camp here one night, but once I arrived at this gorgeous state park, I ended up making it two.

Pollination Station - Great River Bluffs State Park - Winona, Minnesota

Mom requested more selfies - Great River Bluffs State Park - Winona, Minnesota

Panorama action along the Great Mississipp - Great River Bluffs State Park - Winona, Minnesota

Flowers and the River - Great River Bluffs State Park - Winona, Minnesota

When I finally left this amazing first campground on my journey West, I was ushered out through a cloud - Great River Bluffs State Park - Winona, Minnesota

This is Shirley and Floyd.  After leaving Great Bluffs State Park, I drove in a storm pretty much for five hours, finally stopping in Sioux Falls, South Dakota just on the other side of the Minnesota border.  I hung out in a Barnes and Noble and waited for the storm to pass.  Knowing that the rain would pick up again in a fierce way overnight, I was reluctant to pay $20 to set up my tent in a campground just to take it down in the soaking rain in the early morning.  One of my best resources on this trip has been www.freecampsites.net, which is where I found out about Hieb Memorial Park in Marion, South Dakota, a small town park that offered free camping.  I decided to give it a shot and drove up to two redneck-y looking dudes from Mississippi who'd set up camp and were hitting golf balls.  I was a little nervous, but figured it'd be a quick night and I had a big knife and bear spray to sleep with anyway.  And then, as I was cutting up fixins' for a salad on the hood of my car, Floyd came out of his RV to take out the trash and we struck up a conversation.  I told him my story, he told me his - he and his wife, Shirley, had lived on 15 acres close by for years that they sold last year (on craigslist!) to move down to Lubbock, Texas to help his daughter and her family out.  He was real homesick, though, and they kept a travel trailer up at Shirley's sister's home nearby so they could come and assuage some of his longings for home.  After he took out the trash and I fixed up my salad, he and Shirley came out, sat at the picnic table with me, made me a warm cup of coffee, and we went over my atlas so they could point out some can't-miss spots in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.  They also clued me into some great free camping sites and shared a secret free shower place not too far away so I could clean up before heading to the Badlands.  We exchanged information the next morning when I went to say good morning and visit with them before I left.  I think about these folks often and I hope to get to see them when I head through Texas later in the year.  They've been some of my favorite new friends along the way.

Campsite at Hieb Memorial Park = Maron, South Dakota

...And now onto the West.