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JLPT is tomorrow (how can it be December already?!), and I'm not likely to pass. x_x But because there is a possibility of passing, I have to waste my whole weekend studying instead of going sightseeing during peak foliage time.

Anyway, I has a flickr page. But no pictures from Japan yet. I'm still uploading road trip pictures right now.
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If you're in the mood for fresh mountain air, do not go to Yellowstone. XP Stinky. But I saw Old Faithful erupt, and the paintpots, and a big herd of elk, and a bunch of other cool stuff. To get there, I took this road that went right over the top of an 11,000 foot mountain, and at the very summit was a herd of mountain goats. The babies were so cute! I camped at Yellowstone, which was much more pleasant than Badlands (where the temp didn't drop below 90 until about 3 in the morning), and even though my food wasn't strictly properly secured, I didn't get attacked by bears. The next day I drove south through the Tetons to Salt Lake City. The Tetons are really impressive. It's definitely an area I'd like to go back to again.

Utah has a lot of seagulls, which makes sense if you think about it, but it was still weird to see them there. I went to Arches National Park, which was amazing, but soooooooooo hot. D: The average high during the month of July is 100, and I went during a heat wave. ~.~ But then a thunderstorm moved in and there was a huge rainbow~

I managed to make it to my aunt and uncle's near Aspen that night, in spite of a major flaw in her directions. My uncle has his own motorcycle repair business now, so we took a couple of the bikes he'd just finished out for a test drive. He's also the caretaker of the motorcycle mentioned in this article. Then we went into town for lunch, I finally bought HP7, and I had a pretty uneventful trip to my dad's house.

And thus, my road trip ended. I didn't have as much time at my dad's as I originally wanted, but we played tennis, went out to dinner with my brother John, bought a Squishee from an authentic Kwik-E-Mart, and went to the midnight showing of The Simpsons Movie. I washed Sei, but because of a power outage, I didn't have time to polish and wax him. :x I miss him.... ;_____;

Flying back to NH was a hassle, with the airline security and bad weather around DC, but I got about halfway through HP7, instead of doing stuff I actully should have been doing. And last night was the free They Might Be Giants concert at Mohegan Sun! I just barely got in, which meant I actually got to be in the reserved section instead of the regular section. There were free giant foam hands, and they played some old stuff I'd never heard live before, like The Famous Polka. And I wasted way too much money on the slots afterwards. -_-

And now I have a freaking ton of stuff to do before I leave for Japan, so I really should stay off the internets as much as possible.

22 days
4970 miles
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Devil's Tower is some crazy-ass shit, let me tell you. It doesn't even look natural. It looks like poured concrete or carved limestone or something. There was a gay couple on the Tower Trail, and I was like, "O hai, let me fangirl you plz," but they were walking too fast. ;-; Wyoming is even prettier than South Dakota, but it lacks the oddball attractions.

How come none of the motels I'm staying at are as cool as the ones Sam and Dean stay at?

I think there was more of a point to this entry, but I've forgotten what it was.

Tomorrow I go in search of a huckleberry milkshake. >9

day 18
3567 miles
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Got caught in a hailstorm today. I was worried for Sei, since in Colorado you always hear about people's cars getting dented by hail, but he seems to be okay.

So I went up to see my old house in St. Anthony, MN. It was interesting to see what in town had changed and what was the same. Almost all the houses are the same, and the high school looks exactly the same, but they tore down and rebuilt the water tower, shopping center, and community center where I went to day care. I took for granted what a nice place it is when I was living there. There were bunnies in my old front yard. ^^

I stayed at a Microtel in Mankato, which was surprisingly nice, especially considering that it's, you know, Mankato. I decided that night to abandon plans for going further west than Yellowstone. Perhaps it's because of that weight being lifted off my shoulders that I enjoyed my drive through South Dakota so much. Or perhaps it's because Bump of Chicken + South Dakota = OTP. Either way, I think South Dakota is my favorite of all the places I've been to so far. You have to love a state where one of the main attractions is a building covered in corn. Between that, Wall Drug, and the whole turning mountains into statuary thing, I think it's pretty safe to say that the people of South Dakota have way too much free time on their hands.

Anyway, I got to Badlands at sunset and camped there, thinking I could do some hikes in the morning before it got too hot, and be on my way. However, I was unprepared for the temperature going from mid-70s to mid-90s in the space of an hour. x_x Those rocks really heat up when the sun hits, and the whole place turns into an oven. Luckily, I was able to get to the ranger station before puking. The rangers who took care of me were super nice, though. But it put me out of commission for a few hours, and I had to take it easy for the rest of the day, so it really set me back on travel plans. I was able to make it to the Black Hills though, and let me say that I love the Black Hills, especially after 400 miles of hot prairie. On Mr. Nice Ranger's recommendation, I went to the lighting at Mount Rushmore, which is nice if you like your patriotism laid on thick. It really does make you realize how amazing those men were, though. Our recent presidents seem pathetically weak and ineffectual in comparison.

I meant to be in Montana by tonight, but there is so much to do in the Black Hills! I drove the pigtail bridges of Iron Mountain Road, saw the buffalo and feral donkeys in Custer State Park (a baby donkey tried to eat my shirt), and tomorrow I'll visit the graves of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane.

Wildlife List! South Dakota:
the very rare black-footed ferret
big horn sheep
prairie dogs
mountain goats
feral donkeys
red squirrels

day 17
3225 miles
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West Virginia is full of mountains, trees, and abandoned buildings. I like mountains, trees, and abandoned buildings, so it gets two thumbs up in my book. Plus, [ profile] jagen13's Jack Russell terriers gave me so much attention, I felt like a movie star. 8D I got to see the museum and meet her crazy boss (no exaggeration), And then her sister forced us to go see Harry Potter, which, well, let's just say it lived up to my expectations. But it doesn't matter, because time spent with Alison is always time made of Win. ♥

Thursday, I drove up to Michigan, which was a drastic change of scenery. But the flatness of the midwest has its own charm, like how when the local high school or AAA league is having a baseball game, or there's a county fair, you can see the lights from miles away. And then when you get a bit further north into lake country, it's so peaceful and pretty. It really brings back memories of when I lived in Minnesota.

Anyway, [ profile] sailorstarsun and I went to Cedar Point on Friday, which was OMGTEHFUN. We went on sooooo many roller coasters~~ Maverick is really cool, but the line is way long, and it's still buggy, which makes the wait even longer, so Millenium Force is still the best. However, we learned the hard way that right after dusk is a very bad time to ride it. Ewwwwwww. XP But of all the things we went on, the giant swings were the scariest. MaxAir was super fun, too.

It should also be noted that Sunny has the most anime and manga swag of anyone I've ever seen, and her doggy and her grandparents' kitties are full of squeeeeeeecuteness. Furthermore, Arby's strawberry banana swirl milkshake is really good. :o

day 14
3016 miles
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Second day at Assateague Island. For those considering a visit to the island, I recommend doing only the Assateague Island National Seashore (the Maryland part), and skipping the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (the Virginia part). The horses do not roam freely on the Virginia part of the island, and the trails are not very pleasant for walking, as there's less of an ocean breeze and more mosquitos and biting flies. Plus, Chincoteague is the worst kind of run-down, tourist trap beach town, full of nothing but sub-par motels, terrible restaurants, and stores selling poorly made plastic junk.

Anyway, the Maryland side was awesome. I guess most guide books assume that people are going to be doing the Virginia side since that's where the pony swim is (and the Virginia side is indeed much more crowded), so we got the impression that we might not see any ponies, since, if you're on the Virginia side, it's very likely that you won't see them. But on the Maryland side, the wild ponies are everywhere. The first one we saw was actually on the bridge leading to the island. (He was pretending to graze on the grass growing between the road and the bridge railing, but I think he was actually trying to make a break for it.) They aren't afraid of cars or humans at all, and will walk right on the road, which also seems to be their favorite place to poop, along with the bike paths and nature trails. There aren't many trails on the Maryland side, but it's too hot and buggy to do a lot of walking, anyway. We did do the nature trails, and aside from the wild ponies, we saw herons, egrets, osprey, pelicans, and deer. It's funny to watch the pelicans fish. They "dive" into the water, but it looks more like a belly flop.

After the hikes, we went to the beach. We didn't think we'd see any ponies there, since there's no shade and nothing for them to eat, but when we crested the last sand dune before the beach, we saw a brown pony standing amidst all the beachgoers, looking kind of confused, like he had no idea how he got there or where all these people had come from. After a while, he sat down and took a nap, and it was very cute. Then a spotted pony came up over the dune, and raided an unattended beach site where people had left their food out. Spots was trying to get a bag of potato chips open, but Brown woke up and was like, "OMG, it's another male, I have to show my peen and be all masculine now." So Brown went over there and they tussled a bit, and Spots was pwned and went to stand by the surf. With the excitement over, I went back to looking for sea critters (we saw thousands of mole crabs), and found an empty crab shell. I picked it up, and was looking at it, when I heard my mom yelling at me. I looked up, and Spots thought I had food and was coming straight at me! I dropped the shell, but he still kept coming at me, and I had to run away. It was scary~~~~ T_______T

Today, we rented bikes and went to the Virginia part of the island. The paths were nice for biking, but it would have been miserable to do them on foot. We saw a lot of egrets and a whole bunch of fiddler crabs. In the evening, we went on a sunset pony and dolphin cruise, which takes you closer to the pony areas than you can get by foot. We saw the ponies, and several osprey and great blue herons, but no dolphins. :(

Bleh, I have to get up sooooooo early tomorrow so I can ditch my mom at the airport and get down to [ profile] jagen13's before her museum closes. I want to see the mummies! :o

day 9
1434 miles
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I hope everyone has been having a good summer! I spent a very patriotic Fourth of July touring the US Naval ships of Norfolk. We went aboard the USS Wisconsin, and then took a cruise tour of the Norfolk Naval Station, where we saw the USS Cole, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the USS Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Also, in the museum adjacent to the Wisconsin, you can pet sharks! :O They feel like old shoes.

On the 5th, Mom and I went to Busch Gardens. They had a baby Clydesdale!!!!!! And their new roller coaster, Griffon, is amazing, especially if you sit in the front row.

Also that morning, there was a bunny sitting in the driveway, eating an apple. The bunny was like, "I HAS AN APPEL," and then this squirrel came up and was like, "O HAI, I CAN HAS APPEL?" and then the bunny was like, "NOOOOOOOO HE BE STEALIN MY APPEL!!!!" XD </dork>

Friday, we drove up through Shenandoah National Park, which is a very lovely and peaceful drive. And there aren't any stop signs, so my mom didn't have to point every single one of them out to me. We saw a woodchuck, a whole clan of sleeping bats, a white-tailed deer, a black bear with two baby bears in tow (SO CUTE!!!!), a red-tailed hawk, another bear, a mouse, a family of wild turkeys, including 3-4 babies, and another deer. There was also an abandoned Howard Johnson's at the southern end of the park, which I would have liked to have explored if there'd been more time.

Yesterday we went to the National Cathedral, and today we toured the monuments, but it's been too hot do much besides enjoy the air conditioning in my aunt and uncle's new house. Plus, seeing the war memorials always makes me cry. ;_; (In case you're wondering, none of my relatives were killed in war, but my grandfather did receive the purple heart for his part in the Normandy Invasion.) Anyway, hopefully it will be cooler at the seashore.

And! I found out my placement! I'll be teaching at a high school in Kyoto City. Although I was kind of hoping more for junior high, I don't think I could have gotten a better place. Also, Google Maps for Japan is crazy detailed. I've found my subway stop, and it looks like I'm just a few blocks from a McDonald's. XD Anyway, dinner time, have to scoot.

day 7
1191 miles
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OMG I am in so much pain and can't go up or down stairs. x_x That's what I get for hiking up Mount Washington, home of the worst weather in the world. (For the record, the weather at the summit was partly cloudy, 35°F, with 40 mph winds. And yes, there were people skiing Tuckerman's Ravine.) Although I'm proud of myself for having done it, I don't think I'll be eager to do it again. The path is very rocky, and I don't like hikes where I can't enjoy my surroundings because I'll fall over if I look up from the path.

And there were bears in the campground. One stole the dog dish from the campsite two down from ours. XD;

Today was spent mostly driving. Nothing too exciting, except that mom bought some potato chips which are supposed to be the best potato chips EVAR. But I haven't tried them yet. I also started case 3 in Phoenix Wright: Justice For All, and seriously, what is this series' obsession with gay guys???

Oh, this is Syuusuke's first post, isn't it? Yay, Syuusuke!

day 1
388 miles


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December 2010

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