Tag Archives: the pearl

Eugene: a day (or at least a few hours) in the life

Here’s an adapted and illustrated journal entry from June 10…

11:30am – library – Eugene

Casper at church. I woke up alone at Shady Pines to the sound of a woman orgasming somewhere in the house. I think in the basement.

I pulled myself thankfully out of a vicious-cycle dream of guns, disappearances, strangers gathered around a lake on a steep grassy bank, and broken glass pipes. Rolling up our bedding and setting it out of the way, I gathered all our other things lying around before leaving the room.

Gritty punk lady housemate perched on the front porch railing with dreadlocks, all black clothes and a friendly dog named Rosie. The door was pulled open leaving only the frame of a screen door. Elegant metal work framed the overgrown yard as I looked out from the dark hallway.

Dining room kitchen looking out the front door at Shady Pines.

Then I took lots of photos of the space because the house was empty of people and full of sunlight and shadows.

Shady Pines kitchen

Dining room/kitchen spray paint wall art.

In the car, I put some things here and some things there and ended up bring with me: computer bag, headphones, journal, sketchbook, city map, empty water bottle, car keys, phone and, because I forgot to take it out of the back pocket of my overalls, rose petal witch hazel.

I wore the headphones as I walked, the plug-in tucked inside my pocket so I could sing to myself and not look crazy.

Casper had left me a note underneath my blue traveling lizard who was tucked inside my set of car keys. The note was written in bleeding red ink in Casper’s usual unschooler scrawl. “I’m at church, I’ll meet you at the library after 1, or if the library is closed the bus station.”


It is going to be a really good day.


St. Paul/Minneapolis: Andy’s

Walking to the Hard Times Cafe on a beautiful day.

After we drove Mar to Duluth and left our couch host’s house, we spent a lot of time at the Hard Times Café and slept in our car near a park about a mile away. We slept incredibly well – much better than we expected and much better than we had during previous car-sleeping attempts.

One morning, Casper and I spread out our blanket in the park on the top of a rise so we could look down on the lake. We did yoga and I said hi to all the dogs that passed by. Casper always does more yoga than me and I waited for him to finish by lying face down on the blanket for quite a while; that kind of stillness, peace, un-anxiousness is new to me.

Right across the river from the Café was an amazing head shop called the Hideaway. It’s in a funky little neighborhood, kitty corner to a laid back library and next door to an occult bookstore. Inside, there were more glass pieces than I have ever seen. Lighters, too, and cigars, incense, hookahs, jewelry, hippie clothes, and all the related paraphernalia. They had a good selection of herbal incense, too, at prices lower than anything we have seen in Cincinnati, Chicago, Madison, or Menomonie. We have become fans of the King Cobra brand.

The occult bookstore grabbed Casper’s attention and we visited twice. The first time, I wandered around with him and had us leave well before he was truly satisfied. The second time we went, I sat outside and worked on my journal while he spent a good half hour in there with books on esoterica that even he had never seen before.

After a few days living in the car, we drove to Golden Valley and stayed Andy, with a friend of mine from Camp. He lives with his family – a mom, a dad, two sisters, and an incredibly adorable pup named Brownie – in a cozy house that his parents have been in for over 25 years. I knew his sisters from Camp, too, and we warmed to his parents immediately.

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Milwaukee: A Lack of Petrol

Salem exploring! He doesn't mind the harness at all, though he did escape it once. This was the first time we used it - on the lawn of a Milwaukee library.

The gas light turned on somewhere in Milwaukee. It was making Casper very nervous but I was less concerned. We slowly used up the last few dollars of cash we had, but it wasn’t much and the gas light – or, the nightmare it warned us of – became a regular topic of panic and discussion. We were soon down to 55 cents total. We had a day or two of waiting left before his tax refund transferred to my PayPal account.

I have never run out of gas before, but I’ve definitely jumped from dying cars on busy roads to push them out of the way of traffic before their momentum petered out. Plus, we had just watched a Seinfeld in which Kramer had exuberantly pushed a car past the gas light stage to see just how much gas was left.

By walking some and driving a whole hell of a lot less, we somehow managed to not run out of gas. We stayed within a few miles of Jason’s house for two or three days before the money finally came through on May 22, Casper’s birthday. We immediately drove to a gas station and gleefully filled up the tank of our car, our home, our trusty steed with the ill-begotten juices that make our current lifestyle possible.

Chicago Memories: La Bagh Woods

I am a big fan of feet and photos of feet/shoes.

On some day while we were at the kosher house, we headed out to Bagh Woods, which looked very green and wooded on the map. It was only a few miles from the kosher house, but it was so beautiful and lush!

We were scouting the place out as our possible next home because at that point we hadn’t found a place to stay for Friday night onward. We took my guitar, Casper’s newly acquired saw and bow, our favorite tapestry and a picnic out into the woods. We set up under a fallen try where I knew I could built a cozy, warm fort if we did end up sleeping there.

We were about to start playing cards when it started raining. We put our shoes and things as close to a big tree trunk as we could to keep them dry and then, on a whim, decided to go hiking n the rain. It was evening; the setting sun provided a glowing light. We trekked along a path, my feet caking with muddy clay, admiring the dramatic lightening that kept splitting the sky. The thunder was overwhelming.

Casper was all gung-ho about continuing, but I made us turn back. It’s a good thing, too, because by the time we got to our little camp and gathered our belongings, it was dark. We headed in the direction we thought the parking lots was, but ended up on some peninsula, with muddy, standing water on three sides.

So we trekked back to where we’d come from and guessed at another path. It was at this point that we were both getting a little frightened. We could definitely sleep outside if need be, but we were wet and tired and had a warm, dry bed somewhere. We just wanted to get home!

At long last, we found our way to the parking lot and to our car. It had a parking ticket for being at the park after sunset. To make matters worse, all the entrances to the parking lot had been chained and locked. We drove around, looking for an open exit, but finally just drove up onto the curb and over the lawn for a few yards to escape.

Chicago Memories: Downsizing Possessions

Chicago, as seen from the greatest Whole Foods in the world.

The night we left Cincinnati we knew we needed to get rid of a lot of our stuff. The car was packed to the gills even though we ended up throwing out a bunch of stuff at the last minute. It was heartbreaking!

Most of the stuff we decided to get rid of was clothing; nice clothing in particular. So, one day in Chicago while staying at Abby’s, we sorted out all the clothes we thought might sell at Buffalo Exchange and then hauled a huge tub of clothes to the store.

Unfortunately, they only wanted a few things. Apparently, our things were either too wintery or too “wash worn”. We put the clothes back in the car and put getting rid of them on the back burner. Then, one sunny day while we were at the kosher house, we decided it was time for a complete car reorganization session and drove to a nearby park.

It happened to be near a school and all the kids who passed stared and a bunch of them asked if the stuff was free or for sale. We took everything – and I mean everything – out of the car and put it on the lawn. We went through our clothes again, keeping things we’d only put in the giveaway pile because we thought they’d sell. We still had a huge pile of give-away, though, and were planning on taking it to a thrift store when a woman walked up and asked if anything was free. We looked at each other and then pointed to the pile of give-away clothes. She ended up taking quite an armload and we felt quite pleased.

Though it broke my heart, we got rid of Stu, the computer Garrick left me when we broke up. Garrick had built that computer for his sister a few years ago and then reclaimed it when she didn’t want it anymore. And then he left it for me when he moved home. It was the second computer that I’d ever been able to call my own and it was the first good one. But desktop computers are huge and by Chicago I knew it was rare that I’d ever want to set him up and use him. So, goodbye, Stu. Or, goodbye computer case. We kept the new hard drive we’d put in back in Cincinnati.

Getting rid of him opened up a lot of room in the trunk and by the end of our reorganization, the car was so much more livable. Salem had more room, everything was better organized, we had less stuff in general, and things we actually planned to use regularly were easily within reach.

Plus, getting rid of so much stuff was us making a bigger commitment to our life on the road, too.

On the Road to Chicago: Part I

After leaving Cincinnati at around 2am on May 1, we headed north on the 127 because Casper wanted to skip as much of Indiana as possible. I fell asleep in the front seat, surrounded by our excess of belongings. Salem hid in the trunk and Casper drank an energy drink.

We stopped at the Wall first, a brick wall outside of Stop-n-Go where we had the most important conversations of our early relationship. Last fall, it was the only place we both felt capable of opening up and talking. Per usual, at 2am the place was packed. We sat on the Wall, watching drunken college students make fools of themselves. The clerk always buzzes folks in at this our as the place is notorious for being robbed (some call it the Stab-n-Go). The security guard kept an eye on everyone, the college students lined up outside the door. And all this in the flashing police lights reflected from some crime happening around the corner. I’ll miss Cincinnati, but it was time to leave.

Our perfect sleeping spot near Lake Wawasee in Indiana.

I slept until around 4am. Casper pulled over at a rest stop and we slept in the uncomfortable front seat for a few hours before continuing north. Somewhere around Bryan, Ohio, we headed west on the 6. We’re avoiding freeways because we’re not hurrying anyway, we want to see the world we pass through and slower speed limits conserve gas (a theory we weren’t sure would be proven to but it has!).

The 6 took us across the entirety of northern Indiana. We missed Michigan by a few dozen miles so I still can’t check that state of my list.Around 11am, we stopped near Syracuse, Indiana, and followed our atlas to Lake Wawasee. We couldn’t find a way to get down to the water, but we found a most glorious square field full of lush grass, chirping birds and dandelions. We laid out our big red blanket and slept, thanking the sun when it appeared and cursing it when it slipped back into the clouds. We ate stale bread and delicious hummus for lunch. No one bothered us, though a cop car slowed down near us at one point and that freaked Casper out. Luckily, we were just strapping the car top carrier back on and he or she hadn’t seen us sleeping.

Me, waking up from my nap, and the glorious abandonment across from our field.

About a mile from our Wawasee location, we heard a weird thumping noise which turned out to be a flat tire. What are the odds?! Less than 24 hours into our road trip! Luckily, we broke down right near a farmhouse and northern Indiana feels like home to me because it looks like Wisconsin. I went up to the house, the young boy mowing the lawn eyeing me curiously, and asked the woman who answered if they had metric tire wrenches. For some reason, the tire wrench we currently have does not fit our car’s tires. It’s pretty silly.

The woman said no, but within a few minutes a man about the same age came out with some tools. We were unloading the trunk to get the spare tire and Casper was jacking up the car. The man, whose name I think was Dan, was accompanied by his second grader Lily. When he went back to his garage to get some tools, she returned with a hula hoop but was too shy to show us her skill. She made it clear, though, that she was a better hula-hooper than her dad. He agreed.

Dan was incredibly nice. He told us he’d never really left the Syracuse area in his life, but he didn’t treat us like weirdos even though I was barefoot, wearing sweatpants, a torn up pink vintage church dress, and a long red coat. Casper in his sleeveless black hoodie covered in obscure band patches, a blue bandana and patched up tan jeans probably didn’t look too rural either. Lily couldn’t keep her eyes off us, me in particular. She said she does, in fact, like school and she was very interested in the fact that we had a cat in the car. Her eyes looked like they were taking in all she saw and adding it to her growing list of things and lifestyles that are possible.

She, and her relationship with her dad, made me think so much of myself as a little country bumpkin 15 years ago in rural Wisconsin.

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The Home Stretch

Today, Casper is out and about taking the car to the shop (for it’s second repair this week; luckily we have just enough money) and doing a computer gig for a guy who found us via Craigslist/this blog. I’m attempting to clean the apartment but some of it is just too nasty – clearly a Casper job.

Casper and I last week at the Free Store Food Bank.

I have managed to sort and pack a bunch of stuff. My desktop computer, Stu, will be out of commission on the trip, tucked away somewhere in the car. I am not looking forward to not having my own computer and am getting all my data ready to be transferred to a separate profile on Casper’s laptop.

Tomorrow, we will clean the apartment, the car will be repaired, we’ll take a massive load to Goodwill and then we’ll host a goodbye dinner for our previous roommates.

Saturday we pack up and…(oh man)…leave.

Toledo here we come!


My sweetie is finally into road gear: black hoodie, Carhatts ("Gap," he says) and bare feet. The Pearl, our car, ain't looking too bad, either. It's gonna be a good summer.

At midnight, on April 5th, we departed. We unloaded all our  goodies (clothes, tons of LPs, paper, photos) from the car and filled it up again with a random assortment of clothes and entertainment devices. We said goodbye to Salem – he is being cared for by our old roommates.

Our first stop was a mile or so north of our apartment where a Freecycler had promised me a crafting wreath would be left for me to pickup. Casper, of course, needed to have this to make into a laurel or ritualistic wreath. I jumped around the cold pavement, barefoot, until I found the right house number and retrieved the wreath.

Noah Gundersen to the freeway, a Drank for me and a Rockstar for him. I crawled into the backseat to sleep and Casper put on an audiobook of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I can’t believe how choppy that woman’s writing style is.

Giant Casper!

Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee. We stopped once for Casper to sleep in the backseat, but made it to Nashville around 7am. I slept most of the drive. We didn’t realize we’d switched into Central Time Zone for quite a while and kept having brainf*cks about it seeming really late. By chance, Adrienne came stumbling out of her house in her PJs and slippers, having suspected that we might have showed up. We’d only been waiting a few minutes so it was lucky, but we were all sleepy and me and Casper promptly commandeered her couch.

We: talked, hugged, slept, checked out her epic backyard, laid in the sun, and did stretches/yoga. During all the talking, I finally managed to glue all my extras into my last journ, finally making a clean break to the new one.

Adrienne went to work in the afternoon, leaving Casper and I home alone with the kitty, Greyson. We watched Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog for the first time ever and were surprised at how good it was. We took photos. I wove him a laurel. We talked and talked.

Adrienne's adorable front door.

We also practiced for a gig I just got offered today…I have no idea if it’s going to work and I’m keeping the specifics a secret until I find out more. It’s very daring!

Now, Casper is out buying groceries so there’s a lovely dinner on the table when Adrienne gets home form work. I think he’s thinking turmeric rice with green peas, but I’m not sure what else he’ll concoct.

Oh! Adrienne was given a piano today, though she has some time before it’ll be delivered. And she’s gotta find room for it in cute little house.

Casper and I have been on a DaVinci-style sleep schedule since Saturday and I’m hoping to get that straightened out starting tonight. There is talk of an air mattress so hopefully neither Casper nor I will be on the floor.

We’ll be heading back to Cincinnati and our apartment before going on the road for good. Since we’re planning to head north straightaway, we thought we’d come down south to see Adrienne before we leave the southern Midwest altogether.

We can already feel our bodies and minds shifting. Our concepts of time, money, responsibility, priorities, commitment and communication have already started making the transition to a freer, looser format.

We’re thinking more and more of hiding away in the woods for a long time at some point this summer. And snagging a long housesit somewhere cold and cozy come winter. We’ll see.

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