Monday, December 21, 2009

Stories from the Couch: October, November, December '09

After receiving a small portion of harassment from other Laramie CouchSurfing hosts, the Harrington's placed a disclaimer on their CouchSurfing profile requesting guests to check into other hosts, as by hosting, CouchSurfers become more involved in the spirit of CouchSurfing and better serve the CS community at large. After a couple of months, the Harrington's could not handle the lack of surfing occuring on their own couch and therefore, removed the disclaimer. They have since had a few opportunities to host some friends as well as CouchSurfers (most of whom did not date their guest book entries). The following is a small taste of CouchSurfing experiences through the fall of 2009.

Andrew Prior - good friend: en route to Salt Lake City, UT

The last time I saw you I introduced you to CouchSurfing and now look how far you have run with it. I am quite impressed.

Mike and Melissa:

  • Very little in life is as valuable as a healthy and beautiful relationship.

  • May we all recognize the importance of people and relationship over careers and finances.

  • California is not for everybody (not that we ever would have thought so).

Abby and Andrea: en route to Michigan for the Holidays

Even though people may be bitter, I am so very glad we got to stay with you!...It was so cold outside but the company and warmth inside was fantastic.


you both are living up to the idea of hospitality and it's so nice to see a couple that really strives to support each other and exemplify their values...Good tea and good people is one of simplest, nicest things in life and thank you for reminding me of that!


Mike and Melissa:

  • It's a small world: only a few months ago we hosted Abby's room-mate from Idaho!

  • Re-connecting with friends and more importantly maintaining connections with friends is one of life's greates joys.

  • Everyone loves tea parties!

December 3, 2009: Biz en route to Portland, OR

Last night I had a dream that more and more guests kept showing up at your house (which was kind of like a giant Frank Lloyd Wright house 'cus it was a dream). My friends, your friends, moms and kids and so many people! There was a talent show and an 8 foot tall man was singing in a shimmering pink costume. Basically it just turned into a circus but thru it all you two were great hosts and made sure everyone felt welcome - which makes me smile because it's true! (Unfortunately, in the dream the talent show went on so long that you missed part of work. oops. Sorry.)

Anyhow, thanks a mil! My first night ever in Wyoming and it felt very nice and familiar just drinking tea and eating fancy food out of the dumpster.

December 3, 2009: Mike and Melissa

  • Everyone should have a guest book just in case someone has an awesome dream while sleeping at your house.

  • Book Recommendations are what keep our minds going: Blue Highways and The Atlas.

Jon (California Wine Intern Heading back home to Wisconsin):

Thank you for welcoming me into your cozy house! It was great talking with you two about your past adventures. Best wishes for an incredible journey around the world next summer! I wish I could join you for the World Cup!

Mike and Melissa:

  • Holiday leftovers make hosting CouchSurfers a breeze!

  • Guatemala has many reasons to make our list of World Travel destinations.

On the Road Again: Navajo Hits the 200,000 mile mark

As the Harrington's returned from celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday in Worland, WY their beloved Navajo Durango Subaru hit an important milestone (in a most literal sense), for 200,000 miles Navajo has been running strong and exploring the great and large United States of America. In celebration, Mike and Melissa clapped two hundred times and took a few snapshots, commemorating this important and remarkable moment in Navajo's history.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Christmas Letter from 519 Clark


This year comes to an end and a new year beckons us forth. The 300-some days that have passed have offered such great memories and adventures. The approaching 300-some days offer the same. We can't help but echo Dave Ramsey and say "Today, this year, we are doing better than we deserve." We cannot, however look back, look forward or be in the present without fully acknowledging that God, the same God who came to earth as a babe, deserves all the glory and all the credit for the beauty of the life we are living. It is in recognizing this, we go forward in recounting our 2009 and wishing you all the best for your approaching year.


This year is highlighted by a 40+ day road trip throughout the west. We experienced the kindness of strangers, the majesty of creation, the love of family and friends and opportunities to serve our "neighbors" in love. The trip was possible because of our careers as paraprofessionals/teacher's assistants allowing for 3 months off to explore 16 National Parks, 9 states, a few Islands, and put over 10,000 miles our newly named Subaru: Navajo Durango.


This year has taught us the value of meaningful, authentic community as we have been privileged to live with a beautiful family that challenges us to love deeper, serve passionately and give generously. We have the honor of living in close proximity to a friend who gives more of himself in his relationships than could ever be asked or expected. We meet weekly with a handful of friends from church who serve as a constant source of encouragement, entertainment and even nourishment! We continue to welcome strangers into our home via and have made some valuable relationships within that community, seeing some previous guests take up residence in Laramie and meeting some foreign friends who had previously contacted us with questions about Laramie. The University has given us the opportunity to meet with two International students, showing them American life and Wyoming life at it's finest (we hope). We are able to share meals with numerous friends, co-workers and family whom we adore and love. When considering our relationships, we know that we have been given much, and can only hope to return that blessing.


We hope this year has brought great happiness to your own households and leaves you feeling confident in the days to come. We wish you peace, love, and the blessing of great friendships that can carry you through whatever hardship or joy may come your way in 2010.

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Making Plans

As the Harrington's welcomed in November, they also got serious about making some decisions. The Harrington's are set on travelling to South Africa this coming summer in order to enjoy the 3rd/4th match of the World Cup. However, where the plan remained undefined was every moment after the World Cup. As July 2010 looms in a not so distant future, the Harrington's have begun to make a few more decisions regarding their "new year."

As of today, November 25, the Harrington's plan on attending an exhilarating match of football (aka: soccer) in July of 2010 at Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Following the game, the Harrington's hope to have a few weeks for pleasure and a few weeks for volunteer work somewhere on the majestic continent of Africa. Beginning in one of two fine months, August or September, the Harrington's plan to land in one of four "top-choice" Asian countries with a contract to teach sweet children or awesome adults the intricacies of speaking the English language. With a primary goal of continuing to save money, the Harrington's have narrowed thier Asian country choices down to the following four: South Korea, Thailand, China and Taiwan.

Melissa is currently certified and practicing the art of teaching English as a Foregin Language while Mike begins his coursework to receive certification in time to submit applications for the upcoming school year.

We at The Harrington Times hope you continue to check in for further decisions made by the Harrington's as the research and discuss the possibilities that lie ahead. Also, be sure to share your opinion with The Harrington's on the Times poll, posted in the upper right hand corner of this periodical.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Attention All Podcast Listeners

Due to a recent flat tire, Mike Harrington has rediscovered the joy that comes from simply walking his roughly 4-mile round trip commute to and from work. Add to that the joy of finding a working Zune in a dumpster and you have the following: A request from friends and families to provide him with recommended downloadable podcasts. These can be music, stories, meaningful news, truth or just random thoughts of random people. He would prefer some thought provoking listening to gear him up for his "exciting" day at school. Any thoughts?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Of Football and Family

One mid-September weekend the Laramie Harrington clan; Mike, Melissa, Katie and Molly, all made the trek down south to Boulder, CO to witness the Pokes take on the Buffs and spend some quality time with the Rigg family, Mike's maternal kinsmen. Highlights of the weekend included gourmet pizza from Pearl Streets BJ's pizza, multiple games of Corn-Hole and Red-Neck Golf, Cassie's famous chocolate chip cookies, Wyoming 'Riggs' vs. All-Other 'Riggs' Kick-ball Tourney, delcious morning smoothies and breakfast sandwiches and the purchase of a brand-new board game called: Quelf. Unfortunately, the weekend was also marked by the UW Cowboys playing a less-than-impressive game of football in the company of less-than-impressive CU fans (and even a few UW fans). The Harrington clan enjoyed spending time with cousins they've lost connection with or are just having the opportunity to know. There were many opportunities to laugh, learn and enjoy the presence of family.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lessons from the Couch: June, August, September '09

As should be expected of the Harrington's, they sandwiched their summer travels and CouchSurfing as guests between CouchSurfing as hosts. June had room for a couple guests prior to the Harrington's summer job as High School Institute staff, July was their time to crash couches, August only offered a few short days to host, but the Harrington's met the challenge with flying colors and late night guests, September then has been the Harrington's first full month of hosting since May. The past few months have held some fabulous stories, lessons, and even changes in the way Mike and Melissa are able to enjoy CouchSurfing community. With the month of September, the Harrington's were finally able to organize a get together of other local Laramie hosts and CouchSurfing members, kindling new local friendships. We should expect the Harrington's to have many exciting adventures and friendships to come.

Tuesday June 2: Chris and Nate - Brothers en route to Cali

Thank you so much for letting us surf your couches. The mystery dinner was fabulous. All your friends seemed very open to having two outsiders come and join the fun. The "Easter" chicken kiev was wonderful and hit the spot. For those coming after us, Bourbon Street Vanilla Tea is the way to go!!....You have made our first couchsurfing experience wonderful and we cannot thank you enough!

Chris and Nate

Tuesday June 2: Mike and Melissa
  • Familial love and companionship is one of life's greatest gifts
  • Mystery dinners are fun for ALL people!
  • There is always time for an 80's flashback

Thursday June 4: Sarah and Murphy

It was a pleasure losing my Couchsurfing virginity to you both :) You are exactly the type of people I hoped i would meet on this trip - you an awesome worldview and strive to make your place in humanity. Good luck on your trip; I hope it is amazing. Thanks you so much for the couch!

Thursday June 4: Mike and Melissa

  • When "work" comes to an end, there are many celebrations to be had.
  • Dogs struggle to adjust to Mike
  • Dogs are also women's best friend.

Monday August 17: Kelly - exploring the West

Thank you so much for opening you home to us! It has really opened my eyes to see how great CouchSurfing can be. I really enjoyed spending time with you both and I'm still not fond of that card game (Nerts) but once I get fast enough...don't worry, I will be back! :) I just want to say thanks, you both are AMAZING and I'm so glad I go this opportunity. I'm glad I got out of Iowa :)

Monday August 17: Mike and Melissa

  • It's a joy to come back to friends
  • It's also a joy to come back to old favorite card games
  • Everybody loves tea!

Friday August 21: Christina and Paul

We are so thankful to have had such wonderful hosts! And to have arrived on a Settler's night was a HUGE bonus - hope there's no bad feelings :) My snake was also very happy to have a home to sleep in, and will surely visit again soon. Your jam was delicious and inspirational (now I want to make some!) Good luck with everything and happy trails.

Friday, August 21: Mike and Melissa

  • First: A "sweet" little yellow snake laid in a pillowcase on our kitchen table!
  • Mike can't always win Settler's of Catan
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup is not necessary for delicious and sweet jam.

Wednesday, August 26: Alex from New Zealand

Thanks soooo much for letting me stay at your place on such short notice (what was it, like 2 hours or something?) Y'all saved me from having to sleep in my car. To bad we didn't get to hang out for longer before I hit the road. It's people like you that have really made this trip of mine great. If y'all ever find your selves in NZ, hit me up for sure!!! Thanks again and best wishes for what the future might hold.

Wednesday, August 26: Mike and Melissa

  • We are not the only one who face car challenges while travelling
  • Hospitality doesn't sleep...(hehe, just kidding, Melissa was totally sleeping)

Thursday, September 3: Dan in town for a show

Hello, fellow CouchSurfers! After hosting some 20 odd CouchSurfers myself, I decided to venture out as a surfer. You both were so kind to accommodate me on short notice. I felt welcome and safe. Though I did not get to meet Melissa, I can tell from the pictures and the house that she is a total sweetheart. Mike, thanks for the tea and good conversation and if you ever find yourselves in Jackson Hole again, please visit.

Thursday, September 3: Mike and Melissa

  • Once you're committed, you're committed.
  • The University puts on some decent shows.

Thursday, September 4: Annie Idaho...East!

Hooray! It's morning and there's sunlight streaming in, a cup of steaming tea, and a peach. What better way to start my day? Thank's, Melissa and Mike, for hosting me and sharing your home and company, I'm sorry I didn't get here earlier, it would have been great to get to know you a little bit. Thanks for all the tea! That's such a comfort blanket and much appreciated. If you ever wind up in my neck of the woods (New Hampshire? Idaho? Wisconsin? who knows where I'll be), I hope you look me up and let me return the hospitality.

Thursday, September 4: Mike and Melissa

  • Idaho isn't just for potatoes, it's for gorgeous, giant zucchini too!
  • Tea is a comfort blanket - yay!
  • Just do it! - Start the Laramie CS Community group and start having some potlucks!

Sunday, September 13: Cailin

Thanks so much for making my first couch surfing experience a good one :) The breakfast, mattress and shower were stupendous! And the fellowship was much needed! You are great friends and I appreciate you so much. Love you.

Sunday, September 13: Mike and Melissa

  • Hardly anything beats having a good friend spend the weekend with you.
  • Yogurt Parfaits can bring great comfort an expecting mother.
  • Lemonade cookies are great at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tuesday, September 15: David and Ricky, members of The Spring Leaves

Thank you so much once again for allowing us to stay in your living room and being able to take a shower. your sharing and warmness is demonstrating a lot to me about the beauty humanity actually contains....I hope the best for both of you, AND that you continue a life of what seems full of happiness. - David

En primer lugar, tengo que duros las gracias pos vuestra hospitalidad y carino. La velada de ayer fue inolvidable....Os deseo mucha suerte y felicidad en los anos venideros. - Ricardo

Tuesday, September 15: Mike and Melissa

  • It is important to take risks and work for what you believe in.
  • There is a certain joy in finding out your guest played football for a college team which your team has recently beat.
  • Relationships begin in all matter of ways; for example, by teaching English.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Welcome, the Longhorns

On September 12, the University of Wyoming Cowboys welcomed Texas Longhorns to War Memorial Stadium. Mike Harrington was in attendance.

Celebrating the Year of Cotton

For the Harrington's Labor Day weekend was much more than a three day weekend. The weekend served as the Harrington's jump-off point for their second anniversary, the year of cotton. The weekend began with a Friday night game of Pandemic, an especially co-operative game that brings all involved into community, fighting to save the lives of all the world's people. The Harrington's enjoyed the company of Mark, Jordan, Eric and after the game, Abbie and Lindsay. Throughout the game and as the activities came to an end the Harrington's and a few friends came to the conclusion that the next night would be perfect for camping.

Come Saturday morning, the Harrington's donned their Brown and Gold and attended the UW vs. Weber State football game with Rob, Kim and Macradee Jackson (Melissa's uncle, aunt and cousin). Prior to the game, the five made it into Tailgate Park for a quick drink and some exploration before making their way to the gate and the bleachers. The Harrington's and the Jackson's enjoyed watching the first game of the season which even showcased a Wyoming Cowboy win!

As was decide the night before, the Harrington's along with Jordan, Mark, Abbie and Marge made their way out on Happy Jack Road, hot dogs and s'more materials in tow. Unable to camp at the exact site of their wedding, the Harrington's settled for a spot just past the place of their vows. With some challenge, the men were eventually able to start a small campfire and gather enough wood to keep it alive for the evening. Everyone enjoyed some hot dogs and s'mores and the men folk enjoyed a game of bean bags by moon light while the ladies got in some healthy chatting.

Sunday was a day of church and worship in the morning followed by activities of separation. However, these activities did not take place until after the exchange of gifts. Mike graciously handed Melissa a silver bag stuffed with cotton, claiming it was the traditional wedding gift for year two of marriage. Much to Melissa's surprise, there was also a great gift of books, regarding wine, under the piles of cotton. Mike was presented with a small paper sack which held two books regarding the life of John Muir, friend to the natural world and National Parks. Having exchanged gifts, Mike made the decision to enjoy some time outside playing volleyball whereas Melissa headed upstairs to help the Herrboldt's prepare some freezer meals in preparation for their adopted child. By Sunday evening, Mike was not so sure what status his health would be at the actual day of anniversarial celebration.

Waking Monday morning, it was clear to Mike that his health was not optimal and he would be wise to take the day easy. Melissa prepared some cranberry walnut French toast for Mike, SaraJane and herself to enjoy before taking the rest, relax and take care of some things she saw fit. By late afternoon, the couple was beginning to feel hunger and felt it was necessary to share a meal worthy of the anniversary, however, Mike was not feeling up to leaving the house. With that, Melissa made her way to the Teriyaki Bowl where she purchased a large amount of sushi and made her way back to the house via one stop for a bottle of wine. Upon her return, a living room picnic was established and the Harrington's enjoyed each others company and many delicious sushi bites.

The couple now begins year three. Thankful for the past years lessons and discoveries. They share gratitude for their church friends and family, the joys of CouchSurfing and the adventure of road trips. They anticipate the deepening of their relationship with one another, their community and heavenly father; hoping to plan a successful World Cup trip and decide where to go from there.

Dancing Vertically

As a farewell to summer vacation, the Harrington's attended the University of Wyoming's Dance department's production of Vertical Dance at the Vedauwoo recreational area. As should be expected in this great state, there were a few clouds threatening rain and upon their threat becoming a promise the show was postponed. However, as is also typical Wyoming, the storm passed over quickly and the Harrington's as well as hundred's of other attendees were set to enjoy a very entertaining show of superb story telling, athletic ability and grace.

A Family Gathering

Shortly after returning from their extensive road trip, Mike and Melissa Harrington soon found themselves "on the road again." As was true with previous trips, the Harrington's would have the opportunity to meet with some beloved family. However, unlike the summer trip, this encounter would also provide the first opportunity to meet her half brother, sister-in-law and niece. Melissa and her brother Gary have had a few email conversations and a couple hellos via phone throughout the past ten or so years, however the Allen girls (Melissa and Luella) had not yet had the opportunity to meet their brother face-to-face.

On a fine August evening, all of that would be history. The Harrington's were to meet Luella and Alex in Ft. Collins/Loveland and then continue on their way down I-25 toward Arvada. It would be at Grandpa Al's and Grandma Lu's that the first meeting would take place. From the grandparent's appartment the Allen clan and guests would make their way to a nearby park to enjoy a K.F.C. pic-nic and the childhood joys of playgrounds and ice cream trucks.

The family gathering was a huge hit. The siblings, parents and grandparents were thankful to have this time to spend with one another and to get to know each other. Not to mention, Luella and Melissa and their niece Haley had a great time using the playground equipment.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Some Rules were Harmed in the Making of this Road Trip

For 47 days this summer, Mike and Melissa Harrington enjoyed touring the western United States. Before beginning their journey, they posted a set of 12 rules they hoped to follow and committ to for as long as they were on the road. Today, we at the Harrington Times bring you the truth, and hold the Harrington's accountable to their committments. The following recounts their rules and whether or not the couple fully complied with each.

Rules of the Road:
as determined by Mike and Melissa Harrington
plus an explanation of how closely each was followed as reported by the Harrington Times.

1. Seat Belts - always: The Harrington's managed to keep their priority on safety and buckled up every time the car was moving.

2. Maximum speed = 5 mph over posted speed limit: As was reported in earlier posts, the Harrington's were pulled over once for speeding, which they claim was a problem of Nevada law rather than a lead foot. Considering they managed to keep this rule as well, we the people will have to agree that Nevada's speed restrictions are more or less inconvenient.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Now Back to Your Regular Scheduled Reporting:

Now that Mr. and Mrs. Harrington have returned from their Road Trip of a Lifetime, The Harrington Times will return to their regular practice of reporting on the life of the Harrington's including an accountability report on the Harrington's road trip rules and some of their favorites from the road. We thank you for keeping up with the Harrington's and regularly subscribing to The Harrington Times.

Mr. and Mrs. Harrington wanted the Times to report that the previous 40-odd days would not have been possible had it not been for the following:
  • Luella's gift of the America the Beautiful: National Parks and Recreation Pass allowing us to enter over a dozen National Parks free of charge.
  • The Albany County School District #1 for hiring and paying us.
  • Navajo Durango Subaru for fighting the heat and maintaing energy to get us from one destination to the next.
  • for providing an avenue in which to find places of rest and nourishment via our Couchsurfing hosts: Joey, Z-Ray, The Castro Family, David, Jay and Lisa, Ken and Deb, Nick and Diane, and Kate and Ethan.
  • The friends and family who graciously opened up their homes and/or lives to us as we travelled through their areas: Luella, Dave and Liz, Amanda, Seth and Charlotte, Garrett, Lauren, Abram and Mallory, Tom and Phyllis, James, Tom and Patty, Harland and Brenda, and Grandma Barb.
  • In-N-Out Burger for providing two of our best meals.
  • AAA for getting us out of a sticky situation for less hassle than we could have on our own.
  • God for creating the landscapes which make up this country and the many National Parks we visited.
  • Farmers who provided many great produce stands along our travels.
  • The faithful readers of the Harrington Times who kept us encouraged and connected to home as we made our way around the Western U.S.


Day 47: August 12 - Worland, WY to LARAMIE, WY

We woke up. We showered. We packed. Melissa made tea. We hoped in the car. We stopped for some breakfast. We were off! One final leg of the trip!

Drive. Drive. Gas up. Rawlins....I-80. Laramie. Curtis Street. 4th Street. Clark Street. Home!!!


Dinner with the Herrboldt's. Elk Meatballs. Spaghetti. Bread. Meringue Peaches. Wine. Perfect.

After 10,600 miles...happy to be home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Family Time

Day 45 and 46: August 10th and 11th, 2009 - Worland, WY to Ten Sleep, WY and eventually Billings, MT
Time to work and chat.

Monday the 10th, we slept in. Melissa planned a couple meals and side dishes to share with family and to take home on Wednesday so we wouldn't starve upon arriving home to our unfurnished refrigerator. Mike "farmed" in the morning and then made his way back to Ten Sleep with grandpa Jack to meet up with the Harrington side of the family to help install a sprinkler system.

A Green Bean Salad, Spicy Pea Salad, Bean Pie Filling, Slow-Cooker Rhubarb and 3 blogs later, Melissa was ready to join up with the 'hubs' at Ten Sleep Cabin.

Meanwhile, Mike had been "working" at the Ten Sleep Cabin which entailed sitting on the porch waiting for an uncle or cousin to claim: "I could use help" or "Here's something you can do." So, as all people should, he took advantage of the beautiful landscape and plentiful food sources provided by his Aunt Susan. By evening, Melissa and Katie had arrived to take part in a steak dinner and help with small parts of the sprinkler system installation, mostly entailing placing dirt back in the wholes it came from. Dinner was fantastic! We enjoyed steak, green bean salad, baked beans and a wide assortment of sweet treats to end the meal. After a bit of chatting and enjoying family we headed back to Worland for another nights rest before journeying northward toward Billings, MT.

Upon waking the next morning, Mike and Melissa prepared themselves to go and visit Grandma Barb. The drive was as exciting as any, complete with road consturction and miles upon miles of nothing but great rolling hills, brown grasses and mountains in the background. We made our way to Grandma Barb's home where we were greeted by not only Grandma, but also Rick, Cassie and John. Rick and Cassie were on their way out and John was soon sent out to retrieve Mike, Melissa and Barb some of the finest burgers known to the American public, those which can only be purchased at McDonald's.

With McDonald's cheeseburgers and fries on fine "china" we filled our bellies and filled the air with chit-chat about family, our travels and future plans. Soon enough, naptime arrived and Mike and Melissa were again on the road and making their way to Worland.

Once at home, Mike and Melissa did as was becoming habit and enjoyed some time online. Mama Harrington arrived home and informed us that an old high school friend of hers was going to be joining us for a classic dinner of pizza and wine. We enjoyed the dinner and conversing with Patty's friends, learning of her and even Tom's many adventures and wild undertakings that had never before been exposed to their children. In a word, the evening was: enlightening!

We rested our heads that night, knowing that we would soon be home. Sleeping in our own bed, showering in our own shower, shopping at our familiar grocery store and enjoying the feel of couches beneath our bums rather than the contant pressure of the front seats of our faithful Subaru, Nav-E.

Nowoodstock...on the Nowood River

Day 43-44: August 8th and 9th, 2009 - Ten Sleep, WY

It's like Woodstock but Not...

This is what we've been waiting for! This is the event that has kept us on the road since day one. It began last night, but Saturday is the big day - the day that everyone comes out for, the day for sunshine, frybread, the Adam's Special and Jalan Crossland.

We have a tendency to miss the first band, so we kept with the tradition and arrived at Nowoodstock around 11:00. Mike, Melissa, Katie, Travis, Erin, Ryan, Travis II, Shane, Parents I, Parents II, Rick and Cassie. We also have the opportunity to see our wonderfu HSI friends Ethan and Kara, plus by the end of the day we also run into Mike's high school art teacher, cross country coach, Lori and Brianna - one of many reasons to love small towns in Wyoming!

Here is a run down of a few Nowoodstock highlights:

  • Napping to Palmer Divide

  • The king of Nowoodstock: Jalan Crossland

  • Sourdough Fry Bread

  • Chuck Pyle

  • Chatting with friends

  • Swimming in the River

  • Three rain storms

  • Sun burns

  • Losing and breaking sandals

  • Spawning Fondness

  • Watching the Hippie Dancers

  • Hoola-hoopers

  • Ice Cream

  • The Martinez Food Wagon

Not only did we enjoy the events associated with Nowoodstock, we also enjoyed a surplus of muffins each morning, reconnecting with friends and family, the fresh air of Ten Sleep Canyon and the relaxation that is only possible at the cabin. We also had the special privilege of hearing Mr. Allen strum on his guitar and sing a small portion of the 100 or so songs he has learned in his lifetime. As always, Nowoodstock was a fabulous hit and all who attended will anxiously await the Nowoodstock's of coming years.

Restin', Drivin', Restin' again

Day 41 - 42: August 6th and 7th 2009 - Sturgis, SD to Ten Sleep, WY
Plus: Another First

It's possible that August 6th has been our most restful, unplanned day.

Laundry. Facebook. Chokecherry pickin'. Muffin bakin'. Green tomato fryin'. Jambalay eatin'. T.V. watchin'.

That's about it.

The 7th however was another travel day. It was time to hit the road and make our way to Nowoodstock - the best bluegrass festival in the Big Horn Basin!

However, before we could show up at the cabin, it was necessary for Melissa to experience another first and enjoy another aspect of Wyoming scenery - Devil's Tower. The Nation's First National Monument and the first time Melissa saw the monument up close and personal! (Picture to come, eventually...hopefully). Of course, it is still tourist season and Sturgis season, so the park was nothing short of crowded, so we took a couple pictures, vowed to return soon since it's not far from Mom and Dad Allen's place, and continued on our way to Ten Sleep Cabin and Park for our favorite music festival EVER!

By 5:00, Mom and Dad Allen, Mom and Dad Harrington, Katie, Travis, Mike and Melissa were ready to enter the Ten Sleep City Park and get their bluegrass on. We enjoyed a small number of bands, choosing Harry Harpoon and Dr. Mongo and Spawning Fondness as our favorites of the night. Spawning Fondness in particular caught our attention with their unique sounds and instrumentation including an electric cello.

Shortly after enjoying the sounds of Spawning Fondness our friends Ryan and Erin showed up with another Travis and a Shane - the whole crew of us made our way (slowly) back to Ten Sleep Cabin where the gents talked man talk and the ladies talked girl talk (or non-manly talk) before making our way into bed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Can You Say:

Day 40: August 5, 2009 - Sturgis, SD to Wall, SD to Badlands National Park and back again.

If you've never been to Wall Drug, you should probably go as soon as you possibly can. Just so you have a greater understanding of why you should go: check out the following photos - all taken within the Wall Drug Territory.

And that's not even All!!! Mike enjoyed the shooting gallery, Melissa had her picture taken with a few "Old Western" style statues, we passed up the opportunity to eat homemade fudge, enjoyed a small presentation on the Union railroad, listened to a "Barber Trio" which was also graced by a bunny-bird-antelope creature and looked at many photos of the history of this random and ridiculous Roadside attraction. Words cannot express the crazy adventure that awaits you in Wall, SD - so just hop in your car now, follow the signs and have the time of your life!
Now, we apologize, because this blog is a little out of order, but the computers acting funny and the pictures are in the places they want to be, so we are typing the story in order of picture placement.
Therefore; it is important to note that we spent most of the morning hanging out in Sturgis. Mike "farming" on Facebook's Farm Town and Melissa baking muffins for the upcoming weekend and preparing Taco Salad for dinner and Banana Berry Sundae Cake for dessert. We had planned to begin our sightseeing in the late afternoon in order to catch some moonscapes in the Badlands.
So it was around 3:00 in the afternoon that we headed toward Badlands National Park where we were amazed by the geological formations and the quiet, calm pace of this rarely visited National Park. We enjoyed a short walk around some of the cliffs and spires before continuing on the road toward the yellow mounds. As we were making our way down the road we began to realize that the clouds were thick and we may be able to catch a good sunset, but the moon may not be as visible as we hoped. Much to our displeasure, after making our way to the Awesome Wall Drug Store, the sunset wasn't wonderful and the moon wasn't showing. Being as we are, we made the best of the situation - ate dinner and headed back to Sturgis to enjoy our ice cream dessert! Not a bad day, not a bad day.

How much?

Day 39: August 4, 2009 - Sturgis, SD and surrounding Black Hills Area
No Thank You.
We woke up this morning unaware of how often we would be asking a cashier "how much?" and coming to the conclusion "no thank you." It is difficult to spend over a month on the road and come out with an abundance of, $9 for mini-golf appears to be a small fortune, paying $10 to park and walk up to Mt. Rushmore when you can see it from the road seems to be the same as paying an arm and a leg, and $10 just to drive on the Needles Highway seems way out of line. Not to mention the $23 per person price tag on touring a cave - it's good South Dakota, and more accurately, the Black Hills have plenty to offer in scenery for the low-budget travellers that we are.
We enjoyed breakfast burritos with Melissa's parents in Sturgis before slowly gathering ourselves and a sandwich lunch for the road. The plan was to visit Mt. Rushmore then drive the Norbeck Senic Highway, detour to Wind Cave National Park, get back on the Scenic route and drive the Needles Highway until we made our way to Sturgis. Little did we know how often we would be required to pay.
After driving through Keystone, SD we entered the National Memorial just to discover that our "America the Beautiful" pass wasn't good here and we'd have to pay $10 to park and go see all that Mt. Rushmore has to offer (which both of us have seen previously) and which can be equally well seen from the road - so we tood the road views, snapped this shot and made our way through the Norbeck Scenic Byway.

Hairpin curves, one-way bridges and tunnels and beautiful landscapes set all around us, we took one of the best scenic drives our trip has yet offered us. We enjoyed the familiar site of pine trees, the rolling plains interspersed with spectacular forest scenes. The entire day, we shared the road with motorcycles and the occassional deer and bighorn sheep.

A few sharp curves later we were pulling into Wind Cave National Park where we learned a great deal about the cave itself in the Visitor Center exhibit however we had arrived too late and were too cheap to go on any of the tours. Back in the car, we enjoyed sandwiches and made our way back toward Needles Highway. Because the highway goes through a State Park we were required to pay a small fee to drive through - knowing that we would often be visiting the Allen Parent's in South Dakota, we decided this small fee could wait and we would just hit the road toward Sturgis, SD.

At home, we enjoyed a grilled dinner, more internet usage, some television watching and the same comfortable bed as the night before. How much? Free. Yes Please!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Good-Byes, Debuts...

Day 37 - 38: August 2 and 3, 2009 - Sturgis, SD
Hill Climbs, Slot Machines and Mini-Golf

As a large group, we enjoyed breakfast together and then Kim, Rob, Macradee, Grandma and Papa all prepared to leave Sturgis and return to their homes. Before noon the majority of the crew had departed and we were left to relax and sit around doing basically nothing.

However, around lunch time Dad Allen was receiving a phone call asking that he pick up his guitar and make his way down to the Nite Owl to perform some songs and help draw in a crowd from the busy streets of downtown Sturgis. Harland got himself gathered up quick and Mike, Melissa and Brenda planned to go see him sing as soon as they accomplished a few tasks around the house and gave Harland sufficient time to set up and begin playing.

Having completed whatever small tasks they had each deemed important the trio made their way downtown to listen to Harland wow the crowd with his smooth voice and awesome strumming skills.

Back at the house, it was time to get settled in for the evening and make our way to bed...just so we would have enough energy to take on the next day!

The morning of the third, we had made plans to walk down the road a way where we would be able to watch a hill climb. That is, we would watch young children and teenagers gun their dirt bikes up an extremely steep hill. This would generally begin with slight revving of the engine then the sight of a bike carrying a small body up the hill and at some point tipping over and dropping the passenger. Fortunately, all the way up the hill there stood at the ready, a number of gentlemen ready to catch falling riders and help them get their bikes off the hill. As a group, we were rather impressed with efficiency of these riders making their way up the hill and stood for about an hour watching as bike after bike attempted to go farther than the last.

With our fill of hill climbing, we made our way back home and got ourselves ready to go down to Deadwood to serve as Mystery Shoppers. We were being given a free meal just to go sit in the casino and evaluate the service of the employees. Between the four of us, we had one special Mystery Shopper ticket which we would hand to the employee that best served our needs and the needs of their business. Melissa was elected "prime" Mystery Shopper and given the ticket so that, as she received extraordinary service she could hand over the prize to the deserving employee and the four of us could go and enjoy our dinner!
Arriving at the casino we all sat down to enjoy a few games and begin our evaluation of customer service. Within minutes, Harland and Brenda were offered complimentary drinks while Mike and Melissa sat, wishing they had something to wet their whistle. Eventually, Mike was offered a drink while Melissa continued to yearn for some thirst-quenching water or soda or ANYTHING! Within the couple of hours the four of us meandered through the casino, Melissa was never once offered a drink or even carded! However, at one point, a machine printed out a poorly inked ticket, so a helpful and friendly maintence man was quick to fix the problem and make sure all else was at it should be. Thank you fine sir, you have earned yourself the Mystery Shopper reward - hope you get something nice for yourself, as for us, we're off to eat our late lunch.
Stuffed to the brim with all you can eat salad, meat and dessert we made our way to a few other casinos (where Melissa still seemed to have a hard time being served...) before making our way to the mini-golf green. We played a good game without ever adding up the score - but Melissa is fairly certain it was nota win for her, although she did manage a hole-in-one!
With a full day of fun and excitement under our belts, we made our way through the canyon and make to the parents house where we enjoyed unrestrained use of the internet and the promise of a comfy bed!

Are you Wearin' Black?

Day 36: August 1, 2009 - Sturgis, SD
The Official Color of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Trivia Question #2: How long does it take 8 adults and 1 child to get ready in the morning?

Answer: Over 4 hours.

At our earliest, as a group, we were up around 5:30 am; at our latest 9:00 am. Melissa is no longer the only morning person. Together with her dad, she helped prepare Papa's famous breakfast of bacon, eggs and potatos in one skillet while the rest of the family members took showers, woke up and talked about the days objectives.

Eventually, everyone had eaten breakfast, showered, dressed and agreed to head downtown. We circled a few blocks and parking lots before finding a good spot for all of us to park our cars and make our way into the excitement of it all! Entering Downtown Sturgis during the Rally is nothing short of a challenge. One must be aware of moving bikes, parked bikes, men with large beer bellies, women who forgot to dress, dropped polish dogs, aggressive t-shirt salesmen, tourists who accidently stumbled into this chaos and of course your own two feet. Macradee, Melissa's three year old cousin loves motorcycles, thank goodness that was her focus and she was, in turn the focus of all the Cushing women. We walked her through the downtown vendors and scored her a couple of Biker Babe shirts and an invitation to Kidz Zone while the men of the family enjoyed some refreshment at a couple different establishments.

Having seen all we had come to see (and more), we said good-bye to Grandma and Papa and began making our way to the town park where some church groups around the country had created a kid safe zone. The park was sanctioned off specifically for this group and the purpose of children. They had brought in large inflatable obstacle courses, bouncy houses, and games. Macradee had a blast, all 6 remaining adults stood watching in near jealousy.

Finally able to get our sweet girl out of the fun and games we made our way back to the house where we met up with Grandma and Papa. From here: Harland, Brenda, Rob and Kim headed back downtown to continue their Sturgis experience; Mike prepared to climb a nearby hill and discover what the orange thing was that we could see from the front porch; and the rest stayed behind to enjoy a peaceful evening taking care of Macradee.

Macradee kept Melissa busy at the house, making sure she was coloring and looking through the "bi-knockles" (binoculars) to see if we could find Mike, or any other man for that matter. Grandma and Papa made some paper airplanes for Macradee and she had a fabulous time flying them, even if they merely took a nose dive.

Meanwhile, Mike was booking it up the hill so as to not lose daylight. Little did he know that the rock would be fairly close and easy to get to and within an hour he had reached his ultimate destination. Now was the moment we had all been waiting for, the discovery of a lifetime, Mike was to discover, that at the top of the hill, colored orange was...a rock. Just a rock. A rock covered in orange paint as if by high school prank. Realizing he had a great view of the city, Mike took a few shots and also made a few artistic shots of the hills and vegetation before returning to the house.

Eventually, the day and night activities were finished for the day and all parties made it to bed with many images competing for dream space, but few of us know which of those images won out and what are dreams held this night. For us, the memories are blank, leaving us to conclude the day was simply too full of fun to have memorable dreams - they had been made during the day.

Changing Homes

Day 35: July 31, 2009 - Ten Sleep, WY to Sturgis, SD

Let's Get Ready to Rally!!!

Trivia Question: Out of Mike, Josiah, Abram, Melissa and Mallory; which ones are morning people?

Drum roll please...If you guessed, Melissa, you are absolutely correct!!!

Melissa spent two and a half hours of complete silence and solitude this morning because she is the only freak-of-nature-morning person out of this crew. After 2 hours of meandering and re-organizing, she busted out some pancake mix to curb her own appetite and await the appetites of others. Finally, around 10:30 am, a few of the night-owls and late-birds began to rise and were convinced to eat a few pancakes for breakfast.

The five of us enjoyed some ending conversation and the long process of saying good-bye to cherished friends, new and old. With our good-byes said and the cabin in leaving-condition we loaded ourselves in Nav-E and made our way out of the Big Horn Mountains over to the Black Hills.

As always, the Big Horns were beautiful and we even anticipated a little snow, but did not receive such a blessing. Arriving in Buffalo, we stopped for gas and a sandwich at the Breadboard and made our way onto I-90 with the end goal being Sturgis, SD.

Compared to some of our Road Trip days, the trip was reletively short and upon arrival in Sturgis we were not only greeted by hundreds of thousands of motorcycles and Melissa's wonderful parents, but we were also surprised to see Grandma and Papa Cushing sitting on the front porch awaiting our arrival! What joy it was to see so many of the family members we love in such a short period of time. We joined the four on the porch and began chatting about our travels and awaiting the arrival of three more special guests: Melissa's Uncle Rob, Aunt Kim and sweet cousin Macradee. They eventually arrived and we all enjoyed a meal together and some classic family chatting and being entertained by the youngest. Soon enough, we were all convinced it was time to hit the hay and prepare our bodies for the days to come.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Being Home

Day 33 and 34: July 29 - 30, 2009 -Worland, WY to Ten Sleep, WY

These are our first days of rest.

A few days back, while driving in the chaos of Washington Interstate traffic, we decided to cut a few stops out of the trip so that we could get to a home and get some rest. So we awoke the first morning with zero plans. Relief.

We began our morning with a visit to Grandpa Jack before he took off to Cody, WY for a doctor's appointment. As he left, we returned to the Harrington household for a day of internet usage, television watching, and general relaxation.

Melissa put together some Sloppy Joe's at the end of the day, having missed an entire 30 days of working in the kitchen - which she loves. She enjoyed preparing the meal and five Harrington's enjoyed sitting down to eat together and talk about recent happenings.

Before making it to bed this night, we watched P.S. I Love You so Melissa could cry herself to sleep, then we both made our way into slumber.

Thursday brought more of the same peaceful, easy feeling with a bit of excitement waiting for us in the afternoon. By afternoon, we were on the road again, but this time only for a few minutes as we made our way to the Harrington's Ten Sleep Cabin for an evening of merriment and reminiscing.

Mike's friends from high school, Josiah Kiracofe and Abram Heller (plus Mallory) met us at the cabin where we enjoyed a large fire complete with hobo packet dinners and s'more desserts. Most of the evening was spent gathered around the fire listening to the stories of the three boys and their youthful adventures: using firecrackers from Mexico, making dry ice bombs, learning to drive, exploring the mountains and a myriad of other interesting tails. As is necessary for the end of a night around a fire pit - the boys played with hot coals and Mike took a few neat pictures. The gentlemen continued talking late into the night while the girls retired to bed and entertained dreams of sugar plums and candy canes.

Antelope Canyons - click link to see photos.

The Facebook album which showcases the Antelope Canyons from the beginning of our trip when we were in Arizona/Grand Canyon region.
Black and Whites from the Road - click link to see photos.

These are some of our favorite black and white photos from the majority of our Road Trip. (Also on Facebook).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Day of Firsts

Day 32: July 28, 2009 – Gardiner, MT to Worland, WY
A True Wyomingite Now

Considering the lack of comfort which Mike dealt with through the night and the chill of the morning air, he was loading the car at a quarter to 6:00 and we were soon on our way into the Nation’s first National Park and our home state. First #1: Yellowstone National Park, WY, first #2: Melissa visiting Yellowstone National Park after having lived in the state of Wyoming for 20 years.

As luck would have it, one of our first sights was a lone buffalo grazing in a golden meadow. By this time, about 30 minutes into the drive, we had seen some of the steaming hot springs and the rolling hills of the Absorka Range. Knowing that we wanted to be in Worland, WY in time to go to a special event for the parents of our Best Man, Abram, we rushed a little through the park making sure to see Yellowstone Falls and of course, Old Faithful.

We hit up Yellowstone Falls first and were amazed by the amount of water spilling over the edge of this fall. Being on the west coast, we saw many falls, but none were as beautiful and powerful as this one. We admired the crashing waters and the yellow walls of the canyon in which they fell before continuing on our way through the park and the main geyser basin area of Yellowstone. Having passed by many small geysers and seen a few spurts of water, we finally arrived at the site of Old Faithful.

The geyser has semi-recently blown so we had first pick of seats in the “Old Faithful Amphitheater.” Mike decided a spot with blue sky and mountains in the background would provide for the best pictures, so we sat and waited, took a couple goofy pictures and were entertained by some English speaking foreigners…

- Pronunciation of Geyser: Gay-ser
- While watching a small geyser in front of Old Faithful: “What if someone thought that was it?They’d be like, ‘That was it?’”
- For some odd reason, discussing the possibility of being a Calvin Klein underwear model.
- Preparing for the geyser to go: “Ok, when it goes, I will video tape it for a few seconds then you two get in front of the camera and I’ll take your picture.”

By the time Old Faithful was expected to blow within the next 15 minutes the “Amphitheater” was full! Huge crowds had gathered to see this natural phenomenon take place. And soon enough, Old Faithful provided his crowd-pleasing act, spurting water high into the air and letting out huge amounts of steam. A few of the audience members clapped, most took photos and a couple accepted cell phone calls - all-in-all, a good show.

Having seen the most important aspects of the Nation’s first National Park and seeing that we would be wise to make our way to Worland, we wound our way out of the park toward Cody where we planned to stop at Dairy Queen with hopes of seeing one of our HSI students. Low and behold, we did see an HSI student! Not the one we were expecting, but beggars can’t be choosers. So we made a purchase, said a warm hello to Reese and made our way to Worland where we would partake in a surprise Anniversary party for the Heller’s and also surprise Patty Harrington by being in town many days prior to our expected arrival.

After quick showers we headed to the Catholic Church where we were re-united with Abram and Mallory where they promptly put us to work decorating for the surprise anniversary party of Mr. and Mrs. Heller. Abram and his two sisters had spent a little time planning this event for their parents as a way to celebrate their marriage and their family. His parents were greatly honored and definitely surprised by the many guests, including Mrs. Heller’s sister from Maine, who were in attendance. We enjoyed some good food and eventually made our way over to the Harrington household where we enjoyed some time chatting with Patty and Molly, sharing some pictures and stories. Before making our way to bed, we watched Twilight (since we’d been in Forks, WA and surrounding areas), gained a great understanding of vampires and finally closed our eyes for peaceful rest.


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