Somewhere between Montana & Chicago is where you are now…

So I’ve been really behind in this blog fantasyland of mine. Stuff got a little different than it usually does and well, I suppose that’s why you and I are here now. To get caught up. Welcome! Step into my office…sure, take off you’re shoes.

When we last chatted, I was leaving Ann’s cashmere heaven in Kila, MT for the western delight of Deadwood, SD. This was another B&B gig, second yet, though first in the states and I was excited for all the history in the area.

The gig ended up being only ok. 101_0815 1I was to help clean rooms and after the first go-around the wife got kind of mad at me for not cleaning a bathroom well enough and making the bed like “some kind of bachelor”. She was a tad cold after that but oh well. Her loss, per my mother. So, there!! The husband was a charm to be around though, nerdy in a really appealing way. He was pretty well read and could talk shop about some science fiction, which I always appreciate. He was down-to-earth too, never trying to one-up me about literature, and seemed interested in getting to know me. That last point is rarer than you might think. At one point I texted him if a certain set of sheets were ok to use and he texted back Go wild with your bad self. Awesome. It would have been cool to take a road trip with him and leave the wife behind to run the B&B, but that wasn’t happening. The 1899 B&B (which is the year it was built) was a side gig, they both ran what seemed to be a really successful advertising gig full time and were quite busy. The wife may or may not have dug me around, but I rose above, as they say. 101_0838

This hail fell down 20 minutes after the sun was out 110% and melted after the sun came right back out. Weird, huh? Go figure South Dakota.

This hail fell down 20 minutes after the sun was out 110% and melted after the sun came right back out. Weird, huh? Go figure, SD.

I kind of forgot to take pictures of the house while there, but I did take a few choice day trips that have pictures as friends. I have found if I don’t take out that camera day one and start snapping pictures it takes a while to get it out. For whatever reason, this is strangely analogous to my issue of never putting away clean laundry if it isn’t folded immediately when it comes out of the dryer. It’s late, quit judging me…

First off was Mt. Rushmore, in Keystone, SD, a mere one hour away from the B&B. The mountain itself was, well, just some heads on a huge rock face and pretty underwhelming as far as things go. It’s also much smaller than you might think. I mean, it’s a beast and hundreds of feet tall, but waaaaayyyyy up that mountain from where we stand it’s smaller than I thought it would be. I mean, look at that picture right there, my head is almost the same size.

101_0847 101_0846












Too bad they roped a piece of trash like National Treasure 2 in w/something classic like North By Northwest.

Too bad they roped a piece of trash like National Treasure 2 in w/something classic like North By Northwest.

101_0844There was a nice trail running in front of the mountain with all kind of facts about this and that. In case you didn’t know, the four presidents featured on the rock face are, from left to right, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and ole Honest Abe. They represent aspects of this country and its growth. It’s been a few weeks, so don’t quote me, but George represents the founding of the US, Jefferson for the expansion of the US (think Louisiana Purchase), Lincoln for reuniting the country and Roosevelt for the preservation, as he got the national parks idea into motion.

There was info about the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum (what a name, right?) and the process he and his workers went about building this piece. It was all quite informative, but as always people watching became my favorite activity of the day. This is a huge stop for tourists all over the US and the world. I get in the habit of talking to everyone I can these days (travel by yourself for 6 months and you will miss having people around) and met a good number of families on US-wide road trips. Foreigners of all kinds were everywhere too, so I got myself a buffalo burger, parked myself by a thoroughfare and just watched some weird people. A great afternoon. I try to keep racial generalizations to a minimum here at Hey Hunter, but to go all “the hell with it”  between you and I for a hot minute: the true Asians (as opposed to Asian-Americans) tend to dress w/the craziest colors and fashions, European men always tuck their shirts in and are pretty business about it, Hispanic families are large but move efficiently due to a mother hen not taking any shit from anyone and Americans are ironically the most bored with what’s going on around us. These are my findings. Reporting from the front lines…

101_0852The second to last day there I fell in with this super cute French couple on holiday and we adventured off for a day together. Somehow I didn’t get a single picture with them (running a great blog here, I know) but Helene, Samir and I did some pretty rad stuff. Our first stop was a taxidermy museum run out of the side of a gas station. It was all real/super exotic and totally built out of the side of a Texaco. Ha! After that we found a military museum out of the Ellsworth Air Force Base in Box Elder, SD. Lots of old planes, informative plaques and tons of old people. Good stuff. The last stop was the buffalo museum in the town adjacent to Deadwood, which outlined the the short and swift decimation of the buffalo at the hands of the white man. It was depressing…but informative as well! I had SO MUCH FUN (and I’m someone who hates all caps) with Helene and Samir that day though. Our falling in together was pretty serendipitous and we spent the whole day just laughing and prying into each others way of life. Samir was Algerian, but raised in France and Helene was French through and through. I wish them all the best in life and thereafter.

101_0853 101_0854 101_0857 101_0859











101_0862 101_0860










My last day in Deadwood was a day trip out to Jewel Cave National Park, which is pretty much as fucking cool as it sounds. Things got pretty dark, damp, claustrophobic, but never not fun! Plus our tour guide was pretty cute, which never hurts:) I think I am going to let these pictures speak for themselves. Pictures, speak thy mind!

101_0863 101_0877 101_0868 101_0876


101_0878 101_0879












101_0891From there was a super short (like three days) stay w/Kimberli in Cedar Rapids, IA. It was so short b/c cousin extraordinaire Caitlin Steever hooked me up with free tickets to Riot Fest Chicago if I would cover the event for her friends blog, The Monarch Daily. Not only are concerts cool, but I love to cover things like that so jumped at the chance for a published piece and a press pass. Kimberli in Cedar Rapids didn’t care, she knew that this was a pretty sweet deal so off to Chicago I went.

I’m actually covering two more things this week and am having my pappy visit at the end of it. Don’t quote me on this number, but can you believe he hasn’t been to this city since the early 60s?!?! Paul MaCartney was good looking then! Once things settle down I will build an awesome Chicago post full of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Until then old friend…

We drove 300 miles across Idaho & didn’t see a single potato.

This post is co-written by momma Keyne Stanford

There I was on the back of some ATV at the mercy of the 13-yr-old driving. From my vantage point, clutching the rear support, I can clearly see the warning label that states this vehicle is never suitable for more than one person, no one under 16 should operate & the driver should always wear a helmet. We’re zero for three on the rules & clocking 37 mph. I’m thinking about ditching my iPod so I can use my left hand for proper support, but after five years of precious music compiling, it seems worth the risk.

From another vantage point we probably look pretty funny. ATVs are pretty huge & James is a skinny youngster. Imagine Barbie jammed into the front of Ken’s Jeep. Then there’s me on the back, naturally as uncoordinated as they come, barely holding on as the hillbilly teen from hell tears across potholes as if some avalanche is closing in. It’s hard to tell if he’s naturally this reckless or ups it a few notches when a wide-eyed city slicker comes through.

Either way, bury me w/my iPod.

My first visit to the weirdly-shaped state of Idaho was the stay w/the Meyer family in Kooskia. W/me in tow is none other than Keyne “Big Momma” Stanford, who I scooped up in Spokane, WA & together we made our few-hour trek into the countryside Idaho. 101_0687The Meyer family is made up of 8 kids, w/a 15 yr age span – just like my mom – who is one of eight too (formerly, Mary rest her soul). Each of the kids is confident/delightful & the older ones especially took us under their wing w/farming tips & family lore. They really enjoy Keyne’s similar sibling situation & inquired how they were disciplined. Stories of spanking w/a ping-pong paddle (rumor has it that my Grandma’s name was labeled on it) or a hairbrush or whatever was close by brought smiles to my mother’s face as this old-fashioned discipline is not frowned upon in this house either.

After a quick tour of the farm, the first evening we were taken to a country potluck of about 40 people. The whole thing was a little awkward for us, as the only people we “knew” there we had met about three hours ago. My sister Claire would have just died. Ha. I forgot to ask why later, but in the main room where we gathered had about 10 queen-sized beds all lined up in a row. Maybe the house moonlighted as a orphanage? An elderly woman played the accordion & we were taught, of all thing, the Virginia Reel. We of the Stanford/Kennedy crowd all have our roots in VA:)

101_0652 000_0001 1

101_0682The farm is hilly & careworn w/the comings & goings of such a large family. They have a few turkey tractors here, which are small, movable structures that turkeys (or chickens) live in. One would move this structure around to allow the grazing animals to feed in specific locations only, while they also spread out their manure for fertilization effects. Google it, it’s a great concept. There are also ducks, chickens, roosters (a blonde one’s personal mission – to wake us up at 5 a.m. w/a dozen consecutive cock-a-doodle-doos, the rat) & pigeons which get released daily. Marian, the eldest of the Brady Bunch kids, lets us do a little milking, then proceeds to effortlessly tenfold our five-minute effort in a matter of seconds w/her superior method. I dug the goat milk but I could tell Keyne was holding out for her cow stuff back in the city.

101_0663 000_0039 000_0040









Keyne mostly helped Elizabeth (the mom) in her huge garden – weeding, planting, watering & harvesting. What a treat just to pick & eat tender raspberries. The ladies picked all the kale to clear it for a new crop and mum juiced the leaves. We would shake the wild plum tree – plums the size of cherry tomatoes – gather the little guys, juice them & make jelly. They had hundreds of cans in the back room, mostly jellies & such.

We fit into our gender-specific roles pretty well here. Again, Keyne in the garden/kitchen & me outside w/the dad (Jim) on some carpentry gig. The men (besides me, who is probably not considered 100% A MAN out here) are never ever seen in the kitchen & the women never work w/tools or build anything. Jim is the patriarch of the family & his word is law in a way you have never seen.101_0665 The kids wait on him bringing him water/food & whatever else he asks for. There is never a please, a thank you & he never needs to repeat himself. His opinions are those the entire family restates. He carries a handgun at all times & is very outspoken about his faith/politics. One weekend the whole family gets stomach flu, one by one; Keyne & I eventually succumb. The day Jim gets it, the whole farm shuts down & the coveted videos entertain the kids who otherwise never watch TV. They just LOVE The Beverly Hillbillies, which I think is pretty dated, but I gathered the mom likes those old-fashioned views for her kids. They ate it up, even though they had seen every one what seemed like a number of times.

This raccoon, otherwise minding it's own business, was shot and killed late Saturday evening. There are no current leads on the murder.

This raccoon, otherwise minding it’s own business, was shot & killed late Saturday evening. There are no current leads to the murder.

000_0029The youngest kids are extra fun. Hally, the one-year-old, pictured to the left, is quite active for someone that young. I didn’t think much of it, but my mom seemed nothing short of amazed that someone so young had the run of the entire farm to herself, toddling out to the garden or sauna to find her parents. How different her experiences & motor skills must be compared to a toddler growing up in an apartment. The three-year-old Amanah, we noticed had super-short bangs & we kind of knew why (she cut her own hair) but didn’t want to ask as fashion doesn’t seem important way out here. The five & seven-year-old boys (Barack & Talon, great names) we almost never see as they fish all day in the pond up the road. What a life.

We grow very fond of the 10-year-old Margaret, who tells long (but cute) stories punctuated w/ “and guess what happens next?” & won’t move on until you’ve guessed at least three times, though that’s usually a rhetorical question. She & I moved wood one morning and I was right below my capacity for the lifting & noticed she was having a hard time too. Apparently I am only a little stronger than this ten-year-old girl. I’d also like to note here I beat every older child in arm wrestling, albeit mostly girls. I’ll take it. 









Marian, the oldest -far right in the picture above- hopes to become either a chef or a midwife (indeed she’s attended the births of the younger siblings & knows all the birthing language) someday unless she “gets married early” she says. My mother noted it’s hard not to think such a bright, attractive, mature young lady could have a brilliant career. Whatever those kids do, they just need to leave Kooskia & Idaho for a few years. They have great parents no doubt, but only a small selection of view points survive on that farm.

101_0669We probably didn’t work as hard as we could have w/the flu cropping up all week, though everyone had it at some point so they were understanding when we did. In fact, Keyne got a cake but was so sick on her birthday (happy 57th Keyne!) that we only got a quick pic w/the cake before rushing off to the airport. We did appreciate the way the whole family embraced us city slickers & hope in turn we were able to somehow bring in the outside world to such a hardworking clan.

Plus, Keyne didn’t flee East via Greyhound day two on the farm, which means brother Bret owes me $20 cash:)

Prancing Horse B&B

This one is going to be short, because my stay was really short. From Wednesday to a Monday. The shortest gig yet. I found someone on HelpX, they called me back to say their place was full but gave me the # to Al, who owns the Prancing Horse B&B in Malahat, BC. 101_0631Turned out Al & Co are on HelpX too, so the whole deal was pretty serendipitous. Also, maybe you think the Prancing Horse is kind of a lame name, like I did at first, but apparently it’s a Ferrari reference, which re-cements it’s kewl factor, no?

This is place is right out of movie. Or even a dream. Or MAYBE a movie within a dream?!?! That seems more ethereal. It sits on top of a mountain, due south the Pacific Ocean dips between two more mountains/huge hills/whatever into a river form below with the white-tipped Cascades Mt chain keeping guard over it all way in the distance. Even though it doesn’t seem like good business practice to me, the HelpXer are allowed to stay in the suites when the room is available, as opposed to the room above the barn. I got to stay in Suite One only on my first and DANG I didn’t get any pictures of the one. Someday, when my peak salary hits, we can then multiply that number by ten, and then maybe, maybe, I could afford to stay in this room. Classy joint. 101_0601101_0633











101_0600Also w/me HelpXing was a really cool Aussie duo, Kym and Luke. Because the joint got pretty busy, we all relocated to the room above the barn and got pretty close working together all week. And these guys had really good work ethic. We all know us Americans can be a little on the lazy side so I had to be in top form. It was mostly Luke and I working together fixing up the HelpX room in the barn throughout the week, as Kym helped out cleaning rooms in the B&B. Way to break down those gender stereotypes Prancing Horse.

Luke and I worked pretty hard all week. We used long iron pikes to break up stone to widen a mouth of the newly-installed septic tank outside the barn. I felt like Paul Newman from Cool Hand Luke. We also completely flipped the HelpX room above the barn, painting every painstaking inch and getting all the mechanics working around the room. We joked for days we wished we had gotten some before-and-after pics of our work. This room was a God-forsaken shed when we showed up, now it’s a hillbilly-approved God-forsaken room. 101_0629 101_0630 Any lady would be lucky:)




Al is one of those country dudes who has (or had) some serious money at some point and his life and loves to collect [junk], and you can see a great view of that into what we put in the room. He had well over 100 beer light advertisements that went up in bars back yonder and we preceded to cover the walls in them. Just…fantastic. Al also owns a classy amarillo (spanish anyone?) Ferrari sleeping in one of the garages. I like to see he’s committed to the name of his B&B.

Even though we got worked pretty hard at this gig, the food was great, we ate together for lunch and dinner, which was a first among my travels and everyone there had a “pretty bitchin’ sense of humor”, as they say.

LOOK at this nothing-short-of-legendary VHS collection

LOOK at this nothing-short-of-legendary VHS collection

They brewed their own Prancing Horse Pilsner (which was branded to match the company but wasn’t ever given to customers, which I found confusing) that were passed out with dinner. We would all talk about the problems in our home countries and laugh about the different ways we said and experienced the same words. The Aussies share all kinds of slang with New Zealanders (Kiwis) and Canadians, all because of the British. You can see it in the currency, the flags and (kind of, but not really) the governing bodies of these countries/continents/MASSIVE land masses. Australia is bigger, but go look at Canada on a map. It’s much bigger than you think it is.

101_0605We had one afternoon off (which I kind of had to fight for) to go out and have some fun. The Aussies had been there for almost three weeks so had seen this and that, but I wanted to get to a bit of the area. It was nothing super special -a little time on the ocean coast then a walk around the lake next to the B&B on the way home- but the three of us had a solid time. They’re really good people, the Aussies, w/o a doubt some of my favorite to have met on this trip. We laughed and teased and conspired like old friends. Hopefully I will run into them in the future sometime. I know Luke wants to travel more so perhaps I will proposition him for a planned trip abroad in the future…? All I really know right now is I want to travel more and not settle down. The in-betweens are flexible. Make some money??? Flexible.


At least the second-most awkward photo in this travel blog

And just while I’m thinking of it, 91.3 FM The Zone is a fantastic radio station broadcasted out of Victoria, BC. I heard exclusively songs I didn’t know but loved all the time. Check it out if you’re looking for new jams. No doubt they stream online.

Lastly, the farm structure underneath the hillbilly room we stayed in was pretty sweet. There were three sassy horses, two good-natured pigs and an almost-comatose cow w/her calf. That last pair was cute in a weird way I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit.

101_0613101_0618 101_0620 101_0617 101_0621










That’s it Malahat, BC! I head back into the city of Victoria to stay w/Adria and Josh Blades, who are friends of the Hunter Homestead that I met on a choice beach trip.

More to come!

Bellingham Success!

First off the house I stayed in. THIS. HOUSE. Right off Samish Lake, a dock that’s pretty attractive (as a Floridian, I can get pretty snobby about docks) a trampoline right at the end, and a sailboat and water skiing boat to boot. There’s also nice deck at the top of the hill sporting a constantly-on Jacuzzi. The hosts, John and Catrina Bremer, rocked the house with precision and awe. BFFs all around.

I know this picture is almost cliche Washington State, but the weather was actually quite nice the entire time. Apparently these guys have about three months or so of good weather then the rest of the year is doomed to cloudy, cold weather. 101_0483I tried to make a few Sleepless in Seattle jokes but they were over it lol. Oh well. Anyway, John and Catrina, plus their daughter Gina were all a lot of fun to stay with. I’ve always found that people who live on the water tend to more fun than others and that view doesn’t seem to be limited to the East Coast. These guys knew how to open a bottle of wine:)

Every morning I would wake up around eight, grab a Mountain Dew (I know, absolutely pathetic, but I’m weak around soda) and woke up to a dip in the Jacuzzi. Their son lived down the lake and seemed like him and his friends had been born into skis and were pretty slick out on that lake.

Apparently people who are pretty good usually do what’s called slalom, which is two feet on one ski, and that gives you more mobility. I was able to get up on two skis, the standard you’re probably thinking of right now, but I tried the one ski deal and couldn’t manage to stand up. Only, fall and embarrass myself. The usual. We didn’t do as much sailing as I would have liked, but this first-world warrior will soldier on despite not getting exactly what he wants all the time.

I know this is kind of weird, but LOOK hw cute this slug is:)

I know this is kind of weird, but LOOK how cute this slug is.

Washington State is different to me because of how much it rains. I come from places where we get together in groups and dance around cul-de-sacs until the rain comes. The mountains here (they laughed at me when I called these mountains) are covered in green. Not a spot you can see that isn’t a tree. Rainforests aren’t at all limited to the tropics, they were all over the place here.101_0432101_0464

101_0446From what people say about the weather, I think I would hate hate hate this place if I was visiting at any other time of the year. And Vice-a-Versa, if this area was like this all the time, everyone would want to live here. That pic to the right is a view from the boat up to the house, which is the residence to the left. You can’t really see, but if you squint I am at the end of that rope. Water skiing came pretty naturally to me, as far as getting up. I went once in middle school and all I remember is I couldn’t stand up. With (hopefully) a little more upper-body strength since then, I was able to get up the third time around. Apparently most people who are pretty good don’t ride the doubles (except for jumping) but use the slalom, which is two feet on one ski. I tried this for a few and didn’t manage to stand. 101_0492Lack of upper-body strength rears its ugly head once more.

There’s a picture of me to the left looking rightfully awkward in those skis. I’m skeptical that this is correct, but the Bremer son who lived up the lake told me that waterskiing burns the most calories per minute of any sport. Now, I could believe it, b/c your whole body tenses up and there’s well over 100lbs pulling you from the front, but it would just seem to me that some other activity besides this would burn more.

I mean, to play the other side, all your doing is holding on. But it is hard, and my arms were hella sore after each session. Though, falling was my favorite part:)

















Thanks to oh-so-cool John and Catrina Bremer for hosting. Understand my shirt??

So I am in Canada as I type this but I will end this post with leaving the US and start the next with me arriving in this great country.

Alas, my time comes to an end w/John and Catrina and I head to the Hunter Homestead (more on that soon) in Victoria, BC. Now, check out this map below. That isn’t the exact route I took to get there, but I wanted to show you that there’s a portion of Canada that dips below the top of Wash St and further West. Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 8.59.43 PMI didn’t know that either! Just so everyone is up to speed, that black line running through the image is the line where our nice country ends and their’s starts. So, some of you gifted children might have noticed (or already knew) that Victoria sits on an island. Or, easier, the route to the left shows the path crossing water. Ferry? Heck yes! Though it was a little pricey, Nancy and I boarded a ferry in Anacordes, WA and landed in Sydney, BC. Good times were had.

101_0504 101_0506






Good Lord I can’t get these photos to align properly. Anyway, right above you can see old girl Nancy nestled into a ferry quite nice. She was quite a hit aboard the ship, I must say. The ferry took about two hours, was $65-ish and weaved through the San Juan Islands the whole time. I was just surprised how fast is went. We outran every boat we came up across. Average speed of…30 knots? (I completely made that up)

Aboard the ferry! This is it for me and States for the next month...

Aboard the ferry! This is it for me and States for the next month…

If you still don’t get the shirt…think BLT…

More to come!

Writing Portfolio