travel

A morning trip to Singapore

One of the perks of having a blog for so long is that I get invited to do some really cool things. Yesterday’s event was by far the coolest.

On a breezy September morning, my friend and I traveled up to the fourth floor of an anonymous building on Fifth Avenue. When the elevator doors opened, we were transported to Singapore. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, I and about fifteen other bloggers were about to participate in a cooking class with the top chefs of Singapore.

Bloggers observing chef Justin Quek of Sky 57 making crab vermicelli in a light ginger broth.

Bloggers observing chef Justin Quek of Sky on 57 making crab vermicelli in a light ginger broth.

I guess if I read any of the promotional material before arriving I would have known that a ton of crab was in store. After all, the name of the event was The Singapore Crab Throwdown! I’ve never eaten four crab dishes before noon, but I’m not complaining.

The morning started out with Wayne Liew, head chef of Keng Eng Kee, going over the basic flavors of the traditional cuisine and making us some spicy, sweet and sour chili crab.

Next up, Salted Egg Yolk Crab, which sounds less than appetizing but was one of the most unique and delightful flavors I’ve ever had. Wayne told us that they ferment the yolk in salt and then add cream and some other secret ingredients to make what I would call a umamified version of hollandaise sauce.

Crab makes me happy :)

Crab makes me happy 🙂

After a short break to wash our crabby hands, Justin Quek of Sky on 57 took over. Justin showed us how quality ingredients (you have to make your own broth) and the right proportions, can make an elegant, simple and divine soup. I find ginger an obnoxious overwhelming flavor, but Justin’s ginger broth was so gentle it changed my mind on ginger forever!

We finished with a dish on the other end of the spectrum: the bold Wok Fried Black Pepper Crab with Lobster. Those strong flavors stayed with me for the rest of the day – and again, I’m not complaining 🙂

The chefs were so sweet and humble even though they are profoundly accomplished and internationally renowned. I loved getting to taste how the same main ingredient can be prepared with wildly different flavors. I left desperately wanting to visit Singapore and continuing this culinary tour of the senses.

If you’re in New York, there are still a few more events you can check out. As part of Singapore restaurant week, many popular restaurants are adding special Singaporean-inspired dishes to their menu. For instance, Shake Shack has a Singapore milkshake, The Meatball Shop is offering a Singapore meatball, and Bergdorf and Goodman is hosting a Singaporean feast. For more info on the events, click here.

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I left feeling like a super star!

FROM WEST VIRGINIA TO SANTA FE (PART 2)

Directly after getting back from West Virginia, I stopped at my apartment to say hi to my kitties and then boarded a flight to Santa Fe.

I arrived in Santa Fe with one mission in mind, to work with my great friend on her wonderful screenplay.

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Friends that write together stay together!

I remember when I started this blog I had trouble with the career advice: “figure out how to get paid doing what you love to do.” As I was writing on the porch of my friend’s stunning Santa Fe house, overlooking the mountains and breathing in the juniper-scented air, I thought, ok I figured it out.

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Soaking up some sun while coming up with ideas.

Jetlag was working in my favor, so I got to see the stunning sunrises almost every day. Here are some of my favorites:

But don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all work:

After this summer, I feel like I took huge leaps towards the writing career I want. Sorry to still be so secretive about the details, but I hope to be able to talk more about soon!

From West Virginia to Santa Fe (Part 1)

This Summer I had the great opportunity to taking my laptop on the road.

I love living in NYC, but Mike and I really wanted to switch it up this summer and get as far away from the city. We really needed concentrated quiet time to focus on our writing projects.

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On our way to Durbin, West Virginia!

We used AirBnB to rent this gigantic house in Durbin, West Virginia for two weeks. I couldn’t believe how nice the house was for the price we paid ($50 a day!). If you have no clue what AirBnB is, it’s a way of renting a room or a house from individuals and it’s typically much cheaper and much more unique than staying at a hotel or BnB. If you want to try it out, let me know and I’ll send you a $25 off coupon 🙂

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Our beautiful home for two weeks!

The house came complete with a banjo, which we played on the porch every night. The porch was also home to the feistiest hummingbirds I’ve ever seen. Throughout the two weeks, friends and family came to stay the night, and we got to see more of West Virginia, including a hike to Seneca Rocks, a ride on the historic steam train, and a rafting trip down the New River Gorge. All in all, if I had to choose one word to describe West Virginia, it would be “green.”

But most importantly, I got to write!

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My writing home for the two weeks.

Every morning I wrote for four blessed hours, and then, after lunch, I wrote for another four blessed hours! Since we were right by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, there were no cell phone towers, so I didn’t have any distractions. Well… except for this:

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The hungry stray cat we adopted for two weeks. We named him Squeaks.

I got to finish the second draft of my screenplay while I was there!

Now I’m putting my screenplay aside for three weeks so I gain some objectivity, and moving on to work with my friend on her screenplay. Which brings me to Santa Fe.

But not so fast. You’ll have to wait until my next post for the some of the most beautiful sunrise pictures.

Island Medicine

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I just got back from an amazing week in the Virgin Islands! Here’s a bizarre, short story based on the last half hour we were there:

It had just started raining as we drove around St. Thomas, looking for a vacuum service to avoid the rental car’s $50 sand-damage fee. The car bounced over the pot holes of the sketchier side of the island, a far cry from the touristy, pristine beaches of St. John, where we had just spent a week drinking Pina Coladas and burning our noses. After trying several gas stations with attendants who looked at me like I was speaking gibberish when asking for a vacuum, a man behind me in line pointed toward a car wash down the street. The rain was starting to pour down at this point and we could hardly see through the blurry droplets on the windshield. My flip flop-clad feet rubbed against the gritty floor mat as I looked at the clock on the dashboard. Not much time left before we’d have to return the car and catch our flight.

We drove past the car wash, thinking it was an abandoned dump. After turning around we parked the jeep by the vacuum stand and saw that it only accepted tokens. I opened the door and braced myself for the cold rain. The handmade signs for tokens led me around the car wash stalls, up the squeaky, metal stairs and around the covered porch that was housing several years’ worth of decaying car parts and rotting plant matter.

The vacuum needed one token. I had a bag of quarters and a twenty dollar bill. The machine wouldn’t take coins and it wouldn’t exchange tokens for money, so if I used the last of my cash I’d end up with nineteen useless tokens.

While I contemplated wasting nineteen dollars in order to make our flight on time, an old man sauntered up the stairs. The top of his blue coveralls was left open, revealing a buff chest covered with white curls. Although he was much shorter than me his thick dreadlocks piled high on his head made him appear much taller.

“You need da tokens?” he asked. His white mustache was yellow above the unlit cigarette that dangled from his lip.

“Yeah, but I don’t have any singles,” I told him. I was aware that he was eyeing my white t-shirt made transparent by the rain. The outline around his brown irises had blurred into the yellowing whites of his eyes.

“You have to ring da bell,” he repeated four times before I could process his low voice and his thick, island accent.

The ticket counter had a tinted window and looked closed. The old man leaned against the banister as I rang the doorbell.

“You vacuuming dat car?” he asked me.

“Yeah.”

“You vacuuming it?” he repeated.

“Yeah.”

You vacuuming dat car over dere?”

“Yes!” I said, unable to hide my annoyance that time. I rang the bell again, thinking that if I had to wait one more minute, I’d accept the fifty dollar charge from the car rental office.

“I can vacuum it for you,” he said, chuckling and tucking his hands into his elastic belt that was meant to avoid back injury.

The window of the counter slid open to my relief. “Can I have one token, please?” I asked.

“Four quarters,” the cashier said, looking like I woke him from a nap.

I handed him the quarters and instead of a token he slipped me a dollar bill.

“Don’t you have any tokens?”

“Use da machine,” he told me, then closed the window.

Once I got my token and moved toward the stairs. The old man shook his arthritic finger at me. “You’ll get sick if you go back out in dat rain. It’ll stop soon ‘nough.” In that moment he looked like the old, black sage in so many movies I grew up watching. I leaned against the corrugated steel side of the building, expecting to hear some wisdom.

“My sister got sick when she was walking in da rain. She couldn’t get out of bed,” the man started.

“Oh?” I said.

“She went to dat medicine shop right over dere.” He pointed to a blue, stucco building across the street. “They told her to take 500 milligrams of da Centrum Silver. “

My husband was walking up the stairs now. “What’s the hold up?” he asked.

As if he didn’t notice the interruption, the man continued. “She couldn’t get out of de bed. Her eyes they swell up and when de doctor listens to her chest it sounds like crying. We stayed at her bed and made her da soup.”

“Well, I hope she’s all better.”

“No, no, no she’s dead.” He looked at me like I hadn’t heard a word he said. “It was da cancer.”

“Oh my god, I’m sorry,” I said, touching my chest.

He looked down at the ground. “You need to take da stinging nettle for da cancer not da Centrum. Da stinging nettle has the good dings for the mens and de womens. It shrinks da postrate,” he said winking at my husband then taking his hand. “You come wid me. Dis is for men’s ears only.”

“We really have a flight to catch,” I called after them, but the man waved me away. I walked through the last heavy drops of rain to get to the car and began vacuuming.

Mike came down the stairs with a huge grin on his face.

“What did he say?” I asked, getting into the car.

“He said if I took stinging nettle my penis would look like his forearm. He said it would give me hydraulic power down there.” Mike laughed.

I rolled my eyes, wondering how the man could make the leap between his dead sister and natural Viagra.

The man leaned against the banister and called out “I only tell you ‘cause I’m never gonna see you again.”

Mike saluted the man and then backed out onto the road, still laughing about the medical advice.

“Maybe we can get some stinging nettle at the duty free shop,” I said with a wink.

A Place Where No One Should Have to Live: Remembering Kibera (Part 4)

A few days ago Kibera was mentioned at an event I attended and the name sounded so familiar. After a moment I realized it sounded familiar because I had been there three years ago.  I went on a volunteer trip to Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, with my dad and a group called Cross-Cultural Thresholds. How did I manage to completely forget about an experience that shook me to the core? Forgetting Kibera was a coping mechanism, because if I thought about it all the time I would never be able to do anything. How do I work on a novel when I know that there are 2 million people living in a slum with no electricity or running water? How do I enjoy time with my friends when I know kids are starving to death? While it serves no one to put my life on hold because there is suffering in the world, I do believe I have a responsibility to remember and share what I saw. I am reposting some of the emails I sent to Mike while I was there:

I heard the most incredible story from one of the local volunteers today. Jimmy grew up in a poor, rural area outside of Nairobi. The planes of Wilson Airport flew directly over his village and he dreamed of flying one of those planes. He found a magazine about flying and wrote a letter to every address listed in the directory. He kept doing that for years until finally he got one letter back from a man named David in Connecticut.

David encouraged Jimmie to study hard and follow his dreams, and they began a pen-pal relationship that lasted years. When Jimmy graduated from high school with great grades, David paid for him to go to college in Michigan. He trained to be a pilot there and then got a job in Arizona as a private pilot for the Mayo Clinic. The clinic offered to pay for his Masters but he really wanted to go back to Kenya and be a pilot at Wilson airport. He’s been flying for Air Kenya for 4 years now.

David is a volunteer on our trip and he asked Jimmy to meet us on the first day and share his story. He asked if he could help us in Kibira because he had never been there before. He immediately fell in love with the project. He’s joining the board of the daycare center and is going to become our liaison. He doesn’t have much money but he realized he was given a great gift from a man who encouraged him to study and now he wants to help hundreds of young kids study as well.

Jimmy’s story became our slogan for the trip. When someone said we couldn’t finish digging the foundation that day, another person said, “Well if Jimmy can fly…” Whenever something seemed hard, we just kept saying “Jimmy can fly.”

In other news, this morning we dispensed 200 pairs of Crocs to the kids at the daycare center. The kids went crazy for them. It was amazing to see their joy in receiving such ugly shoes but it was it was also gut wrenching to see the kids outside the daycare center watching this giveaway, barefoot and hungry. They stood outside the gate, hoping to get an extra pair but we didn’t have enough. Well it felt great to give these shoes away, it was a reminder that the gift of schools, wells and roads do a lot more good than finite, material goods. Despite how ugly they are, there will never be enough crocs to go around.

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A little girl receiving her first pair of shoes.

Afterward, Marina and I finished the mural. It’s really cheerful and the construction workers kept taking breaks to look at it and give us the thumbs up. In art school, the idea that art is supposed to be challenging and serious was crammed down our throats. Today was a nice reminder that art can also cheer people up and be pretty.

Last night at dinner we were talking about the book Many Lives, Many Masters. It’s by a professor who did a lot of research into past lives. As I was walking out of Kibera today, I thought  about that book and almost vomited. I had absolutely no control over where I was born, and I just as easily could have been born in Kibera. The thought that past and future lives could be real, freaked me out because as long as there’s the chance of being reborn, there’s the chance of being reborn in Kibera. I think a lot more people would do volunteer work, and donate money if they thought there was a chance they could be reborn on the other end of the lucky spectrum.

A Place Where No One Should Have to Live: Remembering Kibera (Part 3)

A few days ago Kibera was mentioned at an event I attended and the name sounded so familiar. After a moment I realized it sounded familiar because I had been there three years ago.  I went on a volunteer trip to Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, with my dad and a group called Cross-Cultural Thresholds. How did I manage to completely forget about an experience that shook me to the core? Forgetting Kibera was a coping mechanism, because if I thought about it all the time I would never be able to do anything. How do I work on a novel when I know that there are 2 million people living in a slum with no electricity or running water? How do I enjoy time with my friends when I know kids are starving to death? While it serves no one to put my life on hold because there is suffering in the world, I do believe I have a responsibility to remember and share what I saw. I am reposting some of the emails I sent to Mike while I was there:

So I was having a really hard time picking out a souvenir for you. I didn’t want to get a tacky trinket, and so I got you a son! There was an adorable boy at the daycare center who needed to be sponsored. He has big, white teeth and a dimple just like you! It’s just a dollar a day and it pays for three meals a day and all his school supplies.

Shwaib Ayub, the young boy I sponsored

Shwaib Ayub, the young boy I sponsored

[In a tragic turn of events, two weeks after I left Kibera, Schwaib was hit by a car and died instantly. I shared this terrible news with my friends and family, and together we raised over $1,500 to donate to his daycare center.  What happened to him was a tragedy, but there are still so many kids who need help there. Click here if you would like to make a donation in honor of Schwaib.]

Today it poured. And you don’t want to be in Kibera when it rains. There were streams of fecal waste, plastic bags and old shoes running past us. The smell is horrific. The pathways are just piles of slippery mud, and you have to hold onto the sides of the houses so you don’t fall down. When you touch the houses, the walls crumble apart.

Some pretty clever, make-shift umbrellas.

Some pretty clever, make-shift umbrellas.

 

A Place Where No One Should Have to Live: Remembering Kibera (Part 2)

A few days ago Kibera was mentioned at an event I attended and the name sounded so familiar. After a moment I realized it sounded familiar because I had been there three years ago.  I went on a volunteer trip to Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, with my dad and a group called Cross-Cultural Thresholds. How did I manage to completely forget about an experience that shook me to the core? Forgetting Kibera was a coping mechanism, because if I thought about it all the time I would never be able to do anything. How do I work on a novel when I know that there are 2 million people living in a slum with no electricity or running water? How do I enjoy time with my friends when I know kids are starving to death? While it serves no one to put my life on hold because there is suffering in the world, I do believe I have a responsibility to remember and share what I saw. I am reposting some of the emails I sent to Mike while I was there:

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Still not enough space, this is a vast improvement from classrooms in the streets.

Today we visited Drug Fighters, the daycare center that’s the influence for the daycare we’re building. Agnes started the school 15 years ago. She couldn’t afford to feed her own 4 kids, but whenever she heard about kids getting abused, abandoned, or exposed to drugs and or prostitution, she would find them and take them home with her. Soon she had over a hundred kids and she would get donations to feed them. She didn’t have a classroom so she would just teach them outside in the alleyways.

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Some of the happy kids at Drug Fighters. This is right before their assembly to greet us.

Eventually, Carter [the organizer of the group I was volunteering with] got involved and helped build the school for her. Now they have 284 students and feed them 2 meals a day. That’s typically the only food they get. The building is bright blue and there’s a courtyard in
the middle for kids to play safely play in. When we visited, we all noticed that it was the first time we saw the kids really being kids. They were jumping ropes, playing with balls, and chasing each other. It was a complete contrast to the children outside of the school who look lifeless, and too worried for their young ages.

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The kids could be entertained by a camera for hours. As soon as I took a picture of them, they would look at the little screen of themselves and then shriek at the image.

The kids sang songs for us and performed some poems they wrote. One girl, named Cynthia, was so articulate, charismatic and talented we all felt this terrible feeling that she
deserved so much more. If she had the opportunities we have in America, she would be the next Beyonce, but in Kibera her greatest opportunity is to get two meals a day.

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Cynthia and Carter

And then we met another Cynthia. She was chained to her bed for three years because she is autistic and there is a stigma against any sort of disabilities – they see it as the devil possessing the child . When Agnes rescued the little girl, Cynthia couldn’t see because she had been in darkness for so long her eyes hadn’t developed. She couldn’t speak and her muscles atrophied so she couldn’t even sit up. Agnes took Cynthia back to her school and found her a foster home. She made sure Cynthia got three meals a day and lots of hugs. Cynthia is now 9 years old and greeted us when we visited the school. She’s a ball of energy and loves to hug people. She can speak and she has complete vision. She’s great with rhythm so when the students want to sing a song they ask Cynthia to stand in the middle and clap the rhythm. This little person who was chained to a bed for three years has become a source of pride for the school.

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The inner courtyard felt like a safe haven in the middle of Kibera; a burst of happy blue midst all the rusting brown.

I forgot to tell you about the flying latrines. At first people were digging pits for the latrines. When the latrines were full, people would cover them with dirt and build a house on top of it. Now there’s no more free space for the pits so people poop into plastic bags and leave
them in their house until night time. Then when it’s dark they go out and throw the bags as far as they can. The man who we’re working with at the new school told us that one night he was hit in the face by one of these bags and that’s when he decided he needed to change Kibera. I would think a lot of things if I were hit by a bag of shit, and I don’t think one of them would be: how can I stay here longer?

In the afternoon, I helped dig the foundation for the daycare center. After a few hours I  was happy to trade in the shovel for a paint brush. Mariana and I started a mural for the new center, and we painted the gates of Drug Fighters.

The new gate for Drug Fighters.

The new gate for Drug Fighters.

 

A Place Where No One Should Have to Live: Remembering Kibera (Part 1)

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A view of Kibera, Kenya, with its one water source.

A few days ago Kibera was mentioned at an event I attended and the name sounded so familiar. After a moment I realized it sounded familiar because I had been there three years ago.  I went on a volunteer trip to Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, with my dad and a group called Cross-Cultural Thresholds. How did I manage to completely forget about an experience that shook me to the core? Forgetting Kibera was a coping mechanism, because if I thought about it all the time I would never be able to do anything. How do I work on a novel when I know that there are 2 million people living in a slum with no electricity or running water? How do I enjoy time with my friends when I know kids are starving to death? While it serves no one to put my life on hold because there is suffering in the world, I do believe I have a responsibility to remember and share what I saw. I am reposting some of the emails I sent to Mike while I was there:

 

Today was really hard. There is nothing that can prepare you for Kibera.

The river, the one source of drinking water in Kibera.

The river, the one source of drinking water in Kibera.

First we drove as far as we could into the slum. The road is just wide enough for one car but there are people going to the bathroom, cooking, and hanging out in the middle of the road, so it takes about 30 minutes to travel a mile. We had to walk the rest of the way into the center of the slum. Kibera is built around train tracks, and I didn’t realize they’re still in use. We were walking along the tracks and then all of a sudden a train came and we had to rush to squeeze into an alley way to not get hit. The shacks are within inches of the train. Everything shakes, the babies start crying, the train’s horn is blaring, and you can’t imagine how loud it is. These are trains transporting garbage so as it passes the trash flies everywhere.

Before the train came through, there was an open market of stales lined up on the tracks. The people have learned how to close up shop in a matter of seconds.

Before the train came through, there was an open market of stales lined up on the tracks. The people have learned how to close up shop in a matter of seconds.

[We were volunteering with Cross-Cultural Thresholds to help build a new daycare center that could house all the children who needed care. First we wanted to see the current daycare center and hear from some of the families that use it.]

We first visited the daycare center. There were 45 children in a room smaller than our livingroom and they were all sitting with perfect posture and asking us repeatedly “how are you?” It was hard to believe this place was an improvement for the community, but the guy who started the center said that before this place existed, mothers would mix alcohol with milk to make the babies sleep the whole day so they could go to work. The kids have no books, pens or pencils. they just sit there for 8 or 9 hours memorizing numbers and English phrases. We’re going to get them lots of crayons and coloring books tomorrow.

They stay seating like this for eight hours.

They stay seating like this for eight hours.

Next we split up and visited three houses. The houses are all 8×8 feet with sheet metal walls and roof, and dirt floors. There aren’t any roads, just alleyways that are only wide enough for one person to walk through. There’s a constant stream of human waste flowing through the alleyways. The place smells like a mix of a sewage treatment plant and a garbage dump.

The space between the houses.

The space between the houses. The wet part is sewer water.

The first woman we met had four kids and her husband died 6 years ago. She had malaria and we were able to set her up with some medicine. She couldn’t speak English – only people who go to school learn English otherwise they speak the tribal language (which actually has a lot of Arabic in it). She had no food in her house and had no idea when and how she would get her next meal because she couldn’t work until she got over the malaria. She said her only happiness in life was knowing that her kids would get 2 meals a day at the daycare center. If it didn’t exist, she said they would have been dead already.

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One of the adorable kids posing for us outside his house.

The next woman we met was HIV positive and so was her husband and youngest child. She had 6 kids. Again in an 8×8 foot house. There was no electricity. All 8 people sleep on one twin size mattress or the dirt floor. She said the childcare center was the only thing keeping her family alive.

The last woman had five kids and no husband. She was really embarrassed to talk to us, and kept covering her face and crying. Her shack was downhill so when it rains her house fills up ankle-deep with sewage water. She said that before her kids were in childcare she would go out to try to find work (pretty much the only legal job the women can get there is doing laundry for a dollar a day and this work is unreliable) and if she couldn’t find work no one could eat, but now she knew at least her kids would get some food. She was 2 months behind on rent (rent’s about $18 a month) and there is nowhere else but the streets (and remember that the streets are mud alleyways filled with sewage).

We left the house visits with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. The women had no opportunities, and they had given up on their lives. They seemed to be staying alive just to make sure their kids had a place to sleep.

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The job site. My dad’s the one in red.

Afterward we went to the site where we are building another childcare center. It was really motivating to meet the mothers and hear how crucial these centers are for their survival. We were digging the foundation and we dug like our lives depended on it because we knew that their lives depended on. There were three construction workers from Kibera working along side us and afterward the thanked us for coming all this way to help them. One man had a tear in his eye when he thanked me. One person told me that a lot of Americans do slum tourism where a bus will drive a huge group to the edge of Kibera, everyone will get out take pictures and then immediately leave. He said he didn’t believe we would actually stay and help build with them.

We spent the whole afternoon clearing away rocks from the job site and burning the junk that was embedded in the ground. When we walked out of the job site, the kids who were trying to hold our hands on the way in took one look at us and ran.

My dad got obsessed with cow hoof soup. We saw a man making it in a giant vat on our way out. He had about 5 cow legs in the vat and he boils it down for three hours.It becomes really thick. After he sells the soup he’ll sell the leftover cow bone to jewelers who make jewelry out of it.

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Another cute kid.

Stardust in Wallace, Idaho

On my way to Montana, I decided to spend the night in Wallace, Idaho, a town known for its mining history… and prostitution. I booked a night at the seedy, little Stardust Motel (with coin-operated beds)

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My home for one night.

Unfortunately the mining museum was closed because its only employee decided to take the day off, so I spent the afternoon taking pictures of the snow-covered town. I loved how the houses are built right up to the mountains.

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One of the only other people outside that day.

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The mountains seemed to dwarf everything.

While walking around, I started a conversation with a man who was digging his car out of the snow. He mentioned how most of the mountains behind the town were owned by timber companies. Hunters are allowed on the property to keep the deer and elk population in control. This little tidbit was exactly the situation I needed for my story. I could barely contain my excitement as I spoke to him. I don’t think he was use to talking to someone who was so interested in what he was saying.

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I love towns with main streets like this.

Since there wasn’t much left to do in town, I ate dinner at 5pm. I kept myself entertained by reading about prostitution in the town. As enterprising men moved to Wallace for the silver mining opportunities so did enterprising women. At one point, any woman walking down the street alone was considered a prostitute.

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This town was meant for snow.

The next morning I walked into an antique gun shop and started asking the owner some questions. He stroked his handle-bar mustache that was stained with chewing tobacco and gave me the same answer for every question: “I wouldn’t presume to know the answer to that.” I might not have gotten any information from him, but at least I can base a crazy old character on him.

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I could picture drinking many cups of hot chocolate in this house.

I stopped by the sheriff’s office to find out about accidents with animals in the town. Wallace is surrounded by wolf packs, bears, cougars and coyotes, but surprisingly enough, the citizens are most frightened of the moose. Apparently moose are very aggressive and destructive, while the predators are weary of humans and stay away. Another interesting fact for my book!

I walked around some more but I started noticing people staring at me. That’s when I remembered the history of prostitution and decided to head out before I got any propositions 😛