Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From "Typical Espanish" to "Typical 'Merica"

When I first arrived in Spain, I kept hearing the phrase, It’s "typical Espanish" over and over again! The word Spanish is pronounced like Espanish by a native (since all of their words starting with "s" sound like es).  “Melissa, you have to try a paella, it is typical Espanish!” “Here in Espain, the stores close during the day so we can go home to eat lunch and take an afternoon siesta”.... “We have a Bermuth before lunch, it’s typical Espanish.”....... After all those years of learning about what is typical in Espain, I was so excited to show my friends what is typical in ‘Merica.  In the first few days of our trip, Nuri and Viçens have had a lot of different “typical American” experiences and tasted a bunch of different American foods.  In fact, it is a good thing we are biking with all we are consuming, not to mention, we are thankful for having a tail wind.  After eating all the eclectic flavors, it makes for some unsettled stomachs and more strenuous digestion, which leads to a bit of gas, if you know what I mean!

Photo shoot at Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, MT
Upon the arrival of Nuri and Viçens, we were welcomed like rock starts to The Adventure Cycling Association with a big photo shoot.  Every cyclist that visits normally has mug shot snapped that goes on their wall of visitors. As foreigners, we got the red carpet treatment.  It’s not every day that someone cycles through Missoula coming from Spain.  Their photographer wanted to document this for one of their issues and he was even more thrilled to hear that I was awaiting the arrival of two Spanish cyclists who would accompany me for two weeks.  They arrived and surprised me with “designer” t-shirts, for our trip together, designed by Viçens and his sister.  We got our photos taken together and separately, and then participated in their ritual weigh in.  We had to guess the weight of our bikes before they were weighed.  Being the optimists that we are, all of our guesses were 20 pounds under their actual weight.  Nuri’s bike is the lightest at 40 lbs. (25kg.), Next comes Viçens at 85lbs. (37kg.), then me, with the heaviest bike of all at 90lbs. (40kg.).  Pretty impressive to think we carry all that weight around on two wheels!

Before getting changed, Nuri and Viçens were preparing dinner (for 10 people total)

From Missoula we went to Ronan, just south of Flathead Lake, where ironically the husband of our host couple, Tom and Annemarie, was a Spanish teacher. It was the perfect situation because all of us could communicate and Tom got to practice his Spanish, something he doesn’t have the opportunity to do much in rural Montana.  The Leafty family was numerous, like my own family, and it just so happened that 7 or 8 of them were visiting with their kids (5 of them staying at their house, along with two church missionaries, which made for one big crowd.  Since all their rooms were full, we had the choice of putting our tents in the back yard or sleeping in their pop-up camper.  Need I say which we chose?  For Nuri and Viçens, it was their first time sleeping in such a vehicle, “pop-up” campers don’t exist over in Europe, so this was a typical American camping experience for them.  For me, motor homes are becoming my second home!  
We all slept in a pop-up camper, a typical American camping vehicle

On a fire pit, Nuri and Viçens picked up on the art of a lightly toasted marshmallow right away

We made dinner for the Leafty family, a typical Espanish meal of oven roasted chicken and vegetables and they provided us with a typical American desert experience called s’mores.  For my non-American followers, s’mores are a desert here in the states associated with camping and camp fires.  There is an art involved with this desert from finding the perfect roasting stick to how to go about roasting your marshmallow just right and preparing the actual cookies/treat.  They had a fire pit in the backyard and we all sat around making S’mores.  Nuri and Viçens got the hang of it right away without even explaining how to get the best roasted marshmallow. Ironically, it was little Ms. I haven’t lived in the states for 10 years to practice, who repeatedly burned hers!  For me, it was more of a patience issue and the excitement to eat a roasted marshmallow than the lack of practice!

The native burnt hers, while Viçens had more patince

From Ronan we headed up to Columbia Falls where Teri Ann and Ron awaited our arrival.  They are friends my 49er host back on the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Murdock.  Prior to our visit I was corresponding with Teri Ann via email and something told me we were going to hit it off.  Shortly after arriving, she had me painting my toe nails, sampling different body lotions, and even had her mom give me a hair cut!  These seem like petty little details, of little interest to Nuri and Viçens, but when you’ve been out on the road for 11 months, the smallest of treats such as this, makes a world of a difference!

The ladies had a blast getting dressed up for the rodeo

A rodeo was one of the events I wanted to make sure I hit up while in the Montana
You can’t visit the Wild West without going to a rodeo, typical ‘Merica.  None of us three had been to a rodeo before, and it is actually one of the three things left on my list of attractions and things to do while riding my bike around the world.  Luckily there happened to be a rodeo on Friday night in Columbia Falls.  Teri Ann, of course had cowgirl attire, so we dressed up, traded our two wheels for four, and hit the rodeo!  We had a grand time watching the different events.  One could equate it to running of the bulls or bull fighting, typical Espanish, but neither are customs in Catalonia.  Our favorite was the bareback riding and bull riding!  The announcer was so excited to welcome all the tourists visiting, I made sure they gave Viçens and Nuri a special welcome, as you can hear in the video below!

These were our wheels for the night.  What fun it was to drive!

Never knew there were so many events at a rodeo........

The stands were full at The Blue Moon Rodeo in Columbia Falls

The following day, we made the most of our Saturday before hitting the road.  We took Teri Ann and Ron’s platoon to Hungry Horse reservoir and spent the day tubing, soaking up the sun, and had a BBQ on the lake. My family grew up water skiing in the summer, so it felt very familiar to be back on the water.  With five kids, water skiing was always great entertainment with lots of laughing.  Nothing had changed since I last went, except perhaps the shape of the inner tube, which could fit all three of us.  We had Viçens strategically placed in the middle and a lady in each side.  Like the white water rafting, which I discovered was just slightly out of my comfort zone for thrills, tubing is a lot scarier as an adult than an adolescent. 

We fit so snuggly on the tube, thank goodness, because with more weight, the less likely you are to fall off!
While Nuri smiled and laughed almost the entire time letting out a few shrieks, Viçens held on to the middle handles grips with a giant grin on his face, completely silent with his legs bouncing everywhere.  I on the other hand held on to the tube for my dear life, shrieking at the top of my lungs, making some of my typical, ridiculous faces.  We all had hoarse voices that night and sore biceps from using all our strength to hold on to the tube trying not to tip over.  We laughed so hard during those two five minute sessions of tubing our stomachs hurt so badly we felt like we’d done a major abdominal workout!  In fact, we were still laughing the next day thinking about our experience!  What a riot, definitely a typical American experience none of us will forget!

The facial expressions are back!

1, 2, 3, jump! We do everything together and coordinated, we even have the same tan lines, imagine that!

Ron hooked us up with delicious burgers on the boat
That evening we pedaled 20 miles up the road to Glacier Park, where our hosts Jamie and Brad, who work seasonally in Glacier National Park, lived.   They invited us to go huckleberry picking with them, a hard offer to turn down.  Spaniards typically do a lot of picking of wild vegetables such as garlic and mushrooms, but berries are hard to come by there, the tradition just doesn’t exist like it does in the States.  My Oregon summers for me were filled with picking wild berries along the bike path in Eugene.  My mom also had at least 3 or 4 loyal strawberry pickers during the summer and we would fill up flats after flats so she could make jams we could enjoy all year long with peanut butter for our sack lunches at school.  In West Glacier, the five of us set out to pick huckleberries, each with our own container.  It was reminiscent of my childhood, yet Jamie brought bear spray with her just in case, although I think our chatting that deterred them.  For this harvest, it was a win-win situation! We could eat the huckleberries as we picked and the ones we collected were eaten when we got home, immediately, with milk and sugar, a typical Pritchard dessert!

Tubers by day, an afternoon bike ride, and hucleberry pickers by night!

As for typical American food, well, Nuri and Viçens are trying it all!  I don’t think they’ve refused one things so far, although peanut butter isn't a particular favorite.  They love the snack items from chips and dips to the crackers varieties and have tried a new cereal almost every morning.  Beef jerky, of course, was a total hit, and so are the different pastries at the local supermarket bakeries.  There was a care package waiting for me TeriAnn from Murdock filled with lots of candies among other items, which was also a big hit!  TeriAnn had a create-your-own pizza party for us, and Viçens got to try his first American hamburger on the boat that Ron barbequed for us.  On our second day in Glacier National Park, our hosts in East Glacier made us a an enormous dinner including potato salad and corn on the cob, typical American summer foods. Breakfast the next morning included blueberry waffles with fresh fruit and syrup, along with turkey sausage.  We stuffed ourselves so full of waffles that we hardly made it up the 10 mile hill first thing that morning! 

Teri Ann prepared one heck of a pizza party for us!

Best "Make-Your-Own Pizza" party I've ever been to!

That was a typical American breakfast

Thankfully we have about 10 days left on the road and are soon to hit another country, Canada, so now we will go from typical American culture to discover the Canadian culture.  We are all excited to see what sort of fun and unique experiences and flavors in store for us!  

No comments:

Post a Comment