Tag Archives: Audio

wilmington, nc and wrightsville beach ~ southern gorgeousness

it was our first time visiting wilmington, nc and it is quite the charming little southern colonial town. beautiful old buildings, a healthy and vibrant downtown, and a short drive to the ocean. despite staying in a ramada inn set smack dab in the middle of urban sprawl, we enjoyed our time there immensely.

here are a couple of panoramae. the first was made in greenfield park, along the bird thick shores of greenfield lake. we circumnavigated the shores of the lake, crossing paths with joggers, egrets, and the occasional closeted military man out cruising for some hot man-on-man action…i mean, why else would the same guy keep driving past us with no shirt on, staring intently?



the second was made at wrightsville beach just after sunset. even though the sky was darkening, there were still a bunch of surfers frolicking in the water, trying to squeeze the last drops of joy out of the day. there’s some footage of them in the video below…



this audio recording was also made at wrightsville beach:



here are some random photos taken around wilmington and wrightsville beach.

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all of these photos, panoramae and sounds were recorded on december 9, 2011, day 70 of my daily video journal project. here’s what this day’s entry in this infernal project looks like:

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oh yeah! at the end of that video, you see a bunch of people filing into historic thalian hall to watch a community theater production of the sound of music. while video recording and photography during the performance was strictly verboten, i managed to sneak in a little audio recording…i think maria would have appreciated this minor act of rebellion. anyway, here’s a snippet of that performance.

comfort food at the goody goody diner ~ st. louis, missouri

while we were passing through missouri, we followed the interweb’s advice and went to have breakfast at one of the st. louis’ landmark eating establishments, connelly’s goody goody cafe . we pulled up to the restaurant on a hot, muggy mid-morning and were surprised by two things: 1) the location. 2) the size of the crowd.

for against a patchwork background of decaying industry, struggling businesses and post WW2 tract houses, as unexpected and as incongruous as a giant toadstool, sat the goody goody. its parking lot was full, the surrounding streets were lined with cars. and when we walked in, we were confronted by the sight of a small foyer jam-packed with folks waiting for a seat and a dining area overflowing with good vibes. my first thought was, wow, i bet this is going to be good!

goody goody is one of those rare and happy places that cater to people of every race, color, creed, sexual orientation and credit rating. having spent months in many places where i felt like the only brown person within a hundred mile radius (hello northern idaho!), entering a room chock-a-block full of this much diversity always makes me happy. add to that a menu featuring chicken and waffles, greek omelettes, and something called a hobo bowl, and you’re pretty darn close to diner-style ecstasy.

i had the spinach and cheese omelet with rice (instead of hash browns or grits), a biscuit (instead of toast or pancakes), and a side of sausage gravy. i would have posted a picture of this delicious meal, but in the excitement of its arrival, i lost all composure and devoured it in a way that would have made mazy proud.

the following audio offers a sample of goody goody’s happy clamor. we were seated between two young african-american women discussing their love lifes (one was beginning to wonder if the dude she was pursuing might actually be gay) and a group of middle-aged folks exchanging office gossip.

[audio:http://media.cellspin.net/post/payload/130048/]

lincoln home national historic site, springfield illinois ~ 09jul10

SPRINGFIELD, SPRINGFIELD IT’S A HELL OF A TOWN

the state of illinois is home to one, count ’em, one national park site: the lincoln home national historic site in the state’s capitol, springfield. luckily for us, this place was not too far off of the highways we were following in a mad rush to make it first to michigan to drop mazy off with my sister, and then to chicago to celebrate the birthdays of two of my nearest and dearest.

in fact, we were in such a rush that when we first saw the signs announcing the lincoln home historic area my first inclination was to demur. it was only when i checked my national park passport and realized this was perhaps my only chance to get the single stamp offered by the entire state of illinois that i faltered. we are witnessing, after all, the historic obama presidency, a presidency that has strong connections both to illinois and to abraham lincoln, and what better time to take a moment and reflect on the man that president obama so clearly admires?

we pulled into a shaded parking lot on a quintessential mid-western summer day: glowering sun shepherding slow-moving clouds in a sky pale with humidity. i ran into the visitors center to get my passport stamp…and then proceeded to get sucked in by the various displays, historical models and movies scattered about the place.

before we knew it, hours had passed. we visited the dean house and the arnold house (the only two buildings you can visit without the presence of a tour guide), encountered the lincoln troubadors (listen to the audio clip if you want to hear their rendition of a familiar classic), and watched a short documentary about lincoln’s train trip from springfield to washington d.c. at the great western depot.

we had intended to arrive at my sister’s place at a reasonable hour, not only to spend some time catching up with her and (her husband) tim, but also to get mazy settled in and to pack our bags for our early morning train trip to chicago. instead, we arrived at 12:30am to find the doors locked and the windows dark. we spent a good 15 minutes trying to figure out how to get into the building. we finally got to bed at around 2 in the morning, exhausted and heat-stoned. i blame barack obama.

this audio clip contains a couple of excerpts from the cell phone tour offered at the lincoln home site and a song performed by the above mentioned lincoln troubadors. enjoy!

[audio:http://media.cellspin.net/post/payload/130365/]

canyonlands national park ~ southern utah


DEATH BY NEEDLES

if you want to skip ahead, there is a slideshow and an audio recording of tim talking about why he loves the needles district of canyonlands national park with such intensity. however, if you are willing to wait, and you want to read the story of how tim and i almost lost our lives in this unbelievably beautiful corner of the world, continue on.

the first big trip that tim and i took was in 2006. we caught amtrak’s lakeshore limited from springfield to chicago. we got off the train long enough to have a quick lunch with my chicago besties, wenner, freddie and m, and then we boarded the southwest chief and headed down towards albuquerque.

anyway, it was a long trip and very eventful. (ask tim about his relationship with our traincar attendant and why it was so awkward…seriously it’s worth it). after many adventures involving a tiny hyundai that we got from alamo rental and my first introduction to tim’s sister katja, we found ourselves entering canyonlands national park . what with all of our dilly-dallying in moab, we got a much later start than we had intended. still, it was a beautiful day, sunny and brisk, and we were very excited to be out on the trail.

you should know that it was march, and that winter still had a firm grip on the canyonlands. with the full sun pouring down on us, it was very comfortable for hiking, but in the slot canyons or in the shade, the air was brisk, edged with cold. we hiked up through the first pass and entered elephant canyon. a barely believable landscape passed around us; red sandstone spires giving way to wide sage-dotted plains, twisted bodies of junipers, and bright porcelain sky. we followed the dry bed of elephant creek, stair-stepping on god-sized risers of perfectly formed granite. and then we arrived at druid arch . for those of you who followed that link, i know, right? it’s beautiful! supposedly, it’s called druid arch because it looks like a celtic rune.

tim and i hung out at the arch for a good long while, taking photos and exploring the nooks and crannies along the canyon. then we continued on, making our way slowly to chesler park. we stopped at a grand overlook and ate our meager picnic lunch. we watched the sun began to settle towards the horizon. when we consulted the map, a slow horror began to creep into our consciousness. we had an 8-mile hike back to the parking lot and about 2 hours of sunlight to do it. this, through fairly demanding terrain, the path trailing up and around sandstone spires, disappearing into slot canyons, and climbing from the desert floor up through layers of geologic time. we checked our daypack and discovered that we only had one headlamp. the layers that we had brought along, which had felt so substantial in the noonday sun, began to feel meager and thin. we had no emergency blanket, no more food, and not a whole lot of water.

our pace quickened. the sun’s rays began to diffuse behind a layer of purple clouds crowding the horizon. darkness spread, swallowing the shadows like a rising tide. we decided to hike as long as possible without the aid of the headlamp. we had no idea how long the batteries would last and once we started relying on its light, we would be fully dependent on it. in the azure light of dusk, the path remained barely visible in our sensitized retinae; a pale ribbon twisting between the variegated darkness of plant life and cryptobiotic soil.

as if toying with us, the sky began to spit down a cold rain. lightning played on the horizon, illuminating what looked like a massive storm front heading towards us. my adrenaline addled mind began to frantically pursue possible outcomes. would we survive if we were forced to spend the night out in the wilds? would hypothermia claim us? would sharing body heat be sufficient? would anyone know we were still out here, scared and rushing heedlessly through the darkness?

eventually, the trail led us onto an undulating rock floor and then disappeared in its constant, monochrome surface. from here, our only guides were tiny, widely spaced cairns that stitched their way through a landscape made treacherous by sudden dropoffs and unexpected chasms. in the failing light, the cairns were all but invisible. we stumbled on, terrified of losing our way. the cold rain intensified. we turned on the headlamp and began casting about in the darkness, searching for the trail markers. when one of us couldn’t find the next one, the other would take the lead. slowly, in this staggering, frightened way, we continued on.

my memory began playing tricks on me. were we going in circles? had we rejoined the path that first led us into elephant canyon? finally, just as i was about to suggest that we stop and try to find a place to shelter for the night, we crested a low rise. tim shone the headlamp into the blankness ahead and uttered a cry of relief. he had seen the hyundai’s reflectors shining in the lamp’s pale beam. we had made it back to the parking lot!

giddy with relief, we hurried to the car and got in. somehow, the simple act of closing the doors made us feel safer. we hugged and high-fived, congratulating ourselves on surviving the ordeal. the awareness of how tenuous our situation had been came crashing down. if we had begun to bicker or lay blame, if we had taken one wrong step, one of us could have twisted an ankle or fallen and broken a leg. or worse. we could have lost the path and ended up wandering aimlessly, searching for a path that wasn’t there. we could have been soaked by the coming rain and succumbed to exposure or hypothermia. giddiness was replaced by wonder. how had we escaped unscathed?

as we left the park, a strange, almost surreal series of events taught us the price of our survival. in the few miles separating our parking space from a generous bed and a comfortable night waiting for us in bluff, ut a total of 14 desert hares streaked out of the darkness and sacrificed themselves to the hyundai. by way of comparison, in the entire 1 year and 4 months of this endless road trip, we have killed exactly zero animals. that night, we killed 14; the last of which lay down in front of us just as we turned into the sleeping town of bluff; just as tim uttered the words, “well at least we aren’t going to kill any more rabbits.”

in this sad way, we learned how much the canyonlands required in order to spare our puny human lives.

our latest visit to the canyonlands was much less eventful. we enjoyed a beautiful day with pati and andy, marveled at the incredible beauty of this sublime landscape, and made it back to our campsite without injury or loss of animal life. the canyonlands had accepted our sacrifice.

[audio:http://media.cellspin.net/post/payload/128962/]

arizona ~ get off my lawn!

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our visit to arizona was punctuated by three unexpected and unnerving run-ins with the powers that be. the first was a security inspection conducted by the department of homeland security just before crossing the hoover dam. the other two happened at security checkpoints set up by the border patrol. the first of these took place just north of patagonia, az, about 20 miles north of the border. the second occurred on the day we left arizona, just north of truth or consequences, nm.

there is something truly frightening about being scrutinized by folks with military authority. the line between a fairly benign interaction and one gone horribly awry is just one miscommunication, one misunderstanding, one unallayed suspicion. the balance of power is tipped almost entirely in their favor and it is easy to feel as though you are entirely at their mercy. the whole thing requires an attitude of deference, something i have little practice in. fortunately for us, however, we have a good luck charm from tim’s childhood watching our back. macgallowitz, a large-ish, two-tone teddy bear, has done much to lighten the mood and reduce the stress of these surreal interactions. at hoover dam, for example, the constables who were inspecting the contents of our truck were greeted by macgallowitz’s impassive stare. “who does this belong to?” asked a crew-cut. “that’s his,” i said, nodding in tim’s direction. the crew-cut looked at tim with an expression saturated with bemusement. “you don’t have any guns or other weapons in there, do you?” he asked. i scoffed. “no way!”

the combination of the stuffed bear, my incredulity at the thought of owning a weapon, and our general squareness banished any suspicions the crew-cut might have held. he waved us through with a slightly mocking smile.
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some things which might interest you about our visit to arizona, the 49th state of the union:

that picture up there? that’s chamoy. it is the craziest thing i’ve eaten in a good long while. i can’t even begin to explain it and i have no idea why nobody ever told me about it before now! it’s sweet, salty, bitter, sour, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth, ice-cold spiciness. yummy!

in arizona, gay marriage is extra super duper biggie-size illegal. until recently, the state extended domestic partner benefits to state employees, but out of what seems like sheer mean-spiritedness, az has repealed them, leaving a lot of people in the lurch.

springtime in the desert is surreal. imagine entire mountainsides painted the bright orange of mexican poppies. with every breeze, billions of tiny petals trembling, setting the earth on fire.

the ads for john mccain’s 2010 reelection campaign use the tagline john mccain: arizona’s last line of defense. no wonder they’re so nervous!

thanks to the generosity, kindness, and goodwill of our many hosts, we ate the tastiest fry bread, watched the most staggering sunsets, lounged in the most decadent hot tubs, practiced yoga in the most crowded classes, and hiked the most painful trails. if you get a chance, ask tim about the restorative yoga class…it’s hilarious.

due to severe budget cuts, all state run rest areas in arizona are now closed to the public. seriously. they’re surrounded by chain link fences and bright orange closed signs. it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if arizona ends up changing its travel and tourism slogan to arizona: we don’t really want you around.

waterfalls in the desert? who knew? we were there at just exactly the right time to witness this spectacle. two weeks later it would have been a dry gully.

by june 3, around two-thirds of arizona’s state parks will have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. our last night in az we camped at a sweet little park set on the edge of a lake within sight of snow covered peaks. it offered a hot-spring-fed hot tub and big, clean bathrooms with good showers. it was also full to capacity with campers. despite all of this, in a couple of months it’s getting shut down. sigh. ain’t no shortage of wal-marts, though, so if you feel like camping out under the stars is essentially the same as sleeping in a parking lot, you probably won’t be affected by this tragedy.

a saguaro forest is an otherworldly landscape. when they become very very old, their dolphin-like skin becomes as thick and gnarled as treebark. occasionally, one will mutate and become cristatic. it is crazy looking, like it’s trying to grow a brain.

the two tallest buildings in tempe, az are abandoned condominium skyscrapers; casualties of the housing collapse. they stand there, dark, silent and unfinished monuments to hubris and greed.

frank lloyd wright’s last building, the gammage center, is on the campus of arizona state university. it is, as they say, a confection, but you can get an all-access tour for free, and it’s history is pretty cool. if you go to the gammage, then you have no excuse for not visiting asu’s fine arts building, designed by antoine predoc. when the new york times did a review of all of the buildings on asu’s campus, it beat out the gammage center as having the most architectural importance. it’s a pretty special place.

outdoor shopping malls are now being marketed as lifestyle centers. shopping at pottery barn and eating at the cheesecake factory? now that’s what i call a lifestyle!

although it gets very hot here, our visit coincided with the most beautiful and temperate season to be in arizona. cool evenings, warm days, and high overhead, the distant eggshell sky. while we were riding our bikes around and sleeping under sheets, the rest of the country was pretty much socked in by rain, sleet, hail and snow.

if you look like you or your parents were immigrants and the authorities have a wild hair, you’d better watch out! you are exactly the people that john mccain is trying to defend arizona against.

031320102181.jpg our campsite in chloride, az.


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031320102188.jpg st. patrick’s day parade in chloride, az.

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031320102207.jpg the mohave museum of history and arts, kingman az.

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031420102249-001.jpg mission san xavier del bac

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031720102308-001.jpg near mt. lemmon, tucson az

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032020102345-001.jpg magically, we found ourselves in patagonia, celebrating dan’s 40th birthday.

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michelle, adrian and jmichael made tucson our home away from home.

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scottsdale.

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032620102593.jpg the heard museum.

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032720102765.jpg desert botanic garden.

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033020102827.jpg phoenix.

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http://media.cellspin.net/post/payload/120652leaving arizona.

we spent almost 3 weeks being held by the vortex that is arizona. i had a marvelous time hanging with friends and exploring the desert in springtime, but still and all, i was happy to get the heck out of there. what with the whole gay as second-class-citizen thing, the looming threat of surprise security inspections and the potential that i might be required to produce documents to prove my legality just to walk down the sidewalk, arizona just doesn’t feel particularly welcoming.

Posted by Wordmobi