WHERE MY PEEPERS AT?
although tim and i had gotten pretty good at cold-weather camping and the temperatures in new england weren’t too difficult to deal with, it was clear that summer had relinquished its hold on the landscape. the leaves, once merely edged in gold and crimson, were becoming prisms; shards of color. we began our journey south, attempting to stay ahead of winter’s hem.
and like a slow wave of transformation, the foliage followed us. for what felt like months, we drove through, hiked amongst, and camped in peak fall foliage. from acadia national forest to the loblolly stands of north carolina, we were caught in the swirl of nature’s kaleidoscope.
what follows are a series of quicktime virtual reality files. how they work is this: click on the empty square and an image will load. once it appears, click and drag on the image to rotate through a full 360-degrees. if you would like to zoom in to check out a detail (tim brushing his teeth, or a partially obscured sign, for example) click the + and – buttons which appear on the bottom of the image.
1. baystate village, ma ~ this beautiful backyard belongs to two of my closest friends, brooksley and ezra. we’ve been lucky enough to crash here several times on the endless road trip and it’s always a wonderful time.
2. atlantic oaks campground, eastham ma ~ we camped out at this campground just before it closed for the season. it was almost completely abandoned, and our campfire felt like the only one for miles.
3. dingmans falls, delaware water gap recreation area ~ we stumbled across this beautiful hike almost by accident. how could we resist the pull of a place called dingmans falls?
4. harpers ferry national historic park, harpers ferry wv ~ tim and spent our 5th anniversary here. it was chilly, rainy and gray, but we still had a great (and very educational) time.
5. bears den hostel, bluemont va ~ we were lucky enough to find this remarkably charming hostel on a night that was too cold for camping. definitely one of the best hostels i’ve ever been to.
6. fort raleigh national historic site, manteo nc ~ got another national park passport stamp here and wandered around the grounds. next time, i want to see a performance of the lost colony, the nation’s premier and longest-running symphonic drama!
7. the elizabethan gardens, manteo nc ~ right next door to fort raleigh, this is a most beautiful formal garden. it’s just gorgeous here.
8. jones lake state park, elizabethtown nc ~ another happy accident brought us to the shores of jones lake. we spent several days and nights here, the only campers in an expansive and luxurious campground.
9. morrow mountain state park, albemarle nc ~ gosh, just another gorgeous campground we stayed at. the place was simply teeming with deer. we ate many meals surrounded by wandering herds of these usually timid beasts. the tourists insisted upon feeding them, which seemed like a terrible idea to me. cut it out, people!
THE SAN FRANCISCO OF THE EAST?
to celebrate our first anniversary, tim and i decided to go to provincetown. i had never been there before, but i had heard vague rumors about this p-town — “it’s the san francisco of the east!” — and despite this dire warning, in early november, 2006, we loaded up the truck and headed east towards the ocean. once there, we made a left.
we arrived and got ourselves set up at this very sweet little bed and breakfast. during the whole checking-in-and-chatting-with-the-very-nice-gay-owner process, a slow realization began to occur. although it was well into autumn — and therefore the off-season for provincetown — there was apparently some big event happening that very same weekend. what event? oh you know, the meet your man in provincetown weekend; the one where all these single guys from all over the eastern seaboard come to p-town in the hopes of finding the perfect one-night-stand and/or marriage proposal.
i don’t know what your reaction to this bit of news might be, but my own response might have been accurately described as non-plussed. to spend our first anniversary in a charming, gay-friendly town perched at the end of a terminal moraine is one thing. to spend it on a gay singles cruise is quite another. but what can one do? one has paid for the room and one has already learned and forgotten the names of not only the hosteler but two other guests. it is past the point of equivocation.
rather than go into long and dreary detail about the various things that happened during the meet your man in provincetown/wichland-inocencio anniversary weekend 2006, allow me to summarize my findings re: provincetown, ma.
what i learned about provincetown on my first anniversary:
i willingly cop to any perceived negativity in the above summary. for those of you who know me, well you know; for those of you who don’t, oh well! i’m sure there are plenty of folks who think provincetown is the bees knees and the best thing since sliced bread. i myself am slightly uncomfortable there and this colors my perceptions. why uncomfortable? hmmm. maybe i’ll get into that another time. oh, one more important finding:
provincetown is NOT cape cod ~ there are lots of wonderful things in provincetown. there are even more wonderful things tucked away in the secret corners and hidden folds of cape cod. one of the best things about visiting provincetown is leaving provincetown.
almost 4 years later, tim and i found ourselves in provincetown once again. having been there once before, i felt better prepared than i had been during my first visit. this time around it was halloween, and the powers that be had decided that the most appropriate theme would be…wait for it…harry potter! hmmm.
this meant that tucked in amongst the folks dressed like bedbugs, chilean miners (there were veritable troupes of these guys), smurfs, drag queens, gladiators, cops, cowboys, zombie bedbugs, zombie chilean miners, zombie smurfs, zombie drag queens, zombie gladiators, zombie cops, and zombie cowboys were maybe 6 people dressed like characters from the harry potter movies. i counted 1 ron weasley, 1 hermione granger, 3 harry potters and 1 member of hogwart’s faculty. and they were pissed. one gentleman with long white beard and star-covered robe wandered past us and, giddy, i hollered, “professor dumbledore!”
“finally!” he shrieked “everyone fucking thinks i’m fucking santa claus! this is supposed to be a harry potter themed event, assholes!”
“whoah,” said tim, “that guy’s pissed.”
we closed out the night at the atlantic house, the best place to go dancing in p-town. the music was good, the folks were friendly, and until the shirts started coming off and the underwear contest started, i was more than content to just stand around and watch the gays grappling with their gayness. after that, i was pretty much ready to head back to the quiet autumn chill of our almost abandoned campground, a wonderful 10 miles away from this, the beating heart of gay new england.
if you’ve never been, here are some 360-degree quicktime vrs that capture some of the magic, charm and absurdity of provincetown. if you have been, here’s a reminder of the things you love/hate about our p-town. (just click on the large squares to get started.)
portuguese square ~ provincetown, ma (click on the above square to load a 360-degree qtvr. you can click and hold to rotate; click the +/- to zoom in and out)
pilgrims monument ~ provincetown, ma (click on the above square to load a 360-degree qtvr. you can click and hold to rotate; click the +/- to zoom in and out)
ross’ grill on halloween ~ provincetown, ma (click on the above square to load a 360-degree qtvr. you can click and hold to rotate; click the +/- to zoom in and out)
one last sad little story: as the meet your man in provincetown/wichland-inocencio anniversary 2006 came to a close, tim and i found ourselves tucked into our cozy room. we had abandoned the clubs early and wandered the moonlit streets of p-town, happy and in love, until we found our way back to the aerie house. we had no idea what time it was until our neighbor, a single guy, banged his way up the stairs, down the hallway, and crashed heavily into his room.
he turned on the television, flipped through a few channels and then popped in a dvd. in a few moments, the melancholy strains of the soundtrack to brokeback mountain began to thread their way into our room. this was followed by the sound of our neighbor, who had decidedly NOT met his man in provincetown, sobbing.
apparently, my friend, it gets better. let’s hope so for all of our sakes.
SPOKANE AND AGAIN
in early august of 2009, we rolled into spokane, wa from missoula, mt. it was not the best of times. montana had shown us a wonderful time — from the big dipper to the testicle festival, from tubing the clark fork river to reeling at the berkeley pit — but in retrospect, it is clear that this was the beginning of a difficult time. my magic phone, the fabulous object that i named excalibur, had stopped working, placing us in a sort of communication limbo. work had trickled to a stop, and the financial standing of the endless road trip began to seem questionable. what had been a full on “ride-like-the-wind” vibe was taking on a more somber, serious tone. chalk it up to money woes, broken toys, or the beginnings of the natural shift that comes at the end of a long and productive summer, our arrival in spokane was accompanied by a small gray cloud directly over my increasingly worried head.
as a result, my initial experience of spokane was rather abstracted. instead of being able to focus on the marvels of riverfront park and the turquoise chaos of the spokane river, i was stressing out about how much money we didn’t have and how i would be able to conduct my business without excalibur. i remember a bag of freshly made miniature donuts that managed to snap me out of this rather depressing headspace for a few minutes, but for the most part, i was tense and nervous, as if bracing for a sudden, unexpected blow.
my second visit to spokane took place under markedly different circumstances. i returned on a business trip, which means that although this second visit might have been equally abstracted, it was a much lighter abstraction. as a result, i was able to wander happily through all of the landmarks that i remembered — the world’s fair pavilion, the old clock tower, the pedestrian bridge over the spokane river — without the constant nag of worry and doubt. the air was brisk and edged with humidity. a band of hacky-sackers laughed in the distance, their single-speed road bikes strewn thoughtlessly on the emerald green grass. a family sat at the edge of a pond feeding/being attacked by flocks of birds. color bled at the edges of tree crowns. my stomach was full of sushi and miso soup. i was tired from a long week of travel and work, and i missed tim and mazy somethin awful, but i felt happy and content. spokane is a very cool little city.
what became apparent was that the only real difference between my two visits to spokane was what i chose to pay attention to. the first time around i was inhabiting the interior world of worry and doubt, scratching worst-case scenarios into the walls of my mind. the second time, i paid attention to the reality that surrounded me. the shell of my own solipsism had been broken. the funny thing is that both of these worlds — insidious worry and the remarkable present — are always present; parallel planes that exist in the same space but in different dimensions. one gives solace and one gives dis-ease. luckily, whether we realize it or not, we always have the agency to decide where our attention — that most valuable of resources — will be paid.
what probably appears below is a blank screen with a funny logo off to the side of it. click on the pane and hopefully, what will appear is a 360-degree snapshot of spokane’s riverfront park. click and drag on the window to scroll up, down, left and right. and if you want to zoom in to check out the hacky-sackers or the girl wearing pajamas and slippers, click the + button in the lower left corner. i’m pretty pleased with this little chunk of technology and i hope you enjoy it as much as i do.
music in the video: da me cinco, by blip blip bleep, courtesy of iodapromonet.
Blip Blip Bleep
“Da Me Cinco” (mp3)
from “Alarm Clock, Snooze Bar, Get Up – EP”
(Undercover Culture Music)
Buy at iTunes Music Store
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at mTraks
More On This Album
FOOD PARTY OR DIE!
one of the dangers of the endless road trip is that whenever we visit friends and/or family, folks are inclined to show us a good time by making us a delicious meal or taking us to their favorite restaurant. this can lead to a non-stop food party. and while i surely enjoy all of the wonderful, tasty, satisfying food, there have definitely been times — just a few, mind you — when i have been inclined to over indulge. damn you herrell’s!
after coming off of our latest vermont food party, some physical activity was definitely in order. there are only so many blocks of grafton extra-sharp cheddar cheese seconds one can down without beginning to feel a bit lactose intolerant. so. we headed from quechee, vt to the northern end of the white mountains of new hampshire for a few days of camping. the cold temperatures helped us burn through some calories, but really, we had a lot of making up to do. first up, an exhilarating and bracing 14-mile bike ride (7 miles uphill; 7 miles down) along the franconia notch bike trail. we stopped and paid our tributes to the old man of the mountain and watched a group of school kids swim (in 50 degree temperature mind you!) in echo lake. crazy kids and their crazy music!
next, a 7-mile hike to and from the zealand falls hut. if that’s not cardiovascular exercise, i don’t know what is. and happily, my 39-year old body leapt to both challenges with nary a complaint. not that i should be overly proud of my accomplishment. mazy’s 84 years old in human years and she did the hike naked and without shoes!
so now that that’s all over with, i say bring on the next food party!