Tag Archives: Road Trip

A Eulogy for the Rainbow Frontier

In 2006, Tim bought a new used truck, a Nissan Frontier. It was an act of faith on his part. He had just decided to leave his hometown of Keene, NH and follow his heart to Northampton, MA. Leaving his hometown meant leaving his jobs — one as a farmer for a CSA, the other as a salesman at his family's clothing store — and all of the security that they provided. He moved for love, to discover what might happen between us, to see what a shared life might bring. Little did either of us suspect.

 

Just over three years later, we were acting on faith once again. The world economy had been pummeled by the Credit Crunch and it was clear to me that my small business would suffer in the coming year. Not wanting to sign another lease — much less for the increased rent that our landlord was demanding — we had decided to give away most of our earthly belongings and hit the road. While the world contracted, we would expand. While everybody else guarded their hordes like dragons, we would open our wings and fly toward the horizon.

 

The three of us — Tim, Mazy and me — loaded what few belongings survived the Potlatch and started driving. The Frontier had started off as a pickup truck; now it had become a home. We started off a family; we became a pack. We renamed the Frontier Rainbow, for it is a most auspicious symbol. For 22 months, we rode the rainbow, traveling back and forth across the country. We slept in a tent and cooked on a camp stove. We did everything together, as together as together can be. We occasionally crashed with friends or house-sat for traveling friends, but for most of those 22 months, we spent every waking hour with each other, learning each other, solidifying our bonds of love.

 

Rainbow handled the thousands and thousands of miles without complaint. Apart from the scheduled maintenance, we rarely concerned ourselves with her. She was our faithful pony, carrying us wherever we desired, from the San Juan Islands to Cape Hatteras; from Acadia to Patagonia. We decorated her with feathers we found along rivers, with rocks we dug from the desert soil.

 

When we decided to put the traveling life on hold and settled for a while in Santa Fe, Rainbow had a much-deserved rest. For two years she sat in front of our little house on Brae Street, suffering the indignities of the occasional ding, the minor decays brought on by the desert's incessant sun and insatiable dryness. And still, we thought little of her health. Just as we rarely worried about the health of Mazy, the golden heart of our pack. We assumed, as all lovers do, that we would be together forever.

 

Mazy died unexpectedly and suddenly in May of 2012. It was a terrible time, one that I am not brave enough to return to now. She died in the bed of the Rainbow Frontier, the truck that became a home, a home that, consecrated by her death on the Supermoon, became a heart. It was a shock that disrupted our sedentary lives and sent us careening on a new trajectory. We would return to the nomadic life, would let the The Endless Roadtrip carry us even further, beyond the boundaries of our home country.

 

We had dreamt of this leap for years, but were unwilling to leave our dear girl Mazy behind. With her death, a new freedom was possible. We had lost some of our easy faith in the benevolence of the world and we needed to reacquaint ourselves with its power. We would once again act in faith, step off the precipice, and trust that the universe would rise up to meet us.

 

Two years — to the day — after we arrived in Santa Fe, we left it in our rear view mirror and returned to the open road. We drove all the way back to the place we first met and fell in love. All that was left to do was drive across the country one more time, so that we could catch the flight that would take us to Bangkok and beyond.

 

On that western return, we only got as far as Sandusky, OH. There, Rainbow's engine light came on, followed by her oil light, and then, on the shoulder of 80/90, she shuddered to a halt. We had her towed to first one mechanic and then another. We spent three nights at hotels, hoping that she would be fixed and that we could resume our journey. The estimates for how much it would cost to put her right began to increase alarmingly. What started off as $1000 became $4000-7000. And just as suddenly and unexpectedly as Mazy was taken from us, we found ourselves saying our final goodbyes to the Rainbow Frontier.

 

She was a fine pony and and we loved her. It is impossible to know if we made the right decision; all we know is that we had to decide and so we did. Perhaps the mechanic we brought her to lied to us so that he might have a few extra dollars in his bank account. Perhaps he saved us from a more difficult circumstance. But in the end it doesn't matter. We were asked to surrender her and so we did. It was not easy. Saying goodbye to family — flesh or fur, metal or meat — never is.

 

Here is to the Rainbow Frontier, our peaceful warhorse, our four-wheeled haven. We thank you for the countless miles and the infinite vistas. We thank you for reminding us how little we need to be happy. We thank you for revealing how love and faith and adventure can forge two men, a dog, and a used pickup truck into something that transcends loss and absence: a soul family; a karmic pack.

 

day 72 ~ wilmington to new bern, nc via emerald island

after a stop in downtown wilmington to meet a dear friend’s mother for the first time, we quit wilmington and head out to emerald island where we check out the ocean and hoop creek and have some bojangles. we end up in new bern, nc, birthplace of pepsi-cola.

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and here is a panorama of downtown new bern, right out front of the pepsi-cola storefront.

road tripping the color wave ~ new england to north carolina ~ autumn 2010

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!

beaver pond/peak foliage

thoughts on provincetown ~ october, 2010

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:

  • mostly, it’s a lot of older white guys ~ if older white guys are your thing, you can’t do much better than p-town. it’s like palm springs, only wetter.
  • some of you might say, now whoah, they can’t all be older white guys. aren’t there also younger white guys? ~ to which i say, yes i suppose but how useful is that distinction really?
  • it is a very charming place ~ there are plenty of places to get organic, local coffee, dogs are welcome almost everywhere, and there are more tchotchke shops and art galleries than you could possibly want to enter, much less browse. let’s say you wanted a little embroidered patch, about the size of your thumbnail, shaped like the state of new mexico. i’m 100% sure you can find it in provincetown.
  • it is NOT the san francisco of the east ~ it is the ogunquit of the south.
  • it closes early ~ bars start kicking people out at about 12:45am, so if you’re going to meet cute with someone, you better work fast. no dilly dallying with things like conversation. just take off your shirt and start licking.
  • the best thing about provincetown ~ being with tim. honestly. several people figured out this closely guarded secret and tried to be with tim too. poor thing.

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.

acadia national park ~ mt. desert island, me ~ october 2010


FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA

technically, i suppose that the endless roadtrip began with our departure from florence, ma. poetically, however, our westward trek did truly not begin until we had reached the eastern limit of the continent and said our farewell to the great atlantic ocean. this happened in late march of 2009, when we traveled the coast of maine for a few absolutely frigid days, stopping here, here, and here, before turning our eyes towards the mighty pacific. who could have guessed that it would be just over 1.5 years until we would find ourselves on the shores of the atlantic once again.

when i lived in western massachusetts, acadia national park seemed so very far away. prohibitively so. it was only after a few months spent driving the spectacular distances that mark the american west that i realized how erroneous that perception was. the drive from northampton, ma to bar harbor, me takes approximately seven hours and passes through at least 3 states: massachusetts, new hampshire, and maine. try and make it through three of the western states and it’ll take you at least twice that. hell, i’ve driven for 14 hours straight without making it out of texas!

so thanks to our time out west, when we finally returned to new england, the modest drive from keene to acadia was hardly daunting. however, also thanks to our time out west, my expectations for acadia were quite low. after all, we had spent the last half of 2009 visiting some of the most gorgeous and overwhelming landscapes that our country has to offer: rocky mountain national park, glacier-waterton international peace park, the cascades, crater lake, bryce canyon, the gila national forest, death valley. after the stunning displays provided by these entries in our national park service, what could tiny, well-trampled acadia offer? after the remote wonders of the canyonlands, what magic could a national park that hosts the voracious tourism of 2-4 cruise ships per day possibly hold?

so as we drove towards mt. desert island (it’s pronounced dessert, just so you know), i was prepared for pretty, but i was not prepared for amazing. and once again, my perceptions were proven to be hopelessly incorrect. for although acadia is well traveled and cruise ships do disgorge hundreds of clueless tourists into its wilds on a daily basis, it is also one of the jewels of our national park system. if you live in new england and you haven’t been yet, you should stop with the excuses and go. it’s worth it.

(caveat: we visited acadia in late september/early october, at the very tail end of the tourist season. if we had visited during the height of the summer season, i might have a very different take on the whole place. even as things stood, we did our best to stay out of bar harbor and away from the most visited sights on the island.)

originally, we had intended to camp for 4-5 days at the acadia’s seawall campground, just about as far away as you could get from the hubbub of bar harbor. but with the end of the tourist season, seawall was closing down for the year and we were forced to stay at a nearby private campground in the tiny town of bass harbor. it cost about the same amount as the campsites within the national park, plus it had the added bonuses of a) hot showers and b) free wifi. these bonuses barely made up for the industrial site (possibly the town recycling center/dump) somewhere within earshot. just about every morning, tim and i were greeted not with chirping birds or the gentle tap of deer hooves on moss-covered rocks, but with the echoing booms of dumpsters being tossed around like dice and the pernicious beep-beep-beep of a big truck in reverse.

the weather forecast for our time in acadia was pretty bleak. rain followed by more rain, followed by intense periods of rain, followed by the possibility of flooding, followed by partly cloudy skies and then a cold front and then some more rain. we put up a tarp over our picnic table and swore to make the best of a rough situation. the above video, shot on the network of carriage roads that criss-cross the non-quiet side of the island, reveals the rather bleak and inhospitable weather that greeted us. the few tourists that crossed our paths offered such cheery and upbeat sentiments as, “pretty miserable day for a bike ride!” and “i thought there were supposed to be some beautiful views out here!” and while it was not the picture postcard “ideal,” the low rolling clouds and creeping banks of fog gave the landscape a dark majesty that i found completely compelling. we spent the entire afternoon on our bikes, pumping our way up mountainsides and then enjoying the long, winding downhills that waited on the other side. i’m pretty sure that despite the bad weather, tim and i were sporting cheesy grins for the entire day.

for one stand-out day, the weather broke and gave us a perfect, sun-strewn day at acadia. tim and i made the most of it by taking mazy on a truly magnificent hike: along the shore of long pond, up the granite steps of the perpendicular trail (tim believes it must have been built by the ccc), traversing the peaks of both mount mansell and bernard mountain as well as the sheltered hollow of the great notch, before completing the loop that would bring us back to our starting point at gilley field.

the sheer range of terrain — from stairs hewn out of a rock face to mountaintop wetlands, from fern forests to granite outcroppings overlooking the ocean– made this hike memorable. we crossed paths with just four people during our hike. three were locals who made sure to tell us that we had found the best hike on the whole island. we didn’t hike many other trails on the island, but i’m fairly confident that they were telling the truth. mazy, who is at least 12 years old, was as spry as a young pup, despite the very challenging terrain. the only time she slowed was when she realized we were heading back to the truck. i have a very distinct memory of a look she gave me that could have been interpreted by a 10-year old: “we’re done already? oh, man you guys are sooooo lame!”

for all of our desire to stay on the so-called “quiet side” of the island, we did dip our toe into bar harbor long enough to join a group of folks on a guided kayaking trip. beginning in western bay, we followed the northwestern shore of the island, threading our way between islands and shallows, seaweed beds and seal colonies. in all honesty, i could have done without the new yorkers chattering endlessly about the price of real estate and making ridiculous comparisons between their second/third homes in upstate new york and the isolated estates that dot mt. desert island. but the cloudy afternoon gave way to a glorious sunset, and the chorus of water, light, and sound managed to still even these tightly wound souls. we paddled along, listening to the calls of osprey and catching a fleeting glimpse of a pair of harbor porpoises bounding towards some unknowable destination.

when we returned to the campsite that night, we were exhausted and satisfied, as content as we had been in a long time. we slept an unbroken, happy sleep; a sleep that stretched across an entire continent, connecting oceans.

on the edge of mt. desert island.

the music used in the above videos:

in the road to acadia national park: turn, by big spider’s back
TurnsBig Spider’s Back
“Turns” (mp3)
from “Turns”
(Circle Into Square Records)

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in riding the carriage roads: big island love, by knowa knowone
Noble Savage - EPKnowa Knowone
“Big Island Love” (mp3)
from “Noble Savage – EP”
(Streetritual)

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in hiking with mazy: shipping out with sunrise, by the messenger & day of the weird beginning, by b6
The Best of Night Drive Music Vol. 3The Messenger
“Shipping Out with Sunrise” (mp3)
from “The Best of Night Drive Music Vol. 3”
(Night Drive Music)

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eXpoB6
“Day of the Weird Beginning” (mp3)
from “eXpo”
(Undercover Culture Music)

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in kayaking in early autumn: aquela bossa axé, by affosinho
Bossa DubasAffonsinho
“Aquela Bossa Axé” (mp3)
from “Bossa Dubas”
(Dubas Musica)

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riverfront park ~ spokane, wa ~ october 18, 2010

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.

sacramento roll at sushi.com

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.
Alarm Clock, Snooze Bar, Get Up - EPBlip Blip Bleep
“Da Me Cinco” (mp3)
from “Alarm Clock, Snooze Bar, Get Up – EP”
(Undercover Culture Music)

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campground cookery! ~ the best pancakes and eggs ever ~ 22sep10

LET THEM EAT PANCAKES!

the endless road trip isn’t all applesauce and roses. there are moments — days even — when all i want is a sink in which i might leave my dirty dishes and a clean bathroom in which i might take a hot shower. why, just a few weeks ago, in the middle of the night, mazy threw up in the tent, not once, but three, count-em three times. and while i can complain about how annoying it might be to do dishes or do without a bath or sleep in a tent that smells like dog barf, there’s not much i can do but deal with it.

one of the things that makes the vagaries of life on the road more bearable is a good, home-cooked meal. cleaning up dog vomit in the middle of the night is terrible; cleaning up dog vomit in the middle of the night after you’ve had a delicious meal is still terrible, but it’s not as terrible as doing it on an empty stomach. or on a stomach filled with schwazzy food.

this is why, whenever we can, tim and i make the time to make good food for ourselves. there’s an awful lot that we do without (sinks and showers are at the top of a very long list), but one of the things that we absolutely do NOT do without is tasty food. i’ve learned how to make a lot of my favorite dishes using nothing but a whisperlite camp stove and, occasionally, an open fire. it takes a little adaptability and ingenuity, but in the end, the effort is worth it. when you don’t have a lot of comfort, comfort food goes a long, long way.

here’s the first in what may become a series of cooking videos. in it, i make one of our recurring campground breakfasts: spelt/yogurt (in this case, spelt/kefir) pancakes and scrambled eggs with extra sharp cheddar cheese chunks. if that sounds good, well rest assured that it is. this is, without a doubt, the best pancake recipe that i’ve come across and it’s easy to make in the most inhospitable of circumstances. i hope you give it it a try. they might not taste as good as they do after a cold, rainy night spent huddled in a tent on the flank of the white mountains, but i’m willing to bet you’ll still love them. bom apetite!

FevereiroBanda Jazzco
“3 Jeitos” (mp3)
from “Fevereiro”
(Tratore)

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franconia notch bike trail ~ franconia notch state park, nh ~ 21sep10

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!

franconia notch state park ~ franconia, nh ~ 25sep10

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!

fall foliage

so now that that’s all over with, i say bring on the next food party!

ArboretumDavid Mead
“Riding” (mp3)
from “Arboretum”
(The Guitar Label)

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the fall foliage season begins ~ quechee, vt to hanover, nh ~ 19sep10

IT’S TIME TO LEAF PEEP FOR YOUR LIFE!
tim says that the hot, dry summer means that the fall foliage is going to begin blazing early. judging from what’s going on in quechee, vt and hanover, nh, i’d say he’s right on the money. every time i go outside, i’m convinced that the trees are starting to show a little more color. it’s beautiful.

having just spent so much time in the rockies, it is easy to pooh-pooh the miniature landscape of new england. as my friend val says, “the mountains are small, the rivers are small, the distances are small, the snowstorms are small; even the tornadoes and hurricanes are small!” but what is remarkable about this yankee biome is not that it is so small, it’s that so much majesty is crammed into this place, practically filling every nook and cranny. without the soaring heights and overwhelming vertigo of the rockies, these new england mountains can still touch the most obdurate soul. the plethora of new york and new jersey license plates flying willy-nilly about the place is a testament to this fact.

karla, the friend that we’ve been crashing with this weekend, is a full-on city girl. it’s been wonderful to see rural vermont through her eyes, through her exclamations of delight and rapture. as the next turn in the road reveals another spectacular view of a mirror-still river; a mountain setting itself on fire; a pasture filled with scotch highland cattle.

a visit to the quechee marketplace ~ quechee, vt

it’s so nice to be back in vermont!

bryce canyon national park in springtime ~ 26may10

so it’s been almost nine weeks since we visited the amazing, the awesome, the unbelievable bryce canyon national park, and i still haven’t gotten around to posting anything about our time there. why? well because really, what can you say? i mean, it really is beautiful; truly and profoundly beautiful. if you’ve been there, you don’t really need me to remind you of how insane the landscape is because you probably have a million photographs of your own. if you haven’t been there, then no amount of adjectives, no matter how artfully arranged, will provide even the tiniest glimpse of the beauty that this place tosses about with such wild abandon.

so let me just encourage you to find your way to bryce canyon at least once in your lifetime. not only for the nature, which let me repeat, is sublime, but also because witnessing the cross-cultural chaos that occurs when thousands of foreign visitors — from india, germany, japan, france, the uk, the middle east, australia, spain, mexico, brazil, china, russia and yup, even canada — collide with southern utah mormonism and the good old american tourist. imagine a table of parisians at an all you can eat buffet offering classic american items such as: chicken fried steak, pot roast, canned corn, baked beans, and dinner rolls more like giant marshmallows than actual bread. imagine overhearing an interaction between a red-faced german couple and their teenaged waitress that begins with a heavily accented, “vat exactly iz a pickle pie?” it’s an awkward, hilarious and touching parade of all the absurd variety that human culture has to offer.

fortunately, we did not camp at the park itself, or i’m sure that the aforementioned parade of humanity would have driven me absolutely batty. we stayed here , about 14 miles away from the park. (i’ll get around to posting some photos of this place sometime soon because it, too, is outrageously gorgeous.)

so if i were to summarize this post in three bullet points, they would go something like this:

  • bryce canyon is so crazy beautiful it almost makes your eyes bleed.
  • the people watching is outstanding.
  • get your ass in gear and go!