19 June 2012

Road Trip, Week 6: New England and Newer England

View Larger Map

  • Driving Tunes: Pretty much NPR and Canada's version of it
  • Books: The Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury, 1984 by George Orwell, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Mongomery
  • Wildlife: Foxes, turtles, a raccoon, and buffalo (or bison to be more precise)
  • Food: Garibaldi's pizza, amazing sushi with an even amazing-er menu, fish and chips, popovers, lobster stew, lobster omelette, lobster roll, chowdah, homemade blueberry ice cream, and a whoopie pie courtesy of the old lady bake sale  
  • Sights that didn't quite make the blog: Star-lit Yale with my starlet friend, Portsmouth's pallet of wood-siding houses, Bar Harbor, the red dirt roads of Prince Edward Island, "Free camping in the Shire", massive fields of lupine, the Canadian perspective on the War of 1812, the Lake of Shining Waters
  • Friends: Gabriel Jones, Jillian Taylor, Mickey Theis

Worth Several Thousand Words

Well, let's hope the adage rings true this time, because keeping up to date with my writing has suffered a little lately.

Blackbeard's real treasure: sunset over Ocracoke Island

On Jordan Pond: Lunch time at Acadia National Park

Acadia from Cadillac Mountain, highest point on the Atlantic Coast and therefore the first place in America to catch sunlight

The aptly-named Northeast Harbor

The Margaret Todd, a four-masted schooner that I sailed in (a la "What About Bob?") 

"Dr. Marvin, guess what? Ahoy, I sail, I'm a sailor, I sail!"

Climbing the Beehive...

For this view.

A candle on the water (I actually drove through Passamaquoddy, Maine.)

The Bay of Fundy has the world's largest tides--up to 50 feet at places like the famous Hopewell Flower Pot Rocks.

Farms + Ocean = Prince Edward Island

French River, PEI

Green Gables, restored based off of the book's description

14 June 2012

On Broadway

While I was in New York I went to see Peter and the Starcatcher, a prologue to the Peter Pan story with a sort-of steam punk feel to it.  I had picked up a ticket earlier that day at the half-price booth and had misread the seat location, so imagine my surprise when the usher escorted me to the very first row (close enough to see all the spit and sweat of performers giving it their all; "Theatre is juicy," explained my starlet friend Jill).  The play had won 5 Tony Awards the previous night, including Best Featured Actor in a Play going to the actor who plays Black 'Stache, the once-and-future Captain Hook.  On a tiny stage (by Broadway standards) the twelve-member cast created an entire world out of ropes, a few passenger trunks, and a ladder. It was beyond brilliant.  

As I walked away that night, alone in my thoughts despite the Times Square hordes, I felt that sweet and sad  sense that I had experienced something that would never happen again--kind of an in-the-moment nostalgia.

I think that's just about the best feeling in the world.

11 June 2012

Damn Yankees

Those two blue blurs with their hands on their heads in the upper left corner: that's Johnny and me gaping as the Bronx Bombers walked-off in the last game of the Subway Series. Tie game. Bottom of the ninth. Full count. It was like a No Fear t-shirt gone bad.  But I have to admit, the place was pretty pretty amazing.

Road Trip, Week 5: Appalachia to Atlantic

View Larger Map

  • Driving Tunes: Folk music on the radio, greatest hits of the Napster Age
  • Books: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
  • Wildlife: Sugar gliders, salamanders, wild ponies, shore birds
  • Food: Pulled pork and hushpuppies, Spanish mackerel, shrimp and scallops, crab beignet
  • Sights that didn't quite make the blog: The equally stunning views from Clingman's Dome and McAfee Knob, meeting through-hikers on the Appalachian trail, the commercial madness at the Smokies' entrances, the swarming-est mosquitoes I've ever seen at Ocracoke, sunset from the Outer Banks, the Kittyhawk monument, swimming in the Atlantic, Teach's Hole (as in Edward Teach AKA Blackbeard); the Blue Ridge Parkway vistas 
  • Friends: Bobby Masocol, Ryan Armbrust, Johnny Kirkwood, Becca Fisher

07 June 2012

Synchronous Fireflies in the Smokies

Like an old-time movie marquee.  An orchestrated light show--flash, flash, flash, sparkle, pause--and so on.  An airport runway, the light taking off down the path and into the darkness.  Christmas lights, or better yet, what they are trying to replicate: the glisten of icicles at night.  The Electric Light Parade.  Moonlight on rippling water.  The sparkle of thousands of camera flashes, like we will see during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies later this summer.  Yeah, that's how it looked.  And felt.        

Something Wicked This Way Comes

About six months ago, in all seriousness, I turned to my friend Bryant and said: "I really need to start reading more science fiction."  Over the past several weeks (since being in Roswell), I have been trying to track down a copy of Ray Bradbury's I Sing the Body Electric! to no avail.  Well, when I saw the news of Bradbury's passing--on Venus' transit of the sun no doubt--I had to go out and settle for a different collection of his short stories: The Golden Apples of the Sun (pictured above).

From Ray's website:  
Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, Live forever! Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."
Also, with this blog I'd like to think that I'm following his advice: "Write a short story every week. It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row."

05 June 2012

Appalachian State

File:Map of Tennessee highlighting Former State of Franklin.png

I spent a fair portion of today driving through what was once the Free Republic of Franklin, a portion of present-day East Tennessee ceded to the federal government as a payment for war debt stemming from the American Revolution.  Turns out, the government didn't want it, at least not as a state; the vote to accept Franklin as the 14th state failed by two votes.  Spurned, the people of the Appalachians decided that maybe they didn't want to be part of this new-fangled United States anyway, and so seceded from the one year-old nation and operated independently for about four years (1784-1788).  The most famous Franklonian? None other than Mr. David Crockett, born in 1786 smack dab in the middle of Franklin.      

Way Down Yonder at Cataloochee

It was a perfect day, driving a winding dirt backroad to Cataloochee, North Carolina.  Ol' Catalooch (as I heard it dubbed by the son of a former inhabitant) was once a not-quite-thriving little valley community in what is now part and parcel of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  In the 20s the government bought out the inhabitants and replaced them with elk and pine trees, leaving only a few tattered homes and a handful of invariably white clapboard churches--one each for the Methodists and Presbyterians, and at least two for the Baptists.  Once a year, the Park Service opens up the road to the families of the Cataleeches to have a reunion of sorts, which happened to be this weekend as luck would have it.  

While I was wending my way through hardwoods to How-Green-Was-My-Valley, I flipped the radio on to Prairie Home Companion, which was being broadcast from--wouldn't you guess it--North Carolina.  This is what I heard:

Road Trip, Week 3: Seattle

Sometimes I have a hard time writing about deeply emotional things, or tend to gloss over some of the life's more difficult events in my blog. This, however, is too important to leave out: I spent the third week of my vacation back in Seattle attending the funeral of my friends' infant son, Isaac Bryant Anderson Casteel.  I will defer to Bryant's blog post for details. 

03 June 2012

Road Trip, Week 4: The South

View Larger Map

  • Driving Tunes: All country, all the time (with lots of Willie Nelson)
  • Books: The Help -Kathryn Stockett;  Treasure Island -Robert Louis Stevenson;  And There Was Light -Jacques Lusseyran
  • Wildlife: Turtles, a 15-foot gator, dolphins
  • Food: A 22-dish meal at The Wilkes House, which rightly made the cut in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, fried plantains, a deep-fried Moon Pie (are you sensing a theme here); an old-fashioned cream soda float; 35 flavors of Coke; a peanut butter and banana sandwich in honor of the King
  • Sights that didn't quite make the blog: Tennessee's rolling hills, the Nashville music scene, Savannah's sleepy squares, Bonaventure Cemetery mossy macabre; Charleston's plantation homes and gardens; Fort Sumter in all it's tiny glory;  the Double-A Asheville Tourists/Moonshiners bringing my home team record up to 4-0 for this trip      
  • Friends: Nathan and Hope Wertz; Linda, Mark, and Sam Shaw