Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Hike

August 24, 2012

We didn’t actually hike 20 miles, because we didn’t make it to the top. Luckily the side of the mountain has lots of beautiful things too. Like this little tree that had been strangled by a big tree.

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This must be close to Fish Creek Saddle, where we camped. I like the names they have on mountains. “Dry Lake” and “Big Tree” and “Poopout Hill.” The mountain itself is nicknamed “Old Greyback.” Isn’t that nice?

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On Sunday we got up in time to see the sunrise. Here the light is filtered through the rain tarp thing, which was hanging up to dry. I can’t decide if the tarp ruins the picture or makes it.

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One of the good things about Eric is that he sings in the morning. Here he is stirring some hot cereal over a camping stove while singing “Boots With the Fur” by Flo Rida.

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Steep

August 24, 2012

I slept on Mount San Gorgonio last weekend. Here’s how it happened:

Eric:  Want to go camping?

Me:   Will there be bathrooms?

Eric:  Not exactly.

I’m one of those people who thinks I’m roughing it when I buy recycled toilet paper instead of the quilted kind. But I thought it over, and decided Eric on a toiletless mountain was clearly better than a toilet in an Ericless apartment.

Two days later, we were wandering around REI shopping for a bed roll and dehydrated beef stroganoff.

Eric:  What kind of shoes do you have?

Me:   Regular.

Eric:  Hmm. It’s a pretty long hike. But you’ll be fine.

Me:   Long long?

Eric:  Nah, like 20 miles.

I added “blisters” under “pooing in hole” to my mental list of things to worry about.

On the morning of the hike, I took a moment to review the list out loud.

Me:   What if we run out of water? What if we get lost? Will there be bears?

Eric:  Nah. Just lemme know if the altitude gets to you.

Me:   Altitude?

Turns out it was a tall mountain. I got a headache. It rained. And somehow, just like Eric promised, I was fine.

Better than fine.

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Mold

May 13, 2012

Doing nothing is harder than it looks.

Like a lot of people, I’ll travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars in hopes of doing nothing somewhere else; this hints at the difficulties of doing nothing at home.

Home is a minefield of To Do Lists. Right now I could/should be:

doing laundry

checking work email

paying bills

washing my car

researching Santa Barbara hotels

bleaching the red mold-like growth on my bathroom ceiling

I could go on; indeed, I could go on endlessly. The thing about life is, you never actually get everything done.*

Hence Hawaii.

But even there, even lying on a beach blanket — most of us are still doing a lot: running around Sweden in search of a serial killer (if paperbacks are your thing), wondering if it’s time to reapply sunblock, deciding where to have dinner tonight. And, yes, checking work email.

Here’s my question, and it’s not about the beach. What is so scary about doing nothing? —  I mean nothing. No TV or book to escape to, no conversation to distract you. Just you, on the edge of a volcano, surrounded by ocean, gravity keeping everything more or less in place.

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* This helps explain why you so rarely see us “I’ll-relax-after-I-get-it-all-done” types swinging in a hammock, smoking a j.

Agenda

February 4, 2012

I thought when I had time off work, the days were going to stretch endlessly: long, dull afternoons and warbly, unplanned nights — like elementary school summers. Maybe there would even be fireflies.

Mainly, I was going to blog every single day: what else would I do with myself?

Well. Here’s a partial list, in non-chronological order:

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Take delivery of 63 boxes from England; unpack; arrange; admire.

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Container Store, Ikea, West Elm.

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Daily Show, New York Times, NPR.

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Yoga.

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Take a writing class.

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Take the train to Chicago.

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Go to the Art Institute.

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Eavesdrop. Here’s a conversation this group had in front of Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait.

Docent: “How do you think he feels?”

Kid 1: “Sad.”

Kid 2: “Uncomfortable.”

Docent: “Yes! Van Gogh was a very sad and uncomfortable man! But he was also happy that he made so many beautiful pictures, so you don’t have to feel sorry for him.”

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Cook.

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Walk.

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Sleep. Sometimes well, sometimes badly, and once in a dream inhabited by a psychopath who shot 3 people at close range and then shaved his head right down to the skin.

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Do makeup.

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Have people over.

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Recycle 63 cardboard boxes.

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Sit in the sun.

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Think, probably too much.

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Woods

January 5, 2012

Today my brother-in-law took me for a hike in rural New Jersey. (Yes, there is such a thing.) It was freezing cold.

I had forgotten how beautiful winter can be.

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Overnight

January 5, 2012

After Christmas, I took Mei to New York City. It was just overnight, but it seemed like a big trip to both of us. I was nervous about watching a 6-year-old in Manhattan. Mei cried because she didn’t want to leave her daddy.

But by the time we got to the train station, we were okay. Here she’s covering her ears because the passing Amtrak was so loud.

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We had lunch at my favorite tea shop: Podunk, on 5th Street. Everything there is homemade, and delicious. Except Mei didn’t like her hot chocolate.

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Then we went to Rockefeller Center.

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Mei got a camera for Christmas. She took a lot of photos, including this one of skaters.

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Last month the subway doors closed on Mei’s backpack, causing some PTSD. So I was proud of her for riding like a regular New Yorker.

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My sister met us for dinner at Bread Tribeca. Mei got a clown pizza. She picked off the cherry tomato eyes and green bean mouth, and ate the rest.

She also took these pictures of the restaurant’s wine barrels, which I hadn’t even noticed. Kids are so good at seeing things. I miss that about being one.

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4,500-something

October 27, 2011

This is my last entry about my road trip. I drove 4,500-something miles through 13 states.

I think my car probably needs an oil change.

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I got some great photos that didn’t quite fit in previous entries. Like this one of Amanda welcoming the world to Wall Drug. (Where they sell 5-cent coffee to go with their homemade donuts and pecan sticky buns: soooo worth it.)

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And this one of me with my cousin Alex and his kids Millie, Ruth, and Henry. Millie and Henry and I had never met before. Henry just gazed at me. He’s hard to read. But Millie walked right up and said, “Hi Krista, I’m Millie!” I said, “You’re pretty shy, aren’t you?” And Millie said, “No, I’m not!”

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The burros in Custer State Park. They make their living by begging for junk food from tourists.

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Baby burro!

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This man saw me taking pictures of Pittsburgh, which is apparently an unusual enough occurrence that he wanted to be in one.

So here he is.

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Really?

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I mean, really?

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Jane, disappearing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Vino

October 27, 2011

Ryan took me and Jane to a tasting at Denner Vineyards. Denner is on a quiet hilltop; that day, it was a hot, bright, quiet hilltop.

Jane marveled at the size of the wineglasses; like just about everything else, they’re bigger in America than in England.

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After dinner, Ryan took us back to the building where they actually make the wine. Here he’s punching down the grapes. He explained why you do this, but all I can remember is that it’s a crucial step in the process. You have to do it three times a day, like walking a dog or feeding a child.

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Ryan and me and wine-in-the-making.

One

October 24, 2011

Jane came with me from San Francisco down the coast to Los Angeles. This is the drive that dreams — and countless car commercials — are made of.

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The reason they shoot car ads on Highway 1 is that it’s preposterously beautiful. You could be selling a 1985 Buick LeSabre and it would look okay on Highway 1.

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The road clings to the coast. It climbs onto cliffs and settles into pastures, curves and dips and goes right up to the edge of the ocean. And the ocean — the ocean goes on forever.

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The thing about oceans is, they don’t have zits or wrinkles or bad hair days. Oceans are spectacular in the sun, brooding in the fog, dramatic in a storm. Oceans are mesmerizing from 5 feet and fascinating from 5 miles.

Oceans always look good.

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Ingest

October 24, 2011

The secret to a successful road trip is to never eat fast food. It’s easier than you think.

All you need is a good guide. My mother got me a book called “Roadfood” by Jane and Michael Stern — which was thoughtful of her, especially because she hates road trips and despises the kind of food that’s served in dives. That’s what this book is all about.

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It’s easy to think of middle America as an endless stretch of Pizza Huts and Burger Kings. But when you get off the interstate, it’s almost impossible not to eat regionally.

In Ohio, I had Polish pierogis — plump and potato-y with perfect golden edges.

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In Wisconsin, I had wiener schnitzel and schaum torte for dessert. In Michigan, I got Swedish food. In the Great Plains, I ate buffalo and venison.*

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In Utah, I had dinner at the state’s oldest restaurant: Lamb’s Grill Café. They served the best pork chop I’ve had in years, along with maybe the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had.

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Nevada has a sizable Basque population. Who knew? I wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t stopped at the Martin Hotel, a Basque restaurant founded in 1898. I ordered lamb and was not disappointed.

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* The weird thing is that in America’s heartland — in America’s “bread basket,” where entire states are dedicated to growing grain — whole grains seem utterly unknown. I ordered a BLT at a diner in South Dakota and requested “whole wheat toast.” The waitress brought white. I asked about it, but she didn’t see my point. She just said, “That is wheat.”