ljplicease: (reagan and cobra commander)

My friends Brad and Sherry got married in Georgia last weekend. We weren't able to make that celebration, but we did make the New York reception, which turned out to be a wonderful excuse to catch up with most of my friends from the six years that I lived in New York. Joanna and Padrock were there, which was nice because it allowed Lena to meet them for the first time. Now my only friend from my New York years she hasn't met is MegO. One day we will have to make a trip up to Boston so that I can catch up with her and so Lena can meet her and her family.

[photograph]

We headed right for the Hudson Valley this weekend and we had lunch at the German Deli. The German Deli is in fact not called the German Deli, and hasn't been since before I even moved to New York in 2000, but the name is always what people at The Company called it, and so the name has stuck. I had the beef brisket, which I always have, and I always sort of wish that I had ordered the bacon blue cheese burger. They also have Darrel Lea liquorice, all the way from Australia, so I had that for dessert.

[photograph]

I thought it was going to rain mercilessly (though in the end it didn't), so I suggested that we go up to Hyde Park to check out the Vanderbilt mansion and the FDR home and library. The Vanderbilt mansion is much as I remembered it. The tour was free apparently because it was National Public Land Day. The FDR home and museum has a brand new visitor centre, with a pretty tile floor that acts as a map of the region back when FDR was still alive. One of the guys there said that the Vanderbilts looked down on the Roosevelts, and I remember making the observation when I visited both sites with my family back in 2000 that it was better to be rich than to be President. The inside of the FDR house was covered with pictures of navy ships shooting at each other. FDR was clearly obsessed.

some more photos of the Vanderbilt grounds )
ljplicease: (my tree)

I lived in Santa Fe for about a year in the third grade. I don't have fond memories of going to school there, and I can't remember any of the kids or teachers at the school. I suspect that this is because I have managed to block them all out. Still, it was in art class there that I learned to appreciate my favourite painter, Georgia O'Keefe. The main thing that we have in common is that we both love northern New Mexico. In the Chicago Institute of Art this weekend I was listening to the recorded audio tour tell me about a painting she had done of New York City before, as the audio tour put it, she went to New Mexico and became the artist that we all think of as Georgia O'Keefe. The painting in question is less of New York itself, and more of the light behind a building obliterating a dark tall monolith. It is a painting of the city but like much of her work it is organic. I've seen paintings like this of hers before in books. I may have even seen this painting years before and forgotten the details. It's interesting and thrilling to experience an artist before she becomes that artist everyone “knows” she is, even in retrospect. I know her style and I seek comfort in it, even when she paints New York instead of New Mexico.

[photograph]

I turned the corner and saw across the hallway two iconic paintings of hers from her New Mexico years and I gasp a little. Even after all these years I can see her work and feel everything that I feel about New Mexico in an instant. It is a complicated feeling, with many dimensions and thoughts attached, but I think the one with the largest magnitude is homesick. When I left New Mexico in 2000 to find my fortune, I could not get out of the state soon enough. I wanted to see the world (and I am not sorry that I did), but now I think if I could arrange it, the land of enchantment is amongst the few places in the world that I would hesitate to move back to permanently.

some of her paintings )
ljplicease: (Visit America)

Yesterday's post brought us back to the year 2005 via flashback. Today we go all the way back to 1862 and the Battle of Hampton Roads. It is an interesting event historically as it was the first conflict between two “ironclad” warships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (often referred to as the Merrimack in the North). Neither warship is intact anymore, the Virginia was scuttled by the Confederacy to keep it from falling into enemy hands and the Monitor was lost in a storm. However, bits and pieces of both vessels can be found in Richmond and Newport News, Virginia. I had been meaning to track them down for a while, and when I realized Jasper was going to be in Raleigh, it seemed like a good weekend to do both.

more )
ljplicease: (Vasquez Rocks)

I was listening to NPR one day in 2005, as I was oft to do in those days around about the time I decided move back to Australia, when they had an interview of Jasper Fforde, of whom I had never heard of before, in which he read the passage from his brand new Something Rotten in which Prince Hamlet found himself in a modern coffee shop with its bewildering array of choices, and he is required to do the one thing that he is totally ill-equipped to do: make a simple decision. Immediately following my run-on-sentence I decided that was among the most brilliant things I had ever heard and that I needed to read at least the first book in his Thursday Next series. I devoured the first four books in a few weeks and was left with an empty feeling when I realized I would have to wait at least another whole year to read Jasper's new book since he had inconsiderately not written it yet.

more )
ljplicease: (Exploding Brad Photograph)

Apparently at my new job there was a rumor going around that I was there for a wedding (although not for my wedding at least). Not so! I was just there to hang out with Lena, who was there for a conference. It was a nice break from the long days of driving!

more )


  1. who happens to transform into a Dinosaur
  2. e.g. “Me Grimlock know all about wipers! Want to hear good part of story!”
ljplicease: (Earth)

My second presidential stop on my road trip is The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, or as his friends called him “The General”. That the tyrant had any friends at all is remarkable, and that a man who fought so hard to disregard the constitution it may seem surprising that he is celebrated prominently on the $20 bill. The man made his reputation in defeating the Brits at the Battle of New Orleans, in the War of 1812, a month after the war between Britain and the United States was officially over. The engagement was a tiny footnote compared to contemporary battles such as at Waterloo, and the whole North American campaign was for the Brits a peripheral and secondary dispute, while they were more worried about Napoleon.

more )
ljplicease: (Dragonfly)

My first stop in Arkansas is at a Wendy's for lunch. The establishment is filled with army guys in camouflage. I will find out when I am leaving that they drove here in their Humvees. I am startled that people are speaking with a more obviously southern accent, though I should not be. My first real stop is the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.

more )
ljplicease: (Death & Life)

My hotel room is on the 8th floor and the hotel is right in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City. I am a short walk from an entertainment district called Bricktown, which offers a canal and little bit of a nightlife. I try a Mexican restaurant. This is actually a minor victory for me. Social Phobia often prevents me from eating in sit down restaurants when I am by myself. The food is tasty but mild. The staff sing “Happy Birthday” mariachi style Four (4) times while I am there, apparently demonstrating the Birthday Paradox. I am half tempted to lie and tell them it is my birthday for some added excitement/adventure. Guacamole came as a “salad” and for dessert I declined a sopaipilla, which come with the meal in New Mexico. Bricktown and Oklahoma City in general are surprisingly awesome.

more )
ljplicease: (Dark Eye)

I drove through Kansas from north to south. In Phillipsburg I had to wait at the rail crossing as they connected several train cars to the end of a train. It moved left, connected, moved right, they switched the semaphore, it moved left again. I was worried I’d be there forever, but I wasn’t. I stayed the night in Russell, which is apparently the home town of both Senators Bob Dole and Arlen Specter. I wonder if the sign that boasts that proudly was erected before or after Specter turncoated to the Democrats. I have nothing against Russell, I had a pretty good Sonic burger and shake there, but doesn’t it tell you something that they wanted to go to Washington?

more )
ljplicease: (Cow Duck)

Western Nebraska, unsurprisingly, looks a lot like eastern Wyoming. The rolling yellow carpet continues well on into the state. There are lots of cows and horses and I even saw some sheep. Most of the cars on I-80 came from out of state. I have actually been here once before when I drove to Salt Lake from New York. Unfortunately I was in a rush so the only thing that I did was sleep in a hotel in Omaha. This time I decided to re-route my whole trip through Nebraska instead of Colorado (which I have already been too many times) in order to see something reasonably extreme.

more )
ljplicease: (City Fog)

When I first crossed the border into Wyoming it looked as though the rock had been chiseled by the rugged individuality that makes the cowboy state so famous, followed by a few gentle dabs of muted paint to give the desert a bit of color. Further into the state it turned into a flat yellow carpet or rolling hills. Although Wyoming is known as the cowboy state, with its high velocity winds and eco-friendly green energy wind farms it really ought to be called the windy state. On my journey east I noticed not only several wind farms, but the large bits and pieces needed to build more wind turbines on wide load trucks headed west. I vaguely remember reading something about the explosion of Wyoming wind farms in the Economist.

more )
ljplicease: (Canyon Eyes)

It’s Christmas Eve and I am eating funeral potatoes. Only in Utah would I be eating a dish named for the grieving of a corps. Plus potatoes. Given that they are served at other occasions, it seems just a tad grim for me. My step father is from the Salt Lake City area so we have a house here and my car has been patiently waiting for me while I was in Australia for four years. Hence my road trip is going to start here in the Mormon Vatican.

more )
ljplicease: (Bug)

My friend springem used to live in Pennsylvania where he would eat fire along with the usual outdoor cooked meat goodness at his annual work/family barbecue each summer. One Halloween I imported him to my home in Beacon for an enchilada party to compete with the other Halloween party. (Well and also just because he’s my friend and a fun guy to have at a party).

more )
ljplicease: (Broken Window)

I'm moving! Starting a new job! Not too far. About four hours away. This is not news to some. First I am going to get my car which is on the other side of the country. Thus begins my Second Great and Massive Road Trip (SGMRT) across the states (the first was just before I moved to Sydney in 2006). Over the course in the next two weeks I am going to travel through eleven states and hopefully visit some off beat and interesting places. I hope you will join me in my little adventure. I'm going to begin in the beginning where I am at right now, central New Jersey.

more )

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