Journal | Saturday, January 31, 2004 | #
The Maine event
Picking up where I left off yesterday: I spent Friday morning touring Newport, Rhode Island, had a lovely afternoon tea, and then drove to Freeport, Maine, where I am now, Friday night. Well-placed sources assured me that the messiest part of the Big Dig in Boston was over, and the new tunnel by the airport would be the quickest way through the city. I was excited about this new roadway (I-90) and, indeed, it's some impressive civil engineering. Problem is, the rest of Boston's roads are still the same pretzel knot they've always been, so it still takes forever to get through that city. Leaving Boston, I stopped at the headquarters of the company that makes Necco Wafers:
Ultimately, I arrived in Freeport, home of the L.L. Bean flagship store and a springboard for much of Maine's outdoor tourism.Once again, I'm staying in a luxury suite, this time in a colonial-style inn, gratis. In my suite when I arrived was a pile of freebies, courtesy of local merchants, the inn, and Maine tourism. The haul included: A ball cap, a mug, pens, magnets, a plush moose, a small L.L. Bean tote bag, note cards, candles, two shoehorns, shoe polish, a coupon for a free book about woodwork, a basket of fruit and cheese, and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. I enjoyed a tasty dinner of lobster stew and scallops with the hotel owner and swapped stories about camping. I am developing a cheapskate's taste for luxury, truly dangerous.
- DarylJournal | Friday, January 30, 2004 | #
This is not my beautiful house
First of all, here's where I am right now: Click here. Yeah, it's a six-room suite in a bed and breakfast in Newport, Rhode Island. It is roughly twice the size of my apartment, with a full kitchen, antique furniture, and walls of faux leather books. As a travel writer on assignment (for a legitimate magazine, by the way, not some sort of scam), I'm not paying a dime for these accommodations. Once again, I'm left wondering how the table got tilted so unfairly in my favor.
I arrived in Newport just before 10 p.m., checked in, and climbed the spiral staircase to my room. There was a pot of hot water waiting in my room so I could brew tea. Classical music was playing on the stereo. The innkeeper showed me the secret door (disguised as a bookshelf) that opens into the whirlpool room. I set down my bags, made a cup of tea, and replaced the classical radio station with my Talking Heads "Stop Making Sense" CD. Then I soaked in the tub for a while. I asked myself, "Well, how did I get here?" It's an absurdly luxurious place, even considering that I'm on a working trip and I'm supposed to write nice things about it (not hard to do). Seemed, in a way, a shame to waste it all on myself. Then I thought about this some more. Who else do I know who would take Friday off on short notice, drive from Manhattan to Rhode Island on a freezing Thursday evening, skip dinner, spend a night in a strange town (albeit in a beautiful inn), then wake up before dawn the next morning to conduct interviews and do research before climbing in the car again to head to Maine, and finally file two travel stories by a Monday deadline? And so I travel alone. I'm happy doing this work, and I'm happiest doing it my own way.
As I type this, I'm wearing a robe (When do I ever wear a robe?), sitting in a chair in front of a gas fireplace, getting ready to file this journal over the inn's wireless connection. Friday, more adventure. If you can call this kind of thing adventure.
... P.S. : A note to all you computer whizzes. Something screwy happened to my January 2004 archives page, and I lost the journals from Jan. 9 and 10. If per chance you have them stored in the cache on your computer and can recover them for me, I will be eternally grateful.
- DarylJournal | Thursday, January 29, 2004 | #
Here's the ice-coated Hudson River, photographed Wednesday evening. Yeah buddy, it's cold.
... I'm heading to Rhode Island after work today (Thursday) to work on another travel story. I expect to be able to update the journal this weekend from the road, if technology allows.
- DarylJournal | Wednesday, January 28, 2004 | #
Roam home, gnome
Somewhere along the line, the roaming gnome entered our collective unconsciousness. Here's the idea. You pilfer the humble gnome, a red-hatted piece of concrete garden statuary, and send him on a trip. Shoot his picture in a wonderful foreign place, and mail the picture back home. The message: The gnome has left your yard for greener pastures.
A certain web-based travel company is using a roaming gnome in an ad campaign that started this month. (The campaign included this pretty lame parody site.) I gotta say I like this roaming gnome. But why does he seem so damn familiar?
According to the ad agency that created the spokesgnome, it is "a longtime tradition in Europe" to steal garden gnomes and send them abroad. I cannot verify this dubious claim. But I've seen this exact same scene played out in the 2001 French movie "Amélie," and I remember a similar subplot ran through the 1997 British movie "The Full Monty." Garden statuary has been used in commercials before, like that one in which a guy takes his neighbor's squirrel statue hostage and sends snapshots of the statue in peril until he gets his hedge clippers back.
More on the gnome: Bob Garfield's take on the ad, comparing the gnome to a certain presidential candidate. A cranky Hartford Courant columnist insists the ad agency copied the gnome from Amélie. Reuters ran a short piece in October about gnome theft in France. And this site appears to be a real shrine to an actual roaming gnome.
- DarylJournal | Tuesday, January 27, 2004 | #
If we shadows have offended...
Today's journal comes from very special guest Sterling the cat. Please indulge him. - Daryl
at last, the journal is mine. (you ought to see d waking up early every morning to type in his home page. dude needs to get a life.) anyway, straight up. as a big sports fan, i'm totally stoked about the nets coming to brooklyn. but now i read in the paper that these community activist types are all hating on the nba. it's those nimby old-hippies in their fancy-pants apartments in carroll gardens and park slope. shrill as a dog whistle. they're all like, "down with the stadium! we've been living here for years and we don't want changes." same folks who said "don't build an ikea in brooklyn, it will cause traffic jams," and "don't rezone 4th avenue, it's beautiful the way it is," and "don't build a shelter for abused women in our neighborhood, it will cause crime."
gimme a friggin' break. you whine about traffic in the slope while over in bed-stuy, the cops are gunning down unarmed kids? sorry 'bout the sidebar. back to that b-ball plan: a rich dude wants to rip down some small buildings next to a rusty ol' rail yard and stack up some tall buildings and a 19,000-seat arena. a whole new neighborhood in the center of town, a big-money development that will lift everything around it. yeah, a couple hundred people will be forced to accept a buy-out and move. sucks to be them! i say, deal with it. pro ball will do so much good for the borough (i'm talking tourism, merchandise, publicity, pride) that we can spare a few homes. you think i'm being cold? i'm just looking at the big picture, kids. that's why we have eminent domain. how else do you build a big public-benefit project in a city? as for the activists who can't let anybody resurface a sidewalk without thinking the entire fabric of their world has been torn: losers!
til next time cats, keep it real and roll some catnip for me.
- sterlingJournal | Monday, January 26, 2004 | #
Pizza on film
Some of you know I tend to gush about my local pizza place, Luigi's. It's at the corner of 21st Street and 5th Avenue here in Brooklyn, and the chief pizza man is a guy named Giovanni. First off, it's really good pizza. But moreover, it's a time portal to some bygone day of Brooklyn, like maybe the 1950s. If he's in a talkative mood, Giovanni will dispense timeless wisdom while you're waiting for your order. Some friends and I went there for pizza after church yesterday. On the wall of the pizza shop is a photo of Adam Sandler I'd always figured Sandler had stopped in there once for pizza. But my friend Ned recognized the photo as a scene from the 1999 film "Big Daddy," which he recently saw on TV while on vacation. So I rented "Big Daddy." Not only does the pizza shop get a few seconds of time during a song in the movie, but Giovanni himself is seen placing a pizza in the glass case at the front of the shop.
... Oops, I've had the wrong date on the journal for the last three days. Don't you people notice anything?
- DarylJournal | Sunday, January 25, 2004 | #
The eyes have it
On Saturday, I went into the city to get an eye exam and order new glasses. The optometrist had a new machine for checking eyes that I've never seen before. It's a scope you look through that displays a 3-D picture of a highway rolling over some hills and winding toward a mountain range into the distance. The picture shifts in and out of focus. As your eyes try to keep up, a sensor inside the scope measures how your eyes react. I think the doctor said it has something to do with focusing. It took about ten seconds total, and required no effort on my part. What will they think up next?
... Genius song lyric of the moment: "Some girls dance with women / Knowing that it gets them attention / I want to get in with them / So pass me a drink and lets go." - JC Chasez, "Some Girls"
- DarylJournal | Saturday, January 24, 2004 | #
Exit through the rear doors, sucka!
There's an angry, ranting man on the B75 bus.
"This housing discrimination has got to stop," he declares to nobody in particular. He gestures out the window. "I swear I want to burn one of these motherfucking buildings down."
Oh, did I mention that this man is driving the bus? And since I'm riding to the last stop, I am his only passenger. The traffic lights ahead of us turn green and he floors the bus down the straightaway. "YEEEE-ha!," he shouts. A white Taurus stops ahead to parallel park. The bus driver blows the horn and yells, "Move sucka!"
Carefully, I move up to the front of the bus. "How close can you get me to Seventh Ave?" I ask. The bus usually stops at Eighth and turns around. "I'm going back to the depot for my lunch break," he says. "I'll take you right there. Lucky you." And suddenly we're there. He stops at the intersection of 20th and Seventh and lets me off. "Thanks," I tell him. "Have a good lunch." As I step out, he beeps the horn once and sends the bus lurching across the intersection against a red light, cutting off a van.
- DarylJournal | Friday, January 23, 2004 | #
The word of the day is: frigid
For reasons I cannot explain, I want this. It's the Internet refrigerator. Picture a full-size, high-end fridge with a video screen built into one of the front doors. The screen works as a TV or a computer, and lets you keep a calendar, do e-mail, or surf the web all while standing in your kitchen. Oh, now quit rolling your eyes. You could use this for recipes, right? There's also a "refrigerator manager" feature that displays "detailed refrigerator information." Such as... How cold it is inside? No idea. To tell the truth, I can't think of any practical application for this thing. All I know is that this refrigerator is wicked cool, and I want it.
... Seen the spiffy new World Trade Center train station?
... I'm tempted to complain about the weather, but I've done enough of that lately. Best to remember that nothing lasts forever. Not Ben and Jen, not the Mars rover, not Howard Dean's good luck. And not the weather. Try not to feel S.A.D.
- DarylJournal | Thursday, January 22, 2004 | #
Don't invest in CDs
Last week, in a stroke of bad luck, I managed to lose my CD wallet. I think I dropped it somewhere between my car and my apartment. I've searched every obvious place and can't find it. It's not so bad that I lost 20 or 30 CDs, right? Except they're the 20 or 30 that I listen to all the time. Goodbye "Automatic For The People." Adios "Get Rich or Die Trying." Auf wiedersehen "Achtung Baby." Farewell to Fountains of Wayne, Sting, Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson and Elvis. Since this catastrophic loss, I've been digging up some old CDs I haven't listened to in a long time; ones I didn't lose. Blues Traveler. Crash Test Dummies. Fiona Apple. Gerritt helped me out by buying me a Talking Heads CD and another copy of Junior Senior's "D-d-don't Don't Stop The Beat," which I lost. Perhaps it's time to throw out some old CDs so I have room on my shelf to buy some new ones.
... Try this on for size: "The Brooklyn Nets."
... Happy Chinese Lunar New Year. Today begins the year of the monkey.
- DarylJournal | Wednesday, January 21, 2004 | #
The downside to vacation
Man, why is it that when I return to work after a few days off, I feel like I've totally lost momentum. I can still do the work, but it seems to require double the effort. It's like we lose our flow when we stop moving. So we struggle through the day and hope we get it back by the end of the week. That pendulum always swings back, doesn't it?
... Last night during the State of the Union address, did you notice who the camera cut to when the president expressed his support for a constitutional ammendment to ban gay marraige? It was our old chum, Sen. Santorum.
- DarylJournal | Tuesday, January 20, 2004 | #
You, yes you, could own my car
For sale. 96 Sub w/AC CD AWD. *Cream puff.* Click here.
... I got a fascinating e-mail yesterday. A woman was asking, on behalf of a Chinese friend, if I thought "Daryl" was a nice name, and how "Daryl" is pronounced. This friend is apparently considering it as a name for her child. I'm rather fond of my name, but I'm still thinking of the best way to answer the e-mail.
... Serious shortage of cool songs this month.
- DarylJournal | Monday, January 19, 2004 | #
Down with corn
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And if you're in Iowa... scratch that, nobody from Iowa reads this page, which gives me the freedom to rip into the Iowa caucus system. Every state ought to vote in the presidential primary on the same day. The system is broken. While we're fixing it, let's do something about that electoral college.
... Yesterday we went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as the sky rained chunks of ice and slush down onto us. That's bad weather. And there is no escape from it, since you have to go outside to see anything here in New York.
- DarylJournal | Sunday, January 18, 2004 | #
Maybe it's the carbs
Everyone in New York is skinny. That's what people from out of town tell me when they visit. My mom noticed that on one of her visits here. Pervin noticed it, too, after hearing in advance (correctly) that Americans have something of a weight problem. This weight problem somehow persists despite the efforts of Drs. Atkins and Phil, the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, ephedra, Ultra Slim Fast, and TrimSpa.
Anectodal evidence suggests that New Yorkers are generally in good shape. Here are my four guesses why.
1. People walk around more here, and this exercise helps them stay fit.
2. Food costs more here, so people eat less of it.
3. Unlike most parts of the U.S., restaurants in New York don't refill soft drinks.
4. New York is just as fat as the rest of the country, but we get the illusion that it's thinner because only thin people are out and about. The fat people are all riding around in taxis.
- DarylJournal | Saturday, January 17, 2004 | #
"Her head fell off in the ambulance"
After we visted the Empire State Building yesterday, we took the Q Train one stop to Times Square. I thought about trying to get rush tickets to the musical Avenue Q. (Rush tickets are cheap front-row seats awarded by lottery two hours before the show.) We had ten minutes to get to the theater. We made it there with a minute to spare, and put our names on slips of paper that went into a plastic white paint bucket. Then waited outside for the theater guy to call the names. There were 40 or 50 people waiting for just a few seats.
"Our first name is," announced the theater guy, "Pervin Hussain." That was us. We went up to booth and were first in line to buy $22 rush tickets. (Tickets to this show are usually $96.) After a quick dinner, we went back and took our seats in the center of the front row. Avenue Q, a parody of Sesame Street, is a raunchy puppet show about a bunch of young people trying to get their lives together in New York City. Hard to explain, but take my word for it: It's brilliant.
- DarylJournal | Friday, January 16, 2004 | #
Cooler than being cool
Yeah, yeah, coldest-day-in-ten-years and all that. We'll manage. I haven't decided if this is a good day to take the ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty or not. (Think of it: No line!) Pervin is here from London and we're going to be out sightseeing today. Looking forward to that.
P.S. - Guess why the Empire State Building is lit up green this weekend. Give up? Click here for the lighting schedule.
Stay warm everybody.
- DarylJournal | Thursday, January 15, 2004 | #
Gerritt, Otey, and Melanie are driving back to Maryland this afternoon. Last night, Gerritt cooked us all a delicious dinner of ceasar-lime chicken and rice. After that, we watched "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" on DVD. Gerritt and I had been making fun of this movie for a long time, but neither of us had seen it. It far exceeded our expectations. We were awed by the sheer awfulness of this badly mishandled "graphic novel" adaptation, which thrashes around with no particular purpose other than to show Sean Connery lost in a world of not-so-special special effects. Parts of the movie were so random that we both burst out laughing. A solar-powered submarine?! You've got to be kidding!!
... After these clowns leave, I'm picking up my friend Pervin tonight at JFK. She's flying in from London to visit for the weekend. I hope she likes cold weather.
- DarylJournal | Wednesday, January 14, 2004 | #
Today's journal comes from very special guest and very special brother Gerritt, aliases G-Unit, G-Bone, G-Love, The Seventh Letter, G-Train, etc., etc., who is visiting from Maryland. - Daryl
Leave it to me to plan our trip to New York City on the coldest week of the season. Tonight, it's 10 degrees in the city without including the windchill, and snow is due on Thursday morning when we're supposed to be driving home. Otey, Melanie, and I are here for the next three days, squatting at Daryl's apartment, and trying in vain to find something indoors to do for the day tomorrow. This evening, we met Daryl after work and got a tour of his office, then walked around the cold, cold, windy, cold, empty cold streets of New York. We ended up having dinner on the west side at a theme restaurant called Trailer Park, then went and saw a fun, cheap improv comedy show at the Upright Citizen's Brigade theater. If you recognize this name, its because they used to have a show on Comedy Central. Their live show was neat, and well worth the $5 to get in, plus it put us all in a good mood before the cold, long, windy, cold, empty, cold commute back to Daryl's apartment in Brooklyn. I ♥ NY.
- GerrittJournal | Tuesday, January 13, 2004 | #
Your head a splode
Before X-Box, before Playstation, there was Virtual Boy. This was one of the greatest flops in video game history: Nintendo's attempt to sell a 3-D virtual reality gaming system in 1995. The Virtual Boy looked like one of those things they use to test your vision at the department of motor vehicles, on stilts. Its vector graphics system could display only one color, red. It is, as far as I know, the only toy ever designed to shut itself off automatically every few minutes to prevent eye strain. My brother and I rented one from a video store soon after it was released, along with a couple of games. I remember a pointless 3-D version of Tetris, a space flight game of some kind, and Virtual Boy's killer ap: Mario Tennis. Mario Tennis seemed like it was supposed to be a two-player game, but I'm not sure that feature was included. If it was, certainly both players would have needed a Virtual Boy, and you'd be hard-pressed to find another person who owned one. Like everything else weird and forgotten, the Virtual Boy has legions of fans prowling the Internet, some of whom have posted tribute sites like this one.
... Anyhow, what brought this memory back is this week's brilliant Strong Bad E-mail at Homestar Runner. This cartoon absolutely nails the Virtual Boy, in addition to pitch-perfect send-ups of the Atari, text-based adventure games, and anything that ever described itself as "photorealistic." (Wait for the end of the cartoon and you can actually play these games.)
- DarylJournal | Monday, January 12, 2004 | #
Highways and flyways
I'm back from Connecticut, and now I'm busy writing my bird article. It's good to be home, where it's warm. We're back to feeling mellow like code yellow.
... Did you read about Jack Kelly of the USA Today? He resigned from his reporting job because he used a fake source to confirm a story when the newspaper began to double-check the accuracy of his work. He still says all his stories were accurate. But there's the rub: Once you know someone has lied once, how can you trust anything else he says?
- DarylJournal | Sunday, January 11, 2004 | #
I'm a gull watcher
It was a cold Saturday here on the coast of central Connecticut. (Record low of -2 in Westport.) Despite the temperature, I enjoyed my tour of the birdwatching hotspots here, and had a nice evening out in New Haven. I'm looking forward to more exploring today, and to crafting a story about it all. But, trust me, you wouldn't have wanted to be on the beach Saturday. No one else was out. As we watched steam roll off Long Island Sound and chunks of ice crack against the rocks, it was just us and the brrrrrrds.
Today I'll be in Milford to investigate more birding sites.
- DarylJournal | Saturday, January 10, 2004 | #
Skulls, bones, and pizza
I wasn't planning to post a journal today, but I disliked Friday's journal so much that I didn't want to leave it up two days in a row.
Sometimes life isn't fair. And when it's unfair in your favor, you're wrecked with guilt. Okay, not really. I'm typing this from the seventh floor of a posh hotel in New Haven, Conn
[ Because of a computer problem, the journal from Jan. 10 got cut off and the journal from Jan. 9 was entirely lost. Jan. 10 was a recap of my day in New Haven, Connecticut. Jan. 9 was a ramble about dairy products and President Bush's proposal to send an American to Mars. Sorry. - DL ]
Thursday, January 8, 2004
I may be making a generalization here, but I think most people would rather have wet hands than use an automatic hand dryer. People complain that hand dryers don't get their hands dry, especially compared to the speed and convenience of towels. Fellas, in particular, hate any device that prolongs the time we spend in a public bathroom. Ask most people, and they won't waste words: These things blow.
Since no one else will, I'll come to the support of the lowly hand drier, that industrial wall box of sound and fury. Hand driers are good, and not just because they reduce paper towel waste. For one thing, nothing works better for warming cold hands. That's a real luxury on these bitter winter days. Moreover, hand driers give you a good 20 or 30 seconds to stand still in one spot and collect your thoughts. Think about the occasions when you find yourself in a public restroom. You're often in an unfamiliar place an airport, a highway rest stop, a theater. Maybe you're a little tense or uptight. Now, take half a minute and stop everything. Press that big chrome button. Listen to the jet-engine-like wash of air. Feel the warm breath caress your fingers. Meditate on your day, how you got there, where you're going, whom you're with, and why. Put it all in perspective. Whooosh. Click. Your hands are dry. And you're in the right frame of mind to carry on. Now go out there and seize the day!
... My brother has just posted a page of pictures from Colorado (and his drive out there).
- DarylJournal | Wednesday, January 7, 2004 | #
Yesterday, the publisher of The Baltimore Sun fired editor Bill Marimow. The Sun was my hometown newspaper for a while, and I met Marimow twice. Once he spoke to one of my journalism classes at Penn State, and I walked him back to his car. Another time I called him on the phone to interview him for a paper I wrote about the Pulitzer Prizes. To me, Marimow seemed like a class act, and I have no idea why he got canned. Officially, it's because the publisher had disagreements with him. Conventional wisdom suggests that his style of journalism doesn't jibe with Tribune, the profit-hungry news company that bought The Sun a few years ago. The real reason is open to speculation.
... The World Trade Center memorial jury announced that it selected "Reflecting Absence," or at least a variation of it, as the memorial design. Click here to read what I wrote in November about why this is the best design.
... Apple just started selling a wackly little iPod that perfectly matches my wacky little cell phone. I want it!
- DarylJournal | Tuesday, January 6, 2004 | #
Future's so bright, I gotta wear 3D glasses
Today, as we gawk at photos from Mars and ponder what weirdness 2004 will hold, I want to share two futuristic technologies I recently learned about.
First, I take you to Baltimore, where a brilliant idea is under test in the main parking deck at BWI airport. It's called Smart Park. Used to be, by the time you found a parking space at the airport, you'd already spent so much time circling that you were dizzy enough to dangle a child in front of a crocodile. Those days of insanity are over at BWI. Above each parking space is a sensor that knows if a space is full or empty. When a space is full, the sensor turns on a red light. When a space is empty, the light is green. Throughout the garage, LED arrows point drivers toward the nearest row that has an open space. It's so simple that any driver can understand it. It frees up congestion in the garage and it saves everyone time. I see no reason why this technology shouldn't be in every parking garage in the world.
Next, we go to Seattle. My friend Doug, who rides the bus to his university, told me about a great service for Seattle commuters called Busview. It's a web site that shows you a real-time map of Metro Kings County buses, so you know when your bus is on the way. Doug says he checks the map to know when he should leave his apartment to catch his bus. No need to spend time standing on the corner wondering whether your bus is late, or if you just missed it. You'll get to work in less than the time it takes to annul your marriage to Britney Spears. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before other transit systems launch similar web sites.
- DarylJournal | Monday, January 5, 2004 | #
I would walk 500 miles
I hope you enjoyed my journals from Colorado. My flight home yesterday was comfortable. The hard part was getting from the Newark airport back to Brooklyn. A cab would have taken an hour and cost $35. A bus would have dumped me all the way up at the Port Authority. That left the train. Make that trains. I rode the Airtrain monorail to the New Jersey Transit train to the PATH train to the IND subway. The whole mess took a lot longer than it should have.
... In November I wrote about the iTunes top 100 song list. Since everybody got iPods and computers for Christmas, the top 100 list got stirred up this week by new users binge-downloading favorite songs. Could that explain how "Tubthumper" by Chumbawumba got to be number 11 on the top songs list? Actually, iTunes has posted a whole feature of "one hit wonders," all of which are mysteriously popular. Everybody wants to hear "O-o-h Child" by The Five Stairsteps (number 33), "Steal My Sunshine" by Len (number 18), and "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers (number 10!). This is interesting information. I have a hunch that the music fans who are happily paying 99 cents to hear these old songs would never want to buy them on a CD. Take a look at the rest of the top ten songs and you'll see that two of them, "Hey Ya" (number 1) and "The Way You Move" (number 4), are by Outkast. Everybody loves these Outkast singles, but who really enjoys Outkast's two-hour-plus 40-song ego trip of a CD? I'd be interested to know if more people are buying "Hey Ya!" on iTunes than are buying "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" on CD. If so, that may spell the death of the album as a delivery vehicle for music. Let's go ahead and say it: The album is dead. Anyone care to argue?
Journal | Sunday, January 4, 2004 | #
Rocky mountain high
I'm writing this Saturday night from the Marriott at the Denver Airport. We drove through a snowstorm to get here the night before we catch our planes back east on Sunday.
Such a different world here in Colorado. At high altitutes, such as where my mom and Garry have their cabin, the air is much thinner. This makes a big difference in simple activities like climbing stairs or carrying a suitcase from the car to the house. I get winded quickly because my body is used to the oxygen-rich air at lower altitudes. After some time, you get used to it. Here in Denver, it's not so bad.
The drive to Denver took much longer than normal because traffic was at a crawl in the snowy weather. It's true what people say about the snow being different out here. While there is much more of it (perhaps a foot fell today, on top of several inches already on the ground) it's much lighter and fluffier than what we get in New York or Baltimore. You cannot pack it into a snowball or make snowmen with it. It looks beautiful on the trees and doesn't seem to be as hard to drive in. Plus the plows are very efficient at clearing all the roads.
That's enough for now. I'll be back in New York Sunday afternoon.
- DarylJournal | Saturday, January 3, 2004 | #
When in Breckenridge...
In any introductory ski class, there's always some poor slob who just doesn't get it. This guy is plainly the worst of the bunch. He holds the rest of the class up. He falls constantly. He crashes into people. He finally resorts to unfastening his boots so he can walk down the slope, just so he doesn't delay the class any more. This guys wins no friends at a ski resort.
I am that guy. I tried skiing twice when I was about 16 and found it so immensely frustrating that I didn't try it again for years. Over time, the bad memories faded. Here in the Colorado high country, where I'm visiting for the weekend, I decided it would be foolish not to try skiing again. It's what people do here; my mom's boyfriend is a ski instructor. Besides, I'm more coordinated and in better shape now than I was in high school.
Alas, I decided to snowboard. It seemed less geeky than skiing, right? I was put in a class of seven people, six of whom were part of a church youth group from Houston. Our instructor was a soft-spoken snowboarder and a fellow Penn State grad. She was patient, but seemed to sense instinctively I was a lost cause, and thus was not terribly helpful with my snowboarding problems. After three hours in the class, I decided I was a danger to myself and everyone on the slope, and returned my equipment. Then I bummed around town for a while with mom (who also went skiing) and Gerritt and Melanie (who didn't). I still think skiing could be fun, but it has an unacceptably high cost-to-fun ratio. Not to mention pain-and-suffering-to-fun ratio. It's cold, it hurts, and people laugh at you. I'll stick to water skis, thank you.
- DarylJournal | Friday, January 2, 2004 | #
This town has gone to the dogs
I'm writing today's journal from my mom and Garry's cabin, high up in the Rocky mountains in the small city of Park City, Colorado. This is my second trip to Colorado, but my first to this part of the state. I landed in Denver Thursday afternoon and rode out here with my mom on I-70. If I had been driving, it would surely have taken twice as long, because I would have been suckered into all sorts of roadside attractions along the highway. (Buffalo Bill's grave! Log cabin factory! Museum of skiing! Scenic overlook! Point of interest!) All around us were majestic snow-capped mountains. After we drove through the awesome Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel, we turned off the highway into Breckenridge. We gassed up the car with gas at something called U-Gas-Em, write your own joke here. Then a few more miles to the town of Alma, home of a tavern that calls itself the "highest tavern in the U.S.A." (It's about four doors up from a bar that calls itself "Alma's Only Bar." Go figure.)
Park City, a virtually abandoned mining town, is reachable only by a dirt road called Mosquito Pass, which is officially closed for winter. I don't know the population of Park City, but I have a hunch that dogs outnumber people. There's a pack of sociable pups who roam free and like to startle strangers (me) by running around us in circles and barking happily. Gerritt and his girlfriend Melanie are here; I haven't been able to convince them to go skiing with me at Breckenridge today. I think I'm going to take a stab at snowboarding; I hope this will not result in any loss of life or limb. Thursday evening we stayed inside, in part because it's a pain to go anywhere from here. This is a delightful log cabin and a cozy place to stay.
- DarylJournal | Thursday, January 1, 2004 | #
'04 crying out loud!
A new year begins, full of promises and resolutions (sell the car, eat more vegetables, take more risks). This morning, I'm dragging myself to Newark to hop a plane to Denver, where I'll meet up with my mom and Garry and Gerritt and Melanie. I'll be spending the long weekend in rural Colorado (ever heard of Alma? Park City?) and perhaps skiing, too. I plan to update the journal while I'm on the road, and maybe even post some pictures of snowy mountains and such. More from Colorado. Stay tuned. It's 2004 and anything is possible.