Posts Tagged ‘family’

Road Trip Hurricane Wreaks Havoc with New Orleans (Day 105)

November 2nd, 2009 2 comments

Fortunately my headlines jumped the shark a couple months ago, so no need to feel embarrassed by this one.

My mom flew out to New Orleans to join the road trip for a few days, btw. She was the one who insisted we go to the French Quarter. Well, “insisted”. Anyway — it was everything everyone told me it would be (i.e., “a bunch of old buildings and it smells like vomit”).

I’m sure it smelled better before Katrina.

We had a cool hotel, in no small part because the room had its own loft.

new-orleans_hotel-roomSee? Loft.

(Prytania Park Hotel — it’s located right in between the Garden District and Warehouse+Museum District.)

Then we walked to the French quarter.

new-orleans_underpassThere was an underpass along the way!

new-orleans_bike-riderThey have porches like this there.

new-orleans_white-doorA door as crooked as a Louisiana politician.

new-orleans_cathedralSt. Louis Cathedral and tourists taking photos of same.

new-orleans_jackson-sq-carriagesTour carriages lined up at Jackson Square.

I learned that Jackson Square was *meant* to be the town’s center. And then the person who ended up owning the land built buildings on either side of it, but that it wasn’t pretty enough — so she had it beatified (park ranger’s word, not mine).

And I’m still waiting for someone to explain why Andrew Jackson doesn’t net out to be a villain for killing all the Indians he did. (In protest, I no longer use $20 bills.)

new-orleans_cannon-me (2)Me with cannon. Cannon with me.

new-orleans_bourbon-voodooI’m thinking about opening my own voodoo shop in Mission Viejo.

new-orleans_kimball-homeThe New Orleans house my mom grew up in lived in for two years as a kid.


I think the people that love New Orleans so much are people who first went there in college with all their friends and got drunk and partied so that now every time they go there, they remember being 19 and getting drunk and partying with their friends.

It’s basically how I feel about Hohenstein-Ernstthal.

(No, I never got drunk in Hohenstein-Ernstthal — except on my own sense of self-importance, which is much headier anyway.)



Smoky Mountains, Rainy Weather, Ramsay Cascades Hike (Day 91)

October 18th, 2009 4 comments

It’s sort of amazing to me how much weather determines my mood. And you’d think that someone who grew up in the Seattle area would be okay with being rained on constantly, no-visibility skies, and temperatures in the low-50s. Nope. Ah, well.

Picked up my bro in Knoxville Wednesday night, slept in a Holiday Inn Express in Kodak or Sevierville (one may be a subset of the other), then trucked on down to the Ramsay Cascades trailhead in the northeast part of the park. It was an eight-mile out-and-back with a 2,400-foot elevation gain.

ramsay_little-pigeon-riverWhen it rains this much, the Little Pigeon grows up a little.

ramsay_log-bridge-telkontarA Telkontar sighting.

ramsay_ramsay-cascadesFor want of a telefoto lens, the best shot available of the falls.

ramsay_warning-signWe weren’t next.

ramsay_path-and-treesWenn von Nebel frei die Bahn!

ramsay_log-bridgeLog bridge on the way back down.

The rivers were awesome and the falls apparently relatively big — I’ve found some other photos online wherein the water coming off them is a lot less than we saw. I guess the rain *is* good for something. I was pretty soaked — as much from sweat as from rain — but lived to fight another day. Some website designated this trail as “difficult”, but that website, whatever one it was, is crazy. Or at least its author has a different definition for “difficult” than I do. Or maybe I’m just in that good of shape.

And then we decided we were wet enough that we didn’t need to prove anything by also camping in such weather. Fortunately, Pigeon Forge offers plenty of cheap hotels. Unless you plan on staying Friday or Saturday night.


PS, I’m staying in the Brick House Campground in South Carolina right now and it is the best Verizon data connection I’ve had through my MiFi the entire trip. Could some physicist out there please explain?

Welcome to Connecticut (State #25)

October 2nd, 2009 2 comments

Just in case anyone from a big state wants an opportunity to say “well landsakes!”, I started the day in Maine, traveled through New Hampshire to get to Massachusetts, then went to Rhode Island before finishing up at my cousin’s place in Connecticut. Five states in one day — try *that* from Brownsville! Anyway:

welcome_connecticutThey put their welcome sign behind a tree on the center median. Just how welcome did they want me to feel?!

Major thanks out to J-Bigs and Alexis for putting me up in New Haven. Dearly appreciated and your Indian restaurant was one of the best I’ve ever been to. And I’ve been to more than one, yes.


Categories: northeast Tags: , ,

Nauvoo Is a Small City in Hancock County, Illinois (Day 63)

September 19th, 2009 5 comments

Wendesday, Telkontar and I went out to Nauvoo, Ill. If the name’s not familiar, then you’re probably not Mormon. (You can check out Nauvoo Mormon history separately if you want or here’s the two-sentence version:

Nauvoo is a city on the Mississippi River in Illinois to which the Mormon church relocated in 1839 after the state of Missouri legalized exterminating them. After eight years, mobs forced the Mormons to leave Illinois for, well, Mexico (present-day Utah), leaving behind a bunch of pretty cool old brick buildings and the sites of some key events in the church’s history, some of which have since been re-acquired and restored.)

Anyway: I gotta figure out how to take better architectural photos. Maybe next trip.

nauvoo_seventies-hallSeventies Hall, grass, fence. Back in the 1840s, there would’ve been a bunch of out-buildings on the grass.

nauvoo_heber-c-kimball-homeMy great-great-great-grandfather’s porch. And house.

bkd_ckdMy bro and I posing in front of our own grandpa, who started the restoration of Nauvoo back in 1960 (or so) and ran it for a couple of decades. Our great-great-great grandpa is in the portrait in the room behind us.

nauvoo_templeThe re-built Nauvoo Temple.

nauvoo_horses-templeJoseph and Hyrum Smith ridin’ home with the temple tower straight ahead.

nauvoo_horse-statueSame statue, other direction.

illinois_skyIllinois sky, ground.

It was a fun trip. My bro drove the whole way, which was a very welcome change. The missionaries in the homes seemed like they all had just gotten yelled at by the mission president that morning. I figure someone spouted space doctrine to a local journalist or something. It was kind of weird. Made a rope, though, which was cool. Got another prairie ring. They always seem like a good idea until you realize they don’t really fit. Oh well. Also got to introduce someone to the paradox of choice, which may or may not have been appreciated.

Nauvoo is my favorite part of the church’s history. It’s the time in church history that I best identify with — “we’re sick of getting treated like crap, so we’re going to do something about it — we don’t need you”. I kind of wish more (any?) of that spirit showed up at church on Sundays.

I also get a little choked up at seeing a portrait of my grandpa in a place that doesn’t belong to one of my relatives. And one day I’d like to claim my 1/24th of that house.


“Store” = “Museum”: The Dark Underbelly of Suburban Newspeak (Day 60)

September 19th, 2009 1 comment

Spent most of Day 60 working on my grad school apps (and Days 61 and 62 — so you know what you got to look forward to!). Eventually, though, at my nephew’s insistance, went to Cabela’s with my brother and his two kids. My and his wife have trained the kids to believe that Cabela’s is a museum — handy, since it’s only 15 minutes away from the house (Chicago’s real museums are 90 minutes or so away and, IIRC, charge admission).

I was going to go with “joy” initially, then changed to “dark underbelly”. I suppose “reality” would have also worked, but it sounds less inflammatory.

cabelas-shooting-galleryAnd when you shoot the snake, it hisses at you.

My niece and nephew both like the stuffed animals best — well, not “stuffed animals”, animals that were shot, then stuffed by a taxidermist. That kind.


Categories: northern states Tags: , ,

Mackinac Island and the Nates of GRR (Day 59)

September 18th, 2009 3 comments

The headline overpromises, although, yes, I did visit Mackinac Island and my niece and her husband, whose last name is Nate. Maybe it doesn’t overpromise so much as it leads the post to under-deliver.

The island is basically like being ont he TV show The Prisoner, but with better special effects. The concept is that you start out in Mackinaw City, just across the bridge from the Upper Peninsula, then take a 20-minute ferry ride across (a small part of) Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, a small island community where internal combustion engines are not allowed. As such, transportation is done via horse-drawn buggy, bicycle, and foot.

Should’ve skipped straight to the fourth paragraph.

mackinac-waterfrontMackinac Island waterfront.

mackinac-island_main-streetMain Street, which features the highest per-square-foot concentration of fudge retailers in the Lower 48. I would know.

mackinac-buggyHorses, buggy, people. Road also. Grass, trees.

phoca_thumb_l_arrival42Prisoner with bubble.

mackinac-fort-hillPathway up to Fort Mackinac, which dates back to the Revolutionary War. It wasn’t our fort back then.

mackinac-rifle-squadI’m not sure why the six-year-old gets to be the officer, but I’m guessing nepotism.

mackinac-path-and-churchPretty similar picture to that other one, but I figured if I put the one with the rifles in between you wouldn’t notice so much. I think it’s an Episcopal church.

round-island_lighthouseAnd on the way back, I took this photo of the Round Island Lighthouse.

  • Cloudy day.
  • The fort was cool.
  • I pretty well liked hanging out in a non-motorized town, especially walking around a little further to the island’s interior. It was easy to imagine horse-drawn carriage rides to someone’s house in the woods.
  • OTOH, the streets all smelled like horse manure.
  • And if I wanted to get rich, I’d open up a shop on Main Street there and sell something *other than* fudge.

    After escaping the island I drove down to Grand Rapids and saw Andrea and Preston, went to dinner with them, and then left. No pictures. Their new house is pretty nice.


    PS, Mackinaw City (where I stayed in a hotel before catching the ferry over in the morning) was a nice place also — friendly locals and it’s a very well-kept town. Someone there’s doing *something* right. Probably mafia.

    Sheridan, Wyo.: The Horseback Riding Experience! (Day 47)

    September 3rd, 2009 4 comments

    — You ever ridden a horse before?

    — One time, at a park, with a girl leading it around.

    — We’ll put you on Sonny, then. He basically rides himself.

    Naturally, within 30 seconds of getting onto the horse, he (Sonny) decided to take an unrequested gallop down my brother’s street. Only threatening to have him gelded (again) got him to slow down. Things got better from there, though, and no bones or spirits were broken (I don’t think).

    sheridan_horsesThe boys. From L to R, Archie (the loner), Maverick (the one everyone hates because he’s a jerk), and Sonny (“the self-riding horse”).

    It’d be fun to learn to ride a horse for real. The only problem with the guy taking off like that was that it was unexpected; it was otherwise not unpleasant. And maybe if I got good at it, I could justify growing out an un-ironic handlebar moustache. Always dreaming.

    We rode for about an hour or so. 36 hours later, my legs are still sore in places they’ve never been sore before. I think I’m supposed to write out “36” if it’s at the beginning of a sentence. C’est la vie. The horses didn’t smell bad.


    PS, The other cool thing about Sheridan is that on a clear day you can see FOREVER (not pictured). I can’t recall ever having seen stuff as far away as that. In the OC, you’re lucky to see the ocean from the beach what with the air pollution and all. (Yes, that’s slightly exaggerated.)

    Red Grade Road (Day 46)

    September 3rd, 2009 2 comments

    Once at my brother’s house in Sheridan, the key thing was to sleep in. That accomplished…

    I should just start with the second paragraph.

    There’s this road, “Red Grade Road”, that’s not far from my bro’s house (in Sheridan), which is “in the sticks” (according to my niece), but not as in the sticks as the road. The road turns to dirt quickly and then heads up the hills. It’d probably be a great place to camp on the weekends or snowmobile or fish. Here are some photos:

    sheridan_black-tooth-mountainBlacktooth Mountain — supposedly my brother’s going to hike to the top one day.

    sheridan_red-grade-roadDirty Truck = Happy Truck. At least, that’s my current working theory.

    sheridan_red-grade-cloudsThey have clouds in Wyoming also.

    The cool thing about Sheridan and the whole area around it is that it looks (to me) exactly like you expect Wyoming to look. Rugged high-country, grassy hills broken up by stands of trees and, in the distance, snow-capped peaks. I’ve heard it said (or maybe read) that when people are thinking of Wyoming, they really mean Montana. Not so true as it turns out. It would not have been hard to imagine that Big Whiskey was going to be the next town up the road at any point (although I think the movie was probably filmed in Alberta). Anyway — it’s a landscape that looks like it needs cowpokes, outlaws-turned-sheriff, saloons, brothels, five-cent whiskey shots, etc., etc. Feels like the West, and not the overrun one like we got in California.



    PS, Sheridan is also cool b/c my brother lives there.

    PPS, I enjoyed getting to sign my nieces’ permission slips for their first (actually second) days of school.

    And on the Seventh Day the Heavens Cleared, And There Were Mountains (Day 36)

    August 19th, 2009 Comments off

    I understand that good weather isn’t Washington’s natural state, but this place is so much prettier when the sun’s out it’s ridiculous. And as someone who has waited two weeks just to get a transmission fixed, trust me, I *know* ridiculous.

    The last day of the family reunion we finally got some decent weather, so we headed up to Mt. Baker, which was sort of supposed to be, like, the ever-present beacon of hope during our stay in that area. Instead it was a sort of hiss and byword that, some said, lay nearby and cloaked in clouds so that only the pure in heart could see it. I dunno. Maybe my heart just didn’t purify until Sunday. It was probably the breakfast burritos that finally did it.

    nooksack falls (1)Nooksack Falls, falling.

    mt bakerMt. Baker, named by Oregon Territory politicians in order to curry favor with the then-powerful International Brotherhood of Pastry Chefs.

    mt shuksanAnd then if you turn around you see Mt. Shuksan, which, if one didn’t drive all the way to the top of the road, one might be inclined to think was Mt. Baker.

    mt baker isolationThen if you turn *back* around, you see Mt. Baker again, only this time it’s RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!!! Beware Mt. Baker.

    path to table mountainThe flat thing at back-left is Table Mountain. This path does not actually go there.

    I feel bad that my oldest brother and his family left Saturday night and thus never got to see the pure-in-heart version of the area and instead went away believing that the North Cascades are this place you go to where you sit around houses and play Butt Man all day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that it’s not entirely accurate.


    Rafting the Skagit River Is Different from Rafting the Tuolumne (Day 35)

    August 19th, 2009 2 comments

    For example:

    • It was 55 degrees on the Skagit (vs. 103 at Yosemite).
    • The Skagit is all glacial melt. Like, in the morning it part of a glacier and a couple hours later you’re rafting on it. So the water was going to be cold regardless of air temperature.
    • On the Tuolumne I was worried about getting wet because it would increase the intensity of the sun on my skin. On the Skagit I was worried about getting wet because of hypothermia.
    • The Skagit has three rapids. Like, *three*.
    • No helmets!
    • You don’t really have to paddle ever, or turn, or know what “high-side” means.
    • The rafts don’t have toe-holds for the guys up front.
    • The most dangerous risk on the Skagit is, truly, getting whacked with a paddle by the person next to you during a boat-to-boat water fight.
    • The water on the Skagit is light green.
    • The river banks are covered with trees.
    • You really don’t *need* a water-proof case for your camera, so long as you got a dry pocket somewhere.
    • Five-year-olds can go on it, no problem.
    • Well, except for hypothermia, no problem.

    Relevant photos:

    skagit river raftingSpeaking of waterproof cases — I really should’ve taken my camera out of mine.

    skagit river greenAnd the color palette is a little different on the Skagit.

    skagit river alyssaMore than enough manpower to get through *these* rough waters.

    skagit river raftsRafts, forelorn.

    I appreciated our guide telling us that, yes, he was also freezing cold. And I was a little disappointed there were no animatronic hippos on the ride.


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