Monday, November 27, 2006

Moments with Statues

At the risk of blasphemy, I won't describe how much of a disappointment my cheesesteak was from a reputable sandwich joint on South Street in Philly. Instead, I will say the presentation was immaculate, the chefs intimidating, and the meat slicer the shinyest. Way to go, Philly cheesesteak. Stay bland.

Our afternoon in Philly was dripping with history, which was actually pretty cool. We missed out on the Rocky steps, ogled the bell, and made friends with statues. Did you know that the horses on the streets of Philly have their very own poo-bags? I may be dense, but they were the first I had ever noticed: canvas slung beneath horsebums, heavily drooping with deposit. Brilliant.

A quick stop in Baltimore was rewarded with some really, really cute cousins. Lauren's favorite animal is a lion, rivaled closely by the giraffe. However, if you tell her playfully that you are going to capture her and send her to live with the giraffes, she will cry, so don't do that.

We spent an afternoon at the Capitol.

What can I say? I was impressed with the grand scale of everything, the beautiful structures and honorable monuments. It's larger-than-life and powerful, makes you feel proud of our country. Seeing the actual documents on which our nation is founded filled us with awe.

Then, somewhere after the Lincoln memorial and during FDR's, it hits you: where is that greatness today? Where are the leaders that managed our country's most difficult moments with honor, poise, and respect for both past and future generations? We asked ourselves these questions and were left with one simple bumper sticker: "Worst President Ever." Joe also decided that he is gonna run for President one day when he grows up.

For Thanksgiving, we headed to the hills of West Virginny, to meet up with Joe's sis and family. The snow left something to be desired at 4", but had no affect on the celebratory grand feasts of feasts. I love food, so much. We ate until our bellies ached, and had food left for 10. Then we watched a re-enactment of people getting eaten by sharks on Discovery channel and I had nightmares.

I found this freezing immigrant child on the slopes of Snowshoe, and quickly resuscitated her with some brandy.

Next on our agenda is exploring the South, I can't wait.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I Heart NY

We spent several days resting, knitting, and vegging on Joe's family friends' farm. Totally comfortable and satisfying, good food and company.

Falling a bit behind, here are some pics from NY:

Ground Zero

This Man Likes This Painting.

Don't Ask, Because I'm Not Sure.

Central Park.


Some Buddies.

I just loved the entire vibe of being in the city. Everything really does live up to its much-hyped and oversaturated status both visually and environmentally: the Park, the Met, Broadway, Bagels, 5th Ave Window Displays, Everything. It just feels like living, breathing art. We had only a few short days, but I loved (almost) every moment. (The exceptions being getting lost on the subway at 2am and feeling like my feet were going to fall off). We crammed so many things into 4 days, I'll give you a few highlights.

Les Misarables. Just finished reading it 2 months ago, and was in heaven with our 50% off tickets and my hero, Jean valJean, come to life. Really amazing. Awesome stage set, beautiful bold colors, drama... lots of singing. My only question being do they really need to sing EVERY syllable? I'm okay with it, merely posing the question.

Met + MoMa. Okay, you can spend dayyyssss in these museums. Aside from being completely overwhelmed, I tried to cram as much detail as possible into my head, from the most ornate piece of jewelry you have ever seen on the butt of a gun, to what seems like every painting you studied in art school. It was absolutely astonishing. I loved seeing art that actually makes your skin tingle. My favorite in person, though I'd seen it in print a million times: Andrew Wyeth's Christana's World. Ooooh and this really pretty Dali diorama painted on glass.

Central Park. Sure, it's expected, but for good reason! You can seriously wander around for hours, I love it. The fall colors were out, along with the fat-bellied squirells and super cute ice skating rink. Why doesn't LA have anything half this decent? Griffith Park, yah, it's so central. Then again, LA isn't really a city.

So far I think NY is one of the top places we could see ourselves living someday. Hope everyone had a cozy thanksgiving.

Monday, November 13, 2006

We Forted

So even though we may have missed the major fall, New England is still co-ho-zy. Old misty forts, historical seaside villages, brick buildings galore, and a few colorful leaves dangling here and there have fulfilled my longing for a taste of the east coast. At the moment I'm sitting next to a huge hissing fire with a snuggly brown dog at my side, content, clean, and still happy to be living in a van.

I hit a point in Montreal where not showering for 5 days and sleeping in an unheated box in 30º weather did not seem so fun anymore. Baby wipes can only take you so far, and sometimes a girl needs to wash her hair just to stay sane. But thanks to Bally's Total Fitness for a "trial day," we left squeaky clean and headed toward the warmer coastal towns.

Both of our moods brightened with beautiful sunny days in Boston and Cape Cod, where we traipsed about Hah-vad and looked at maybe 1000 of Paul Revere's landmarks (oh, and this is where he stubbed his toe, and this is where he buried a dog once). One of the beauties of the east coast is driving time: a couple hours and you're in an entirely new state. The only downfall being Joe's accents, which have to change with each new surrounding. Luckily, we just got out of the "Kennedy" phase (aka Mayor Quimby).

Next up: probably THE most anticipated stop on the trip for me.... NY, NY

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Of Montreal, Buckeye Country, and Chicago

At last we made it to the elusive Eastern time zone, only about a month late. With stops along the way in Chicago, South Bend, Columbus, Niagara Falls, and Montreal we are now residing in rather cozy Portland, Maine. With so much to cover (and who couldn't talk about Columbus for days) I will stick to the highlights.

We had an awesome time hanging around with old friends and family for the weekend. The stay was packed full with drinks, dinner, more drinks, a Bulls game, cousins and babies, a chimp attack at Lincoln Park Zoo, and a funny night out at Second City. We were so impressed with the city, we even took an architecture tour by boat along the Chicago River. It's a great way to marvel at the impressive sprawl that would never have existed if we didn't decide to build a canal somewhere in NY (or was it Pennsylvania) about 150 years ago.

Millennium Park is now home to the sculpture that is affectionately referred to as "The Bean". This sleek silvery blob is the perfect compliment to the Frank Gehry designed ampitheatre next door.

If you ever want to watch 15 football games in one weekend, go to Columbus. Sure you can catch 15 games in any U.S. city, but Columbus is the only place where there is absolutely nothing better to do. Okay I'll stop with the C-Bus cheap shots. It's a great place to raise a family or go to Vet school. Again Rachel and I got to see old friends and cousins, along with the Minnesota Golden Gophers being destroyed in the heart of the Horseshoe. For those who haven't been to Ohio State, it is college football fanaticism at its finest. If Jack Nicholaus decided to create a one-world government he would have 300,000 troops ready to die for his cause in that town alone. Now that my Trojans have fallen I guess I have to give it to the Bucks.

While German Shepherds may have a nasty reputation as "cop dogs" they are actually some of the most loyal, loving animals anywhere. Especially when their master is a cop. (Thanks Wade).

There is a lot of water, and it is falling. Rachel and I spent the night living it up on the Canadian side. Breath-taking Natural Wonder + Über Tacky Intrusive Mini Vegas = Niagara Falls, Canada. We took the casinos for like $12....I mean 12$CA.

Buffalo, NY is actually more bleak than its portrayal in Buffalo 66.

Why didn't I come here sooner? Its basically a slightly colder version of Paris without all the a-holes. Again the architecture and culture have been most impressive. One walk around the Plateau Mont Royal (the neighborhood we are squatting in) and you'll pass Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Cuban, Japanese, Chinese, and Borsch restaurants. While the options are endless, sadly, it also makes me realize how much more fun big cities are when money is not an issue. Hopefully this reality won't completely break my bohemian spirit when it's driven home next week in New York.

Some of the original settlers of Quebec powered their rotisserie ovens by placing their pet dog in a contraption resembling a dog-sized hamster wheel.