Canada and the USA,      Mexico,      Belize,      Guatemala,      El Salvador,      Honduras,      Nicaragua,      Costa Rica,      Panama,      USA, again,       Thailand,       Lao,       Vietnam,       Cambodia,       Thailand, again,      

Journal Index

First day out...

July 17, 2004

Air Plane somewhere over Canada

Well here I am, off on a "trip of a life time." (Actually I am hopping that this won't be a one shot deal, but more of a beginning.) I was still shoving stuff in my bag moments before I went out the door and I just made the light rail train with moments to spare.

This may not be the best way to start a trip of this nature. I was up all night finishing up things I had to have my computer to do. Copying e-mail address to my online server, putting together contact lists for friends and family. (Not that I have actually sent any of these, but at least they are now on my server rather than on the hard drive of my computer in my storage closet. I put my computer and bike, the last load, in my now VERY full storage locker at 7:30am this morning and went home to grab a snack and start packing my bags for the big trip. In the end, between saying bye to my housemates and a bit of half nodding off on in the living room I just crammed my stuff into my bags and ran. I will trust that I have the right stuff or at least the important stuff. As Mom once told me, and I have since been telling others, there are millions of people in this world that spend their entire lives without a single thing from Minnesota; I can live for a year.

The trip has really been sinking in the last week or so. The day before my last day at work was the first day that I couldn't pretend that everything was normal. My task for the day was to go threw all the spaces I took care of and put them in order, for someone else. I pulled all the water bottles I had stashed around and just make it not embairse for someone else to come in and find a mess. There is cleaning, and then there is cleaning for guests.

Friday was devoted to finishing one last project and digging myself out of the office and the computers. Also it was my going away lunch. I'm sad the leave Ted Mann and I have done a lot there and I will miss a lot of people. (There will also be some projects and people I won't miss, but we won't go there.)

The remaining week has been packing and shopping. (Along with the party.) Shopping went well, maybe a bit slower than it should. Packing on the other hand was slow. Packing for the trip would have been bad, it was craming all my stuff into the storage unit.

Realy the hard part was that for this move I also wanted to weed out a lot of old junk and resort everything. The last couple times I have moved it was under the idea that I was just going to unpack right away so the boxed didn't need to make sence. I was just moving the same life from one place to the next. This time I wanted to make the packing make sence so I got (by final count) 26 nice matching plastic totes and started sorthing. This of course ment that near the end if I had five things to pact, they went in five different boxes in the living room. All of it went well, just slow.

Singing in Montreal

July 21, 2004

Montreal, Canada

Don't get used to updates this often. I have cheap fast Internet about a block from my lodgings and I am trying to catch up on general business.

I would say that I am enjoying Montreal, but I still haven't really seen the city yet. Except for the six blocks between the performance venues and my room I haven't seen the city at all. (I used the subway when I picked up my registration, but I was in a rush to get back to the first concert block.

I figure I have heard more than 17 hours of choral music since I arrived here on Sunday. There is nothing like a GALA chorus festival and nothing like being part of an audience that is all choral singers. One Voice has it's performance this afternoon and I am excited to be in front of the audience. The performance venues are great, but I do miss the Ted Mann staff. Can we say "house lights to glow"? Or maybe at least remember to turn the house lights back up at the end of the concert, before half the audience is in the lobby? The stage management staff is pretty good, no Marc, but good. And since this _is_ a music festival after getting the best acoustic halls why don't they get the best sound people in the world? Phillip, what are you doing in four years? They are reinforcing the chorus (some of which need it.) Half the time they keep turning up the sound until it starts to feed back. They would have failed my "less is more" questions we had a Phillip's interview. (I think part of the problem is they have an ORTF pair hung down stage center and I think they are using it for both reinforcement and recording, and it just doesn't have enough rejection of the PA for reinforcement.)

OK, I really am letting go of being a theatre technician, yes, really I am, sure I can stop anytime I want to, yes I can......

In less geeky thoughts, today I put a note up on the festival message board asking if there are any Morris dancers around and if we want to get together and noted that I will be at the Toronto Ale with Ramesy's Bragarts. I figure that since every morris side has to have one gay man, there is a good chance at least a few of them might sing. We will see how this pans out. (OK that was still geeky, but it was music/theatre geeky.)

Signing off from the land of much music, somewhere in Montreal Canada.

Here we go!

July 28, 2004

Montreal, Canada

Well GALA is over and everybody is off to their normal lives. I am off to my new "normal" life. To give the GALA tech staff credit, they did get better over the week. They quit over amplifying, the found a drum shield, the light board operators quit trying to add too much to the show, mostly. (Then again I am _very_ picky about my lighting....)

The hostel has been good. It's just a room with a bunch of bunk beds and a decent bathroom set-up. The hotel itself is really sort of classy looking but then you wind your way down to the basement. But the main foyer looks great.

The other day I met a fellow traveler from Boston, she had grown up in Edina and just got out of school in Morris.

OK now I will admit that I'm not necessarily that far from Morris Minnesota but I still find it a surprise to run into someone who went to school there. We chatted about the campus and a couple professors and went on.

I have been enjoying Montreal. They have been hosting an international fireworks festival and tonight is the last show. It should be a good one. The One Voice singers who had been keeping me up to date about the fireworks are gone so I had to stop by the tourist information center to find out if the festival was still going on. They knew that today was the last day but couldn't tell me what country was doing the show. They told me where to go, which was where I had being going all along. I am looking forward to it and I hope that since this is the last day they will have something to top China's exploding cube and two weeks ago.

I also got to catch the end of the "Just for a Laugh" festival. I didn't go in and see any of the shows as much because many of them would have been in French. I did enjoy the street performers. There was one physical comedy act from Spain that was really wonderful and I only caught the last half of their act. Even after the festival was over, the old parts of Montreal still have had some really neat street performers. All of this has made me wish I had my stilts. Not only would the be a much better view for the street acts and the fire works but also it would be fun for adding to the "sense of place". (This on the other hand does not make we want to hull another 22 pounds of stuff around. I was happy to see my chorus stuff off with chorus friends, and now I keep looking at my main pack trying to figure out what to get rid of.)

My project today is to figure out where to go next. I have my bed booked and paid for thru tonight. I figure it's time to start heading south and visit people in the North East US.

Back in the USA

August 3, 2004

Burlington, Vermont

I Bussed in to Burlington Vermont from Montreal yesterday. I am staying at Mrs. Farrell's Home Hostel. Which is really a couple of nice spare bedrooms in her basement. I'm the only one here so this is a nice change from the 22 bed hostel in Montreal. This morning I got the bathroom all to myself!

I enjoyed Montreal, but it was time to move on. (Had I been a bit more planning I would have left a couple days earlier and come to the Lake Champlain Folk festival this past weekend. Oh well, I mostly picked Burlingtion at random from the guide book. It had housing and good bus connections, so what more do you want?

Actually it is a nice area and I'm here for at least three days. (One of the things I am having to figure out is how to know when I have been some place long enough. Montreal was a little long, I suspect I will have to be somewhere a not enough and then figure out from there.)

Part of the reason for having Vermont on my list is I am hopping to catch up with my old friend Shahn who, at least for a while, was out in this neck of the woods. I also hope to catch up with some Morris sides I have been e-mail with and a couple of other friends I haven't seen in much too long.

Burlington has a pretty extensive set of "rails to trails" bike paths and some other trails as well. Mrs Farrell's has bikes to loan and I have been biking rather than the busses. (I'm cheap and I like the freedom with out worrying about schedules. Also all the busses have bike racks so I can always change my mind.)

I'm actually sitting in the Fletcher Free Library. I am following Mom's and my thing for visiting libraries as I travel. (Not to mention they often have free Internet access.) It has an original Carginie Library (a nice big one) and an addition that more than doubles the library. The original building is mostly turned over to a nice children's library and meeting rooms.

I should update you all about Montreal trip as well. The closing fireworks were a bit dissapointing as there wasn't any air movement so the smoke ended up hiding a lot of the display. Sometimes it looked like one of those thunder storms were all you see is the clouds lighting up. I also ended up going and seeing the world foot bag (hacky sack) finals. One of the guys at the hostel was in town to see the world finals and a bunch of us decided that since we were in town how could we _not_ go see the world foot bag finals. It was actually a lot of fun.

They had rented a club which turned out to be a beautiful old theater with a gilded proscenium and wonderful plaster work and painting. They had leveled the floor so it had a level wooden dance floor and a raised stage at one end. The competitors were amazing. This is not the games I used to play in the mall parking lot with the light crew in high school my freshman year. It was a night out that I would have never ended up even knowing about, let alone going to had it not been for running into people. Life is a story you make up as you go along.

Well it's stopped raining so I better go out and get some lunch.

Still here, for now.

August 4, 2004

Burlington, Vermont

I'm back a the library, getting ready to check e-mail and post this. Another night of a personal hostel. I could get used to this. (Of course having my own bathroom and seprate cooking space and liveing room is better than I have ever had before. I guess this is what having an apartment would be like.)

I was lucky to miss both this big rain down pours that hit yesterday. Both times I happened to be inside and could just wait the storm out. I didn't end up going out that eveing to see the free film being shown at the Ben and Jerry's shop downtown. I did get caught up on a lot of paperwork stuff I ment to have done before I left Minnesota. A lot of copying credit card numbers and where to call if they are lost stuff. This isn't as bad as my big retype my address book project. I will save that for when I am holled up some where while a hurcane blows thru or something.

It's fun hearing from all of you who have written. I'm probably not going to be too good about writting back when internet access time is short or expensive.

Quicas and getting older.

August 5, 2004

A Grey Hound bus on the way to Boston

Last night was fun. Mrs. Farrell had a pot luck dinner and invited me to it. Along with her housemate we had a local artist, a couple friends and neighbors and an old housemate who was back in town for a couple days to visit friend before going off to school. After a dinner based around a wonderful lasagna, we went inside as the bugs were beginning to come out. (I am a little spoiled, as after two weeks in the mosquito free Montreal, you really don't want to put bug spray on again.) In side out artist guest of honor had brought over part of his collection of modern material quicas. Sometime ago after getting a soda with a straw and plastic lid, he had become interested in the sound that the wet straw made sliding in and out of the cup. He had tried out different kinds of containers and designs. Ours were made from yogurt containers, peanut cans, and a juice jug. We were to be the test group for the possible quica band in the John Dewey parade coming up next month. It was a bit interesting. I'm not quite sure if it was ending up as music, but we got some ideas out. It reminded me of the stick around piece we did in One Voice a few years ago. (The quica is a South American instrument the is based on the same idea and sound, very traditional and doesn't involve soda cups or yogurt contains, but it might have if they had had them...)

[OK a little side note, the little kid in the seat in front of me just lost his dinner. Don't worry I moved my bag in time. At least he is quiet.]

Mrs Farrell reminds me a bit of Donna my old housemate/landlady who upon my moving out gave me a key to the house (as I never had one while I lived there as we never locked) and changed title from housemate to "Mother in Residence" I suspect some of Nancy's x-housemates would say the same.

After the quica orchestra was put to rest we had a chocolate cheese cake and as the younger siblings of one of the guests wandered in I got out my cat's cradle string and we got into several games of that. That makes nine complete or nearly complete strangers I have played with since I started this trip. (1 at Minneapolis airport waiting to check in, 1 in the customs line in Montreal, 1 in the line to get food at the A&W in the art's center food court, 1 after a concert block, 1 at the Montreal Pride parade, and four different people that night) I even gave a way the last of my good length strings and before going to bed spent some time making up some more.

[Another side note, I'm still not used to this idea of actual forests except in terms of the Black Hills of South Dakota. All of these trees that aren't just a shelter belt lining the road or on dry slopes is a bit odd. It's like I'm in a Robin Hood story or something.]

Upon checking out of the hostel this morning I went to fill out card to give feed back on my stay, which was wonderful of course. When it came to checking the age box this was the first time I couldn't use the 25-29 box. I had to use the 30-44 year old box. On the hosteling card they only have one category older 44 and above. It's not that my 30th birthday has been a big mile stone for me. (I did order a piece of chocolate cake that night to celebrate.) But I suspect I will notice little things this the form more and more now. When I moved into 140 Bedford, Someone said I was the only one in the house that wasn't "middle aged" because I was under 30. I know many of you won't have any sympathy, others will have though I was older. Either way I have never really feared getting older, why it's not like you have a choice. But it is an interesting experience.

After making the new cat's cradle strings last night I figured I should figure out my plan for where I was going to go today. Really it was to figure out what I was going to do this weekend. Well after a couple calls to Grey Hound and a couple to Amtrack I still didn't have a plan. (Although the lady at Grey Hound did a really good plug for a place in Maine. Maybe next week.) In the end by Midnight I wasn't closer to a plan so I decided to put it off until morning, see if my dreams could solve the problem. Come morning I didn't have an answer so I did the next best thing, I packed up my stuff, said good bye to Mrs Farrell and went to the bus station. I figured this kind of planning impasse would happen sooner or later, (and will probably happen again) so this will just be a nice introduction to how to deal with it.

At the bus station I got the local bus schedule to know where I could go to and looked thru my guide book to see what sounded interesting. I decided that a weekend in Boston looked like a good idea. BTW, thank you Laura for the phone card it was great as I was able to call ahead to the hostel and make sure I had a bed waiting for me. (Although I do find it funny when it says "Thank you for using AT&T and remember to shop at Sam's Club" before completing a call) Sooner or later I will have to try going into a town without housing arranged before I arrive, but today it was going to the bus station without a plan, next time.

Critical Mass - or - are there enough geeks here yet?

August 7, 2004

Boston Mass.

I like Boston. I could see living here. I really couldn't see myself living in Montreal. Burlington was nice but I don't know what I would _do_ there. May be if I had some wonderful web business I would base myself out of Burlingtion, although I think I would like a larger city. I was chatting with the desk clerk last night about what makes a place a place you would want to live. (This hostel is 155 beds in a hotel that Boston University owns and uses as a dorm during the school year; just a wee bit different from Mrs Farrell's.) Part of what I want from a city is a place with enough people so that the weird ones who want to do interesting things reach critical mass to actually doing interesting stuff. In some ways this is can be a small town that attracts weird people or just a large city that random chance will take care of the numbers.

I think this idea is a bit born out at MIT. I went to the MIT museum today and part of the displays was about campus life. The pranks (or more properly called "hacks") more or less proved that if you put enough geeks in the same place at the same time weird things will happen.

One attitude I have noticed in other people that I haven't had is a casual relationship to travel. Several of the people up in Montreal, and a couple people back here in the 'States have had this approach to travel that is very laid back. Not that they don't plan but more that it is no big deal. Even my own little trip here to Boston. It was more of, "What shall I do this weekend? Let's go to Boston." More of a "why not" approach rather than a "why". I wonder if this attitude is due to growing up in the Midwest where taking a trip is almost always a long distance or is it some more of a close mindedness of it. Or is it simply that during nine months of the year if you do go somewhere you really do have to be prepared or you might freeze to death.


August 10, 2004

Amherst, Mass.

I enjoyed Boston. But after three days of dealing with tourists I was having thoughts that involved machetes. When I got to Boston I decided that it would be perfectly OK if not appropriate to go out and see all the well-traveled sights. I hope to avoid tourists in general in my travel, but being at the heart of the American Revolution it seamed only fair to join the throng and see the sights. I probably spent more time learning about the Boston Public Library than most visitors to Boston do, but I still saw many of this historic spots I have been hearing about since I was in elementary school. (I was probably also a bit more in awe of how much of Boston street lights are gas rather than electricity. I’m curious of the choice and how well it works for them. Really I can stop being a lighting geek, really I canE)

I have pictures of my shadow along the history trail, at Mother Gooses’s grave stone, and even a picture of my shadow against the Green Monster at Fenway park. (I discovered during the tour of Fenway park that I can fake knowing something about baseball. I had to have a couple things explained to me when I got here to Amherst.)

I’m staying here with my old college friend from Morris, Nicole Herdina. (She said that she never runs into other Nicoles, but as I can think of at least two that I know well off the top of my head, I find this a bit a bit surprising.)

She is graciously putting me up in a spare room they have for the summer, and yet again it is a better bed than what I have been sleeping on for the last nine or so years. (I think this had been a good thing, as everything gets better when you travel then.)

Tonight I caught up with a local Morris dance side, Juggler Meadow. I was hopping to possibly get in a dance or two but we arrived just as they were moving on to their second stop and they never made it out of the pub stop. (Not that there are any sides in Minnesota that are know for not making it out of a pub stop and on to the next place.) They danced a jig and one other dance at the pub and then it was mostly on to song. Nat Case used to dance with this side and he is very much missed by many of the dancers.

I had a good time. We sang for a while, I heard several songs I hadn’t heard before and I ended up getting a ride back to Nicole’s from Alan as she need to get to bed and I was on the way for him. (Those pesky jobs that require you to get up in the morningE)

It’s the Saturday, must be Boston

August 14, 2004

Salem, Mass.

I had a nice time seeing Nicole and Shahn in off in western Mass. It’s been about five years since I have seen Shahn and it sometimes seems like that long for Nicole. On Wednesday Nicole and I went to see a dance performance at Jacob’s Pillow over in the Berkshires.

Friday rolled around and I didn’t have a plan for the weekend so since Nicole was visiting a friend in Boston I figured I would take the free ride and more time to chat. So here I am back in the Boston area. Last time I wish I had been able to make it in to wonder around Salem, so here I am.

I started out with my big bag along with me as well, but it will be spending the day at the historic Hawthorn Hotel. I found a little caf鯬unch counter that was not based around a witch theme and had a nice grilled cheese sandwich. What more can you ask forE

What a trip.

August 17, 2004

Buss to Rockland, Main

What a trip it has been the last few days. Let’s start at the beginningE I enjoyed Salem, I went to the Witch Museum, not to be confused with the Historic Witch Museum, the Wax Witch Museum, or the Salem Witch Museum. (You notice a theme here?) About 7:00pm I figured it was time to start working my way back to Boston. I called ahead to figure out which hostel I should stay at, well, surprise, they are all full. For some reason going into Boston on the 8:30pm commuter train without housing planned wasn’t a fun idea. I started traipsing around Salem checking out the hotels. (There is no way I could have afforded the place my bag had stayed the day.) I think I walked probably the full length of Salem twice. I ended up camping out.

Now I’ve been prepared to camp as a back up plan, but I didn’t really expect to do it so soon. I found a couple trees to tie my hammock up to and got it set-up, in the dark. (I’m glad I did a practice run back in Minneapolis.) This worked until about 1:00am when it stared to rain. Now I have and idea of what to do for a rain fly, but as I said, I wasn’t expecting to be camping quite yet.

It was only a light sprinkle, but I was trying to decide how long I should wait before I pack it up. If it dried up soon I would be OK, but otherwise I was just going to be getting wetter and wetter. In the end I decided that it was not long before the trees would quit keeping me dry and by then everything would be wet. I ended up sleeping the rest of night on a picnic bench under a picnic shelter. Not the best nights sleep I have ever had, but I did actually make it on the first train out of town for a change.

I made thru Boston and on to Portland Main with out any problems. If nothing else I am getting bus ridding down.

The first evening I went out and caught up with American Traveling Morrice (ATM) on the waterfront. ATM is a Morris side that gets together once a year, sets up camp and then tours the area dancing. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun. Sort of a weeklong ale with 25 people.

After the stand on the public wharf, I followed the team down to their pub stop at the Breakaway Tavern. They had been there earlier in the day and a woman had bought them a round of drinks and not everybody had worked their way up to their free beer. (Not to mention the pub they had planned to stop at wasn’t quite sure they like the idea of singing and dancing which quickly put them on the bottom of the list.) Everybody ended up out on the patio and pizza was organized for delivery. The benefactress of the earlier round of beer reappeared and this time revealed that not only was she a lovely and generous person, but also that it was her birthday. This started a round of songs in her honor that followed on to just songs because they were Morris dancers in a pub. After a couple hours the beer had been drunk, the pizza (as Steven’s thoughts on food and folkies predicted) was all eaten, and many songs had been sung so it was time to go. It was a good night of singing and talk.

During my wonderings around Portland, I think I discovered the answer to one of my traveling problems. How to know when to leave. I think my standard as to when I have been somewhere long enough is when I have seen what and want to see and could see myself living there. The Portland public library is a well-used, vibrant place. They had lots of activity; it really looked like the library was an important part of the community. They had nice worktables and carols, plenty of comfy chairs to read in. (The Boston library didn’t strike me as a place people wanted or did go.) It also meant that the library really had out grown it’s building. They were doing the best with what they had, and people were still loving and using the library. I’m not sure what I would do in Portland, but this was a library I could see myself living with.

Running in circles?

August 19, 2004

On a bus to Boston Mass.

OK, I didn’t really expect to be going to Boston again. I’m actually on my way to New York. I called Melissa last night to check up on camping plans we decided that it made more sense to end up camping in New York state rather than over in Pennsylvania. After the camping stop I am planning to go up and see Niagara and then on to Toronto for the Ale. This gives me as good a reason as any to head south again for a while. I plan on spending the night in Boston and then heading on to New York.

Rockland was nice. I rented a bike and visited a couple lighthouses and got to see more of the area. When I was out on the breakwater a woman with a three kids stopped me and asked if I had eaten lunch yet. She had over packed for her lunch and was looking to unload a bit of extra food. As I am always one for free food I ended up with a nice lunch with good strawberries, and a bologna sandwich. I also learned of the pass time of beach combing for sea glass. Had it been closer to low tide I would have tried my hand.

Back here again?

August 22, 2004

Amherst Mass.

Well, I’m back here in Amherst staying from my friend Nicole Herdina again. When I got to Boston didn’t have housing locked down for the night so I ended up at a hotel again. I have discovered I don’t really like staying at hotels that much. Among other things it is more expensive that I want to spend for a bed to sleep in. Now don’t get me wrong the hotel was a nice hotel, with my own clean bathroom, TV with cable, a very nice complementary breakfast, and even free high speed internet in the room. (If I had my own computer, which I don’t.) It’s just that I don’t need any of that stuff. All I want is a safe and clean bed (I have my own sheets if necessary) that is not too far out in the middle of nowhere. I don’t need all the other stuff that comes with a private hotel room, and I don’t want to pay for it. Also there are experiences I wouldn’t have had but for hanging out in the hostel’s common room, such as the world foot bag (hacki-sack) championships.

Any way, on Friday morning after the night in the hotel in Boston I wasn’t able to line up housing for sure in New York, and since my latest experience of trying to find housing after arriving in town have not been that great, I wasn’t looking forward to going to New York. At this point I was quite homesick and was just looking for some place to curl up and call home for a couple days. Mrs. Farrell’s Home Hostel came to mind but since I hadn’t called a head I would almost have to be there before I knew if she had room or if this was the week she was on vacation. I ended up calling Nicole to see what her plans for the weekend were and since she was happy to be my host again I am back here in Amherst Mass.

The real problem here is that I am traveling in “highEseason for tourists in the Northeast. In the case of Boston I have also learned that what a lot of the college students do when they come back to school in the fall, is they check into a hostel while they search for off campus housing. (Not a bad idea.) I suspect that things will get a lot better after Labor Day.

Lesson: Never try to travel during high season without reservations.

I haven’t been up to much having fled to the closest things to home I have in the Northeast. (I know where a bunch of the light switches are.) Yesterday was a cold rainy day so Nicole and I went into town and got some movies from the library and spent the evening chatting and watching a couple of movies. The first one “The Piano LessonEwas OK but a bit slow moving. I think we kept checking to see if the other one had fallen asleep. We continued the music theme with “The Red ViolinE I hadn’t seen the movie and since I kept hearing about it at work when Joshua Bell was coming to play at Ted Mann I figured this would be a great opportunity. I like it, there are parts I want to go back and see again.

This morning I had originally planned to continue on to New York having reserved a bed at a hostel but by they time both of us were up and going it was going to be later than I wanted to hit town and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go. I was looking at my calendar and realized that I was only going to have two days in New York and that I would probably do better to wait and go after Labor Day weekend. So Nicole and I ended up working on some furniture she got a few weeks ago and is repainting before she moves it up to her room. Once it got dark enough we couldn’t work outside we watched another movie “Almost FamousE

It’s been a nice couple of days off the road. I hope I don’t need a break this often as I move on with my trip but in some ways I think traveling in the US might be harder than traveling where either my money is stronger and there is a little less industry set up to separate me from my money.

Plan? What does that mean?

August 25, 2004

New York, New York

Now if you read the headers before the entry you would be glad that on my third try I finally made it to New York City. The only thing is that unlike the last two times when I was trying to get to New York City, this time I wasn't trying to get here.

This morning (err more like afternoon) when I left Amherst I was planning to go to Ithaca New York under the advice of Nicole's neighbour. Well by the time I got there it would have been 1:30am and I still didn't have a place to sleep arranged. Well in the logic of Greyhound the fast way from western Mass to western New York is via New York City. (It only took an hour or so to get from one end of Manhattan to the other, just the place to put a bus hub.)

So I checked into my New York City hostel (yeh back in a hostel!) at about 9pm and did a long layover rather than the hour they scheduled for me. This let me leisurely wander about for some local New York food, in this case pizza. Nothing too exciting, just a hole in the wall pizza places. Not too unlike my pizza place back in Montreal I stopped at every night on the way home for the concert blocks.

In my walk I also found the two other hostels in the area. So when I come back to actually see New York City rather than just change busses, I know where I want to stay. The plan is to get up early in the morning and take a stroll around Central Park and then hop on a bus to Ithaca. We shall see, so far the half life of one of my plans seams to be about 12 hours.

Back in the saddle again.

August 27, 2004

Oneida, New York (Near Syracuse)

In the home of Kate and Fred Henson (Morris Dancers)

What an interesting couple of days. (Please note: I don't generally have access to my past journal entries, nor do I necessarily go back and reread the ones I do have access to before writing a new one. If there is any pattern to these, I don't know about it. As far as themes or patterns go, you are all way ahead of me. I guess when I get back or camp down someplace I will discover some stuff. If you have any insights or patterns you have discovered feel free to e-mail and tell me. Mostly I have figured out that I use the word "really" a lot. So I am trying to get better about that, really I am......)

Well I made it to Ithaca. Nice town, new public library building. I don't know if the young adult section would quite live up to Sarah's standards but is a lovely open building. I didn't get much time to see town as it was a five hour bus ride from New York City and I decided to take the 1:15pm bus so I could spend the morning seeing a little of the Big Apple since I finally made it there.

I decided the night before that with only a few hours before I had to leave for my bus I could only see one thing. Since I was on 103rd street a block of Central Park I decided that would be the best use of my time. I got up early (8:00am) and left my bags at the hostel and headed out to see the north end of Central Park. I needed to check out of the hostel by noon so I had four hours. In the end I only really saw the north half of the park. I will have to come back and see the rest when I come back. On the little kiosks they have around the park I was a little saddened to learn some of the real history of the park. I had always had a nice little idea of Central Park being planned out before there were too many residences and it starting from a semi-natural state. One of the placards told of a community named Seneca Village that had once stood in the park area. It had been an African-America neighbourhood that had a strong community and apparently had a home ownership rate of 50 percent which was historically high for any part of Manhattan regardless of race. It seams the history of the Rondo neighbourhood in Minneapolis/Saint Paul has a relative here in Manhattan. Maybe I will make this a bit of a research project when I come back to town and visit the NY Public Library. I wish my original beliefs about the park had been true, but such is life.

Today I got up really early (6:00 am) to make the one and only bus that ran from Ithaca to Syracuse arriving at 9:15am to find my friend Melissa (dances on Uptown-on-Calhoun Morris side in Minneapolis.) She, having arrived at 3:00am, attempted to get some sleep in the bus terminal despite the racket of the CNN headline news loop.

She and I have been planning (in a loose sense of the word) to meet up and camp somewhere out here on our trips. Since we both left Minneapolis back in mid to late July it's been a wonderful version of phone / e-mail tag. Much to my surprise it came off and here we were. Having endured the CNN news loop every half hour for 6 hours she had heard that the weather report forecasted down pours with thunder and lighting. Also being more out going and better and returning messages she had also gotten a hold of a couple of Morris dancers from Minnesota who offered housing for the night. This was good as just as we were sitting down to dinner the storm let loose with all it's mite including a lighting strike within a block or two.

Kate and Fred also have a good deal of local knowledge and we are all going to go hiking in the Adirondacks tomorrow. (We will still have to see if we end up camping out.)

Before getting pickup in Syracuse Melissa and I had some free time. Melissa had dyed her hair a rainbow of colours before beginning her part of the trip and it had faded and she wanted to re-do it. Having asked the young staff behind the counter at the Dunkin' Donuts at the bus station where would be a place to get hair dye we headed off to the mall. We arrived just as the stores opened up. After meeting the store staff and deciding on purple and green we went off the mall restrooms to dye in a checkerboard pattern.

This being my first experience with hair dye, in a mall bathroom or not, Melissa walked me thru what she wanted and we proceeded to work the dye into her hair. Once the dye had been set and rinsed we checked in with our hosts as to when and where to meet. That left the rest of the day to go see the town.

The mall staff graciously checked our backpacks and we wondered off to town. (Having to first stop by the store that sold the hair dye to show off Melissa's new look.)

We ended up spending a bunch of time in a three story antique store looking at all sorts of big expensive heavy breakable stuff that there was no room for in our packs. Having escaped spending less than two bucks on a book we headed out to see one of the parks / developments in the area. After a nice walk, as well as a stop for a local brand ginger ale and water we worked our way back to the mall to catch up with Kate to get a ride back to her place in time for a wonderful dinner prepared by Fred.

A good day.

In to the woods.

August 29, 2004

Oneida, New York

Well Melissa and I made it into the woods. Yesterday after a breakfast of waffles with fresh blue berries and maple syrup the four of us packed up the car and drove off into the Adirondacks. After checking in to a camp ground and getting a start on setting up camp we took off to the hills for a hike that Fred and Kate had done a few years ago. It was a great little trail up through the woods to a rock overview of the lake and the mountains disappearing into the mist. We stopped and had a snack and took pictures at the top before returning to camp to take a quick dip in the lake before dinner. (Actually Kate was the only one who actually put her head under water. Fred and I waded into our waist and decided it was a bit too cold to start swimming for real.)

Returning to camp preparations for dinner began and Melissa and I started working on the impromptu rain flys for our hammocks.

When Melissa had mentioned going camping back in Minneapolis, I had finally gotten the excuse to get my camping hammock with mosquito netting. It having served me well before it was now time to try out the rain fly idea. It ended up working out to be some feet to get our tarps arranged in such a way to keep us dry, but in the end it worked out well. It rained a bit while we had dinner and our beds stayed dry and over night it apparently rained again and I was entirely unaware of it. Sounds like success for me. (Dinner was a new delicacy newly named Adirondack Burritos, quite yummy.)

Later that same day.....

I went off with Fred to the local Shape Note Singing. The group isn't quite as big as the one I have visited back in Minnesota. We had five people most of the time. The New York state Shape Note convention is coming up in October so there was much talk of that. I also got to meet one of the people who had traveled with Steven to see the Abbots Bromely horn dance a few years ago. (The world is very well folded.)

I'm still not a very good singing Shape Note, but I am getting better. I look at it as Adventures in Sight Reading. The more I do the better I will get. Not to mention it is a chance to do some singing.

This is not to say that I haven't been singing when I meet up with other morris sides, so far both teams have been great singing teams, and now staying with Fred and Kate we have also pulled up some of the morris singing repertory. If I'm not careful I might actually learn some of these songs well.

Back in Canada

August 31, 2004

Niagara Falls, Canada

Ahhh it feels great to be back in Canada. I have already found a place with a four Canada dollar breakfast that I might become a regular at. (It is not as good as the Opera Cafe in Montreal, but still I like a complete breakfast at a place where they great all the people coming in by their first name.)

Monday before we left was fun. After a lazy start to the day I took a nice walk around Oneida. It's a nice little town. There are some neat old houses. I didn't make it to the library, but I was glad to swing by a supermarket and get some more apples and snacks for the bus ride. After a repacking and a quick supper the four of us headed off to the practice of the Bassett Street Hounds, a local border morris side.

I had been hoping to meet up with them as they will also be at the Toronto Ale. (One of my original plans for August was to meet as many teams at going to the ale as possible, but that plan did much the same as the rest of my plans.) It is also a little odd for me to see border morris right now, Although I guess it is about time for Great Northern Border to start, my winter morris side. I had to remember border stepping rather than Cotswold.

After practice Fred and Kate dropped Melissa and me off at the bus station where we planed to take red-eye trips out. Melissa's bus was at 2:30am and mine was at 3:30am. After getting ourselves settled in, including a quick visit to the Dunkin' Donuts, we were chatting. Along about 12:30pm they announced a bus going on Niagara Falls. This didn't make any sense as according to the schedule it wasn't due for three more hours. I checked with the ticket agent and he said this one was an "extra". So I quick bought a ticket and after a quick hug hopped the bus.

It turned out that the bus wasn't scheduled to stop in Syracuse but as they were on their way the low fuel light came on with the gas gauge reading 3/4 of a tank. They stopped to check and topped the tank off with 139 gallons of fuel in a 160 gallon tank. (And the gauge still read 3/4 of a tank.) I hope Melissa didn't mind too much being alone in the bus station, again, It was nice to get a jump on the trip. They also didn't do my ticket quite right and I had to get off and buy a new ticket at Buffalo, but that was OK as the first ticket was only to Rochester so I got part of the trip for free. My next trip will be on to Toronto and I am looking at taking the train because I haven't yet. The hostel looks like it is going to be fun. Niagara should be fun.

Water, Water, Water, tourist!

September 3, 2004

On a bus from Niagara to Toronto, Canada.

Well, I enjoyed Niagara. I arrived a bit earlier in the morning than I would have really liked. (About 5:00am) The bus station was still closed and the cafes weren't to open for another hour or two, so I found an out of the way corner and took a nap for a couple hours. I have discovered that misiquotes can bit me thru the traveling pants. I either need to treat them or remember to put bug spray on them as well when napping outside at dawn.

I went to a little cafe by the hostel that had a nice four dollar breakfast with two eggs, toast, home fries, bacon, and tea. It was almost as good as the $4 breakfast at the Opera Cafe in Montreal except it didn't have the fruit salad. While I sat and had my breakfast the waitress welcomed everybody by name, asked if they wanted their regular, and inquired about families, jobs, and current projects. Locals, regulars, and cheap, looks like a good place for breakfast. I made this my regular breakfast for my stay. I never achieved the point of them knowing what I was going to have, but they knew I didn't need to see a menu.

After breakfast I checked in to the hostel. It's a cool hostel. In a lot of ways it is a lot like one of the dream houses I have planned out in my head. It had originally been built as dormitories for railroad workers. I suspect it has been improved over the years, but if the Twin Cities had a dormitory that was like this hostel, I would move in in a heart beat. The interior paint job was clearly planned by a hippie a person with a hippie attitude. If you come to Niagara Falls stay here. It is a 4.1 km walk to the falls, but it means you are away from all the tourist spots.

I then stopped by the Internet cafe. The owner was closing the shop up for the season and this was the last day. He was having a "customer appreciation day" which meant free Internet. I sat down in front of one of the most comfortable computer stations I have had in a while and spent from 11am until 4pm catching up all my stuff. From banking to uploading the contents of my camera. It was a good five hours spent. (I stopped by again today and he was open on an adhock basis so I got a chance to sit down and do another hour of work and upload all my pictures from Niagara. Right now this Internet cafe has made me very happy. (He is closing the shop for the season so he can go spend his winter in the Phillipeans where he has a house.)

After getting all my business done, I swung by the hostel to repack and see what was going on. Since I had the evening free I took the suggestion of my roommate and walked down to the falls to see the lights.

I don't know about the lights. Sure they were nice and the falls wouldn't be much to see at night with out them. (Although I did have a nearly full moon and a clear night so it could have been really magical.) But all the colors and whatnot reminded me more of how when we were in in China all the caves had neon lights and kitschy black light statues scattered around the caves. Somehow too artificial for a "natural wonder." (Of course I also imeaditly noticed that two of the lights are in desperate need of a good bench focusing. The lighting geek lives.)

After the falls I had a couple overpriced hotdogs in the very touresty very plastic area of town. It's is such a different world in these tourist areas.

The next morning I decided I would spend the day doing all the big tourist sights. On my way down to the falls (tourist central) I stopped by the public library. It's in a sort of funky building. The building is modern with good light, probably a produce of the late 70's. It works well, if the stacks get a little less orderly and spread out than I would like. I think the community uses the library, but the staff didn't seem to have much fun there. I did a quick e-mail check and printed up directions to the ale while I it was easy. A quick stop at a printer to see if they had a quick enough turnaround on business cards, they didn't, and off to the falls.

I got the "Adventure Pass" that included the Maid of the Mist boat ride, the Behind the Falls tunnels and observation deck, the butterfly house, and white water walk. The boat was fun. I got right up to the bow. For the behind the falls and observation deck (at the bottom of the falls) I didn't put on my free souvenieer rain jacked (read plastic bag with head hole and hood) because I didn't really need it one the boat ride and I figured that a small disposable rain jacket would be a good thing to have. Well I got soaked. I was dressed for it and I did this at the hottest part of the day so it didn't take long to get dry again. On the other hand I now how two emergency rain jackets to bury in my day pack to forget about until the time I need it.

The next stop on my itinerary was the Sir Adam Beck No. 1 Hydroelectric generating station. They have a short tour. Since it was a lovely day, I was the only one in my tour group. Gone are the days of good old hard hat tours where you get down on the generating floor. Still it wasn't bad and I now have a better idea of how a generating plant works and it answered my questions about how you start up and stop a hydroelectric plant.

The butterfly conservatory followed with another big sit of pictures. I think the Morris campus of the U of M conservatory should have butterflies in it. I remember being in England when I was 10 and they would have butterfly conservatories and I always wanted to go, but we never did. Well now I have gotten to go.

I spent the evening at the hostel and watched some _VERY_ bad TV. It was some reality show about two girls that are out on a road trip and as far as I can tell try to get fired from jobs. Next time I am hanging out in the kitchen.

The next morning it was my day to take a walk down in the river gorge and see the white water rapids and walk over to the American side and see what was over there. One one of my false starts (forgot my US money, forgot my passport...) I stopped and check out the "Attractions" book that hostel keeps with the current things to do. I discover that the Mackenzie Heritage Printery & Newspaper Museum that I had not planned on visiting had a functioning Linotype machine. Now my grandfather had been a Linotype operator and it has always been a machine that I have always wondered how it could do what it does. So I changed my plan a little and went up the the museum.

It's a quaint little three room affair in the restored Mackenzie house. I took the tour and understand a lot more about printing and then spent a good deal of time looking at the bits of the Linotype machine. The had a neat pair of pictures showing a type setting house in 1900 and another in 1970, except for the clothes it was almost the same.

On the bus ride back to town I was chatting with a couple from Sacramento telling them of my visit to the Mackenzie house and he had been an apprentice at a printers back in the 70's. Part of his job was to skim the slag off the top of the molten lead in the Lineotype machines. He told me a few stories, and how he was glad he had gotten himself fired way back then as if he hadn't he would probably be dead of scrosous of the liver due to the Volital Organic Compounds used in parts of the printing process.

I walked over the the US side to see the falls from the other view and to take the opertunity to actually walk from one country to another. (On the way back into Canada the window next to mine at Immigration there was an American who was surprised that she had to show proof of citizenship, not just identification to get into Canada. Although it looks a lot the same, it's still a different country.)

The state park is nice. Nothing too spectacular. It was fun to get up and behind the falls to see how it would look just before you went over. I was also surprised to see how much the sides and lips of the falls had been reinforced and changed. Little bits of history like when they "de-watered" (dammed) all the water that went over the American falls and did work on it's lip and reinforced and bolted the little island between the American falls and the Bridal Vail falls. We can't just let well enough alone can we? Sure the falls would change, but that's part of the point isn't it?

I also did the very touresty "Behind the Falls" walk. You take an elevator down to the gorge and then follow a boardwalk more or less right into the middle of the Bridal Vail falls. It was fun. You get soaked. They give you shoes to wear and another plastic-bag-pretending-to-be-clothing rain jacket. Unfortunately unlike the ones used on the Maid of the Mist boat ride this one only came down to just below my waist, and for this one I would have liked a longer one. You really do get to stand right in the middle of the falls. A few feet farther in and you would be washed away. Parts of the decking is in the flow of the runoff from the fall so you are glad you aren't wearing your own shoes. If you go and and you want to really reach out and touch the falls, this is the attraction to go to.

(A note about Niagara and elevators. Every attraction involves an elevator and they feel a great need to advertise this fact. I guess there was a time when not every attraction had and elevator that took you either down to the river gorge or up a tower, but now is de regure. In fact one ad I saw pushed a "simulated elevator ride" What's that? You pack a bunch of people into a small room the doors close it makes some noises and the the doors open again, but Surprise! you haven't gone any were it's on a simulated elevator ride. Yes I know they probably meant an elevator ride that simulated going over the falls in a barrel or some such thing but it's not what they said.)

Dance, Songs, Tower, Library

September 8+, 2004

Toronto, Canada

Well I've been in Toronto since Friday (it's Wednesday). I spent the first three days at the Morris Ale. The Ale was wonderful. I had not doubt that it would be. We sang, we danced, we sang some more, we danced more. Then we got up the next morning and did it again. I think I startled some of my teammates when we went out with the Toronto Morris Men and sang songs on the back patio of a rather appreaiciated bar. (They ran out of glassware.) Everybody had been leading songs and I decided that I would lead one. I have lead a couple songs before, but never in front of my Morris side, which contains some amazing singers. I don't think they quite expected it of me. To some extent I don't really expect it of myself but such is how I like to challenge myself.

Some of you may know of my "most terrifying list," where I keep a mental list of the things I consider the scarcest and most terrifying thing I could ever do. The purpose of the list is so I know what I have to do and what to get over. Also it has helped me out when there is something I ma dreading or fearing, I can look at the things on my list that have done and see how easy what I am facing is. Well sining solo has been at the top of my list for some time and I have been working on it. I sang a solo at contest in High School, I have sung a two bar five word solo in a One Voice Concert, and now I have lead a song in front of people who are not only very good singers and musicians but also people who's opinion I care about. When I finally get this one licked I wonder what will be next?

I really loved getting to see my Morris side again. I missed those who couldn't make it. We even picked up a Braggart groupie or two along the way. It was a fabilious ale. At the end was the hard part of saying good bye to everybody. In someways that has been one of the hard parts of this trip is saying good bye to people. This is probably a good sign, but it is still hard.

I spent the next few days after the ale wandering around Toronto. It was a bit like taking some time off to see Montreal after the GALA festival. The first couple nights I stayed at the Hosteling International (HI) in town. The first order of business was to launder my Morris whites and get them shipped off to Becca. It was one of those moments when I really wanted to be able to just walk up to someplace like a Mailbox Etc. and hand them my kit. Fortunately once I found main branch of the Canada Post I was able to box up my stuff and get it mailed off My montra has been when I have had to move, "LESS STUFF."

I did a couple very touresty things like see the CN tower (the world's largest free standing structure.) One of the cool things was they had part of the floor done in glass so you could stand on the glass and look down and it was like you were standing in the air. Mom, I but you are glad you weren't there.

After trying to move on, but not having a place to go to I changed hostels to the Canadian Backpacker's hostel. I like it better. Less pre-packaged feeling, neater people, a much more organic feeling to the place. I spent the next couple days wondering around town. I took one of the electric trollies (something we didn't do during the ale) the full length of it's line and had a nice few hours wandering around the out skirts of Toronto. I got to see a couple of the libraries. The one I took a picture of is really neat inside. I didn't get into their special collections as I didn't really have a reason to and I didn't have the time, but it looked like a place I could spend a lot of time. There is something about putting the children's section of the library right up front by the door that bugs me a little. Of course you don't want to make it so the kids have to dig to the back of the library and disturb people on the way, but some libraries it seams segerated the children's section so much that not only do the adults not have to deal with the children (probably a good thing) but that the children never see adults using the library. How are they supposed to learn how adults use the library if they are always separated from it? Why make the transition from using the children's part of the library such a big change. A lot of libraries I have seen certainly separated the children's section, but you can easily use both adult and children's part of the library together so that as a child gets older they gradually shift from one section to the other rather than having to choose.

In the end I like Toronto. I could see living there. I was getting to know my way around downtown pretty well. (I think that is one of the signs it is time for me to leave, when someone gives me an intersection and I can picture it in my mind.)

Not on my way to Boston

September 15, 2004

On the bus from London Ontario to Winnipeg

I keep thinking that this part of my trip after the Ale is like the first part right after GALA. First I stayed for a bit in town to see the town, didn’t have a real plan on where and when to go. This time rather than running off to Burlington Vermont and staying at Mrs. Farell’s Home Hostel, I went to London Ontario and the A. C. Backpacker’s Bed and Breakfast. It’s been open for three weeks and is a neat little place. My first night was the weekly barbeque, what a nice way to start. It’s fun visiting a place when it is just opening. I think I might try to come back and visit on my way back to see how it has grown.

London has a great new central library. They have also only been in it for about three months. The library has a nice main street entrance as well as a back entrance off of the city center mall. It even has a coffee shop. The thing I haven’t seen in a library yet is an outside garden with paths and fountains. And the garden is before you check out so you don’t have to worry about if you can check the books out or not.

I after the library and looking up some morris dance contacts I walked down and say the city park along the river; the Themes. (They really have a thing for London around here.) I took off my shoes and followed the river back to within a block of my hostel. A nice day.

The other thing that was going on was the Western Fair. Apparently it is one of the largest fairs in the area. I doesn’t compare to the Minnesota State Fair, but then again what really does?

This bus ride to Winnipeg is the first really long bus trip I have taken. Melissa totaled up in her journal that she had spent the equivalent of a week of time on the bus. I will eventually pass her up, but I am trying to put it off as long as possible. (I wish I had been keeping a running total.) I think the main problem of overnight bussing is that if I want to roll over it requires waking up to do so.

We shall see what Winnipeg has in store for me. It has rained the last day and a half. I think this is the leftovers from the last hurricane, I hope it doesn’t last too much. The previous one kept my stay in Maine wet.

Flat land

September 17, 2004

On the Bus from Winnipeg to Banff

OK so there has been a lot of writing on busses. Well the last bus ride was something along the lines of 36 hours and this one will be about 21 hours. I think I am a bit better packed for this overnight bus trip. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like I will have a full pair of seats to myself on this round. My seat mate is from Switzerland and has been traveling around Canada. He spent a week in Montreal and is now on his was to Calgary. It’s an exercise on how fast and how good you can pick a good seatmate. We will see how it goes.

I like Winnipeg. I should have spent one less day in London though. Had I gotten in to town earlier I probably would have been able to catch one of the local Morris sides practice. I really have enjoyed it when I can catch up with a Morris side so I think I am going to make a special effort to do so when I can. (I sent off a few e-mails today to the Vancouver/Seattle area sides so we shall see how it goes.)

For those of you who are following the library by library review of my trip, there isn’t much to report from Winnipeg. Their central library is closed for a massive addition and won’t be open for another year. I did stop by the temporary “skywayEbranch in the downtown mall. I wonder what goes into collection selection when you only have about 200 linear feet of shelf space. I know the branch really is just a place for people to search the catalog and pick up things they put on hold, but they did have a little browsing collection. I didn’t make it to any of the other branches so that will just have to satisfy the library report for Winnipeg.

On the way back from breakfast this morning I ran across another neat little place. It’s an art drop in center. Normally when I find art centers it’s for kids, here they have both drop in pottery and photography for adults. I wish I had been in on a Tuesday to go in and see if I can still through clay on a wheel. I wish the Twin Cities had an open pottery studio. This is not a new wish, but still something that would be nice.

In my parent’s last e-mail they said that I should go to Banff and get into the mountains not knowing it was already my plans. Here on this bus ride I keep looking forward to see if the Rockies of Canada rise out of the plains like the Black Hills of South Dakota do.

I decided to take a trip into Banff mostly to get out of the major urban areas. I looked at where I have been going and what I have been seeing and I figured if I had visited Minneapolis the same way I would have seen the length of Nicollet Mall and probably wouldn’t have made it as far as seven corners. I’m not going to see what any place is really like if I don’t get beyond the main downtown area. I figured it was time to get out into the woods.

The funny thing is that to get to Banff I am crossing the plains. And as much my parents grew up around mountains and so are always the most at home around the hills; I grew up on the plans of eastern South Dakota. Getting out where you have an uninterrupted horizon for 360 degrees and 180 degrees of sky makes me feel at home.

Fall is in the air and the leaves are beginning to change. I hope that the summer tourists have gone and the winter tourists haven’t arrived yet. The fields have been harvested and I am looking forward to a little time out of the city.

Hiking in the woods

September 21, 2004

On the bus from Lake Louise in Banff National Part to Vancouver

OK lots of writing on the bus, but it’s a good way to spend the time and most of the movies they show are awful. (I did finally get to see the latest Harry Potter movie on my last bus ride though.)

Banff is amazing. I didn’t know what to expect as I haven’t done any research or planning for this trip. The hostel is on the edge of town so for one of my hikes I just crossed the road and started walking. That evening I ended up taking way too many pictures of one of the mountains that over looks Banff. (The sun was setting and the light was too perfect.)

After a night in Banff I headed up to Lake Louise. Had I known how nice Banff was I would have used all three days I had in Banff.

In the end I liked lake Louise as well.

As usual I hadn’t planned anything so I was looking around for ideas for hikes in the area. One of the bits of information I found was that some trails were limited to groups of six or more due to bear activity.

Now I have camped out in the woods on multi-day hikes with my family before, but I don’t ever remember having to do special bear precautions. No hanging the food in a tree, changing clothes after dinner since they would have food smells. And now I find myself off where hikers are carrying bear spray (industrial strength mace) and the signs warn you that bear bells don’t really do any good. (Bear bells BTW sound an awful lot like Morris bells so every once in awhile I would hear bells and look for the Morris dancer just to see a kid running by with his bear bells on.)

That evening in the lodge I over heard a couple of fellow travelers discussing the problems of getting a group of six together for one of the trails they wanted to hike. After one guy left, two other people approached and soon they were well on their way to getting a group together. I considered going out with this group, but the hike sounded like it was going to be a bit more than I should do without real hiking boots. I know I can do well on trails like in the Big Horns in summer in my regular shoes, but it looked like they might go off into a snow covered pass. We left the plans open and were going to maybe meet the next morning at 9am and see what was up. (The other challenge was that the trail head was some distance away and nobody in the group had a car nor was there, as far was we could tell, any public transit.)

When I got back to my room I met Evan, one of my roommates, who was also planning a day long hike this one outside of the restricted area in a place I had considered hiking to from the hostel. In the end Evan’s hike looked like a better match so the next morning we went off to hike along and above Lake Louise. Also since the trail head was with in five or so kilometers of the hostel if our hiking pace was incompatible we could split up. It also turned out the Evan had a car so getting out to the trail head wasn’t a problem.

We started out by taking a ride up a ski lift to get a good view of the area. This was my first test of how well I was going to due temperature wise. My pack is based more on traveling in the tropics or at least during the summer. I pulled out my wool socks, my flannel shirt, everything warm but my long underwear. I put my rain shell in my day pack as a back-up.

The chair lift was a bit cold with just my warm fuzzy polar fleece pullover on but it seamed Evan was just as chilled and he was packed and dressed to be hiking in the mountains. At the top there was an impressive view of the Bow valley and a chance to see where we planned to hike that day. They also had a display about the local wildlife. In the section about grizzly bears they told you what you should do if you have contact with a bear. If the bear is feeling defensive you are supposed to play dead and get down on the ground face down and put your hands and arms to protect your head and neck. On the other hand if the bear is hunting for food you should under no circumstances play dead but should be aggressive and fight back. The instructions didn’t tell you how you were supposed to know the bear’s intentions. We wondered if hikers got eaten while they psychoanalyzed the bear trying to understand it’s motives and there by know whither to stand up and fight or to play dead.

We drove to the trailhead for the Lake Louise area. At the foot of the lake there is a big, rather ugly, chalet. For as much as I didn’t like the massive building cluttering up the valley I figure the owners get what they deserve as it was sided with Efas the same stuff that was always a problem at Ted Mann.

The first part of the trail was easy, even paved in asphalt along the edge of the lake. Then we headed up on to trails more to my liking and hiked up to see the Victoria Glacier. Also up there we had lunch at the tea house. When Evan mention the plan to eat at the tea house up on the trail I had pictured in my head the tea houses in China that were at the temples on the tops of mountains. In a lot of ways my idea wasn’t too far off. It is more of a Swiss version, but it was still a simple meal out in the middle of no where. We asked some questions about how they run it. The staff lives up on the mountain (sans electricity, running water etc.) At the beginning of the season they do a big supply run with a helicopter and then horse trains come once or twice a week to take care of resupply. The staff does a normal work week with five days on and two days off and they hike down for their days off. Seams like not a bad way to make a living. I would guess though it would depend on what the other staff was like.

We hiked around up to a couple other lakes. I took way to many pictures and I will have to edit them down, but it was at every turn one more breath taking view after another.

I did OK for not being packed for real hiking. I would have like better shoes when we got up into a bit of snow and for a couple of the wetter streams but as it was I think I did well. (I was very thankful for the wool socks as my shoes are starting to come apart inside. (New shoes is one of my projects for Vancouver or Seattle.)

It was a good 16 Km hike and when I looked it up in one of the guides this morning a 700 meter elevation change. I think I may have had a longer hike the other group, but probably less snow.

It was good to get out into the woods for a while, but I am looking forward to Vancouver as well. There are several Morris sides in the area and if I am luck I might get to catch up with the Opera’s set designer. Who knows? Maybe I can do a little work on the set. (Or help Jim get his lighting paper work together and sent off one timeE

It’s been good to hear from people back home. I can’t quite decide if it is a good thing that I am reading a couple people’s on-line journals when I have a little time left on the internet. It’s fun to see what they are up to, but it does make me a bit homesick. I think some of the counter for this is that I am starting to read a bit of the journals of people I have met along this trip so it is not hall homeward bound reading.


September 27, 2004

Well I like Vancouver. I wasn’t sure at first. My first night here was at an awful hostel down next to the train station. It reminded me of a seedy hotel near the railroad tracks on University Ave. Now I have some idea of what they are like inside. I don’t know quite what was so bad about it because I have see worse as far as how clean it was, but there were a lot of people who lived there and they clearly weren’t going anywhere.

I had originally meant to stay there at least two nights (it was really cheep) but the guy at the reception desk didn’t hear me correctly and after one night I decided that I wouldn’t mind finding a different hostel.

I like the place I have ended up. It’s a cross between Pine Hall (my college dorm) and The New Riverside Caf鮠 The ceiling in the main common rooms is this wavy blue air brush thing. The TV lounge has a world map covering an entire wall. The room doors are painted with different flags of the world. (The flags are sort of a game as the country’s name is written on the side of the door so you can read it when the door’s open.) One wall in the main lounge is covered in postcards and the book exchange has good books. The people are friendly and I think the staff like being here. A bit of a change from the last place.

Vancouver is a nice town. It was dark and gloomy the first day but has been clear the last few days. I have gotten out and seen some of the town. One of the highlights has been their library. This is a true world class library. I hope Minneapolis Public’s new central library is half or a quarter as good as this one. When they planned this building they new what they were doing. They even built two extra stories on top that have a thirty year lease to the city but can be used for expansion if they need it by then.

I’m looking to hook up with a couple of the local Morris sides before heading down to Seattle. I have caught up on shopping while in town as well. I have even gotten new shoes.

I got some stuff to make a set of traveling bell pads. I have a couple of bells from my Braggart’s bell pads I pulled off before mailing them home and some cheep bells I got at AX Man. I am going to make a set of bells up with a few extra spaces and if I can find neat bells as I travel I will add them on and replace the ones from AX Man. Then theses bell pads can be a sort of souvenir collection. Now I just have to find a leather punch.

Bye Canada

September 29, 2004

On the bus from Vancouver B.C. to Seattle Washington

I thourly enjoyed my last couple days in Vancouver. I probably did more Morris Dancing than I would have had I been back in Minneapolis.

On Monday I went to Tiddley Cove Morris and Sword's rehearsal. They are a women's side. In fact they are the first all women side I have visited as I have never made it to a Bells of the North practice. They are the only side in North America that does their tradition. They started rehearsal with Bonny Green Garters which seamed a bit apropos to me. My memories and thoughts of Bonny Green are mostly from May Day morning where everybody, all the sides and any audience members who think they can fake it, get up and make an enormous circle around the tree and the flock (gaggle? riot?) of musicians. Someone raises a hanky and we attempt to "count" off into even and odds; eventually we either find an even number with half the people raising their hands or the musicians just get fed up and we start anyway. It's not necessarily the most precise dance of the day but it claims the space and during the "traffic" figure with two concentric circles moving in opposite directions you get to see half of the people their that morning. For me, it being the first dance I ever did in public (without and practice I might note), it is the true welcoming dance. A nice way to start.

Tiddley cove actually tries to make it look good. I am used to dancing it in a group of one hundred or more, doing it with eight is a bit different. You worry about how the lines meet up, the turn to yourself makes a cool spiral in the middle, and you can actually find your own partner again. Same dance, different approach.

All in all they put me in most of the dances. At one point they asked if I knew Skirmishes, the name sounded familiar so I probably had done it at pick-up dancing so I said, "probably." I actually didn't, but it was was I spent the last Midwest Morris Ale admiring other teams doing so that I got a chance to learn it was just fine with me. I don't know if my lines were as beautiful as I have seen other groups do but it is a fun dance, and not too hard to learn on the fly.

The next night I went to see Vancouver Morris Men's practice. They had just come off a big dance weekend with a couple other sides so they kept apologizing on how ragged the rehearsal was. They did have the challenges, the only musician was the dance captain, the boarder sticks were elsewhere so they only had their cotswold sticks, and it was the sort of unfocused energy of a post event rehearsal. They are just starting their Boarder season and had a couple of people they were teaching the dances to so I got to join in on the lessons.

There wasn't any overlap with Great Northern Boarder, my boarder side back in Minneapolis, so it was all new. I was in at least once for every dance they worked on. Not a bad bit of dancing.

After practice we went off to the pub and I got a chance to chat with people a bit more. One of the dancers who also plays the melodian was very much intreeged by the "stupid melodian tricks" at the Midwest Morris Ale (and recently at the Toronto Ale.) One of the other guys I met earlier was from Minnesota. Joe (last name lost to memory) had been one of the moving forces behind Great Norther Boarder before I started dancing. Technically I had me him as a couple years ago he danced in once at the Rice Park gig as he had been in the area and heard the bells. I didn't get to meet him then, but I have now. It can be a small world. (Or at least well folded.)

This morning I did some final shopping getting stuff I need/want trying to finish up my Canadian cash. I ended up with four dollars which I would have spent on lunch had I not arrived at the bus station fifteen minuet before my bus left. (Cutting it a bit close as the prefer you arrive an hour before departure.)

Well I better start reading about Seattle in my guide book so I know what I am doing when I get off the bus. I have enjoyed Canada and if I like every country I visit this much my trip will have been a success.

A good way to end September 2004

September 30, 2004

Seattle, USA

Today had a bit of a rough start but turned out OK. After wandering around the Pike Street Market for a bit just wanting to go home and taking a nap I realised what I should do is go visit the central library. I took a little side trip to find the public art installation I had seen when I was here twelve years ago. It is in one of the stops for the downtown bus tunnel. It is a series of liner LED arrays that flash. If you look straight at it it just looks like a stone wall with bits of the grouting that flash, but if you move your eyes while a section is flashing you see an image. It's amazing because the image is much larger than the crack in the wall and when you try to look at it, it disappears. There is a reason I have remember it for twelve years. Now that I understand how it works (or at least think I do) I want to build one.

On to the library. I ended up spending three to four hours in the library and will be going back again. It is a trip. When they designed it the did go back to redesigning what a library is. The Vancouver library was a development of existing ideas of what a library is and this one tries to start from the beginning again.

I like a lot of what the architect was doing. There are some stellar ideas. The stack area of the library is one continuous spiral. It's as if you took one long row of book cases and then wrapped in a spiral like a parking ramp. It's the Gugiheim (SP?) of libraries.

A lot of the library ideas are innovative, but some of the pure design elements are crazy. The meeting room floor looks like something the Walker Art Center would create. It also doesn't work. As you take a stair from one of the other floors the walls wrap around you and all the edges are curved and free form. And everything is the exact same color of red: floors, walls, doors ceilings, signs, everything. All the lighting is carefully concealed down lights that only land on the floor. In the few min. I was chatting with one of the staff of the four people we saw three of them needed help finding a door that was less than five feet away. I don't mean they needed directions but they needed help finding a red door set flush into a red wall with the only light being the red light reflecting off the red floor. For similar reasons the staff are often helping people find the elevators when they are standing right in front of them.

The building has so many innovative ideas and challenging decisions they have had to make I am going to go back for a tour. I pity the poor tour guide I get as I already have a lot of specific questions. I really want to take two tours, one with a library that can tell me about library stuff and another tour with an architect to explain some of the building details.

There are a few things I see in the building that I would consider "non-decisions." Places where it looks like nobody ever considered how these two bits would fit together. Normally I don't mind non-decisions quite so much but this building is so overdesigned from the unusual furniture to the flooring materials it would have been nice for someone to think about where the foot of the escolator into the stacks would be in relationship to the support columns.

There are also some details that I am pretty sure are intentional choices but don't make sense to me. In the "Spiral", the stack levels, the stairs that connect the floors (in addition to the bright yellow escolators and elevators) are always inside a black cube. They probably have to be enclosed for fire regulations and the black walls stand out. I like that part, but for some reason the door into the stairs is not facing out into the stacks but is facing a wall. You have to walk all the way around the stairs to get into them via a narrow space that doesn't look like you are supposed to go there. The library staff has taped up signs pointing to the stairs. So far I haven't found any physical reason they couldn't have rotated the stars 180 degrees and put the door where people could find it. I am pretty sure it is a design decisions, now I want to know why. It frustrating that if you want to take the stairs you have to walk around to the back it would be like building a Target store and putting the parking lot on one side of the building and the entrance on the other.

Oh well, I will go back tomorrow and probably drive some people all the wall with all my questions. I may even get some of the things I want to look up at a library done! (BTW Happy Banded Books Week.)

On the way back from the library I wandered into some wonderful street performance. I ran into a group of jump ropers. They were all in matching outfits doing a Double-Dutch demonstration. They also were letting other people try to do stuff as well. It was fun to watch and I even tried a little. It reminded me of a Morris dance out. Same kind of interesting thing being done for the fun of it. It was fun to be on the other side. I even got to play cat's cradle with a couple people.

When I got back to the hostel I heard a bit of the presidential debates, then I wondered into the common room and they were watching Georgre Orwell's 1984. I decided that watching the movie would leave me with a more positive outlook.

"War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Inginorance is Strength" George (Orwell that is.)

During the movie I was trying to figure out how much it would cost to run a national prime time showing of 1984 about a week before the election. A very fitting story for the US right now.

Now on to a screening of Terry Gilliam's _Brazil_.

Old friends, new kids, crazy cats

October 3, 2004

Well it's been a nice couple of days. I do like Seattle. I had a bit of a grumpy time a couple days ago. I checked out the price of the other hostel in town and it was about the same amount and I didn't like the one I was in that much. The free dinner was nice but it was a big noisy and I didn't like to common space and as I have found I like just hanging out in the evenings that is of some importance. (Last night I hung out and finished up my morris bell pads, lots of hand sewing.) I made reservations for the next day and then wondered off to get dinner.

The next day I went off and saw the Space Needle and the Experience Music Museum. I had fun at both and have learned that if they say most people take about forty min. at a place I general take about two hours. I do travel slowly.

When I picked up my stuff from my first hostel and went to the second I went to check in and they had eaten my reservation. For some reason they had put it in as starting the day I made it so when I didn't check in that night they canceled it and resold my bed for that night. As they were full they didn't have room for me. My first hostel was also now full so I ended up at a hotel. Now I will admit I liked the staff at the hotel and if I was traveling that way I wouldn't have minded it, but I had even picked up food for dinner that evening to cook in the hostel's kitchen so I wasn't happy about the change. I have, mostly, gotten over it. I do like the second hostel now that I am in. What I wish they had done was to actually apologise and offer me something. I think I will send them a complaint letter and see if I get any response. As it is they made it sound like they were being generous that I could use the No Show charge for a nights stay. I think that is not even the least they could do as if they hadn't I would have challenged the charge as it was their fault the reservation was wrong in the first place. I'm a little bitter, but I am getting over it.

I have finally got caught up on laundry which is good as I was starting to smell and today I was off to see Kirsten, Bruce and Mattie.

I took the ferry to Bainbridge island and Kirsten picked me up. I sometimes wonder if people will recognise me. Last time I saw her I didn't have a beard or long hair. She did.

We had a quick lunch and went of the the Blosdel nature reserve. I had been there last time I was in Seattle. It was as I remembered and I enjoyed it. It is an amazing place to walk. You make a reservation when you go so there aren't a lot of people around.

Mattie is a neat kid. Makes me wish I could be a six year old again. She is enjoying her school work and performed a play about the Ben and Jerry's truck. Kirsten and Bruce are looking well. We harvested their punkins and had chicken soup with most of the vegetables from their garden for dinner. Yummy.

It's fun to meet up someone who has known me for as long as I have been around. (Although it is a bit odd being introduced as someone that they used to babysit.)

They have a couple cats, one of which is appropriately crazy and like most Branson cats I have run across plays fetch. The other is a little shy but came out a little at the end of the evening.

I love their place out on the island. They have a nice garden and a well laid out house. (There living room is painted yellow house yellow.)

A good way to spend a day. Now I have to figure out what to do when I get up in the morning. Will the decisions never end?

Underground, Library

October 4, 2004

Seattle, WA U.S.A.

Today was a nice day. I over slept and missed the free breakfast, but I stayed up too late last night waiting for the internet as it was time for me to pay my bills. (And I did need to get it done before I forget it again.)

I went on the Seattle Underground tour of old town. I had heard about the tour years ago, I think on a Public Radio interview and I have been wanting to go on it for years. It was a good tour and I got some history I hadn’t heard before. Seattle had been built on a tidal mud flat and after the Great Seattle Fire when they rebuilt the raised the entire town. I personally would have moved the town, but that’s just me. The funny thing was they only filled the streets, the buildings were built at the old grade level. That meant that as the city filled in the streets up to their new height it put some of the buildings seven, fourteen up to 30 feet below street level. After a rather silly period of people having to take ladders down to the sidewalk level the city took over and built sidewalks even with the streets and the main business level moved up a floor. Now they didn’t fill up to the new sidewalk level they just roofed it over so there are still passages connecting the “basementsEof the buildings. The tour introduced some of the problems and personalities that were involved in the history that to some extent had the city bury the bottom story of it’s down town only seven to ten years after the buildings were built.

I had planned (there goes the “pEword again) to head over to the Ballard locks and see Fremont. I swung by the library before I left as I still wanted to catch the architecture tour and I needed to check it’s schedule. Well during the week they only have one at 5:30 pm and I knew it probably wasn’t going to work tomorrow as I plan to visit one of the local Morris sids so I decided to put of the locks and take the library tours.

They offer two tours one generally about the building and a second lead by an architect about the building. I took the 4:30pm general tour and then rushed down to catch the 5:30pm architecture tour. I like both tours. The general tour volunteer worked at a building across the street and she had clearly had spent a lot of time in the library and knew her stuff. She also knew how to lead a tour. The second guild really knew his field but wasn’t quite as good at leading a tour, but the group made up for that. There were six of us in the group. Two women had driven up from Portland Oregon to hear the speaker that event who had to cancel due to illness, there was a couple from Australia who were visiting libraries just like I have been and she was a librarian and he put up with it, and then an asian guy who was always taking notes and pictures.

During the tour we would get into little arguments about how things worked, tried to figure out what people were thinking and if something worked. Every once and a while our leader would have to pull us back on topic and move on.

In the end after the tour was over I made to bold move of suggesting that we all go out for dinner / coffee afterwards and continue the conversation, which we did.

We went to a restaurant just across the street and had a nice dinner. We didn’t want to go far as the women from Portland had to drive back that evening. They worked for a firm that designed signage and “Way FindingEfor buildings, and had done the Portland Library that I hope to visit latter this week. We talked for a while and I even have the e-mail address from the people in Australia for when I make it down in that direction. It was a fun conversation and we, I think, agreed that it was as if the architect and designers were so caught up in creating the library of the future and going back to base concepts they forgot about the patrons actually finding their way around the building: that wasn’t important. It will be interesting to see how the building adapts to the users needs over the next few years. I still like some of the ideas that have presented, but there are parts that are going to look like very dated design thoughts like some buildings from the sixties do now.

Three tours, meeting four new people and going out to dinner with them, it was a good day.

Ridding the rails

October 6, 2004

On the train to Portland, Oregon

Yes that does say train. It only cost about 20 percent more than taking Greyhound and I figure this would be a nice run. It’s maybe not the Canadian Rockies, but a good trip. I had hoped to take the 10:00am train, but I didn’t make it to the station in time. So here I am on the 1:45pm.

Actually the extra time was good, I swung by the library one last time. I was able to use the Portland transit’s website to figure out my bus routs, I printed up a cut version of the online list of Morris sides I have been using. Now I have my own pocket guide to Morris sides. Aren’t computers great?

So far I like the train, leg room, being able to walk along and a wider seat. I even have my big pack on board so I can finish up a couple projects I have wanted to get done.

Yesterday was a nice day. I got up early, made the complementary breakfast and headed off to the Ballard locks and fish ladder. Part of this is also to get me to get right into the public transit. I end up trying to keep to places that I can walk back from. This is fine but I don’t go very far. I need to get over this.

Ballard was nice; I got to see boats both go up and down. I was even lucky enough to see the railroad’s drawbridge open for a couple of sail boats. I can understand why my parent’s hated going threw locks. Getting the boat threw the confined spaces made me nervous and I did own the boat. One of the sailboats locking down was brand new being taken to their new owners. Very glossy and perfect. Not the prettiest boat I have even seen, but probably very expensive none the less.

After the locks I header over to Freemont and visited the Troll. I have wanted to see the troll for years. I had heard about it when I was in Seattle the first time and it was even in one of my design books in college. Not to mention I really like the idea of putting a big concrete troll under a bridge. What better can you ask for. When I get the pictures uploaded there is a shot over the trolls head to see what he has to look at day and night. (I also couldn’t resist taking a picture up the troll’s nose. How often do you get to see what is up a troll’s nose, and survive?)

Freemont is a funky little town. It is self-proclaimed to be the center of the universe and has an official Latin motto that translates “Freedom to be particular.E I could see living here. Their branch library was closed for renovations but I peeked in the door and it’s a nice little historic building about two blocks from the troll. I saw a piece of the Berlin wall their history center. (Right next to a piece of the Great Freemont Wall of course.) They have the world’s largest statue of Lenin that was rescued after the fall of communism. There is a couple of dinosaurs topiary in the park. Why? Why not?

I also went and visited a Mossy Back Morris Men rehearsal and had a good time. It was their first rehearsal after their ale with the Vancouver Morris men. I even got to relay how one of the Vancouver guys made it home. The Mossy Backs primarily do Bledington, the same tradition that my home side does. (Of course they don’t do it as high as the Braggarts and they had a couple different hankie things too.) Being the first practice after an Ale they were a bit short on people so I got to dance in for the entire practice. Afterwards we went out to the local pub next door. (Apparently at one of their old post practice stops rehearsal night was also cross dressing night.) Although I think of this side as the closest to the Braggarts as I have found it is interesting the changes. The Braggarts have a college professor, several computer geeks, and a lawyer among our ranks. The Mossy Backs appear to have more an equal number of engineers but they are tend to be aerospace engineers including one rocket engineer. I wonder if there is something about Bledingtion that brings the same kind of people together. I will see as I travel more. After the pub stop we went to one of the local taste food experiences.

We went to Dicks. Now I think if you were from or went to school in Seattle you would know Dicks, just as St. Paul people know Mickey’s and Brookings people would know Nick’s. You don’t have special orders, you don’t sit down inside, but the people watching out front is good. Apparently they changed the relish they used a few years a go and it was a major uproar. Not on any of the tourist maps I found nor even in my guide book, but certainly a bit of the local scene.

Hills, songs, movies, technology

October 17, 2004

San Francisco, California

San Fran is one of those places I just keep staying longer and longer. It looks like this is going to turn into a week long stop. I arrived in time to make a FFL Morris practice last Tuesday and if I stick to the current “planEI will end up here for Berkeley Morris’s rehearsal this coming Tuesday. We shall see.

I have been doing all the regular tourist stuff. I rarely make it home before dark and seem to be busy every day. The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Warf Geridellii Square, a Cable Car ride, the Central Library, Castro, Haite EAshbury, I haven’t made it to Alcaltraz yet but as it looks like I am still here for a couple more days we shall see.

One of the things that is amazing here is how much simply putting a city on hills gives it amazing views. Just crossing a street there are great views down to the city below and then again above. Looking from one hill off to the other after dark gives beautiful outlines of city lights. I was trying to decide how much of this was nice buildings and how much was hills. I think it’s almost all the hills and the wide streets. I would swear that the streets here are wider then they were in Brookings on the Great Plains where land was no issue. (Or maybe it has just been I have been spending a lot of time in much more dense areas.)

My second night I in town I visited FFL Morris (I still haven’t figured out what FFL stands for.) I had been in contact with one of their fores who gave me directions to the nearest BART station and picked me up. Since he was considering having someone else pick me up and I didn’t know what he looked like we agreed to bring our bells. There was this fun moment when I was at the BART station and I hear a jingle, I jingle back, again a jingle a bit closer, I jingle back. Have bells, will travel.

Practice was nice. I have discovered it’s fun when they are a big short handed. They had five dances and two musicians so I got to be in all the dances. It’s a bit like pick up dancing at the ale but more repetition so I learn more. (It is also getting me used to other names for the same move or different moves with the same name.)

Wednesday night was for off and then on Thursday I visited a Goat Hill Sword rehearsal. I don’t know much about sword dance and it was good to see it in rehearsal. Since they were stopping and working things I could see more of what makes it up. Afterwards we went to their regular pub stop (who was concerned that they hadn’t been there last week.) One of the members had danced on Moonwood in Minnesota and knew a guy from One Voice, my chorus. It’s a well folded world.

One of the other things I have gotten to do here was the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park’s Sea Music Festival. I half kept expecting to see Bob Walser from the Braggarts and figured that even if I didn’t see him he knew at least half the people and that they had probably stayed at his house. I wish I had gotten down to the park earlier in the day but I also figured I would “swing byEand see the Golden Gate Bridge the same day. I should know everything takes me a lot longer. Of course I had to walk out on it for a bit, see under it, see it from the side, had it not been overcast try to get a picture of my shadow on it.

But the best part of the Sea Music Festival was the Chantey Sing aboard their square rig. It was a nice sing. They have them once a month here and this was an extra one in honor of the festival. The people I met would ask if I would be back for the next one which I would love to be butE

I taught one person cat’s cradle and she taught someone else so I gave away two strings.

--A little while laterE

Now the hostel I am staying at is an international hostel. This means that you have to be a foreigner to stay there. I am allowed as I have an out of state drivers license and am traveling. They want to avoid getting people that are just relocating or looking for cheep place to live. (Having been at hostels like that I understand why the difference.)

Tonight is movie night and I joined a group to see the movie, Fareight 9/11. There is nothing quite like being the only American in the room watching that movie. Sure Michel More pulls a lot of heartstrings and it is not a rigorous argument, but nor is the Administration’s argument most of the time.

It does leave you wondering what could have been done, but us both American or not. I admit we haven’t had any discussion, which I am just as glad about as I am no answer and it is my country that we are talking about. I think about becoming politically active, but looking at our current options that doesn’t seem to help. What now?

In this case we are going on to watch E0 First datesE

----a little while later----

OK a romantic comedy can at least buoyed the mood. I had actually seen the movie on the train to Portland. I liked it then, I like it again.

One of the other things I have enjoyed in San Francisco was the submarine down on Fisherman’s Warf. It was a real functioning sub and you get to wander thru it with an audio tour. I, as usual, took about twice as long to get thru it but I had fun. I suspect Eric the Geek would be one of the few people who would have spent as much time trying to figure out how the controls work. I decided it was the opportunity to take while I could. It seams everything is always either getting made too safe. Crawling thru the sub is not something for the claustrophobic or someone with mobility issues. No ladders but you did crawl thru hatches in close quarters with your fellow tourists.

The other big sight for me was the Cable Car Museum. It is also where all the remaining cable cars are maintained and the motors that run the cables are right in the middle of it all. All of my, “How do they deal with that?Equestions were answered. They even have a room under the street to see the cables come in from the streets. Now if only they would let you try to drive oneE.

One my way to San Fran I stopped at Eugene Oregon. My Dad did graduate work there and so many of the stories I have grown up with are based there. I figured if I didn’t stop I would have wished I had. One of the “pilgrimagesEI decided to make was to try to find the coffee house my mom worked in and the brownie recipe comes from. I’m not sure if I found it or not. I ended up taking photos of an entire block and will leave it to my parents to point out the right one. (Once I get them loaded.)

It’s a nice little town with apparently the best public transit in the North West. My last day I took a bus that takes you an hour out of town. I was going to hike up to the hot springs in the hill but I messed up my directions and ended up going five or six miles out of my way and ran out of time. If I have time next time I’m out here I will try again. On the other hand the national park would be a place to go camping that you can get to via public transportation. (OK the #91 only runs six times a day, but it does get you out into the woods.)

Eugene is a nice little college town from what I can tell. I only spent two nights there so it wasn’t much time. A little spread out and I wished I had had a bike.

The hostel was a neat place, a big house with a large front yard. They have two cats and a dog. As far as I could tell it’s a house that the owner rents out three or four rooms to locals (students) and part of the rent is staffing the hostel of three or four rooms. The kitchen is vegetarian and one of the residents was big on raw food. They always had good free bread which served as a quick breakfast a couple times. (I am likening free food. I have made it up in time for the free waffle and pancake breakfast every morning since I have been in San Fran.)

The other fun bit was while I was at the big central bus stop transfer station I ran into Andy Mecleve (SP?) who I worked with at Ted Mann. Small world.

Portland was a neat stop. I unfortunately only caught up with one of the two Morris sides I had hoped to. One thing I discovered was when I was using my computer-generated directions to get to the morris practice is that those directions really do expect you to know something about the town. When I arrived I first went to my hostel and checked in and then I ran off to catch my first bus. I didn’t have a real local map nor had I had any time in town to orient. Traveling on blind faith. At one point I did get off the bus at the wrong stop and wandered off in the wrong direction. I saw a woman working in her yard and I stopped and asked for directions. She didn’t know where I was trying to get to but her husband came out and brought his notebook computer and we looked it up on Mapquest. (How did we do this stuff pre-internet? Of course can you imagan going back to a card catalog and paper circulation at a library, but yet I still remember when we did so.) Anyway, I ended up making it their all right, if just a little latter than I like, call it running on Morris Time.

Unfortunately this practice had been canceled (sort of) so this was more a practice session in public transportation. As it was had I stayed in Seattle one more night I could have visited Sound and Fury, but such is how things turn out sometimes.

When I got back to the hostel a British kid and a woman from Germany were discussing Wittgenstein (SP?) in the common room. As my dad is / was a Philosophy professor and did some of his graduate work on Wittgenstein and I have never heard any one mention the name outside of discussions in my parents living room, this was a little odd. One of the reasons my parents had given when they sold everything and moved on to a boat was to travel the world and meet interesting people. They met some interesting people but they also discover that a lot of boaters were just as uninteresting as the people they left behind. Maybe they should have tried hostelling. (Of course they still could to.)

The Portland public library was a nice historic building with good signage. It reminded me a bit of what the Saint Paul Public library was thinking about when it was designed. This library never had the closed stack area that makes the St. Paul library a bit odd and lopsided so in some ways the building was less interesting for the fact that it was a simple plan.

When I was doing my normal survey of the library’s string figure books there was a Mother Son pair look at the same books. After both of us came up empty handed we both retreated to the catalog terminals and I introduced myself to them. As this was the first time I had actually seen some one looking for the same books at the same time I figured I should. He was looking for a book to learn “Many StarsEfrom, a figure I haven’t learned but have seen. They were all checked out at this branch. He taught me a new figure, lighting and I helped him figure out what was wrong with is Apache Door (his string was too stiff). It was a fun little encounter.

The next day I met up with Portland’s mixed morris side, Renegade Rose. They have a rather new apprentice who has danced elsewhere but learning the side’s tradition so I got to learn along with her. I got some good dancing in and so good practice doing styles other than Bleadington. They also gave me a bell for my traveling bell pads. (I’ve since got a pen to mark the bell with to keep track of additions.) The next week they had a dance out coming up and they invited me along. I of course am moving on before then but it was a nice offer.

Sometime I will stay somewhere long enough to do some of that stuff. The people in the hostel here in San Fran were talking about how to get work places and for example here the hostel trades rooms for work. If I wanted to stay in San Fran for at least of month I could clean rooms for about four hours a day and get my room for free. Since they aren’t hiring people the foreign travelers can also work and stretch their funds further. I may look into this when I am off in Australia.

Irish Surfers and Morris Dancers

October 21, 2004

Santa Cruz, California

The San Francisco summary: seven days, four dance teams (one sword, one Northwest, one border, one cotswald; a good assortment.) A good week.

The library was nice. It was new in 1990, a little hard to get around in but most of that was how the collection was divided. It was a nice open atrium. One thing I have noticed is that as I move south libraries become less free about their internet access. Oh well, I suspect as I get into Mexico I won't be getting free internet access at libraries. Maybe in Australia.

Santa Cruze has been OK. I could live here, but I haven't been having good days. Today it seams like everything went wrong. This morning I extended my stay at the hostel for a second day and then sat down to breakfast. I should have just left, Just at 10:00am, when you have to leave until five, they ask me to move from my bed to one in another room. A pain but not a big deal. When I went to put my stuff in my new room it was locked. I asked to get in but the woman who said I needed to move said it was after 10 so they couldn't open the room. I reminded them that it was by their request that I was moving and they didn't tell me until 10 but they told me just to leave my stuff in the lounge. Grrrrrr.....

When I was checking my e-mail the computer crashed and half the stuff I was trying to do didn't work.

At this point I figured it was time for chocolate so I found a cafe and got a nice chocolate malt. Not the best malt ever but it fit the bill.

Something I had never heard of until last night was people surfing in Ireland. One of the guys here was an Irish surfer. Not just a wet suit, but a dry suit to keep warm. He said he was looking forward to going back home and telling all his mates about the great surfing. Some how I just don't think of Ireland when I think of surfing, but apparently it's a happening thing.

Traffic Jam

October 24, 2004

In a Traffic Jam from Santa Barbra to LA

I guess that being on a buss in a traffic jam on a twelve lane freeway is a fitting introduction to LA. Actually the bus ride down to LA started off great. The road was right along the cost and out the window was a clear view of the Pacific. I can see why California has a beach culture as we would drive for miles along white sand beaches with the surf coming it.

The bus ride down for San Fran to Santa Barbra had nice scenery. Going into the Salines Valley did remind me of reading Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. (It didn't hurt that when I changed busses in Salines there was Steinbeck this and Steinbeck that.) Unfortunately the area is not doing well. At the cafe I had a quick lunch, the Friends of the Library had a little book shelf with an honor system book sale. In their news letter it looks like that if funding measures A, B and C don't all pass they will be closing the area's entire library system down. I don't think I have heard yet of a place entirely closing their libraries, maybe a branch but not the entire system.

Santa Brabra and I got a long better than Santa Cruze. The hostel is a bit grodie. (I think ants may have had right of way in the men's bathroom.) But the town is clean and friendly, although it would have to be due to the number of tourists around. I think a lot of how I view a town may be the number of pan handlers on the streets. Actually it can't just be the number as Montreal had a lot. Maybe it is more the attitude they have. In Montreal they were polite and truthful, down here they try way too hard. Maybe they have to. It doesn't help my attitude that I run into people at the hostels who are infinitely creative on how to get along. One girl from Australia in San Francisco arrived in the US with $800 over three months ago and has been having a great time. She is finding ways to make money and doing just fine. Although she probably doesn't have any of the challenges the guys on the streets have, she is not living a poor life either. (And she has to get around not having a work visa too.)

I had hopped to catch up with Monarch Morris in Santa Barbra on my way south but they canceled their practice as they had just come off of a big dance weekend and were in recovery. (I keep seaming to catch people right after a big event.) Hopefully tomorrow I will catch up with Sunset Morris, Pennlyroyal, or Riddler Morris. We shall see. I am still hoping to swing by Irvine to see my former housemates from Minneapolis Stan, Sarah, and Ada at their new place. Also my mail and ballot should have arrived so I can vote before leaving the country.

After finding a good place for Dia de los Muertos I am going to look for a good beach to lye on for a couple days. It's not that I have been traveling fast but I just want to sit back and veg for a little bit. After all where I am from it is starting to get cold so I should be bedding down for the winter, not spending the days walking around Spanish colonial Presarios learning history.

On thing I think I have discovered the last few days is a reason for this trip. It is so I can feel at home in the world. That I can know I can go somewhere and find my place. Or that I at least understand some part of the world. I was reading a newspaper article yesterday and it mentioned several places I have been and I felt that I knew the places they were talking about. If I was there I could use the public transit, find the library, probably even find cheap internet access and blend in with the locals enough to be asked for directions at street corners. I had lived there for at least a few days and knew my way around. Sure I probably had an awful map in my pocket, but I wasn't dependent on it and could just head out. I am often, as I was in Santa Barbra, surprised at how unaware some of the tourists are of their soundings. Some of that is probably the nature of being on vacation. My goal is to 'be' some place, not just to visit it.

(I actually blame the direction thing on being a stage manager at Ted Mann the last five years; my job was to act like everything was OK and that I knew what I was going to do.)

A Paved County

October 26, 2004

Los Angles, California

On the way back from Sunset Morris practice last night I were chatting about LA and how I liked it. From what little of LA I've seen it's OK, but I really, really, really don't like there busses. I would say bus system, but that is exactly the problem there isn't any system. In some ways I find it to be one of the most awkward, confusing, and expensive to ride meetings of busses, drivers, and passengers. I pity the people who use this mess as their primary form of transportation. I suspect if you just did a normal daily commute it wouldn't be so bad because you would figure out the one route, transit agency, bus stop, and fare you have to pay. But as a new comer in the area it's a mess. The city of LA has "Metro" which is subdivided to have the "Dash" and "702 express". Then Santa Monica have another buss system with the normal numbered routes and the "Breeze". I think Venice Beach may also have it's own bus system. Now you would think how I am describing this that they would be separate systems covering different areas. No, they cover the same territory with different fare structures and rules. The Metro is the worst. The sticker listing fares on the fare box is about one foot by two feet. I think the fare changes depending on the phase of the moon. And to top that off although you can buy a transfer to get on a bus of a different system for 25 cents, you can't transfer within the Metro system. Another bus, an other $1.25. Grrrr...

When I arrived the driver gave me a blank stare when I asked for a transfer (it requires a change of bus to get from the bus station to the hostel) I figured they called it something else so I figured an extra $1.25 wouldn't kill me and I would figure it out in the morning. When I called up the information people they explained that there isn't any kind of transfer, a day pass, but no transfer. So I guess if they ever need to raise fare revenue they should just make routes more awkward and less direct so people have to transfer more..... Also that I have yet to find any kind of bus schedule or Ride Guide to explain the Metro to me doesn't help. (Can you tell I really loath the LA busses?) (On the other hand looking out the window at the five lane bumper to bumper traffic I am glad I'm not driving in this mess either.) (Stop urban sprawl! If you can't convince they policy makers back there in Minneapolis: send them out here for a couple weeks.)

The LA central library is nice. It has a historic building with a modern addition. The addition is a bit odd and as a librarian from Pennsylvania who was on the tour pointed out, needs benches in the atrium. It was slick though as they had lots of walk up 15 min internet terminals so I was able to get some catch up done. I still haven't gotten thru all my photos but I am plugging away at it.

(One thing I realized that is problematic about posting all my trip photos is when I come back and have a party I can't pass the pictures around because you will have already seen them.)

After wandering around the library and taking the library tour I headed up to see the new Disney Concert Hall. I had read some about it and it's organ back at Ted Mann and was interested in trying to see it.

It's a Frank Gerry (SP?) building. From the outside it might as well be the Weisman on the U of M campus. Big sweeping stainless steel building. It's not that I don't like the Weisman or the look of this building but try something else. Although he did put in a neat "Sky Walk" along the roof edge and a little urban park behind which were pleasant.

I didn't get to actually see inside the concert hall. I hadn't really planned the day out or I would have tried for an Organ concert or something like that. I saw a bit of the lobbies. Down in their little eating area and a second performance space off of the lobby they use the funky all plastic chairs that when I left we had almost entirely gotten ride of in Fergerson Hall. (The weird all plastic and chrome orange things.) Here they are all sorts of bright colors but it is interesting to see something we have been getting rid of show up as a neat new thing in another building.

Dancing, but not

October 28, 2004

Long Beach, California

OK I didn't get to go to Wild Wood Morris practice as it was canceled due to rain. (In California they can practice outside as their normal practice space what a thought!) I did get to meet Julie and Bruce of the side and they gave me a place to stay for the night. After watching the Red Socks win the world series we were chatting about Morris and molly dancing. Well Julie had a copy of The Seven Champions Molly Dancers dancing in England. I got to see all three of Great Northern Boarder's Molly Dances. Those Orbitals are amazing! It's made me homesick for all they guys back there. Oh to be there on Halloween Night dancing out on Sargent Street. It was a good stop even if I didn't get dancing in.

There is quite possibly no better way to travel than to visit Morris dancers. If I'm not careful I will become an Ale junkie when I return.

Yesterday I visited Moreton Bay Fig down in San Diego. They had been at the Midwest Morris Ale and looked great. They do Duns Tew tradition are one of few (only?) in the US doing it. It was great to watch at the ale and having tried a little I like it even more.

Leave a Comment or View the Comment Page.

Canada and the USA,      Mexico,      Belize,      Guatemala,      El Salvador,      Honduras,      Nicaragua,      Costa Rica,      Panama,      USA, again,       Thailand,       Lao,       Vietnam,       Cambodia,       Thailand, again,      

Journal Index

My Home Page