Where Were We Wednesdays (#12)

Each week in WWWW I post a photo of somewhere we’ve visited during our trip. Guess where we were, and you could win a little prize! This week’s winner will receive a magnet and sticker from Wall Drug, SD, famous for its free ice water and five-cent coffee.

Here’s this week’s picture.

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Last Week’s Winner

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a winner. This photo was taken at Cape Perpetua in Oregon. We’ll save the super-awesome Corn Museum popcorn for another week.

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Five Weekends in April

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From the rocky coast of Maine, through bare early spring hardwood forests, into the kitchens of great friends, across grassy plains to the rising mountains of Wyoming, we traversed more than 2,000 miles in April. Wonderful as our time has been exploring the East and Midwest, and as many hugs as we’ve been able to exchange with loved ones, high-fives were exchanged when we crossed into Mountain time zone. We’ve missed the West and it’s majestic, sparsely populated places.

Maine, Wolfe's Neck, Brunswick, ME

April 1: Wolfe's Neck State Park, Brunswick, Maine

April 7: Niagara Falls, NY, Niagara Falls, Canada, Rainbow Bridge

April 7: Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, New York to Canada

METRA train, Chicago, Illinois

April 14: METRA train, Chicago, Illinois

Triple Rock Social Club, Gastro Non Grata

April 20: Gastro Non Grata at the Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Spearfish Canyon, SD, Rod and Gun Campground

April 28: Rod & Gun Campground, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

Where Were We Wednesdays (#11)

Each week in WWWW I post a photo of somewhere we’ve visited during our trip. Guess where we were, and you could win a little prize! I’m pretty excited about this week’s giveaway – our winner will receive an ear of “pops on the cob” popcorn from the great Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.

Here’s this week’s picture.

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Last Week’s Winner

This photo was taken at the Baha’i Temple in Chicago. Judy, Patrick’s mom, had the correct answer but her loving sons deemed it cheating, as she was with us when it was taken. I’m not going to get in the middle of that…However, Mike Kelso also answered correctly via Twitter. Mike, congrats!

Where Were We Wednesdays (#10)

Each week in WWWW I post a photo of somewhere we’ve visited during our trip. Guess where we were, and you could win a little prize! This week’s winner will receive a souvenir from either the great state of Wisconsin or Minnesota.

Here’s this week’s picture. It’s kind of a toughie!

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Last Week’s Winner

This photo was taken at Bryce Canyon. We had four correct guesses, and Random.org picked the winner…congrats to Gus! Thanks everyone for playing.

Where Were We Wednesdays (#9)

Each week in WWWW I post a photo of somewhere we’ve visited during our trip. Guess where we were, and you could win a little prize! This week’s winner will receive a souvenir from Chicago, IL, our big destination this week.

Here’s this week’s picture.

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Last Week’s Winner

This photo was taken at Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans. We had three correct guesses, and Random.org picked the winner…congrats to Beth! Thanks everyone for playing.

Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio

It had been windy all day; Patrick had to struggle to keep the Minnie centered in our lane. By evening the air had stilled. We stopped to watch the sun melt into Lake Erie. A young girl, searching for beach glass and pretty stones, gave me two shells she’d found. So far, Ohio is beautiful.

Lake Erie, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio

Ohio seems to inspire beautiful music, too. In honor of crossing into the Buckeye State, here’s an all-Ohio playlist.

1. Blind Pilot – Miss Ohio (a cover of a Gillian Welch song)

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2. Damien Jurado – Ohio

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3. The Low Anthem – To Ohio

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4. Modest Mouse – Ohio

5. Sun Kil Moon – Carry Me Ohio

Niagara Falls

We visited Niagara Falls on Saturday. By volume one of the largest waterfalls in the world, the falling water sounds like thunder. Swirling winds pick up the spray and drench the overlooks, where rainbows appear and fade in the mist. Like the Grand Canyon, it was almost too big to comprehend – undeniably powerful and impressive. I have to say, it was also fairly awful. Monetized. Built up. Teeming with tourists who apparently never developed a sense of appropriate public behavior – elbowing their way through the crowd only to stop suddenly to take cell-phone photo in the middle of the sidewalk, letting small children and dogs jump on strangers, sticking their heads into photos.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, Rainbow Bridge

The RV safely parked in a gigantic lot, we walked across the famed Rainbow Bridge and crossed the border to Canada.  Surprisingly, the U.S. side of the falls felt remarkably restrained; a state park graces the edges of the Niagara Gorge. The Canadian side, with its better views, was a tawdry maze of theme restaurants and mini golf and neon-lit mega hotel casinos. It’s like Disney Land and Las Vegas mated and produced Niagara Falls, Ontario. Trying to get into the spirit of things, I thought we should go up to a revolving restaurant and grab a drink at the bar. But there was no bar; there was only a $34.95 per person (plus tax, gratuity and drinks) all you can eat buffet where food quality was certainly not the draw. We slunk into the Hard Rock Café instead. I mean, we’d just walked to Canada. Didn’t we deserve a drink?

I began to think unkind things about all the people around me. And then, quietly, I began voicing these things so only Patrick could hear. Our nerves were shot, but we couldn’t leave. Oh no, not yet. Each evening giant spotlights shoot over from Canada to illuminate the falls. Not just any spotlights, but 5.25 billion candlepower worth of color-changing spotlights. So you may enjoy the falls glowing bright orange or red or blue. Am I jaded because I prefer the falls plain? I know I talked about glowing waves, but those were natural and unaccompanied by a group of teenagers whose only means of communication was yowling.

Niagara Falls at Night

Visiting dozens of National Parks and countless National Forests on this trip has my deepened my respect for these institutions, which preserve dramatic natural sights and protect them from the kind of commercialization so evident at Niagara. Are National Parks, monuments and historic sites crowded? Certainly. Together they receive more than 275 million visitors every year. But the focus is on the natural scenery and education about its 84 million acres of protected land. The Canadian parks we visited, too, helped maintain a distance between commercial areas and major natural features. I don’t wish to begrudge anyone a souvenir photograph or fun night out at a casino, but my lasting impression is that Niagara has been exploited. Support conservation! While I’m at it, Choose Organic! Say No to GMOs! Buckle Up, Save the Whales and KONY 2012. OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Oh Niagara Falls, if I had worn blinders so that I saw only your rushing waters, I would have been so awed. But I was distracted by the glitz, the spectacle, the tour buses. Though I love traveling this country and marveling at its sights, I am not a tourist at heart. Give me a quiet stream in the mountains. Let me be the only there.

Niagara Falls

Where Were We Wednesdays (#8)

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Each week in WWWW I post a photo of somewhere we’ve visited during our trip. Guess where we were, and you could win a little prize! This week’s winner will receive a souvenir lobster-shaped lollypop from Maine, our latest stop. I believe the lolly is cherry-flavored, not lobster-flavored, though the winner shall be the judge of that.

Here’s this week’s picture.

Where Were We?

Rules/Hints/Etc.

Enter by posting in the “Comments” section. Guess as many times as you wish. Winner chosen at random from all correct answers. It might help to look back at our Itinerary or our Facebook albums.

Last Week’s Winner

This photo was taken at Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV. We had three correct guesses, and Random.org picked the winner…congrats to Daniel! Thanks everyone for playing.

East Coast Spring

Spring has arrived in a bright riot of blossoms, bursting out of branches in splashes of pink and yellow and white, delighting the bees. Yesterday the wind picked up petals and tossed them in celebration all across bare yards and roadways. I’ve had lines of this poem running through my head.

A Color of the Sky (excerpt)

by Tony Hoagland

Outside the youth center, between the liquor store   

and the police station,

a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;

 

overflowing with blossomfoam,   

like a sudsy mug of beer;

like a bride ripping off her clothes,

 

dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,

 

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.   

It’s been doing that all week:

making beauty,

and throwing it away,

and making more.

(Read the full poem here)

Food & Farmers: Polyface Farms

A peek inside my freezer right now will reveal hints of delicious meals to come. Stacked next to my flour and cornmeal are packages of ground beef, cube steak and lots of pork. Last week, Patrick and I visited Polyface farm in the rolling hillsides near Staunton, Virginia, and met our meat.

Polyface Farm, organic pork, Joel Salatin

If you read Omnivore’s Dilemma or saw Food Inc. you’ll remember Joel Salatin’s Polyface farm as one of the most innovative beyond-organic farms in the country. Though the farm sells beef, pork, chicken and eggs, Salatin really considers himself a grass farmer, concerned with the health and biodiversity of his land.

Polyface Farm, Joel Salatin

Cows rotate through small sections of pasture, munching on a “salad bar” of diverse grasses and clovers and leaving behind natural fertilizer in the form of manure. A few days later, chickens roll through in mobile coops. They break apart the manure, gorging on grubs and picking at grasses and seeds. Pigs pitch in aerating the soil and turning straw bedding into fertile compost. The result? Rich, healthy soil and diverse pasture with no chemical inputs, PLUS pasture-fed beef PLUS eggs PLUS pork. That’s a lot of productivity from one piece of land. It’s the exact opposite of mono-crops or feedlots where cows stand around in barren, muddy fields.

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